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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
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:
“The 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), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — 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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Science’s crisis of faith