Weekly Review — April 26, 2016, 2:24 pm

Weekly Review

Tehran police enlist 7,000 morality officers, the governor of Utah declares pornography a public health crisis, and a man frames his five-year-old daughter for murder

HarpersWeb-WeeklyReview-avatar-WCS-bigThe Turkish consulate in Rotterdam requested that Netherlands-based Turkish organizations report anyone defaming the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.[1] A leader of Germany’s Pirate Party was arrested in Berlin for insulting a “representative of a foreign state” while reading from a satirical poem about Erdogan, a Dutch journalist who tweeted criticism of the president was barred from leaving Turkey, and four academics were tried for spreading “terrorist propaganda” after they signed a petition to end the hostilities between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government, which seized a number of significant churches and properties in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.[2][3][4][5] European leaders visited a refugee camp in Nizip, Turkey, and praised the country for its treatment of migrants. “Turkey,” the president of the European Council said, “is the best example for the whole world.”[6] Police in Tehran enlisted 7,000 undercover morality officers to report men wearing necklaces and women sporting glamorous hairstyles and loose-fitting hijab, and North Korea banned body piercings.[7][8] In China, a former cryptographic-institute computer technician was sentenced to death for selling more than 150,000 classified documents to foreign agencies, and the government released posters warning young female government workers against dating handsome foreign men in case they are spies. “Some Chinese women,” said a Beijing saleswoman, “are naive.”[9][10]

Three government workers in Michigan were charged with tampering with reports and misleading state authorities about the safety of Flint’s water, and Governor Rick Snyder promised to drink Flint tap water at home for at least a month, before his staff announced he was leaving for Europe.[11][12][13] President Obama ate lunch with Queen Elizabeth II for her 90th birthday, golfed with prime minister David Cameron, and told Londoners that Black Lives Matters activists “can’t just keep on yelling.” [14][15] An investigation found that Veterans Affairs offices had shredded documents required to fulfill patients’ healthcare claims, and 125,000 Democratic voters were found to have been dropped from the rolls and prevented from voting in the party’s New York primary.[16][17] It was reported that 73 percent of the members of California’s American Independent Party—which opposes taxes, food labeling, gay marriage, and “liberalism”—erroneously believed they were registering as independent voters.[18] In Virginia, 206,000 former convicts were given back their voting rights.[19] The governor of Utah, whose residents have the country’s highest per capita consumption of pornography, signed legislation declaring pornography “a public health crisis.”[20] In Oswaldtwistle, England, a 70-year-old woman was given a suspended jail sentence for beating her 78-year-old husband with a meat tenderizer because she caught him watching porn. “He hasn’t touched me for over ten years,” she said.[21] An 18-year-old from Ohio pleaded not guilty to livestreaming her friend’s rape, and in Wilmington, Delaware, a 16-year-old girl was fatally beaten in a school bathroom by two female students during a fight over a boy.[22][23] The United Kingdom issued an advisory against North Carolina in response to the state’s passing of a law in March that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates.[24][25] A 30-year-old man in Philadelphia accidentally killed his four-year-old daughter while waving a gun around a room full of children, then attempted to frame his nearby five-year-old daughter by wiping the blood from his hand onto her shirt.[26] A man in India cut off the hands of a teenager accused of raping his then-seven-month-old daughter.[27] In Pike County, Ohio, eight members of one family were shot execution-style at four different homes, some of which had marijuana-growing operations.[28] The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays, and at least ten people tried to send their tax returns from the Coachella music festival’s pop-up post office. “How do they have their taxes here?” said a postal worker.[29][30]

In Rio de Janeiro, two people were killed when a $12.5 million elevated bike path constructed for the Olympics was knocked down by a wave, and marketing agencies installed two billboards that smell of human sweat to attract mosquitoes. “You’re pulling in hungry mosquitoes,” said a pest-control expert, “and providing them with exposed human flesh.”[31][32] A 15-year-old boy in Ohio was fatally electrocuted while attempting to replicate a Jacob’s Ladder experiment that he had seen on YouTube.[33] In Cameroon, an SUV in the convoy of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations hit and killed a seven-year-old boy, and a two-year-old who lived across from Tufts Medical Center was struck by an ambulance.[34][35] A Munich circus ostrich freed by two animal-rights activists was run over by a car ten minutes after its release.[36] In Eugene, Oregon, a pet-store owner was arrested for paying a prostitute with a bushbaby and money donated to his shop for Girl Scout cookies.[37] Police in Ontario were called to break up a domestic disturbance between a drunk man and his parrot.[38] British researchers found that lonely people are more likely to die of heart disease.[39] Discalced Carmelite nuns in Littleton, Colorado, requested a taller fence to prevent members of the public from hopping into their convent and trying to catch them.[40] In Chisinau, Moldova, a man was caught on CCTV stealing pavement, and in Khorezm, Uzbekistan, bank robbers were arrested for stealing 45 sacks of cash, worth $2,600. “I have the same amount of money,” said a local man, “in my pocket.”[41][42] Prince died, leaving behind an estimated 2,000 unreleased songs in a bank vault.[43]

Share
Single Page

More from Winston Choi-Schagrin:

Weekly Review February 2, 2016, 12:26 pm

Weekly Review

The Zika virus spreads to 23 countries, Oregon state police kill an antigovernment militiaman, and China reports a shortage of donkey gelatin

Weekly Review November 10, 2015, 9:00 am

Weekly Review

President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, a marathon runner gets lost in the subway, and a ghost haunts selfies

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2019

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
Burning Down the House·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Discussed in this essay:

Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35.

Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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.

Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to the president who now hosts a radio show called America First, was banned from YouTube for repeatedly uploading audio from the rock band Imagine Dragons without copyright permission.

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