Weekly Review — December 12, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Pentagon investigators acknowledged that American troops had massacred unarmed Korean civilians near No Gun Ri at the beginning of the Korean War, but claimed there was no evidence of direct orders from superiors to kill the Koreans, which would constitute a war crime.Former Congressman Pete McCloskey, a member of the civilian advisory panel to the investigation, pointed out that in fact one officer and nine enlisted men said they had received such orders.Many countries were trying unsuccessfully to get the United States to join the International Criminal Court; Henry Kissinger and other former U.S. government officials, who perhaps had good reason to be personally alarmed, wrote a letter denouncing the court as an invasion of American sovereignty.Russia asked Interpol to help catch the runaway Jewish oligarch Vladimir V. Gusinsky, who was charged with fraud after he displeased President Vladimir V. Putin.Edmond Pope, an American businessman, was sentenced, after a Moscow show trial, to twenty years’ hard labor for trying to buy nonclassified information about a torpedo; the judge in the case took just two hours to produce a twenty-page decision. President Putin said he would accept the recommendation of the pardon commission to release Pope; the commission’s chairman noted that Russians “are a magnanimous people, although legends circulate in the world about our cruelty.” The Israeli Army apologized to an American photographer who was shot last month in Bethlehem; the soldier who shot him will be punished for violating the rule against using live ammo when not faced with a mortal threat.Israelisnipers shot and killed more unarmed Palestiniandemonstrators.A Jewish teacher, a mother of six, was killed in a drive-by shooting near Hebron.Berlin tore down the last watchtower at Checkpoint Charlie; some had argued for the preservation of the watchtower as a reminder of the Berlin Wall.A new office building will replace it.

Power was changing hands in Ghana for the first time in 19 years; only four people were killed in election violence.Ivoirian Muslims and Christians were killing one another again in the aftermath of a disputed election.A man named Abbas Abbas shot up a mosque in the Sudan, killing twenty people, three days before general elections, which were being boycotted by opposition parties.The United States Commission on Civil Rightsvoted to open a “systematic investigation” of voting irregularities in Florida.The Supreme Court of Florida ordered that 45,000 “undercounted” ballots, ballots for which vote-counting machines had not registered a vote for president, be manually recounted.The United States Supreme Court then granted a stay requested by George W. Bush, whose lawyers said the recount would cause “irreparable harm” to their client.Pundits were aghast.Prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada presented as evidence a check for $2.8 million used to buy a house equipped with a fake beach and a wave-generating machine.Robert Ray, Kenneth Starr’s successor as independent counsel in the ongoing Whitewater investigation, requested new interviews with Monica Lewinsky, Betty Currie, and Linda Tripp as he continued his quest for enough evidence to indict President Bill Clinton.Jacques Chirac, president of the French republic, was facing growing evidence that he was involved in a kickback scheme when he was mayor of Paris; Chirac has called the charges “abracadabraesque.” President Clinton finally got around to visiting Nebraska, the home of Reuben sandwiches, Kool-Aid, TV dinners, and William Jennings Bryan. “I’m a pretty good talker,” he told a crowd.The president was considering pardons for a number of criminals, including Michael Milken (the former junk-bond king), Webster Hubbell, and Susan McDougal.Rates of gonorrhea infection were again on the rise.Britishscientists succeeded in making marijuana soluble, which could enable a wide array of medical uses for the drug.George W. Bush told a television interviewer that he wasn’t “exactly sure” what the word “snippy” meant: “We don’t use that word here too often down here in Texas.”

The United States Department of Agriculture was developing (with a company called Future Segue) a computerized collar for cows that whispers commands such as “gee” and “haw”; if the cow ignores the whisper, the collar can inflict an electrical shock.The European Union decided to stop feeding ground-up farmanimals to other farm animals for at least six months in an attempt to stop the spread of mad cow disease; all cattle over the age of thirty months must be either tested or destroyed.Testing was said to be expensive; two million cattle could be slaughtered.The last functioning nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station was closed due to a steam leak.A fossil of a microraptor dinosaur was said to strengthen the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs.Pet owners were beginning to freeze samples of their deceased pets’ flesh for future cloning.Scientists were working to come up with a good lubricant for the microscopic nanomachines of tomorrow.There was new evidence that Mars once had water.Strange microbes were discovered at an altitude of ten miles; some researchers speculated that they had been deposited by a passing comet; others scoffed at the idea.Genetic tests revealed strong evidence for the “out of Africa” theory of human origins.Dr. Matthew Lukwiya, the lead doctor in Uganda’s effort to control an outbreak of Ebola fever, died after catching the virus.According to the Australian Plague Locust Commission, Australian crops were being threatened by the largest plague of locusts ever recorded.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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