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Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner whose capsizing off the Italian island of Giglio killed at least 15 people, was revealed to have deviated from the shipâ??s authorized route in order to salute a former captain who lived on the island. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera released an audio recording in which Schettino, speaking to the Coast Guard from a lifeboat, defied commands to return to the ship and direct the evacuation of passengers. “Listen Schettino, you saved yourself from the sea,” says the Coast Guard captain, “but I am going to… I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, dick!” Schettino later claimed he had not intended to abandon ship but had tripped and fallen into a lifeboat and was unable to climb back aboard. Press reports noted that after coming ashore, he took a taxi to a hotel, where he asked the manager for an espresso and a pair of dry socks. A group of Swiss survivors recalled that CĂ©line Dionâ??s “My Heart Will Go On,” the theme song from the movie Titanic, was playing in the dining room when the Costa Concordia hit the rocks.BBCAP via Boston HeraldAssociated PressSydney Morning HeraldHuffington PostSpiegel OnlineThe SunThe Iowa G.O.P. admitted that it had misplaced the January 3rd caucus results from eight precincts, and that a new tally showed Rick Santorum had won, not Mitt Romney, as was previously reported.Washington PostNewt Gingrich defeated Romney in Saturdayâ??s primary in South Carolina, despite allegations from Gingrichâ??s ex-wife that he had asked her for an open marriage in order to continue seeing his mistress, who is now his wife.ABC NewsRick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Gingrich, joining him in attacking Romney for inconsistencies in his stance on abortion. “Youâ??re pro-abortion and then you change over to pro-life in your 50s?” asked Perry.ReutersCNNRick Santorumâ??s wife, a pro-life activist, was discovered to have had a six-year relationship with an abortion doctor and obstetrician 41 years her senior, who also delivered her, before marrying Santorum.Daily MailA Ron Paul hot-air balloon was deflated after causing a four-mile traffic jam on a South Carolina highway.WYFF
One day after Wikipedia led a number of websites in going dark for 24 hours to protest the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act, the Department of Justice charged Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and six other executives from the file-sharing site with copyright infringement and conspiracy. “We have some good ideas,” the company wrote in a statement denying the allegations and addressing content providers. “Please get in touch.” Fifteen minutes after the announcement that Megaupload had been taken offline, the hacker collective Anonymous crashed the Justice Departmentâ??s website.NPR onlineA role-playing exercise staged by an Israeli think tank to evaluate the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran predicted that Iran would chose to negotiate economic sanctions rather than deploy an attack. “Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb will be like driving in Tel Aviv,” quipped one expert. “It could be very dangerous, but precautions can be taken to reduce the danger.”Christian Science MonitorInstitute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv UniversityIranâ??s morality police cracked down on the black-market trade in Barbie dolls, which are widely favored over their government-created counterparts, Dara and Sara. “My daughter prefers Barbies,” said an Iranian mother. “She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat.”Los Angeles TimesDuring the United Kingdomâ??s Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, Lucie Cave, the editor of Heat magazine, defended the publication of photographs and commentary about celebritiesâ?? weight, noting that a recent article on certain starsâ?? “wobbly bits” was “very empowering.”BBCA paramedic in Wales was accused of asking a patient whom he suspected of faking her injuries “Why are you being such a silly bitch?” then slapping her across the face.BBCColombian prosecutors questioned a $2,000 contract awarded to a man for keeping rain away from the closing ceremony of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in BogotĂˇ, stating that the professionalism requirement for public expenditures “doesnâ??t include shamans.” “Donâ??t call me a shaman,” the man once told reporters. “Nor am I a wizard.”BBC
A flotilla on the Thames was being planned for Queen Elizabeth IIâ??s Diamond Jubilee this year, a Delta flight was grounded after an “unruly” German couple in first class asked for champagne, and the head of a left-wing political party threatened to smoke pot in the Polish parliament. “Weâ??re trying to get into room 143 to burn some grass,” said Janusz Palikot, who burned incense instead.AP via CBSMSNBCAssociated PressA couple in Metal Township, Pennsylvania, tried to blow up a 2009 Ford Fusion with flaming tampons, and astronomers were setting up a planet-wide virtual telescope that will allow them to take the first picture of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. “Everybodyâ??s super-excited,” said one astrophysicist.Daily MailMSNBCThe Millerâ??s Grizzled Langur, a “Dracula-esque” relative of the Hoseâ??s Leaf Monkey long believed to be extinct, was re-discovered in eastern Borneo.AP via Washington PostAn American man sustained only minor injuries after jumping off Table Mountain in Cape Town in a winged suit and falling 197 feet; Italian doctors reported that a man with two hearts had survived a two-heart attack; and a religious-studies major died after collapsing in class at a Christian college in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, on her 21st birthday. “Thank you God,” she had tweeted that morning, “for another year of life.”BBCMSNBCAP via MSNBC
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The NSAâ€™s phone tap on Angela Merkel is exposed, European authorities investigate false reports of Roma kidnappings, and Kim Jong-un receives an honorary degree from HELP U
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president NicolĂˇs Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. â€śHappiness will conquer the embittered,â€ť he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
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â€śAmerican politics has often been an arena for angry minds.â€ť