Weekly Review — February 9, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, came out in support of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. “No matter how I look at this issue,” Mullen testified before Congress, “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” U.S. Department of DefenseThe Reuters news service withdrew a report that President Barack Obama was “backdooring” the American middle class with hidden taxes,Christian Science MonitorWhite House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to Sarah Palin for using the term “fucking retarded,” USA TodayU.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan conceded that Hurricane Katrina was probably not “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,”Washington Postand James Clyburn, the House majority whip, dismissed fiscal restraint as a viable national economic policy. “We’re not going to save our way out of this recession,” he said. “We’ve got to spend.”The Hill via DrudgeUnderwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab provided federal authorities with actionable intelligence without having been tortured and despite having been offered some of the basic protections of the American legal system.CNN and KYW Radio U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair warned that “malicious cyber activity” was menacing the nation,NY Timesand the federal government was hoarding the genetic information of American newborns.CNNIn Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the Taliban were ambushing the American military using “ancient signaling techniques”; three people were killed and 17 wounded in a suicide-bomb attack in Kandahar, and a drone strike killed 29 presumed terrorists in northwestern Pakistan, where the Taliban were stalking American soldiers and their hired mercenaries. “We know the movement of U.S. Marines and Blackwater guys,” said a spokesman for the group. “We have prepared suicide bombers to go after them.”NY TimesBBC NewsCNNCNNGeneral Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, insisted that the surge was making “significant progress.”NY TimesAmericans were drinking more cheap booze.USA Today

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that Toyota automobiles were unsafe, then said that they weren’t, then issued a position statement claiming that he would remain “vigilant.”Market WatchAmericans were growing distrustful of their banks, which they accused of being too concerned with the bottom line.NY TimesJustice Clarence Thomas appeared confused as to why newspapers would criticize the Supreme Court’s decision establishing the right of corporations to buy elections. “The people who were editorializing against it were the New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company,” Thomas said. “These are corporations.”NY TimesA court in Israel ruled that Yigal Amir, who in 1995 assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, would remain in indefinite solitary confinement. Amir called the decision “vengeance” and added that “if the purpose here is to punish, [the court] should say so.”BBC NewsAnti-Muslim Europeans were rejecting “political Islam and the symbols of political Islam,” CNNthree headless bodies were discovered in a “narco-grave” in Juarez,CNNand the government of North Korea reported that Pyongangites continued to work with “full confidence” and were “full of hope,” due to the “benefits of socialism” and a bean-flour drink issued to schoolchildren.North Korea News AgencyStudents at Princeton University wanted their grades re-inflated.NY TimesEvangelical Christians were beating non-believers senseless in professional mixed-martial-arts contests, NY Timesand in Haiti, Max Beauvoir, the “supreme master” of voodoo, accused Christian fundamentalists of stealing earthquake-relief supplies. “The evangelicals are in control and they take everything for themselves,” said Beauvoir. “That’s a shame.”Telegraph via DrudgeMuslim doctors were fitting women with exploding breast implants for use in suicide attacks, World Net Daily via Drudgesales of “fashion-forward” bulletproof clothing remained brisk in Bogotá, Colombia, Vice via CNN and a new biography of Warren Beatty confirmed that he is, in fact, vain.NY Times

Research demonstrated that abstinence-based sexual education may work under the following conditions: if it encourages children to delay sex until they are “ready” rather than exclusively until after marriage; if it does not depict all sex outside of marriage as uniformly inappropriate; and if it does not “disparage” condoms. Monica Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, called the findings “exciting” and “a new tool.”Washington PostRoasted nuts were increasingly scarce in New York City,NY Timesand some residents of Lancaster, Texas, were offended by a billboard of a giant cucumber with eyes.CBS2.com via EaterEnglish school administrators were fining parents for spending vacation time with their children,BBC Newswealthy American mothers were struggling to find ways to communicate their parenting demands to their nannies,NY Timesand Jennifer Love Hewitt advised spurned women to glue glass objects to their vulvas. “After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady,” she said. “It shined like a disco ball.”Huffington Post

Share
Single Page

More from Theodore Ross:

Weekly Review June 22, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review May 4, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review December 15, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2015

Weed Whackers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tremendous Machine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Goose in a Dress

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Genealogy of Orals

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
New Television·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In Season 5 of Louie (FX), Louie is a new kind of superhero. Like Wonder Woman, the canonical superhero he most resembles, Louie’s distinctive superpower is love.”
Illustration by Demetrios Psillos
Article
Romancing Kano·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.

In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.

Article
The Prisoner of Sex·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Gangs of Karachi·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
Article
Weed Whackers·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today