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The Bush Administration warned foreign diplomats that their countries could lose all military aid unless they pledge never to turn over American soldiers to the International Criminal Court. A spokesman for Representative Tom DeLay, who wrote the provision of the antiterrorism law that authorizes such threats, said that “this is just an effective tool, and we have said numerous times that we have to do whatever it takes to protect our service members from this rogue court.” Vice President Dick Cheney told Iraqi opposition leaders that the United States was committed to overthrowing Saddam Hussein and installing a democratic replacement, who would then be treated as a major ally. German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced that he was opposed to an American war in Iraq. House majority leader Dick Armey observed that an unprovoked attack on Iraq would violate international law: “It would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation.” The Justice Department said it would not use mailmen to spy on citizens as part of TIPS, its Terror Information and Prevention System. Calls to the government’s TIPS number, it was discovered, were being answered by the “America’s Most Wanted” television program. “We’ve been asked to take the FBI’s TIPS calls for them,” a reporter was told. The Justice Department defied a federal judge’s order to hand over documents to support the classification of an Afghan prisoner as an “enemy combatant.” President Bush’s doctors said he was in better shape now than he was last year. The New York Times reported that Adolf Hitler loved money and died rich.
President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who calls himself Akbar Turkmenbashi, the Great Leader of All Turkmen, changed the names of the months and the days of the week; January, for example, will be known as Turkmenbashi, after the president. April has been named after his mother, Gurbansoltan-edzhe. Historians discovered that French King Louis XVI, far from being impotent, was endowed with a large penis capable of sustaining “well-conditioned, strong erections,” and that the king and Marie-Antoinette avoided sex because the queen suffered from a “narrow vagina.” WorldCom admitted to more accounting “irregularities,” bringing the total fake profits since 1999 to about $7.1 billion. A man from Texas named John Winter Smith was trying to visit every one of the 3,450 Starbucks on the planet. The Pentagon confirmed that American fighter pilots are routinely prescribed amphetamines during combat operations, which has led to speculation that the drug use may have been a factor in attacks on Afghan civilians and in friendly-fire episodes. Pilots who refuse to take the “go-pills,” as they are called, risk being grounded. The U.S. State Department urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil for human-rights violations committed by Indonesian forces guarding the company’s installations, saying that the suit could hurt the war on terrorism. Anthony Zinni, the former American general, visited Indonesia and met with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the minister for security affairs, about the separatist fighting in Aceh and said: “I think all sides are convinced that the way to peace is through dialogue.” An American soldier was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan.
Police in Lagos, Nigeria, fired tear gas and beat women who were blocking the gates of Chevron Texaco and Shell offices, according to local newspapers; one woman was reportedly shot dead. The oil companies denied the reports and said that everything was handled “in a very peaceful manner.” A Saudi Arabian court sentenced a 17-year-old Nigerian to six months in jail and 240 lashes for attempting to have sex with a camel. Officials in Zambia and Zimbabwe said they were reluctant to use American food aid because it contains genetically modified corn. “It is necessary to examine the maize before we can give it to our people,” said Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa. “We would rather starve than get something toxic.” South Africa was again considering banning the use of the anti-AIDS drug nevirapine, which is used to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their newborn babies. A woman was forced to drink her own breast milk in front of other passengers by security guards at JFK International Airport in New York. In Berkeley, California, 1,130 mothers nursed their children together at the Berkeley Community Theater and set a world record for suckling; the previous record was held by 767 mothers in Australia. Ten benefactors of the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans fell into a tank full of sharks after a platform collapsed. Charlton Heston said that he might have Alzheimer’s disease. After a Canadian man died of mad cow disease in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, shares of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, YUM! Brands, and other fast-food companies declined sharply. A new study found that cats are dying of cancer caused by secondhand smoke. A Canadian researcher named Gurunathan Lakshman said that he had a plan to eliminate the stink from pig feces, which will make hog farming less objectionable to neighbors. It was reported that President Bush sometimes refers to his close adviser Karl Rove as “Turd Blossom.”
More from Roger D. Hodge:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”