Weekly Review — July 30, 2019, 3:55 pm

Weekly Review

Boris Johnson was sworn in as prime minister; Donald Trump complained about Obama ruining the White House’s air-conditioning

In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, a wealthy, New York City–born former journalist with dyed blond hair who is currently divorcing his second wife, was sworn in as the country’s newest prime minister. In his first speech to Parliament in his new role, Johnson, who has previously described gay men as “tank-topped bumboys” and women wearing burkas as “looking like letter boxes,” called for a “radical rewriting of our immigration system” and pledged that he would be “making this country the greatest place on earth.”1 2 3 4 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump could use $2.5 billion of Pentagon funds to build a border wall in Arizona, New Mexico, and California, and the president announced that he had signed a safe-third-country agreement with Guatemala that would require any migrants who traveled to the United States through Guatemala to have first applied for asylum there, which would effectively prevent Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers from traveling to the United States by land.5 6 Approximately 150 migrants were reported to have died after a wooden boat capsized off the coast of Libya on its way to Europe, in what was described by the United Nations as the worst loss of life in the Mediterranean this year.7 An all-day “patriotic party” held on a 3,700-passenger British cruise ship as it was returning to Southampton from Bergen, Norway, culminated in a brawl at the ship’s buffet, where passengers threw plates and furniture at one another after one person attended dressed like a clown.8

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that, for the first time in more than 15 years, the death penalty would again be used on federal inmates, and that five federal prisoners, each convicted of murdering children, would be executed beginning later this year.9 Jeffrey Epstein, who taught at the elite Manhattan private school where Barr’s father was headmaster, was found unconscious on the floor of his jail cell with bruises on his neck; his cellmate, a former cop convicted of a quadruple homicide who illegally possessed a cell phone, allegedly alerted authorities to the reported suicide attempt.10 11 It was reported that the parents of at least 14 minors who were accepted to the University of Illinois surrendered guardianship in order to qualify for more financial aid, and police in Hong Kong used pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets while attempting to disperse thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who have been protesting for eight consecutive weekends.12 13 At least 36 people were killed in China after heavy rainfall caused landslides to bury houses in the province of Guizhou; record-breaking temperatures were reported in the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and Germany; and Trump complained that the Obama Administration had wrecked the White House air-conditioning.14 15 16 “It was so good before they did the system,” the president said. “Now that they did this system, it’s freezing or hot.”17 Beaches in Vancouver, British Columbia, were closed as a result of sewage overflows, and a Canada-wide hunt for two teenagers who have been accused of three murders and described as “survivalists” led the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Army to scour a remote area in northern Manitoba, known for its polar bears, bogs, and mosquitoes, using sniffer dogs, drones, helicopters, boats, and an Air Force plane.18 19 20 21 Police located a missing toddler in Saskatchewan after they heard him giggling in a hole.22

A woman in New Mexico ordered a meal at a Sonic restaurant and then declined to pay, saying “this one’s on God,” and lawmakers in South Dakota ordered all public schools in the state to display a 12-by-12-inch “In God We Trust” sign in a visible area.23 24 A poll found that 40 percent of Americans believe that God created humans in the past 10,000 years, and a man in South Africa drove his car into the ocean on a dare.25 26 It was reported that 33 people filed a civil lawsuit against the Biological Resource Center, a no-longer-operational business in Phoenix, Arizona, which had offered, in exchange for the donation of the bodies of deceased relatives, free pickup and cremation of the unsold body parts.27 Court documents revealed that an FBI raid on the business had found buckets of heads, arms, and legs, a “cooler filled with male genitalia,” and a “large torso with the head removed and replaced with a smaller head sewn together in a ‘Frankenstein’ manner,” and that the Biological Resource Center had charged medical schools and other buyers from $375 for a knee to $2,900 for a full torso with no head. More than 100,000 people signed an online petition to move the date of Halloween.28 In Missouri, a birthday cake for a two-year-old bought from Walmart was mistakenly inscribed with the message “Happy Birthday Loser,” and the clothing chain Forever 21 was criticized after it allegedly included complimentary diet bars in orders of plus-size clothing shipped to customers.29 30 Leaked planning documents prepared for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed his plans to spend $500 billion to create a city-state in a 10,000-square-mile area of the desert that would include flying taxis, an artificial moon made of drones, holograms of teachers, robot dinosaurs, robot cage fights, and “zero work/stress-related diseases.” “I want the sand to glow,” he said.31Sharon J. Riley

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Weekly Review October 22, 2019, 10:02 am

Weekly Review

Arguments over where to hold the G-7 without breaking the emoluments clause; retracting an admission of quid pro quo with Ukraine; Justin Trudeau won reelection

Weekly Review October 16, 2019, 8:30 am

Weekly Review

Trump abandoned Kurdish forces in Syria; a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, shot Atatiana Jefferson; limited edition sneakers that have holy water from the Jordan River in their soles sold out in minutes

Podcast October 9, 2019, 12:08 pm

Conditions of Impeachment

As part of a forum on the Constitution, five lawmakers and legal scholars consider probable cause for using the Fourteenth Amendment

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2019

Men at Work

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To Serve Is to Rule

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bird Angle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The K-12 Takeover

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The $68,000 Fish

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Men at Work·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

Article
To Serve Is to Rule·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

Article
The Bird Angle·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

Article
The K-12 Takeover·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

Founded in 2015, a decade after New Orleans became the nation’s first city to begin replacing all its public schools with charters, Cypress was something of a rarity. Like about nine in ten of the city’s charter schools, it filled spaces by lottery rather than by selective admission. But while most of the nonselective schools in New Orleans had majority populations of low-income African-American students, Cypress mirrored the city’s demographics, drawing the children of professionals—African-American and white alike—as well as poorer students. Cypress reserved 20 percent of its seats for children with reading difficulties, and it offered a progressive education model, including “learning by doing,” rather than the strict conduct codes that dominated the city’s nonselective schools. In just three years, the school had outperformed many established charters—a particular feat given that one in four Cypress students had a disability, double the New Orleans average. Families flocked to Cypress, especially ones with children who had disabilities.

Article
Five Stories·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

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.

The first person awarded the title of royal consort in Thailand had her title removed for trying to “elevate herself to the same state as the queen” and “disloyalty.”

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