Weekly Review — January 16, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Liberal political groups were attempting to rally SenateDemocrats to oppose the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general of the United States, though few seriously believed that members of the Democrat Party were brave or principled enough to do what it would take to defeat the right-wing Christian extremist.Afghanistan’s chief mullah decreed that encouraging a Muslim to convert to Christianity was a capital crime; Mullah Muhammad Omar also let it be known that selling any kind of anti-Islamic literature would be punished by five years in prison.An Iranian court sentenced several people, including a prominent journalist, to long prison terms for attending a conference in Germany that was deemed “un-Islamic” because a bare-armed woman danced there and a male protestor took off his clothes.Israel’s chief rabbis declared that Jewish law prohibits giving up sovereignty over the Temple Mount; the Islamic mufti of Jerusalem said much the same thing: non-Muslims, he said, are forbidden to control even “its depths, no matter how far down, and the space above it, now matter how high up.”Ronald ReaganChile’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet changed his mind and decided to undergo psychological examinations to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.There was a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast.British prime minister Tony Blair got hit with a tomato by a protestor upset about the continued sanctions on Iraq, which was bombed again by the United States and Britain.Leaders of the Jewish Reform movement recommended that parents remove their children from the Boy Scouts because the Scouts continue to insist on banning homosexualsâ??this despite the traditional schoolyard opinion that Boy Scouts are somehow inherently gay.A new poll showed that most Americans think religion is good.

Millions of Hindus jumped into the Ganges River to wash away their sins; 65 million were expected to do so during the 43-day festival of Kumbh Mela.Mississippi’s House of Representatives voted to hold a referendum on whether to remove the symbol of the Confederacy from its flag.Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for extortion; he is 73 years old.Turkey announced that it had killed 23,000 separatist Kurds in the last 15 years and threatened to get even with France if its parliament passed a bill recognizing the Turkish genocide of Armenians. The U.S. Congress almost passed a similar bill last year.An ecoterrorist group called the Earth Liberation Front burned down three houses on Long Island; the arsonists spray-painted “ELF” and “If you build it we will burn it” and other slogans on a nearby house.The U.S. Army began a new marketing campaign aimed at alienated losers.A naked man was walking around the Bronx stabbing people with a large pair of scissors.New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s mistress was placed under police guard after a man threatened her on the street.Officials at Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Connecticut, acknowledged that two uranium fuel rods had been missing for twenty years, a fact that was noticed only two months ago.Governor Gray Davis of California threatened to take over power plants if necessary to get the state’s electric supply under control; he said that energyderegulation was “a colossal and dangerous failure.”

United Statesagriculture officials continued to insist that Americans were at little risk from mad cow disease, despite the fact that testing has not been widespread. Loopholes still exist in regulations concerning feeding ground-up farm animals to other farm animals; deer in several western states are infected with another form of spongiform encephalopathy; an unknown number of sheep have scrapie, a form of spongiform encephalopathy; captive mink in eleven midwestern states developed spongiform encephalopathy after being fed untested “downer cows”; and beef byproducts such as milk, blood, fat, and semen are still imported from the U.K. and Europe. The prions that cause mad cow disease survive freezing, cooking, and incineration, which complicates disposal.The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are given each year to healthy farmanimals such as cows, chickens, and pigs; the group warned that such practices encourage the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria.Scientists proudly announced the insertion of a jellyfish gene into a monkey; the gene was supposed to make a protein that glows in the dark, but it didn’t, though a couple of stillborn monkeys from the same experiment did glow.It was not known whether any bizarre, hitherto uncreated viruses or prion diseases were produced from the unnatural act.U.S. officials approved the merger of Time Warner and America Online.An Asian gaur, a rare ox, was successfully cloned and gestated by a cow, but died a few days later of dysentery; it was the first animal to be gestated by an animal of a different species.Researchers found that the human love of music was instinctual, a mere animal reflex.A husband and wife who ran a travel agency in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, were arrested for killing their clients and selling their organs to the Russians; six bodies and 100 passports were found in their apartment.There were rumors of cannibalism.There were rumors that the couple had been selling meat to local restaurants.

Share
Single Page

More from Roger D. Hodge:

From the October 2010 issue

Speak, Money

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2019

Men at Work

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To Serve Is to Rule

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bird Angle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The K-12 Takeover

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The $68,000 Fish

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Men at Work·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

Article
To Serve Is to Rule·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

Article
The Bird Angle·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

Article
The K-12 Takeover·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

Founded in 2015, a decade after New Orleans became the nation’s first city to begin replacing all its public schools with charters, Cypress was something of a rarity. Like about nine in ten of the city’s charter schools, it filled spaces by lottery rather than by selective admission. But while most of the nonselective schools in New Orleans had majority populations of low-income African-American students, Cypress mirrored the city’s demographics, drawing the children of professionals—African-American and white alike—as well as poorer students. Cypress reserved 20 percent of its seats for children with reading difficulties, and it offered a progressive education model, including “learning by doing,” rather than the strict conduct codes that dominated the city’s nonselective schools. In just three years, the school had outperformed many established charters—a particular feat given that one in four Cypress students had a disability, double the New Orleans average. Families flocked to Cypress, especially ones with children who had disabilities.

Article
Five Stories·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

The limited edition Nike Air Max 97s, white sneakers that have holy water from the Jordan River in their soles and have frankincense-scented insoles, sold out in minutes.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Jesus Plus Nothing

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

Subscribe Today