Weekly Review — September 23, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

After many years of increasing borrowing and at least thirteen months of evidence of an impending catastrophe, American financial institutions faced the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression. “The world,” explained Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “no longer has the capacity to absorb fake U.S. dollars.”EconomistThe Wall Street JournalBloombergGlobal stock markets lost $3.1 trillion in four days, and American International Group (AIG), the world’s biggest insurance company and a leader in the $62 trillion credit-default swap market, was nearly bankrupted. “The private market has screwed itself up,” said Representative Barney Frank (D., Mass.), “and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.” The Federal Reserve loaned AIG $85 billion at 11 percent interest and took control of the company, which was founded in China in 1919 and driven out thirty years later by Mao. AIG was replaced in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by Kraft, the makers of Cheez Whiz. Der SpiegelThe New York TimesThe New York TimesDer SpiegelBoston GlobeCNNBloombergCentral banks poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the market, and the Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily banned the short-selling of 799 financial-institution stocks. The Bush Administration announced that it had a plan.BBCDer SpiegelThe Los Angeles TimesBloombergSECThe International Herald TribuneThe Washington Post“My first instinct,” said President George W. Bush, “was to let the market work, until I realized, being briefed by expertsâ?¦ It turns out that there’s a lot of interlinks through the financial system.” The Bush Administration’s three-page draft bill would permit the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billionâ??$2,000 per Americanâ??in bad, mortgage-related debt, and would exempt the Treasury from administrative supervision, from legal challenges by any court, and from rules pertaining to government contracts. BloombergThe Wall Street JournalThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostPoliticoBloombergThe New York TimesFinance industry lobbyists tried to stop lawmakers from limiting executive salaries at bailed-out companies, and fought to get their companies hired to control the assets that the Treasury will oversee.The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalMorgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the two remaining major U.S. investment banks, transformed themselves into traditional commercial banks, and a Lehman Brothers Fire Safety Team trucker hat sold on eBay for $84. “Lehman,” said Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, “rest in peace.” The Washington PostReutersBloombergeBayThe Wall Street JournalBloomberg

The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad,Pakistan, was destroyed by a huge truck bomb, killing at least 53 people and wounding at least 266.The Washington PostThe Christian Science MonitorBBCAP via YahooThe New York TimesTwo car bombs near the U.S. embassy in Sana, Yemen, killed 17 people, including Susan Elbaneh, a high school senior from Lackawanna, N.Y., who had a cousin allegedly in Al Qaeda. Elbaneh had recently entered into an arranged marriage with a Yemeni man, who was also killed in the attack. AP via Detroit Free PressAP via Star-TribuneThe Christian Science MonitorThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesWaPoOil facilities and pipelines in Nigeria were attacked by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which declared that it would “continue to nibble every day at the oil infrastructure in Nigeria until the oil exports reach zero.”The New York TimesThe New York TimesA truck carrying 20 tons of money from the Philadelphia Mint to the U.S. Treasury in Miami crashed, killing one passenger and spilling 3.7 million nickels onto I-95. “It’s shiny,” said Florida Highway Patrol trooper Kim Miller.Philadelphia InquirerWFTVMiami Herald

The presidential candidates scrambled to blame each other for the financial crisis and to clarify their positions on the proposed recovery plan; John McCain said that if he were president, he’d fire the chairman of the SEC, who is not technically under presidential jurisdiction.The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Washington PostCNNPoliticoThe Wall Street JournalABCThe wife of international banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild endorsed McCain for president because she finds Barack Obama to be an elitist.CNNReporters traveling on McCain’s Straight Talk Air, who had not had time with the candidate for over a month, staged a protest. “Bring Mac back!” they chanted, in the coach cabin of the plane. “Bring Mac back!”PoliticoAt a Ford factory in Macomb County, Michigan, Senator Joe Biden jumped in a red Mustang convertible and revved the engine. “I like muscle cars,” he said, as factory workers whooped. “I tell you, man, this is nice.” NewsweekThe New York TimesFormer Justice Department terrorism prosecutor Ed Oâ??Callaghan tried to stall a pending ethics inquiry into Alaska Governor Sarah Palin‘s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, BloombergBBCABCAnchorage Daily NewsTPMNewsweekAP via Detroit Free Pressand Vice President Dick Cheney watched a reenactment of the Battle of Chickamauga, the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, in which his great-great-grandfather fought for the losing Union side. Atlanta Journal-CourierIn parts of Texas hit by Hurricane Ike, an estimated 20,000 cows and horses roamed free. Four thousand cows had been found dead, and officials thought that many more would never be found. “They’re being eaten,” said Texas AgriLife Extension Service spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips, “by alligators.” AP via Star-Telegram

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 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner

Amount American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class:

$40,000

A daddy longlegs preserved in amber 99 million years ago was found to have an erection.

Trump tweeted that he had created “jobs, jobs, jobs” since becoming president, and it was reported that Trump plans to bolster job creation by loosening regulations on the global sale of US-made artillery, warships, fighter jets, and drones.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today