Weekly Review — March 10, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 651,000 jobs were lost in February (making it the third straight month in which more than 650,000 jobs have been lost) thus increasing the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, the highest level since 1983. The Obama Administration pointed to 60 new highway-paving jobs in Maryland as proof that the $787 billion stimulus package was succeeding. “That’s how we’re going to get the country back on its feet,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The White House hopes that the stimulus package will generate 3.5 million jobs; 4.4 million have been lost since the recession began in December 2007, and a total of 12.5 million people are unemployed, a number greater than the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, Washington, D.C., and both Dakotas. Economists predicted that by the summer one in ten Americans would be out of work.The Labor DepartmentNew York TimesWashington PostCNN.comU.S. Census BureauWashington PostFormer Countrywide Financial president Stanford Kurland founded PennyMac, a business that purchases delinquent mortgages, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, from the government. “It is sort of like the arsonist,” said Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, “who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it.”New York TimesThe World Bank said that the global economy would shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II,New York Timesand auditors said that even with loans from the Treasury, General Motors is likely to fail.Washington PostThe United States celebrated Grammar Day.

After Republican senators prevented the passage of a spending bill, Congress was forced to enact an emergency five-day stopgap to keep the government from shutting down. Senator John McCain criticized a $951,500 earmark for a “sustainable Las Vegas.” “So much for the promise of change,” he said.New York TimesWashington PostWhen asked about the state of the Republican party, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “It’s kind of like asking whether the stock market has bottomed out.”PoliticoThe International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his “essential role” in the genocide in Darfur. “‘Rape the women, kill the children,'” one Sudanese soldier, who deserted, recalled as his orders. “‘Leave nothing.'” The Sudanese government responded by ordering relief organizations responsible for feeding hundreds of thousands of people to cease operations and leave the country.New York TimesA man accused of killing his girlfriend was shot inside a Californiacourtroom after he repeatedly stabbed the judge presiding over his case,Washington Postand a Nevada man was found guilty of sexually assaulting two small girls. The verdict was based on a video that showed the man, an animal trainer for Siegfried & Roy named Chester Stiles, raping a two-year-old girl.Las Vegas Review-JournalNeighbors and counselors of Lexie Agyepong-Glover, a 13-year-old Virginiagirl who was killed by her foster mother, said that in the past two years they had repeatedly called police to report the child’s abuse but nothing was ever done. People recalled Lexie wandering the streets dressed in a barbecue-grill cover, trying to board her school bus wearing only her underwear, and being driven away from school in the trunk of her mother’s car. “Lexie walks right over, climbs in that trunk,” Brenda Taylor, Lexie’s school-bus driver, said. “She did not hesitate, like she had been doing it every day.”Washington Post

Alan Landers, the 68-year-old face of Winston cigarettes, died of lung cancer,New York Timesand a European study found that obese teenagers are as likely as heavy smokers to die prematurely. “It’s fairly dramatic when you say something is as lethal as smoking,” said one of the researchers. “We know of very few things from a health perspective that are as lethal as smoking.”New York TimesFebruary U.S. retail sales increased 0.7 percent, although if Wal-Mart sales were excluded, sales would have decreased by 4.1 percent. “Flat is the new up,” said one retail analyst. “If you’re only doing a zero percent increase, congratulations. You’re a winner.”New York TimesFans of Phish, who reunited after a five-year hiatus to play three shows at Hampton Coliseum in Norfolk, Virginia, were dismayed to learn that vendors would not be allowed to sell their wares in the stadium’s parking lot. “They won’t let us set up anywhere,” said Sarah Rose, a 34-year-old who had hoped to sell her gems, jewelry, and handmade dresses. “I’ve been to, like, 100 shows, and I’ve never had this happen. This is a community.” Another would-be vendor who was told by police that he needed a permit said, “I’m just trying to make a living, feed my kids. It’s a depression going on.”The Virginian PilotThe Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize” was named Oklahoma’s state rock song. “Do you realize,” go the lyrics, “that everyone you know/some day/will die?”Tulsa WorldA dozen gunmen in Pakistan attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team, killing eight people and injuring six players, and led some to question whether Pakistan should remain a co-host of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. TimePresident Barack Obama said the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan.New York TimesThe president of Guinea-Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira, was assassinated;Timethe prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, was injured in a car crash that killed his wife;New York Timesand a 40-yard-wide asteroid just missed striking the earth.CNNPresident Obama attempted to reassure the nation: “I don’t think,” he said, “that people should be fearful about our future.” New York Times

Share
Single Page

More from Claire Gutierrez:

Weekly Review May 31, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review May 30, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review March 22, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2020

Click Here to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vicious Cycles

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Oceans Apart

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Forty-Year Rehearsal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Whale Mother

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Click Here to Kill·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a sunny July day in 2018, Alexis Stern was sitting behind the wheel of the red Ford Fusion her parents had given her the previous year when she’d learned to drive. Robbie Olsen, the boy she’d recently started dating, was in the passenger seat. They were in the kind of high spirits unique to teenagers on summer vacation with nothing much to do and nowhere in particular to go. They were about to take a drive, maybe get some food, when Stern’s phone buzzed. It was the police. An officer with the local department told her to come down to the station immediately. She had no idea what the cops might want with her. “I was like, am I going to get arrested?” she said.

Stern had graduated from high school the month before, in Big Lake, Minnesota, a former resort town turned exurb, forty miles northwest of the Twin Cities. So far she had spent the summer visiting family, hanging out with her new boyfriend, and writing what she describes as “action-packed and brutal sci-fi fantasy fiction.” At sixteen, she’d self-published her first novel, Inner Monster, about a secret agent named Justin Redfield whose mind has been invaded by a malevolent alter ego that puts the lives of his loved ones at risk. “It isn’t until his inner demon returns that he realizes how much trouble he really is in,” the synopsis reads. “Facing issues with his girlfriend and attempting to gain control of his dark side, the tension intensifies. Being the best agent comes at a price, a price of kidnapping, torture and even death.”

Article
Oceans Apart·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I had been in Domoni—an ancient, ramshackle trading town on the volcanic island of Anjouan—for only a few summer days in 2018 when Onzardine Attoumane, a local English teacher, offered to show me around the medina. Already I had gotten lost several times trying to navigate the dozens of narrow, seemingly indistinguishable alleyways that zigzagged around the old town’s crumbling, lava-rock homes. But Onzardine had grown up in Domoni and was intimately familiar with its contours.

Stocky in build, with small, deep-set eyes and neatly trimmed stubble, Onzardine led me through the backstreets, our route flanked by ferns and weeds sprouting from cracks in the walls and marked by occasional piles of rubble. After a few minutes, we emerged onto a sunlit cliff offering views of the mustard-colored hills that surround the town, dotted with mango, palm, and breadfruit trees. We clambered down a trail, past scrawny goats foraging through piles of discarded plastic bottles, broken flip-flops, and corroded aluminum cans, toward a ledge where a dozen young men were waiting for the fishing boats to return to shore, gazing blankly out across the sea.

Article
Vicious Cycles·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

This is what I feared, that she would speak about the news . . . about how her father always said that the news exists so it can disappear, this is the point of news, whatever story, wherever it is happening. We depend on the news to disappear . . .
—Don DeLillo, “Hammer and Sickle”

What a story. What a fucking story.
—Dean Baquet, on the election of Donald Trump

a circular conversation

What is the news? That which is new. But everything is new: a flower blooms; a man hugs his daughter, not for the first time, but for the first time this time . . . That which is important and new. Important in what sense? In being consequential. And this has been measured? What? The relationship between what is covered in the news and what is consequential. Not measured. Why? Its consequence is ensured. Ensured. . . ? It’s in the news. But then who makes it news? Editors. Editors dictate consequence? Not entirely. Not entirely? It matters what people read and watch—you can’t bore them. Then boredom decides? Boredom and a sense of what’s important. But what is important? What’s in the news.

Article
The Forty-Year Rehearsal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On the evening of May 8, just after eight o’clock, Kate Valk stepped onstage and faced the audience. The little playhouse was packed with hardcore fans, theater people and artists, but Kate was performing, most of all, for one person, hidden among them, a small, fine-boned, black-clad woman, her blond-gray hair up in a clip, who smiled, laughed, and nodded along with every word, swaying to the music and mirroring the emotions of the performers while whispering into the ear of the tall, bearded fellow who sat beside her madly scribbling notes. The woman was Elizabeth LeCompte—known to all as Liz—the director of the Wooster Group, watching the first open performance of the company’s new piece, Since I Can Remember.

It had been a tense day, full of opening-night drama. Gareth Hobbs, who would be playing a leading role, had been sick in bed for days with a 103-degree fever, and he’d only arrived at the theater, still shaky, at three-thirty that afternoon. During the final closed rehearsal, performer Suzzy Roche fell on her elbow, then felt faint and had to lie prone while her colleagues fanned her and fetched ice. At one point, Erin Mullin, the stage manager as well as a performer, shouted: “We have one hour left, and we’re on page eight of fifty!” Not to mention that the piece still had no ending.

Article
Election Bias·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the spring of 2018, Tequila Johnson, an African-American administrator at Tennessee State University, led a mass voter-registration drive organized by a coalition of activist groups called the Tennessee Black Voter Project. Turnout in Tennessee regularly ranks near the bottom among U.S. states, just ahead of Texas. At the time, only 65 percent of the state’s voting-age population was registered to vote, the shortfall largely among black and low-income citizens. “The African-American community has been shut out of the process, and voter suppression has really widened that gap,” Johnson told me. “I felt I had to do something.”

The drive generated ninety thousand applications. Though large numbers of the forms were promptly rejected by election officials, allegedly because they were incomplete or contained errors, turnout surged in that year’s elections, especially in the areas around Memphis and Nashville, two of the cities specifically targeted by the registration drive. Progressive candidates and causes achieved notable successes, capturing the mayor’s office in heavily populated Shelby County as well as several seats on the county commission. In Nashville, a local measure was passed introducing a police-accountability board.

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.

The Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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