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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 Chávez 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.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word â€śhallwayâ€ť must have a nautical name. Why didnâ€™t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet heâ€™d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands theyâ€™d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you donâ€™t belong to, that doesnâ€™t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isnâ€™t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members â€” because ocean life pays better than money! â€” who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for â€śfurtive movementsâ€ť:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature