Weekly Review — October 29, 2002, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart warned in a new report that the federal government has done virtually nothing to secure the nation against terrorist attack. Power plants, refineries, and transportation infrastructure are still unprotected; local police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are almost as unprepared for attacks now as they were in September 2001; almost none of the cargo containers entering the country are inspected; and the federal government has authorized only $92 million of the $2 billion needed to secure the nation’s ports. The FBI warned that terrorists might be planning an attack somewhere, possibly involving trains. A distributed denial-of-service attack on the 13 root servers of the domain name system failed to bring down the Internet. Newly declassified documents revealed that in 1976, on the day before Chilean agents assassinated Orlando Letelier with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., a senior State Department official told American ambassadors not to speak to their local Latin American dictators about the need to stop using death squads to deal with dissidents. Laurence Foley, an American diplomat, was shot dead outside his home in Amman, Jordan. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, one of the last liberals in Congress, died in a plane crash on his way to the funeral of a steelworker. Lobbyists were giddy at the prospect of a Republican Senate; one anonymous source remarked that “it’s the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq.” The Pentagon announced that it will set up a new intelligence unit because senior officials are not happy with the reports they are getting on Iraq, especially the judgment that Iraq has no connection with Al Qaeda and that it has no intention of attacking the United States. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community,” said an unnamed official. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn’t support their preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory as far as they’re concerned.”

The United States, Japan, and South Korea issued a statement warning North Korea that the country will be shunned if it refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, and President Bush, frustrated that Russia and France still have not submitted to his demands in the Security Council, again threatened to invade Iraq no matter what. Bush had earlier explained that Iraq is “unique” because Saddam Hussein has gassed his own people and “thumbed his nose” at the United Nations. American drones were flying over the Empty Quarter in the Arabian desert looking for terrorists. The Yemeni government was holding about 40 sons of tribal leaders hostage to ensure the tribes’ cooperation in the search for Al Qaeda members. “It is something ordinary in Yemen, a tradition,” said one sheikh. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mentioned that some of the prisoners at Guantánamo naval base might be released someday: “There are some people likely to come out the other end of the chute,” he said. One expert explained that this decision “shows how reasonable the executive branch is.” About 100,000 people traveled to Washington, D.C., and circled the White House to protest the coming war with Iraq; it was the largest antiwar demonstration in the capital since the Vietnam era. Israeli soldiers who have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories petitioned the Israeli supreme court to find that the ongoing military occupation of Palestinian land is illegal; they argued that the occupation has become a systematic “mechanism of collective punishment,” which is prohibited under international law, and that Israel has failed to meet its legal duty to safeguard the welfare of the occupied population. Fourteen people were killed in Israel when a sport utility vehicle armed with a bomb smashed into a bus and exploded. Another suicide bomber killed three people after he was shot by soldiers at a gas station. A reporter at the scene noticed that a cell phone was ringing in a dead soldier’s pocket. Israeli forces reoccupied Jenin, killed a few people, and seized at least 40 homes. Warlords in Somalia signed a cease-fire agreement. A satellite television station in Egypt was advertising a 41-part treatment of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian anti-Semitic forgery; the series, called “Horse without a Horseman,” will be broadcast during Ramadan.

Russian commandos stormed the Moscow theater occupied by Chechen rebels and rescued about 750 hostages; more than 100 soon died, however, all but one from the unidentified gas used to rescue them, and 145 were in intensive care. Although the government originally claimed that the raid was undertaken only after the Chechens began to execute the hostages, this story was soon discredited. Police arrested a Gulf War veteran and his teenage Jamaican sidekick in the Washington sniper case, ending a media frenzy that included a request by CNN to interview actors from the CBS series “Crime Scene Investigation.” Lengthy footage was broadcast of a tree stump being dug up and hauled away. Experts and profilers who had spent untold hours on television speculating about the killer were forced to admit that their prophecies had been worthless. “My predictions were not that close,” one expert said. “But the average American was hungry for information. And when there isn’t real news, people make up their own. People wanted a story of who this guy was. What we did, by providing it, comforted them.” In Vietnam, a man died trying to rescue a co-worker who had fallen into a giant vat of fish sauce; four other workers fell in and passed out from the fumes before they were rescued. Researchers in Japan found that monosodium glutamate, the flavor enhancer used in many processed foods, can cause blindness in rats. Applied Digital Solutions launched an advertising campaign (“Get Chipped”) for its implantable human-identification microchip; the product, called VeriChip, is the size of a grain of rice and emits a 125-kilohertz radio signal that transmits its ID number, which is tied to a database file on the client containing personal information. It was reported that new patents have been issued recently for an inflatable push-up bra, an instant-release bra clasp, a bra with detachable straps, an electromagnetic push-up bra, and a bra with a built-in breast pump. A Russian army commander admitted to beating his soldiers with a black latex dildo. A Chinese qigong practitioner swallowed 162 rusty nails. Dogs, scientists found, are better behaved when listening to Bach than when listening to Metallica. There was a marijuana shortage in New York City. Uzbekistan outlawed billiards.

Share
Single Page

More from Roger D. Hodge:

From the October 2010 issue

Speak, Money

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2017

Document of Barbarism

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Destroyer of Worlds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Crossing Guards

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I am Here Only for Working”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dear Rose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Year of The Frog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Destroyer of Worlds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
Article
Crossing Guards·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
“I am Here Only for Working”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
Article
The Year of The Frog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
Article
Dead Ball Situation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Factor by which single Americans who use emoji are more likely than other single Americans to be sexually active:

1.85

Brontosaurus was restored as a genus, and cannibalism was reported in tyrannosaurine dinosaurs.

Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today