Weekly Review — December 5, 2018, 1:21 pm

Weekly Review

George H. W. Bush died; military law enforcement officers broke up a catfishing ring; a London ambulance trainee went rogue

George H. W. Bush, a prodigious writer of thank-you notes who, prior to becoming the 41st US president, established the first offshore drilling rig in Kuwait and was known as the “Saudi vice president,” died at the age of 94.1 2 At the G20 summit in Argentina, President Trump canceled his scheduled press conference out of respect for Bush, as well as a scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin, and abruptly walked off the stage after meeting with the Argentinian president, saying, “Get me out of here” to an aide.3 4 Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who, according to CIA intercepts, ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, was enthusiastically high-fived by Putin at the summit.5 6 Saudi Arabian officials considered cutting oil production but feared angering Trump, who has lauded the high Saudi output on Twitter as “a big Tax Cut for America and the World”; US crude-oil prices declined by the largest amount in a month since 2008.7 8 9 Over 100 people have been injured in Paris in the “Yellow Vest” protests, which began in response to increased gas taxes intended to reduce carbon emissions.10 “We cut off heads for less than this,” read one slogan painted on the Arc de Triomphe.11 The new Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, declined to move in to the presidential residence, instead opening its doors to the public, and a county commissioner in Georgia was sworn in with a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X instead of the Bible.12 13

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a federal crime for the second time in three months, admitting to lying to Congress about whether discussions concerning the Trump Tower project in Moscow continued after Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee.14 15 The president denied any wrongdoing, saying, “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?”16 A Russian group of hackers known as Energetic Bear probed the US electric grid for vulnerabilities; Marriott revealed that 500 million of its guests may have had their personal details hacked in a security breach stretching back to 2014; and Dunkin’ Donuts warned customers that third parties had obtained access to an undisclosed number of customer loyalty accounts, likely to trade “DD Perks” on the dark web.17 18 19 Military law enforcement officers broke up a catfishing ring that had extorted over $560,000 from 442 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and, responding to the arrest of 16 of its employees for trafficking cocaine, the US Postal Service issued a statement, saying, “Postal employees are paid to deliver mail, not drugs.”20 21

Beijing lifted a ban on rice imports from a Japanese prefecture neighboring the Fukushima nuclear disaster following a concerted effort by the Japanese government to promote agricultural products from the region, which included a page on a government website called “Fukushima Foods: Safe and Delicious.”22 Researchers found that Costa Rican monkeys were developing bright yellow patches of fur as a result of ingesting sulfur from pesticides, and the head of an association of Danish Christmas tree growers noted that Caucasian firs were more vividly green than usual this year because of a drought.23 24 A woman was arrested after having sex with a wedding guest and urinating on a tree at a ceremony she had been hired to photograph. “Y’all families will be dead by Christmas, y’all’s daughters are dead,” said the woman, who also works as a swimsuit model.25 Germany’s interior ministry served blood sausage containing pork at the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s conference on Islam and was defended by the far-right AfD party, a member of whom said, “Tolerance starts at the point where the blood sausage is seen simply for what it is: a German delicacy that no one has to like, but that, just like our way of life, cannot be taken away from us.”26 A trainee in the London Ambulance Service was fired and arrested after it was revealed he had failed his exams, “gone rogue,” and treated more than 100 patients without authorization, and a memorabilia collector in Texas offered deals on all merchandise in an attempt to raise funds for his kidney transplant.27 28 A man in one of the wealthiest towns in New Jersey has been charged with murdering his brother, his brother’s wife, and their two children, and then setting their mansion on fire, likely over a business dispute, and two men racing to become the first person to cross Antarctica without support completed the first third of their journey; neither man had brought a change of clothes.29 30Willa Glickman

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Weekly Review February 25, 2020, 12:21 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump pardoned Michael R. Milken, the “junk bond king”; Greece attempted to get the Elgin Marbles back as part of an EU trade deal with the United Kingdom; an Iraqi man complaining on live television about the country’s health services died on air

Podcast February 19, 2020, 5:19 pm

Vicious Cycles

No news isn’t an option: a consideration of the function and meaning of the news media

Weekly Review February 18, 2020, 1:40 pm

Weekly Review

American passengers who were evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship later tested positive for COVID-19; Trump complained about Roger Stone’s recommended sentencing; three quarters of Malta’s traffic police were arrested for suspected fraud

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
More Than a Data Dump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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.

An Iraqi man complaining on live television about the country’s health services died on air.

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