Weekly Review — May 3, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Osama bin Laden was reported to have been killed during a joint mission by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA agents in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Crowds gathered to celebrate in front of the White House, and at Times Square and the World Trade Center site in New York. “I donâ??t know if it will make us safer,” said one reveler, “but it definitely sends a message.” “If this means there is one less death in the future, then Iâ??m glad for that,” said Harry Waizer, who was in the centerâ??s north tower on 9/11, “but I just canâ??t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.”New York TimesNew York TimesLibya’s government claimed that Muammar Qaddafi survived a NATO airstrike for the second time in seven days. The Russian foreign ministry criticized the strike, which reportedly killed Qaddafiâ??s son and three grandchildren, claiming it “aroused serious doubts about coalition membersâ?? statement that the strikes in Libya do not have the goal of physically annihilating Mr. Qaddafi.” The day of the attack, Qaddafi had appeared on national television vowing to stay in Libya. “Qaddafi doesnâ??t have the power, he doesnâ??t have the position to leave,” he said, referring to himself. “With my rifle, I will fight for my country.” New York TimesLibyans continued to flee the country, many of them crossing the border into Tunisia, where an estimated 30,000 refugees have settled in the past month.New York TimesNew York TimesIn Yemen, tens of thousands took to the streets in protest after President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a deal that would see him step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and in Tajikistan, firefighters complained of anonymous prank calls coming from Afghanistan.New York TimesRadio Free Europe

Storms and tornadoes struck Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, killing at least 340 people, leveling towns, and leaving thousands homeless. Wall Street JournalThe Large Hadron Collider was rumored to have revealed the long-sought “God particle,” which gives mass to all other particles, and the Allen Telescope Array, which has been scanning for messages from other planets since 2007, was shut down for budgetary reasons. Daily MailSan Jose Mercury NewsThree billion viewers watched Prince William marry Catherine Middleton. New York TimesAn Australian television channel was forced to cancel a satirical program about the ceremony after being told wedding footage could not be used for “comedy purposes.” BBCProtesters in London were arrested for planning a zombie wedding (billed as a “right royal orgy”) to coincide with the official festivities, and more than twenty Glaswegians were detained after a street party celebrating the wedding led to what authorities called “completely unacceptable levels of drunkenness.”GuardianBBCA pub singer on the Isle of Wight was arrested for “racially aggravated harassment” after performing the Seventies classic “Kung Fu Fighting.”Telegraph

More than a million people attended the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome, including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and a French nun who was reportedly cured of Parkinson’s by the former popeâ??s posthumous intercessions. As part of the ceremony, which brings John Paul II one step closer to sainthood, the Vatican displayed a vial of his blood.New York TimesFormer New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who resigned in 2004 after admitting he had cheated on his wife with another man, was turned down for the Episcopal priesthood. “It was not [for] being gay,” explained an anonymous source inside the church, “but for being a jackass.” New York PostPat Robertson argued that progressives support abortions because they make straight women equal to lesbians, and Representative Allen West (R., Fla.) told a gathering of conservative women they need to let “women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men . . . that we are not going to have our men become subservient.”Raw StoryRaw StoryLawmakers in Texas introduced legislation that would rescind the right of transgendered people to marry, and Pakistan introduced a third gender category on its national identity cards.Huffington PostBBCPresident Obama responded to accusations that he was not born in the United States by releasing his long-form birth certificate, issued by Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. “I am really proud. I am really honored,” said potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of the release. “I feel I’ve accomplished something really, really important that no one else was able to do.”The HillLawyers for prisoners held in Guantanamo were told they could not look at the detainee-related documents released by WikiLeaks because the papers remained classified. “We simply want to ensure that any information released by WikiLeaks is handled properly,” said a Justice Department spokesman.New York TimesSmallville, Kansas, native Superman indicated that he may renounce his U.S. citizenship, saying, “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy.”The IndependentBBC

Share
Single Page

More from Genevieve Smith:

From the May 2014 issue

50,000 Life Coaches Can’t Be Wrong

Inside the industry that’s making therapy obsolete

From the June 2012 issue

In recovery

Twelve steps to prosperity

Commentary May 23, 2012, 3:44 pm

The Underearners Test

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2019

Common Ground

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love and Acid

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Black Axe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Wood Chipper

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Common Ground·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

On a Monday morning earlier this year, I walked from the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to the archaeological site that Warren unearthed, the ancient core of Jerusalem now known as the City of David. In the alleys of the Old City, stone insulated the air and awnings blocked the sun, so the streets were cold and dark and the mood was somber. Only the pilgrims were up this early. American church groups filed along the Via Dolorosa, holding thin wooden crosses and singing a hymn based on a line from the Gospel of Luke: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Narrow shops sold gardenia, musk, and amber incense alongside sweatshirts promoting the Israel Defense Forces.

I passed through the Western Wall Plaza to the Dung Gate, popularly believed to mark the ancient route along which red heifers were led to the Temple for sacrifice. Outside the Old City walls, in the open air, I found light and heat and noise. Tour buses lined up like train cars along the ridge. Monday is the day when bar and bat mitzvahs are held in Israel, and drumbeats from distant celebrations mixed with the pounding of jackhammers from construction sites nearby. When I arrived at the City of David, workmen were refinishing the wooden deck at the site’s entrance and laying down a marble mosaic by the ticket window.

Post
.TV·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A documentary about climate change, domain names, and capital

Article
The Black Axe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

John had been raised by a single mother in Kaduna, a hardscrabble city in Nigeria’s arid north. She’d worked all hours as a construction supplier, but the family still struggled to get by. Her three boys were left alone for long stretches, and they killed time hunting at a nearby lake while listening to American rap. At seventeen, John had enrolled at the University of Jos to study business. Four hours southeast of his native Kaduna, Jos was another world, temperate and green. John’s mother sent him an allowance, and he made cash on the side rearing guard dogs for sale in Port Harcourt, the perilous capital of Nigeria’s oil industry. But it wasn’t much. John’s older brother, also studying in Jos, hung around with a group of Axemen—members of the Black Axe fraternity—who partied hard and bought drugs and cars. Local media reported a flood of crimes that Axemen had allegedly committed, but his brother’s friends promised John that, were he to join the group, he wouldn’t be forced into anything illegal. He could just come to the parties, help out at the odd charity drive, and enjoy himself. It was up to him.

John knew that the Black Axe was into some “risky” stuff. But he thought it was worth it. Axemen were treated with respect and had connections to important people. Without a network, John’s chances of getting a good job post-­degree were almost nil. In his second year, he decided to join, or “bam.” On the day of the initiation, John was given a shopping list: candles, bug spray, a kola nut (a caffeinated nut native to West Africa), razor blades, and 10,000 Nigerian naira (around thirty dollars)—his bamming fee. He carried it all to the top of the hill. Once night fell, Axemen made John and the other four initiates lie on their stomachs in the dirt, pressed toge­ther shoulder to shoulder, and hurled insults at them. They reeked like goats, some Axemen screamed. Others lashed them with sticks. Each Axeman walked over their backs four times. Somebody lit the bug spray on fire, and ran the flames across them, “burning that goat stink from us,” John recalled.

Article
Who Is She?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t get up—­just couldn’t get up, couldn’t get up or leave. All day lying in that median, unable. Was this misery or joy?

It’s happened to you, too, hasn’t it? A habit or phase, a marriage, a disease, children or drugs, money or debt—­something you believed inescapable, something that had been going on for so long that you’d forgotten any and every step taken to lead your life here. What did you do? How did this happen? When you try to solve the crossword, someone keeps adding clues.

It’s happened to us all. The impossible knowledge is the one we all want—­the big why, the big how. Who among us won’t buy that lotto ticket? This is where stories come from and, believe me, there are only two kinds: ­one, naked lies, and two, pot holders, gas masks, condoms—­something you must carefully place between yourself and a truth too dangerous to touch.

Article
Murder Italian Style·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

In a quiet northern suburb of Rome, a woman hears noises in the street and sends her son to investigate. Someone is locked in the trunk of a Fiat 127. The police arrive and find one girl seriously injured, together with the corpse of a second. Both have been raped, tortured, and left for dead. The survivor speaks of three young aggressors and a villa by the sea. Within hours two of the men have been arrested. The other will never be found.

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 federal judge in South Carolina ruled in favor of personal-injury lawyer George Sink Sr., who had sued his son, George Sink Jr., for using his own name at his competing law firm.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today