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World leaders gathered for debate at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As protests continued across the Muslim world over an online video mocking the prophet Mohammed, Barack Obama spoke to the General Assembly about the importance of freedom of speech. “As president of our country,” he said, “I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day.” The United States delegation boycotted a speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while other Western nations instructed their emissaries to leave if he said anything offensive. “Previously we’ve walked out because of his anti-Semitism, threats against Israel, and 9/11 conspiracies,” said a European diplomat. “This year his only crime was incoherence.” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a felt marker and a cartoon drawing of a bomb to illustrate the “red line” Israel would prevent Iran from crossing in its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon answered a prank call from a pair of comedians claiming to be Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper. “Perhaps this was not the best use of his time,” said Ban’s spokeswoman. Omar Khadr, the only remaining Westerner to be held captive at Guantánamo Bay, was repatriated to Canada. The number of American military deaths in Afghanistan reached 2,000. Syrian government authorities sent a text message reading “Game over” to opposition forces, who mounted a major assault on the army’s Damascus headquarters. Following a controversial call by replacement officials that gave the Seattle Seahawks a last-second victory over the Green Bay Packers and cost bettors as much as $250 million, the National Football League brokered a deal to end a lockout of its referees. “It’s time to get the real refs,” said Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. “It reminds me of President Obama and the economy.” Mitt Romney vowed to fight Lyme disease in Virginia, American voters said they associated Romney with Monopoly and Obama with chess, and Madonna gave the president her endorsement. “We have a black Muslim in the White House,” she said. “That’s some amazing shit.”
European financial markets fell as Greek workers began a general strike and thousands of demonstrators protested new austerity measures in Spain, where a Catalan theater was avoiding a new value-added tax by selling carrots in lieu of tickets. Two thousand assembly-line workers rioted at a factory in Taiyuan, China, where components for Apple’s iPhone are manufactured. More than a thousand women were expelled from Saudi Arabia for attempting to perform the hajj without male guardians, and Ikea apologized for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its furniture catalogue. Citing a lack of female administrators, a school district in Texas introduced new rules allowing officials to spank students of the opposite sex. Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, the longtime publisher of the New York Times, died at age 86. Fox News broadcast a high-speed police chase that ended with the suspect getting out of his car and shooting himself in the head. “I’m just not sure about this,” said anchor Shepard Smith as the man exited the car. “This makes me a little nervous.” A soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, fatally shot a comrade whose hiccups he was trying to scare away, and a Connecticut grade-school teacher investigating a robbery at his neighbor’s home shot and killed a masked suspect who turned out to be his own son. A defense contractor from Virginia committed suicide after killing his wife and two teenage children, in part because he feared President Obama would win reelection. “He just did not want his kids inheriting this mess,” said a neighbor. California became the first state to outlaw therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors. A Hong Kong billionaire offered a $65 million “marriage bounty” to any man who could woo his lesbian daughter away from her new wife. “I am really a lucky girl,” said the daughter. “It’s really sweet of him to do something like this as an expression of his fatherly love.”
Britain’s National Pig Association forecast a global bacon shortage, and a Niagara police constable was arrested in connection with a major Canadian cheese-smuggling ring. “We get all our stuff legit,” said a local pizzeria owner. A Montana ice-cream company refused service to a local Muslim customer who inquired about the presence of pork gelatin in some of its flavors. “We don’t deliver outside of Montana,” said the company’s president, “certainly not to Pakistan.” A man disguised as a car seat was apprehended at the Morocco–Spain border. An Ohio man pleaded guilty to robbing the same bank he served two years in prison for robbing in 2010. “For someone to do what you did,” the judge told defendant Adam Billman, “shows a total lack of brain power.” Authorities in Idaho traced a finger discovered inside a trout to Haans Galassi, who lost four fingers in a wakeboarding accident two months ago. “There’s still three more,” said the detective who identified the finger. “It’s hard to say where those are going to end up.” Turkish divers rescued a blow-up sex doll they had mistaken for a woman drowning in the Black Sea, and a man was barred from running for mayor of the Bosnian city of Zenica after posting pornographic images on his campaign website. “Boys and girls in my country want to make love freely,” he said. “They dream of Hollywood, not Tehran.”
More from Jacob Z. Gross:
Weekly Review — November 5, 2013, 8:00 am
Syria finishes destroying its chemical-weapons facilities, the United States kills the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and Axe body spray fells eight New York City students
Weekly Review — September 24, 2013, 8:00 am
Deadly terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Peshawar, House Republicans attempt to defund Obamacare, and a bookless library opens in San Antonio
Weekly Review — August 20, 2013, 8:00 am
“We are cautious,” said General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, “about every drop of Egyptian blood.”
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 “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’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 they’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 don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’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 — because ocean life pays better than money! — 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