Weekly Review — December 10, 2019, 3:32 pm

Weekly Review

Justin Trudeau was caught on a hot mic; Senator Kamala Harris of California, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, and the retired admiral Joe Sestak ended their campaigns; Donald Trump expressed concern about Americans’ plumbing

At the NATO summit in London, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was recorded on a hot mic mocking President Donald Trump’s behavior during a conversation with world leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Princess Anne of the United Kingdom; Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands; and President Emmanuel Macron of France, who last month said that NATO was suffering from “brain death” due to a lack of U.S. leadership.1 In response, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced,” left the summit before his final press conference, and then was caught on a different hot mic saying, “That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.” “The rhetoric is not always excellent, but the substance is perfect,” said the U.N. secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, regarding NATO; two days later, the Turkish government announced that it would block a new NATO defense plan for Poland and the Baltic states.2 3 Senator Kamala Harris of California, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, and the retired admiral Joe Sestak ended their campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Joe Biden was filmed calling an 83-year-old Iowa voter “a damn liar” and “fat,” and challenging him to a push-up contest and an IQ test.4 5 6 7 8 Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats would officially begin drafting articles of impeachment against Trump, who claimed that the EPA was investigating a national water “situation” in which Americans have to flush their toilets ten or fifteen times with each use.9 10 “They take a shower, and water comes dripping out,” said the president. “Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out.”

A U.S. naval officer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, used service weapons to kill two people and then himself, and in Pensacola, Florida, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force who was being trained by the U.S. military shot and killed three sailors several days after hosting a dinner party at which he showed guests videos of mass shootings.11 12 13 In Miami, 19 law-enforcement officials from five agencies fired over 100 rounds at a UPS truck, which had been hijacked by two jewelry thieves, in the middle of a highway during rush hour; the robbers, the UPS driver, and a man who had been riding in another car were killed.14 15 “We appreciate law enforcement’s service,” said a UPS spokesperson. New information suggested that civilians were killed by U.S. helicopters during the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an operation that the Department of Defense had claimed “protected all of the non-combatants,” and newly released documents revealed that the U.S. government systematically misled the public about military failures in the war in Afghanistan.16 17 The government of Iran, which has killed hundreds of protesters in recent weeks, was reportedly demanding payment from victims’ families for bullets and destroyed property, in return for their loved ones’ bodies.18 In North Korea, Kim Jong-un attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Samjiyon, a new town that state media heralded as the “epitome of civilization,” and a North Korean official warned the United States that the country would be sending a “Christmas gift.”19 20

The Samoan government shut down for two days to combat a measles outbreak, posting red flags outside unvaccinated households and arresting a prominent anti-vaccination activist, who posted a message on Facebook as he was being detained advising people to cure measles with “1000mg vit C sodium ascorbate taken dissolved in 1/4 cup water every 3 hours.”21 22 23 Nearly one million French workers went on strike to protest pension cuts, and the Indian finance minister dismissed public outcry against soaring onion prices.24 “I come from a family that doesn’t care much for onions,” she said.25 A Russian man was arrested for constructing a fake border outpost near Finland and charging would-be migrants $10,000 for passage to what he told them would be the European Union; a 71-year-old Japanese man was arrested after placing 24,000 customer complaint calls with his cell-phone service provider because he could not get his phone to play radio broadcasts; and an Australian woman who used a photo of Kate Upton on her LinkedIn profile and impersonated her own employers during reference checks was sent to jail for lying on her résumé.26 27 28 A Hindu guru wanted for charges of rape and abduction in India announced the formation of a new Hindu nation off the coast of Ecuador called the Republic of Kailaasa, and the Church of Atheism was denied nonprofit charity status in Canada.29 30 The Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.31 A neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, was evacuated after a man claimed to have received burns from a homemade “quantum physics generator.”32 It was revealed that Chipotle employs nurses to contact employees who have called in sick to verify that they are not merely hungover, and Wisconsin was found to be home to twelve of the twenty drunkest cities in the United States.33 34 Austria reported an unprecedented rise in acts of violence committed by Krampuses.35

Share
Single Page

More from Harper's Magazine:

Podcast November 13, 2019, 4:14 pm

Impeachment and the Mueller Report

A panel of legal experts, lawmakers, and historians attempt to decode the enigmatic (or just unsatisfying) investigation, and discuss impeachment

Weekly Review April 23, 2019, 3:19 pm

Weekly Review

Notre Dame burned; a journalist was killed by the New I.R.A.; “the Crazy Mueller Report” was made public

Weekly Review March 26, 2019, 10:29 am

Weekly Review

The Mueller investigation concluded; two students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the father of a student who was killed in the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, died by suicide; Flat Earthers commented on their upcoming cruise

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.

In response to a major volcanic eruption, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed he would “eat that ashfall. I’m even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano.”

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