Weekly Review — September 21, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A burning Plain]

A burning plain.

The United Nations Security Council passed another resolution asking the Sudanese government to prevent its proxies from slaughtering people in Darfur (China, Algeria, Pakistan, and Russia abstained). The resolution, which for the first time formally invokes the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, says that the council will “consider” sanctions if the genocide continues.New York TimesChaos continued to rule Iraq; there were many attacks by insurgents, including several large suicide bombings, hostages were beheaded, and many civilians, including women and children, were killed in American airstrikes.New York TimesIraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi broke his hand.New York TimesAmerican weapons inspectors in Iraq once again concluded that Saddam Hussein would have liked to have developed unconventional weapons but did not in fact have such programs.New York TimesA classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush warned of civil war in Iraq, and theSan Francisco Chroniclepresident said that the country is on a path to a democratic future. Some Republicans were worried about the contradiction between the president’s optimistic comments and what is actually happening on the ground. Senator Chuck Hagel observed that “we are in deep trouble in Iraq.”Voice of AmericaPresident Vladimir Putin of Russia responded to the recent terror attacks there by announcing plans for a radical restructuring of the Russian political system that would end the popular election of regional governors and district representatives in parliament.Lexington Herald-LeaderMany of those governors praised Putin’s plans; few politicians dared criticize them. Colin Powell expressed “concerns.”New York TimesNATO was short of troops in Afghanistan.New York TimesVolcanic ash rained down on Tokyo.Associated Press

Republicans in West Virginia told voters that Democrats will ban the Bible if John Kerry wins the presidency in November.Associated PressDick Cheney said that electing John Kerry could lead to another terrorist attack.USA TodayThe federal ban on assault weapons expired.New York TimesThe mother of a dead American soldier was taken away in handcuffs after she challenged Laura Bush at a campaign rally.New York TimesTurkish politicians were debating whether to outlaw adultery.New York TimesJiang Zemin retired as head of China’s military.Daily TelegraphIsrael’s security cabinet approved a plan to pay up to $300,000 to Jewish families that agreed to abandon the Gaza Strip.New York TimesTwo Canadianlesbians were granted a divorce.New York TimesThe U.S. Department of Labor said that the average working woman spends twice as much time doing household tasks and caring for children as the average working man; working women also sleep an average one hour less than working men. The survey also said that the average adult has about five hours of leisure time a day and spends half of it watching TV.New York TimesA schoolteacher was arrested for carrying a weighted bookmark in her purse as she attempted to board an airplane in Tampa, Florida.St. Petersburg TimesA Texas judge found that the state’s system of educational funding is unconstitutional.New York TimesA federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s Internet Child Pornography Act because it blocked more than one million legitimate sites in order to block 400 pornographers.Washington PostPresident Bush worried that because of frivolous lawsuits “too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.”IC Wales

The World Health Organization reported that suicide kills more people worldwide than murder and war put together.New ScientistThe British House of Commons voted to outlaw fox hunting with dogs after pro-hunting protesters broke into the chamber and insulted the rural affairs minister.TelegraphMartha Stewart asked for permission to begin her five-month prison sentence early instead of waiting for her appeal. Stewart said she would be sad to miss the holiday season but that it was time to reclaim her “good life. I must return to my good works.”Washington PostA naughty Indian monkey was sentenced to life in prison.Chicago TribuneChicago Mayor Richard Daley announced a new municipal surveillance system that will use 2,000 remote-controlled cameras that “are the equivalent of hundreds of sets of eyes.”USA TodayScientists were developing a stinky robot that attracts flies, which it then digests and converts into electricity.New ScientistThe Cassini spacecraft discovered a new ring around Saturn.2004-09-09The Genesis space capsule, which had been collecting sun beams in outer space, crashed into the Utah desert after two helicopters failed to catch it in mid-air as planned.New ScientistEfforts to control the global spread of tuberculosis were failing.New ScientistScientists created a genetically modified fish that produces a human blood-clotting factor.New ScientistBritish psychologists warned that people who keep diaries are more likely to suffer from headaches, insomnia, digestive complaints, and social problems.New ScientistA new study found that Legionella bacteria, the cause of Legionnaire’s disease, lurks in a quarter of all hot tubs.New ScientistHippos were dying in Uganda.Associated Press

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

September 2019

The Wood Chipper

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Common Ground

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love and Acid

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Black Axe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Wood Chipper·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I was tucked in a blind behind a soda machine, with nothing in my hand but notepad and phone, when a herd of running backs broke cover and headed across the convention center floor. My God, they’re beautiful! A half dozen of them, compact as tanks, stuffed into sports shirts and cotton pants, each, around his monstrous neck, wearing a lanyard that listed number and position, name and schedule, tasks to be accomplished at the 2019 N.F.L. Scout­ing Combine. They attracted the stunned gaze of football fans and beat writers, yet, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, continued across the carpet.

Article
Common Ground·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

On a Monday morning earlier this year, I walked from the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the archaeological site that Warren unearthed, the ancient core of Jerusalem now known as the City of David. In the alleys of the Old City, stone insulated the air and awnings blocked the sun, so the streets were cold and dark and the mood was somber. Only the pilgrims were up this early. American church groups filed along the Via Dolorosa, holding thin wooden crosses and singing a hymn based on a line from the Gospel of Luke: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Narrow shops sold gardenia, musk, and amber incense alongside sweatshirts promoting the Israel Defense Forces.

I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

Article
The Black Axe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

John knew that the Black Axe was into some “risky” stuff. But he thought it was worth it. Axemen were treated with respect and had connections to important people. Without a network, John’s chances of getting a good job post-­degree were almost nil. In his second year, he decided to join, or “bam.” On the day of the initiation, John was given a shopping list: candles, bug spray, a kola nut (a caffeinated nut native to West Africa), razor blades, and 10,000 Nigerian naira (around thirty dollars)—his bamming fee. He carried it all to the top of the hill. Once night fell, Axemen made John and the other four initiates lie on their stomachs in the dirt, pressed toge­ther shoulder to shoulder, and hurled insults at them. They reeked like goats, some Axemen screamed. Others lashed them with sticks. Each Axeman walked over their backs four times. Somebody lit the bug spray on fire, and ran the flames across them, “burning that goat stink from us,” John recalled.

Article
Who Is She?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

It’s happened to you, too, hasn’t it? A habit or phase, a marriage, a disease, children or drugs, money or debt—­something you believed inescapable, something that had been going on for so long that you’d forgotten any and every step taken to lead your life here. What did you do? How did this happen? When you try to solve the crossword, someone keeps adding clues.

It’s happened to us all. The impossible knowledge is the one we all want—­the big why, the big how. Who among us won’t buy that lotto ticket? This is where stories come from and, believe me, there are only two kinds: ­one, naked lies, and two, pot holders, gas masks, condoms—­something you must carefully place between yourself and a truth too dangerous to touch.

Article
Murder Italian Style·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her son to investigate. Someone is locked in the trunk of a Fiat 127. The police arrive and find one girl seriously injured, together with the corpse of a second. Both have been raped, tortured, and left for dead. The survivor speaks of three young aggressors and a villa by the sea. Within hours two of the men have been arrested. The other will never be found.

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.

A federal judge in South Carolina ruled in favor of personal-injury lawyer George Sink Sr., who had sued his son, George Sink Jr., for using his own name at his competing law firm.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today