Weekly Review — April 8, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets 

A Humbug (Weekly)In Afghanistan — where Taliban militants bombed the Ministry of the Interior and kidnapped and killed a political candidate and nine of his supporters — 7 million people reportedly voted in Saturday’s presidential and provincial-council elections, causing temporary ballot shortages in a third of the country’s provinces and prompting officials to extend polling hours nationwide. “We told Afghans not to vote,” said a Taliban commander. “If we find out you voted, you won’t take your five fingers home.” On the Shomali Plain, north of Kabul, polling places shuttered in response to a series of explosions were promptly reopened. “I left everything behind, my fears and my work,” said farmer Hajji Mahbob of Panjwai district, a traditional Taliban stronghold. “I want change and a good government.”[1][2][3][4][5] In a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a restriction on the aggregate amount an individual may contribute biennially to congressional candidates, political-action committees, and party committees, effectively eliminating the annual per-donor cap of $123,000. “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion. “Where enough money calls the tune,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent, “the general public will not be heard.” In a press conference aboard Air Force One, a spokesman for President Barack Obama, who was en route to a cocktail fund-raiser at the home of a San Francisco billionaire, said the administration was “disappointed by the decision.”[6][7][8][9][10] Thirty thousand Ugandans gathered at Kololo stadium in Kampala to celebrate February’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. “We can rid Uganda of homosexuals,” said one speaker. “Yes we can!”[11]

A U.S. federal judge dismissed a case brought by the families of Anwar al-Awlaki and two other American citizens killed in drone strikes overseas, finding “no available remedy under U.S. law” for claims that the strikes violated the victims’ rights to due process and protection from unlawful search and seizure. “Unmanned drones are functionally incapable of ‘seizing’ a person,” read the decision. “They are designed to kill.”[12] Army Specialist Ivan A. Lopez opened fire on fellow members of the 49th Transportation Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, wounding 16 people on the base and killing three before shooting himself.[13] Three men convicted of gang-raping two women last summer in Mumbai were sentenced to death under a recently passed Indian law strengthening penalties against repeat sex offenders. “They have used the most powerful weapon in their possession: the penis,” said the presiding judge. “They must die,” said the prosecutor.[14] Princess Anne recommended that the badgers of Gloucestershire be gassed, and French justice minister Christiane Taubira canceled plans to attend a ceremony in Kigali marking the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, after Rwandan president Paul Kagame accused France of participation in the “political preparation” and “execution” of the killing. “I don’t care for the use of the word ‘participation,’ ” said former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. “The truth is hard,” said Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo.[15][16][17][18] In China, where urban residents were breathing rural mountain air by the bagful, officials established a pet-standardization committee and announced a nearly $2.7 million investment into researching the aurora borealis above Iceland. “The Chinese do not do anything without good reason,” said an Icelandic scientist.[19][20][21] Saudi officials suspended the travel visas of Muslim pilgrims from parts of West Africa after an Ebola outbreak in rural Guinea spread to Conakry, the country’s capital. “The doctors,” said Bah Mamadou, a taxi driver in Guinea’s southeastern Nzérékoré region, “looked like cosmonauts on their way back from the moon.”[22][23]

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

American children were found to prefer breakfast cereals whose spokescharacters look them in the eye, and a professor in Washington State announced plans to develop an educational curriculum for robots. “They’re very dumb,” he said.[24][25] Toronto mayor Rob Ford voted against separate city-council motions extending congratulations to Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes and renaming a local street after Nelson Mandela, and a South Carolina lawmaker proposed a legislative amendment acknowledging God as creator of the woolly mammoth.[26][27] A missing Rüppell’s vulture named Gandalf was found in the Hebrides, and millions of migrating elvers were captured near the Bristol Channel.[28][29] Foam on the River Clyde was being traced to the Squiggly Bridge.[30] Cwmgwilians protested a pyrolysis plant, and pinkeye struck Pago Pago.[31][32] England’s lone golden eagle had begun to sky dance, and a lesbian cemetery was inaugurated in Berlin.[33][34] Peppermint Patties in Mississippi and Greco-Roman amulets in Devon were being used for sex education, parks officials in the northern Grand Canyon noted that birth control had failed to curtail destructive herds of beefalo, and an Irish ewe tupped by a goat was raising her geep like a lamb.[35][36][37][38] Braise Young of Fairfield, California, was arrested on suspicion of having vandalized Cordelia Skate Park, and the children of Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp mounted a production of King Lear. “The show,” said director Nawar Bulbul, “is to bring back laughter.”[39][40]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Anthony Lydgate:

From the July 2014 issue

Vulgar Materialism

Weekly Review February 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States

Weekly Review January 14, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Pakistani ninth-grader sacrifices himself to save his classmates, Chris Christie saves himself, and Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife chooses an unconventional holster 

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2016

Psychedelic Trap

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hamilton Cult

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Held Back

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Division Street

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Innocents

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quiet Car

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Hamilton Cult·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The past is complicated, and explaining it is not just a trick, but a gamble."
Illustration by Jimmy Turrell
Article
Division Street·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Perfectly sane people lose access to housing every day, though the resultant ordeal may undermine some of that sanity, as it might yours and mine."
Photograph © Robert Gumpert
Article
Held Back·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"'We don’t know where the money went!' a woman cried out. 'They looted it! They stole our money!'"
Artwork by Mischelle Moy
Article
The Quiet Car·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

Photograph by Joshua Lutz
Article
Innocents·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"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."
Photograph © Nadia Shira Cohen

Amount the town of Rolfe, Iowa, will pay anyone who builds a home there:

$1,200

Ancient Egyptians worshiped some dwarves as gods.

In Italy, a judge ordered that a man who paid for sex with a 15-year-old girl must buy her 30 feminist-themed books, including The Diary of Anne Frank and the poems of Emily Dickinson.

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