Weekly Review — April 18, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Iran announced that it had successfully produced low-grade enriched uranium; to celebrate, men in traditional dress danced with uranium samples.Reuters via Yahoo! NewsThe Iranian government also promised to give $50 million to the Palestinian Authority, now controlled by Hamas, which let it be known that it would recognize Israel’s right to exist if the Jewish state were to withdraw from the entire West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. CNN.comDemocracy Now!A suicide bomber killed nine people at a falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv,The New York Timesand in Sri Lanka bomb attacks by Tamil rebels killed 16 people.BBC NewsAt least five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, and a car bombing in Baquba killed 27 people.The New York TimesXinhua.netSome Iraqis were changing their names to avoid being identified as either Sunni or Shiite. “[I] don’t want my children to die,” said the Shiite father of Ali, Hassan, and Fatima, “just because of their names.”Reuters via Yahoo! NewsClose to 65,000 Iraqis had fled their homes to avoid sectarian violence,BBC Newsand six former U.S. generals called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign.The AgeIt was reported that Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in the torture of Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamed al-Qahtani, who was made to perform “dog tricks”; Rumsfeld was allegedly briefed on the progress of al-Qahtani’s interrogations by phone.The AgeVice President Dick Cheney, who will receive a $1.9 million refund on his 2005 taxes, was booed at a Washington Nationals baseball game, where he threw out the first pitch. “I have never, ever,” said one fan, “heard anyone get booed like that man.”The Washington TimesThe Mercury NewsPeace activist William Sloane Coffin The Seattle Timesand author Muriel Spark died,The Heraldand Tiger Woods apologized for calling himself a spaz.Reuters via Yahoo! News

Officials in Afghanistan said that 41 Taliban and six police officers had been killed in fighting in the Helmand province; a Taliban spokesman claimed 15 Afghan police and one Taliban were killed.Al JazeeraIt was revealed that the U.S. military had mounted a propaganda campaign, targeting Iraq and the United States, intended to make Abu Muab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader (or possibly former leader) of Al Qaeda in Iraq, appear more powerful than he is. One document describing the campaign was called “Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response.”The Washington PostA poll found that 63 percent of Americans were “absolutely certain” of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.The Washington PostOther polls found: that 55 percent of Americans want a Massachusetts-style health care law;ABC Newsthat 52 percent of Americans would give up some tax deductions for a simpler tax code;Asbury Park Pressthat 51 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage (the same percentage that thinks illegal immigrants mostly contribute to American society);HoustonVoice.comTimes-Heraldand that 46 percent of Americans use profanity more than twice a week.TMCNetFurther polls found that 90 percent of Americans believe their peers are too fat, but only 40 percent believe they are too fat themselves,The Sydney Morning Heraldand that nearly three quarters of 10- to 13-year-old Americans like quesadillas.SFGate.comSixty-two percent of Mexicans polled agreed that the United States is wealthy because it exploits others.El Universal Online

An audit found that FEMA misspent at least $1 billion in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,Democracy Now!and theater programs for the deaf, operating on a shoestring, were trying to figure out who in Congress cut their $2 million in federal funding in December 2004.The New York TimesIn Italy, Bernardo Provenzano, also called The Tractor, the alleged head of the Italian mafia, was arrested near Corleone in Sicily.BBC NewsPrime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refused to admit that he had lost his seat to Romano Prodi; Prodi urged Berlusconi to admit defeat.BBC NewsRoger Toussaint, the head of the Transport Workers Union in New York City, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for leading a transit strike in December 2005.NewsdayIn Athens, Georgia, several agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms briefly detained a University of Georgia student who was dressed as a ninja. “Seeing someone with something across the face,” said a special agent, “from a federal standpointâ??that’s not right.” The student said he was leaving a pirate vs. ninja event.RedAndBlack.comIn London, a woman’s skeletal remains were found two years after her death, propped in front of a still-on TV. “I did notice a kind of rotten smell,” said a neighbor, “but the bins downstairs are strong and the stairwells smell with junkies.” BBC NewsFormer Illinois Governor George Ryan was convicted of racketeering,and in Purcell, Oklahoma, a man named Kevin Ray Underwood was arrested for killing a 10-year-old girl named Jamie Rose Bolin. “I chopped her up,” he told police. “Regarding a potential motive,” said a police chief, “this appears to have been part of a plan to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse, eat the corpse, then dispose of the organs and bones.” The police also announced that they had removed skewers and a meat tenderizer from Underwood’s apartment.Winston-Salem JournalResearchers in Africa discovered a catfish that stretches out of the water to eat land animals,NaturePrince Albert of Monaco reached the North Pole,BBC Newsand scientists in Britainfound that human fetuses cannot feel pain.BBC News

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

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
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.

Post
.TV·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A documentary about climate change, domain names, and capital

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