Weekly Review — September 30, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

At the request of the CIA, the Justice Department began investigating charges that the White House leaked the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press in retaliation for remarks by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, challenging President Bush’sclaim that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium in Africa. An unnamed administration official told the Washington Post that two White House officials had revealed the agent’s identity to at least six journalists. “Clearly,” the official said, “it was meant purely and simply for revenge.” The White House denied that Karl Rove was responsible for the leak, which was a violation of the Intelligence Protection Act and carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.Washington Post Attorney General John Ashcroft instructed federal prosecutors to stop making plea bargains and go for the “most serious, readily provable offense.”New York TimesPresident Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly and devoted a surprising portion of his speech to the global sex trade, which he unambiguously condemned.CNNFrench president Jacques Chirac and foreign minister Dominique Villepin stood in line at a dinner party in New York to have their pictures taken with President Bush.New York TimesVladimir Putin visited President Bush at Camp David; “Pootie-Poot,” as he is known by the president, refused to cancel Russia’s $800 million contract to build a commercial nuclear reactor for Iran.New York TimesA new poll found that President Bush’s approval rating was down to 50 percent, and that he was in a statistical tie with most of the Democratic candidates.Associated PressColin Powell gave Iraqis six months to come up with a new constitution.New York TimesL. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, was having a hard time explaining to Congress why he needs so much money. In an attempt to explain a $400 million request for two 4,000-bed prisons, which comes to $50,000 per bed, Bremer explained that there is a “shortage of cement” in Iraq.Financial TimesMongolian troops returned to Baghdad for the first time since 1258, when Hulegu, a grandson of Genghis Khan, destroyed the city and killed 800,000 people.New York TimesDonald Rumsfeld claimed that the president’s $87 billion request for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan constituted an “exit strategy.”Financial TimesIt was reported that U.S. casket companies have started building extra-large coffins. “The economic opportunity exists until the country changes,” said one coffin maker. “We’re just reacting to the supersizing of America.”New York Times

The International Monetary Fund called for the destruction of Afghanistan’s poppy fields, which supply a $2.5 billion opium export industry. The fund said that opium accounts for up to 50 percent of the Afghan economy.ReutersRanking members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence criticized the Bush Administration for basing its case for the invasion of Iraq on piecemeal, out of date, deficient intelligence.Washington PostAdministration officials tried to play down a disappointing progress report by the American team searching Iraq for signs of weapons of mass destruction.New York TimesThe Defense Intelligence Agency concluded in an internal assessment that most of the information received from Iraqi defectors before the war was completely useless.New York TimesIraq’s governing council announced that it was opening the entire Iraqi economy, including essential services such as electricity, telecommunications, and health, to foreign investors. Taxes and trade tariffs will be cut, though oil and other natural resources will be exempt from the new policy.IndependentA U.S. Army chaplain was arrested on suspicion of being a Muslim spy.IndependentThe Computer and Communications Industry Association released a report warning that the government’s growing reliance on Microsoft operating systems and software was exposing federal computer networks to “massive, cascading failures.” The author of the report was fired the next day by his employer, a consulting firm that does business with Microsoft.CCIA, Associated PressThe recording industry let it be known that it was promoting a “stealing is bad” curriculum for the nation’s schools that will include classes on the history of copyright and games such as Starving Artist, a role-playing game in which children pretend to be musicians who no longer receive royalties because their work has been copied on the Internet.New York TimesA 16-year-old boy in Spokane, Washington, was wounded by police officers after he barricaded himself in a classroom with a pistol;New York Timesin Minnesota, a high school freshman shot and killed one student and severely wounded another;New York Timesand an eighth-grade North Carolina boy fired two shots at school but hurt no one.Associated PressThe American Defense Threat Reduction Agency was keeping a close watch on Scottish whiskey makers.BBCThe smog was bad in southern California.Associated Press

Six thousand Segway scooters were recalled because they tend to throw their riders when the battery gets low. President Bush was photographed falling off one of the $4,950 scooters in June, though he had simply neglected to turn it on.New York TimesA meteorite injured five Indians near the Bay of Bengal.Agence France-PresseAll nine members of NASA’s safety advisory panel resigned.New York TimesEurope sent a probe to the moon.ReutersAustralian health authorities warned that ice-cube enemas, which some people have been using in an attempt to revive people who have overdosed on the drug GHB, are bad for you. One expert told a gay newspaper that unexpectedly inserting an object into someone’s rectum could cause a “vagal” reaction and stop the flow of blood to the brain.News.com.auScientists announced that the 3,000-year-old Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has broken up; it formerly covered 150 square miles and was the largest ice shelf in the Arctic.ReutersThe Industrial Christian Fellowship, a Christian think tank, said that financial workers don’t get enough prayer support and called on believers to pray for bankers and stockbrokers.ReutersCharlton Heston was named as the first recipient of the Charlton Heston Prize.BBCThe Bush Administration relaxed regulations governing nursing homes so that people with only one day of training can feed patients who are unable to feed themselves.New York TimesWitchcraftkillings and mutilations were on the rise in South Africa.New York TimesIt was reported that the federal government is aggressively using antiterrorism laws to prosecute ordinary criminals.New York TimesRed Lobster fired its chief executive after an all-you-can-eat crab promotion went horribly wrong.Associated PressGeorge Plimpton, Edward Said, and Elia Kazan died.Scientists unveiled a rough draft of the poodle genome.Nature.comFrench researchers announced that the first cloned rats had been born.Bedbugs were making a comeback in the United States.Associated PressZoologists discovered that octopuses can get erections.Nature.com

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For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.

One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.

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