Weekly Review — May 11, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Lost Souls in Hell, 1875]

Lost Souls in Hell, 1875.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and said that there are “many more photographs and indeed some videos” of American soldiers engaging in “blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman” behavior; Rumsfeld took “full responsibility” for the abuse but still refused to resign. “It’s going to get a good deal more terrible, I’m afraid.” Specialist Sabrina Harman, who faces court martial because of her role in the torture, said in an email that she never even saw a copy of the Geneva Conventions until recently. “I read the entire thing,” she said, “highlighting everything the prison is in violation of. There’s a lot.” Harman said her job was to “soften up” prisoners for interrogation.TelegraphAmerican soldiers allegedly put a harness on an elderly Iraqi woman and rode her like a donkey.NewsdayNew charges included rape, murder, and child molestation.Intelwire“The system works,” Rumsfeld told the Senate.GuardianPresident Bush, who authorized his staff to leak the fact that he had privately rebuked Donald Rumsfeld for failing to tell him about the torture photographs, apologized on Arab television; British Prime Minister Tony Blair also apologized, though there were questions about the authenticity of the British images.New York Times, Agence France-PressePresident Bush continued to maintain that the Abu Ghraib torturers were un-American, but human-rights advocates pointed out that similar abuse takes place in U.S. prisons all the time, especially in Texas.New York TimesThe Council on American-Islamic Relations reported that anti-Muslim bias incidents are up 70 percent, and aNew York Timesnew Justice Department report warned that Al Qaeda is recruiting supporters in American prisons.New York TimesSomeone desecrated the grave of James Byrd Jr., the black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup in Texas, for the second time.New York TimesIt was reported that CACI International, the company that employs one of the accused Abu Ghraib torturers, also sells the Bush Administration ethics training tapes.IntelwireDon Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had,” said Vice President Dick Cheney. “People ought to let him do his job.”New York Times

The Bush Administration was trying to persuade European and other leaders to support Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, even though Sharon’s own Likud Party rejected it.New York TimesSudan, where government-sponsored Arab militias called Janjaweed have been slaughtering black farmers, was elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights over the objections of the United States. One Sudanese diplomat scoffed at the U.S. objection and pointed to the American atrocities in Iraq.New York TimesU.S. officials postponed the release of this year’s international human-rights report because the timing was somewhat embarrassing.New York TimesEthnic violence continued in Nigeria between the Taroks and Fulanis.ReutersThe prime minister of Nepal resigned after weeks of violent street protests against the king.New York TimesPresident Akhmad Kadyrov of Chechnya was killed along with a dozen more officials in a bomb attack at Dynamo stadium in Grozny, where a celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany was under way.CNNRussian legislators hired a Siberian shaman to purge the parliament building of “negative energy.”AnanovaSheikh Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, an aide to Moktada al-Sadr, offered rewards for the capture or killing of British soldiers; he said that female soldiers could be kept as slaves.GuardianAlabama police were chasing a gang of cross-dressing car thieves, andNew York TimesAl Gore and a group of investors bought a cable television news channel they plan to market to young people.New York TimesChile legalized divorce.Associated Press

A German ornithologist discovered that urban nightingales, forced to compete with noise pollution, can sing so loud they break the law. The loudest recorded was 95 decibels, which is as loud as a chainsaw.New ScientistBrazilians were worried that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva drinks too much.New York TimesThe Congressional Research Service said that Bush Administration officials broke the law when they ordered the Medicare actuary to withhold information on the true cost of the new Medicare law from Congress.New York TimesA new federal building was dedicated in Oklahoma City.New York TimesOsama bin Laden offered a reward of 10,000 grams of gold for the head of L. Paul Bremer, and atAssociated Pressleast ten people died in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Karachi, Pakistan.Agence France-PresseBrooklyn police arrested a forty-three-year-old armless man for raping and beating one of his fellow nursing-home inmates.NY1Haitian farmers have been reduced to eating the seed that they should be planting, a German aid agency said; otherNews24.comHaitians were eating biscuits made out of butter, salt, water, and dirt.New York TimesFifteen Chinese warehouse workers were crushed to death by an avalanche of garlic.BBCWorld grain carryover stocks were at a 30-year low, it was reported, well below the 70-day consumption level that is considered the minimum for basic food security.Earth Policy InstituteThe Pentagon was thinking about setting up a new office to plan postwar operations for future wars, and theNew York TimesSelective Service System proposed requiring women to register for the draft.Seattle Post-IntelligencerThe Walt Disney Companyrefused to distribute a new Miramax documentary by Michael Moore called Fahrenheit 911, which is highly critical of President Bush.New York TimesAfrican clawed frogs were invading San Francisco.Associated PressIt was discovered that Paroxetine, an antidepressant, helps relieve irritable-bowel syndrome, and a University of Pittsburgh Medical Centernew study found that Americans get substandard medical care most of the time, despite the fact that they spend about $1.4 trillion a year for it.New York TimesMarijuana use was up in the United States.New ScientistChinese researchers found evidence that SARS is spread by sweat, andNew Scientistscientists announced that women with large breasts and narrow waists are especially fertile.New Scientist

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

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
More Than a Data Dump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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.

An Iraqi man complaining on live television about the country’s health services died on air.

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