Commentary — February 8, 2012, 12:16 pm

Web Content: The February 2012 Issue

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Dear Readers,

The February 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine is with subscribers, for whom it is also available online, and it will be on newsstands for another few weeks yet. We’ve posted a number of pieces related to features in the issue since it came out. A summary is below, along with a few web links related to the issue.

Thomas Frank‘s Easy Chair column, “Act of Contrition” (p. 6) focuses on Jack Abramoff and the genre of the Washington D.C. contrition memoir. Frank is a veteran Abramoff-watcher, having written about the disgraced lobbyist in his 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew, which was excerpted in Harper’s with the pithy subtitle “How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing.” Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Scott Horton has also written extensively on Abramoff, most recently in “Abramoff 2.0.” We recommend, too, that subscribers surf to “We Know Jack,” a Reading from the June 2006 issue consisting of excerpts from letters written in support of Abramoff prior to his sentencing for fraud. Samples:

His first and foremost consideration was protecting America from its enemies. Only later did he cash in on the contacts he made from his idealistic endeavors.

Jack made every effort possible to secure funding for a film entitled The Day the Clown Cried, a movie about the importance of taking care of children, set in a WWII concentration camp.

Statistics from the current Harper’s Index (p. 11) are tweeted throughout the month using the hashtag #HarpersIndex. Follow @harpers to see them as they go out.

In this month’s Readings section (p. 13), Andrew Bacevich asks what has happened to the ideal Henry Luce wrote of in his Life Magazine essay “The American Century,” which you can find here. We have also made available online “What Happened in Vegas,” a series of frustrated exchanges between the fact checker and author of a literary non-fiction feature for The Believer.

Barry C. Lynn’s “Killing the Competition” (p. 27) is excerpted on Harpers.org. Lynn also wrote a blog post on President Obama’s failure to tackle monopolies in America, while a past feature, “Breaking the Chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart,” is available for free online.

To his feature on the emergence of democracy in a Peruvian prison, “All Politics Is Local” (p. 35), Daniel Alarcón has added a supplementary online narrative, “Rigoberto,” about a prisoner he encountered at another jail in Lima. We also suggest that Spanish-speaking readers check out Alarcon’s new project, Radio Ambulante, a storytelling podcast.

Nathan Schneider‘s feature on the genesis of Occupy Wall Street, “Some Assembly Required” (p. 45), followed two blog posts by the author for Harpers.org. The first was a primer on the General Assembly, the primary decision-making forum for Occupations nation-wide; the second was a critique of the claim that occupations should be protected as free speech under the law. After the article was published, Schneider added a third post, “Planet Occupy,” in which he imagined the society the Occupy movement has been working toward. Also worth checking out is the website of Bob Arihood, whom Schneider mentions in his feature as having taken photographs at one of the first Occupy Wall Street planning meetings. The specific photo to which Schneider refers is here.

And last, the issue’s concluding Findings section (p. 80), where you will learn, among other necessary facts, that babies as young as eight enjoy seeing bad puppets punished. So watch yourselves, puppets.

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Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.

Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.

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"The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion."
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