WEEKLY REVIEW, Harper’s Magazine, , October 21, 2003

President George W. Bush traveled to Asia and gave a speech in Manila comparing Iraq to the Philippines, a former U.S. colony that was "liberated" from Spain in 1898 and occupied for 48 years. Bush said that the Philippines, which he called "the oldest democracy in Asia," should be seen as the model for a new democratic Iraq, and then quickly left the country because of security concerns. Osama bin Laden released two new tapes and promised a new wave of suicide bombings. Iraqis in Faluja were photographed dancing on a demolished U.S. Army truck after it was blown up and set on fire by local residents. A car bomb blew up outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad; it was the third Baghdad car bomb in less than a week. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans introduced the new Iraqi dinar, printed in Britain minus the face of Saddam Hussein, in a live broadcast from the Baghdad International Airport, and encouraged investors to come to Iraq. "You have to look beyond these isolated incidents that are occurring," he said. The U.S. Marines pressed charges against eight reservists in the death of an Iraqi prisoner, who was apparently tortured. Soldiers in Azerbaijan were photographed beating the supporters of opposition politicians after they protested the rigged election of President Heydar Aliyev's son. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was just finishing up a $9 million, 130,000-square-foot, 25-bedroom retreat. George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate in economics, described the Bush Administration's budget policies as "a form of looting." The president of Bolivia resigned in the face of massive antiglobalization protests. Texas Republicans produced a very odd-looking congressional map that will probably give the party seven additional seats in Congress. "I'm a Texan trying to get things done," said Tom DeLay, who engineered the highly unusual redistricting. "The person who is in charge is me," President Bush declared when asked about the factional intrigues among his advisers; the president went on to say that he was making "very good progress about the establishment of a free Iraq." A Buddhist abbot in Thailand cured a sick woman with a magic wooden penis.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting support, who was videotaped making a number of impolite comments about Islam. Boykin was also videotaped propounding a new theory of American electoral politics: "Why is this man [George W. Bush] in the White House?" he asked in a speech. "The majority of Americans didn't vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, insisted that the war on terrorism is not a religious war. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia denounced the Jews. Attorney General Bill Lockyer of California admitted that he voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I am just doing what is right," he said. "It's a new me." A German man who taught his dog, Adolf, to perform the Nazi salute by raising its right paw escaped prosecution for the trick. Residents of a mountain village in Fiji apologized to the descendents of an English missionary who made the mistake of touching a chief's head and was cooked and eaten for the insult. Dr. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said that Americans should remember that terrorists can "have serious moral goals." He said that "it is possible to use unspeakably wicked means to pursue an aim that is shared by those who would not dream of acting in the same way, an aim that is intelligible or desirable." Dr. Williams also warned America not to become "trapped in a self-referential morality." Happy Serbs accidentally shot down a small plane when they fired guns into the air at a wedding. Thai protesters captured the soul of George W. Bush, imprisoned it in a clay pot, and then drowned it in the Ping River.

American doctors revealed that they had made an infertile woman pregnant using nuclear transfer, a technique similar to cloning that involves taking genetic material from the mother's fertilized yet defective egg and putting it in a healthy egg from another woman that lacks a nucleus. The babies that were fashioned using the technique, which is banned almost everywhere but China, where the experiment was carried out, all died before birth. A Chinese astronaut orbited the earth but failed to spot the Great Wall from space. The Staten Island Ferry crashed in New York City; of the 10 people who died, two were decapitated and some were cut in half. Several people lost limbs. The captain, who apparently passed out, left the scene immediately, slashed his wrists and shot himself twice in the chest with a pellet gun. Thousands of dead catfish washed up in Alabama. Tony Blair was hospitalized with heart palpitations and was told to take it easy. Researchers in Atlanta, Georgia, found that overweight men tend to produce sperm with fragmented DNA, which results in low fertility and more frequent miscarriages. Coffee makes sperm swim faster, a Brazilian study found, and men who smoke a lot of marijuana have a lower sperm count and sperm that swim "too fast, too early." The Supreme Court let a ruling stand that the federal government may not prevent doctors from recommending marijuana as a pain reliever. In France, a judge was caught masturbating in court. A penal inquiry was underway. Clint Eastwood gave up acting, and the pope beatified Mother Teresa. In Kentucky, a ten-year-old boy found a snake with two heads. New Zealand abandoned its proposal to tax flatulent livestock, and a genomic survey of human feces found it inhabited by 1,200 viruses, about half of which were previously unknown to science. A deer invaded a clothing store in Linden, New Jersey, and a bear barged into a hospital in Japan. Australian doctors warned people not to eat slugs.

—Roger D. Hodge