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A new National Intelligence Estimate by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran ended its secret nuclear weapons program in 2003, in contrast to a 2005 report that claimed with “high confidence” that such a program was still active. Former CIA officials explained that at the time the earlier report was written the agency’s Iran Task Force had been reduced from nearly a hundred analysts and officers to fewer than a dozen, and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, attempting to explain why the earlier report was not “so wrong,” reminded reporters that Iran is “very good at this business of keeping secrets.” “It is all right,” responded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “It is enough that you are confessing to your mistakes.” In Iowa,Democratic candidates debated the Iranian nuclear threat as well as the safety of toys made in China. “My toys,” said Senator Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), “are coming from Iowa.” At a dinner in Des Moines, a reporter summarized the Iranian nuclear report for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who hadn’t heard the news. Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher, also recalled that he was still learning about the AIDS virus in 1992, when he proposed putting AIDS patients in quarantine.WPWhite HouseLATNYTWPLATPoliticoAP via YahooIt was revealed that the CIA destroyed at least two videotapes of harsh interrogations of suspected Al Qaeda operatives. CIA director Michael Hayden claimed that this was done to protect CIA employees from possible retaliation by militants, and that congressional oversight committees had been notified. Representative Rush Holt, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, recalled asking “many times” whether such tapes existed. “They said, ‘What tapes?’” NYTWPNYTLATNYTA hundred-ton pile of horse manure mysteriously appeared in an empty lot in Anchorage, Alaska.Anchorage Daily NewsThe Supreme Court debated the limits of habeas corpus,WPand an inmate at Guantanamo Bay was placed under observation after he slashed his own throat with a sharpened fingernail.BBC
A 19-year-old man recently fired from McDonald’s visited a mall in Omaha, where he shot and killed eight people then himself. Dr. Joseph Stothert, director of the trauma ward that reconstructed one survivor’s arm, noted that bullets from an assault rifle move two to three times as fast as bullets fired from handguns. “Velocity,” he explained, “is transmitted to the tissue as energy.” NYTDes Moines RegisterThere was talk of breeding the last known female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle, an 80-year-old displayed behind bulletproof glass at a zoo in Changsha, China, with the last known male, a 100-year-old who lives in Suzhou. “The main problem,” said a herpetologist, “is really to get a viable sperm sample from the old male.” Methods under consideration include a series of electric shocks and manual massage.The Sydney Morning HeraldPresident George W. Bush put forth a plan developed by mortgage lenders to freeze interest rates for some homeowners, and watched Hootie and the Blowfish perform “California Girls” for ex?Beach Boy Brian Wilson.NYTThe Washington PostA dancing blue dreidel joined Attorney General Michael Mukasey as he helped light a giant Chabad-Lubavitch menorah in front of the White House,.Chabad.organd a Georgia man who had been issued the license plate HA8 JWZ two months ago became aware that it could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. “I would be at a grocery store or the Wal-Mart and people would say ‘Hate Jews?’” he said. “I had no idea what they were talking about. You know how people just say things that don’t make any sense.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A new poll showed the very rich were planning to spend an average of $10,000 on their pets for Christmas, WPAFP via Raw Storyand eleven slaughterhouse employees in Austin, Minnesota, were diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a rare neurological disorder that they appear to have contracted as part of their work airblasting brain tissue from pig heads in order to get at the meat.WPMinneapolis Star-TribuneSix French charity workers held prisoner in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, went on hunger strike to protest the charges against them, which include trying to kidnap 103 children from Chadian villages near Darfur. The prisoners claim that they thought the children were orphans. BBCUnited Forces for Democracy and Development, a Chadian revolutionary group, declared war on France, NYTand scientists discovered a mysterious black fungus growing on the cave paintings of Lascaux. Some thought it might be the effect of global warming, noting that soil temperatures around the caves have risen two degrees centigrade since 1982. NYTAs a tribute to Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was shot and killed last month, the team’s defensive line took the field against the Buffalo Bills with only ten players. After the Bills gained 22 yards on that play, an eleventh man was brought in, and the Redskins went on to lose 17?16. “It makes your heart drop all the way to your feet,” said quarterback Jason Campbell. “We wanted to come out here and win one for Sean.”AP via Miami Herald
More from Sam Stark:
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 Californiaâs 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 âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â 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 âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â 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 âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby 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.â