Weekly Review — December 18, 2018, 9:00 am

Weekly Review

Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison; Mitch McConnell announced Senate vote on long-delayed bill to decrease the prison population

The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, met in the Oval Office with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a televised bipartisan back-and-forth that resulted in bickering about a proposed wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, and a potential federal government shutdown, of which Trump said he would be “proud” to have forced in the name of “border security;” Pelosi, who opened the closed-door portion of the meeting with a prayer about the wisdom of King Solomon, said privately that Trump’s prioritizing of the wall is “a manhood thing” and compared the tête-à-tête to “a tinkle contest with a skunk” in which “you get tinkle all over you,” while the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stated that the talks were a “constructive dialogue.”1 2 3 4 5 Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who was apprehended with her father after crossing the border into New Mexico with her family and other undocumented migrants, died of cardiac arrest caused by dehydration and shock after waiting more than an hour and a half for medical care while in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection.6 Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president, said that the Trump Administration would do “whatever is necessary to build the border wall,” and that Caal Maquin’s death was “a painful reminder of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy that is illegal immigration” during an interview in which he had augmented his hairline with an unknown substance.7 8 More than 85,000 Yemeni children have starved to death during the Saudi Arabian–led intervention in Yemen, a motivating factor for the US Senate’s vote to end military support for the Saudi war, the first time the Senate has invoked its powers under the 1973 War Powers Act.9 10 Though the House of Representatives would have to pass the resolution by the end of 2018, and Trump, who has endorsed US assistance and thanked Saudi Arabia for low gasoline prices, would have to sign it, Senator Bernie Sanders said the vote was “a profound statement that will reverberate all over the world.”11 12 For the second time in three years, Iraqi officials declared the heavily fortified neighborhood in the heart of Baghdad known as the Green Zone, which was cordoned off by American forces in 2003, open to the public.13

A judge in Manhattan federal court sentenced Michael D. Cohen, a former lawyer for President Trump, to three years in prison for what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct,” prompting a contrite Cohen to tell the court that “it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”14 Trump tweeted that, as a lawyer, Cohen was supposed to have known the law well enough not to break it, and that he only “became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of,” referring to a routine, lawfully executed search and seizure at Cohen’s New York City office.15 16 Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, said that he had been tricked into lying to FBI agents investigating Russia’s election interference, a suggestion that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, rejected.17 The Russian spy Maria Butina, who with her boyfriend hosted dinners with wealthy Americans and courted NRA leaders to gain political influence, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, and faces a sentence of up to six months in prison after having agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.18 Bowing to pressure from the White House and activist groups, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, announced on Tuesday that the Senate would take up a long-delayed bipartisan bill that aims to reduce the prison population.19 Nearly half of all adults in the United States have a family member currently or formerly incarcerated.20

In response to four weeks of “yellow vest” protests against such perceived injustices as a fuel-tax hike, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged tax cuts and wage and salary increases, but declined to meet a demand to restore a special tax on households with assets above 1.3 million euros which he cut last year.21 Theresa May will remain the British prime minister after a 200–117 no-confidence vote in the Conservative Party, making her immune from a leadership challenge for a year and freeing her to deliver the exit from the European Union for which Britons voted in 2016.22 Apple announced that it will invest $1 billion in a new campus in Austin, Texas, with plans to open new facilities in Washington and California over the next three years, and expand its operations in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Iowa.23 Wells Griffith, a White House adviser on energy and climate, presented a defense of fossil fuels at the world’s biggest climate conference in Katowice, Poland, saying that “no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” over the laughter of the audience.24 A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that over the past five years the Arctic has been warmer than at any time since records began, in 1900, and the region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet.25 Organizers of a Christmas event in Cambridgeshire, England, apologized to parents after an evacuation at a nearby event prompted a hired Santa Claus to rip off his beard and make a hasty exit, telling attending children to “get the fuck out.”26Justin Stewart

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Podcast January 16, 2020, 11:24 am

Trumpism After Trump

More than four more years? A look at the philosophy and die-hard adherents of National Conservatism

Weekly Review January 14, 2020, 11:20 am

Weekly Review

The Iranian military admitted it shot down a passenger plane; a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico; 10,000 feral camels were shot in Australia

Podcast January 9, 2020, 3:00 pm

Oceans Apart

The Comoro Islands are a microcosm of the global climate crisis to come

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

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.

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.

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.

A decorated veteran of the American wars in Vietnam and Iraq had his prosthetic limbs repossessed from his home in Mississippi when the VA declined to pay for them.

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