SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
A newspaper review of the ballots cast in Florida’s presidential election found that Al Gore probably received more votes than George W. Bush, who this week signed an executive order that will permit the government to use military courts to try foreigners accused of terrorism. Bush’s action was widely denounced as dictatorial and un-American, and law professors speculated that the administration was afraid that the evidence against Osama bin Laden was too weak to hold up in court. Vice President Dick Cheney said that suspected terrorists “don’t deserve to be treated as a prisoner of war. They don’t deserve the same guarantees and safeguards that would be used for an American citizen going through the normal judicial process.” Forty-five percent of Americans, according to a new poll, would not object to the use of torture to obtain information about terrorism. Three human rights groups charged that Israel has resumed the systematic torture of Palestinian detainees in violation of an order by the Israeli supreme court. American Special Forces were roaming the hills of Afghanistan on horseback searching for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar, who were on the run after the Taliban lost most of its territory. Oil prices were dropping. Foreign Taliban fighters in Kunduz executed more than 400 of their Afghan comrades to keep them from defecting. Refugees reported that they were killing civilians as well. In areas that have fallen to the Northern Alliance, Red Cross workers found bodies of Taliban soldiers, mostly foreigners, with bullet holes between their eyes. Northern Alliance forces entering Kabul were photographed beating and summarily executing a wounded Taliban soldier as he begged for his life. Reports of other such war crimes were unconfirmed. Presidents Bush and Putin had a fine time kidding around down on the ranch in Crawford, Texas, and they agreed to cut American and Russian nuclear arms by two thirds.President Bush announced that “the United States and Russia are in the midst of a transformationed relationship.”
A grave digger in Nigeria was arrested trying to sell two fresh human heads, which he was carrying in a bag; many Nigerians believe that human genitals, tongues, eyes, and skulls are good for casting spells. Members of the Liguria parliament in Genoa, Italy, banned the use of the word “member” to describe one another because it also means “penis,” which “is likely to cause a certain uneasiness among women”; henceforth, members will be known as “components” of parliament. A man stole 21 ceramic penises from an art exhibit in Boulder, Colorado, and left an American flag in their place. Schoolchildren in Indiavoted overwhelmingly to name a white tiger cub in the Lucknow Zoo Osama bin Laden; Hitler was another popular choice. Thousands of dead fish killed by industrial waste in a lake in Bangladesh were being collected and eaten by poor people. Pentagon officials were still trying to decide on a new color for food-aid packages; the current yellow color matches the one used for cluster bombs. Buildings were evacuated in Toronto when a cleaning woman mistook a vibrator that was hidden in a bathroom for a bomb. Iraq fired a mortar shell at Kuwait. Seven thousand virgins in Tanzania got together and promised not to have sex until marriage. Two hundred members of the Italian Association of Cuckolds gathered in Ruviano. In Singapore, hundreds of delegates were gathering for an international summit on the future of the toilet. China held its first conference on AIDS; an anonymous patient gave a brief speech from a dark stage lit only by green glow sticks.
Congress finally passed a bill to nationalize airport security; 28,000 federal passenger and baggage screeners will be deployed within a year. House Republicans insisted that some airports be given the option to hire private security companies after three years. Postal Service investigators found another anthrax letter. BioPort, the sole company approved by the government to make the anthrax vaccine, admitted that it still wasn’t able to pass inspection and begin producing the vaccine. Philip Morris announced that it will change its name to Altria and promptly registered derogatory Internet domain names such as altriakills.com. Retreating Al Qaedaterrorists in Afghanistan left behind nuclear designs written in Arabic, German, Urdu, and English; foul-smelling liquids; and a recipe for building a nuclear bomb that included detailed descriptions of how TNT can cause plutonium to begin its deadly chain reaction. Lists of Florida flight schools, a flight-simulator program, and a map showing power plants in Europe were also found. It later emerged that the atomic-bomb recipe was a parody that has been circulating on the Internet for years. A deranged homeless man pushed a woman in front of a No. 6 subway train in New York. Six men in South Africa were arrested for gang-raping a 10-month-old baby girl. A deranged woman in New York drowned her daughter Signifagance while trying to perform an exorcism on her. Prozac causes mice to become extremely aggressive, especially when they drink alcohol, researchers found, and brain scans can now reveal whether someone is lying. John C. Danforth, the American special envoy for Sudan, jumped over a dead cow. There were floods in Texas and Algeria, and wildfires were burning in southern Appalachia. Archaeologists in Syria found a 3,800-year-old recipe for beer.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”