Weekly Review — October 30, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, a major antiterrorism bill that will greatly increase the power of the federal government to spy on citizens and potential terrorists. Senator Russell Feingold cast the only dissenting vote in the Senate; he argued that the bill’s language was too vague and would allow unconstitutional searches. President Bush said the bill would protect constitutional rights while “preventing more atrocities in the hands of the evil ones.” American planes again bombed and this time destroyed the Red Cross complex in Kabul. One plane that had been ordered to bomb the complex missed and instead hit a residential neighborhood. Another American bomb killed seven children who were sitting at home having breakfast. Northern Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan were upset that the American bombing was so paltry that it was raising Taliban morale: “If the United States did this for a hundred years, it’s not enough.” There was a report that American forces had passed up a chance to destroy a convoy carrying Taliban leader Mulla Omar Mohammed because they didn’t have authority to do so. Pentagon officials expressed surprise at the toughness of Taliban soldiers and warned that it would probably be a long war. Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld warned that Osama bin Laden might get away: “It’s a big world,” he noted. Other Pentagon officials were telling reporters that the Afghanwar will probably just make things worse, that short-term tactical gains may well lead to catastrophic strategic losses. Postal workers continued to come down with anthrax. Some died; others were upset that their security had been completely overlooked by federal officials. Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson was criticized for mishandling the anthraxattack and substituting spin control for effective public-health strategies. Campbell Gardett, a spokesman for the agency, defended his boss: “Something that’s factual at this moment proves not to be factual in retrospect. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t factual at the time.” President Bush warned that America was “still under attack.” Experts described the anthrax as “fluffy.” The terrorists “have the keys to the kingdom,” warned Al Zelicoff, a doctor who works on biological weapons. “They can do large-scale dissemination when they wish.” In a press release entitled “Pentagon Seeks Ideas on Combating Terrorism,” the United States Department of Defense announced that it “specifically seeks help in combating terrorism, defeating difficult targets, conducting protracted operations in remote areas, and developing countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Charlotte Beers, an advertising executive best known for the Head and Shoulders campaign, to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs; Beers said her job would be the rebranding of America: “It’s the battle for the 11-year-old mind.” Bush Administration officials met with television executives to discuss effective propaganda strategy. Donald Rumsfeld asserted that the Afghanwar is “not a quagmire.” Israelis and Palestinians continued to make war on one another; the death count rose to 728 Palestinians and 186 Israelis. The Irish Republican Army decided to disarm. United Nations officials asked Ethiopia and Eritrea to please pick up their dead bodies, which were left over from a recent border war, because of the health risk to international peacekeepers. New York was beginning to have trouble with rats in the ruins of the World Trade Center. O. J. Simpson was acquitted in his road-rage trial. Members of the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae tribe occupied 84 ranches in Brazil that lie on their ancestral land. The United States agreed to clean up Vozrozhdeniye (“Renaissance”) Island in Uzbekistan, where the Soviets dumped tons of anthrax spores in 1988. The island was also the site of tests involving tularemia, Q-fever, brucellosis, glanders, and plague. Typhus, botulinum toxin, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and smallpox were tested elsewhere. The Bush Administration announced that it would no longer veto environmentally destructive mining projects on public land. New York was shaken by a 2.6-magnitude earthquake. Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd asked his people to pray for rain.

The House of Representatives decided to repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax in a putative economic stimulus package.If signed into law, the repeal, which is retroactive to 1986, will this year result in $25.4 billion in tax refunds to corporations; seven large companies, including I.B.M. ($1.4 billion) and General Motors ($832 million), would receive $3.3 billion. Enron, the Houston energy company and a major Bush supporter, would get $254 million. Economists pointed out that such refunds do nothing to stimulate the economy. Florida’s obesity rate rose by 94 percent; 38 percent of Floridians are now fat. British women have the largest breasts in Europe, a study found, though they are not the fattest. Germany, for some reason, was not included in the study. Italians who were deprived of their cell phones reported sexual dysfunction, researchers found, and most Britons sleep naked. The Belgian Pumpkin Liberation Army stole dozens of Halloween pumpkins; the group, which opposes the “improper” use of pumpkins, announced that it will use the liberated squash to make soup for the poor. The Federal Aviation Administration opened the skies above American cities to all aircraft but news helicopters, which the agency said posed a unique threat. In New Orleans, a man accidentally carried a loaded handgun through checkpoints and onto an airplane, whereupon he gave the weapon to a stewardess. Several families of Columbine massacre victims sued the maker of Luvox, the antidepressant drug used by one of the shooters, because the drug can impair one’s judgment. Germanpolicearrested a man who was holding his girlfriend hostage in exchange for a crate of lager and two packs of cigarettes. A man from Uttar Pradesh cut off his tongue and offered it to the Hindu goddess Durga. Governor Jesse Ventura told the people of Minnesota to stop watching the news and reading newspapers because all the journalists are out to get him. Americans were drinking more beer. Sales of puppies were up 30 percent. Syphilis was on the rise in San Francisco.

Share
Single Page

More from Roger D. Hodge:

From the October 2010 issue

Speak, Money

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
Post
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Article
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
Criticism
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

 
“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today