Weekly Review — December 10, 2002, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Iraq delivered its 12,000-page weapons declaration to the United Nations, and American officials said they will be ready to mount an invasion by next month. General Amir al-Saadi, one of Saddam Hussein’s closest advisers, challenged the United States to come up with proof that Iraq has resumed nuclear-, biological-, or chemical-weapons programs. “We don’t understand the rush to judgment,” the general said. “A superpower should study and take its time in judging, especially as everyone is looking on as it prepares for a huge military campaign, for an aggression against Iraq. It should behave wisely.” President Bush said that America will make the final decision as to whether Iraq is telling the truth, and he noted that “this is not a court of law.” Administration officials said they were “disappointed” that North Korea has refused to allow inspections of its nuclear-weapons program. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, rejected any comparison with the Iraqi situation and said that there is no double standard for weapons of mass destruction. “Not every policy,” he said, “needs to be put into a photocopier.” President Bush decided to restore a patronage system created by his father and eliminated by Bill Clinton that permits federal agencies to give political appointees large cash bonuses. President Vladimir Putin of Russia asked Pakistan to please stop funding Islamicterrorists. Britain’sBroadcast Advertising Clearance Center banned an advertisement for a comedy program that depicts George W. Bush putting a videotape into a toaster. A Russian diplomat named Konstantin Pulikovsky published a memoir of his travels with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and revealed that the Dear Leader is an accomplished gourmet. John DiIulio Jr., the former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, made an abject apology for his recent criticisms of Karl Rove, the president’s political adviser. He explained that his criticisms were “groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples.” He added that he was “deeply remorseful.”

Former president Bill Clinton speculated that the Democrats’ failure in the midterm elections was due to their inability to make Americans feel secure. “When people are feeling insecure,” he said, “they’d rather have someone who is strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right.” A new Gallup poll found that only 13 percent of Americans believe that the new department of “homeland” defense will make them “a lot” safer. Patients undergoing radiation therapy were setting off antiterrorism sensors. A new global survey found that negative views of America are on the rise, and signs reading “Americans are not welcome here” began to appear in Seoul, South Korea. Elliot Abrams, a convicted Iran-Contra conspirator who was pardoned by President Bush the Elder, was selected to be the director of Middle Eastern affairs at the White House. Iranian authorities arrested three pollsters for conducting flawed opinion polls. Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar threatened the United States with “hostility, chaos, and destruction.” Bombs were found at two Ikea stores in the Netherlands. McDonald’s restaurants in Indonesia and India were blown up, and four movie theaters filled with families celebrating the end of Ramadan exploded simultaneously in Bangladesh, killing at least 17 and wounding hundreds. Prominent American writers such as Richard Ford, Michael Chabon, and Billy Collins contributed to a State Department anthology on what it means to be an American writer. The collection is banned in the United States under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which prohibits the domestic dissemination of American propaganda meant for foreign audiences.

A federal judge repudiated the government’s claim that Jose Padilla, an American citizen, has no civil rights simply because he has been designated an “enemy combatant”; the judge ruled that Padilla may consult with his lawyers and that he may challenge his detention. The Senate was investigating why the FBI cut the staff of its “ethics” unit by 25 percent. The Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency supplied 4,117 pounds of fruitcake to American troops around the world for Thanksgiving. Iraqis were amused by the inspection of three gin factories by United Nations weapons inspectors, and reporters were relieved to discover that Iraq’s liquor stores are well stocked. Slobodan Milosevic refused to undergo a psychiatric evaluation ordered by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal that is trying him for genocide. Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who is under pressure to resign for protecting pedophile priests, suddenly flew off to Rome without explanation. California lifted the statute of limitations on sex-abuse cases, angering Catholic bishops there. Miss Turkey won the Miss World pageant, which was moved to London after Nigerians killed more than 200 people in anti-pageant riots. Cambodia held a big party at the ancient Buddhist temple of Angkor Wat; the entertainment featured 32,000 flowers, 150 dancers, 120 Buddhist monks, 70 chefs, 20 ice carvings, 4 elephants, and Jose Carreras. Mathematicians in Japan calculated pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places. Europe outlawed tobacco advertising in magazines, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and on the Internet. The federal government fined ProdiGene for failing to take proper steps to prevent its genetically altered corn, which produces a protein used in making a vaccine to prevent diarrhea in pigs, from contaminating the nation’s food supply. Canada’s supreme court ruled that Harvard may not patent a mouse designed to get cancer, upholding a decision by the commissioner of patents. “If you start treating a living organism as a mere composition of matter,” said a spokesman for the commissioner, “there’s nothing to stop us from treating all life forms in that way. The danger is that we treat everyone and everything like a product.” Japanese researchers were decapitating infant rats and grafting their heads onto adult rats’ thighs, where they were observed trying to nurse. It was Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator gave him a big kiss on the head. An American soldier bought a pet monkey in an Afghan market. Winona Ryder was sentenced to probation for shoplifting. Jamaica decided to bring back hanging.

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

February 2018

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner

Amount American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class:

$40,000

A daddy longlegs preserved in amber 99 million years ago was found to have an erection.

Trump tweeted that he had created “jobs, jobs, jobs” since becoming president, and it was reported that Trump plans to bolster job creation by loosening regulations on the global sale of US-made artillery, warships, fighter jets, and drones.

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