Weekly Review — September 3, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The United States debates a military strike in Syria, Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiates at a same-sex marriage, and KFC Japan begins selling deep-fried soup

Harpers-CarriageCostume-1850-07-400x400

Carriage Costume (July 1850)

President Barack Obama announced that he would request congressional approval for a punitive military strike against the Syrian government for the August 21 poison-gas attack that killed 1,429 people in Damascus. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked weapons inspectors to expedite a report on their findings following four days of investigation in Syria, and Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the United States had obtained independent proof that Bashar al-Assad used the nerve agent sarin against his own people. “I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors,” said Obama. “The words ‘slam dunk’ should be retired from American national-security issues,” said Kerry. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld called Obama’s Syria strategy “mindless,” and 43 percent of U.S. Department of Defense employees participating in an online game failed to locate Damascus on a map. “Our biggest problem is ignorance,” said the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. “We’re pretty ignorant about Syria.” French president François Hollande pledged to assist in any U.S.-led intervention, the British parliament voted not to intervene, defense ministers in Syria and Iran threatened to attack Israel if Assad’s life was endangered, and crowds of Israelis mobbed gas-mask-distribution points in Haifa and Jerusalem.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] An 18-year-old Indian man who participated in the gang-rape and murder of a woman on a New Delhi bus last December was sentenced to three years in a reform home, and a former Montana high school teacher who had confessed to raping a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide was sentenced to spend 31 days in jail. The girl, said the judge, was “older than her chronological age.”[11][12] A South Korean newspaper reported that North Korea had executed the ex-girlfriend of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and 11 others for making and distributing a pornographic video.[13] Bo Xilai, a former Communist Party chief on trial in Jinan, China, for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power, revealed an affair between his wife, who murdered a British businessman in 2011, and his former deputy, who Bo punched in the face while attempting to cover up his investigation into the case. “They were,” said Bo, “like glue and lacquer.”[14][15]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Supreme Court justice to officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony, and the Department of the Treasury announced that federal tax provisions for married couples would apply to same-sex spouses regardless of their state of residence.[16][17] The New York Police Department was revealed to have spied on several mosques it labeled “terrorist enterprises.”[18] In protest of low wages, eight Paraguayan bus drivers had reportedly nailed themselves to crosses, thousands of American fast-food employees staged a walkout, and four exotic dancers filed suit against Fantasy Gentlemen’s Club in Grand Junction, Colorado.[19][20][21] Dunkin’ Donuts apologized for having a model in blackface promote its “charcoal donut” in Thailand, Italian chocolatier Ferrero withdrew a German ad for white-chocolate kisses featuring the slogans “Yes White Can” and “Germany Votes White,” a black New Jersey high schooler running for student government was found to have sent racist texts to himself, and a Glaswegian man complained to Scottish officials that an Edinburgh chip shop was charging for ketchup but not brown sauce. “It reeks of racism,” he said.[22][23][24][25] KFC Japan announced that it would start selling deep-fried soup, and psychologists determined that people who hate Japan are likely also to hate the fictitious Monahan LPI-800 Compact 2/3-Cubic-Foot 700-Watt Microwave Oven.[26][27]

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

A University of Washington student moved the hand of another student over the Internet.[28] Swedish scientists confirmed the existence of ununpentium, Austrian molecular biologists successfully grew miniature human brains in a laboratory, and Viennese ethologists determined that female Mus musculus mice choose to mate with multiple virgin males in order to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.[29][30][31] Nine police-dog couples were married in Sri Lanka.[32] A Stockholm man was threatened by a gang of drunken elk, and a New Zealand man was rescued from a remote Australian island where he had been trapped for two weeks by a 20-foot-long crocodile. “We gave him a cold beer,” said the man’s rescuer, “which was probably the wrong thing.”[33][34] Bino, an albino alligator at the São Paulo Aquarium, received acupuncture for his scoliosis, and a former lab chimpanzee named Brent was awarded $10,000 for an abstract tongue painting.[35][36] A Maine lobsterman caught a half-orange, half-brown lobster.[37] Pennsylvania high school sophomore Brandon Silk was hospitalized for anaphylaxis after his classmates failed to honor a request that they not wear Axe body spray, and members of the Franconian Fränkische Bund association expressed concern that German girls were buying cheap foreign-made costumes for Oktoberfest. “At the very latest [the craze will be over],” said a board member, “when a dirndl-making factory burns down in Pakistan.”[38][39]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Camille Bromley:

Conversation October 3, 2016, 11:00 am

Unofficial Stories

“The suffering cannot disappear without a trace, we need to understand how and why,” says Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 Nobel laureate in literature and author of Secondhand Time.

Weekly Review April 12, 2016, 1:32 pm

Weekly Review

Leaked documents reveal that heads of state around the world hide money in offshore accounts, NASA researchers report that climate change has altered the Earth’s wobble, and scientists find that touching the genitals of robots arouses humans.

Weekly Review December 15, 2015, 10:51 am

Weekly Review

An Oklahoma police officer is convicted of raping women while on patrol, Chinese officials accuse the Dalai Lama of sympathizing with the Islamic State, and a burglar hiding in a lake is eaten by an alligator 

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2019

The Last Frontier

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Play with No End

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Call of the Drums

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Brutal from the Beginning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Alps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Last Frontier·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The San Luis Valley in southern Colorado still looks much as it did one hundred, or even two hundred, years ago. Blanca Peak, at 14,345 feet the fourth-highest summit in the Rockies, overlooks a vast openness. Blanca, named for the snow that covers its summit most of the year, is visible from almost everywhere in the valley and is considered sacred by the Navajo. The range that Blanca presides over, the Sangre de Cristo, forms the valley’s eastern side. Nestled up against the range just north of Blanca is Great Sand Dunes National Park. The park is an amazement: winds from the west and southwest lift grains of sand from the grasses and sagebrush of the valley and deposit the finest ones, creating gigantic dunes. You can climb up these dunes and run back down, as I did as a child on a family road trip and I repeated with my own children fifteen years ago. The valley tapers to a close down in New Mexico, a little north of Taos. It is not hard to picture the indigenous people who carved inscriptions into rocks near the rivers, or the Hispanic people who established Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis, and a still-working system of communal irrigation in the southeastern corner, or a pioneer wagon train. (Feral horses still roam, as do pronghorn antelope and the occasional mountain lion.)

Article
A Play with No End·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

When I caught up with the Gilets Jaunes on March 2, near the Jardin du Ranelagh, they were moving in such a mass through the streets that all traffic had come to a halt. The residents of Passy, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Paris, stood agape and apart and afraid. Many of the shops and businesses along the route of the march, which that day crossed seven and a half miles of the city, were shuttered for the occasion, the proprietors fearful of the volatile crowd, who mostly hailed from outside Paris and were considered a rabble of invaders.

Article
The Call of the Drums·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Kurultáj, an event held annually outside the town of Bugac, Hungary, is billed as both the “Tribal Assembly of the Hun-­Turkic Nations” and “Europe’s Largest Equestrian Event.” When I arrived last August, I was fittingly greeted by a variety of riders on horseback: some dressed as Huns, others as Parthian cavalrymen, Scythian archers, Magyar warriors, csikós cowboys, and betyár bandits. In total there were representatives from twenty-­seven “tribes,” all members of the “Hun-­Turkic” fraternity. The festival’s entrance was marked by a sixty-­foot-­tall portrait of Attila himself, wielding an immense broadsword and standing in front of what was either a bonfire or a sky illuminated by the baleful glow of war. He sported a goatee in the style of Steven Seagal and, shorn of his war braids and helmet, might have been someone you could find in a Budapest cellar bar. A slight smirk suggested that great mirth and great violence together mingled in his soul.

Article
Brutal from the Beginning·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Celebrity sightings are a familiar feature of the modern N.B.A., but this year’s playoffs included an appearance unusual even by the standards of America’s most star-­friendly sports league. A few minutes into the first game of the Western Conference semifinals, between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston ­Rockets—the season’s hottest ticket, featuring the reigning M.V.P. on one side and the reigning league champions on the other—­President Paul Kagame of Rwanda arrived with an entourage of about a dozen people, creating what the sports website The Undefeated called “a scene reminiscent of the fashionably late arrivals of Prince, Jay-­Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna.”

Article
The Alps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Toyota HiAce with piebald paneling, singing suspension, and a reg from the last millennium rolled into the parking lot of the Swinford Gaels football club late on a Friday evening. The HiAce belonged to Rory Hughes, the eldest of the three brothers known as the Alps, and the Alps traveled everywhere together in it. The three stepped out and with a decisive slam of the van’s side door moved off across the moonscape of the parking lot in the order of their conceptions, Rory on point, the middle brother, Eustace, close behind, and the youngest, ­Bimbo, in dawdling tow.

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.

“What’s the point?” said Senator Tim Scott, who is paid at least $174,000 per year as an elected official, when asked whether he had read the Mueller report.

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