Weekly Review — January 8, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A (relatively) diverse new Congress, Brigitte Bardot’s elephant empathy, and life on Ezie Street

The 113th United States Congress was sworn into office in Washington, D.C. The new Congress features the most women and racial minorities of any Congress in history, with 43 African Americans (8 percent of the total number of representatives), 32 Hispanics (6 percent), 12 Asian Americans (2 percent), and 101 women (19 percent), as well as the first Buddhist, the first Hindu, and the first openly bisexual legislator. The Democratic Party formed the first caucus in which white men were not the majority, and the Republican Party welcomed the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.[1][2][3] John Boehner (R., Ohio) was re-elected Speaker of the House, defeating Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who was criticized after her office edited four absent congresswomen into a photograph, taken on the steps of the Capitol Building, of female members of the House Democratic Caucus. “It’s an accurate historical record,” said Pelosi, “that it was freezing cold.”[4] Vice President Joe Biden posed for photos with senators during ceremonial reenactments of their swearings-in. “Spread your legs,” he said to the husband of a North Dakota senator. “You’re going to be frisked!”[5] The House of Representatives passed a Senate-brokered deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” President Barack Obama signed the deal by autopen after returning to his vacation in Hawaii, and Lake Superior State University placed the phrase “fiscal cliff” on its List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness.[6][7][8] Obama nominated former Republican senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense and his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, for director of the CIA.[9] Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to French actor Gérard Depardieu, who was seeking refuge from high taxes on the wealthy in his country, and actress Brigitte Bardot threatened to join Depardieu in response to the planned euthanasia of two tubercular French circus elephants. “I have decided to request Russian nationality,” she said, “in order to escape a country which has become nothing more than an animal cemetery.”[10][11]

In Syria, where more than 60,000 people were found to have been killed and half a million to have fled since the start of the country’s civil war, President Bashar al-Assad gave a speech in which he called his opponents “murderous criminals” and refused to step down from office. “The enemies of the people are the enemies of God,” he said, “and the enemies of God will burn in hell.”[12][13][14][15][16] In Aurora, Colorado, where preliminary hearings began in the trial of mass murderer James Eagan Holmes, four people were killed in a home shootout.[17][18] Shooting victim and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords visited Newtown, Connecticut, the site of a recent elementary-school shooting, and businesses in nearby Southington, Connecticut, were offering gift certificates in exchange for violent video games.[19][20] A referendum in Gyomro, Hungary, to stop the naming of a park after the country’s former Nazi-allied leader Miklos Horthy failed because of low turnout; a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman invited Egyptian Jews to return from Israel in order to make room for Palestinians; and the boyfriend of an Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus alleged that police spent 20 minutes arguing over jurisdiction after finding the couple naked and beaten in the road, before transporting them to hospital.[21][22][23] Thirteen people died in a stampede in Angola on New Year’s Eve, and 60 died in a stampede in Ivory Coast on New Year’s Day.[24][25] Russian beer was reclassified from food to alcohol. “We are used to smoking, drinking, eating a poor diet and doing little sport and then falling ill,” said a Russian parliamentarian. “That’s got to stop.”[26] An earthquake triggered a six-inch tsunami off the coast of Alaska, a cold snap sealed 1,000 Chinese ships in ice, and an Icelandair crew duct-taped a man to his seat after he began screaming, spitting, and hitting people on a flight to New York.[27][28][29]

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

In Orange County, Florida, a sandwich-shop employee was fired for threatening to kill a customer who had requested ketchup on his cheesesteak, and in San Jose, California, a man seen waving an assault rifle outside a home on Ezie Street confronted police naked and brandishing a samurai sword.[30][31] A California appeals court overturned the sentence of a man who had been convicted of raping a woman by sneaking into her bed and impersonating her boyfriend. “Has the man committed rape?” asked the court in its ruling. “The answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.”[32] The Indonesian city of Lhokseumawe began requiring women to sit side-saddle on motorbikes, the Church of England voted to allow celibate gay men to become bishops, and an Illinois priest was reportedly put on leave after being found gagged and handcuffed in his church’s rectory. “I was playing with them,” said the priest of the handcuffs during a 911 call, “and I need some help getting out.”[33][34][35] Afro-Cuban priests prescribed Santería rituals for Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who is hospitalized with a severe lung infection.[36] Honduras’s ambassador to Colombia resigned amid reports that prostitutes his bodyguard allegedly invited to an embassy Christmas party stole computers and defecated on two desks, and a cat was caught transporting drill parts, saw blades, and other supplies to inmates in preparation for a prison break in Alagoas, Brazil. “It’s tough to find out who’s responsible,” said a prison official, “as the cat doesn’t speak.”[37][38][39]


Sign up and get the Weekly Review delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.

Share
Single Page

More from Ryann Liebenthal:

From the July 2015 issue

Bleakness Stakes

Weekly Review May 19, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

An Amtrak train derails, a Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death, and an African-American boy who was maced at an anti–police-brutality protest is grateful he wasn’t shot

Weekly Review February 17, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Muslim family is killed over a parking space in North Carolina, Netflix launches in Cuba, and an Indian woman who is 95 percent genetically male gives birth to twins

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2016

The Origins of Speech

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Verse

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Sigh and a Salute

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Prose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Don the Realtor

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Atlas Aggregated

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Martin Amis on the rise of Trump, Tom Wolfe on the origins of speech, Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen, fiction by Diane Williams, and more

In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Don the Realtor·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"If you have ever wondered what it’s like, being a young and avaricious teetotal German-American philistine on the make in Manhattan, then your curiosity will be quenched by The Art of the Deal."
Photograph (detail) © Polly Borland/Exclusive by Getty Images
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News
Article
A Sigh and a Salute·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
Artwork (detail) by Si Lewen
Article
El Bloqueo·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
Photograph (detail) by Rose Marie Cromwell

Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead:

1/4

Honeybees can recognize individual human faces.

Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

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.'

Subscribe Today