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Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, ordered Iraq to destroy all its Al Samoud 2 missiles after U.N. tests determined that the missiles exceed the 150-kilometer range set by the Security Council. The lightest version of the missile, Blix said, has a range of 193 kilometers. “If Iraq decides to destroy the weapons that were long-range weapons, that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said President Bush. “So the idea of destroying a rocket, or two rockets, or however many he’s going to destroy, says to me he’s got a lot more weapons to destroy.” United Nations weapons inspectors complained that the intelligence tips they’ve been getting from the United States have been “garbage after garbage after garbage.” Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, traveled to Iran to inspect a nuclear facility that American officials claim is part of a secret nuclear-weapons program. The United States Air Force was studying the feasibility of a nuclear-powered drone aircraft that would be able to “loiter” in the air for months without landing or refueling. Bush Administration officials, apparently concerned that the war in Iraq might not go smoothly, told reporters that Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, has a five-page list of “war risks” that he keeps in a desk drawer and refers to constantly. Hippies from around the world began to arrive in Baghdad to act as human shields against American bombing. President Bush dismissed last week’s worldwide antiwar protests, which some estimate were the largest in human history, and said they would have no effect. “Size of protest â?? it’s like deciding, well, I’m going to decide policy based on a focus group.” The president said that he was unwilling to give Saddam “another, ‘nother, ‘nother last chance,” and observed that “evidently, some of the world don’t view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace.”
France, Belgium, and Germany agreed to let NATO make preparations for defending Turkey in case of an Iraqi attack. Turkey settled for a $15 billion aid package from the United States, down from its initial “firm” demand of $32 billion, after the Americans indicated that the smaller sum could be made available this year. U.S. and Turkish officials were still discussing Turkey’s plan to send troops into northern Iraq to prevent the Kurds from establishing an independent state. President Jacques Chirac of France berated Central and Eastern European countries for supporting the United States‘ war plans; he told them that they were “badly brought up” and that they were jeopardizing their chances of joining the European Union. Two French tourists were run over by a police SUV as they sunbathed on Miami Beach; the officer drove over the tourists, who were sisters, then backed up and ran over them again. One of the women died. The head of Pakistan’s air force died in a plane crash. Three Venezuelan soldiers who called for civil disobedience against President Hugo ChĂˇvez and a protester were found dead with their hands tied and faces covered with tape. They had been tortured. ChĂˇvez was delighted that a judge issued arrest orders for two of his most prominent opponents. “These people should have been arrested a long time ago,” ChĂˇvez said. “At one in the morning, I sent for the sweet cooked papaya from my mother, to savor it, because it’s not about hate, but justice.” He said that all the leaders of the recent general strike should be tried as terrorists and saboteurs. The Nicaraguan government was trying to decide whether to force a pregnant nine-year-old girl to carry her baby to term; “I don’t want to share my toys with other children,” said the girl, who was raped and has requested an abortion. I take care of my toys.” “Animal-rights activists were organizing opposition to a bill in the Texas House that would define many of their activities as acts of terrorism. A German court convicted Mounir el-Motassadeq on 3,066 counts of accessory to murder for helping to plan the September 11 attacks, and sentenced him to 15 years in jail. The British man who decapitated a marble statue of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was sentenced to three months in jail despite his explanation that the vandalism was an artistic expression of his opposition to global capitalism.
Seven states announced that they will file suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to review and update its standards every eight years. The suit contends that this requirement has not been met for 20 years and that carbon dioxide, possibly the single most destructive pollutant, has been improperly left off the list of regulated emissions. An American geologist speculated that some of the large gullies on Mars were caused by melting snow. At least 96 people died and almost 200 people were injured at a Great White concert in Rhode Island after the band’s pyrotechnic display set the club on fire. At least 120 people died in an arson attack in a South Korean subway. Many of the victims, who were trapped inside the burning cars, used their cell phones to call family members to say goodbye. “Forgive me for leaving before you,” one boy told his mother. Twenty-one people died in a stampede at an illegal nightclub in Chicago. The Pentagon unveiled an “escape hood” that will be issued to all its employees. Defense Department officials told reporters that their psychological tactics were more sophisticated than ever; the Air Force, for example, has been broadcasting programs that mimic the style of local Iraqi programming: “Do not let Saddam Hussein tarnish the reputation of the soldiers any longer,” a recent broadcast said. “Saddam uses the military to persecute those who don’t agree with his unjust agenda. Make the decision.” The officials were hoping to learn from their mistakes in Afghanistan, where 500 radios were air-dropped to civilians. None survived impact. It was reported that Bahrain is planning to build an indoor ski resort. A Toyota salesman murdered a British defense worker in Saudi Arabia, and three journalists were imprisoned in Jordan for libeling the Prophet Muhammad. Three more detainees at Camp X-Ray in Cuba tried to kill themselves. The surgeon who branded the initials of the University of Kentucky into a woman’s uterus before he removed it defended his actions and said he was simply marking the midline of the organ. “I felt this was honorable since it made reference to the college of medicine where I received my medical degree.” Nine other women asked to join the lawsuit after discovering that they too had been branded. David Miller, a Republican state senator from Iowa, called for a creation of a “Commission on the Status of Men” to figure out what has gone wrong for the American male. A Hong Kong man died of a chicken-borne flu. U.S. Marines, in what has been called Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken, are planning to use “Poultry Chemical Confirmation Devices” as part of an early-warning system against chemical weapons; the devices, which consist of chickens in cages, will be installed on top of the Marines’ Humvees before they roar off into battle. A chemist in Australia finally succeeded in mixing oil and water.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
â€śThe triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), â€śthe rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversityâ€ťÂ â€” what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Scienceâ€™s crisis of faith