Weekly Review — April 15, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Faced with the unlikelihood of finding any nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in Iraq, the Bush Administration was beginning to suggest that Saddam Hussein had moved all his weapons of mass destruction to Syria. Asked whether Syria was “next,” Donald Rumsfeld said: “It depends on people’s behavior. Certainly I have nothing to announce.” President George W. Bush, asked whether Syria has weapons of mass destruction, replied: “I think that we believe there are chemical weapons in Syria, for example, and we will â?? each situation will require a different response, and of course we’re â?? first things first. We’re here in Iraq now, and the second thing about Syria is that we expect cooperation.” American military officers denied that they had stage-managed the much broadcast destruction of a statue of Saddam Hussein, surrounded by a small crowd of cheering residents, and said that it was just a coincidence that the very same American flag that flew over the Pentagon on September 11 was on hand to be wrapped around the statue’s head. The U.S. Central Command printed up decks of playing cards depicting the names and images of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle to help American soldiers recognize them; Saddam Hussein appears on the ace of spades. President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair both went on Iraqi television and told the Iraqi people, almost none of whom had electricity, that “the nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over.” Kurds were driving Arab families from their homes in northern Iraq. An American tank fired into the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign journalists in Baghdad have been staying, and killed two Reuters cameramen. American forces also attacked the offices of Al Jazeera, the Arab television network, killing one journalist, and the offices of Abu Dhabi TV. In each case, U.S. officials claimed that they were responding to enemy fire, and in each case the claims were disputed by witnesses. Seven American prisoners of war were found alive. Baghdad and other cities in Iraq were in chaos; mobs were looting businesses, government offices, and private homes.”You cannot do everything simultaneously,” said Donald Rumsfeld. “It’s untidy.And freedom’s untidy.And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.” One notable crime was the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, which held a massive collection of ancient artifacts from more than 7,000 years of Mesopotamian civilization. Occupying forces intervened briefly but then left; what was not stolen was destroyed. The German Embassy and the French cultural center were both ransacked as well; in the German Embassy, wives were observed making selections as their husbands carried furniture down the stairs.

Officials in Singapore and Hong Kong warned that SARS may never go away. Dr. Leung Pak-yin, the deputy health director of Hong Kong, was not optimistic: “We believe that every citizen could become a carrier of the virus.” Health experts have also speculated that “contaminated objects” could be spreading the disease, and that cockroaches might be tracking contaminated sewage from one apartment to another. In Singapore the Roman Catholic Church suspended confessions because of the SARS epidemic and declared a “general absolution” of sins for the Easter season. Singapore’s government issued electronic wrist tags to help authorities keep track of SARS patients who have been placed under quarantine; the tags set off an alarm if the patient leaves the house or disables the device. Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration were plotting to make permanent the provisions of the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire in 2005, the provisions which radically expanded the government’s power to spy on American citizens. Mexican authorities arrested 42 police officers for selling drugs to school children. Eleven people, including seven women, were killed in their sleep when an American warplane mistakenly dropped a 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb on their home in eastern Afghanistan. Ten suspects in the bombing of the USS Cole escaped from a prison in Yemen. A group of Jewish terrorists called Revenge of the Toddlers claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a West Bank high school that injured at least 20 students. Israel fired five missiles into a neighborhood in Gaza, killing a Hamas leader, a 14-year-old boy, and several others. Scientists published new genetic evidence that suggests cannibalism was widespread among prehistoric humans. NBC personality Katie Couric interviewed the Central Park Jogger on TV and remarked that the tragedy of the woman’s rape and beating was “magnified by her background.”

New data from the Internal Revenue Service revealed that investigations of suspected tax criminals have fallen, although cheating has been on the rise. The Army Corps of Engineers revealed that the Pentagon contract to fight oil fires in Iraq, which was awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s most recent private employer, will be worth up to $7 billion. The contract was given without the usual competitive bidding process. Two 2,000-year-old frescoes were stolen from the House of the Chaste Lovers at the ruins of Pompeii; the frescoes were found a few days later, slightly damaged and packed up for shipping, in a nearby building. Mecca Cola was selling briskly in France. The House of Representatives voted to limit lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Senator Bill Frist said that vaccine makers should have immunity from lawsuits so that they can try to cure diseases such as SARS. More than 3,000 children in northern China were sick from drinking poison soy milk; three children died and several were blinded by the milk, which turned their eyes, noses, and mouths black and blue. The cause of the poisoning was unknown. Two vials of ricin that were found in a locker at the Gare de Lyon train station last month turned out to be wheat germ and barley. Norway’s parliament banned smoking in bars and restaurants throughout the country but delayed the start of the ban until spring 2004. In New York City, a bouncer who attempted to enforce the city’s new smoking ban in a bar on the Lower East Side was stabbed to death. Scientists announced that a quick dose of caffeinol, an experimental drug that mimics the effect of an Irish coffee, helps prevent brain damage in mice that suffer artificially stimulated strokes. A Canadian research center announced that it had sequenced the genome of the coronavirus that scientistsScientists hope causes SARS. Current cloning techniques will not work on primates, a team of scientists concluded, because the nuclear transfer procedure destroys crucial proteins. Dolly the sheep was stuffed and put on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. People in Australia were being menaced by starving kangaroos.

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

November 2017

Pushing the Limit

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bumpy Ride

Bad Dog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Preaching to The Choir

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Monumental Error

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Star Search

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

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
Article
Star Search·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
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
Bumpy Ride·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

Photograph by David Emitt Adams
Article
Bad Dog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Estimated portion of French citizens with radical-Islamist beliefs who grew up in Muslim families:

1/5

Human hands are more primitive than chimp hands.

Trump declared flashlights obsolete as he handed them out to Puerto Ricans, 90 percent of whom had no electricity in their homes; and tweeted that he wouldn’t keep providing federal hurricane relief “forever” to Puerto Rico, a US territory that the secretary of energy referred to as a “country.”

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