Weekly Review — April 26, 2017, 4:46 pm

Weekly Review

Marine Le Pen qualifies for the second round of the French presidential election, Bill O’Reilly is fired from Fox News, and Russia announces it is not “creating a Terminator.”

the magnificent bird of paradise.

the magnificent bird of paradise.

A man associated with the Islamic State opened fire on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, fatally shooting a police officer and injuring three bystanders.[1] More than 60,000 soldiers and police officers were deployed to polling stations across France as citizens voted in the first round of the country’s presidential election, whose top two finishers were Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front, who has called for an immediate suspension of immigration.[2] British prime minister Theresa May announced a surprise election to be held in June “to make a success” of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta canceled his party’s election primaries because of a ballot shortage, and a village in Illinois elected a new mayor by coin toss.[3][4][5] U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions said he wanted to “put some people in jail” and confirmed that the Department of Justice was seeking to arrest the founder of WikiLeaks, a website President Donald Trump referred to as “good reading” that he does not “support or unsupport.”[6][7] It was reported that an American aircraft carrier the Trump Administration had claimed was “steaming into” the Korean Peninsula had in fact been thousands of miles away, heading in the opposite direction; North Korean officials called the carrier a “gross animal” that they were “ready to sink”; and American nuclear researchers monitoring satellite images of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility detected three simultaneous games of volleyball being played at the site. “To have three,” said an analyst, “is quite unusual.”[8][9][10]

In Canada, it was reported that an excess of meltwater from the 15,000-square-mile Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon Territory caused a river to reverse direction for the first time in modern history, and more than five times the average number of icebergs appeared off the coast of Newfoundland, covering an area of nearly one square mile.[11][12] In India, it was reported that 4,620 people have died in the past four years because of severe heat waves linked to climate change, and the suburb of Palam reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit, its hottest recorded temperature in April in a decade.[13][14] Tens of thousands of people marched to promote science in cities across the world, and Trump issued an Earth Day statement in which he did not mention climate change.[15][16] Scientists discovered that women who reside close to nature live longer than those who don’t, that injecting old mice with the blood of human babies improves their brain function, and that East African hairless mole rats can live without oxygen for 18 minutes.[17][18][19] Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, who once attributed the rape and murder of a woman to the fact that she was “wearing a miniskirt and a halter top” and has said that the slaves who were forced to build the White House were “well-fed,” was fired from the network and given a $25 million severance package after it was reported that he had settled five sexual-harassment lawsuits since 2002 and had referred to an African-American colleague as “hot chocolate” and grunted at her when he walked past her desk.[20][21][22] Researchers in California announced that they had genetically modified a wasp to have “big beautiful red eyes.”[23]

A man in New York City filed a lawsuit against the dating app Grindr, alleging that fake accounts created in his name had brought 1,100 suitors to his home and workplace in the past six months. “It’s a living hell,” he said.[24] A professional tennis match in Florida was stopped because of loud moaning noises emanating from a nearby apartment, and a new law was passed in Michigan making it illegal for undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes. “They’re certainly not trained in it,” said the bill’s sponsor.[25] A seven-year-old boy in China was injured after trying to jump from the tenth floor of a building while using an umbrella as a parachute, a 12-year-old boy was stopped in Australia after he had driven a car more than 800 miles in an attempt to cross the country, and a three-month-old baby in England was interviewed at the American Embassy in London after his grandfather mistakenly indicated on a visa-waiver form that the baby would be flying to Florida to participate in terrorist activities. “He has obviously never engaged in genocide,” said the infant’s mother.[26][27] [28] It was reported that a dentist in Alaska had removed a patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard, and Russian officials posted a video demonstrating that a robot with the capacity to drive a car, weld, and use saws can now also shoot pistols with both of its hands. “We are not,” said the deputy prime minister, “creating a Terminator.”[29][30]

Sign up and get the Weekly Review delivered to your inbox. Help support our ongoing coverage of Donald Trump by subscribing to Harper’s Magazine today!

Share
Single Page

More from Sharon J. Riley:

Weekly Review June 12, 2018, 11:56 am

Weekly Review

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump meet at a former POW site, Jeff Sessions denies asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, and the National Sheriff Association announces a new initiative to protect pets

Weekly Review April 17, 2018, 2:23 pm

Weekly Review

Trump fires missiles at Syria, a former FBI director likens Trump to a Mafia boss, and New Yorkers mistake a racoon for a tiger

Weekly Review March 20, 2018, 1:38 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump says teachers should carry guns, a school resource officer mistakenly fires his gun at a middle school in Virginia, and the United States receives its worst-ever ranking on the World Happiness Report

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2018

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Printed Word in Peril·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February, at an event at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York, while sharing the stage with my fellow British writer Martin Amis and discussing the impact of screen-based reading and bidirectional digital media on the Republic of Letters, I threw this query out to an audience that I estimate was about three hundred strong: “Have any of you been reading anything by Norman Mailer in the past year?” After a while, one hand went up, then another tentatively semi-elevated. Frankly I was surprised it was that many. Of course, there are good reasons why Mailer in particular should suffer posthumous obscurity with such alacrity: his brand of male essentialist braggadocio is arguably extraneous in the age of Trump, Weinstein, and fourth-wave feminism. Moreover, Mailer’s brilliance, such as it was, seemed, even at the time he wrote, to be sparks struck by a steely intellect against the tortuous rocks of a particular age, even though he labored tirelessly to the very end, principally as the booster of his own reputation.

It’s also true that, as J. G. Ballard sagely remarked, for a writer, death is always a career move, and for most of us the move is a demotion, as we’re simultaneously lowered into the grave and our works into the dustbin. But having noted all of the above, it remains the case that Mailer’s death coincided with another far greater extinction: that of the literary milieu in which he’d come to prominence and been sustained for decades. It’s a milieu that I hesitate to identify entirely with what’s understood by the ringing phrase “the Republic of Letters,” even though the overlap between the two was once great indeed; and I cannot be alone in wondering what will remain of the latter once the former, which not long ago seemed so very solid, has melted into air.

What I do feel isolated in—if not entirely alone in—is my determination, as a novelist, essayist, and journalist, not to rage against the dying of literature’s light, although it’s surprising how little of this there is, but merely to examine the great technological discontinuity of our era, as we pivot from the wave to the particle, the fractal to the fungible, and the mechanical to the computable. I first began consciously responding, as a literary practitioner, to the manifold impacts of ­BDDM in the early 2000s—although, being the age I am, I have been feeling its effects throughout my working life—and I first started to write and speak publicly about it around a decade ago. Initially I had the impression I was being heard out, if reluctantly, but as the years have passed, my attempts to limn the shape of this epochal transformation have been met increasingly with outrage, and even abuse, in particular from my fellow writers.

As for my attempts to express the impact of the screen on the page, on the actual pages of literary novels, I now understand that these were altogether irrelevant to the requirement of the age that everything be easier, faster, and slicker in order to compel the attention of screen viewers. It strikes me that we’re now suffering collectively from a “tyranny of the virtual,” since we find ourselves unable to look away from the screens that mediate not just print but, increasingly, reality itself.

Photograph (detail) by Ellen Cantor from her Prior Pleasures series © The artist. Courtesy dnj Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Article
Among Britain’s Anti-Semites·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

This is the story of how the institutions of British Jewry went to war with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn is another feather in the wind of populism and a fragmentation of the old consensus and politesse. He was elected to the leadership by the party membership in 2015, and no one was more surprised than he. Between 1997 and 2010, Corbyn voted against his own party 428 times. He existed as an ideal, a rebuke to the Blairite leadership, and the only wise man on a ship of fools. His schtick is that of a weary, kindly, socialist Father Christmas, dragged from his vegetable patch to create a utopia almost against his will. But in 2015 the ideal became, reluctantly, flesh. Satirists mock him as Jesus Christ, and this is apt. But only just. He courts sainthood, and if you are very cynical you might say that, like Christ, he shows Jews what they should be. He once sat on the floor of a crowded train, though he was offered a first-class seat, possibly as a private act of penance to those who had, at one time or another, had no seat on a train.

When Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, the British media, who are used to punching socialists, crawled over his record and found much to alarm the tiny Jewish community of 260,000. Corbyn called Hez­bollah “friends” and said Hamas, also his “friends,” were devoted “to long-term peace and social justice.” (He later said he regretted using that language.) He invited the Islamist leader Raed Salah, who has accused Jews of killing Christian children to drink their blood, to Parliament, and opposed his extradition. Corbyn is also a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former chair of Stop the War, at whose rallies they chant, “From the river to the sea / Palestine will be free.” (There is no rhyme for what will happen to the Jewish population in this paradise.) He was an early supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its global campaign to delegitimize Israel and, through the right of return for Palestinians, end its existence as a Jewish state. (His office now maintains that he does not support BDS. The official Labour Party position is for a two-state solution.) In the most recent general election, only 13 percent of British Jews intended to vote Labour.

Corbyn freed something. The scandals bloomed, swiftly. In 2016 Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, was suspended from the party for sharing a Facebook post that suggested Israel be relocated to the United States. She apologized publicly, was reinstated, and is now a shadow women and equalities minister. Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London and a political supporter of Corbyn, appeared on the radio to defend Shah and said, “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.” For this comment, Livingstone was suspended from the party.

A protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in Parliament Square, London, March 26, 2018 (detail) © Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images
Article
Nothing but Gifts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

If necessity is the stern but respectable mother of invention, then perhaps desperation is the derelict father of subterfuge. That was certainly the case when I moved to Seattle in 1979.

Though I’d lived there twice during the previous five years, I wasn’t prepared for the economic boom I found upon this latest arrival. Not only had rent increased sharply in all but the most destitute neighborhoods, landlords now routinely demanded first, last, and a hefty security deposit, which meant I was short by about fifty percent. Over the first week or so, I watched with mounting anxiety as food, gas, and lodging expenses reduced the meager half I did have to a severely deficient third. To make matters even more nerve-racking, I was relocating with my nine-year-old son, Ezra. More than my well-being was at stake.

A veteran of cold, solitary starts in strange cities, I knew our best hope wasn’t the classifieds, and certainly not an agency, but the serendipity of the streets—handmade for rent signs, crowded bulletin boards in laundromats and corner grocery stores, passersby on the sidewalk; I had to exploit every opportunity that might present itself, no matter how oblique or improbable. In Eastlake, at the edge of Lake Union between downtown Seattle and the University District, I spied a shabby but vacant one-story house on the corner of a block that was obviously undergoing transition—overgrown lots and foundation remnants where other houses once stood—and that had at least one permanent feature most right-minded people would find forbidding: an elevated section of Interstate 5 just across the street, attended by the incessant roar of cars and trucks. The house needed a new roof, a couple of coats of paint, and, judging by what Ezra and I could detect during a furtive inspection, major repair work inside, including replacing damaged plaster-and-lath walls with sheetrock. All of this, from my standpoint, meant that I might have found a solution to my dilemma.

The next step was locating the owner, a roundabout process that eventually required a trip to the tax assessor’s office. I called the person listed on the rolls and made an appointment. Then came the moment of truth, or, more precisely, untruth, when dire circumstance begot strategic deception. I’d never renovated so much as a closet, but that didn’t stop me from declaring confidently that I possessed both the skills and the willingness to restore the entire place to a presentable—and, therefore, rentable—state in exchange for being able to live there for free, with the length of stay to be determined as work progressed. To my immense relief, the pretense was well received. Indeed, the owner also seemed relieved, if a bit surprised, that he’d have seemingly trustworthy tenants; homeless people who camped beneath the freeway, he explained, had repeatedly broken into the house and used it for all manner of depravity. Telling myself that inspired charlatanry is superior to mundane trespassing—especially this instance of charlatanry, which would yield some actual good—I accepted the keys from my new landlord.

Photograph (detail) © Larry Towell/Magnum Photos
Article
Checkpoint Nation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Laura Sandoval threaded her way through idling taxis and men selling bottles of water toward the entrance of the Cordova International Bridge, which links Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas. Earlier that day, a bright Saturday in December 2012, Sandoval had crossed over to Juárez to console a friend whose wife had recently died. She had brought him a few items he had requested—eye drops, the chimichangas from Allsup’s he liked—and now that her care package had been delivered, she was in a hurry to get back to the Texas side, where she’d left her car. She had a …
Checkpoint on I-35 near Encinal, Texas (detail) © Gabriella Demczuk

Percentage of people who go to the bathroom in New York’s Penn Station who do not wash their hands:

40

Cell phones cause bees to behave erratically.

Trump struggles to pronounce “anonymous”; a Sackler stands to profit from a new drug to treat opioid addiction; housing development workers in the Bronx are accused of having orgies on the clock

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