Weekly Review — May 8, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Scientists in New Jersey announced that they had produced the first genetically modified humans. Up to thirty such children have been bred using a fertility treatment that accidentally resulted in babies with three genetic parents. Canada prepared to ban human cloning. An Albanian woman, formerly penniless, sold her newborn two-headed calf to an anonymous American group for $25,000. Colorado’s governor signed a law banning bullying in the schools; a similar measure was being blocked in the Washington State legislature because conservative Christians were concerned that the anti-bullying law would prevent children from persecuting homosexuals. Ralph Reed, formerly of the Christian Coalition, was selected as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. President George W. Bush again called for a national missile defense system, renouncing the 1972 antiballistic missile treaty, even though the technology needed to implement such a system has yet to be invented. Norman E. Olson disbanded the Northern Michigan Regional Militia, a patriotic group, due to a lack of interest, which Olson attributed to right-wing satisfaction with the Bush presidency. Florida banned the execution of retarded people. “I don’t get it,” said Governor Jeb Bush, after he was criticized for allowing nepotistic appointments in the Florida Department of Education. “What’s the point?”

Indonesia’sparliament voted to censure President Abdurrahman Wahid for corruption and incompetence. The United States was removed from the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The United StatesArmy was forced to recall hundreds of thousands of black berets that were made in China. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered that all routine contact with the Chinese military be suspended, then revoked the order after the White House got upset, which led to speculation of a power struggle within the Republican cabal. “We’re going to review all opportunities to interface with the Chinese,” President Bush clarified. Israelisecurity forces using tanks and bulldozers destroyed a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza; a spokesman described the action as “engineering work.” Segregation was on the rise in American cities, according to new census figures. Thomas E. Blanton, a former Kluxer from Alabama, was found guilty of killing four black girls in 1963, when he bombed a Birmingham church. The Pope visited Greece, the first such visit in about 1,300 years; Orthodox Christians protested, apparently still upset about the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, and held up insulting placards calling the Holy Father, among other things, a “two-horned monster of Rome.” President Macapagal Arroyo declared that a “state of rebellion” existed in Manila as thousands of supporters of former president Joseph Estrada (who was arrested recently on corruption charges, fingerprinted, and photographed like a common thief) stormed the presidential palace. After the uprising was put down, President Arroyo went to visit Estrada in prison, posed for smiling photographs with him, and agreed to let him have an air conditioner and curtains in his dank little cell. Florida decided to reform its election system. Police in Japan were looking for a killer disguised as a panda bear. Gore Vidal confirmed that he will be attending the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Eli Lilly and Co. was testing a drug called Cialis that will enable men with erectile dysfunction to get hard-ons for up to 24 hours.

Terrorismattacks were up last year, according to a new report. Japan arrested Kim Jong Nam, son of Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader of North Korea; the Little General, as he is known in the Hermit Kingdom, was trying to sneak into Japan to take a four-year-old boy to Tokyo Disneyland. Alabama’ssenate approved a bill that would allow video gambling machines to be installed at dog tracks. Japaneseresearchers found that eating sushi reduces a smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer. Maggie, Matthew, Melissa, Emily, and Eva, five sheep in Scotland whose owner had barricaded them in her home to protect them from the foot-and-mouth cull, were killed by lethal injection after authorities managed to get inside the house. Two dingoes on Australia’s Fraser Island mauled and killed a 9-year-old boy; his 7-year-old brother was also attacked but lived. Dogs in Montreal were pissing on a crab-apple tree planted in honor of the late Pierre Trudeau. Cliff Hillegass, founder of Cliffs Notes, died. Dolphins at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn were able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Singapore sentenced a Malaysian truck driver to a year in jail for smuggling 11,000 pounds of pig intestines into the city state. A vegetarian lawyer sued McDonald’s for using beef in its french fries. Tokyo declared war on its crows.

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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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