Weekly Review — June 7, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Former senator John Edwards was indicted for soliciting contributions to his 2008 presidential campaign that were intended for covering up his affair with Rielle Hunter and Hunter’s subsequent pregnancy. Edwards reportedly turned down a plea bargain that included up to six months of prison time. “We will not permit candidates for high office … to circumvent our election laws,” said Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Justice Departmentâ??s Criminal Division. “Itâ??s not illegal to be a pig,” said campaign-finance expert Brett Kappel. Washington PostAn Australian politician apologized for “meowing” at a female cabinet member during a senate debate; Representative Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) told reporters he couldn’t say “with certitude” that a close-up photograph of a man in underwear sent from his Twitter account to a female college student wasn’t of him, then later admitted it was; and scientists reported the discovery of a worm that lives close to a mile below the Earth’s surface. They named the creature, which is the deepest-living multicelled organism discovered to date, Halicephalobus mephisto, in honor of Mephistopheles. “We tried to get the title of the paper to be ‘Worms from Hell,'” said one of the scientists. “But Nature didn’t go for that.”Raleigh News-ObserverThe TelegraphCBS NewsNew York TimesChristian Science Monitor

Embattled Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia so he could be treated for injuries sustained during an attack on the presidential palace, raising hopes that he would agree to transfer power after more than three decades of autocratic rule. Antigovernment protesters celebrated in Sanaâ??a by setting off fireworks and slaughtering cows.New York TimesBritish intelligence announced that its operatives had sabotaged the launch of Inspire, an English-language magazine published by Al Qaeda supporters, by inserting cupcake recipes into an article on bomb-making.The GuardianHackers in China gained access to hundreds of email accounts, including the personal accounts of high-ranking U.S. government officials and military personnel, while U.S. hackers planted a story on PBS’s website claiming Tupac Shakur was alive and well and living in New Zealand. Washington PostThe TelegraphRussian prime minister Vladimir Putin released a report suggesting that sex-crime charges against former I.M.F. chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn were the result of a CIA conspiracy following Strauss-Kahn’s discovery that U.S. gold reserves at Fort Knox were “missing and/or unaccounted” for. “I cannot believe that it looks the way it was initially introduced,” said Putin. “It doesnâ??t sit right in my head.”EU TimesFourteen-year-old Sukanya Roy of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, won the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee by spelling the word “cymotrichous,” which means having wavy hair. ESPN

Thirty-two pregnant teenagers and a doctor were arrested on baby-trafficking charges after a raid on a clinic in Nigeria. The doctor is accused of taking in the pregnant teens, buying their babies for hundreds of dollars, and selling them to childless couples for thousands.ReutersA police detective in Zimbabwe was sentenced to ten days in jail for using President Robert Mugabe’s personal toilet, and Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian woman arrested for posting a video of herself driving a car on YouTube, was released after pledging not to get behind the wheel again or participate in further protests aimed at earning Saudi women the right to drive.GuardianThe GuardianJack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian, who participated in more than 130 assisted suicides before a 2000 murder conviction, died of natural causes at 83, and Queenie, the world’s only waterskiing elephant, was euthanized at 59. McKnight’sThe Guardian

Single Page

More from Christopher Beha:

From the May 2019 issue

Winning the Peace

From the March 2019 issue

Mallo My!

Spain’s answer to Knausgaard arrives in English

From the October 2018 issue

Ove and Out

Knausgaard’s struggle comes to an end

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

United States Canada



October 2019


Constitution in Crisis·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

Good Bad Bad Good·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

Power of Attorney·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

Carlitos in Charge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I was in Midtown, sitting by a dry fountain, making a list of all the men I’d slept with since my last checkup—doctor’s orders. Afterward, I would head downtown and wait for Quimby at the bar, where there were only alcoholics and the graveyard shift this early. I’d just left the United Nations after a Friday morning session—likely my last. The agenda had included resolutions about a worldwide ban on plastic bags, condemnation of a Slobodan Miloševic statue, sanctions on Israel, and a truth and reconciliation commission in El Salvador. Except for the proclamation opposing the war criminal’s marble replica, everything was thwarted by the United States and a small contingent of its allies. None of this should have surprised me. Some version of these outcomes had been repeating weekly since World War II.

Life after Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:


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 group of researchers studying the Loch Ness Monster did not rule out the possibility of its existence, but speculated that it is possibly a giant eel.

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


Happiness Is a Worn Gun


“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