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

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