Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Harpers.org Tells You What Happened


Iran announced that it had successfully produced low-grade
enriched uranium; to celebrate, men in traditional dress
danced with uranium samples. The Iranian government also
promised to give $50 million to the Palestinian Authority,
now controlled by Hamas, which let it be known that it
would recognize Israel's right to exist if the Jewish state
were to withdraw from the entire West Bank, East Jerusalem,
and Gaza. A suicide bomber killed nine people at a falafel
restaurant in Tel Aviv, and in Sri Lanka bomb attacks by
Tamil rebels killed 16 people. At least five U.S. soldiers
were killed in Iraq, and a car bombing in Baquba killed
27 people. Some Iraqis were changing their names to avoid
being identified as either Sunni or Shiite. "[I] don't want
my children to die," said the Shiite father of Ali, Hassan,
and Fatima, "just because of their names." Close to 65,000
Iraqis had fled their homes to avoid sectarian violence,
and six former U.S. generals called for Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. It was reported that
Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in the torture of
Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamed al-Qahtani, who was
made to perform "dog tricks"; Rumsfeld was allegedly
briefed on the progress of al-Qahtani's interrogations
by phone. Vice President Dick Cheney, who will receive
a $1.9 million refund on his 2005 taxes, was booed at a
Washington Nationals baseball game, where he threw out
the first pitch. "I have never, ever," said one fan,
"heard anyone get booed like that man." Peace activist
William Sloane Coffin and author Muriel Spark died, and
Tiger Woods apologized for calling himself a spaz.

Officials in Afghanistan said that 41 Taliban and six
police officers had been killed in fighting in the
Helmand province; a Taliban spokesman claimed 15 Afghan
police and one Taliban were killed. It was revealed that
the U.S. military had mounted a propaganda campaign,
targeting Iraq and the United States, intended to make
Abu Muab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader (or possibly
former leader) of Al Qaeda in Iraq, appear more powerful
than he is. One document describing the campaign
was called "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia
response." A poll found that 63 percent of Americans
were "absolutely certain" of the physical resurrection
of Jesus Christ. Other polls found: that 55 percent of
Americans want a Massachusetts-style health care law;
that 52 percent of Americans would give up some tax
deductions for a simpler tax code; that 51 percent of
Americans oppose gay marriage (the same percentage that
thinks illegal immigrants mostly contribute to American
society); and that 46 percent of Americans use profanity
more than twice a week. Further polls found that 90 percent
of Americans believe their peers are too fat, but only
40 percent believe they are too fat themselves, and that
nearly three quarters of 10- to 13-year-old Americans
like quesadillas. Sixty-two percent of Mexicans polled
agreed that the United States is wealthy because it
exploits others.

An audit found that FEMA misspent at least $1 billion in
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and theater programs
for the deaf, operating on a shoestring, were trying to
figure out who in Congress cut their $2 million in federal
funding in December 2004. In Italy, Bernardo Provenzano,
also called The Tractor, the alleged head of the Italian
mafia, was arrested near Corleone in Sicily. Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi refused to admit that he had lost his
seat to Romano Prodi; Prodi urged Berlusconi to admit
defeat. Roger Toussaint, the head of the Transport Workers
Union in New York City, was sentenced to 10 days in jail
for leading a transit strike in December 2005. In Athens,
Georgia, several agents from the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms briefly detained a University
of Georgia student who was dressed as a ninja. "Seeing
someone with something across the face," said a special
agent, "from a federal standpoint--that's not right." The
student said he was leaving a pirate vs. ninja event. In
London, a woman's skeletal remains were found two years
after her death, propped in front of a still-on TV. "I
did notice a kind of rotten smell," said a neighbor,
"but the bins downstairs are strong and the stairwells
smell with junkies." Former Illinois Governor George Ryan
was convicted of racketeering, and in Purcell, Oklahoma,
a man named Kevin Ray Underwood was arrested for killing
a 10-year-old girl named Jamie Rose Bolin. "I chopped her
up," he told police. "Regarding a potential motive," said
a police chief, "this appears to have been part of a plan
to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut
off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse,
eat the corpse, then dispose of the organs and bones." The
police also announced that they had removed skewers and
a meat tenderizer from Underwood's apartment. Researchers
in Africa discovered a catfish that stretches out of the
water to eat land animals, Prince Albert of Monaco reached
the North Pole, and scientists in Britain found that human
fetuses cannot feel pain.

-- Paul Ford

WEEKLY REVIEW SOURCES are available at Harpers.org --
just click the "sources" button in the top right corner.

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