Weekly Review — January 30, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

President George W. Bush gave the State of the Union address, in which he discussed plans to balance the budget, double the size of the Border Patrol, reduce gasoline consumption in the United States by 20 percent, and institute a tax deduction to help American workers afford private health insurance. He announced that he was sending more than 20,000 additional soldiers to Iraq, asked Congress to authorize an increase of 92,000 active soldiers over the next five years, and proposed forming a “Civilian Reserve Corps.” He complimented several guests on their heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice, including NBA star Dikembe Mutombo and Julie Aigner-Clark, the founder of an independent video-production business now owned by the Walt Disney Company. The state of the union, Bush said, is strong. NYTArmy Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, an expert on counterinsurgency, replaced Army Gen. George Casey as U.S. commander of troops in Iraq, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush‘s plan to increase the number of troops. Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia expressed hope that “wherever possible, the Iraqis should bear the brunt of the sectarian violence.” USA TodayU.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite holy city of Najaf killed at least 200 members of an apocalyptic cult, Reutersand an egg crate full of pigeons exploded at a pet market in Baghdad, killing 15 people and injuring 35. “My friends and I rushed to the scene,” said a witness, “where we saw burned dead bodies, pieces of flesh, and several dead expensive puppies and birds.”BBCAt the World Economic Forum in Davos, Adel Abdul Mahdi, the Vice President of Iraq, called the occupation of Iraq an “idiot decision.”Reuters

The U.S. military gave a public demonstration of a new non-lethal heat-ray gun known as the Active Denial System,BBCand the perjury trial of former vice-presidential aide I. Scooter Libby began. Cathie Martin, former communications director for Vice President Dick Cheney, testified that the government often releases bad news late on Friday. “Fewer people pay attention to it,” she explained. CIA official Craig Schmall testified that Libby had met with Tom Cruise to discuss the treatment of Scientologists in Germany. Libby “was a little excited about it,” he recalled; Schmall said that he too had been excited.Washington PostWashington PostSix teenage girls were arrested on conspiracy charges after a list of 300 assassination targets, including Tom Cruise and the Energizer Bunny, was discovered in a trash can in a rural Tennessee high school. “I was very scared, my friends were scared,” said sophomore Lakyn Ledford, who stayed home after learning that student-athletes were also on the list. AP via SFGate.comIt was revealed that Government Elementary School Number 4, the public school in Indonesia that Barack Obama attended when he was six, had a painting of Jesus on the wall. Fox News acknowledged that they had given too much credence to a claim by Insight Magazine that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was investigating the possibility that Obama’s public school was a madrassah.ABCRepublican legislators in Georgia introduced a bill to allow a white suburb of Atlanta to secede from the city. AP via Yahoo

North Koreademanded 44 million euros fromthe insurance company Lloyd’sof London as compensation for damages inan alleged catastrophic helicopter accident in April 2005. Accordingto their filed claim, a helicopter owned by the state airline wasflying from Pyongyang to a remote island to save a woman who was inlabor with triplets when it crashed into a warehouse full ofhumanitarian-relief supplies, causing a fire. “All this businessabout spending their money ontheir nuclear program,” said a sourceclose to the North Koreans, “iscompletetosh.” LondonTimesFordposted a loss of $12.7 billion for 2006, the largest in its 103-year history, and equivalent to the GDP of Jordan. Asked about his plans for the company, CEO Alan R. Mulally said, “At the top of the list, I would put dealing with reality.”USA TodayNYTProfits at Tokyo-based Nintendo Co. were up 43 percent in the nine months ending in December, largely on sales of its new Wii video-game system,AP via LA Timesand Apple CEO Steve Jobs was questioned by federal investigators about his role in an options backdating scandal. Reuters via eweek.comScientists in Jena, Germany, who had been using spaghetti and cucumbers as bait to make a sloth climb up and down a pole, gave up after three years,APand veterinarians at Aquatopia in Antwerp announced that Mozart, an iguana that has had an erection for a week, would have to have one of his two penises amputated. Reuters via the AustralianIn Leisureville, a retirement community in Florida, a registered sex offender died of heart disease while looking at pornography on his computer while naked,Forida Sun-Sentineland a ring-neck duck named Perky, who was found alive in a hunter’s refrigerator two days after being shot, died, then came back to life in Tallahassee. BBCA molecular scientist who owns a café announced that he had found a way to put caffeine in a donut.AP via NY PostRuth Bader Ginsburg said that being the only female Supreme Court justice made her feel lonely, USA Todayand Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish reporter and author of several acclaimed works of nonfiction, including The Soccer War, died.BBCAt the Gulf Cup tournament in Abu Dhabi, Iraqis painted their faces and cheered their national soccer team. “By God, football unites us,” said one woman in the crowd. “I wish we could be like that back home.” The team failed to make the final round. Reuters via The Australian

Share
Single Page

More from Sam Stark:

From the February 2015 issue

A Weimar Home Companion

Walter Benjamin on the air

Commentary January 21, 2011, 3:43 pm

United We Brand!

Weekly Review September 28, 2010, 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

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.

Gimme Shelter

= 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.

Post
Perhaps the World Ends Here·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Climate disaster at Wounded Knee

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
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.

An eight-foot minke whale washed ashore on the Thames, the third beaching of a dead whale on the river in two months.

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