Weekly Review — September 23, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Scotland rejects independence, Sierra Leone issues a three-day lockdown, and Iran lashes its citizens for doing a “Happy” dance

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Nearly 85 percent of Scots voted in a referendum to decide whether their country should leave the United Kingdom. In response to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?,” 2,001,926 voters selected “No” and 1,617,989 selected “Yes.” In Edinburgh, on the day of the vote, a bagpiper from Las Vegas led a procession of 150 Yes voters to a poll station, shooting flames from the top of his instrument. “They’re being led up the garden path,” said economist Ronald MacDonald. Following the vote, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister and the leader of the Scottish National Party, announced that he would resign, and British leaders reiterated a promise they’d made in the days leading up to the vote to devolve unspecified new powers to the United Kingdom’s four component territories. In celebration of their win, No supporters sang “If you hate Alex Salmond, clap your hands” and wrote OBEY YOUR QUEEN on the streets of Glasgow. “Scots,” said Queen Elizabeth II, “are able to express strongly held opinions.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] An estimated 310,000 people marched in Manhattan, and 270,000 more marched in 165 other countries, to advocate for global action on climate change in advance of a summit scheduled to start Tuesday at the United Nations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio joined the march in Manhattan, which began on Central Park West. At 12:58 p.m., demonstrators observed a moment of silence, and then began a rumpus using instruments, whistles, and other noisemakers. “There is no Plan B,” said Ban, “because there is no Planet B.”[8][9][10] The Global Carbon Project reported that emissions of greenhouse gases in 2013 had jumped 2.3 percent worldwide and 2.9 percent in the United States, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that August 2014 was the hottest August on record worldwide, and that 2014 was on track to be the hottest year on record.[11] Tropical storm Fung-Wong hit the Philippines.[12] Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba held the largest-ever initial public offering, raising $25 billion from the sale of its stock, and an Indian TV-news anchor was suspended for referring on-air to Chinese president Xi Jinping as Eleven Jinping.[13][14]

Following a week of fighting that killed 340 people in Sana’a, militants with the Houthi, a Zaidi Shia group, signed a peace deal with the Yemeni government, then entrenched its control of the city by seizing equipment from military headquarters and raiding the home of a rival general. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah resolved Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election by signing a power-sharing deal under which Ghani became president and Abdullah became chief executive.[15][16][17] President Barack Obama announced that the United States would send as many as 3,000 troops to West Africa, to assist with efforts to control the Ebola epidemic there, and the government of Sierra Leone ordered everyone in the country to stay home for three days so that health workers could safely dispose of corpses.[18][19] Five doctors in Guinea contracted the disease while performing a Caesarean section on an infected pregnant woman, and the World Health Organization said that a black-market trade in the blood of Ebola survivors had begun.[20][21] German prosecutors charged Oscar Groening, a 93-year-old former guard at the Auschwitz death camp, with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.[22] Approximately 130,000 Kurds fled to Turkey in the span of four days after militants from the Islamic State (IS) took control of dozens of Syrian border villages. “All they can do,” said a refugee, “is cut off heads.”[23][24] France bombarded an IS logistics depot in northeastern Iraq; IS called on its followers to begin attacking citizens from nations that had joined the coalition to defeat it; and militants from the Caliphate Soldiers kidnapped a French citizen in Algeria and threatened to kill him if France continued its attacks.[25][26][27] Eight hundred Australian police officers participated in raids that led to the detention of six people who allegedly plotted to kidnap and publicly behead people in Brisbane and Sydney, and to drape their bodies in IS flags.[28][29] Turkey said that it had freed, without paying ransom or exchanging prisoners, 49 hostages seized by IS on June 11 from the Turkish consulate in Mosul, Iraq. “Sounds a bit too good to be true,” said a former Turkish diplomat.[30] Six Iranians were sentenced to 91 lashes and up to a year in prison for posting a video online that showed them dancing to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.”[31] The Internet counted its billionth website.[32]

ESPN published a report offering evidence that executives from the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens had seen security-camera footage of running back Ray Rice assaulting his now-wife, Janay, in an elevator in February, contrary to their public claims; that they had then lobbied NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Rice for no more than two games; and that Goodell had levied the brief suspension even after Rice had confessed to knocking Janay out. At a press conference with Goodell in New York City, radio writer Benjy Bronk was escorted from the event by security for approaching the podium while the commissioner spoke. “Don’t take me to an elevator!” said Bronk.[33][34][35] In a suburb of Salt Lake City, two sister-wives dressed like ninjas were subdued by a man with a sword after they broke into the home of a child whom their husband had allegedly abused.[36] Martin Miller of Bay City, Michigan, was charged with choking a homeless man with whom he and his wife had participated in a threesome, following a fight that began when Miller threw ground beef the man had cooked into a tub where his wife was bathing.[37] A British baker was fined $1,175 for headbutting a sausage-roll-making machine.[38] Two Siberian women were crushed to death by a truckload of potatoes.[39] An Australian veterinarian removed a tumor from the head of a goldfish named George, and a four-year-old Norwegian girl in the town of Honningsvag sleepwalked from her home to a fish factory.[40][41] A Florida massage therapist revealed that she had had surgery to implant a third breast. “I got it because I wanted to make myself unattractive to men,” she said. “If this doesn’t work, I’m through.”[42]*

* Update: After this Weekly Review was published, the story about the Florida massage therapist was found to have been a hoax.

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

Share
Single Page

More from Jeremy Keehn:

Weekly Review September 9, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

ISIL murders journalist Steven Sotloff; Satan in Moscow and Detroit; and Florida police play Cherries Waffles Tennis

Weekly Review August 5, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Alternating shelter bombings and ceasefires in Gaza; a do-nothing Congress whimpers feebly into recess; and India hires a troupe of black-faced-langur imitators

Weekly Review July 15, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The United States prepares to return thousands of minors to Central America; Israel launches an offensive in Gaza; and a wildfire traces back to Freddie Smoke

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

“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.

Trumpism After Trump

= 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.

A decorated veteran of the American wars in Vietnam and Iraq had his prosthetic limbs repossessed from his home in Mississippi when the VA declined to pay for them.

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