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Attorney General John Ashcroft, offended at being repeatedly photographed in the Justice Department’s Great Hall with a large naked breast near his head, covered two partially nude Art Deco statues, the Spirit of Justice and the Majesty of Justice, with drapes. Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, insisted that the Afghan war prisoners, whom President Bush refuses to classify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, were not being mistreated, even though the photographs that provide evidence of sensory deprivation and other psychological abuses were released by the Pentagon, a release, which Rumsfeld characterized as “probably unfortunate,” that in itself may have violated the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition against making a spectacle of prisoners. Colin Powell, the secretary of state, reportedly believes that the Geneva Conventions do apply to the prisoners and has requested a review of the President’s decision. Afghan refugees continued to protest their incarceration in Australian concentration camps by refusing food and water and sewing their lips shut; some of the protesters drank detergent and cut themselves in despair. Kenneth L. Lay resigned as chairman of Enron as congressional hearings on the company’s bankruptcy began, and President Bush said he was outraged that Enron had misled its investors and employees, noting that his own mother-in-law had lost $8,000 in the company’s collapse. A former Enron executive who resigned because of the company’s questionable financial practices was found dead in his car with a bullet in the brain, apparently self-inflicted. President Bush said he wanted another $48 billion for the military, though he was still refusing, even in the face of new budget deficits, to lower or postpone his big tax cut for the rich. Emergency medical workers in Warsaw, Poland, were in trouble for trading in dead bodies and poisoning patients for payoffs from undertakers.
“Unknown miscreants” on motorcycles fired at the American Center in New Delhi, India, killing three police officers. A gangster later called and claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying it was revenge against the police: “You take one of my men, I take 20 of yours. Stop me if you can.” Elie Hobeika, a former Lebanese Christian militia leader, whose men in 1982 massacred hundreds of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps, was assassinated with a car bomb a few days after he confirmed that he would testify against Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in a war-crimes trial in Belgium. India test fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear warhead. Gun nuts in Utah, where adults with concealed-weapons permits are allowed to carry guns almost everywhere, including elementary schools and libraries, were trying to force the University of Utah to comply with the law and allow students to carry concealed pistols into the classroom. They also want to carry guns into the Delta Center, a large arena in Salt Lake City where the Olympic figure-skating competition will be held. “Delta Center is in defiance of our law right now,” said one. “We’ll deal with them next, after we’re done with the universities.” President Bush proposed doubling U.S. spending on domestic security, bringing that budget up to $38 billion next year, and said that America was “still under attack.” The government also said it would spend $1 billion more on bioterrorism. Singapore uncovered an Al Qaeda “sleeper cell” there and arrested 13 people; the terrorists had apparently developed an extensive and highly disciplined network throughout southeast Asia. Officials were surprised that the terrorists were able to operate for years without being detected in a police state where civil liberties are largely nonexistent. A Pentagon official said that America was looking for “bad guys to chase” in Indonesia, where Al Qaeda has reportedly been stirring up trouble. Chinese inspectors discovered that a new Boeing jet that was meant to be Jiang Zemin’s private plane was filled with sophisticated satellite-operated listening devices, which apparently were put there when the plane was being outfitted in San Antonio, Texas. German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder demanded and got a retraction from a newspaper that accused him of dying his hair. President Vladimir Putin approved an amnesty that will free all Russian mothers from prison. A Colombian presidential candidate was handing out samples of Viagra to voters. “We want our votes to dose Colombia with Viagra,” Ingred Betancourt explained, “to lift and to firm up the country, make peace swell, by standing up to the corrupt and stiffening our people.”
Testosterone might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, researchers said. Al Gore gave a speech at a conference organized by the magazine India Today but only on the condition that no journalists attend. The Pentagon lifted its standing order that all American servicewomen in Saudi Arabia wear head scarves and black robes when off base. A Saudi Arabian poll revealed that 95 percent of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 support Osama bin Laden. A French court convicted a former general of “trying to justify war” and fined him $6,500 for writing in his memoir that he had personally executed 24 Algerians he suspected of being guerrillas and that he would do it again because the cause was just. A woman from Jacksonville, Florida, was taken in for psychiatric evaluation by police in northern California after she made some “unusual statements” at a hotel, thus interrupting her 10,000-mile taxi ride to Alaska. Michael Jackson revealed that he loves water-balloon fights and that he has a water-balloon fort at his Neverland estate. A 10-year-old English boy jumped off a 20-foot bridge with an umbrella after watching Mary Poppins; he is recovering from a broken jaw. Japanese scientists claimed they had created a pig that carries spinach genes, which results in leaner pork but not green ham. An American woman filed a complaint against Scandinavian Airlines because a vacuum-flush system engaged while she was seated on an airplane toilet, where she remained stuck until the Boeing 767 crossed the Atlantic to the United States and ground technicians were able to crack the seal. In Lisbon, Portugal, a 61-year-old man committed suicide by jumping into a lion pit; he bothered the lions until a 10-year-old lioness got irritated and broke his neck. The last lion in Afghanistan, which once ate a cocky Taliban fighter who entered his cage (the dead man’s brother later threw a grenade at the lion, blinding him in one eye), died of old age in a Kabul zoo. Mike Tyson, the convicted rapist, took a bite out of Lennox Lewis’s leg after the two boxers got into a fight at a news conference to promote their upcoming fight in Las Vegas; Tyson had previously threatened to eat Lewis’s children.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire:
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”