Weekly Review — September 10, 2019, 11:31 am

Weekly Review

The president displayed an alternative map of Hurricane Dorian’s path; the British government was reportedly stockpiling body bags in case of higher mortality rates following a no-deal Brexit

At least 44 people were killed and 70,000 left homeless after the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas for several days.1 The storm caused an oil spill on the island of Grand Bahama and destroyed most of the structures on Great Abacos, where residents reported seeing corpses a full week after Dorian made landfall.2 3 On Sunday, more than 100 Bahamians who had survived the storm and boarded a ferry headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were forced to disembark because they did not possess U.S. visas.4 As Dorian approached the United States, Donald Trump promoted inaccurate forecasts on Twitter claiming that Alabama was at serious risk from the storm, a claim that was subsequently denied by the National Weather Service office in Birmingham; later, the president appeared in the Oval Office with a doctored weather map that he asserted proved him right.5 Hours after the commerce secretary threatened to fire officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the organization rebuked the Weather Service for how it had contradicted Trump, who on Sunday tweeted a video of a cat looking at a laser pointer and standing in front of a weather map while “Yakety Sax” played.6 7 8 9 Trump abandoned a plan to bring Taliban leaders to negotiate at Camp David, and accused model Chrissy Teigen of having a “filthy mouth”; she responded by calling him a “pussy ass bitch.”10 11 In Scranton, Pennsylvania, little green army women went into production.12

At a men’s soccer match between France and Albania, organizers played the national anthem for Andorra and then apologized to Armenia.13 Glacial melting atop the mountain of Kebnekaise in Sweden caused one of its peaks to be downgraded to the second tallest in the country, and a Swedish behavioral scientist proposed cannibalism as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.14 15 A fifth person died of vaping-related illness in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control warned Americans of the health risks involved with kissing and snuggling chickens.16 17 In the United Kingdom, where Parliament was suspended and the speaker of the House of Commons announced his resignation, the British government was reportedly stockpiling body bags in case of higher mortality rates following a no-deal Brexit, and a section of the M6 motorway was closed in Cheshire after 32,000 liters of gin were spilled onto the road.18 19 20 21 Republican congressman Steve King drank toilet water at a migrant detention facility near the Mexican border to demonstrate its safety. “Actually pretty good!” the congressman remarked.22 An avowed neo-Nazi was unanimously elected mayor of Waldsiedlung, Germany, and Romano-Lukas Hitler, a man claiming to be Adolf Hitler’s last living relative, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.23 24 The director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab resigned after it was reported that he had accepted donations from the now-deceased aspiring eugenicist Jeffrey Epstein, after he had been convicted of pedophilia, and concealed the monies by telling staff members who handled donations to “make sure this gets accounted for as anonymous.”25 26

The professional wrestler Chris Jericho’s championship belt was stolen during a dinner at a LongHorn Steakhouse, and was later discovered on the side of the road by a man on his way home from a scalloping trip.27 “I think I said something like, ‘Whoa, it’s a huge wrestling belt, check this thing out!’” said the man. A new study found that a Texas hospital’s efforts to discourage the gathering of birds in nearby trees by installing netting gave rise to a surge in the population of the most venomous caterpillar in North America, the puss moth, and a fruit-bearing Australian bush known as “dog’s balls” was determined to be its own species and was named Grewia savannicola.28 29 It was reported that crabs mistaking oil chemicals for sex hormones were being attracted to the Deepwater Horizon site, where they were becoming ill, their shells were turning black, and they were losing claws.30 Scientists discovered a new severe mass-extinction event that occurred 260 million years ago.31 A group of researchers studying the Loch Ness Monster did not rule out the possibility of its existence, but speculated that it is possibly a giant eel, and China announced that it had discovered a gel-like substance of “unusual color” on the far side of the moon.32 33 The local government of Bielefeld, Germany, was offering a one-million-euro prize to anyone capable of disproving the city’s existence.34

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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 solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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