Weekly Review — September 17, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A(nother) mass shooting in the United States, a deal on Syria’s chemical weapons, and notes on Arkansan squirrel cuisine

ALL IN MY EYE.At the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., 34-year-old Aaron Alexis killed at least 12 people before being killed by a police officer. Alexis was carrying a shotgun and two pistols.[*] “It’s hard,” said a law-enforcement official, “to carry that many guns.” Navy commander Tim Jirus reported hiding in an alley with another man, who was shot in the head while the two conversed. “I was just lucky,” said Jirus. “The other person was shorter than me.”[1][2][3] United Nations weapons inspectors submitted a report confirming that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that the nerve gas sarin was deployed on August 21 near Damascus, an attack Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the twenty-first century.”[4][5][6][7] The Syrian government formally acceded to the international convention banning chemical weapons, and U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov secured an agreement under which Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons will be inventoried, seized, and removed or destroyed by mid-2014. “In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy,” said President Barack Obama. “We agreed to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision in response to Russia’s request, and not because of American threats,” said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Kerry insisted he “purposely” made the statement, which was widely reported as a gaffe, that Assad could voluntarily give up his country’s chemical weapons in order to avoid airstrikes. “I did indeed say it wasn’t possible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it,” Kerry said. “The language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test.”[8][9][10][11] News about the singer Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards was found to have been 12 times more widely read in the United States than news about Syria, and the FCC was reported to have received 150 complaints about Cyrus. “Where,” asked one complainant, “has censorship gone?” “I was subjugated,” wrote another, “to four minutes of Miley Cyrus.”[12][13]

[*] An earlier version of the Weekly Review stated that Aaron Alexis was carrying an AR-15 rifle. News reports to this effect turned out to have been incorrect.

On the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, the fire department at Boston’s Logan International Airport held a training exercise that included roaring flames and heavy smoke on the airfield.[14] In Colorado, where severe flooding has killed seven people, left more than a thousand stranded, and damaged nearly 19,000 homes, special-education teacher Brian Shultz said he regretted evacuating his house. “I could have lasted at least a year,” he said, adding that he probably had enough beer to cover the entire time.[15] A feral pig in the Australian town of Port Hedland drank 18 beers and passed out under a tree, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents announced plans to distribute cupboard latches in order to prevent Scottish children from eating laundry-detergent gel capsules, and police in York, Pennsylvania, determined that the crash of a minivan driven by Dimples the Clown was not caused by oversize footwear.[16][17][18] American balloonist Jonathan Trappe, who was trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean borne by hundreds of helium-filled balloons, landed prematurely in Newfoundland. “This doesn’t look like France,” he said.[19] NASA confirmed that its Voyager 1 probe had entered interstellar space, that it would send romaine-lettuce plants to the International Space Station, and that a photograph of a frog being launched alongside its LADEE spacecraft at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia was authentic. “The condition of the frog,” the agency said in a statement, “is uncertain.”[20][21][22] A man suspected of masturbating outside a Glendale, California, Seventh Day Adventist church during services was arrested after being found asleep with his hand in his pants.[23] Eviction proceedings continued in London against God’s Own Junkyard.[24]

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

Thousands of fish suffocated following a molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor, and Titan Salvage began righting the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner in Giglio, Italy, the largest parbuckling attempt in history.[25][26] Israeli police arrested a self-proclaimed sorcerer from the Golan Heights for manipulating a woman into having sex with him as part of “magical treatments” to help her recover from a breakup, and Dayton, Ohio, performer Nathaniel J. Smith, who also goes by Brave Nate, Hustle Simmons, and FlexLuthor, was arrested for failing to appear at a child-support hearing for one of the 27 children he has fathered by 17 women.[27][28] In Milton, West Virginia, two men, dressed as Batman and Captain America, rescued a cat from a house fire, after which Batman administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[29] The Asahikawa prison in Japan introduced Katakkuri-chan, a six-foot-six-inch humanoid mascot dressed as a prison warden with an enormous purple flower for hair.[30] A 58-year-old Uruguayan man who disappeared four months ago in the remote Andes was found to have survived the winter by eating raisins and rats, and the Wall Street Journal praised the squirrel with cashews and spring rolls and the Caribbean jerk squirrel with fried plantains served at the second annual World Championship Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville, Arkansas. “We’ve been trying,” said a publicist for the Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau, “to polish our image.”[31][32]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Sara Breselor:

Weekly Review April 14, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Michael Slager is charged with murder, Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy for president, and a Utah television personality gets probation for kicking a barn owl

Weekly Review January 20, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The Pope says climate change is mostly man made, Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and residents of a town in Denmark agree to have sex more often

Weekly Review December 23, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

North Korea attacks the U.S. film industry, Pakistan reinstates the death penalty, and a Pennsylvania electrician stabs a Virgin Mary lawn ornament in the head

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

Trumpism After Trump

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My Gang Is Jesus”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Cancer Chair

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Birds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Skinning Tree

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Interpretation of Dreams

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dearest Lizzie

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Trumpism After Trump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

I had come to Washington to witness either the birth of an ideology or what may turn out to be the passing of a kidney stone through the Republican Party. There was a new movement afoot: National Conservatives, they called themselves, and they were gathering here, at the Ritz-Carlton, at 22nd Street and M. Disparate tribes had posted up for the potlatch: reformacons, blood-and-soilers, curious liberal nationalists, “Austrians,” repentant neocons, evangelical Christians, corporate raiders, cattle ranchers, Silicon Valley dissidents, Buckleyites, Straussians, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Tories, dark-web spiders, tradcons, Lone Conservatives, Fed-Socs, Young Republicans, Reaganites in amber. Most straddled more than one category.

Article
The Cancer Chair·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

There is a cancer camaraderie I’ve never felt. That I find inimical, in fact. Along with the official optimism that percolates out of pamphlets, the milestone celebrations that seem aimed at children, the lemonade people squeeze out of their tumors. My stoniness has not always served me well. Among the cancer staff, there is special affection for the jocular sufferer, the one who makes light of lousy bowel movements and extols the spiritual tonic of neuropathy. And why not? Spend your waking life in hell, and you too might cherish the soul who’d learned to praise the flames. I can’t do it. I’m not chipper by nature, and just hearing the word cancer makes me feel like I’m wearing a welder’s mask.

Article
“My Gang Is Jesus”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

The Assembly of God True Grapevine was little more than a fluorescent-lit room wedged between a bar and an empty lot in Jacaré, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side. A few dozen people sat in the rows of plastic lawn chairs that served as pews, while shuddering wall fans circulated hot air. The congregation was largely female; of the few men in attendance, most wore collared shirts and old leather shoes. Now and then, Martins veered from Portuguese into celestial tongues. People rose from their seats, thrust their hands into the air, and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Article
The Birds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

Article
The Skinning Tree·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

The town prepares all year, and the performance, The Legend of Rawhide, has a cast and crew of hundreds, almost all local volunteers, including elementary school children. There are six generations of Rawhide actors in one family; three or four generations seems to be the average. The show is performed twice, on Friday and Saturday night.

The plot is based on an event that, as local legend has it, occurred fifteen miles south of Lusk, in Rawhide Buttes. It goes like this: Clyde Pickett is traveling with a wagon train to California. He tells the other Pioneers: “The only good Injun’s a dead Injun.” Clyde loves Kate Farley, and to impress her, he shoots the first Indian he sees, who happens to be an Indian Princess. The Indians approach the Pioneers and ask that the murderer give himself up. Clyde won’t admit he did it. The Indians attack the wagon train and, eventually, Clyde surrenders. The Indians tie Clyde to the Skinning Tree and flay him alive. Later, Kate retrieves her dead lover’s body and the wagon train continues west.

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.

In response to a major volcanic eruption, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed he would “eat that ashfall. I’m even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano.”

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