Weekly Review — September 17, 2019, 8:14 am

Weekly Review

John Bolton was fired; Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for bombing two Saudi oil facilities; Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from an upcoming furry convention

John Bolton, who flew to Florida to be present during the 2000 presidential election recount, assisted the State Department in drafting fact sheets about yellow cake in Iraq, and, since 2002, has repeatedly advocated for preemptively attacking Iran, as well as Cuba, Libya, and Venezuela, was fired from his post as national security adviser via a tweet by the president, who sometimes called him “Mike Bolton.”1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ten drones struck two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which suspended more than half of the country’s crude oil production.10 Though Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, Mike Pompeo, who is reportedly being considered to fill Bolton’s former position while still serving as secretary of state, accused Iran of being behind the attack.11 Separately, Pompeo and Donald Trump considered supporting a French plan to offer a $15 billion credit line to Tehran, compensation for oil sales lost as a result of sanctions Trump had imposed, on the condition that Iran return to the nuclear treaty negotiated by President Obama and then abandoned by Trump.12 Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is up for reelection next week, accused Iran of destroying a secret nuclear weapons facility; promised that if returned to power he would annex a third of the West Bank, effectively encircling any future Palestinian state; and released a video that concealed the fact that he referred to Boris Johnson as “Boris Yeltsin” in front of his cabinet.13 14 15 A New Zealand man brought an “emotional-support” clown to a redundancy meeting where he was to be fired; throughout the proceedings, the clown inflated balloons and folded them into a series of animals.16 Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from an upcoming furry convention.17

Theresa May, former U.K. prime minister, published a list of supporters who would receive peerages and knighthoods, including two aides who resigned after allegations that they had bullied members of parliament, and a chief of staff who suppressed safety reforms before a fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment building, which killed 72 residents.18 19 20 Authorities arrested a onetime FEMA official who had been tasked with restoring power to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and charged him with accepting bribes in connection with a $1.8 billion contract awarded to Cobra Acquisitions, whose CEO was also arrested.21 An eighth detainee died this year while in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which released an improperly redacted document that revealed the location of an “urban warfare” training facility and used placeholder text and “ijunynyhhjhjhjjjjjjj,” “hnjumgfrdddfffffff,” and “BHMKKOOOOOO” where signatures should’ve been.22 23 It was reported that, during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, the FBI declined to interview at least 25 people who could have corroborated Deborah Ramirez’s claim that, while at Yale, a drunken Kavanaugh thrust his penis at her face, and another witness who could have corroborated a separate incident involving a different female classmate; the Court allowed the Trump Administration to temporarily enforce a new rule that would deny most Central American refugees asylum status; and the City Council of New York, which is chaired by a gay man, ended a ban on gay conversion therapy, citing concern that the Supreme Court would uphold a challenge to the ban.24 25 26 A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.27

A French company was held liable when one of its employees died of a heart attack after having sex on a work trip, and a study that compared the temperatures of French postal carriers’ left and right testicles won an Ig Noble Prize, annual awards honoring research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think.”28 29 Andrew Yang raised more than $1 million in the three days following the most recent Democratic debate, during which the candidate offered to give 10 families $1,000 a month in order to prove the effectiveness of his universal basic income proposal.30 Two contractors were held in jail for attempting to break into the courthouse in Adel, Iowa, after their company had been hired to test the facility’s security.31 Beekeepers sued the EPA for relaxing a ban on pesticides known to harm apiaries, and in Bhopal, India, a pair of frogs—who had been married two months ago to please Indra, the god of rain, in an effort to alleviate drought—were divorced amid flood conditions and 26 percent higher than usual rainfall.32 33 A Tasmanian garlic farmer was sentenced to two months in prison for importing “outstandingly dangerous” bulbs that she had smuggled onto the island as “office supplies,” and a woman in Iceland spent hours searching for herself when, after she changed clothes, neither she nor her fellow tourists recognized the description of a missing woman.34 35 “I just gritted my teeth and smiled,” said Vice President Mike Pence when telling GOP lawmakers at a retreat in Baltimore about being bitten so hard by the Triple Crown–winning racehorse American Pharoah that he “almost collapsed.”36 —Cameron French

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

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

Podcast February 12, 2020, 11:12 am

Selective Hearing

Towards a critical understanding of podcasts

Weekly Review February 11, 2020, 4:37 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump was impeached but not removed from office; the novel coronavirus death toll in China rose above nine hundred; a hunting convention auctioned off a trip to shoot Sitka black-tailed deer in Alaska with “accomplished conservationist” Donald Trump Jr.

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.

The commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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