Weekly Review — January 29, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Inauguration week politics, Aramaic vowel preservation, and Canadian foreskin awareness

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office using a Bible that once belonged to King, and Beyoncé lip-synched “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The president attended a public ball at which guests were served pretzels, mixed nuts, and Cheez-Its, then went to an afterparty in the East Room of the White House, where he led a conga line and competed in a dance-off to the song “Gangnam Style” against singers Janelle Monáe and Usher. “Today has been dubbed . . . ‘Blue Monday,’ the most depressing day of the year,” said Fox News host Steve Doocy. “It has to do with drab weather, holiday bills, and resolutions that we have not met.”[1][2][3][4][5][6] Reince Priebus, who installed in his office the empty chair Clint Eastwood addressed as if it were Obama at the Republican National Convention, was elected to a second term as Republican National Committee chairman at the party’s winter gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina. In an address to attendees, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal asserted that “a handful of good websites” could replace most of the federal bureaucracy. “We must stop being the stupid party,” he said.[7][8][9] New Mexico state representative Cathrynn N. Brown introduced a bill classifying fetuses conceived through rape as “evidence” and abortion of those fetuses as “tampering,” a measure she explained would prevent rapists from compelling their victims to have abortions.[10] The Mississippi Department of Health announced that it would revoke the license of the state’s only abortion clinic over its failure to comply with a newly passed law requiring providers to have hospital admitting privileges, which have been denied the clinic’s doctors by seven hospitals in Jackson. “We were last on civil rights,” said anti-abortion lobbyist Terri Herring, “but we can be first on human rights.”[11][12] A Catholic hospital in Canon City, Colorado, successfully defended itself against a wrongful-death lawsuit over its failure to perform a Caesarean section to save the unborn twins of a dying pregnant woman by arguing that a fetus is not a person. “They’re acting like harlots,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “They should be stripped of their Catholicity.”[13][14]

In Santa Maria, Brazil, 231 people died in a nightclub fire after pyrotechnics set off by country band Gurizada Fandangueira set alight soundproofing panels on the ceiling. The band’s accordion player was killed when he re-entered the burning club to save his instrument, and an investigation determined that the club had no fire alarm, fire escape, or sprinklers, and had only one exit.[15][16] In Mali, French-led troops regained control of the cities of Gao and Timbuktu from Islamist forces. Before fleeing Timbuktu, militants set fire to the Ahmed Baba Institute, which houses manuscripts dating to the twelfth century. “They are bandits,” said institute employee Ali Baba.[17][18] Exxon Mobil overtook Apple to again become the world’s most valuable company, and an Australian company announced the discovery of up to 233 billion barrels of oil beneath the outback.[19][20] Putrid fumes from a gas leak at a factory in Rouen, France, drifted to Paris and the English coast. “Put some Vicks on a tissue,” tweeted the Hastings police, “or carry a scented pomander.”[21][22][23] Twenty-seven tons of caramelized goat cheese burned for five days after catching fire in Brattli Tunnel in Tysfjord, Norway, and an Australian judge exonerated a goat for eating flowers outside the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art.[24][25] The USS Guardian, a U.S. navy minesweeper, struck the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines, damaging 10,000 square feet of coral. “Just the fact that you allow it to touch ground,” said Filipino transportation secretary Joseph Abaya, “is a mortal sin.”[26][27]

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

It was reported that University of Cambridge linguist Geoffrey Khan and tax preparer Elias Bet-shmuel were recording members of the Assyrian community in suburban Chicago, who are among the last speakers of Aramaic, in an attempt to preserve the language’s dialects before it dies out. “I’m getting very excited about some vowels here,” said Khan. “I’m getting excited about the kadeh [pastry],” said Bet-shmuel.[28] Two employees at a cold-storage facility in Georgia stole $65,000 worth of chicken wings, which tend to be scarcest during Super Bowl week. “Chicken companies are not able to produce wings,” said a National Chicken Council spokesman of possible wing shortages, “without the rest of the chicken.”[29][30] In Trinidad and Tobago, a security guard was charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm after he accidentally shot off his penis.[31][32] Activists from the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (CAN-FAP) protested Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of an antiwrinkle cream containing cells from the foreskins of infants; the sheriff of Woolwich, Maine, revealed the theft of a rare porcelain Oprah doll; and the leader of a gang of Colorado laundry-detergent thieves was sentenced to 30 months in prison.[33][34][35] In New York City, the subject of the 2007 documentary Crazy Love reported the death of his wife, whom he married in 1974 after serving a 14-year prison term for hiring hit men to blind her with lye. “This,” said Burton Pugach, “was a very fairy-tale romance.”[36]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Jesse Barron:

Weekly Review November 18, 2014, 10:43 am

Weekly Review

World leaders plan to boost GDP, the E.S.A. lands on a comet, and an artist looks for a needle in a haystack

Weekly Review September 30, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Student protests in Hong Kong, two sex-scandal resignations, and the CIA’s lust for lemon pound cake.

Weekly Review August 12, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Police in Missouri kill an unarmed teenager, the U.S. government expands its terrorist database, and Justin Bieber saves a Russian fisherman

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2016

Atlas Aggregated

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

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

Ratio of the amount J. P. Morgan paid a man to fight in his place in the Civil War to what he spent on cigars in 1863:

1:1

The Food and Drug Administration asked restaurants to help Americans eat less.

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