Weekly Review — January 9, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus tried unsuccessfully to block the acceptance of Florida’s electoral votes during a joint session of Congress. Federal law requires at least one senator and one member of the House to sign a formal objection questioning a state’s electoral votes; no senator was willing to sign. Black congressmen repeatedly interrupted the proceedings and were repeatedly “gaveled down” by Vice President Al Gore, who presided cheerfully over his own electoral demise.Hillary Rodham Clinton was sworn in as the junior senator from New York; Strom Thurmond, the oldest senator in history, rose up and asked, “Can I hug you?” and then did.Al Gore, president of the Senate, called for order.Senator Thurmond’s twenty-eight-year-old son was expected to be named a United States attorney for South Carolina, though he has little relevant experience.He was recommended by his daddy and his daddy’s friends.An aide to President-designate George W. Bush said that Bush did not intend to send the treaty creating the International Criminal Court to the Senate for approval; aides said they would try to undo other last-minute actions by President Clinton as well.Two Louisiana death-row inmates were released from prison; both men were convicted of murdering an elderly couple in 1986; both men were released after a judge found “a total lack of credible evidence” linking them to the crime; both men were convicted on the testimony of a mentally incompetent jailhouse informer nicknamed Lyin’ Wayne.They were the ninety-first and ninety-second condemned inmates to be exonerated since 1973, when the death penalty was reinstated.Holding a rifle in one hand, Saddam Hussein fired 140 shots during a five-hour military parade held to show solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada; Saddam’s display of manliness was cited as evidence against the rumors that he recently had a stroke.Russian president Vladimir Putin was in Germany to discuss debt repayment with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder; Putin was also seeking German support for a multinational missile defense system as an alternative to the American scheme, which would violate the Treaty on the Limitation of Antiballistic Missile Systems and destabilize the world strategic order.North Dakota issued a concealed-weapons permit to a blind man.

Colombia was spraying Roundup on crops near villages in the Putomayo province as part of the U.S.-backed Plan Colombia antidrug campaign; villagers complained that the pesticide was killing their food crops and livestock and that it was making them sick.American drug “czar” General Barry McCaffrey has claimed that Roundup, which is made by Monsanto, is “totally safe,” though Monsanto’s warning label on U.S.packages directs consumers “not to apply this product in a way that will contact workers or other persons,” and the Environmental Protection Agency warns that pesticides such as Roundup can cause vomiting, pneumonia, tissue damage, and mental confusion.Europeans were concerned about Balkan Syndrome, a mysterious set of illnesses that plague veterans of United Nations peacekeeping duty in the former Yugoslavia; over a dozen have died of leukemia; many suffer chronic fatigue, hair loss, and various forms of cancer.Exposure to depleted uranium, which was used in NATO’s bombings of Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia, was thought to be responsible.A NATO spokesman denied that depleted uranium was a significant hazard, though the U.S.Department of Transportation, which has used the metal to balance aircraft, warns personnel that the material is extremely hazardous if particles are ingested or inhaled, something particularly likely after a bombing, which produces large quantities of depleted-uranium dust.United Nations investigators discovered significant radioactivity in Kosovo, in villages and on farms and in the groundwater.Two Rastafarian prophets sent by the dead Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie invaded a cathedral in St.Lucia; one threw fuel on worshippers, and the other set them on fire with a blowtorch and hacked at them with machetes.Cambodia said it would set up a war-crimes court to try Khmer Rouge leaders.A Chilean judge ordered psychological tests for General Augusto Pinochet; his lawyers advised their client to refuse the tests.New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was very upset that a judge upheld a ruling that citizens have a First-Amendment right to curse at police officers.Korean businessmen were said to be emulating Microsoft chairman Bill Gates’s nerdy personal appearance.United States intelligence officials reported that Russia recently moved nuclear weapons into the Baltic town of Kaliningrad, formerly known as Konigsberg, the home of Immanuel Kant, the author of the Critique of Pure Reason and “Perpetual Peace.” President Vladimir Putin, asked about the reports, responded: “That’s rubbish.”

Spanish cattlemen were trying to prevent their government from killing whole herds when one cow comes down with mad cow disease.Australia and New Zealand banned all European Union beef products.Animalresearchers at Texas A&M University unveiled a bull calf named Bull 86 Squared, a clone of Bull 86, a naturally disease-resistant bull that died in 1997; they say the calf is 100 times more resistant to brucellosis, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis, all of which can be transmitted to humans through beef or milk.A Ukrainian company was selling a new product called Fat in Chocolate, which consists of a Twix-sized slab of pork fat covered with dark chocolate.Researchers found that spinach, broccoli and other green vegetables that are good for you really do taste bad.Cosmologists determined that cold dark matter was too cold and hot dark matter was too hot, but that warm dark matter was just right for producing a computer simulation of a universe that looks like ours.New Yorkpolicesnipers were mobilized after two men from Pennsylvania, Michael Lewis and Eric “Black Hole” Storm, told officials that twenty members of a “survivor” cult were planning to commit suicide by drinking poisoned juice on the steps of City Hall; no one showed up, and the two men were taken away to the Bellevue psychiatric ward.Some Brazilian thieves, after stealing the car of a lab worker, stopped at a bar, got drunk, and, thinking it was liquid yogurt, drank several vials of HIV-infected blood.Taiwan banned the eating of dogs and cats.

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