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Israel insisted it had no immediate plans for a large-scale ground invasion of Lebanon, although it seized two Lebanese towns, called up 10,000 troops to the border, and called thousands of reservists to active duty. Almost 400 people (362 Lebanese, 37 Israelis) have been killed so far in the conflict. European governments debated the proportionality of these deaths, and Syrian president Bashar Assad told the international community to stop procrastinating and broker a ceasefire.NY Times and The AustralianPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran predicted that Israel had “pushed the button of its own destruction.”The AustralianNY TimesThe AustralianThe AustralianNY TimesNational PostThe AustralianEhud Olmert, prime minister of Israel, said Hezbollah’s war on Israel was a ruse to divert attention from Iran’snuclear weapons program. Kayhan, an Iranian news daily, replied that it only “wish[ed] Israel’s lies were true.”BBCOne thousand Americans were evacuated from Beirut aboard a 38-year-old cruise ship named the Orient Queen.BBC via Google NewsWashington Post and Cruises.about.comA 950-foot luxury sea liner unexpectedly listed off Port Canaveral, Florida,.EITB24.com via Google Newsand a tractor-trailer carrying a Tomahawk missile overturned in New York City.NY TimesFifty-three Iraqis died when a car bomb exploded in the Shiite city of Kufa, and 48 lost their lives to Sunni Arab gunmen in Mahmudiya.NY TimesViolence was forcing Shiite-ownedbakeries in Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhoods to close their doors,NY Timesand Saddam Hussein was being force-fed through a tube.NY TimesBBCEthiopia denied reports that it had attacked Somalia,BBCand Somalia declared an “all out holy war” on Ethiopia.Somalinet.com via Google NewsIndia was gagging blogs.The HinduThe president of Vietnam told reporters to “stick to their principles” and to “do their utmost in the fight against wrong-doing and crime.”Vietnam NewsThe Chinese government announced that it would begin issuing identity numbers to fresh vegetables.Reuters
U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia claimed that God supported a Constitutional amendment banning same-sexmarriages. “I think,” he said, “God has spoken very clearly on this issue.” “It’s part of God’s plan,” said TexasCongressman John Carter, “for the future of mankind.” “We best not,” said Colorado Representative Bob Beauprez, “be messing with His plan.”Washington PostPresident George W. Bush issued his first executive veto, striking down a bill that would have expanded federal research involving embryonic stem cells.NY TimesProsecuting attorneys in California and New York were trying to limit “gay panic” defenses in criminal trials, CNN.comadvisers at federally funded “pregnancy resource centers” were telling women that abortions increase the risk of cancer, infertility, and mental illness,Reuters via Yahoo Newsand a doctor and two nurses at the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans were charged with the murder of four patients during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.BBCHillary Clinton warned that advertisers may attempt to place mind-controlling computer chips in the brains of children.Daily News via Google NewsAttorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified to the Senate that President Bush personally blocked an investigation of the administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program,NY Timesand the National Enquirer admitted that Britney Spears’s marriage was stable, despite reports to the contrary.CNN.comScientists learned that Britain’s wealthy neighborhoods may cause cancer in children,Washington Post and Cruises.about.comand that one third of the country’s river fish are undergoing sex changes.EITB24.com via Google NewsScientists in Austria recommended that men sleep alone to better safeguard their brainpower. BBC
The United States and Russia agreed to set quotas for how many polar bears they would kill each year,Washington Postand British stage actor Frank Harrison, 70, was fined $919 for lightly spanking an actress. “All pretty little girls,” said Harrison, “deserve to be spanked once a day.”BBCResearch revealed that giant thermonuclear explosions detected in the constellation Ophiuchus were caused by a Red Giant star dumping gas onto a White Dwarf star,CNN.comand that Canadian high-rise hotels may be to blame for a 200 percent increase in mist levels at Niagara Falls.NY TimesThe United States agreed to buy a 29-foot-tall cross located on a hilltop in San Diego,NY Timessheriff’s deputies in Arizona stumbled upon 100 Mexicanimmigrants wandering in the desert west of Phoenix,NY Timesand a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania discovered a positive correlation between education and sunburn.Washington PostA taxidermist from Lake County, Florida, was arrested after urinating on $500 worth of frozen food,Local 6.comand thieves stole a 14-foot inflatable sheep from a store in Rochester, Minnesota.WCCO.comWolf-dogs attacked and killed a woman in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.Local 6.com
More from Theodore Ross:
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.”