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America and Britain fired cruise missiles and dropped bombs on targets in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden taunted the United States in a televised statement and said, “America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Mohammad, peace be upon him.” A suicidetruck bomb killed 26 people at the Legislative Assembly of Kashmir. Islamic radicals in Indonesia were roaming around looking for Americans to kill. Islamic rebels in the Philippines attacked the capital city of the island of Basilan. Philippine military officials said they had found the decapitated remains of an American hostage who was abducted by the rebels in May. A Russian airliner filled with Jews exploded over the Black Sea. Pentagon sources said the plane was hit by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile, apparently by accident, during training exercises with Russia. A crowded airliner sat on a runway in India for three hours because pilots believed there were hijackers in the passenger cabin; passengers believed hijackers were in the cockpit. France’senvironmental minister revealed that the fertilizer factory that blew up in Toulouse last month might have been destroyed by terrorists. An American was killed by a package bomb in Saudi Arabia. Abdo Ali Ahmed, an American citizen, was murdered in East Reedley, California, for being an Arab. Illinois authorities found many bombs and over 12,000 rounds of ammunition in the camp of the United Survivalists of America. Barry Bonds set a new record for home runs.
A drunk in Alaska shot a hole in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, spilling 150,000 gallons of oil onto the tundra. Mayor Reinhard Reynisson of Husavik, Iceland, was planning to introduce alligators in some local ponds. A dozen Burger King employees were treated for first- and second-degree burns after they walked barefoot over white-hot coals at a “corporate bonding” retreat in Florida. The son of British prime minister Tony Blair was mugged in London. British people are more depressed than other Europeans, researchers found. A new library opened in Alexandria, Egypt, though it did not yet have a budget for books. A dam collapsed in China. Nenad Bilic, a 62-year-old retired cardiologist, disappeared somewhere in the Atlantic on his way to Ireland in a 21-foot red cedar rowboat. In Iran, a missing 16-month-old baby was found after three days in the den of a female bear; the bear apparently breast-fed the baby, who was in good health.
Scientists sequenced the genome of bubonic plague, which seems to have an “unusually fluid” genetic structure. New research suggested that the Black death might have been an Ebola-like hemorrhagic virus. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, a tick-borne virus similar to Ebola, was killingAfghan refugees and health workers. Anthrax killed a man in Florida; spores were found on the man’s computer keyboard and in the nose of a co-worker at American Media Inc., the publisher of supermarket tabloids. The FBI suspected foul play. The one laboratory in the United States that has been approved to manufacture an anthrax vaccine has been unable to do so since 1998 because it has repeatedly failed safety inspections. The director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was created by the 1997 treaty that bans such weapons, complained that he didn’t have enough money in his budget to make even basic preparations to respond to chemical attacks by terrorists. The Bush Administration was planning to bail out the insurance industry. Hawaii was preparing to spray caffeine on forests to kill noisy Puerto Rican frogs. A group of hunger-striking prisoners in Venezuela sewed their lips together. Prostitutes in Amsterdam were organizing a trade union. Police in Togo raided a church whose pastor was suspected of Satanism, and found a panther’s pelt, hyena paws, vulture eggs, and a hunchback’s hump. Strom Thurmond collapsed on the floor of the Senate but refused to die.
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 “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’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 they’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 don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’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 — because ocean life pays better than money! — 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 “furtive movements”:
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