Weekly Review — November 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

U.S. congressional candidates woo voters, Sweden recognizes Palestine, and the Pope says God is not a magician

ElephantWalk350The Pew Research Center predicted that only 40 percent of Americans eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections will do so on November 4.[1] In the race for New York’s 11th Congressional District, incumbent Michael Grimm, who was indicted on 20 counts of mail fraud, tax fraud, and perjury, and who earlier this year threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off of the balcony of the Capitol building, was chided by a Staten Island newspaper for being “hot headed” and “distasteful,” and for making Staten Island “the laughing stock of the nation”; the paper endorsed Grimm, who has a 19-point lead in the polls. In a speech at the Hibernian Society in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, the incumbent in the state’s Senate race, joked that “if I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great”; FiveThirtyEight.com projected that Graham has a 99 percent chance of holding his seat.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Ted Cruz, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, responded to the news that Apple CEO Tim Cook was gay by telling a reporter that while he supported anti-gay marriage legislation, he agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed marry in states where it is legal. “Yes. No, no, I agree,” he said. “Perhaps you are not understanding my position.” A former neo-Nazi running for town council in Apple Valley, California, said he is “not a hater,” and the chairwoman for the New Hampshire Republican Party likened winning seats in Congress to drowning Democrats. “Push their heads under over and over again,” she said, “until they cannot breathe anymore.”[8][9][10] Tom Harkin, Iowa’s Democratic Senate incumbent, said his challenger, Republican Joni Ernst, was “as good-looking as Taylor Swift,” and for the second time in Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio’s campaign, a former staffer accused him of sexual harassment. “His fly was undone, and he had his hand grasping his genitals,” the male staffer said of an encounter with DeMaio, who leads by 13 percent in the polls.[11][12]

A video created by the harassment awareness group Hollaback! documented a woman walking through New York City getting catcalled more than 100 times over the course of ten hours; a video released by a Texas law firm showed an Austin police officer blowing a whistle at a woman and shouting, “Go ahead and call the cops, they can’t unrape you”; and a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram featured its leader claiming that more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls have all been converted to Islam and married off. “If you knew the state your daughters are in today,” he said, “it might lead some of you to … die from grief.”[13][14][15] In Bangladesh, the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was sentenced to death in January for arms smuggling, was sentenced to death for torture, rape, murder, and genocide during Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan in 1971. In Syria, two government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on displaced citizens, killing around a dozen.[16][17] Sweden became the first country in the European Union to recognize Palestine, which the United States described as “premature”; an unnamed U.S. official in the White House said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a chickenshit”; the Israeli-owned manufacturer of the carbonation device SodaStream, whose CEO supports a two-state solution in the region, said it would move its operations from the West Bank to Lehavim, a town 60 miles away in southern Israel; and a rabbi and a Palestinian man suspected of shooting an American-born Jewish activist were both shot in Jerusalem. The Middle East, said Israel’s foreign minister, “is more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA.”[18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

A new poll conducted in the United Kingdom found that 42 percent of people believe in UFOs but only 25 percent believe in God, and the Pope told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory are true, adding that God was not a “magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things.”[25][26] Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that earth’s oceans were created by meteorites; scientists at the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France, identified cosmic rings of gas and dust that they claim may help form life-supporting planets; and scientists at the Centre for Quantum Mechanics at Griffith University in Australia proposed the existence and interaction of many parallel universes. “All possibilities are therefore realized,” said the study’s lead author. “In some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese.”[27][28][29] In San Francisco, the Giants, who finished the season with the eighth-best record, won their third World Series championship in five years; in Zambia, where only 0.5 percent of the population is white, Guy Scott was sworn in as the first white African leader since apartheid; and in Hawaii, some residents of Pahoa opposed the idea of diverting a slow-moving river of 2,100-degree lava headed toward the center of town. “We’re just hoping,” said the Hawaii County Civil Defense Director, “this doesn’t become something that divides the community.”[30][31][32][33][34]

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

Share
Single Page

More from Joe Kloc:

Weekly Review May 9, 2018, 4:25 pm

Weekly Review

Essential consultants

Weekly Review May 2, 2018, 3:40 pm

Weekly Review

The Count and the Candyman

Weekly Review April 4, 2018, 5:16 pm

Weekly Review

Departments of Justice

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2018

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Combustion Engines·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On any given day last summer, the smoke-choked skies over Missoula, Montana, swarmed with an average of twenty-eight helicopters and eighteen fixed-wing craft, a blitz waged against Lolo Peak, Rice Ridge, and ninety-six other wildfires in the Lolo National Forest. On the ground, forty or fifty twenty-person handcrews were deployed, alongside hundreds of fire engines and bulldozers. In the battle against Rice Ridge alone, the Air Force, handcrews, loggers, dozers, parachutists, flacks, forecasters, and cooks amounted to some nine hundred people.

Rice Ridge was what is known as a mega-fire, a recently coined term for blazes that cover more than 100,000 acres. The West has always known forest fires, of course, but for much of the past century, they rarely got any bigger than 10,000 acres. No more. In 1988, a 250,000-acre anomaly, Canyon Creek, burned for months, roaring across a forty-mile stretch of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness in a single night. A few decades on, that anomaly is becoming the norm. Rice Ridge, for its part, swept through 160,000 acres.

At this scale, the firefighting operation is run by an incident management team, a group of about thirty specialists drawn from a mix of state and federal agencies and trained in fields ranging from aviation to weather forecasting and accounting to public information. The management teams are ranked according to experience and ability, from type 3 (the least skilled) to type 1 (the most). The fiercest fires are assigned to type 1s. Teams take the name of their incident commander, the field general, and some of those names become recognizable, even illustrious, in the wildfire-fighting community. One such name is that of Greg Poncin, who is to fire commanders what Wyatt Earp was to federal marshals.

Smoke from the Lolo Peak fire (detail) © Laura Verhaeghe
Article
Rebirth of a Nation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under the leadership of a president who came to office after losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Such an imbalance of power could lead to a second civil war—indeed, the nation’s first and only great fraternal conflagration was sparked off in part for precisely this reason. On the other hand, Trump’s reign may be merely an interregnum, in which the old white power structure of the Republican Party is dying and a new oppositional coalition struggles to be born.

Illustration by Taylor Callery (detail)
Article
Blood Money·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Over the past three years, the city of South Tucson, Arizona, a largely Latino enclave nestled inside metropolitan Tucson, came close to abolishing its fire and police departments. It did sell off the library and cut back fire-truck crews from four to three people—whereupon two thirds of the fire department quit—and slashed the police force to just sixteen employees. “We’re a small city, just one square mile, surrounded by a larger city,” the finance director, Lourdes Aguirre, explained to me. “We have small-town dollars and big-city problems.”

Illustration by John Ritter (detail)
Article
The Tragedy of Ted Cruz·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

When I saw Ted Cruz speak, in early August, it was at Underwood’s Cafeteria in Brownwood. He was on a weeklong swing through rural central Texas, hitting small towns and military bases that ensured him friendly, if not always entirely enthusiastic, crowds. In Brownwood, some in the audience of two hundred were still nibbling on peach cobbler as Cruz began with an anecdote about his win in a charity basketball game against ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. They rewarded him with smug chuckles when he pointed out that “Hollywood celebrities” would be hurting over the defeat “for the next fifty years.” His pitch for votes was still an off-the-rack Tea Party platform, complete with warnings about the menace of creeping progressivism, delivered at a slightly mechanical pace but with lots of punch. The woman next to me remarked, “This is the fire in the gut! Like he had the first time!” referring to Cruz’s successful long-shot run in the 2011 Texas Republican Senate primary. And it’s true—the speech was exactly like one Cruz would have delivered in 2011, right down to one specific detail: he never mentioned Donald Trump by name.

Cruz recited almost verbatim the same things Trump lists as the administration’s accomplishments: the new tax legislation, reduced African-American unemployment, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court. But, in a mirror image of those in the #Resistance who refuse to ennoble Trump with the title “president,” Cruz only called him that.

Photograph of Ted Cruz © Ben Helton (detail)
Article
Wrong Object·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

H

e is a nondescript man.

I’d never used that adjective about a client. Not until this one. My seventeenth. He’d requested an evening time and came Tuesdays at six-thirty. For months he didn’t tell me what he did.

The first session I said what I often said to begin: How can I help you?

I still think of what I do as a helping profession. And I liked the way the phrase echoed down my years; in my first job I’d been a salesgirl at a department store counter.

I want to work on my marriage, he said. I’m the problem.

His complaint was familiar. But I preferred a self-critical patient to a blamer.

It’s me, he said. My wife is a thoroughly good person.

Yawn, I thought, but said, Tell me more.

I don’t feel what I should for her.

What do you feel?

Photograph © Joseph S. Giacalone (detail)

Average life span, in years, of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon:

25

Researchers in California succeeded in teaching genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to communicate using a new chemical “language”; the research aims at turning cells into tiny robots.

Theresa May’s Brexit proposal was rejected; Trump suggested raking to prevent forest fires; Jair Bolsonaro insulted Cuban doctors working in Brazil

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