Weekly Review — June 17, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

The Supreme Court ruled 5??4 that detainees held as “enemy combatants” by the United States in Guantanamo Bay,Cuba, have a constitutional right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus petitions in federal courts. “Liberty and security can be reconciled…within the framework of the law,” wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the court’s decision. “The Framers decided that habeas corpus…must be…a part of that law.” Dissenting, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, “So who has won? Not the detainees. The Court’s analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation.” Defense lawyers for the detainees moved to establish that their clients have the right to other constitutional protections and sought to halt ongoing military-commission trials, which permit hearsay and evidence gained from torture.John McCain called the ruling “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” Barack Obama said, “I think the Supreme Court was right.”New York TimesNew York TimescnnObama, who admitted to smoking cigarettes in recent months, also told supporters that he anticipated a “brawl” with McCain and the Republican National Committee: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” ABCPoliticoJacob Bertrand, an employee at a home-improvement store in Colorado, was arrested for shooting a coworker twenty times in the chest and nose with a nail gun, throwing a garbage can at him, and attempting to set him on fire by dousing him in lacquer thinner.MyFOXColorado.comKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia pledged to calm the world by raising his kingdom’s oil production,Independentand geneticists were developing bugs that eat woodchips and excrete petroleum.Times

Taliban forces raided a prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, allowing 870 prisoners to escape. Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops across the Pakistan border to fight the Taliban, Christian Science Monitorand British and American special forces were operating in Pakistan in an attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before George W. Bush leaves office. “If he can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden,” a U.S. intelligence source told the “Times” of London, “he can claim to have left the world a safer place.” TimesSheikh Ali al-Neda, the head of Saddam Hussein’s tribe, was killed by a car bomb, and it was reported that Pakistani smuggler A. Q. Khan possessed blueprints for nuclear warheads more advanced than those he is known to have sold to Libya, though it was unclear whether he had sold them to North Korea or Iran.Fox NewsDozens of passengers died when a plane careened upon landing and exploded in Sudan. ReutersIt was announced that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s son, Omri, who was jailed for campaign-finance corruption, will be released early for good behavior, and Hamas declared that the elder Sharon’s three-year vegetative coma is “a sign from Allah” in punishment for Sharon’s ordering the death in 2004 of wheelchair-bound Hamas cofounder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. International Herald TribuneIsrael National NewsA German sportswriter, late for a flight to Vienna to cover the European soccer championships, was arrested for calling in a hoax bomb threat from his cell phone in an attempt to delay his plane. ReutersThe Treaty of Lisbon, which reiterates many of the reforms proposed in the discarded European Union Constitution, was rejected by voters in Ireland,The Heraldand a corpse-laden “quake lake” in the Sichuan province of China was being drained.Washington Post

Kyrgyz novelist Chingiz Aitmatov and television journalist Tim Russert died. New York TimesNew YorkerTwo Anglican priests married in London,.Telegraphand research showed that same-sex marriages are more egalitarian than opposite-sex marriages. New York TimesInvestors from Abu Dhabi were seeking to purchase Manhattan’s Chrysler Building.BreitbartFormer New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was planning to start a vulture real estate fund, backed by labor unions, to profit off foreclosures resulting from the national credit crisis; the manager of the prostitution ring Spitzer patronized, Mark Brener, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges; and the prostitute who serviced Spitzer, Alexandra Ashley Dupré, photographed enjoying a day at the beach with her mother, was observed to have a tattoo in Latin on her upper pelvis that reads “tutela valui”??or, loosely translated, “I used protection.”New York SunCNNNew York TimesOne in four adults in New York City were infected with the virus that causes genital herpes, Breitbartand floods forced tens of thousands of Midwesterners from their homes.ReutersAfter twice watching a video that, prosecutors alleged, showed R&B singer R. Kelly having sex with and urinating on his then 13-year-old goddaughter, a jury in Chicago acquitted the 41-year-old on 14 counts of child pornography.CNNResponding to a Father’s Day 911 call in Stanislaus County, California, about a man who was kicking and beating his toddler by the side of the road, police descended in a helicopter, shot and killed the man, and found that his son, beaten beyond recognition, was dead. Mercury NewsRats, it was discovered, are more likely to cannibalize their young if their cages are clean. New Scientist

Share
Single Page

More from Christian Lorentzen:

From the April 2019 issue

Like This or Die

The fate of the book review in the age of the algorithm

Weekly Review November 4, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review July 29, 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

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.

A decorated veteran of the American wars in Vietnam and Iraq had his prosthetic limbs repossessed from his home in Mississippi when the VA declined to pay for them.

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