Weekly Review — November 11, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they were dropping lawsuits against 50 power plants for violating the Clean Air Act, because newly weakened enforcement rules have undermined the cases; theNew York TimesBush Administration previously had promised that the lawsuits would continue after the rules change.New York TimesThe state attorneys general of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which are downwind from many of the plants, promised to sue the polluters directly.New York TimesA new study found that tiny golden “nano-bullets” could be used in the future to destroy cancer tumors.New ScientistEnvironmentalists sued the federal government to force it to protect the flat-tailed horned lizard,New York Timesand Prince Charles denied the latest rumor about his sexual proclivities but failed to mention what he was accused of doing. Newspapers in Britain, where libel laws are very strong, have been unable to print the substance of the rumor, though they have repeatedly run the same photograph of Prince Charles standing alone in a field with another man.New York TimesYukos Oil, the Russian company whose chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested last month, was being investigated for allegedly mistreating pigs and permitting rabbit “couplings [to] take place unsystematically.”ReutersThe Federal Communications Commission decreed that after 2005 all digital television receivers must respond to a “broadcast flag” copyright mechanism to prevent unauthorized redistribution of movies and TV shows; computer scientists predicted that the mechanism will be defeated and that the copy protection will simply prevent legitimate uses.New ScientistChickenresearchers found that cockerels “allocate sperm differently according to the quality of copulation”; new mates tend to receive more sperm than familiar partners, and the cocks also increase their sperm deposits in the presence of other males. The study was conducted by putting a special harness on females to collect fresh ejaculate.New Scientist

President George W. Bush gave a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C., and asked Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to please try to be more democratic. The president alluded to the fact that the United States has for sixty years supported dictatorships in the Middle East but said that, “in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.”New York TimesPaul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, said that Palestinians should “adopt the ways of Gandhi.”Times of IndiaIsraeli soldiers shot dead a ten-year-old Palestinian boy who apparently wandered into a forbidden area while he was trying to catch birds.New York TimesA racingcamelsold for $286,000 in Oman.Agence France-PresseA suicide car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killed 17 people, including 5 children, in a housing compound inhabited by foreign workers. Al Qaeda was blamed for the attack.Associated PressSix U.S. soldiers died when their Black Hawk helicopter exploded in midair near Tikrit; there was speculation that a rocket-propelled grenade was responsible.New York TimesU.S. forces responded with airstrikes, the first in Iraq since May 1, when the president dressed up as a fighter pilot and declared victory.ReutersPresident Bush, who has refused to comment directly on the daily casualties in Iraq and has not attended a single funeral for a soldier killed there, traveled to California to inspect the damage from the recent wildfires and was photographed hugging a woman who lost her home.New York TimesThe White House communications director said that the American people want “the commander in chief to have proper perspective, and keep his eye on the big picture and the ball.”New York Times

The Department of Defense informed 43,000 additional reserve and national-guard troops that they should prepare for battle.New York TimesThe Bush Administration was looking to fill vacancies on local draft boards, although Pentagon officials denied that the government plans to reinstate the draft.GuardianA new study found that beer does not cause beer bellies.ReutersAn American paleontologist found evidence that ancient hominids used toothpicks made of grass.New ScientistHoward Dean decided to pull out of the public campaign-financing system to avoid spending limits.Associated PressThe Voyager I spacecraft was approaching the “termination shock,” a turbulent region near the edge of the solar system.New York TimesEbola fever was killing people in the Congo.ReutersPresident Bush, surrounded by ten smiling white men in dark suits, signed a bill outlawing the rare abortion procedure known as “intact dilation and extraction.” He said that America “owes its children a different and better welcome.”New York TimesFederal judges in Nebraska and New York blocked enforcement of the ban.New York TimesFederal Express workers in St. Louis discovered human body parts in a leaky package.St. Louis TodayIt was reported that the human immune system produces ozone gas.Globe and MailMarine biologists traced a strange submarine farting sound to bubbles that were observed coming from a herring’s anus; it was the first discovery of a fish making a sound (which has been labeled a “fast repetitive tick,” or FRT) with its anus.New ScientistA dog shot a man in France.Reuters

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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.

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