Weekly Review — August 12, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Liberian civilians were starving in their homes as rebels and government fighters, some wearing women’s wigs and blue painted toenails, continued to fight for control of Monrovia; a small number of Nigerian peacekeepers arrived in the country, and a United States official said that American forces would provide “communications assistance” to the peacekeepers and might even go ashore.Guardian, Associated Press, New York TimesPresident Charles Taylor resigned, blaming all his troubles on the United States, and compared himself to Jesus Christ;NewsdayVice President Moses Blah was sworn in as his successor.GuardianScientists in New York found that kind people are more likely to yawn when someone else does.Nature.comDemocratic lawmakers from Texas were still on the run in New Mexico.Associated PressTwo workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory were accidentally exposed to plutonium, and theNewsdayArmy denied that depleted uranium was causing the mysterious outbreak of pneumonia among American soldiers in Iraq.Springfield News LeaderAt least 16 people died and more than 150 were wounded in a car-bomb attack on a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.New York TimesSeventeen people died in a car-bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, and President Bush told reporters down at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, that his men were making “good progress” in Iraq.New York TimesL. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, said he thought the bombing was carried out by “outside” forces because he wasn’t sure the “ex-regime people” who have been shooting U.S. soldiers had the know-how to make a car bomb.New York TimesEngineers from the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that the mobile laboratories found in Iraq were probably used to make hydrogen for weather balloons, just as Iraqi scientists have claimed.New York TimesGeneral Richard Sanchez said that he was scaling back aggressive roundups of Iraqis in the search for Saddam Hussein and Baath Party loyalists because he was afraid that “maybe our iron-fisted approach to the conduct of ops was beginning to alienate Iraqis. I started to get those sensings from multiple sources.”New York TimesA mob attacked a brothel in Basra and smashed cases of beer in the street.New York Times

It was reported that Floridapolice are building an “antiterrorism” database called Matrix that will be used to detect patterns of suspicious activity among the citizenry; the system, which will be partially financed with federal funds, is remarkably similar to the Pentagon’s Terrorist Information Awareness program. Mayor Anthony Williams of Washington, D.C., said that District police are working with police in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York to build a similar data-mining system.Washington PostArnold Schwarzenegger appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and announced his candidacy for governor in the California recall election; other candidates include the former child-actor Gary Coleman, the pornographer Larry Flynt, a porn star named Mary Carey, and Arianna Huffington, a newspaper columnist.”This is America,” said Carey.”I am just as dignified as Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I can speak English.”CNN.comJerry Springer, the talk-show host, decided not to run for the Senate in Ohio.CNN.comIt was discovered that the spittlebug can jump more than 100 times its body length.New ScientistA recent Powerball lottery winner recovered more than $500,000 that was stolen from his pickup, which was parked outside a strip club in West Virginia.Associated PressA man in southern Illinois was charged with raping one horse and killing another.Associated PressMike Tyson declared bankruptcy.New York Times

Leaders of the Episcopal Church approved a gay bishop and said that individual churches could choose to bless same-sex unions; a group of conservative bishops called for the creation of a new Anglican province in the United States where homosexuality would remain a bona fide sin.New York TimesA Roman Catholic bishop in Canada warned that Jean Chrétien might burn in hell for legalizing gay marriage.New York TimesThe Archdiocese of Boston offered to pay $55 million to settle the lawsuits of 542 people who were sexually molested by priests, and aNew York Times forty-year-old Vatican document was discovered that commands “perpetual silence” and secrecy in dealing with priests who have sexual contact with “youths of either sex or with brute animals.”CBSNews.comThe United States Army began incinerating millions of pounds of chemical weapons in a small town in Alabama; nearby residents, who have been assured that the process is completely safe, were issued protective hoods.New York TimesA congressional report recommended eliminating the government’s color-coded terrorist alert system, and itNew York Timeswas reported that the Pentagon has awarded a $500,000 grant to researchers to develop genetically engineered trees that will change color in the event of a biological- or chemical-weapons attack.Associated PressWest Nile virus cases in the United States tripled in one week,New Scientistand atleast 12 whales died off Cape Cod, possibly from red-tide toxins or from damage caused by naval sonar.Nature.comNew evidence suggested that men who wear tight neckties are at greater risk of eye disease and blindness.New ScientistThailand announced that it will start using lethal injection to execute prisoners instead of shooting them with a machine gun while they hold a stick of incense and a lotus blossom.Agence France-PresseAustralian and American researchers created a robot, located in Perth, Australia, that is controlled by a rat brain in Atlanta; they called their creation a “semi-living artist.”BBCAstronomers said that a ten-year galactic dust storm will soon envelope the Earth.New ScientistAn Italian woman died of mad cow disease.Agence France-PresseIt was hot in Europe, and wildChicago Sun-Timesfires were spreading across western Canada.New York TimesScientists discovered that the sky is rising.Nature.com

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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.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

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