It is a Friday, and time again to round up the hottest stories of the week. True, the world may seem a tad bleak on occasion, what with violence raging in Gaza and airplanes beginning to crash with alarming regularity. Yes, the uncomfortable realities of this tragic, glorious, improbable planet we live on may not be the sort of thing you want to immerse yourself in while you gear up for a joyous weekend. Remember, though…it’s good to know what’s going on.


Plus, your correspondent spent a fair bit of time scouring the Interwebs for these stories, so the least you can do is acknowledge his effort.


1. Air Algerie Flight Crashes in Mali

2014 is hardly shaping up to be a banner year for aviation. Barely a week after pro-Russian separatists shot down a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, killing all 298 individuals aboard, an Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso has crashed in desertous Mali. The aircraft vanished from radar contact soon after beginning its journey to Algeria, about the same time it changed course to avoid inclement weather. There is no word yet on whether or not any of the 116 passengers survived the crash. French President Francois Hollande canceled an overseas trip to attend to the matter and ordered French military to support the search for the downed aircraft.


2. Facial Camouflage Can Foil Video Surveillance

In a world where human activity is increasingly under surveillance at every angle, artist Adam Harvey has developed a way to foil facial recognition algorithms using a wild blend of hair styling and face paint. By creating very specific facial camouflage, Harvey’s designs reduce a human face to a faceless blurb of pixels in computer software, thwarting surveillance techniques. In a rollicking Atlantic feature, Robinson Meyer chronicled his attempt to wear this “CV dazzle” while he went about daily life for a few days. His conclusion? CV dazzle is an intriguing concept, but “the very thing that makes you invisible to computers makes you glaringly obvious to other humans.”


3. Botched Arizona Execution Sparks Outrage

After twenty-three years on death row, Joseph R. Wood III met a gruesome end Wednesday afternoon at the hands of the state of Arizona. Wood, convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her father, was injected with a secret cocktail of drugs that had never been tested before. For the state of Arizona, the hope lay in a speedy and merciful end to Wood’s life. Instead, Wood clung to life for an hour and 57 minutes, “struggling and gasping loudly for air, making snorting and choking sounds which lasted for at least 10 minutes, with his chest heaving and his fists clenched.” The veils of secrecy surrounding lethal injection chemical compositions and a pattern of botched executions in multiple states are leading some to call for an overhaul of the capital punishment system, which Slate correspondent Dahlia Lithwick notes is run “like an ad hoc chemistry experiment.”


4. FAA Temporarily Halts American Flights to Israel

In the wake of incessant rocket attacks from Hamas militants embedded in the Gaza Strip, the Federal Aviation Administration suspended U.S. flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a day and a half earlier this week. The move was met with condemnation by Israeli government officials and some outcry on the part of American political figures, including Republic Senator Ted Cruz and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who rather bizarrely flew to Israel himself to make his point. After Israel upgraded safety procedures and provided the FAA with more detailed information, the agency lifted the ban on Wednesday.


5. Astronaut Captures the Gaza Conflict From Space

German astronaut Alexander Gerst took a mournful photo of the embattled Gaza Strip at night, seen from the International Space Station.

Gerst posted the photo to his Twitter feed with the following caption:

“My saddest photo yet. From we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over & .”



Let us know your picks for top stories of the week! Start the discussion in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @aa_murph