Weekly Review — November 21, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The European Commission announced its intention to test all beef cattle for mad cow disease. Italy banned the importation of French beef. Sales of beef in France dropped, even at McDonalds, even though France has rigid controls on the provenance of its homegrown beef cattle (each cow is given a “passport” at birth documenting its parentage and place of origin, which must be submitted to the slaughterhouse). Evidence that Kuru, a disease spread by eating human brains, is more widespread in Papua New Guinea than previously thought, suggested that the European epidemic of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human variant of mad cow disease, to which Kuru is related, may be more serious than government officials have been willing to admit. In an attempt to stop the spread of CJD, German officials asked people who have lived in Britain to refrain from giving blood. A French court ruled that a seventeen-year-old boy who was born retarded, deaf, and nearly blind could sue for having been brought into the world. Twenty couples got married atop Mount Misti in Peru. New Jersey Republicans accused Democrats of providing crazy people in mental hospitals with absentee ballots; it was suggested that the crazy vote may have decided a close congressional race. Republicans accused Democratic vote counters in Florida of eating chads they had secretly and illegally punched for Al Gore. President Askar Akayev was sued by eight Kyrgyzstan lawmakers who claimed that his election to a third term in office was illegal. Five people died in election violence in Egypt. Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said he was worried about factionalism in the government. Queen Elizabeth II of England banned the use of cell phones among her retainers.

Veerappan, the famous Indian bandit, finally released Rajkumar, the famous Indian actor, whom many Indians worship as a god, after holding him captive for 109 days. Shobha Guruputrayya Sutturmath, a 14-year-old girl in the Indian village of Maradur, was attracting attention for her ability to cry stones; doctors concluded that Shobha was slipping small stones under her eyelids, which then fell out to the amazement of all. Italiansheepfarmers in the village of Abruzzo started an adoption program whereby people become parents of a sheep, which entitles one to a year’s supply of merino wool and fresh cheese, and a photograph of the beast. Another option included lamb chops. Texas almost broke the record for the most executions by a single state in one year; a retarded murderer and rapist was granted a stay four hours before he was to be killed. American officials apologized and admitted they had violated international law by failing for over ten years to give two Germans, who were executed last year, access to their country’s consulate. A Germangeneral was named to head the European Union’s “rapid reaction force.” Germans were horrified that Israeli soldiers had killed a German doctor outside his home in the West Bank. Geneticists found that Jews and Palestinians have a fairly recent common ancestry, which supports historical evidence that Palestinians are descended from Jews and Christians who converted after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century C.E. Yasir Arafat ordered Palestinianpolicemen to stop firing at Israel’s occupying soldiers; no one paid much attention, and the shooting continued as before. Attacks on Canadian Jews were increasing. An Italian man found a wire sticking out of an egg and soon discovered that it was filled with explosives; a tube of tomato paste blew up a woman’s hand in a nearby town. Montreal experienced a series of egg and paint attacks against stores displaying Christmas decorations; responsibility was claimed by a group called No Christmas Before Its Time.

Serbs, having thrown off their dictator, were waiting, in the dark, for international aid to help them pay for electricity. California was running low on power again. The U.S. Forest Service recommended banning most logging in roadless areas of national forests; logging companies and their lawmakers were opposed to the idea. Maine’s wild Atlantic salmon was placed on the endangered species list, to the dismay of Maine’s Atlantic salmon fishermen. Boston banned mercury thermometers, each of which contains .7 grams of the toxin, enough to contaminate a small lake. President Bill Clinton drove through the streets of Vietnam in a limo sporting a Vietnamese flag on one fender, a U.S. flag on the other. The common people treated him like a god. A small airplane dropped leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City that said: “We bow our heads, Communists sit on our necks. We stand up, Communists fall.” It was signed by the “Global Alliance for the Total Uprising Against Communists.” An Air Force F-16 fighter plane collided with a little Cessna airplane in Florida; part of the Cessna landed on a golf course. Russia decided to go ahead and crash the space station Mir into the Pacific ocean, disappointing Dennis Tito, an American businessman who had hoped to pay $20 million to visit the doomed station, and television executives, who were planning to film a “reality-based” television program there. Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky gave up and let the Putin government take over his media company, which owns Russia’s leading independent TV station, but the deal fell apart; esoteric explanations abounded. Another deal was announced that would prevent the Kremlin from assuming control. President Putin called for radically lower numbers of Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons, which was said to be motivated largely by the fact that Russia cannot afford to maintain weapons that are designed never to be used. North Korea was looking forward to another winter famine. Thousands in Venezuela were left homeless by flooding. Representatives of many different countries were attending talks at the Hague on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, a global warming treaty signed by over 100 countries yet ratified by none. China banned a gathering of poets. A robot successfully read the mind of a monkey.

Share
Single Page

More from Roger D. Hodge:

From the October 2010 issue

Speak, Money

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
Waiting for the End of the World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1.

A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he.

I rose long before dawn, too thrilled to sleep, and set off to find my tribe. North from Greenville in the dark, past towns with names like Sans Souci and Travelers Rest, over the border into North Carolina, through land so choked by kudzu that the overgrown trees in the dark looked like great creatures petrified in mid-flight. The weirdness of this scene would, by the end of the weekend, show itself to be appropriate: my trip would be all about romanticism, and romanticism is a human collision with place that results, as Baudelaire put it, “neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” My rental car’s engine whined as it climbed the mountains. Day was just breaking when I nosed down a hill to Orchard Lake Campground, where tents were still being erected in the dimness.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

The commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Jesus Plus Nothing

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

Subscribe Today