SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
In Moscow, a hundred-year moratorium was placed on gay-pride parades, and Judge Marina Syrova sentenced members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in a prison camp for felony hooliganism related to an impromptu anti-Putin performance at a Russian Orthodox cathedral in February. Before delivering her verdict, Syrova read aloud from a court psychiatrist’s evaluation of the band’s leader, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, whom the doctor had diagnosed with an affliction he identified as “mixed-personality disorder” and characterized as involving stubbornness, “inflated self-esteem,” and a “proactive approach to life.” Upon hearing their sentence, the members of the band laughed. Pro–Pussy Riot demonstrators outside the Russian consulate in Marseille were arrested for wearing balaclavas. “Absurd!” said the protesters. “Ridiculous!” Police killed 34 workers on strike from a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. “We are aware,” said an officer of the London-based company that owns the mine, “that it will take some time for some trust to be regained.” Elderly women in Swaziland were growing Swazi Gold, a potent variety of marijuana. “If you grow corn or cabbages,” said one grandmother, “the baboons steal them.” Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan. Revelers in Mogadishu fired guns in the air to mark the city’s first peaceful Eid al-Fitr in years, while in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad emerged from hiding to pray at the Rihab al-Hamad mosque next to his palace. The United Nations observer mission in Syria ended with heavy fighting still taking place around the country. Afghanistan’s education ministry approved a new history curriculum that largely omits the coups and Soviet invasion of the 1970s, the rise of the Taliban, and the American invasion after 9/11. “It is as if someone is trying,” said an Afghan journalist, “to hide the sun with two fingers.”
“Social welfare” nonprofits, which are not required to disclose the names of any of their donors, were reportedly spending more on TV ads in support of U.S. presidential candidates than were super PACs, which are. “We can take corporate money, personal money, cash, shekels, whatever you got,” said the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Senate candidate Todd Akin (R., Mo.) defended his categorical opposition to abortion. “If it’s a legitimate rape,” Akin explained, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Vice President Joe Biden, addressing a predominantly African-American crowd, spoke of Mitt Romney’s desire to deregulate Wall Street. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains!” said Biden. The Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, invited former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore to become its first female members since it was founded 80 years ago. The Iowa State Fair, at which vendors offered 57 types of food on a stick, concluded in Des Moines. “Fairs and carnivals are roller coasters of stimulation,” said an overconsumption expert. “Carnies understood this long before neuroscience did.” In Japan, where the offspring of pale grass blue butterflies captured near Fukushima were showing drastic mutations of their antennae, eyes, and wings, the country’s “last ninja” spoke about the end of his kind. “Ninjas just don’t fit into the modern day,” said Jinichi Kawakami, head of the Ban clan. “We can’t try out murder or poisons.”
Pig-rearing squatters were threatening the Nazca geoglyphs of Peru. A Belgian gynecologist found that uterine length-to-width ratios in fertile women are nearly golden, and American demographers announced that the U.S. population had surpassed one hundred million times ?. Particle physicists at the Large Hadron Collider created a quark-gluon plasma with a temperature of 9.9 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, and astronomers observed that the sun is very round. Researchers discovered that the black hole at the center of the Phoenix galaxy cluster, unlike the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster, was not emitting a B-flat fifty-seven octaves below middle C. “There are times,” said one astrophysicist, “when the music essentially stops.” Crickets raised amid silence were found to be more aggressive than those raised amid song. Caraquenians in red trousers called for the return of Matisse’s Odalisque in Red Trousers, and Niçois defended the purity of the salade niçoise. “Lemon and shallots, no, no!” said one woman. “I refuse any gastronomic fundamentalism,” said a local chef. In Wales, National Health Service officials expressed concern about inappropriate emergency calls from sufferers of hamster bites and hangovers, and from a man who needed help spreading ointment on his back. Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis, Holly, Monty, and Willow, and her dorgis, Candy, Cider, and Vulcan, attacked Princess Margaret’s Norfolk terrier Max at Balmoral Castle. “Unfortunately the dog boy lost control,” said a witness. “There was blood everywhere.”
More from Anthony Lydgate:
Weekly Review — April 8, 2014, 8:00 am
Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”