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Iraq delivered its 12,000-page weapons declaration to the United Nations, and American officials said they will be ready to mount an invasion by next month. General Amir al-Saadi, one of Saddam Hussein’s closest advisers, challenged the United States to come up with proof that Iraq has resumed nuclear-, biological-, or chemical-weapons programs. “We don’t understand the rush to judgment,” the general said. “A superpower should study and take its time in judging, especially as everyone is looking on as it prepares for a huge military campaign, for an aggression against Iraq. It should behave wisely.” President Bush said that America will make the final decision as to whether Iraq is telling the truth, and he noted that “this is not a court of law.” Administration officials said they were “disappointed” that North Korea has refused to allow inspections of its nuclear-weapons program. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, rejected any comparison with the Iraqi situation and said that there is no double standard for weapons of mass destruction. “Not every policy,” he said, “needs to be put into a photocopier.” President Bush decided to restore a patronage system created by his father and eliminated by Bill Clinton that permits federal agencies to give political appointees large cash bonuses. President Vladimir Putin of Russia asked Pakistan to please stop funding Islamicterrorists. Britain’sBroadcast Advertising Clearance Center banned an advertisement for a comedy program that depicts George W. Bush putting a videotape into a toaster. A Russian diplomat named Konstantin Pulikovsky published a memoir of his travels with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and revealed that the Dear Leader is an accomplished gourmet. John DiIulio Jr., the former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, made an abject apology for his recent criticisms of Karl Rove, the president’s political adviser. He explained that his criticisms were “groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples.” He added that he was “deeply remorseful.”
Former president Bill Clinton speculated that the Democrats’ failure in the midterm elections was due to their inability to make Americans feel secure. “When people are feeling insecure,” he said, “they’d rather have someone who is strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right.” A new Gallup poll found that only 13 percent of Americans believe that the new department of “homeland” defense will make them “a lot” safer. Patients undergoing radiation therapy were setting off antiterrorism sensors. A new global survey found that negative views of America are on the rise, and signs reading “Americans are not welcome here” began to appear in Seoul, South Korea. Elliot Abrams, a convicted Iran-Contra conspirator who was pardoned by President Bush the Elder, was selected to be the director of Middle Eastern affairs at the White House. Iranian authorities arrested three pollsters for conducting flawed opinion polls. Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar threatened the United States with “hostility, chaos, and destruction.” Bombs were found at two Ikea stores in the Netherlands. McDonald’s restaurants in Indonesia and India were blown up, and four movie theaters filled with families celebrating the end of Ramadan exploded simultaneously in Bangladesh, killing at least 17 and wounding hundreds. Prominent American writers such as Richard Ford, Michael Chabon, and Billy Collins contributed to a State Department anthology on what it means to be an American writer. The collection is banned in the United States under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which prohibits the domestic dissemination of American propaganda meant for foreign audiences.
A federal judge repudiated the government’s claim that Jose Padilla, an American citizen, has no civil rights simply because he has been designated an “enemy combatant”; the judge ruled that Padilla may consult with his lawyers and that he may challenge his detention. The Senate was investigating why the FBI cut the staff of its “ethics” unit by 25 percent. The Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency supplied 4,117 pounds of fruitcake to American troops around the world for Thanksgiving. Iraqis were amused by the inspection of three gin factories by United Nations weapons inspectors, and reporters were relieved to discover that Iraq’s liquor stores are well stocked. Slobodan Milosevic refused to undergo a psychiatric evaluation ordered by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal that is trying him for genocide. Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who is under pressure to resign for protecting pedophile priests, suddenly flew off to Rome without explanation. California lifted the statute of limitations on sex-abuse cases, angering Catholic bishops there. Miss Turkey won the Miss World pageant, which was moved to London after Nigerians killed more than 200 people in anti-pageant riots. Cambodia held a big party at the ancient Buddhist temple of Angkor Wat; the entertainment featured 32,000 flowers, 150 dancers, 120 Buddhist monks, 70 chefs, 20 ice carvings, 4 elephants, and Jose Carreras. Mathematicians in Japan calculated pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places. Europe outlawed tobacco advertising in magazines, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and on the Internet. The federal government fined ProdiGene for failing to take proper steps to prevent its genetically altered corn, which produces a protein used in making a vaccine to prevent diarrhea in pigs, from contaminating the nation’s food supply. Canada’s supreme court ruled that Harvard may not patent a mouse designed to get cancer, upholding a decision by the commissioner of patents. “If you start treating a living organism as a mere composition of matter,” said a spokesman for the commissioner, “there’s nothing to stop us from treating all life forms in that way. The danger is that we treat everyone and everything like a product.” Japanese researchers were decapitating infant rats and grafting their heads onto adult rats’ thighs, where they were observed trying to nurse. It was Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator gave him a big kiss on the head. An American soldier bought a pet monkey in an Afghan market. Winona Ryder was sentenced to probation for shoplifting. Jamaica decided to bring back hanging.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”