Weekly Review — January 15, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Charges of a rigged presidential election triggered violence along tribal lines in Kenya, leading to more than 700 deaths and the displacement of 250,000 Kenyans. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who lost the election to incumbent Mwai Kibaki, said that his first cousin Barack Obama had called him twice to express his concern, “despite being in the middle of the very busy New Hampshire primary.”AFP.comTelegraph.co.ukObama and Mike Huckabee were the surprise winners of the Iowacaucuses. “None of this worries me,” said Rudy Giuliani, who came in sixth place in the Republican caucus. “September 11, there were times I was worried.”NYDailyNews.comJohn McCain and a tearful Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primaries.NYTimes.com“You look at me, September 11,” said Giuliani when asked if he would ever cry in public, “there were times in which it was impossible not to feel the emotion.” NYDailyNews.com G.O.P. candidate Vermin Supreme picked up 41 votes in the New Hampshire primary, and Dennis Kucinich demanded and was granted a recount.New Hampshire Public RadioNBC11.comVisiting the Middle East, President George W. Bush urged Gulf state leaders to join him in confronting Iran, “before it’s too late.” BBCnews.comBush, guarded by ten thousand policemen in Jerusalem, told Condoleezza Rice that the United States should have bombed Auschwitz, and was flown by helicopter to Bethlehem so that he could pass through a tiny Door of Humility and pray at the traditionally venerated birthplace of Jesus Christ.BBCnews.comYahoonewsReuters via Haaretz.com

The American Dialect Society voted “subprime” the word of the year,CNN.comand Merrill Lynch reported that the United States had already entered a recession.BBCnews.comFor the first time since the 1800s the average Briton was earning more than the average American, even though the pound was at an all-time low against the euro.Reuters UKStarbucks fired its CEO and announced that it would start to open fewer than its usual six stores per day.BBCnews.comHouston ChronicleThe World Bank said that the prosperity of China and other emerging markets would help soften the coming global economic downturn,BBCnews.comand Pat Robertson predicted that China will convert to Christianity. “God’s going to give us China,” he said. “China will be the largest Christian nation on earth.”Huffington PostThe Chinese government expelled more than five hundred people from the Communist Party for violating the country’s one-child policy, Washington PostSouth Asia was suffering from severe food shortages,BBCnews.comand the Australian government refused to provide compensation to Aborigines (who until 1967 were governed under flora and fauna laws) who were stolen from their parents as children.Reuters UKKeepers at the Nuremberg Zoo, under criticism for allegedly allowing polar bear mothers to eat and abandon their young, announced that they would hand-rear an at-risk cub but also made clear that they do not want a repeat of the Berlin Zoo’s Knut-mania.BBCnews.comBenazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, asked the media to leave him alone after he was made head of his mother’s party, and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf blamed Bhutto for her own assassination. “For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone,” he said. “Nobody else.”BBCnews.comBBCnews.comSir Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 became the first person to climb Mount Everest, along with Tenzing Norgay, died at age 88.NYTimes.com

A victim of Hurricane Katrina was suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for $3,000,000,000,000,000 after the Corps admitted that it had done a poor job designing the broken New Orleans levees.Click2Houston.comThe Museum of Bogota in Colombia opened an exhibit dedicated to laziness,BBCnews.comand scientists in Houston discovered a vaccine that makes cocaine no fun.Houston ChronicleIt was revealed that a single trader seeking bragging rights caused oil to reach a record high of $100 a barrel,BBCnews.comand Tata Motors unveiled a $2,500 automobile in India, a potential market of 1.1 billion people.AFP.comA U.S. study found that biofuels could be produced from a fast-growing grass and would emit up to 94 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline,BBCnews.coma British artist exhibited 55 “beautiful and delicate” canvases of his ejaculate sprinkled with carbon dust,Islington Gazetteand French customs officials seized 224,000 fake anti-impotence pills.ReutersForty-seven U.S. senators were fighting for the return of guns to national parks and wildlife refuges. Associated PressSoldiers were being sent to Afghanistan wearing high-tech helmets that gather data on how bomb blasts impact their brains,USAToday.comand it was revealed that Blackwater dropped riot-control gas on U.S. soldiers in Iraq in 2005. “This,” said Army Captain Kincy Clark, “was decidedly uncool.”NYTimes.comScientists from the American Astronomical Society attended their annual meeting and agreed that the universe is bizarre and violent. “This is the glory of the universe,” said the association’s president. “What is odd and what is normal is changing.”Associated Press

Share
Single Page

More from Chantal Clarke:

Weekly Review August 12, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review July 8, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review May 20, 2008, 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