Weekly Review — December 16, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Federal agents arrested hedge-fund manager Bernard Madoff and charged him with running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, possibly the largest in Wall Street history. Madoff faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines; he had hoped to distribute his last $200 million to friends, family, and favored employees before his arrest, but was turned in by his sons. SECNYTBloombergWSJNYTRepublicansenators killed a plan to loan $14 billion to American automakers, and the White House said it would consider other options to save the industry and as many as three million auto-related jobs, such as diverting some of the $700 billion reserved for bailing out the finance industry.WSJNYTAP via YahooNPRKalamazoo GazetteAP via YahooSteel and rubber plants across the United States and Canada continued to cut jobs,Cadiz RecordHerald-DispatchMcCook Daily GazetteTimes-Bulletin (Ohio) Victoria AdvocateHartford CourantKalamazoo GazetteIHTand 19 major U.S. companies in other sectors announced plans to lay off more than 80,000 people. Unemployment was increasing faster for college graduates than for non-graduates, as lawyers, architects, tech workers, and National Public Radio hosts were fired. WSJMinnesota Star-TribuneNPRWPNYTDetroit Free PressCNNThe Italian government bought 100,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and donated them to charity, TelegraphWSJand the U.S. Federal Reserve continued to refuse to identify the recipients of $2 trillion in secret emergency loans or to say what collateral it has received. “It would really be a shame,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “if we have to find this out ten years from now after some really nasty class-action suit and our financial system has completely collapsed.” Bloomberg

Illinois Governor Milorad “Rod” Blagojevich was arrested for what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called a “political corruption crime spree.” The evidence included wiretap recordings in which Blagojevich, who has the power to name President-elect Barack Obama’s successor in the Senate, talks about trading the Senate seat for “something real good” and refers to Obama as “that motherfucker.” “Our Milorad was framed,” said Dragan Blagojevic, reportedly a cousin, who invited the governor back to his ancestral native village of Veliki Krcmari, in Serbia. “He can have a cow,” he added, “or a pig or two.” Chicago TribuneChicago TribuneTPMNYTPoliticoNYTChicago TribuneChicago TribuneWPChicago TribuneNYTChicago TribuneBlic via JavnoRadio Free EuropeChicago TribuneSouthtown StarAP via GoogleThe Serbian Pink Panthers, the cross-dressing gang who stole more than $100 million in jewels from a store in Paris last week, were still on the loose, NYTand Bettie Page died. “Charming” photographs of Page “trussed up in rope” were recalled with fondness by New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis. “We are surrounded by visuals that are far more explicit than any Bettie Page pinup,” Dargis wrote, “images of oiled and sculptured flesh that promise the universe and deliver so little.”Chicago TribuneNYTLATNYTAt the site of a former Dirty War detention center near Buenos Aires, ten thousand human bone fragments were found in a mass grave beneath a wall with two hundred bullet marks in it. The bodies had been doused in fuel and burned together with tires to mask the smell.BBC

Envelopes with “suspicious powder” were received by officials in 13 states,Houston ChronicleFort Mill TimesLawrence Journal-WorldAtlanta Journal-Courierand Wasilla Bible Church in Alaska was damaged by a fire, likely arson. Governor Sarah Palin issued a statement affirming her “faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good.” Anchorage Daily NewsAP via Denver PostOn the last day of Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people at a restaurant near Kirkuk, Iraq, where local Kurdish and Arab leaders were holding a “meeting of understanding.” Elsewhere, Eid was ruined by the financial crisis. “What does it say about me,” asked Zeinab Mansour, a 32-year-old woman in Cairo buying meat for her Eid meal, “when I have to ask the butcher to give me bones that he used to throw to the dogs?” LATAP via GoogleAt a press conference in Baghdad, President George W. Bush dodged two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi television reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi. “This is a gift from the Iraqis,” shouted al-Zaidi, “This is the farewell kiss, you dog!”NYTNYTNYTNYTIn Greece, where youth unemployment is roughly 25 percent, police killed a fifteen-year-old, upper-middle-class schoolboy in the left-wing Athens neighborhood of Exarchia, triggering a week of riots by local anarchists. Near Athens Polytechnic University, the site of a 1973 anti-fascist rebellion in which police killed 22 students, the rioters vandalized or firebombed an estimated 560 shops, 170 bank branches, and 17 hotels, and torched the city’s large Christmas tree, singing carols as they watched it burn. BBCIHTCSMEkathimeriniBloombergDer SpiegelBBCLATNYTEkathimeriniGuardianWSJTimes UKWSJNYTTimes UKSpurred by pollution, global warming, and overfishing, massive poisonous jellyfish and tiny jellyfish-like creatures were gathering in huge swarms, disrupting fisheries and marine mines, clogging nuclear-plant intake valves, and threatening tourists around the world. Colorado Springs GazetteChristian PostNSFAn atheist group in Springfield, Illinois, posted a sign next to a Nativity scene in the state’s capitol building. “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell,” read the sign. “There is only our natural world.”Chicago Tribune

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

December 2019

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Post
Perhaps the World Ends Here·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Climate disaster at Wounded Knee

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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.

An eight-foot minke whale washed ashore on the Thames, the third beaching of a dead whale on the river in two months.

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