Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Harper's Yearly

Too difficult to quote selectively, here's the Harper's Yearly Review.
Eight hundred ninety-nine U.S. troops and 18,610 Iraqi
civilians were killed in the Iraq War. Eighty percent of
Iraqis were reporting "attacks nearby" and it was
estimated that 90 percent of Iraq's artists had fled the
country or been killed. Halliburton announced that it
would add 13,000 jobs, and President George W. Bush
underwent a colonoscopy. In Venezuela, President Hugo
Chavez embraced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of
Iran. "Welcome, fighter for just causes," said Chavez.
Senator Barack Obama was featured shirtless in People
Magazine's Beach Babes issue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
banned smoking in the Speaker's Parlor of the Capitol, and
Senator Hillary Clinton said that "we want to be able to
continue to export democracy, but we want to deliver it in
digestible packages." Viagra turned 15. Wildfires spread
from north of Los Angeles to south of San Diego, and
scientists at New York University were deleting
frightening experiences from the memories of rats. The
first Muslim member of Congress took his oath on a Koran
once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Annual sales at Taser
International were expected to reach $90 million.

Drought was driving tens of thousands of snakes into
Australian cities, female koalas in Australia were
ignoring males in favor of five-bear lesbian orgies, and
developers were planning to open a Hooters in
Dubai. Scientists in London were working on a gum that
suppresses appetite and fights obesity. "Obese people like
chewing," reasoned a researcher. The United States
projected that it would emit 19 percent more greenhouse
gases in 2020 than it did in 2000, and U.S. pollution was
cited as the reason that the Dutch are now taller than
Americans. The United Arab Emirates beat out the United
States to become the world's most wasteful country, Ford
posted a loss of $12.7 billion for 2006 (the largest in
its 103-year history and equivalent to the GDP of Jordan),
and General Motors announced it would open a new research
center in Shanghai to develop alternative fuels and
vehicles. Geneticist Craig Venter announced that he had
constructed a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory
chemicals, creating the first artificial life form on
Earth. Britney Spears shaved her head, and an appeals
court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the writ of habeas
corpus does not apply to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. The market price for children in India slipped below
that of buffalo, and crystal meth was now available in
candy flavors.

Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, and Boris Yeltsin
died. Osama bin Laden turned 50 and the Senate doubled the
bounty on his head to $50 million. Ariel Sharon was still
alive. New stars were hatching near the head of
Orion. Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, and
Tony Blair resigned. "[Blair] was the worst thing that
ever happened to Africa," said Bright Matonga, the deputy
information minister of Zimbabwe. "We hope that the
children of Iraq and Afghanistan he is killing everyday
will haunt him for the rest of his life." Reverend Ted
Haggard declared himself "completely heterosexual," and
Paris Hilton went to jail. An Irish soldier who won the
Military Cross for single-handedly defeating a Baghdad
suicide bomber was facing a court-martial for auctioning
his medal on eBay. Scientists trained dogs to track polar
bear feces, produced talking construction paper, made stem
cells out of adult mice, and linked the upsurge in cat sex
to global warming. Mr. Wizard died, as did
Mr. Whipple. Pope Benedict XVI decreed that, by
definition, Protestant churches are not churches, and it
was revealed that Mother Teresa, beginning in 1948 and
continuing until the end of her life in 1997, was unable
to sense the presence of God. "Repulsed--empty--no
faith--no love--no zeal," she wrote. "Heaven means
nothing." Detainees at Guantanamo Bay complained of
"infinite tedium and loneliness," and 20,000 people
marched against the junta in Burma; about 400 monks were
pushed away from the house where pro-democracy leader Aung
San Suu Kyi was imprisoned. "Love and kindness," read the
monks' yellow banner, "must win over everything."

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