Weekly Review — May 20, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

L. Paul Bremer, the new American overseer of Iraq, informed Iraqi leaders that the United States and Britain had changed their minds about setting up an interim government made up of Iraqis and that he would remain in control until further notice. Bremer toured Mosul and praised it as “a great example of embryonic democracy”; elsewhere in the city a crowd chanted “America is the enemy of God.”New York Times Kurdish leaders, who have been running their own affairs for about 12 years, were particularly irritated, and there were widespread accusations that the United States was now revealing its true agenda to occupy Iraq and exploit its oil supply. Looters continued to dismantle Iraq’s infrastructure, and most of the equipment needed to restore the national electric grid, such as the computers that regulate power distribution, has been stolen. Nostalgia for the days of Saddam Hussein was spreading among the people. Donald Rumsfeld denied reports that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were going to start shooting looters on sight, though he did tell the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that American forces in Baghdad “will be using muscle to see that the people who are trying to disrupt what is taking place in that city are stopped and either captured or killed.” Previously a nameless administration official told the New York Times that American forces “are going to start shooting a few looters so that the word gets around.” China threatened to execute people who knowingly spread SARS.

Car bombs killed 34 people, including nine terrorists, at foreign compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Al Qaeda was blamed for the attacks, which were carried out by 15 Saudi citizens. Robert Jordan, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, accused Saudi Arabia of ignoring a recent request for more security in Riyadh, and the State Department warned of Bali-style bombings in Malaysia.Toronto Star A truck bomb in Chechnya killed 41 people, and 18New York Times Shell gas stations were bombed in Karachi, Pakistan.The Hindu Seattle and Chicago staged simulated terrorist attacks.New York Times In Taipei, Taiwan, a man drove a truck containing 15 barrels of gasoline into the Ministry of Transport building, killing himself and setting the building on fire.New York TimesForty-one people died in simultaneous suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco; the targets included a Jewish community center and the Casa de Espańa club.New York TimesIsraeli prime minister Ariel Sharon cancelled a meeting with George W. Bush in response to a new round of suicide attacks and restated his long-standing position that Israel will make peace with the Palestinians only after there is peace with the Palestinians.New York Times

Fifty-one Democratic state legislators fled Texas for Oklahoma to prevent the Texas House of Representatives from achieving a quorum; Texas Rangers were sent to fetch them, and theFt. Worth Star TelegramDepartment of Homeland Security admitted that it had been enlisted to track down the fugitives.New York Times People named “David Nelson” were having a hard time getting on airplanes because that name now appears on a federal anti-terrorism “no fly” list. Applied Digital Solutions announced that it has tested a prototype GPS tracking device designed to be implanted in a person.New Scientist Former president Gerald Ford experienced a dizzy spell.Associated Press A proposal was published in Nature to send a grapefruit-sized probe to the center of the Earth using the world’s largest nuclear bomb and 10 billion tons of molten iron.New ScientistNew York TimesThe Federal Reserve issued a warning about “the probability of an unwelcome substantial fall in inflation.” A new study found that widespread industrial-fishing operations have succeeded in reducing by 90 percent the world’s population of large tasty fish such as tuna, swordfish, blue marlin, and cod.New Scientist Governor Jeb Bush of Florida asked a court to appoint a guardian to safeguard the rights of a fetus.New York TimesWhite House aides asked people listening to a speech by the president to take off their ties so that they would look like the regular folks who the president claims will be the primary beneficiaries of his latest tax cut for the wealthy.New York Times The British government issued a special set of stamps bearing the face of Prince William, who turned 21,Reuters and admitted that medical authorities had stolen 22,000 brains from dead bodies between 1970 and 1999.New York Times Tommy Chong pled guilty in a Pittsburgh court to paraphernalia charges for conspiring to sell bongs.BBC The Wall Street Journal reported that women are sexually attracted to the Commander in Chief. “Hot? SO HOT!!!!! THAT UNIFORM!” said one New York mom. Said another: “I mean, that swagger. George Bush in a pair of jeans is a treat to watch.”Wall Street Journal

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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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