Weekly Review — May 1, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President George W. Bush said that the United States would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. Missouri’s House of Representatives passed a bill making it a crime for a politician to lie in a campaign advertisement. Al Gore, angry that Bill Clinton was selected to deliver the commencement address at Columbia University, tried to organize a petition drive among his students there to protest the decision. President Bush was apparently trying to kill the government’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry by underfunding the Justice Department’s tobacco litigation team. Former senator Bob Kerry admitted that in 1969 he led a Navy Seals commando unit that slaughtered at least 13 unarmed women and children. Timothy McVeigh said that originally he had wanted to assassinate Attorney General Janet Reno but then decided to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City instead. The Pope asked President Bush to show mercy for McVeigh; Vice President Dick Cheney said no way. The House of Representatives approved a bill criminalizing violence done to a fetus during the commission of a federal crime against a woman. Biologists persuaded embryonic stem cells from a mouse to generate insulin-producing organs; other scientists proved that therapeutic cloning, a procedure that also uses cells from an embryo, can produce tissue for any part of a mouse’s body. Jenna Bush, the 19-year-old daughter of the President, was given a ticket for the possession of alcohol in an Austin nightclub. A majority of Americans did not know the frequency with which the earth revolves around the sun.

The Food and Drug Administration warned people not to eat Autumn Monkshood, a poisonous plant that nurseries in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia had been selling with a label reading “tasty in soup.” Three Britons were thought to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease, including a “slaughterman” who, according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair, caught the disease while he “was moving a decomposing carcass of a cow, when that carcass exploded, and the fluid went into his mouth”; the slaughterman was later found to have a different virus. A couple was imprisoned in Vietnam for making a 10-year-old boy stitch up his own mouth with a needle and thread as punishment for stealing 200 dong, less than two cents. American policedogs were being outfitted with titanium teeth. After a construction worker at New York’s Kennedy International Airport complained about a new mural to the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the artist voluntarily painted a loincloth over the genitals of Jesus, who originally was depicted naked and crucified. New York Citypolice commissioner Bernard B. Kerik decided not to punish the police officers who killed Amadou Diallo two years ago. The officers, who fired 41 shots at the unarmed black man but only hit him 19 times, will undergo retraining. New York’s supreme court ruled that gun makers could not be held responsible for shootings with guns that were bought and sold illegally; a Brooklyn jury had previously awarded $522,000 to a teenager, who was shot in the head, on the theory that the manufacturer was guilty of “negligent marketing.”Britain’s Ministry of Defense admitted that the British army had paid for a number of female soldiers to have breast augmentation surgery: “This is not done purely on cosmetic grounds, but as a last resort,” a spokesman said. An appellate court upheld a $1 million award for a woman whose plastic surgeon was supposed to remove some excess skin caused by weight loss but decided to enlarge her breasts as well, increasing them from 34B to 40DD.

Brigitte Bardot was extremely upset that the mayor of Bucharest, Romania, was killingstray dogs instead of putting them up for adoption as the aging actress had demanded; she accused the mayor of tyranny. Samuel Musabyimana, a former Anglican bishop in Rwanda, was charged with genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Six Red Cross members were shot and hacked to death with machetes in Congo. African leaders at an AIDS conference in Nigeria called on all African nations to spend 15 percent of their national budgets on health programs, which would double or triple what most of the countries now spend. Celera Genomics announced that it would not publish its decoded mouse genome; the information will be available for a fee. Dennis Tito, a very rich man, finally managed to buy himself a visit to space. The Stroh Brewing Company settled a lawsuit with the estate of Crazy Horse, the Ogala Sioux warrior, over the marketing of Crazy Horse Malt Liquor, which was made in 7 breweries and distributed in 32 states; the company gave the Crazy Horse estate 32 blankets, 32 braids of sweet grass, 32 twists of tobacco, and 7 horses. South Korea announced that it would send 200,000 tons of fertilizer to the North. A British man admitted to pushing an elderly woman off an express train going 88 mph because she was bothering him with her endless chitchat. She died. A live-in caretaker in Everett, Washington, was charged with murder for paying her 13-year-old daughter and four other teenagers to kill her client’s son, 64, with baseball bats; her 11- and 7-year-old children helped her clean up the house afterwards; the 89-year-old client, a mute Alzheimer’s patient, was neglected and survived by eating newspapers. A golfer in New York hit two hole-in-ones in a single round. Scientists found that whales and dolphins are unable to see the color blue. There were suspicions that Miss France was really a man.

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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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