The week that was: 20th-26th June
What happened between 20th and 26th June over the past five years? We pored over a half-decade’s worth of Delayed Gratification to find the most interesting, surprising and quirky events to have happened over this period from 2011 to 2015.
Two years ago on Monday, Médecins Sans Frontières said the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia was “totally out of control”. Its director of operations, Dr Bart Janssens, warned that the epidemic might spread to other countries. By November 2014, nearly 5,000 people had died from the disease in the three countries. Since then, that number has more than doubled to 11,310. On 7th November 2015, Sierra Leone was declared free from Ebola by the World Health Organisation, which we covered in issue #21 with an interview with Grace Kargbo of World Vision Sierra Leone. “Everybody has been slowly going back to their normal lives,” Kargbo told us. “People are still cautious. There’s less touching and physical interaction than there used to be, and people aren’t travelling to visit relatives as much. In terms of the long-term effects, there are many Ebola orphans, whose parents died from the disease. We’re working with the government to see how these children can be supported.” Liberia and Guinea recently saw small flare-ups of Ebola. The last patients in Liberia were discharged in May and both countries are now in a state of heightened surveillance.
On 21st June 2011, a bedraggled penguin was spotted on Peka Peka beach, New Zealand. The creature had gone for a long swim from Antarctica and became the first emperor penguin spotted in New Zealand in 44 years. ‘Happy Feet’, as the bird was nicknamed, was released into the Southern Ocean to the south of New Zealand in September of the same year, after a few months of getting pampered so it could recover from its intercontinental swim. While the red carpet was rolled out for Happy Feet, many furry visitors – possums, rats, stoats, ferrets, and so on – await a less pleasant fate after washing up on New Zealand’s shores. Here’s our story on the country’s stoat killing fields, taken from issue #4 of Delayed Gratification.
One year ago today, two employees of Atlas Logistics were awarded $2.2 million for their pain, suffering and mental anguish after being forced by their employer to take a DNA test assessing whether they had been pooping around an Atlanta warehouse (they hadn’t). We traced the payout back to an 1862 schoolboy’s doodle in our issue #19 Butterfly Effect.
On this day in 2013, tightrope walker extraordinaire Nik Wallenda crossed a 1,400m-long gorge near the Grand Canyon on a two inch-thick steel cable. We plotted the achievement against some other high-wire feats in the below infographic, published in issue #11. Since 2013, Wallenda has pushed his boundaries even further. On 2nd November 2014, he made headlines when he completed a tightrope walk between two Chicago skyscrapers, partly blindfolded and without a safety harness.
Four years ago today, the last Pinta giant tortoise died at an age of around 100 years. Attempts to let Lonesome George mate with a female tortoise from the same Galapagos Islands subspecies had resulted only in infertile eggs, meaning his death signified the end of his species. The story made its way back into the news in December 2015, when scientists from Ecuador and the US said they may have found a way to bring back the Pinta giant tortoise as well as another extinct subspecies from Floreana Island, by letting tortoises from a nearby colony – which share DNA with the extinct species – breed. “We can’t bring back an exact copy of George, as he was genetically unique. But we do now think we can go a long way towards restoring a species with 95 per cent of the same DNA,” James Gibbs told The Telegraph.
On 25th June 2013, a world record was set when 1,143 people simultaneously used mouthwash in New York City. Unfortunately for Colgate, the organisers of the event, its record was broken in April of last year when 2,045 people repeated the feat in Market Market, Taguig City, Philippines.
26th June 2015 saw three terror attacks happen in one day: in France, a man decapitated his employer and crashed his truck into a chemical warehouse near Lyon. In Kuwait, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest inside a Shiite mosque, killing 27 and wounding 227. And in Tunisia, a lone gunman walked onto a beach in the resort town of Port El-Kantaoui and took the lives of 38 tourists. Three months after the attacks, we sent reporters back to Tunisia and Kuwait to investigate how the local communities were rebuilding themselves. You can read the story on Kuwait here and the Tunisia one here.
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