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

eye_350x382Sony Pictures canceled the planned Christmas Day theatrical release of The Interview, which depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, after the three largest North American cinema chains postponed showing the film in response to threats of violent attacks issued by hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace. “I wish they had spoken to me first,” said President Obama of Sony’s decision, adding later, “I might have called the movie theater chains.” The FBI determined that the North Korean government was responsible for hacking Sony and making the subsequent threats, the North Korean foreign ministry denied any involvement, and North Korea’s National Defense Commission released a statement that called the United States a “cesspool of terrorism” and promised its “toughest counteraction.” “We have to respond in kind,” said Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.). “We have lots of capability in cyber and we ought to start cranking that up.”[1][2][3][4][5][6] The government of Pakistan reinstated the death penalty for terrorists and hanged six convicted militants after a Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar killed 148 people, most of them students.[7][8][9] A 28-year-old man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend in her Maryland apartment, then boarded a bus to New York and shot two New York City police officers sitting in their squad car, in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown; and Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County, Missouri, prosecutor admitted that some witnesses who had appeared before a grand jury investigating Brown’s death had perjured themselves, including a St. Louis resident who claimed she had seen the shooting when she came to Ferguson to learn about African-American culture. “Need to understand the Black race better,” she wrote, purportedly on the day of the shooting, in a journal presented to the jury, “so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and Start calling them People.”[10][11][12]

The United States and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic relations for the first time in more than 50 years in a deal requested by Pope Francis. In exchange for the release of three Cuban spies detained by the United States since 1998, Cuba agreed to free an American civilian imprisoned since 2009 for trying to establish clandestine Internet service for Cuban Jews. “Let’s hope we unleash a trade tsunami,” wrote Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.), “that washes the Castros once and for all into the sea.”[13][14][15] Russian president Vladimir Putin, who currently has an 80 percent approval rating, delivered a three-hour news conference in which he predicted the country’s economy would recover within two years despite a more than 50 percent decline in the ruble’s value. “I very much support Putin,” said a 79-year-old woman from the Russian town of Gryaz. “Who else is there to support?”[16][17][18] Google’s valuation of $340 billion surpassed that of the entire Russian stock market, Ukraine’s most-googled recipe in 2014 was found to have been for Molotov cocktails, and St. Petersburg assemblyman Vitaly Milonov announced that he’d discarded his iPhone 6 after Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay, because the device had begun “smelling with gay stuff.”[19][20][21] It was reported that Gaylard Williams, the leader of an Indiana antigay church, was arrested for grabbing and squeezing another man’s genitals; an elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri, punished a blind eight-year-old boy by replacing his cane with a foam pool noodle; and the Dalai Lama suggested that the six-century-old lineage of Buddhist spiritual leaders end with him. “There is no guarantee,” he said, “that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next.”[22][23][24]

A man bit a dog in Cambridge, England; a dog near Sheridan, Wyoming, fired a rifle into its owner’s left arm; and a 330-pound man in Lucena, Spain, was charged with animal abuse after a donkey he’d sat on in a Nativity scene subsequently collapsed and died.[25][26][27] The Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple installed a “Snaketivity Scene” on the lawn of the Michigan state capitol, Jingle Bells was revealed to be a nineteenth-century Thanksgiving drinking song, and a Springfield, Massachusetts, city councillor spoke at a menorah-lighting ceremony at which he told attendees that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” “I thought it added something to the service,” he later said. [28][29][30] A convicted child molester was discovered posing as Santa at a home-décor store in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and an electrician in Ross Township, Pennsylvania, retaliated against neighbors’ complaints about his extravagant Christmas-light displays by decorating his home with beheaded lawn ornaments and a light-up Santa altered to look as if it were urinating on the front lawn. “There was a Virgin Mary here,” said a neighbor, “and he placed a knife through her head.”[31][32]

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 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.

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2019

Downstream

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Stonewall at Fifty

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Maid’s Story

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Is Poverty Necessary?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post

Left to the tender mercies of the state, a group of veterans and their families continue to reside in a shut-down town

Article
Stonewall at Fifty·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street, the city’s most popular gay bar. The police had raided Stonewall frequently since its opening two years before, but the local precinct usually tipped off the management and arrived in the early evening. This time they came unannounced, during peak hours. They swept through the bar, checking I.D.s and arresting anyone wearing attire that was not “appropriate to one’s gender,” carrying out the law of the time. Eyewitness accounts differ on what turned the unruly scene explosive. Whatever the inciting event, patrons and a growing crowd on the street began throwing coins, bottles, and bricks at the police, who were forced to retreat into the bar and call in the riot squad.

Article
Downstream·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The squat warehouse at Miami’s 5th Street Terminal was nearly obscured by merchandise: used car engines; tangles of coat hangers; bicycles bound together with cellophane; stacks of wheelbarrows; cases of Powerade and bottled water; a bag of sprouting onions atop a secondhand Whirlpool refrigerator; and, above all, mattresses—shrink-wrapped and bare, spotless and streaked with dust, heaped in every corner of the lot—twins, queens, kings. All this and more was bound for Port-de-Paix, a remote city in northwestern Haiti.

When I first arrived at the warehouse on a sunny morning last May, a dozen pickup trucks and U-Hauls were waiting outside, piled high with used furniture. Nearby, rows of vehicles awaiting export were crammed together along a dirt strip separating the street from the shipyard, where a stately blue cargo vessel was being loaded with goods.

Article
Is Poverty Necessary?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1989 I published a book about a plutonium-producing nuclear complex in En­gland, on the coast of the Irish Sea. The plant is called Sellafield now. In 1957, when it was the site of the most serious nuclear accident then known to have occurred, the plant was called Windscale. While working on the book, I learned from reports in the British press that in the course of normal functioning it released significant quantities of waste—plutonium and other transuranic elements—into the environment and the adjacent sea. There were reports of high cancer rates. The plant had always been wholly owned by the British government. I believe at some point the government bought it from itself. Privatization was very well thought of at the time, and no buyer could be found for this vast monument to dinosaur modernism.

Back then, I shared the American assumption that such things were dealt with responsibly, or at least rationally, at least in the West outside the United States. Windscale/Sellafield is by no means the anomaly I thought it was then. But the fact that a government entrusted with the well-being of a crowded island would visit this endless, silent disaster on its own people was striking to me, and I spent almost a decade trying to understand it. I learned immediately that the motives were economic. What of all this noxious efflux they did not spill they sold into a global market.

Article
What it Means to Be Alive·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My father decided that he would end his life by throwing himself from the top of the parking garage at the Nashville airport, which he later told me had seemed like the best combination of convenience—that is, he could get there easily and unnoticed—and sufficiency—that is, he was pretty sure it was tall enough to do the job. I never asked him which other venues he considered and rejected before settling on this plan. He probably did not actually use the word “best.” It was Mother’s Day, 2013.

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.

The United States is nearly drought-free for the first time in decades and is experiencing unprecedented levels of flooding.

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

“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