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President George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair got together at Camp David to talk about Iraq; at a news conference both men cited a satellite photo showing recent construction activity at an old Iraqi nuclear site as evidence that they must invade Iraq now. President Bush compared Saddam Hussein to a crawfish and said he was “stiffing the world.” Bush and Blair also mentioned a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and said that Iraq could be six months away from developing nuclear weapons. “I don’t know what more evidence we need,” Bush said. But the IAEA report, it was soon noted, said no such thing. In fact, the report said that Iraq had been six to 24 months away from developing the bomb prior to the Gulf War and the subsequent weapons inspections but that there was no evidence that Iraq had retained the physical capability to develop nuclear weapons now. An IAEA spokesman pointed out that Bush had also misinterpreted the satellite photo: “There is no new information about any Iraqi nuclear activity.” A White House official later admitted that mistakes had been made. The leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and China all refused to support President Bush’s plan to attack Iraq. The White House said not to take the refusals too literally. Nelson Mandela said he was “appalled” by the United States‘ threats to attack Iraq and said that America was “introducing chaos in international affairs.” Congress, which convened briefly in New York for the first time since 1790 to commemorate September 11, promised weeks of hearings on the war issue. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asked by his deputy Paul Wolfowitz for advice on how to deal with the press, replied: “Here’s how you deal with the media. Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion.”
The German company Siemens abandoned its plans to trademark “Zyklon,” which means “cyclone” in German, for a line of consumer products in the United States, including gas ovens, after the similarity with Zyklon B, the gas used in Nazi gas chambers, was publicly noted. Siemens, which used slave labor under the Nazi regime, already sells a Zyklon vacuum in Germany. Israel’s supreme court upheld the banishment of two relatives of a Palestinian militant from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Amnesty International said that the “forcible transfer” of Palestinians under Israeli occupation was a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the Hague, a former Yugoslav soldier admitted to helping slaughter unarmed civilian Albanians in Kosovo: “What I remember most vividly,” he said, “is how a baby was shot, and it was screaming unbelievably loud.” American officials admitted that the administration’s opposition to the International Criminal Court was due to fears that civilian politicians could be indicted for war crimes rather than peacekeeping troops: “The soldiers are like the capillaries; the top public officialsâ??President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powellâ??they are at the heart of our concern,” said an anonymous official. “Henry Kissinger: that’s what they really care about.” Muammar Qaddafi announced that Libya is no longer a rogue state. McDonald’s said it was going to reduce the harmful fats in its french fries but that they would still taste the same. A schoolteacher in North Carolina was reprimanded for correctly using the word “niggardly.” Contestants in the Miss World pageant, which is to be held in Nigeria, were threatening to boycott the event to protest the death-by-stoning sentence of a young single mother. Two teenagers in Oslo, Norway, found a human brain in a box on the street.
Federal regulators allowed CryoLife Inc, a body-parts company that was forced in August to stop selling many of its tissues and to recall its tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, to resume selling veins, arteries, and nonvalved cardiac patches but suggested that surgeons acquire heart valves from another source. China said that 1 million Chinese have the AIDS virus and warned that it will begin manufacturing its own version of anti-HIV drugs if Western pharmaceutical companies fail to lower prices. American cancer patients and potheads were said to be fleeing to Canada, where marijuana use, though illegal, is more tolerated. The Institute of Medicine said that Americans should exercise for at least one hour per day. The Greek Internet Cafe Union sued the Greek government because of a new law that bans playing games on all computers, consoles such as the PlayStation, and mobile phones. A British couple decided to implant their 11-year-old daughter with a microchip that will emit a homing signal to pinpoint her location in the event of an abduction. German officials refused to allow a Turkish couple to name their baby Osama bin Laden, and it was noted that President Bush has spent 42 percent of his term at Camp David, Kennebunkport, and his ranch in Texas. A large chunk of frozen urine crashed through the roof of a home on Long Island. Hindu pilgrims were traveling to Bombay to worship a potato shaped like Lord Ganesha. , and a four-legged duckling drowned in Russia on its first attempt to swim. Officials in Indiana were investigating the mysterious death of 200 tadpoles.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
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. âThere was a âwoofâ sound,â said a witness, âlike falling on your face into your pillow.â
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âAmerican politics has often been an arena for angry minds.â