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Barack Hussein Obama was reelected president of the United States, receiving 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, and nearly sweeping battleground states. The Democratic Party enlarged its Senate majority, and the Republican Party retained control of the House of Representatives. “Man, sometimes God really sucks,” said conservative radio host Glenn Beck. Fox News commentator Karl Rove, whose super PAC achieved a 1 percent success rate on the $104 million it invested in various races, challenged the network on air, claiming it had prematurely called Ohio, and the election, for Obama. “There’s a bunch of cats and dogs elsewhere, which add up to another 720,000 votes,” said Rove. “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?” asked anchor Megyn Kelly. An official “President Elect” Romney website went live after Romney had conceded; private jets carrying guests to Romney’s post-election party overwhelmed Boston’s Logan International Airport; and staffers taking taxis home from Romney’s concession speech found that their campaign credit cards had been canceled. “Fiscally conservative,” said one aide. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by referendum, and voters in Colorado and Washington approved the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use. “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug,” said Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too soon.” CIA director David Petraeus resigned after an FBI investigation revealed that he had been involved in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Former aides expressed surprise at Petraeus’s infidelity. “I never heard him say, ‘Wow, she was hot,’” said one.
Israel fired across its border into Syria, for the first time since 1973, after a stray mortar shell landed in the Golan Heights, and violence in northern Syria led at least 11,000 people to flee the country in one day. At a luxury hotel in Qatar, Syrian rebel groups formed a coalition in hopes of gaining international recognition and increased aid from foreign governments. Pakistani flagmakers were anticipating increased sales of American flags for use in effigies following Barack Obama’s reelection. Iranian fighter jets fired on* an American Predator drone flying in international airspace, and Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denied that the country was pursuing an atomic bomb. “Those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons,” he said, “they are mentally retarded.” Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people in an assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms and 140 additional years in federal prison. Citing inclement weather, the Federal Emergency Management Agency closed several centers dedicated to helping victims of Hurricane Sandy, and a National Guard truck transporting storm-relief workers in New York City’s Chinatown killed an 82-year-old man after running a red light. In Far Rockaway, Queens, six port-a-potties and fuel for electric generators were stolen overnight from a tent acting as a temporary polling place. Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued an emergency order instituting gasoline rationing. “Social pressure,” he said, “will ensure compliance.” New Yorkers were trading gas for sex on Craigslist.
The director general of the BBC resigned after one of the network’s current-affairs programs wrongly implicated a former member of parliament in a child sex-abuse scandal, and Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street’s Elmo, took a leave of absence after he was accused of having sex with a teenage boy. Sesame Workshop said that it would continue to feature the character on the show. “Elmo is bigger than any one person,” the production company said in a statement. Police in Belize accused antivirus-software programmer John McAfee—who had been abusing hallucinogenic drugs in pursuit of a “super perv powder”—of murdering an American expatriate. Users of the website Reddit accurately diagnosed a man with testicular cancer after he got a positive result from a pregnancy test, and four Nigerian girls developed a generator powered by urine. A nine-year-old Ukrainian boy stole $4,000 of his parents’ savings from the family sofa and spent it on candy. A South African man suspected of selling body parts on the black market was arrested after police found his nephew’s genitals in his wallet. Activists launched condom-filled balloons into North Korea, and Los Angeles pornographers blamed a recent syphilis outbreak and poor voter outreach for a referendum result mandating the use of condoms in adult films. “Those of us in the industry who worked with the political strategists and consultants learned a lot,” said pornographer Christian Mann.
More from Jacob Z. Gross:
Weekly Review — July 29, 2014, 8:00 am
The quixotic quest for a Gaza ceasefire; West African doctors face mortal peril; and Russian gecko porn, restored
Weekly Review — June 17, 2014, 8:00 am
ISIS launches a major offensive in Iraq, the 2014 World Cup begins, and Florida keeps on being Florida
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount of time a child spends in Santa Claus’s lap at Macy’s (in seconds):
Beer does not cause beer bellies.
Following the arrest of at least 10 clowns in Kentucky and Alabama, Tennesseans were warned that clowns could be “predators” and Pennsylvanians were advised not to interact with what one police chief described as “knuckleheads with clown-like clothes on.”
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”