Weekly Review — March 5, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Sequestration remonstration, shticklomacy in North Korea, and the menagerie of Nutzu the Pawnbroker

"What Though I Am Obligated to Dance a Bear"

“What Though I Am Obligated to Dance a Bear”

The United States Congress failed to reach a deal that would avert automatic budget cuts to federal departments and programs before a March 1 deadline established by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The $42 billion in cuts scheduled for the current fiscal year includes an estimated 8 percent cut to defense spending and an estimated 2 percent cut to Medicare-provider payments, and may also affect such programs as air-traffic control, border control, scientific research, environmental inspection, offshore oil exploration, and FBI wiretap translation. President Barack Obama blamed the sequestration on the intransigence of House Republicans; House Republicans blamed Obama’s desire for new tax revenues in addition to budget cuts and Senate Democrats’ failure to pass a replacement bill; House Democrats blamed House Republicans for spitefulness and Obama for underestimating House Republicans’ spitefulness; Mitt Romney blamed Obama for poor leadership; and lexicographers blamed the prevalence in the media of the noun “sequester” on the complexity of the more proper “sequestration.” “I don’t think anyone quite understands how it gets resolved,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio). “I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks,” said Obama.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Neuroscientists infused the brain of a rat in North Carolina with the thoughts of a rat in Brazil, and a Florida man fell through the floor of his house into a sinkhole from which his body could not be recovered.[8][9] Static electricity was found to have caused the explosion of the Hindenburg airship in 1937, and the maiden voyage of the replica ship Titanic II was scheduled for 2016. “Anything will sink,” said Blue Star Line owner Clive Palmer, “if you put a hole in it.”[10][11]

Kenyan officials reported turnout of over 70 percent for the initial round of voting in the country’s first presidential election since the 2007 ballot that led to weeks of ethnic violence and resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand people.[12][13] Chad’s army claimed to have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a commander of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Zeid’s rival and former fellow commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who planned the January attack on the Amenas gas plant in Algeria that killed 60 people.[14][15] The United Nations ended its sanctions against Osama bin Laden, and Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine published tips for “open source” jihadis on how to burn parked cars and cause accidents with strategically placed oil slicks. “The sliding will surprise the [nonbelievers],” wrote AQ Chef. “Maybe even causing a down the mountain Chitti Chitti Bang Bang flying special.”[16][17][18] The United States began providing aid to groups fighting to depose Syrian leader Bassar al-Assad; a hot-air-balloon crash over Luxor, Egypt, killed 19 tourists; and 30 million locusts swarmed Giza. “I ask the families living in the locust-plagued areas not to burn tires,” said Egyptian agriculture minister Salah Abd Al Mamon. “This does not chase away the locusts.”[19][20][21] The Vatican opened a vacant see. “The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and light breezes,” said Pope Benedict XVI in his final address before retiring, “but also times . . . when the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”[22][23][24] Pessimistic German seniors were found to live longer, and historians cataloguing Nazi internment and execution facilities reported that the Holocaust was more widespread than previously believed, encompassing some 42,500 sites and the imprisonment or death of between 15 million and 20 million people.[25][26] In North Korea, where gulags were expanding and old men were granted permission to wear their hair as long as 2.75 inches, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un hosted three Harlem Globetrotters, NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman, and a film crew from Vice magazine. “Everybody’s so concerned with geopolitics that we forget just to be human beings,” said Vice co-founder Shane Smith. “I am sitting in a hotel room,” tweeted Vice producer Jason Mojica, “watching the end of Rocky IV . . . crying.”[27][28][29][30]

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

An eight-year-old Siberian girl died in the belly of an ice turtle.[31] Doctors declared cured a Mississippi baby born with HIV.[32] Former U.S. surgeon-general C. Everett Koop died at 96, and former Temptations singer Richard Street died at 70.[33][34] An Englishman calling himself Moody Blues was reported to have advised former New York City policeman Gilbert Valle, who is on trial for conspiring to kill and eat women, that face meat is “great for sandwiches.”[35] Food inspectors discovered that South African burgers and sausages are adulterated with soy, and that some Icelandic beef pies are meatless.[36][37] The heart of Richard the Lionhearted was found to have been embalmed in daisy, mint, and myrtle.[38] The English town of Bognor Regis held its final clown parade, and Romanian authorities seized the bears and lions of Nutzu the Pawnbroker.[39][40] The ear of a teenager in Banbury, England, was bitten off at the Sound Exchange dance club, and a riot broke out at a Chicago shopping mall during an autograph signing by the band Mindless Behavior.[41][42] Citing health concerns, the School of Visual Arts in New York City temporarily confiscated a thesis project consisting of 68 vials of semen by student Marc Bradley Johnson. “I’ve been working on this,” said Johnson, “for months.”[43]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Jeremy Keehn:

Weekly Review September 23, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Scotland rejects independence, Sierra Leone issues a three-day lockdown, and Iran lashes its citizens for doing a “Happy” dance

Weekly Review September 9, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

ISIL murders journalist Steven Sotloff; Satan in Moscow and Detroit; and Florida police play Cherries Waffles Tennis

Weekly Review August 5, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Alternating shelter bombings and ceasefires in Gaza; a do-nothing Congress whimpers feebly into recess; and India hires a troupe of black-faced-langur imitators

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
Waiting for the End of the World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1.

A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he.

I rose long before dawn, too thrilled to sleep, and set off to find my tribe. North from Greenville in the dark, past towns with names like Sans Souci and Travelers Rest, over the border into North Carolina, through land so choked by kudzu that the overgrown trees in the dark looked like great creatures petrified in mid-flight. The weirdness of this scene would, by the end of the weekend, show itself to be appropriate: my trip would be all about romanticism, and romanticism is a human collision with place that results, as Baudelaire put it, “neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” My rental car’s engine whined as it climbed the mountains. Day was just breaking when I nosed down a hill to Orchard Lake Campground, where tents were still being erected in the dimness.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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 commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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