Weekly Review — April 13, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testified publicly and under oath before the commission investigating September 11; Rice acknowledged that President Bush had received a classified CIA briefing on August 6, 2001, entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,” though she characterized the report as “historical information based on old reporting.” She also acknowledged that the report mentioned the existence of Al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States but “there was no recommendation that we do something about this.” Rice also admitted that Richard Clarke, whose book on the Bush Administration’s antiterrorism failures prompted her public testimony, sent her a memo in January 2001 in which he mentioned sleeper cells. Again, Rice said, “there was no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them.” Rice said that she couldn’t remember whether she had ever mentioned the existence of the sleeper cells to the president prior to August 6.New York TimesThe White House, under pressure from the commission, declassified the August 6 briefing, which in fact warned that Al Qaeda might be planning to hijack airplanes in the United States.Washington Post“That PDB said nothing about an attack on America,” the president told reporters as he left church on Sunday.White House transcriptAdministration officials insisted that the widespread uprising in Iraq, which appeared to show a new alliance between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, was not in fact a widespread uprising but rather a few isolated pockets of “thugs, gangs, and terrorists.”New York TimesDonald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, held a press conference: “We’re trying to explain how things are going, and they are going as they are going,” he said. “And this is a moment in Iraq’s path toward a democratic and a free system. And it is one moment, and there will be other moments. And there will be good moments and there will be less good moments.”Defense Dept. Operational BriefingAmerican forces fired a missile into a mosque in Falluja,New York Timeswhere six hundred Iraqis were reportedly killed this week, and twoReutersdead bodies, allegedly American intelligence agents, were shown on Arab television.Associated PressPresident Bush went fishing.New York TimesA Christian was crucified (for the 17th time) in the Philippines.ReutersPoppy cultivation in Afghanistan, which produced three quarters of the world’s opium last year, was said to be up 30 percent, andNew York TimesPresident Hamid Karzai declared a jihad on drugs.New York Times

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel let it be known that he will no longer be held to his promise not to kill Yasir Arafat.Associated PressSecretary of State Colin Powell said that American prosecutors were thinking about prosecuting Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the recently deposed president of Haiti, for corruption; Powell rejected a call by the Caribbean Community for an investigation into the events surrounding Aristide’s removal from Haiti. “I don’t think any purpose would be served by such an inquiry,” he said.New York TimesThe president of Ingushetia, a Russian republic, survived an assassination attempt, andReutersLithuania’s parliament impeached President Rolandas Paksas.International Herald TribuneA Russian scientist was sentenced to 15 years for selling unclassified material to a British company that Russian authorities claim was a CIA front.New York TimesUnrest continued in Uzbekistan, and policeInternational Herald Tribunein Taiwan used water cannons on protesters.New York TimesUnited Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, who as the U.N. head of peacekeeping failed to intervene to stop the Rwandangenocide, said that the reports of massacres and rapes in Sudan “leave me with a deep sense of foreboding.”New York TimesIllinois expressed regret for the lynching of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in 1844 and the expulsion of the Mormons in 1846.Associated PressGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said that he would prefer state legislators to work part-time. “I like them when they’re scrambling and they really have to work hard.”New York TimesPeople were dying of hunger in Zimbabwe.Agence France-PresseNepal banned public protests in Katmandu; 25,000Associated Pressprotesters defied the ban and many were arrested.New York TimesA federal air marshall left her loaded pistol on a shelf in a public restroom at the Cleveland, Ohio, airport near gate C-3; a passenger found the gun and immediately contacted the proper authorities.Cleveland Plain DealerA military lawyer for a Guantnamo Bay prisoner filed a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the president’s military tribunals.New York TimesCivil war broke out between two groups of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels.New York TimesA severed human head was found in a bag on a park bench in Honduras, where the government has been cracking down on street gangs; the bag also contained a note addressed to President Ricardo Maduro: “Maduro old man, we are so hungry we are eating people.”CNNThe head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, formerly known as the KGB, was named head of the Russian Volleyball Association.New York TimesTourism was up in the Middle East.New York Times

The USDA rejected a request from a Kansasbeef company that asked for permission to test all its cattle for mad cow disease; the decision was announced by the department’s undersecretary for marketing and regulation.New York TimesBritish researchers discovered a previously unknown prion disease among sheep.New ScientistThe feral hog population in East Texas was out of control, wildlife scientists warned, and one rancher said he was afraid to let his children leave the yard.Texas A&M UniversityFlorida police arrested a nine-year-old girl for stealing a black-and-white bunny rabbit named Oreo, and theAssociated PressBritish government proposed jailing people for merely associating with terror suspects.GuardianCanada ordered the slaughter of 19 million chickens, turkeys, and ducks to stop the spread of bird flu.New York TimesBrazil said that it had gotten the destruction of the Amazon rain forest under control and that only 9,169 square miles (an area the size of Massachusetts) were destroyed last year.Associated PressAventis Pasteur recalled its Imovax rabies vaccine because a live strain of the virus was found in one batch.Associated PressA new study concluded that Greenland’s ice sheet could melt within a thousand years, which would raise sea level 23 feet, andNational GeographicAmerican scientists announced that frequent ejaculation can help prevent prostate cancer.New ScientistScientists discovered that regular consumption of pig whipworm eggs can cure inflammatory bowel disease.New ScientistSelf-assembling nano-tubes could be used to make better joints, scientists said.Purdue NewsA study found that teenage lesbianssmoke too much.New ScientistCanada banned baby walkers, and aNew York TimesMexican woman performed a cesarean section on herself with a kitchen knife.Reuters

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

February 2020

Trumpism After Trump

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My Gang Is Jesus”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Cancer Chair

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Birds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Skinning Tree

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Interpretation of Dreams

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dearest Lizzie

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Trumpism After Trump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

I had come to Washington to witness either the birth of an ideology or what may turn out to be the passing of a kidney stone through the Republican Party. There was a new movement afoot: National Conservatives, they called themselves, and they were gathering here, at the Ritz-Carlton, at 22nd Street and M. Disparate tribes had posted up for the potlatch: reformacons, blood-and-soilers, curious liberal nationalists, “Austrians,” repentant neocons, evangelical Christians, corporate raiders, cattle ranchers, Silicon Valley dissidents, Buckleyites, Straussians, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Tories, dark-web spiders, tradcons, Lone Conservatives, Fed-Socs, Young Republicans, Reaganites in amber. Most straddled more than one category.

Article
The Cancer Chair·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

There is a cancer camaraderie I’ve never felt. That I find inimical, in fact. Along with the official optimism that percolates out of pamphlets, the milestone celebrations that seem aimed at children, the lemonade people squeeze out of their tumors. My stoniness has not always served me well. Among the cancer staff, there is special affection for the jocular sufferer, the one who makes light of lousy bowel movements and extols the spiritual tonic of neuropathy. And why not? Spend your waking life in hell, and you too might cherish the soul who’d learned to praise the flames. I can’t do it. I’m not chipper by nature, and just hearing the word cancer makes me feel like I’m wearing a welder’s mask.

Article
“My Gang Is Jesus”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

The Assembly of God True Grapevine was little more than a fluorescent-lit room wedged between a bar and an empty lot in Jacaré, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side. A few dozen people sat in the rows of plastic lawn chairs that served as pews, while shuddering wall fans circulated hot air. The congregation was largely female; of the few men in attendance, most wore collared shirts and old leather shoes. Now and then, Martins veered from Portuguese into celestial tongues. People rose from their seats, thrust their hands into the air, and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Article
The Birds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

Article
The Skinning Tree·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

The town prepares all year, and the performance, The Legend of Rawhide, has a cast and crew of hundreds, almost all local volunteers, including elementary school children. There are six generations of Rawhide actors in one family; three or four generations seems to be the average. The show is performed twice, on Friday and Saturday night.

The plot is based on an event that, as local legend has it, occurred fifteen miles south of Lusk, in Rawhide Buttes. It goes like this: Clyde Pickett is traveling with a wagon train to California. He tells the other Pioneers: “The only good Injun’s a dead Injun.” Clyde loves Kate Farley, and to impress her, he shoots the first Indian he sees, who happens to be an Indian Princess. The Indians approach the Pioneers and ask that the murderer give himself up. Clyde won’t admit he did it. The Indians attack the wagon train and, eventually, Clyde surrenders. The Indians tie Clyde to the Skinning Tree and flay him alive. Later, Kate retrieves her dead lover’s body and the wagon train continues west.

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 commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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