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 standpoint??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

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.

Americans evacuated from Wuhan did Zumba.

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