Weekly Review — May 6, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Cyclone Nargis tore off roofs, shredded trees, overturned cars, and killed more than 10,000 people in Myanmar.Local 6Tens of thousands of Somalis rioted in Mogadishu over the high cost of food,CNNPresident Bush pledged $770 million in international food aid,BBCand an inmate awaiting trial for murder sued an Arkansas county jail for underfeeding him after he shed 105 pounds from his 413-pound frame. “About an hour after each meal,” he stated in a complaint, “my stomach starts to hurt and growl [and] I feel hungry again. We are literally being starved to death.”CBSThe sister-in-law of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian electrician accused of locking his daughter in a basement dungeon for 24 years and fathering seven children with her, told the Associated Press that Fritzl hadn’t had sex with his wife in many years: “I believe it was because my sister had been getting bigger,” she said. “He never liked fat women.”AP via GooglePolice in Germany discovered the bodies of three dead babies stored in a freezer in the cellar of a family home, after two of the family’s older children went rummaging for a frozen pizza,CNNand a former Mr Gay UK charged with murder was accused of carving up, dicing, cooking, and eating his victim’s leg.BBCTelegraph UKPhilipp Freiherr von Boeselager, believed to be the last surviving member of the circle of plotters who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler with a briefcase bomb, died at the age of 90.CNN

A Japanese government employee was found to have viewed online pornography at work more than 780,000 times in nine months,BBCand an Ecuadorian politician proposed that a woman’s right to sexual pleasure be made part of the country’s new constitution.BBCWestern Australia’s Liberal Party leader, Troy Buswell, admitted to having sniffed the chair of a female staffer in 2005.The AustralianAt a town-hall meeting in Iowa, Baptist minister Marty Parrish asked Republican presidential nominee John McCain whether it was true that he had called his wife, Cindy, a “cunt” in 1992. “You know,” McCain replied, “that’s the great thing about town-hall meetings, sir, but we really don’t, there’s people here who don’t respect that kind of language. So I’ll move on.” Parrish was then escorted from the meeting by the Secret Service and local police. The Huffington PostIn western Indiana, the president of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union attributed his support for Hillary Clinton to her “testicular fortitude” in facing problems like NAFTA.CBSAfter Hillary Clinton proposed that she and Barack Obama compete in a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate, Fox News broadcast an image of Abraham Lincoln facing off against ex-slave Frederick Douglass instead of 1860 Democratic presidential nominee Stephen A. Douglas.The AtlanticA filly named Eight Belles, Hillary Clinton’s pick, came in second in the Kentucky Derby, while victory went to the agile colt Big Brown; after losing, Eight Belles broke both front ankles and was promptly euthanized.The IndependentABCSpeaking to North CarolinaDemocrats,Clinton promised, “If Senator Obama is the nominee, you better believe I’ll work my heart out for him.”CBS

An Italian police officer shot herself in the head outside a stadium during a second-division soccer match,Sports IllustratedBrazilian football star Ronaldo picked up and was blackmailed by three transvestite prostitutes,.BBCand an eight-year-old boy in Arizona died after a goal post fell on him during a soccer game.Fox NewsAn Illinois newspaper carrier rescued an elderly woman whose leg had been pinned for four days under the dead body of her obese 77-year-old husband.Fox NewsSeven hundred and fifty thousand people made reservations to visit the exhumed corpse of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Padre Pio, who exhibited the stigmata, and who once wrestled with the devil, died in 1968.News DailyScientists reported that echolocating bats cry out loud to detect their prey, emitting sounds louder than those at a rock concert,PlosoneScience Dailywhile spiders “talk” to potential mates using a type of light not visible to the human eye.BBCAlbert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who invented LSD and credited it with allowing him to see “the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” died in his hilltop home at the age of 102.The New York Times

Share
Single Page

More from Gemma Sieff:

Weekly Review February 3, 2017, 12:17 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, a Trump supporter is charged with killing seven people at a mosque in Quebec, and the last man on the moon dies

From the February 2016 issue

Isn’t It Romantic?

Looking for love in the age of Tinder

Weekly Review January 20, 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

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.

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.

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.

In response to a major volcanic eruption, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed he would “eat that ashfall. I’m even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano.”

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