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Claiming that South Ossetian separatists had attacked its villages, U.S. ally Georgia sent troops to capture the city of Tskhinvali. Russia retaliated by sending ground troops into Tskhinvali, then into Georgia proper; Georgia claimed that hundreds of troops had been killed on both sides along with “huge numbers” of civilians. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili described Russia’s troop actions as “the preplanned, cold-blooded, premeditated murder of a small country.”NYTimes.comItar-TassBloomberg.comThe Olympics began in Beijing, heralded on television by fake, computer-generated fireworks.All Headline NewsPresident George W. Bush told Bob Costas that China “is a big, important nation…it is important for this country to show respect for the people of the country.”CEP NewsThe International Court of Justice condemned Texas for executing a Mexican national who had not been advised of his right to consular assistance. “Texas,” replied the office of the state’s attorney general, “is not bound by the World Court.”BBCNews.comUnder pressure from human-rights groups, Iran suspended death by stoning “for now,”BBCNews.comand a U.S. military jury in Guantanamo rejected the 30-year minimum sentence called for by the Bush Administration and sentenced Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, to five more months in prison atop the 61 he has already served.The Wall Street JournalAustralian police reopened 7,000 investigations after realizing that they had mixed up DNA samples and wrongly arrested a man for double homicide and child rape,Reutersand Franz Kafka’s secret porn stash was brought to light. “Animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action,” said researcher James Hawes. “It’s quite unpleasant.”Times Online
It was discovered that a woman who paid a South Korean company to create five clones of her pitbull Booger was Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who escaped British authorities in 1977 after abducting a Mormon missionary, securing him to a bed with mink-lined handcuffs, and raping him three times. “They are perfectly the same as their daddy,” said McKinney, in Seoul, of Booger’s clones. “I am in Heaven here.”Salt Lake TribuneDaily MailThe RegisterAfter The National Enquirer published pictures of John Edwards holding his “love child,” Edwards admitted that he had had an affair with actress Rielle Hunter in 2006 but said that he did not love her and that her baby couldn’t be his. Novelist Jay McInerney said that Hunter was the basis for Alison Poole, a “cocaine-addled, sexually voracious” party girl who appeared both in his novels and in Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho.”ABCNews.comA poll by Lifetime Networks found that women would prefer to carpool or vacation with Barack Obama over John McCain by a factor of two to one.ReutersMcCain campaigned at a biker rally in South Dakota, at which there is each year a beauty pageant that features topless contestants performing fellatio upon bananas. “I encouraged Cindy to compete,” he told a crowd. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”Talking Points MemoIt was revealed that days after McCain reversed his position on offshore drilling to one of support, employees and family members from Hess oil company gave his campaign $285,000.Talking Points MemoIn New Zealand a 111-year-old tuatara reptile, a remnant from the age of dinosaurs, impregnated his partner for the first time in decades. The lizard-like creature, who now has three consorts, regained his interest in sex after zoologists removed a cancerous growth from his genitals.Fox News
A U.S. biologist in Barbados claimed to have discovered the world’s smallest snake, which, at less than 4 inches long, may be the smallest that snakes can possibly be. Barbadians insisted that they already knew about the animal, which they call a “thread snake.”BBCNews.comCNN.comIsaac Hayes, who sang the theme song to “Shaft” (“Can you dig it?”), and comedian Bernie Mac both died.BBCnews.comNYTimes.comRwanda’s justice ministry issued a report accusing France of participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. “French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis,” said a statement from the ministry. “French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors.”BBCnews.comA survey found 125,000 Western lowland gorillas living in a swamp in Congo, double the number of the endangered primates previously believed to exist; nevertheless, due to habitat loss and human encroachment, said a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, almost half of the world’s primate species are facing extinction.CNN.comBBCnews.comThe U.S. Army failed to censor a new medical textbook that teaches updated military surgical practices and depicts blast amputations, dead children, and a suicide bomber’s rib embedded in a soldier. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the Army would publish this,” said Dr. Stephen P. Hetz, a retired colonel and the book’s co-author. “It was just a matter of getting around the nitwits.”NYTimes.comSharks were eating polar bears in the Arctic,Reutersand Greyhound pulled an ad that read, “There’s a reason you’ve never heard of ‘bus rage,’” after a Greyhound passenger on the TransCanada highway beheaded and ate his seatmate.Houston ChronicleAt least 38 Venezuelan Warao Indians had died of rabies after being bitten by vampire bats. “Vampire bats are very adaptable,” said a rabies researcher. “Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal.”CNN.com
More from Chantal Clarke:
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