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The Department of Justice released four Office of Legal Counsel memos, issued in 2002 and 2005, to address CIA concerns that interrogation methods used on some high-level Al Qaeda members in custody were torture. Besides waterboarding, stress positions, slapping, and face-grabbing, the memos permitted “walling,” or repeatedly slamming prisoners into fake, flexible walls specially designed to make a loud noise when people are slammed into them; keeping a prisoner awake and shackled upright for more than a week, if “diapers are checked and changed as needed”; and putting a prisoner who is scared of insects in a box with a harmless insect and telling him that the insect had a stinger. President Barack Obama said that those “who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice” would not be prosecuted. New York TimesNew York TimesWashington PostGuardianMiami HeraldAP via YahooDoJSources identified as “two former senior national-security officials” said that Representative Jane Harman (D., Calif.) was caught on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli spy that she would try to get the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. “Three top former national security officials” said that Alberto Gonzales stopped an FBI investigation of Harman in order to win her support for the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. CQAn unnamed intelligence official also said that, in 2005 or 2006, the NSA tried to spy on an unnamed member of Congress while he was traveling in the Middle East but that the plan was dropped over concerns about warrantless wiretapping of members of Congress.New York TimesFifty men dressed as Abraham Lincoln toured Washington, D.C., and one Lincoln impersonator was invited to Guam to help celebrate Law Day, an American holiday honoring the rule of law. Washington PostPacific Daily News
J. G. Ballard died, BBCNew York Timesand astrophysicists debuted a handheld laser that can pinpoint mosquitos and light them on fire, one by one. PhysOrg.comFour baby Stimson’s pythons escaped from a cargo container on a Qantas plane in Melbourne, Australia, and the plane was grounded so that the tiny snakes could be gassed. The AgeTwenty-one horses at the U.S. Open Polo Championship collapsed and died of unknown causes, Palm Beach Postand thousands of dolphins blocked Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden from attacking Chinese merchant ships. XinhuaSomalia’s parliament voted to institute sharia law. “God is great,” said Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Osman Elmi Boqore, twice. New York TimesThree hundred women in Kabul protested a new law making it illegal for a woman to refuse her husband’s sexual advances for more than four days in a row unless she is ill or menstruating. “Get out of here, you whores!” yelled counterdemonstrators. “Death to the enemies of Islam!”The Irish TimesNew York TimesFeminist and queer theorist Eve Sedgwick, author of “Epistemology of the Closet” and “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” died of breast cancer,The NationToronto StarNew York Timesand biologists at the University of Arizona identified an all-female species of ant, in which every daughter is a clone of their colony’s queen. The ants cultivate gardens of fungi that also reproduce asexually. Yahoo
U.S. Army Master Sergeant John Hatley was sentenced to life in prison for killing four bound and blindfolded Iraqis in 2007. “He loved his soldiers too much,” defense lawyer David Court said, “that was his crime.”TPMAP via YahooThe Army stopped signing up felons and recent drug users. According to the Pentagon’s top recruiting official, “cutbacks at Best Buy” made it easier to recruit better-qualified young people. Washington PostThree hundred people in Oklahoma City commemorated the fourteenth anniversary of the bombing of the federal building there, AP via Tulsa Worldand 300,000 people gathered in small groups across the country to protest the bailouts, the economic stimulus plan, taxes, and the federal government. “We’ve got a great union,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry at a protest in Austin. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that?” In a possible reference to the Boston Tea Party, one protestor threw a box of teabags at the White House. After a robot inspected the box, the Secret Service declared it harmless. ForbesMedia MattersAP via Googlefivethirtyeight.comNew York TimesNew York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles TimesUSA TodayThe Consumer Price Index fell for the first time since 1955, BloombergGuardianand bankrupt Lehman Brothers made plans to sell its 500,000-pound stockpile of yellowcake uranium, which has recently plummeted in value. “This is not like playing copper where it’s a liquid and deep market,” explained hedge-fund manager John Wong. “A lot of the funds playing this market have blown up.”Bloomberg
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 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.”