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The Pope apologized to victims of pedophile priests and said there was no place in the Church for priests who abuse children, but he also noted that the power of Christian conversion must not be underestimated. American cardinals indicated that they definitely wanted to have a way to get rid of “notorious” pedophiles but that pedophiles who were not “notorious” might be dealt with in some other way. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said he thought “zero-tolerance” policies were potentially unjust and that bishops should have “a little more wiggle room.” Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with President George W. Bush down at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, and went for a ride in the President’s pickup truck. “Saudi Arabia made it clear,” Bush said, “and has made it clear publicly, that they will not use oil as a weapon.” Senior Bush Administration officials told reporters that they were still hoping to invade Iraq but acknowledged that Ariel Sharon’s invasion of the West Bank, which was getting high ratings in Israel, had put off the war until early next year; they estimated that the new war, which until recently was on the fall schedule, would require the use of up to 250,000 troops. Israel refused to allow a United Nations fact-finding mission to travel to the Jenin refugee camp to investigate allegations of war crimes. Yehuda Lancry, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, told Secretary General Kofi Annan that the mission, if it proceeds, would be permitted to gather facts but not to make any “observations” about the facts. Amnesty International said it had “credible evidence” that war crimes were committed in the Jenin camp. An Israeli sergeant who fought there told an American reporter that he and his men had received orders to “put a bullet in each window”: “It’s not true that there was a massacre, because guys did not shoot at civilians just like this,” he said. “Howeverâ??and this is terribleâ??it is true that we shot at houses, and God knows how many innocent people got killed.”
Three Palestinians disguised as Israeli soldiers invaded a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and murdered a five-year-old girl in her bed; three other settlers were also killed. Ariel Sharon declared that he would never discuss the removal of a single Jewish settlement while he was in power. Three Palestinian men were publicly shot by masked gunmen for collaborating with Israel; a television camera captured images of one man begging God for help as his blood pooled around him. Palestinians trapped by Israeli soldiers inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem were surviving on a broth made from boiled grass. Muslim prosecutors in Nigeria said they were seeking the death penalty for two men accused of converting to Christianity; the men denied converting and said they had always been Christians. Hindu-Muslim violence continued in western India. Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda leader who was captured in Pakistan last month, told American officials that his comrades were close to building a crude “dirty” nuclear bomb. Twelve women and children were killed in Karachi when a bomb blew up in a mosque. Raja Qureshi, the Pakistani prosecutor in the trial of four men accused of killing Daniel Pearl, the American reporter, filed a motion to remove the judge in the case because at least one of the defendants looked at Qureshi and tugged his chin, which is considered a threatening gesture. He is worried that the judge cannot control the defendants. “I feel my life is in danger.” The State Department said it was investigating whether grant money from the National Endowment for Democracy was used to help finance the recent coup attempt in Venezuela. Fifty members of the National Movement of Anti-U.S. Chicken Legs demonstrated in front of the American embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, where they burned a giant chicken leg.
Dr. J. Craig Venter, the head of Celera Genomics, revealed that much of the DNA that his company has sequenced is his own and that consequently he has started taking anti-fat medication. Swedish scientists found that french fries and other starchy foods that have been fried or baked at high temperatures contain very high concentrations of acrylamide, a “probable carcinogen” that can also cause genetic, neurological, and reproductive damage. Several British tourists who were arrested for “plane-spotting” in Greece last year were convicted of “illegally obtaining state secrets.” All England was aghast. A kilo of heroin was found in the suitcase of a five-year-old girl who was traveling alone on a commercial flight from Colombia. Robert Blake, the television actor who played Baretta, a tough police detective with a pet cockatoo, was charged with murdering his wife. Iraqis celebrated Saddam Hussein’s 65th birthday. Atlanta policemen were riding around town on $9,000 Segway scooters. California’s state assembly was considering legislation to limit the weight of school textbooks because of concerns about small children carrying heavy backpacks. Some people in Nevada were upset about new license plates that have a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud on them. Siemens, the German train manufacturer, said that it had spent $14.5 million trying to simulate the run-down conditions of British rail lines in order to test an order of 785 new train cars purchased by an English railroad company. Sales of deer, goat, and dog penis were down in China due to the popularity of Viagra. Linda Lovelace died. Two Japanese researchers announced that they had grown fully functional tadpole eyeballs in a test tube. “None of the eyes were rejected and none dropped out,” said one. “All the frogs can see.”
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Number of countries in which a citizen can be penalized for not voting:
The earth had become twice as dusty during the past century.
A man sued Pennsylvania state police who detained him for 29 days when they mistook his homemade soap for cocaine.
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â€śShelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.â€ť