Weekly Review — June 22, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Pulling the Mule, 1875]

Pulling the Mule.

Chaos continued to rule Iraq; a suicide bomber killed at least 13 people when he attacked a convoy of civilian contractors in Baghdad, whereupon a mob descended on the wreckage and set it on fire under the watchful eyes of Iraqi policemen; on the same day other bombs killed eight people.International Herald TribuneAt least 35 Iraqis were killed and 145 were wounded in a suicide car bombing at an army recruiting office in Baghdad; elsewhere six people were killed in another bombing.Chicago TribuneOil exports from Iraq’s main oil terminal were shut down because of two explosions, at least one of which was caused by a bombing. Officials said that the cost of the shutdown could reach $1 billion.San Jose Mercury NewsPresident Bush said that “life is better” in Iraq.New York TimesPrime Minister Iyad Allawi asked the United States to please hand over all its prisoners, including Saddam Hussein, by June 30, as required by international law, and he also asked the Americans to please return the Republican Palace, which they were planning to use as part of the huge new American embassy complex.New York TimesAmerican officials said that they would probably keep Saddam Hussein anyway, along with about 5,000 other prisoners.Associated PressDonald Rumsfeld admitted that he personally ordered that an Iraqi prisoner be concealed from the Red Cross, a practice that Gen. Anthony Taguba has described as “deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law.” Seven months later, the “ghost” prisoner had still not been interrogated, aside from a cursory session when he first arrived at Camp Cropper.Reuters, New York TimesPresident Bush said: “I’m never disappointed in my secretary of defense.”Washington PostThe president held a news conference and said that Afghanistan represents the “first victory in the war on terror”; meanwhile, heavy fighting with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other forces continued, an official from the Ministry of Refugees and Rehabilitation was assassinated outside his home,New York TimesAl Jazeera broadcast what it said was an Al Qaeda training video recently shot at an Afghan camp, and aAssociated Pressremote-controlled roadside bomb in Kunduz hit a NATO vehicle, killing four people, including two schoolchildren.New York TimesThe Vatican announced that the Inquisition wasn’t really all that bad.Associated Press

The 9/11 commission released two staff reports concluding that there is no credible evidence that Iraq ever entered into an alliance with Al Qaeda; the commission also detailed for the first time the surprising level of confusion and miscommunication among top administration officials on the day of the attacks.New York Times“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda,” said President Bush at a news conference.Washington PostDick Cheney responded to the reports by attacking the New York Times, andNew York Timessaid that he “probably” had access to better intelligence information than the 9/11 commission; the commission chairmen then called on Cheney to provide them with any documents that could substantiate his claims.New York TimesThe CIA classified most of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the agency’s failures and mistakes leading up to the invasion of Iraq.ReutersMoktada al-Sadr told his fighters to disarm and go home and said that he planned to enter Iraqi politics.Agence France-PresseA civilian contractor from North Carolina who worked for the CIA was indicted for beating a detainee to death in Afghanistan, andNew York TimesU.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized the United States for seeking to extend immunity for American peacekeeping troops from the International Criminal Court.NewsdaySaudi militants beheaded an American hostage, andReutersWhite House council Alberto Gonzales testified before the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame affair.New York TimesSinn Fein won a seat in the European Parliament.ReutersProtesting power workers cut off President Jacques Chirac’s electricity.New York TimesPresident Bill Clinton published a memoir, and itWashington Postwas discovered that California ground squirrels heat up their tails to intimidate snakes.Nature.com

Attorney General John Ashcroft, perhaps worried about his recent bad press, announced that the FBI has a new terrorist in custody, a Somali man who was arrested in November, and said that he planned to blow up a shopping mall in Ohio. The purported terrorist was linked to another purported terrorist who allegedly planned to cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.New York TimesIn Los Angeles, an intruder cut off the head of Robert Lees, a 92-year-old former screenwriter (of Abbot and Costello comedies), then ran next door, head in hand, and fatally stabbed a neighbor.ReutersThe Senate refused to increase penalties for companies that overcharge for work done in Iraq, and itNew York Timesagreed to expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include those committed because of “sexual orientation, gender or disability” but defeated a measure that would have eliminated funding for research into “bunker busting” mini-nukes.New York TimesA team of British scientists applied for permission to clone human embryos for stem-cell research.GuardianIn South Africa, a man testified in court that he had killed an interior designer because she “did not make any nice comments about my place, so I went to my garage and fetched an axe.”ReutersTwo separate teams of scientists reported that they had successfully teleported individual atoms a fraction of a millimeter.New York TimesNew strains of Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were found in eight countries; Vancomycin is considered the antibiotic of last resort.New ScientistScientists concluded that men are less sensitive than women and that testosterone is to blame, and aNature.comJapanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak using a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”BBCThe USDA reclassified frozen French fries as “fresh vegetables.”Los Angeles Times

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

November 2019

Men at Work

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To Serve Is to Rule

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bird Angle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The K-12 Takeover

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The $68,000 Fish

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Men at Work·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

Article
To Serve Is to Rule·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

Article
The Bird Angle·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

Article
The K-12 Takeover·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

Founded in 2015, a decade after New Orleans became the nation’s first city to begin replacing all its public schools with charters, Cypress was something of a rarity. Like about nine in ten of the city’s charter schools, it filled spaces by lottery rather than by selective admission. But while most of the nonselective schools in New Orleans had majority populations of low-income African-American students, Cypress mirrored the city’s demographics, drawing the children of professionals—African-American and white alike—as well as poorer students. Cypress reserved 20 percent of its seats for children with reading difficulties, and it offered a progressive education model, including “learning by doing,” rather than the strict conduct codes that dominated the city’s nonselective schools. In just three years, the school had outperformed many established charters—a particular feat given that one in four Cypress students had a disability, double the New Orleans average. Families flocked to Cypress, especially ones with children who had disabilities.

Article
Five Stories·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

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 limited edition Nike Air Max 97s, white sneakers that have holy water from the Jordan River in their soles and have frankincense-scented insoles, sold out in minutes.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today