Weekly Review — November 1, 2017, 1:18 pm

Weekly Review

Drainage and leakage

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of US president Donald Trump’s election campaign, turned himself over to authorities at the Washington, D.C., field office of the FBI, where Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, indicted him and his associate Richard Gates on charges of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy against the United States, alleging that between 2006 and 2017 Manafort lobbied the US government on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine without registering as a foreign agent; that he hid $75 million in offshore bank accounts in Cyprus, the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom; and that he laundered at least $18 million of that money through the purchase of Range Rovers, landscaping and housekeeping services, antique rugs, men’s clothing, and several homes, including a condo in Manhattan, which he rented on Airbnb, and a brownstone in Brooklyn, which he purchased for $3 million and then took out a $5 million loan against, telling the bank he would use $1.4 million for home repairs but instead using the money to make a down payment on a home in California.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Addressing the indictments at a media briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders related an “anecdote” that had been “floating around the Internet” about reporters splitting a bar tab, which she said explained why companies keep their money overseas, then noted that Trump had responded to the indictments “without a lot of reaction.”[7][8][9][10] It was reported that Trump had not shown up in the Oval Office in the morning, and had instead watched cable news on the televisions in his private residence, where he was “seething,” talking to his lawyers, and tweeting. “NO COLLUSION,” tweeted Trump, who has been named in at least 169 federal lawsuits during his career as a real-estate developer, casino owner, horse racer, multivitamin salesman, teenage-beauty-pageant operator, and WWE Hall of Fame wrestler.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] George Papadopoulos, a former foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign who listed participating in the Model UN on his LinkedIn profile and whom Trump has referred to as “excellent,” pleaded guilty to having made false statements to Mueller’s investigators about meeting during the campaign with an “overseas professor” who had “substantial connections” to “Russian government officials,” and who claimed that Russia had “dirt” in the form of “thousands of emails” on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.[19][20][21] Papadopoulos said that the professor had introduced him to a Russian woman with “connections” to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who wanted to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and admitted to attempting to set up that meeting with a “Campaign Supervisor,” later reported to be Manafort, who had replied that the campaign should send someone “low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” and who reportedly used “bond007” as one of his online passwords.[22][23] The lawyer for Samuel Clovis, a birther and former Trump campaign adviser with no scientific experience who has said that UFOs fly at 5,000 miles per hour and whom Trump has nominated as his chief scientist, said his client was an “Iowa gentleman” who was “just being polite” when he told Papadopoulos to “make the trip” to Russia himself; Trump tweeted that “few people knew” Papadopoulos; Carter Page, another former foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, whom Russian operatives once referred to as an “idiot” while attempting to recruit him as a spy, gave a television interview in which he told a reporter that during the campaign he may have emailed with Papadopoulos, that Russia “may have come up from time to time,” and that after returning from a trip to Russia he may have mentioned “a few things he heard” to the campaign; and a Republican senator ran into several American flags while attempting to avoid questions from reporters.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] The Speaker of the House said he didn’t read Manafort’s indictment, Sanders said she was not aware of Trump being mad at his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had failed on at least three occasions to disclose hundreds of foreign contacts on his White House security-clearance form, and the GOP wished Ivanka Trump, who along with Kushner had urged her father to hire Manafort, a happy birthday.[32][33]


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“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

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Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
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Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanî. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

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Fighters of the YJA-STAR, the women’s force in the PKK, Sinjar, Iraq, November 2015 (detail)
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To get oriented here is difficult. The light is flat because the sky is overcast. The sun’s weak rays create only a few anemic shadows by which to judge scale and distance. Far-off objects like mountain peaks have crisp edges because the atmosphere itself is as transparent as first-water diamonds, but the mountains are not nearly as close as they seem. It’s about negative-twelve degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind is relatively calm, moving over the snow distractedly, like an animal scampering.

[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

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A multiple-exposure photograph (detail) taken every hour from 1:30 pm on December 8, 1965, to 10:10 am on December 9, 1965, showing the sun in its orbit above the South Pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station © Georg Gerster/Panos Pictures
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In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

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The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

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