Harper's Yearly Ought Seven


Thousands of people died in the Iraqi civil war, which was
costing the United States $100,000 a minute. U.S. forces
began to negotiate with Sunni insurgents, and the
Pentagon, short of buglers who can play taps at military
funerals, ordered 700 automated digital bugles. Oil
companies announced record profits; President George
W. Bush said that America is "addicted to oil" and also
asked Congress to pass laws outlawing human/animal
hybrids. Scientists in Taiwan bred three glowing pigs.
Samuel Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court, and a
study found that Antonin Scalia is the funniest of the
Supreme Court justices. Robert Grenier, director of the
CIA counter-terrorism center, was fired for opposing
"excessive" interrogation techniques like waterboarding,
and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot and severely
injured a fellow hunter while aiming at quail. Osama bin
Laden released a tape in which he warned of new attacks on
the United States; he also called on his followers to
travel to Sudan and fight against the U.N. forces in
Darfur. Al Qaeda members were communicating via social
networking website MySpace.com, and the Taliban
established a "mini-state" in Peshawar. Iran announced
that it had successfully produced low-grade enriched
uranium; to celebrate, men in traditional dress danced
with uranium samples. U.S. senators insisted that
attacking Iran must remain an option. "I can drink beer
out of my leg," said Matthew Braddock, a 25-year-old
National Guardsman who lost his left foot and nine inches
of his left leg to a mine in northern Iraq. "How many
people can do that?"

Ariel Sharon was still alive, and war erupted between
Hezbollah and Israel. Authorities in the United Kingdom
announced the discovery of a terrorist plot to blow up as
many as ten passenger planes in the air. Riots over
blasphemous cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad broke
out in India, Indonesia, Kashmir, Palestine, Thailand, the
autonomous Somali region of Puntland, and Afghanistan.
Yanni was arrested for allegedly hitting his girlfriend,
and Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree. Coretta
Scott King, Gordon Parks, Octavia Butler, Stanislaw Lem,
James Brown, Don Knotts, Syd Barrett, Betty Friedan,
Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Slobodan
Milosevic, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, Kenneth Lay, Gerald
Ford, and "Grandpa" Al Lewis died. The Massachusetts
legislature voted to make health insurance mandatory for
all state residents by July 2007, and a whistleblower
accused AT&T of providing the National Security Agency
with full access to customer phone calls and Internet
usage records. Polls found that while only 36 percent of
Americans worry a great deal about global warming, 90
percent were prepared to fight its effects by caulking.
Twenty percent of U.S. teenagers admitted to huffing
household products in order to get high. SAT scores in
the United States showed the largest decline in 31 years,
and after 15,000 tries a California scientist was able to
teach starlings some grammar. At least 2.5 million
American children were taking antipsychotic drugs; the
same number of Kenyans were close to starvation. The
United Nations said that 1,200 people were dying in Congo
each day, and Zimbabwe faced an acute tampon shortage. At
a zoo in the Netherlands three bears ate a monkey.

Even though Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death two days
before the U.S. midterm elections, the Republican Party
lost its majority in the House of Representatives and the
Senate. Hussein was later hanged. The Pentagon
classified homosexuality as a mental defect akin to
retardation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin kissed a
young boy on the stomach. Kansas raised its minimum
marriage age to 15. NASA said that there might be water
on Saturn's moon Enceladus, as well as on Mars, and
researchers discovered that the buried lakes of Antarctica
are connected to one another by secret rivers. Dick
Cheney was retaining fluids. Starbucks announced plans to
add 28,000 new locations to its extant 12,000, and Chinese
Wal-Mart workers unionized. Americans had nearly $800
billion in credit-card debt. Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld resigned. Researchers in Chicago verified that a
quantum computer does not have to perform any calculations
in order to arrive at results. In New York City a corpse
flower bloomed, and construction began at Ground Zero.
The human population reached 6.5 billion, and scientists
found that new infectious diseases were emerging at a
faster rate than they had in the past. "These are good
times," said a scientist, "for pathogens."

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