Weekly Review — August 15, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

A National Academy of Sciences report found that most U.S. nuclear bomb-making facilities, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, will be contaminated “in perpetuity.” Defense Secretary William S. Cohen delayed making his recommendation to President Clinton concerning the wisdom of building a national missile defense program. The contents of a top secret report on the likely consequences of the anti-missile program were leaked to the news media, confirming numerous public statements by Chinese and Russian government officials that they would deploy more missiles. A standoff between workers and government agents continued at one of Russia’s premier vodka factories; President Vladimir Putin reportedly has seen the wisdom of state control of the vodka industry. China’s annual summer crackdown on political dissent continued; observers said it was unusually severe this year. Some 2,000 local ChineseCommunist Party Secretaries were recalled for further indoctrination and training. New YorkPolice Commissioner Howard Safir, who suffers from prostate cancer, said that he would resign to take a job with a private security firm. Al Gore selected Joseph Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, to be his running mate. Journalists marveled at the vice-presidential candidate’s command of the Yiddish language; the word “chutzpah” appeared daily in campaign dispatches. Dick Cheney confirmed that he will receive some $20 million in retirement benefits from his former employer, an oil company. Governor George W. Bush, a former oilman, defended his running mate against cynics who complained of possible conflicts of interest. British and American warplanes again bombed Iraq, just a few days after President Hugo Chvez of Venezuela visited the country; the airstrikes destroyed a warehouse used to store food acquired in the U.N. oil-for-food program. Saddam Hussein’s decision to send assassins disguised as belly dancers to kill Iraqi exiles in London was denounced by British belly dancers, who said it would undermine their business.

Charles Schwab, the broker, announced that he was dyslexic; he said that he did not consider his condition a learning disability, but rather a learning difference. Eli Lilly & Co. lost the last two years of its patent on Prozac; generic versions of the antidepressant, which is used by 38 million people, will be available within a year. University of Kansas researchers found that sports fans are less likely to become depressed than people who have no interest in sports. Malaysia’s former prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to nine years in prison for sodomy; his brother, who was also convicted of committing sodomy, with the same chauffeur, was sentenced to six years in prison and four strokes with a rattan cane. Chile’s supreme court stripped General Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution. President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia apologized for his shortcomings as head of state in a speech read by an aide as Wahid, who is nearly blind, sat nearby in a red armchair, sucking on hard candy and occasionally nodding off. Activists in Jakarta demonstrated in support of breast feeding. America’s Reform Party split in two after it became clear that right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan would win the party’s nomination. A new study found that people from different cultures see things differently. Smithsonian Institute officials returned the brain of the “last wild man in America,” to members of the Seven Pitt River tribe. After an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, America and Argentina called a halt to the beef trade. Mexican president-elect Vicente Fox Quesada called on the United States to open its border with Mexico, saying that America needed Mexican workers if its prosperity was to continue. Fidel Castro turned 74. Researchers at Bell Labs and Oxford University fashioned tiny motors made of DNA. Texas executed a retarded murderer who enjoyed coloring with crayons.

The National Rifle Association accused the Democratic Party of wanting to destroy the Second Amendment. New YorkRepublican Governor George Pataki signed the nation’s strictest gun control law. Iranian conservatives closed the country’s last reformist newspaper. Iranian reformers pressed forward with a bill that would raise to nine the legal age at which young girls may marry. Eight pedestrians were killed in Moscow when a bomb exploded in an underground walkway; Russian authorities were quick to blame Chechen terrorists, saying the bombing had a “Chechen trace.” Russian soldiers were killed in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan by Islamic rebels. U.S. soldiers will be sent to Sierra Leone, where rebels are known for chopping off babies’ limbs with machetes. The Archdiocese of Guatemala issued a report on the abduction of children during the country’s 36-year civil war; it found that most of the abductions were carried out by government security forces. Basque separatists commenced a terror campaign of bombings and murders. Oak trees were dying of a mysterious fungus in California.

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“One of the peculiar things about economic inequality is that the people who are most articulate about it are not poor, while the poor themselves have said little, at least in print, about their situation.”
Photograph © Reuters/Brendan McDermid
“It would be nice to get through this review without recourse to the term ‘writer’s writer.’ The thing is, in the case of Joy Williams, I have seen the cliché made flesh.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
“Miniatures originated in Persia and were brought to the Indian subcontinent when the Mughals conquered it in the sixteenth century. They could take on almost any subject: landscapes or portraits; stories of love, war, or play.”
Painting by by Imran Qureshi.
“The business of being a country veterinarian is increasingly precarious. The heartland has been emptying of large-animal vets for at least two decades, as agribusiness changed the employment picture and people left the region.”
Photograph by Lance Rosenfield
“Rosie and her husband had burned through their small savings in the first few months after she lost her job. Now their family of five relied on his minimum-wage paychecks, plus Rosie’s unemployment and food stamps, which, combined, brought them to around $2,000 per month, just above the poverty line.”
Illustrations by Taylor Callery

Ratio of children’s emergency-room visits for injuries related to fireworks last year to those related to “desk supplies”:


The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

The Islamic State opened two new theme parks featuring a Ferris wheel, teacup rides, and bumper cars.

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Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

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