Weekly Review — October 13, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Russia drops thermobaric bombs on Syrian antigovernment forces, an independent expert calls the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice “objectively reasonable,” and a girl in Texas can’t stop sneezing

HarpersWeb-Weekly-ON-tallIn Syria, Russian forces struck antigovernment targets with 26 long-range cruise missiles and carried out 11 airstrikes on Islamic State training camps in Hama and Raqqa.[1] It was reported that since late September, when Russia began its offensive in Syria, it has deployed both concrete-busting and thermobaric bombs in the country.[2] “Our task is to stabilize,” said president Vladimir Putin, “by military means.”[3] U.S. officials announced the end of a $500 million campaign to train Syrian fighters to combat the Islamic State after a top general told the Senate Armed Services Committee in September that the unit, which was expected to include some 5,400 troops, had fewer than a dozen fighters. “We’re talking four or five,” he said.[4][5] Unidentified attackers detonated two bombs at a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey, killing at least 95 people; three suicide bombers in Damaturu, Nigeria, killed at least 18 people; and, in Yemen’s Dhamar province, a Saudi-led coalition launched an airstrike against a wedding hosted by a pro-Houthi tribal leader, killing at least 23 civilians.[6][7][8][9] The president of FIFA’s Thai federation was suspended for 90 days for violating the organization’s ethics code, the mayor of Rome resigned after it was revealed that he charged more than $22,700 for personal outings and dinners to his official credit card, and John Ashe, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly, was charged with tax fraud for failing to declare to the IRS a $1.3 million bribe, which he used to lease a BMW, build a personal basketball court, purchase Rolexes, and pay off the mortgage on his house. “Everyone is expected to report all of their income,” said an IRS special agent, “including bribes.”[10][11][12][13]

A freshman opened fire at Northern Arizona University, killing one student and wounding three others; hours later, a student at Texas Southern University killed one student and injured another.[14] The November 2014 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at a park in Cleveland was found “objectively reasonable” by independent reports.[15] House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly withdrew from the race being held to replace outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, who last month unexpectedly announced he would retire; and Congressman Paul Ryan refused calls to enter the race. “It is total confusion,” said Congressman Peter King, “a banana republic.”[16] The Justice Department announced plans to release 6,000 inmates from federal prisons beginning at the end of the month, and Tehran’s Revolutionary Court convicted Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who has been imprisoned in the country for more than a year, of espionage.[17][18] Thousands converged on Washington, D.C., for a rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, and approximately 100 union activists broke through the gates surrounding the headquarters of Air France and interrupted a meeting, tearing the shirts off executives.[19][20] It was reported that a 12-year-old Texas girl has been sneezing as often as 12,000 times a day for the past month. “Even in my dreams,” said the girl, “I sneeze.”[21]

U.S. airman Spencer Stone, who was slashed with a box cutter two months ago while thwarting a terrorist attack on a train in France, underwent surgery after he was stabbed in a brawl with six men outside a Sacramento nightclub. “He is quite a fighter,” said the serviceman’s doctor.[22] A Chilean television station obtained video of Pope Francis calling a group of activists who were protesting a bishop accused of sexual abuse “dumb.”[23] In China, a bottleneck caused by a newly implemented checkpoint on the G4 Beijing–Hong Kong–Macau Expressway led to a 50-lane traffic jam.[24] The Facebook account of a 30-year-old British man legally named Something Long and Complicated was suspended and then reinstated after he provided proof of his identity.[25] The owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada announced that he would match his employees’ student loan payments for two months. “I look forward to obtaining my degree and helping people,” one prostitute said, “with their sexual issues.” [26]

Read the Weekly Review in the Harper’s Magazine app, or sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday.

Share
Single Page

More from Osita Nwanevu:

Weekly Review April 19, 2016, 5:27 pm

Weekly Review

Earthquakes strike Japan and Ecuador, Bernie Sanders meets Pope Francis, and the National Weather Service stops writing in all caps 

Conversation December 9, 2015, 8:00 am

Choosing Words

“There is this idea that writing beautifully or writing powerfully is somehow separate from clear thinking,” says Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me. “It’s not.”

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

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.

“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.

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.

In response to a major volcanic eruption, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed he would “eat that ashfall. I’m even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano.”

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