Weekly Review — October 7, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

America’s first Ebola diagnosis, a pro-ICBM clothing exchange, and Joe Biden on being number two.

 ALL IN MY EYE.Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with the first case of the Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States. The staff of the Dallas-area hospital drew criticism from health officials for having failed to screen Duncan for the virus when, days earlier, he showed up in the emergency room with Ebola-like symptoms and told a nurse he had recently arrived from Africa. The hospital first claimed that the information was not “fully communicated” to doctors, then attributed the error to its electronic-health-records software, then said that though the patient’s travel history was available to the full medical team Duncan had lied when asked if he had been in contact with anyone who had the virus.[1] Before leaving Monrovia Duncan had reportedly helped transport a woman who was infected with Ebola, a fact he later omitted from a Liberian airport questionnaire. Dallas County prosecutors considered pressing aggravated-assault charges and the Liberia Airport Authority vowed to prosecute Duncan upon his return. “We wish him,” said an airport official, “a speedy recovery.”[2][3][4][5] The Islamic State posted a video to YouTube that purports to show the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning, the group’s fourth such killing of a Western hostage.[6][7] In the video, a masked man warns President Obama that if U.S. air strikes continue in Syria, the Islamic State will continue to strike what was variously heard as “the next of your people” and “the necks of your people.” The parents of American aid worker Peter Kassig, a convert to Islam who changed his name to Abdul-Rahman and who also appears in the video, responded with a plea for their son’s release. “We have no more control over the U.S. government,” Ed Kassig says to his son’s captors, “than you have over the break of dawn.”[8] Vice President Joe Biden apologized to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suggesting, in a speech at Harvard, that their governments were “so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar] Assad” that they financed Al Qaeda militants in Syria. In his speech, Biden said that international order “is literally fraying at the seams” and joked with an audience member who identified himself as the vice president of Harvard’s student body. “Ain’t that a bitch?” Biden said. “I mean, the vice president thing.”[9][10][11]

Police in Hong Kong arrested 19 people—eight of whom are believed to have ties to organized crime—for attacking participants in pro-democracy protests, and the Chinese government subjected 10,000 pigeons to anal security checks before releasing the birds in celebration of the country’s National Day.[12] U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned amid an investigation into the agency’s failure to apprehend Omar J. Gonzalez, an armed intruder who jumped a White House fence and entered the mansion through an unlocked door.[13][14] The investigation revealed that at least two officers present that day recognized Gonzalez from an earlier incident in which he was found near the White House fence with a hatchet tucked into his pants; that President Obama shared an elevator last month with an armed security contractor who has three felony assault and battery convictions; and that Pierson, who once worked as a costumed character at Walt Disney World, told two agency supervisors that the Secret Service needed to be more like the theme park. “We need to be more friendly,” Pierson said, “inviting.”[15] Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that he had been denied a loan to refinance his mortgage, and a Florida teen was hit by a truck while walking down Easy Street.[16][17][18] Pro-Russian activists in Moscow reportedly staged a “top swap” in which they exchanged T-shirts with Western slogans for shirts printed with pictures of intercontinental ballistic missiles and slogans like This rocket isn’t scared of sanctions.[19][20] In Ukraine, a Kiev heating-supply vendor reported selling 15 times more water heaters than usual because of fears that Russia will stop gas shipments during the winter. What to some is war, to others is profit,” he said.[21] A statue of Vladimir Lenin was toppled in the Ukranian city of Kharkiv, where one looter offered to sell the fragment containing Lenin’s nose and mustache to anyone willing to provide a battalion of Ukrainian soldiers with winter underwear, and another posted a Facebook auction for Lenin’s ear. “You can hear Donbas through it,” the seller wrote. “Make me an offer.”[22]

In Germany, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia launched a campaign against pickpocketing at a press conference where he was pickpocketed by a magician.[23] In Berlin, three armed men disguised as senior citizens used wheelchairs and walkers to approach an armored van that they robbed at gunpoint, and Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre staged the opening performance of Charles Manson: Summer of Hate—The Musical.”[24] Heavy-metal band Slipknot announced plans to burn oil drums filled with camel dung throughout Knotfest, its three-day music festival, because the culture has to have a smell, and a University of Chicago survey of 3,000 adults found that 39% of those whose sense of smell ranked “poorest” in a scientist-administered sniff test were dead within five years.[25][26] The U.S. National Institutes of Health awarded a $466,642 grant to a study that will examine why obese adolescent girls have fewer dating experiences than their non-obese peers, students at Devils Lake High School in North Dakota protested a ban on skinny jeans, and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un had reportedly become so heavy that his ankles fractured under his own weight.[27][28] In Tokyo, 265-pound Shinichiro Imanishi argued with a man over a chair at a ramen shop, stomped the man to death, and then calmly resumed eating his noodles. “I will go to jail,” Imanishi explained to his fellow diners. “This will be my last supper.”[29][30][31]

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

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
More Than a Data Dump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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 Iraqi man complaining on live television about the country’s health services died on air.

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