Yearly Review, not by me


The number of people killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami
rose to 230,000. A study showed that 310,000 Europeans die
from air pollution each year, and the U.N. predicted that
90 million Africans will have HIV by 2025. An
international task force of scientists, politicians, and
business leaders warned that the world has about 10 years
before global warming becomes irreversible. The
U.S. Congress officially ratified President George
W. Bush’s election victory after a two-hour debate over
voting irregularities in Ohio. Terri Schiavo, Johnnie
Cochran, Frank Perdue, Mitch Hedberg, Arthur Miller, Saul
Bellow, and the pope died, as did the man who wrote the
theme song to “Gidget.” An Australian tortoise named
Harriet turned 175. General Motors was spending more for
health care than for steel, and an increasing number of
Americans were heating their homes with corn. El
Salvadoran police arrested 21 people for operating a
smuggling operation and seized 24 tons of contraband
cheese. NASA announced that it wanted to return to the

A study found that the worldwide percentage of land
stricken by drought has doubled within the last 30
years. The Jordan River was filled with sewage, and the
last of Gaza’s Jewish settlers left their homes on armored
buses. Terrorists in London set off bombs on four trains
and a bus, killing 52 people; President Bush condemned
attacks on innocent folks by those with evil in their
hearts. A 13-year-old boy in Kalamazoo accidentally burned
down the family meth lab. New Orleans flooded after levees
broke in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; many evacuees were
not allowed to take their pets with them. “Snowball!”
cried a little boy after police took away his
dog. “Snowball!” At least 42,000 people died in an
earthquake in Pakistan. It was announced that Cookie
Monster would cut back on cookies. Authorities in Malaysia
arrested 58 people who worship a giant teapot. Poor people
rioted in France.

In North Carolina Kenneth Boyd became the 1,000th prisoner
executed since the United States reintroduced the death
penalty in 1976. A 1,600-inmate faith-based prison opened
in Crawfordville, Florida. Police began random bag checks
of subway passengers in New York City. It was revealed
that the CIA had set up a secret system of prisons, called
“black sites,” around the world; it was also revealed that
the National Security Agency was spying on Americans
without first obtaining warrants. Journalist Judith Miller
was released from jail and said she wanted to hug her
dog. U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay was arrested; U.S. Vice
President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter”
Libby was indicted. The Pentagon admitted to using white
phosphorus during the 2004 attack on Fallujah, Iraq, and
allocated $127 billion to build a robot army. The total
number of American soldiers killed in the Iraq war rose to
2,174, while the total number of Iraqi civilians killed
rose to 27,636. “We are all waiting for death,” said an
Iraqi soldier, “like the moon waiting for sunset.” The
U.S. Defense Department, in violation of the federal
Privacy Act, was building a database of 30 million 16- to
25-year-olds. The Department of Homeland Security
announced that it had wasted a great deal of money and
needed much more. Starbucks came to Guantanamo
Bay. Scientists began work on a complete, molecule-level
computer simulation of the human brain. The project will
take at least ten years.

–Paul Ford

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Copyright 2005 Harper’s Magazine Foundation

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