Weekly Review — July 16, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Trayvon Martin’s killer is acquitted, Yasiin Bey is force fed, and Sweden gets disability-themed beer

An American Mastiff.

An American Mastiff.

In Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch volunteer who in February 2012 shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter by reason of self-defense. “The only one who was injured at all, except for the gunshot,” said Zimmerman’s attorney, “was George Zimmerman.” The trial judge ordered the return of the gun Zimmerman used to kill Martin, protesters demonstrated in cities across the United States, and Zimmerman’s family expressed concern about his safety. “There are people,” said Zimmerman’s brother, “that would want to take the law into their own hands.”[1][2][3][4][5] Dzhokar (Jahar) Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year, and supporters stood outside the courthouse yelling “Justice for Jahar!”[6] The Texas state senate passed a bill that bans abortion after the twentieth week of pregnancy and requires clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, among other provisions that could force 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics to close. Senate security officials allowed citizens to enter the gallery for the debate while carrying firearms, but confiscated tampons and pads. “Women don’t understand why you keep coming after them,” said a senator who voted against the bill. “I suggest babies are thinking the same thing,” said a senator who voted in favor.[7][8][9] The Illinois state Supreme Court ruled that doctors must notify the parents of girls 17 and younger who seek abortions, and the North Carolina House of Representatives added abortion restrictions to a motorcycle-safety bill.[10][11] Ireland’s Parliament passed the country’s first law legalizing abortion for medical reasons, and Fine Gael MP Tom Barry publicly apologized for pulling MP Áine Collins onto his lap during debate on the bill. “She just wants it,” said one of Collins’s colleagues, “to go away.”[12][13]

The United States urged Egypt to release deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who has been detained in an undisclosed location since being ousted in a military coup last week, and who prosecutors announced would be investigated for spying, inciting violence, and destroying Egypt’s economy. A crew of television journalists from Al Jazeera was removed from a press conference held by the interim military government. “We are in Egypt,” said a police spokesperson as the crew was escorted out, “the country of democracy.”[14][15][16] Russian president Vladimir Putin indicated that he would not grant political asylum to American whistleblower Edward Snowden. “He arrived on our territory without an invitation,” said Putin. “Such a present to us.”[17] Defense attorneys in the trial of former Army private Bradley Manning for providing classified military documents to WikiLeaks argued that Manning had acted with good intentions. “Activism is fun,” said a witness, quoting Manning’s correspondence. “It doesn’t do much good unless you get hurt, however.”[18][19] Yasiin Bey, the rapper formerly known as Mos Def, released a video of himself begging for the premature halt to a force-feeding procedure he’d submitted to in protest of its use on at least 44 hunger-striking inmates at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A federal judge ordered guards at the facility to stop touching the groins of detainees when looking for contraband, and instead to shake the waistbands of prisoners’ underwear.[20][21] Corrections officials in California threatened to punish more than 12,000 prisoners conducting a hunger strike to protest long-term solitary confinement by placing them in solitary confinement.[22] More than 150 prisoners, including nine convicted terrorists, escaped a prison in Medan, Indonesia, after setting it on fire during a riot.[23] A former U.S. intelligence official revealed that accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been allowed to design a vacuum cleaner while he was being held at a CIA black site code-named Britelite.[24]

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

A Russian court found Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009, guilty of tax evasion, and the Mexican town of San Agustín Amatengo elected as mayor a man who’d faked his own death.[25][26] Investigators proved conclusively that Albert DeSalvo was the 1960s serial killer known as the Boston Strangler, using DNA evidence obtained by trailing the deceased suspect’s nephew and swabbing a discarded water bottle.[27] Police arrested an Ohio man for the fifth time for having sex in public with a rubber pool float, firefighters in Ibiza used a buzzsaw to free the penis of a 51-year-old German tourist from a sex toy, and officials in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, proposed to administer birth control to local deer.[28][29][30] A Swedish disability-rights group introduced CP (cerebral palsy) beer as part of its Crip Is Hip campaign.[31] Chuck Foley, the co-inventor of the game Twister, which was accused of being indecent when it debuted in 1969, died at age 82. “Once you get men and women in play positions, unless you’re drinking, you forget the sex thing,” said Foley in a 1994 interview. “The urge to win takes over.”[32]


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

Share
Single Page

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2019

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
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.

Article
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.

Article
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.’ ”

Article
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.

Article
Life after Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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

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:

$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 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!

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