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View Full Version : Harpers Summary for the week of 2/20/11



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02-25-2011, 11:48 AM
Throughout the Middle East, revolutionaries and rulers struggled against one another. In Libya, the arrest of human-rights activist Fathi Terbil sparked antigovernment protests, prompting 20,000 people to gather in the city of Benghazi. Col. Muammar Qaddafi's security forces killed at least 200 of them, including many who were participating in funeral processions for protesters killed earlier in the week. Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, appeared on state television to warn Libyans that any escalation in the uprising would result in civil war. "I'm not afraid to die," Terbil said. "I'm afraid to lose the battle." Shortly after the speaker of Iran's parliament called events in Egypt an "alarm bell for despotic leaders," the Iranian government banned rallies, placed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi under house arrest, and deployed 30,000 Basij to Tehran. The Basij killed one demonstrator who turned up despite the ban. Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh blamed protests in his country (the region's poorest) on a "foreign agenda" and "a conspiracy against Yemen." Six people died in Bahrain before protesters gained control of Pearl Square. Saudi Arabian leadership said that if the Bahraini conflict was not resolved soon it would offer "all its capabilities" to the Bahraini royal family. Tens of thousands of Moroccans organized via social-networking sites to call for constitutional reform, and an Egyptian man named his firstborn daughter "Facebook."

Fourteen Democratic Wisconsin state senators fled Wisconsin in order to prevent a vote on a bill that would eliminate collective-bargaining rights for most government workers. In response, the Tea Party organized an anti-union rally. "We see this as the opening salvo of the 2012 election season," said rally organizer Drew Ryun. "And we like the odds." The House voted to cut funding Planned Parenthood, and, after much discussion, South Dakota legislators tabled a bill that would label a homicide justifiable if committed in defense of an unborn child. In his first for-publication interview since his arrest, Bernie Madoff revealed that numerous banks and hedge funds were complicit in his Ponzi scheme. "The attitude was sort of, 'If you're doing something wrong, we don't want to know,'" Madoff said. Hasbro unveiled the next version of Monopoly, in which player negotiations, banknotes, dice, and the rulebook have been replaced by a computer tower in the middle of the board. "If you're not having to read as much," said Hasbro executive Jane Ritson-Parsons, "you are all chatting more." Borders filed for bankruptcy.

The Colombian navy seized a 100-foot submarine built to smuggle cocaine to Mexico, and two Alabama construction workers stole 48 pounds of marijuana while renovating the evidence vault of a local police station. Scientists determined that the use of ecstasy does not impair cognitive ability, that calorie indicators on fast-food menus do not affect minors' selections, and that the solar system probably has nine planets after all. A rare freeze in Mexico doubled the cost of U.S. tomatoes, and gorillas were found to lose weight after switching to a salad diet. Sheyla Hershey, whose fake breasts were the world's largest before doctors had to remove the implants, attempted suicide the night before she was scheduled to have an operation to return her to a size KKK. Watson, an IBM-designed supercomputer, beat Ken Jennings on "Jeopardy." "I for one welcome our new computer overlords," Jennings wrote in his answer to Final Jeopardy. The Vatican cautioned against beatification-ceremony ticket scalpers, the Department of Homeland Security accidentally shut down 84,000 innocuous websites as part of a child-pornography sting, and the father of the 5 Browns, a quintet of classical pianists, pleaded guilty to the sodomy and sexual abuse of his three daughters. The lawyer for a Connecticut man accused of sexually assaulting a horse complained that the case was overhyped. "If this was a guy and a sheep in Litchfield," he said, "this would not have gotten nearly the media attention it has."