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Michael Mukasey, President George W. Bush‘s nominee for attorney general, received a warm reception on his first day before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he decried torture and promised a nonpartisan Justice Department. On his second day, however, he hedged on whether waterboarding is torture and argued that the president could disregard laws passed by Congress. “I don’t know,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, “whether you received some criticism from anybody in the administration last night after your testimony, but I [sense] a difference.”New York TimesNew York TimesThe Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies that provided the government with subscribers’ phone and e-mail records,Washington Postand the House failed to override President Bush‘s veto of the SCHIP health care plan, which was intended to provide health insurance to 10 million children. New York TimesArkansas lawmakers were unable to muster enough votes to ban tobacco-chewing in the state’s legislative chambers.New York TimesVladimir Putin traveled to Iran and cautioned the United States against a military strike; President Bush responded by saying that democracy might not be in the “Russian DNA” and threatened World War III if Iran acquired nuclear weapons.The GuardianWashington PostIranian and Chinese companies won contracts worth $1.1 billion to build power plants in Sadr City, Iraq,. New York Timesand the Turkish parliament authorized attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq by a vote of 507 to 19. New York TimesSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice painted an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference as a “moment of opportunity” for Israelis and Palestinians, while film director David Lynch claimed that 250 experts in Transcendental Meditation could end that conflict by dissolving “the suffocating rubber clown suit” of hatred.The Boston HeraldCheckpoint Jerusalem
The Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal. “We are furious,” said Zhang Qingli, secretary of China’s Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”Washington PostNew York TimesPakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile to Karachi, where bombs struck her welcome parade, killing 134 and wounding 450; police believed they had found the bomber’s head.New York TimesCNNState inspectors visited a Texas youth jail to find spoiled food, overflowing toilets, walls smeared with feces, and a curriculum reliant on crossword puzzles.New York Times It was reported that students at 31 New York City high schools will now receive thousand-dollar prizes for a top score on any advanced placement examNew York Timesand that middle schoolers in Portland, Maine, can obtain birth control pills from their schools without notifying parents.New York TimesIn England, cooks at a Suffolk middle school discovered maggots in a rice dish,BBC and a government study found that 50 percent of Britons will be clinically obese by 2050.Daily MailA British restaurant began serving gray squirrel pancakes.Daily MailA poll revealed that a quarter of Germans think National Socialism had “good sides,” including low crime, low unemployment, and “the encouragement of the family.”New York TimesFrench president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife divorced.New York Times
James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his role in the discovery of DNA, said that while he wishes everyone were equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” CNNLynn Cheney announced that her husband and Barack Obama are eighth cousins. “Every family,” said the Obama campaign, “has a black sheep.”BBCA New York man was arrested after wearing a stolen Rolex watch to his parole meeting, New York Timesan Ohio woman stood accused of digging up her ex-boyfriend’s grave and stealing his ashes,CNNand a Virginia woman was fined for attacking a Comcast store with a hammer after the company cut off her phone and Internet connections. ”I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor and I went to hit the telephone,” she said. ”I figured, ‘Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.”’ New York TimesA New Jersey woman sent 80,000 cans of Silly String, which can locate trip wires, to U.S. troops in Iraq; a military spokesperson thanked her but admitted that soldiers don’t use as much Silly String today as they did at the beginning of the war.CNN Forty-nine percent of New Jersey residents admitted they’d rather live somewhere else.Fox NewsTaku the killer whale died unexpectedly at the San Antonio SeaWorld,New York Times5 of the world’s 350 remaining Asiatic Lions were found dead next to an electric fence in India,New York Timesand the curator of the Rotterdam Natural History Museum asked the public to donate pubic crabs, claiming that their population was dwindling as a result of Brazilian waxes. ”When the bamboo forests that the Giant Panda lives in were cut down, the bear became threatened with extinction. Pubic lice,” he explained, “can’t live without pubic hair.”New York Times
More from Paul Gleason:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word â€śhallwayâ€ť must have a nautical name. Why didnâ€™t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet heâ€™d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands theyâ€™d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you donâ€™t belong to, that doesnâ€™t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isnâ€™t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members â€” because ocean life pays better than money! â€” who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature