Weekly Review — March 18, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Crimeans vote to join the Russian Federation, the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 deepens, and Joseph Jambon tackles the fornicating slipper snail

Saluting the Town (Weekly)In a public referendum, a reported 87 percent of voters in Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian republic with a population of 2.3 million mostly Russian-speaking residents that was part of Russia until being transferred to Ukraine in 1954, chose to join the Russian Federation. Crimea’s minority Muslim Tatar population, which was deported in 1944 then returned en masse in the 1980s, boycotted the vote, whose turnout was reportedly 83 percent. The United States imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, and Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said his government, which recently dissolved Crimea’s parliament, would not recognize the results. “Under the stage direction of the Russian Federation, a circus performance is underway,” said Yatsenyuk. “It’s like they’re crazy Texans in western Ukraine,” said a pro-secession voter. “Imagine if the Texans suddenly took over power [in Washington] and told everyone they should speak Texan.” In the week prior to the referendum, Russia massed troops near the Ukrainian border, occupied Ukraine’s Chornomorskoye naval base, seized a Ukrainian gas plant, shut down all flights from the Crimean capital of Simferopol except those to Moscow, and vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution declaring the referendum illegal. “President Putin has started a game,” said Senator Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “of Russian roulette.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Former leftist guerrilla commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén was elected president of El Salvador, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe was elected to the country’s senate, and North Korea held parliamentary elections under the slogan “Let’s all vote in agreement!”[13][14][15] President Barack Obama appeared on Zach Galifianakis’s Internet talk-show satire, Between Two Ferns, and Ryan Seacrest’s radio program, On Air, to promote the Affordable Care Act and rebut Republican critics of his foreign policy. “I’ve been unfairly maligned,” Obama said of a criticism that he wears mom jeans, whereas Vladimir Putin wrestles bears. “I look very sharp in jeans.”[16]

An international search by the governments of 26 countries continued for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian authorities said the plane had stopped emitting radio signals at 1:07 A.M. on March 8, 12 minutes before the co-pilot radioed “good night” and 14 minutes before its transponder shut down, then said they didn’t know when it stopped signaling; said that five checked-in passengers had failed to board the plane, then said none had, then said four had failed to check in at all; described two passengers with stolen passports as having “Asian faces,” then suggested they looked like African-Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli; and said the plane had either been diverted to the northwest, over Asia, or to the southwest, over the Indian Ocean. “Clearly,” said CIA director John Brennan, “this is still a mystery.”[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] U.S. Navy SEALs commandeered the oil tanker Morning Glory, a North Korean–flagged vessel of unknown origins that had been loaded with 200,000 barrels of oil at a militia-occupied Libyan port, and North Korea was found to have hidden a weapons shipment beneath 10,000 pounds of sugar.[25][26][27] In Nigeria, gangs of semi-nomadic Fulani cattle herders killed at least 169 people in attacks on seven farming communities with which they have been engaged in land disputes, and seven people died in stampedes at a stadium in Abuja where 65,000 Nigerians had been invited to pay $6 to take an aptitude test for 4,556 job openings at the country’s immigration service.[28][29][30][31] In Mexico, a self-defense organizer was accused of complicity in the deaths of two rival self-defense organizers, and a drug lord known as The Craziest One, who had been presumed dead in 2010, was declared newly dead.[32][33] A Mississippi man who awoke last month in a body bag at a funeral home died.[34]

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

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a military sexual-assault bill that included a provision eliminating the “good soldier” defense, which allowed defendants to cite their exemplary military records to counter charges of sexual misconduct.[35][36] Radio astronomers declared that they had detected the beginning of the Big Bang, and a former Tampa police officer charged with shooting a man in a cinema because he was annoyed by the man’s texting was found also to have been texting.[37][38] During a dispute with an angry cyclist, a Liverpudlian driver opened his jacket to reveal an ailing red-crowned Amazon parrot. “Sorry,” said the driver, “I’ve got a parrot dying on me here.”[39] Biologists in Buffalo gathered the carcasses of nearly a thousand ducks who had starved or eaten selenium-harboring invasive zebra mussels when they couldn’t access minnows beneath Great Lakes ice, and Breton fisherman Joseph Jambon loaned his boat Le Papy to a campaign designed to turn the invasive fornicating slipper snail (Crepidula fornicata) into a delicacy.[40][41] A Wisconsin speech pathologist diagnosed Scooby Doo with rhotic replacement disorder, and Washington veterinarians reported that more dogs were being admitted for cannabis poisoning since the state legalized marijuana consumption.[42][43] A U.S. government report about the economics of prostitution suggested that pimps prefer to work alone. “Pimps are like eagles,” said one survey respondent. “They soar by themselves.”[44]


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

Share
Single Page

More from Ryann Liebenthal:

From the July 2015 issue

Bleakness Stakes

Weekly Review May 19, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

An Amtrak train derails, a Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death, and an African-American boy who was maced at an anti–police-brutality protest is grateful he wasn’t shot

Weekly Review February 17, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Muslim family is killed over a parking space in North Carolina, Netflix launches in Cuba, and an Indian woman who is 95 percent genetically male gives birth to twins

Get access to 168 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2019

Machine Politics

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Polar Light

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Donald Trump Is a Good President

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Resistances

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Long Shot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Machine Politics·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right. The twentieth century had been dominated by media that delivered the same material to millions of people at the same time—radio and newspapers, movies and television. These were the kinds of one-to-many, top-down mass media that Orwell’s Big Brother had used to stay in power. Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet. They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: it would allow people to speak for themselves, directly to one another, around the world. “True personalization is now upon us,” wrote MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Being Digital. Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished. Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place. “Like a force of nature,” wrote Negroponte, “the digital age cannot be denied or stopped.”

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Long Shot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanî. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. The Kurds are one of the world’s oldest peoples and, as pioneers of agriculture, were once among its most advanced. Though the rest of the world now largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there. In 1995, German archaeologists began excavating a temple at Göbekli Tepe in northern Kurdistan. They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10,000 bce. At the end of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers.

Fighters of the YJA-STAR, the women’s force in the PKK, Sinjar, Iraq, November 2015 (detail)
Article
Polar Light·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To get oriented here is difficult. The light is flat because the sky is overcast. The sun’s weak rays create only a few anemic shadows by which to judge scale and distance. Far-off objects like mountain peaks have crisp edges because the atmosphere itself is as transparent as first-water diamonds, but the mountains are not nearly as close as they seem. It’s about negative-twelve degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind is relatively calm, moving over the snow distractedly, like an animal scampering.

[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

Four of the six people living here are in their tents now, next to their cookstoves, two by two, warming up and preparing their suppers. I’m the fifth of the group, almost motionless at the moment, a hundred yards south of the tent cluster, kneeling on a patch of bluish ice in the midst of a great expanse of white. I’m trying to discern a small object entombed there a few inches below the surface. Against the porcelain whites of this gently sloping landscape, I must appear starkly apparent in my cobalt blue parka and wind pants. I shift slowly right and left, lean slightly forward, then settle back, trying to get the fluxless sunlight to reveal more of the shape and texture of the object.

A multiple-exposure photograph (detail) taken every hour from 1:30 pm on December 8, 1965, to 10:10 am on December 9, 1965, showing the sun in its orbit above the South Pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station © Georg Gerster/Panos Pictures
Article
Donald Trump Is a Good President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

Illustration (detail) by Ricardo Martínez
Article
Resistances·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

Estimated number of times in the Fall of 1990 that George Bush told a joke about his dog asking for a wine list with her Alpo:

10

French researchers reported that 52 percent of young women exposed to Francis Cabrel’s ballad “Je l’aime à mourir” gave their phone numbers to an average-looking young man who hit on them, whereas only 28 percent of those exposed to Vincent Delerm’s “L’heure du thé” did so.

Migrant children were teargassed; carbon dioxide levels have reached three to five million year high; missionary killed by remote tribe

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

Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“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