Weekly Review — November 21, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The European Commission announced its intention to test all beef cattle for mad cow disease. Italy banned the importation of French beef. Sales of beef in France dropped, even at McDonalds, even though France has rigid controls on the provenance of its homegrown beef cattle (each cow is given a “passport” at birth documenting its parentage and place of origin, which must be submitted to the slaughterhouse). Evidence that Kuru, a disease spread by eating human brains, is more widespread in Papua New Guinea than previously thought, suggested that the European epidemic of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human variant of mad cow disease, to which Kuru is related, may be more serious than government officials have been willing to admit. In an attempt to stop the spread of CJD, German officials asked people who have lived in Britain to refrain from giving blood. A French court ruled that a seventeen-year-old boy who was born retarded, deaf, and nearly blind could sue for having been brought into the world. Twenty couples got married atop Mount Misti in Peru. New Jersey Republicans accused Democrats of providing crazy people in mental hospitals with absentee ballots; it was suggested that the crazy vote may have decided a close congressional race. Republicans accused Democratic vote counters in Florida of eating chads they had secretly and illegally punched for Al Gore. President Askar Akayev was sued by eight Kyrgyzstan lawmakers who claimed that his election to a third term in office was illegal. Five people died in election violence in Egypt. Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said he was worried about factionalism in the government. Queen Elizabeth II of England banned the use of cell phones among her retainers.

Veerappan, the famous Indian bandit, finally released Rajkumar, the famous Indian actor, whom many Indians worship as a god, after holding him captive for 109 days. Shobha Guruputrayya Sutturmath, a 14-year-old girl in the Indian village of Maradur, was attracting attention for her ability to cry stones; doctors concluded that Shobha was slipping small stones under her eyelids, which then fell out to the amazement of all. Italiansheepfarmers in the village of Abruzzo started an adoption program whereby people become parents of a sheep, which entitles one to a year’s supply of merino wool and fresh cheese, and a photograph of the beast. Another option included lamb chops. Texas almost broke the record for the most executions by a single state in one year; a retarded murderer and rapist was granted a stay four hours before he was to be killed. American officials apologized and admitted they had violated international law by failing for over ten years to give two Germans, who were executed last year, access to their country’s consulate. A Germangeneral was named to head the European Union’s “rapid reaction force.” Germans were horrified that Israeli soldiers had killed a German doctor outside his home in the West Bank. Geneticists found that Jews and Palestinians have a fairly recent common ancestry, which supports historical evidence that Palestinians are descended from Jews and Christians who converted after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century C.E. Yasir Arafat ordered Palestinianpolicemen to stop firing at Israel’s occupying soldiers; no one paid much attention, and the shooting continued as before. Attacks on Canadian Jews were increasing. An Italian man found a wire sticking out of an egg and soon discovered that it was filled with explosives; a tube of tomato paste blew up a woman’s hand in a nearby town. Montreal experienced a series of egg and paint attacks against stores displaying Christmas decorations; responsibility was claimed by a group called No Christmas Before Its Time.

Serbs, having thrown off their dictator, were waiting, in the dark, for international aid to help them pay for electricity. California was running low on power again. The U.S. Forest Service recommended banning most logging in roadless areas of national forests; logging companies and their lawmakers were opposed to the idea. Maine’s wild Atlantic salmon was placed on the endangered species list, to the dismay of Maine’s Atlantic salmon fishermen. Boston banned mercury thermometers, each of which contains .7 grams of the toxin, enough to contaminate a small lake. President Bill Clinton drove through the streets of Vietnam in a limo sporting a Vietnamese flag on one fender, a U.S. flag on the other. The common people treated him like a god. A small airplane dropped leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City that said: “We bow our heads, Communists sit on our necks. We stand up, Communists fall.” It was signed by the “Global Alliance for the Total Uprising Against Communists.” An Air Force F-16 fighter plane collided with a little Cessna airplane in Florida; part of the Cessna landed on a golf course. Russia decided to go ahead and crash the space station Mir into the Pacific ocean, disappointing Dennis Tito, an American businessman who had hoped to pay $20 million to visit the doomed station, and television executives, who were planning to film a “reality-based” television program there. Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky gave up and let the Putin government take over his media company, which owns Russia’s leading independent TV station, but the deal fell apart; esoteric explanations abounded. Another deal was announced that would prevent the Kremlin from assuming control. President Putin called for radically lower numbers of Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons, which was said to be motivated largely by the fact that Russia cannot afford to maintain weapons that are designed never to be used. North Korea was looking forward to another winter famine. Thousands in Venezuela were left homeless by flooding. Representatives of many different countries were attending talks at the Hague on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, a global warming treaty signed by over 100 countries yet ratified by none. China banned a gathering of poets. A robot successfully read the mind of a monkey.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Photograph (detail) by Brian Frank
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A Window To The World·

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
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The Lords of Lambeau·

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Photograph (detail) by Balazs Gardi
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With Child·

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"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley

Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:

$39.50

A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”

In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.

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