Weekly Review — June 2, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx-born, divorced, childless, diabetic, Hispanic federal judge on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. Analysts studying Sotomayor’s decisions were unable to determine whether she would uphold Roe v. Wade, or whether she was distinctly pro- or anti-business, but much was made of a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley in which she expressed hopes that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” During the speech she also expressed fondness for “platos de arroz, gandoles y pernil,” a dish made with rice, beans, and pork. “Her word choice in 2001 was poor,” offered White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but many Republicans were unconvinced. “The comments she made about the quality of her decisions being better than those of a white maleâ??I mean, we need to go further into her record to see whether this is a trend,” said Senator John Cornyn (R., Tex.), one of 98 non-Hispanic senators, who was considered for the Supreme Court in 2005 but not appointed. Newt Gingrich, who in 2007 spoke out against bilingual education by suggesting that students should “learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” criticized Sotomayor via Twitter. “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw,” tweeted Gingrich. “Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” The New York TimesThe New York TimesThe New York TimesThe GuardianThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostFox NewsThe White HouseThe Washington PostThe New York TimesFJC.govWikipedia.orgLeading the newsThe GuardianAbortionist George Tiller was shot dead in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he was an usher,The Guardianand the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, thereby maintaining the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.California Supreme Court upholds gay marriage banGeneral Motors filed for bankruptcy, and President Obama unveiled his plan to save the former industrial giant by nationalizing it, closing plants, and firing workers.The New York TimesAmerican scientists promised to develop robotfarmers.New Scientist

A white tiger killed a zookeeper in New Zealand,White tiger kills New Zealand zoo keeperand a man in Munich received a two-year suspended sentence for beating another man with a swan.SpiegelSomeone was skinning Miami’scats.The GuardianOsel Hita Torres, 24, who as a toddler was enthroned by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe, had left his order and was studying film in Madrid. “They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation,” said Torres, who complained that the only movie he was shown was Eddie Murphy’s “The Golden Child.”The GuardianThe Tiananmen Square massacre would soon turn 20,The Wall Street Journaland Phil Spector was sentenced to at least 19 years in prison for murder.BBC NewsSix people were killed in the West Bank when Fatah raided a Hamas hideout.The New York TimesFairfax County, Virginia, sued Krispy Kreme for dumping massive quantities of “doughnut grease and other pollutants” into the sewer system,Washington Examinerand Bausch & Lomb reportedly had so far paid out $250 million to settle nearly 600 lawsuits over its contact-lens cleaner product ReNu with MoistureLoc, which prior to its recall caused hundreds of fungal infections, necessitating 60 corneal transplants and seven eye removals.The New York Times

The United Kingdom placed the cuckoo on its list of endangered birds but was culling gray squirrels, which taste good in a pie. “They are going to top restaurants, butchers, the working man,” said conservationist Paul Parker. “They don’t belong here.”Science DailyThe GuardianThe Archbishop of Canterbury called for Christians to chat less and take God seriously. “It’s like being on an ocean liner,” he said of the church, “where all the staff are talking brightly and smiling rather too cheerfullyâ?? you think ‘what’s wrong?’, as you feel the great swell underneath you.”The GuardianThe last survivor of the Titanic died at age 97.The GuardianAOL split from Time Warner,The Washington Timesand President Obama announced a new Pentagon command that will fight in cyberspace, led by a cyberczar; defense contractors were advertising for “cyberninjas”–hackers who will work for the government to protect the nation against foreign and domestic cyberweapons. “These attacks start in other countries,” explained one intelligence analyst, “but they know no borders. So how do you fight them if you can’t act both inside and outside the United States?”The New York TimesThe New York TimesRussia agreed to export uranium to the United States, a Russian firm bought nearly 2 percent of Facebook, and a five-year-old Russian girl was discovered who speaks in barks and hisses because she was raised as a pet.CNNThe New York TimesTelegraphBritish scientists found that cats, like babies, have a poor understanding of the relationship between cause and effect.New ScientistResearchers in Leipzig, Germany, inserted human language genes into a mouse, resulting in baby humanized mice that squeak at a lower ultrasonic range than normal.The New York TimesGeneticists in Kawasaki, Japan, announced that they had used an engineered virus to insert a jellyfish gene into marmoset embryos, producing monkeys that glow green in ultraviolet light and that can pass on the glow to their offspring. “It’s hard to put your finger on what is it about this research that is likely to stimulate ethical debate,” said a bioethicist in Kentucky, “besides the sort of gut feeling that this is not the right thing to do.”Washington Post

Share
Single Page

More from Paul Ford:

From the May 2010 issue

Just like heaven

Weekly Review March 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review November 24, 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

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