Weekly Review — March 20, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Congress continued its inquiry into the role of the Bush Administration in last year’s firing of eight U.S attorneys. D. Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, resigned after claiming, in an apparent attempt to save Gonzalez from the charge of lying to Congress, that he did not tell his superiors at the Justice Department that the White House wanted to fire the prosecutors. The Justice Department released a March 2005 email from Sampson to then-White House counsel Harriet Miers, in which he ranked all 93 U.S. attorneys on their loyalty to the Administration and made a “target list.” In other emails, he cited a little-known provision of the Patriot Act that authorizes the attorney general to replace U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation and consulted with Miers about the possibility of replacing between 15 and 20 percent of U.S. attorneys, “the underperforming ones,” and leaving the “loyal Bushies.”WPWPMcClatchy NewspapersTwo DemocraticCongressmen were calling for renewed inquiry into why Frank Black, the former U.S. attorney in Guam, was removed from his position after he began investigating Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff in 2002.Guam Pacific Daily NewsThe Chiquita banana company reached a settlement with the Justice Department over payments that it made to right-wing and left-wing terrorists in Colombia,NYTand Rudy Giuliani’s law firm continued to lobby on behalf of Hugo Chavez’s oil company. NYT

At a military hearing in Guantánamo Bay Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessed to being the mastermind of the September 11 attacks; he also claimed to have been “responsible” for: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Richard Reid’s attempted shoe bombing of an airplane; the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia; and plots to assassinate several former presidents, including Jimmy Carter. “For sure,” he said, “I’m American enemies.” According to the released transcript, when asked whether his statement was the result of mistreatment by his interrogators, he said, “CIA peoples. Yes. At the beginning when they transferred me [REDACTED].” WPThe Pentagon announced that another Guantánamo detainee, Walid Mohammad bin Attash, confessed to planning the 1998 bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the bombing of the American warship U.S.S. Cole in 2000.BBCEighty percent of Iraqis were reporting “attacks nearby,”ABCand Kadhim al-Jubouri, an Iraqi weightlifter who toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003, said that Saddam “was like Stalin. But the occupation is proving to be worse.”GuardianBetween 10,000 and 30,000 people marched in Washington to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anti-antiwar protesters, organized by a group called Gathering of Eagles, were angry that someone had put a pink tiara on a Navy memorial statue. “That was the real catalyst, right there,” said one Navy veteran. “They showed they were willing to desecrate something that’s sacred to the American soul.”WPWPDozens of RepublicanCongressmen were turning against the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind Act, WPMexico City was planning to legalize abortion, Reuters via Yahooand Rep. Nancy Boyda (D., Kan.) vomited into a trash can.Roll Call via Raw StoryRepresentative Pete Stark (D., Cal.) announced that he did not believe in God.LATResearchers were developing a computer program to help make end-of-life medical decisions, CBCand the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the case of Morse v. Frederick, involving a student who held up a banner that said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.”ABCMusic producer Phil Spector, who orchestrated “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” went on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson, an actress who starred in “Amazon Women on the Moon.”USA Today

It was estimated that 1.5 million homeowners will face foreclosure this year,Reutersand that money sent home by migrant laborers now exceeds direct foreign investment and foreign aid to Latin America.BBC NewsKentucky was plagued by thousands of starving and unwanted horses as a result of the prevalence of synthetic glues and public antipathy towards horseflesh. “I can’t feed a horse,” said one man. “I can’t even feed myself.” AP via YahooHalliburton announced that it would add 13,000 jobs this year,Houston Chronicleand the people of Trokavec in the Czech Republic voted overwhelmingly against allowing a U.S. radar station to be built there, with 71 of the town’s 88 registered voters opposing and one vote in favor. Today’s ZamanBeverly Hills elected Jimmy Delshad as mayor, making Delshad the highest-ranking Iranian-American elected official in the United States. USA TodayA Zogby poll found that 97 percent of Republicans believe that the media has a liberal bias, while two-thirds of Democrats believe there is a conservative bias.ZogbyDan Rather said that the American people must come to understand that what they see happening on TV, or read about on the Internet, is real,CNET.comand scientists at New York University were deleting frightening experiences from the memories of rats. “This,” said neurophysiologist Greg Quirk, “is the future of psychiatry.” Nature

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

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