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

Weekly Review

The countries and companies responsible for climate change, nuclear options in Congress and Iran, and the extinction of Darwin’s frog

A kinkajou, 1886.

A kinkajou, 1886.

The World Coal Association hosted a clean-coal summit on the western bank of Warsaw’s Vistula River, and representatives of 132 of the world’s poorest countries staged a walkout at a U.N. climate-change conference held on the river’s eastern bank, claiming that wealthier nations had derailed talks. “It helped clear the air,” a negotiator said of the walkout. “They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks,” an activist said of the Australian delegation.[1][2][3][4] In Canberra, a Labor minister ate his own hair.[5] A British oceanographer named Grant Bigg was co-awarded a £50,000 grant to track a Chicago-size iceberg that recently detached from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, and technicians at the Tongonan geothermal field on Leyte Island, in the Philippines, tested components at the field’s sole remaining cooling tower after Super Typhoon Haiyan.[6][7] Flooding and landslides caused by Cyclone Cleopatra killed 18 people and displaced an estimated 2,700 in Sardinia, where nearly a foot and a half of rain fell in 90 minutes on Monday night. Municipal officials on the island blamed the inadequacy of their response in part on Italy’s Civil Protection Department, which initially warned them of the cyclone by fax. “A water bomb exploded with incredible intensity,” said the mayor of Olbia, the town most directly affected by the storm. “Our vineyards of the sea have been destroyed,” said a group of Olbian mussel growers. “Even the elderly people say they can’t remember something like this happening,” said forest guardsman Antioco Bus.[8][9][10][11][12][13] Climatologists determined that 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of the greenhouse-gas emissions generated since 1854. “The decision makers — the CEOs or the ministers of coal and oil,” said one researcher, “could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.”[14]

The U.S. Senate voted 52–48 in favor of the so-called nuclear option, a change in procedural rules that enables confirmation of certain executive- and judicial-branch nominees with a simple majority rather than a supermajority. “You’ll regret this,” said Senator Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). “And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”[15] In negotiations with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States, Iran agreed to halt high-grade-uranium enrichment for six months in exchange for the relaxation of international sanctions. “We will begin the program,” said Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, “by the end of the Christian year.”[16] Vatican officials denied that a newly restored fresco in the Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman proves the existence of female priests in early Christianity, and the General Synod of the Church of England voted 378–8 to move forward with the ordination of women. “This is a fairy tale,” Vatican heritage superintendent Fabrizio Bisconti said of the fresco. “That is reality,” the Right Reverend James Langstaff said of the vote.[17][18] Mary Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, denounced her sister, Liz, a U.S. Senate candidate in Wyoming, for Liz’s opposition to same-sex marriage. “This isn’t like a disagreement over grazing fees,” said Mary Cheney. “Compassion is called for,” said Dick Cheney.[19][20] Two members of the presidential turkey flock were scheduled to meet the governor of Minnesota. “They will not be pardoned,” said the turkeys’ breeder. “They will be processed.”[21] Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot and killed Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was transferred from a prison in central California to one in the southern part of the state on Friday, the fiftieth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. “The date of the move,” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, “is simply an unfortunate coincidence.”[22] Sponsored products featured in Google search results were found to be 34 percent more expensive on average than nonsponsored products.[23]

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

Darwin’s frog was declared extinct.[24] Evolutionary biologists found that the sap-sucking sea slug Elysia timida does not need sunlight to survive. “It’s very difficult to digest,” a researcher said of the news.[25] Two Canadians saved a Greenland shark from choking on a moose.[26] British archaeologists sampled a pharaonic beef-rib mummy, and NOSH, a program to encourage breast-feeding among low-income mothers, launched in Derbyshire. [27][28] Europe formed a drones club, German teenagers exhibited a new subtype of boredom, and Russian police reported that 18 medical-school students had been expelled for dancing the lezginka.[29][30][31] In the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, a 101-year-old pensioner trained for his segment of the Sochi Winter Olympics torch relay by jogging while holding aloft a frozen humpback salmon. “This guy Ruslan gave me four small dumbbells,” said the man, “but they’re hard to hold.”[32] Ikea omitted an interview with a lesbian couple from the Russian version of its customer-loyalty magazine, citing recently passed legislation banning “gay propaganda.” “We have two guiding principles,” said an Ikea official. “The first is home interior design. The second is following the law.”[33] The Swedish Transit Authority was found to have rejected more than 100 applications for vanity license plates since 2009, including KÖRFORT, ÖKÄND, and SCROTUM, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $100,000 to the developers of a condom made from reconstituted animal collagen. “I could yank all day,” said an engineer, “and not break this thing.”[34][35][36]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Weekly Review December 3, 2019, 11:52 am

Weekly Review

Iraq’s prime minister resigned; Jair Bolsonaro blamed Leonardo DiCaprio for fires in the Amazon; a Maine man died of injuries sustained at his home after a handgun that was booby-trapped to fire upon intruders went off

Podcast November 27, 2019, 9:00 am

More Than Thankful

Farm to table: the history of food activism in the United States

Weekly Review November 26, 2019, 12:07 pm

Weekly Review

Israel’s uncertain politics; detention camps in Xinjiang; England deploys beavers to beat back floods

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2019

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Post
Perhaps the World Ends Here·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Climate disaster at Wounded Knee

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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.

An eight-foot minke whale washed ashore on the Thames, the third beaching of a dead whale on the river in two months.

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