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The Bush Administration rejected calls for an independent counsel in the matter of Valerie Plame, whose identity as an undercover CIA operative was revealed by at least one senior White House official, possibly Karl Rove, in retribution for her husband’s skeptical remarks about the president’s case against Iraq.New York TimesRove, the president’s political adviser, denied being the source of the leak, though he was reportedly fired from George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection campaign for leaking damaging information about a rival to Bob Novak, the very columnist who exposed Plame in July.TalkingpointsMemo.comPlame and Rove, it was reported, attend the same Episcopal church.New York TimesPresident Bush created a new “Iraq Stabilization Group.”New York TimesA new poll found that most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.New York TimesAmerican officials said that there are 650,000 tons of ammunition lying around Iraq, much of it unsecured. General John Abizaid told Congress that “there is more ammunition in Iraq than any place I’ve ever been in my life, and it is all not securable.” Pentagon officials had previously claimed that “all known Iraqi munitions sites are being secured by coalition forces.”New York TimesDavid Kay, the head of the CIA team searching for traces of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, issued his status report; Kay admitted that no unconventional weapons had been found but did point to a single vial of botulinum toxin, which an Iraqi scientist had stored in his refrigerator since 1993, as evidence of evil intent. President Bush cited the vial and said that the report justified the invasion.Washington Post, International Herald TribuneIt was noticed that Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush’s former campaign manager and until recently the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has set up a consulting firm to help clients exploit the occupation of Iraq. According to the company’s website, “New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” The company describes the “opportunities” in Iraq as “unprecedented” in nature and in scope.New Bridge StrategiesAllbaugh was apparently exasperated by the attention being paid his new company: “Because my friend is president of the United States,” he said, “I’m supposed to check out of life?”New York Times
A two-year-old Iraqi girl was shot dead in her home by American forces after a roadside bomb went off next to a military convoy. “If we determine there were deaths and/or injuries to innocent civilians as a result of U.S. forces responding to an attack,” said Major Anthony Aguto, “we will compensate the family with three years of standard Iraqi salary.” The grandfather of the dead girl said they didn’t want the money: “I submit my complaint only to God.”New York TimesIslamic Jihad took responsibility for a suicide attack in Haifa, Israel, that killed at least 19 people, including several children.Washington PostThree generations of the Zer-Aviv family, including four-year-old Liran and one-year-old Noya, their parents, and their grandmother, were killed.New York TimesThe bomber was a woman from Jenin, a law student, whose brother and cousin were killed by Israeli troops last June.Washington PostIsrael bombed Syria in retaliation for the attack.Washington PostAlmost 3 million people in Britain watched an illusionist play Russian roulette live on television,Guardianand Robin Cook, the former foreign minister and leader of the Commons, who resigned to protest Britain’s participation in the conquest of Iraq, claimed that Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted privately to him two weeks before the invasion that Saddam Hussein had no weapons that posed a “real and present danger.”BBCPresident Jacques Chirac of France gave Laura Bush a kiss.Washington PostPolice shot and killed a 900-pound moose that wandered into downtown Portland, Maine.New York TimesNewly released files suggested that the Mexican government used at least 360 snipers in a massacre of protesters on October 2, 1968.New York TimesEcuador launched a new punctuality campaign.ReutersGarbage was piling up in Chicago,New York Timesa rapper named C-Murder was found guilty of murder,Launchand Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada said that he was thinking of trying marijuana: “Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand.”Reuters
The U.S. economy managed to create 57,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported, the first such gain since January, although the increase did not keep pace with population growth, and the percentage of adults with jobs fell to its lowest point in 10 years.New York TimesArnold Schwarzenegger apologized after 15 women came forward and accused him of sexually abusing them.SlateSchwarzenegger was also trying to explain comments he made years ago about his admiration for Adolf Hitler: “I admired Hitler for instance because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on.”New York TimesSchool officials in Paris, Texas, apologized after the high school band played “Deutschland uber alles,” with the Nazi flag flying, on the evening of Rosh Hashana.New York TimesRoy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy, was mauled by a rare white Bengal tiger during a Las Vegas performance and dragged offstage.San Francisco ChronicleNew York police officers discovered a 350-pound Bengal tiger in an apartment in Harlem; the police were called by a downstairs neighbor after “large amounts of urine” poured through the ceiling. A four-foot-long caiman was also removed from the apartment.New York TimesA new study found that large predators such as polar bears strongly dislike being caged in zoos.New York TimesA pitbull named Murder attacked a young boy in Newark, New Jersey, and nearly chewed off his foot.New York PostSix thousand three hundred New Jersians applied for permits for the state’s big upcoming bearhunt.New York TimesA Russian electricity company was threatening to kidnap people’s pets as a way to force delinquent customers to pay their bills.BBCA team of Swedish scientists concluded that the world’s remaining oil and gas supplies have been exaggerated by up to 80 percent and said that production levels will probably peak in 2010.CNNA new study estimated that 160,000 people die as a result of global warming every year; President Vladimir Putin suggested that global warming could be good for Russians because they “would spend less money on fur coats and other warm things.”ReutersKing Mohammed VI of Morocco sent 20 camels to Peru as a gift.Agence France-PresseLaura Bush told the Russians that American children’s books teach children to be good Americans and that her children used to enjoy acting out “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss.ReutersMargaret Thatcher was said to be losing her mind.Sunday Mirror
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.”