Weekly Review — December 30, 2011, 12:11 pm

Yearly Review

The world failed to end. The United States observed the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden was assassinated in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during a joint mission by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA agents. The Iraq War ended. Protests across the Middle East led to revolutions in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, to uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, and to at least 32,000 deaths. Libyan forces shot and killed deposed leader Muammar Qaddafi after finding him hidden in a drainage pipe in Sirte. Old male sparrows rap-battled in tough Ontario neighborhoods. Macaque armies fought New Delhi’s langur guard. Scientists blamed climate change for a rise in polar-bear cannibalism. At least 15,000 people died when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake erupted in northeast Japan and triggered a massive tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant. Floods killed thousands in the Philippines, China, Thailand, and the U.S. Southeast. A severe drought struck the Horn of Africa, causing a famine in Somalia that killed tens of thousands. The oil-rich region of South Sudan split from the North to form the world’s newest country. Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a mall in Tucson, shooting Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) in the head with a Glock handgun. U.S. Glock sales surged. The Browning M1911 semiautomatic pistol was declared the state gun of Utah. Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people during bomb and gun attacks in Oslo. Researchers in Texas simulated schizophrenia in a computer, and the machine spontaneously took responsibility for a terrorist bombing. Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama. “I am the modern-day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for,” Ortega-Hernandez said in an “Oprah” audition tape uncovered by journalists, adding, “When humans party, they party hard.”

Representative Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) tweeted a close-up photograph of his bulging underwear to a female college student. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi explained that he gave $65,000 to bellydancing prostitute Ruby the Heartbreaker, whom he mistook for Hosni Mubarak’s granddaughter, to help her open a beauty parlor. Chanting “Italy is not a brothel,” thousands of Italian women marched against Berlusconi, who resigned from political office, as did Mubarak, Weiner, and the Dalai Lama. The European Union attempted to address sovereign-debt crises in Greece and several other Eurozone countries. In the United States, a bipartisan congressional supercommittee created to reduce the federal deficit failed to reach an agreement, triggering $1.2 trillion in budget cuts that will take effect in 2013. Members of Congress were found to spend 27 percent of their time taunting one another. Congress reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the national motto. A nine-foot-tall, 900-pound, $900,000 statue of Ronald Reagan debuted in Washington. The Washington Monument cracked. Scientists failed to differentiate DNA in sperm cocktails, and Michele Bachmann won the Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa. After finishing poorly, Tim Pawlenty withdrew. Herman Cain pulled out. A Pennsylvania woman settled her groping lawsuit against Donald Duck. The Occupy Wall Street movement spread from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to cities across the United States, many of which served protesters with eviction notices and pepper spray, and to more than 70 other countries. A one-armed Belarusian protester was arrested for clapping. Also arrested were Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Lindsay Lohan, Manny Ramirez, DMX, Soulja Boy, Meatball, Baby Shanks, Tony Bagels, Jimmy Gooch, Jello, Vinnie Carwash, and Jack the Whack. An Ohio grandmother was arrested for spraying her grandson with a high-powered hose because he’d eaten too much bacon, and a drunken Ohio mother lactating in Illinois was charged with assault after striking her husband, locking herself in her car, and spraying deputies with breast milk. A Pakistani woman attempted to cook and eat her husband. “There could be two factors behind her intention to cook the husband,” explained the local police chief. “One is to destroy the evidence and the other could be her immense hatred against him.”

Jack Kevorkian died, as did Kim Jong-Il, Vaclav Havel, Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Russell, Amy Winehouse, Christopher Hitchens, Betty Ford, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jack LaLanne, Andy Rooney, the last surviving American World War I veteran, the Western black rhino, Gil Scott-Heron, Heavy D, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and the inventors of cinéma vérité and Super Glue. In Tulare County, California, a man was killed by a rooster with a knife attached to its leg. In Virginia, a man beheaded himself with an SUV while towing a burning trailer. In Pontypridd, Wales, an 18-year-old girl with a rare heart condition died after being kissed for the first time. OMG was traced back to 1917. A woman fell asleep at the wheel on Vroom Street in Jersey City and crashed into a mattress store. Ukrainians vowed to stop forcing vodka on bears in roadside hotels. Three billion television viewers watched Prince William marry Catherine Middleton. The happiest man in America was identified as Alvin Wong, a tall, 69-year-old Chinese-American observant Jew who is married, has children, and lives in Honolulu. Ann Marie Kennedy, a resident of Effin in Limerick County, Ireland, complained that Facebook was blocking her from listing her hometown on her profile. She wanted to show pride in her parish, she said, along with “so many Effin people around the world.” The world’s largest sperm bank stopped accepting donations from redheads because of insufficient demand in all countries except Ireland; there, said director Ole Schou of Norway, redhead semen was selling “like hot cakes.” New York became the sixth and largest U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. “Sesame Street” denied that Bert and Ernie are a couple. Rainbow hunters filmed the elusive quadruple rainbow. Wood was found to be older than previously thought. Measurements confirmed that Tajikistan’s flagpole was taller than Azerbaijan’s. A Northwestern University professor apologized for having a man penetrate his fiancée with a “fucksaw” in front of 100 students. Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested for molesting boys he’d met through his Second Mile foundation for at-risk youth. The father of the 5 Browns, a quintet of classical pianists, pleaded guilty to the sodomy of his three daughters. The hacker collective Anonymous named 1,500 pedophiles following a siege of Lolita City. Afghans blamed an Iranian pimp for tainting the number 39. Sex crimes against illegal immigrants were ignored in El Mirage, Arizona. A Louisiana man told police he exposed his penis to a Ford because he was aroused by Walmart. An Ohio man was caught having sex with an inflatable raft, nine years after he was caught having sex with an inflatable pumpkin. Citing evidence of a “live fast and die young” mentality among cephalopods, marine biologists reported that deep-sea squid shoot packets of sperm indiscriminately at members of both sexes. In California, researchers implicated bottlenose dolphins in a spate of porpoise killings, but couldn’t determine whether the mammals were venting sexual frustration or merely practicing infanticide. “We call them ‘porpitrators,’” said cetologist Thomas Jefferson.

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Official Business March 17, 2015, 4:01 am

Radio Hustle

Listen to the broadcast version of “American Hustle,” Alexandra Starr’s story, for the April 2015 issue of Harper’s Magazine, about how elite youth basketball exploits African athletes.

Official Business January 8, 2015, 3:57 pm

The Art of Outrage

We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish its cartoons—and our right to critique them.

Memento Mori September 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

Charles Bowden (1945–2014)

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2017

The Monument Wars

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Defectors

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Over the River

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

House Hunters Transnational

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Lords of Lambeau

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Window To The World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Over the River·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Photograph (detail) by Brian Frank
Article
A Window To The World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
Article
The Lords of Lambeau·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Photograph (detail) by Balazs Gardi
Article
With Child·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley

Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:

$39.50

A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”

In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today