Beijing is hell-bent on having clear skies for its military parade

A formation of military aircraft performs during a rehearsal ahead of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Beijing, Aug. 23, 2015.

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The tallest mountain in North America, which for the last hundred years has been officially named after America's 25th president, William McKinley, will be renamed "Denali," the White House announced.

Rising over 20,000 feet above sea level — or more than 16 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other — the Alaskan mountain was named after the assassinated president in 1917. Before then, it was known to native tribes as "big mountain," or "Denali," in the local language. 

What to call the mountain has long been a point of contention between Ohio (McKinley's native state) and Alaska, and Obama's decision in favor of native Alaskans — intended in part to draw attention to climate change in that state — has drawn fire from Ohio lawmakers such as John Boehner, who said he was "deeply disappointed" the mountain would no longer be named in tribute to a president who served six months into his second term before being assassinated by a Polish-American anarchist.

Among those celebrating, as some have pointed out, are makers of the GMC Denali SUV, which at 8,400 pounds is not much smaller than a mobile metal mountain. 


More than a year after the devastating shelling of Gaza during Israel's Operation Protective Edge, families who want to rebuild their homes are still mired in a Kafkaesque nightmare, GlobalPost senior correspondent Laura Dean reports. Billions in aid promised by the international community still hasn't been delivered, and the bureaucracy that Gazans have to navigate is Byzantine in its complexity and horrendously slow. 

With more than 10,000 houses totally destroyed, and ten times that number partially damaged, repairing homes is an enormous task in the small coastal territory, one that is only made more complex by the differing ways in which foreign donors insist on disbursing funds. 

For families like Mohamed Slama's, whose home was reduced to rubble, it's an urgent issue that is quickly becoming hopeless. "It's dangerous," he tells GlobalPost's Dean, surrounded by in the ruins of his former dwelling. "But we have nowhere else to go." 


Despite chronic pollution and an imminent thunderstorm, Beijing is hell-bent on having clear skies for its military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this Thursday. To help in the effort, crack military troops have enlisted the aid of several highly trained units specially tasked with driving fledgling birds away from jet engines. 

Namely, monkeys

Aided in their heroic task by falcons and hunting dogs, these leashed macaques have already appeared in photos distributed by the People's Liberation Army. Among their tactics for scaring baby birds: chasing them, ripping down their nests, and being so stinky that birds don't want to build their nests anywhere nearby. 

Many noted echoes of the Mao-era campaigns against the "Four Pests" — rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows — which saw thousands of Chinese farmers chasing birds from tree to tree, banging pots and pans to prevent them from landing, until they fell out of the sky dead with exhaustion. 

The Mao campaign ended up backfiring, sadly, with locust populations exploding and devouring Chinese crops after their main predators — sparrows — were annihilated.