Weekly Review — February 14, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Riots over blasphemous cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad broke out in India, Indonesia, Kashmir, Palestine, Thailand, the autonomous Somali region of Puntland, and Afghanistanâ??where 11 demonstrators were killed, at least 4 of them by NATO troops. A Taliban commander offered 100 kilograms of gold to anyone who killed those responsible for the cartoons. Other anti-Muhammad-cartoon protests were held in London and Philadelphia. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called on newspapers to stop re-publishing the drawings, and U.S. President George W. Bush condemned the riots but also criticized publishers. “With freedom,” said the President, “comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others.” An Iranian newspaper announced that it would publish cartoons mocking the Holocaust. Flemming Rose, the Danish newspaper editor who published the original caricatures of Muhammad, said that he’d like to re-publish the Holocaust cartoons and was subsequently put on leave by his boss. Danes were increasingly concerned that their country would be singled out for terrorist attacks. “We make fun of everything here,” said a carpenter in Copenhagen. “One shouldn’t take it so seriously.”Arab NewsAl JazeeraBBC NewsChannel 4ReviewJournal.comCBC NewsAl JazeeraABC News OnlineBloomberg NewsItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that he was “the Jesus Christ of Italian politics.” “I sacrifice myself,” he said, “for everyone.”BBC NewsIn Iraq 11 people died in attacks, 8 people were killed by a suicide bomber, and Saddam Hussein was forced to return to court. “This is not a court,” he said, “this is a game.”AP via Yahoo! NewsAFP via Yahoo! NewsIran, said security analysts, will be ready to retaliate with commando squads, global terrorist attacks, and long-range Shahab 3 missiles if its nuclear facilities are attacked.The Boston GlobeBeaches closed in Australia when sharks went into a feeding frenzy,The Courier Mailand Peter Benchley died.AP via the New York Times

Author Michael Crichton received a journalism award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists for his novel State of Fear, which criticizes the theory of global warming. “It is fiction,” said a spokesman for the petroleum geologists, “but it has the absolute ring of truth.”The New York TimesFormer FEMA director Michael Brown told a Senate committee that the White House knew about the flooding of New Orleans immediately after the the levees were breached, even though President Bush has said he didn’t know about the flooding until the following day.ABC AMSenator Trent Lott (R., Miss.), represented by anti-tobacco lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, was suing his insurance company after it refused to pay for the loss of his home during Hurricane Katrina.The Sun HeraldRobert Grenier, director of the CIA counter-terrorism center, was fired for opposing “excessive” interrogation techniques like waterboarding. Grenier, said an intelligence official, was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been.”Times OnlinePaul Pillar, the CIA’s former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, published an article claiming that the Bush Administration had “cherry-picked” intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. “Intelligence was misused publicly,” he wrote, “to justify decisions already made.”Democracy Now!Court documents from the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby case revealed that Libby claimed he was acting with the approval of his superiors when he leaked information from classified intelligence reports to the press. The White House refused to comment on the allegations,AP via Yahoo! Newsalthough U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney did shoot and severely injure a fellow hunter while hunting quail at a friend’s 50,000-acre Texas ranch.The New York TimesKarl Rove was threatening to cut off White House support for Republican Senate Judiciary members who criticize the Bush Administration’swarrantless-wiretapping program. “It’s hardball,” said a Republican aide, “all the way.”Democracy Now!U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that the wiretapping was legal and necessary. “The short answer,” he said when asked why the Administration did not seek Congressional approval for the program, “is that we didn’t think we needed to. Quite frankly.”Democracy Now!Jimmy Carter said that warrantless wiretapping was “disgraceful and illegal.”Democracy Now!The Bush Administration was drawing up plans to sell 300,000 acres of public land, valued at over $1 billion, in the next decade. The sale is intended to replace the funding for rural schools and roads that was cut from the Administration’s 2007 budget.The Houston Chronicle

Despite White House claims that President Bush could not remember meeting lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Abramoff said that he had met the President almost a dozen times and that they had shared personal jokes. Abramoff’s claim was at least partially substantiated when a 2001 photo was published showing Bush meeting with Abramoff client Raul Garza, also known as Makateonenodua (“Black buffalo”), the then-chairman of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. In the photo Garza, who was later indicted for embezzling over $300,000 from the Kickapoo, is shaking the president’s hand while Abramoff stands in the background, smiling.TimePresident Bush announced that in 2002 the White House helped prevent a September 11-style attack on the “Liberty” Tower in Los Angeles. The White House later said that the target was actually the Library Tower, now the US Bank Tower. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that he only learned the details of the attack from Bush’s announcement.Bloomberg NewsIn New Mexico a V.A. nurse who wrote a letter criticizing the Bush Administration to her local newspaper was under investigation for sedition. Editor & PublisherA Florida man named Frank Feldmann broke into a lighthouse and tied himself to its lightning rod in order to raise awareness for children. Police had difficulty communicating with Feldmann due to heavy winds and his tiger costume.Local6.comAn Arizona State University student was arrested for masturbating in a school library. “To be honest,” he explained, “the Internet connection at my dorm isn’t good enough.”Web DevilVietnam was refusing to allow people to register website names that contained the word “buoi,” which, depending on tonal intonation, could mean either “penis” or “grapefruit,” or the word “lon,” which could mean either “vagina” or “pig.”Reuters via Yahoo! NewsFormer Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland was released from prison.The New York TimesIn New Zealand the organizers of a vintage-car exposition hired 40 karate experts to defend the cars from parrots.CNewsThe U.S. Air Force, under pressure from evangelical Christians, changed its religious tolerance guidelines to allow for religious intolerance,AP via Forbesand in Manchester, England, the BBC was planning an Easter tribute in which Jesus Christ will sing “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division before joining Judas in a duet of “Blue Monday” by New Order. Later, as Roman soldiers flay him, Jesus will sing “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” by The Smiths. The GuardianDoctors in Israel said that Ariel Sharon was unlikely to wake up.Haaretz

Share
Single Page

More from Paul Ford:

From the May 2010 issue

Just like heaven

Weekly Review March 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review November 24, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2019

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
Burning Down the House·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Discussed in this essay:

Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35.

Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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.

Shortly after the Regional Council of Veneto, in Italy, voted against climate-change legislation, its chambers were flooded.

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