Weekly Review — October 29, 2002, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart warned in a new report that the federal government has done virtually nothing to secure the nation against terrorist attack. Power plants, refineries, and transportation infrastructure are still unprotected; local police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are almost as unprepared for attacks now as they were in September 2001; almost none of the cargo containers entering the country are inspected; and the federal government has authorized only $92 million of the $2 billion needed to secure the nation’s ports. The FBI warned that terrorists might be planning an attack somewhere, possibly involving trains. A distributed denial-of-service attack on the 13 root servers of the domain name system failed to bring down the Internet. Newly declassified documents revealed that in 1976, on the day before Chilean agents assassinated Orlando Letelier with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., a senior State Department official told American ambassadors not to speak to their local Latin American dictators about the need to stop using death squads to deal with dissidents. Laurence Foley, an American diplomat, was shot dead outside his home in Amman, Jordan. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, one of the last liberals in Congress, died in a plane crash on his way to the funeral of a steelworker. Lobbyists were giddy at the prospect of a Republican Senate; one anonymous source remarked that “it’s the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq.” The Pentagon announced that it will set up a new intelligence unit because senior officials are not happy with the reports they are getting on Iraq, especially the judgment that Iraq has no connection with Al Qaeda and that it has no intention of attacking the United States. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community,” said an unnamed official. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn’t support their preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory as far as they’re concerned.”

The United States, Japan, and South Korea issued a statement warning North Korea that the country will be shunned if it refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, and President Bush, frustrated that Russia and France still have not submitted to his demands in the Security Council, again threatened to invade Iraq no matter what. Bush had earlier explained that Iraq is “unique” because Saddam Hussein has gassed his own people and “thumbed his nose” at the United Nations. American drones were flying over the Empty Quarter in the Arabian desert looking for terrorists. The Yemeni government was holding about 40 sons of tribal leaders hostage to ensure the tribes’ cooperation in the search for Al Qaeda members. “It is something ordinary in Yemen, a tradition,” said one sheikh. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mentioned that some of the prisoners at Guantnamo naval base might be released someday: “There are some people likely to come out the other end of the chute,” he said. One expert explained that this decision “shows how reasonable the executive branch is.” About 100,000 people traveled to Washington, D.C., and circled the White House to protest the coming war with Iraq; it was the largest antiwar demonstration in the capital since the Vietnam era. Israeli soldiers who have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories petitioned the Israeli supreme court to find that the ongoing military occupation of Palestinian land is illegal; they argued that the occupation has become a systematic “mechanism of collective punishment,” which is prohibited under international law, and that Israel has failed to meet its legal duty to safeguard the welfare of the occupied population. Fourteen people were killed in Israel when a sport utility vehicle armed with a bomb smashed into a bus and exploded. Another suicide bomber killed three people after he was shot by soldiers at a gas station. A reporter at the scene noticed that a cell phone was ringing in a dead soldier’s pocket. Israeli forces reoccupied Jenin, killed a few people, and seized at least 40 homes. Warlords in Somalia signed a cease-fire agreement. A satellite television station in Egypt was advertising a 41-part treatment of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian anti-Semitic forgery; the series, called “Horse without a Horseman,” will be broadcast during Ramadan.

Russian commandos stormed the Moscow theater occupied by Chechen rebels and rescued about 750 hostages; more than 100 soon died, however, all but one from the unidentified gas used to rescue them, and 145 were in intensive care. Although the government originally claimed that the raid was undertaken only after the Chechens began to execute the hostages, this story was soon discredited. Police arrested a Gulf War veteran and his teenage Jamaican sidekick in the Washington sniper case, ending a media frenzy that included a request by CNN to interview actors from the CBS series “Crime Scene Investigation.” Lengthy footage was broadcast of a tree stump being dug up and hauled away. Experts and profilers who had spent untold hours on television speculating about the killer were forced to admit that their prophecies had been worthless. “My predictions were not that close,” one expert said. “But the average American was hungry for information. And when there isn’t real news, people make up their own. People wanted a story of who this guy was. What we did, by providing it, comforted them.” In Vietnam, a man died trying to rescue a co-worker who had fallen into a giant vat of fish sauce; four other workers fell in and passed out from the fumes before they were rescued. Researchers in Japan found that monosodium glutamate, the flavor enhancer used in many processed foods, can cause blindness in rats. Applied Digital Solutions launched an advertising campaign (“Get Chipped”) for its implantable human-identification microchip; the product, called VeriChip, is the size of a grain of rice and emits a 125-kilohertz radio signal that transmits its ID number, which is tied to a database file on the client containing personal information. It was reported that new patents have been issued recently for an inflatable push-up bra, an instant-release bra clasp, a bra with detachable straps, an electromagnetic push-up bra, and a bra with a built-in breast pump. A Russian army commander admitted to beating his soldiers with a black latex dildo. A Chinese qigong practitioner swallowed 162 rusty nails. Dogs, scientists found, are better behaved when listening to Bach than when listening to Metallica. There was a marijuana shortage in New York City. Uzbekistan outlawed billiards.

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

March 2015

A Sage in Harlem

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Man Stopped

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Spy Who Fired Me

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Giving Up the Ghost

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Invisible and Insidious

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Fourth Branch·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw student politics as a proxy battleground for their rivalry.”
Photograph © Gerald R. Brimacombe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Article
Giving Up the Ghost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Stories about past lives help explain this life — they promise a root structure beneath the inexplicable soil of what we see and live and know, what we offer one another.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
The Spy Who Fired Me·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In industry after industry, this data collection is part of an expensive, high-tech effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity from corporate workforces.”
Illustration by John Ritter
Article
No Slant to the Sun·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.

One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.

Photograph © Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos
Article
Invisible and Insidious·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly.”
Photograph © 2011 Massimo Mastrorillo and Donald Weber/VII

Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:

1

Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.

An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today