Weekly Review — February 26, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Papal preparations, Polish diacritics, and Norwegian wood critics

A Humbug (Weekly)The government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad denied responsibility for a car bombing in central Damascus that killed 53 people and a Scud-missile explosion in Aleppo that killed 58, blaming “America, Zionism, and some Gulf states” for their support of opposition terrorists.[1][2][3] The United Nations rejected a year-old demand from Haiti for compensation of victims of a cholera epidemic that has infected 620,000 people, killed 7,750, and was likely introduced by U.N. peacekeepers following the January 2010 earthquake. “The claims,” said a U.N. spokesman, “are not receivable.”[4] Benedict XVI gave his final Sunday blessing as Pope from a window in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. “Praying does not mean isolating oneself from the world and its contradictions,” he said. “We’ve come for the rugby,” said a woman in St. Peter’s Square. Benedict, whose philosophy a Vatican newspaperman likened to that of Tintin, delivered his address several days after the publication of an article in Italy’s La Repubblica that linked his resignation to an internal Vatican report concerning a group of high-ranking gay prelates who organize sex parties in and around Rome. “Age,” said Nobel laureate Dario Fo, “certainly isn’t the only thing that burdens him.”[5][6][7][8][9] American cardinals Timothy Dolan and Roger Mahony, who were questioned separately about child sexual abuse committed by clergymen under their supervision, prepared to travel to the Vatican, where they will take part in a conclave in the Sistine Chapel to elect Benedict’s successor; British cardinal Keith O’Brien, who was accused by four priests of having made inappropriate advances toward them, announced he would resign rather than attend the conclave. “Will be tweeting often from Rome,” tweeted Mahony. “Prayers!” “The Church is beautiful,” said one of O’Brien’s accusers, “but it has a dark side.”[10][11][12][13] Elderly Catholics in the Ukrainian town of Perekhody attended mass in a cistern chapel.[14]

The Obama Administration formally requested that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously upheld a Florida state law treating a narcotics-detection dog’s alert as reasonable grounds for a police search. “A sniff,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan, “is up to snuff.”[15][16] A South African magistrate released Olympic sprinter and double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius, who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, on bail. “What kind of life would he lead, a person who has to use prostheses, if he has to flee?” asked the magistrate. “A life not in prison,” replied the lead prosecutor.[17] Polish language experts launched “Je,zyk polski jest a,-e,” a campaign to preserve diacritical marks, and the Académie Française elected its first British-born member, poet Michael Edwards. “The French do like to purify,” said Edwards.[18][19] French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll announced that three horse carcasses from the United Kingdom had “probably” entered France’s food chain labeled as beef, and a Welsh hamburger tested positive for horse DNA. “Something else has been put in the boxes,” said the hamburger’s producer. “We’re the piggy in the middle.”[20][21] The Chinese government declared its intent to curtail air pollution through a ban on “barbecue-related activities”; officials in Iceland reported record numbers of imprisoned pedophiles and unregistered cats; and Norwegians questioned the stacking methods employed in a 12-hour television program about firewood. “One thing that really divides Norway,” said a firewood expert, “is bark.”[22][23][24][25] A judicial panel ruled that the New York Yankees are baseball’s sole evil empire.[26] Frankenstein Momin, Billykid Sangma, Field Marshal Mawphniang, and Adolf Lu Hitler ran for the assembly of the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, where legislators were formulating a bill to ban the employment of children in rat-hole mines.[27][28] An Athenian pleaded not guilty to stealing a Salvador Dalí painting from a Manhattan art gallery. “How this theft was committed,” said New York County district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., “was almost surreal.”[29]

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

A Welsh boy reported missing was discovered napping under a beanbag chair, a Florida woman was shot in the leg by the oven in which she planned to heat her waffles, and 200 Belgians returned from a boar cull with one wild boar. [30][31][32] Members of a London jury were dismissed for asking questions the presiding judge said showed a “fundamental deficit in understanding.” “Can you define what is a reasonable doubt?” wrote the jury. “A reasonable doubt is a doubt which is reasonable,” wrote the judge. “Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it?” wrote the jury. “No,” wrote the judge.[33] Bumblebees were found capable of sensing the electrostatic fields of e-flowers.[34] Physicists studying the subatomic particle presumed to be the Higgs boson suggested that its mass, estimated at 126 gigaelectronvolts, needs to be measured more accurately before they can establish whether the cosmos is a stable vacuum or a false vacuum that will be destroyed without warning. “It’s bad news,” said one theoretician.[35] Common moles and female golden Hottentot moles were found to sniff in stereo and to prefer large penises, respectively. “Suffice to say,” said one zoologist, “it’s probably every mole for himself.”[36][37] American researchers unveiled a smartphone test for leprosy. “This,” said a doctor, “will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages.”[38]


Sign up and get the Weekly Review delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.

Share
Single Page

More from Anthony Lydgate:

From the July 2014 issue

Vulgar Materialism

Weekly Review April 8, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets 

Weekly Review February 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2017

Preaching to The Choir

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Monumental Error

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Star Search

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Pushing the Limit

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bumpy Ride

Bad Dog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Article
Star Search·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Bumpy Ride·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

Photograph by David Emitt Adams
Article
Bad Dog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Tons of invasive carp that the Australian government plans to eradicate by giving them herpes:

1,137,000

Contact lenses change the microbiome of the eye such that it resembles skin.

A reporter asked Trump about a lunch the president was said to have shared the previous day with his secretary of state, Trump said the reporter was “behind the times” and that the lunch had occurred the previous week, and the White House confirmed that the lunch had in fact occurred the previous day.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today