Weekly Review — November 4, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Iraqi guerrillas hiding in a grove of date palms shot down an American military helicopter near Fallujah; 16 died and 20 were wounded. Most of the soldiers were leaving Iraq on furlough. Two civilian contractors and one U.S. soldier were killed the same day by roadside bombs. “In a long war,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “we are going to have tragic days. But they’re necessary.”Associated PressTrent Lott suggested that more U.S. troops be moved to the area around Tikrit. “Honestly, it’s a little tougher than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You’re dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”The HillPresident Bush denied that his political operatives had been responsible for the erection of the “Mission Accomplished” banner that flew behind him on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, when he dressed up like a fighter pilot and declared victory in Iraq. He said that his advance men “weren’t that ingenious” and that the banner was put up by crew members, “saying that their mission was accomplished.” Scott McClellan, the president’s press secretary, later admitted that the banner was in fact created by the White House.New York TimesShoko Asahara, the guru of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, claimed that he had lost control of his followers shortly before they released nerve gas in the Tokyosubway eight years ago.Associated PressPopulation ecologists concluded that the famous boom and bust cycle in the lemming population is a result of predation.New York TimesAmerican scientists deliberately engineered a new extra-deadly form of mousepox; much the same thing has been done with cowpox and rabbitpox.New ScientistHistorians were upset that the Smithsonian Institution’s new exhibit of the Enola Gay bomber fails to mention that the B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.New York TimesThe CIA celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Directorate of Science and Technology by exhibiting such devices as a mechanical dragonfly listening device and a 24-inch-long artificial catfish; the exhibit was not open to the public.Reuters

Israel’s highest-ranking military officer, Lt. Gen Moshe Yaalon, declared that his country’s policy toward the Palestinians is making things worse. “It increases hatred for Israel and strengthens the terror organizations,” he said. “In our tactical decisions, we are operating contrary to our strategic interest.”New York TimesThe Bush Administration indicated that it has no plans for a “regime change” in Iran.New York TimesArnold Schwarzenegger paid a visit to Washington, D.C., where he posed for pictures with lawmakers and signed autographs for congressional pages.New York TimesThe French government unveiled a plan to make the French more European.New York TimesMembers of the House Ways and Means Committee decided to give tax relief to manufacturers of bows and arrows; makers of fishing tackle boxes were also expected to see relief, as were liquor and wine distributors and movie studios.New York TimesDonald Rumsfeld was asked whether he’s lost his “mojo“; the defense secretary responded that he didn’t know, because he didn’t know what mojo means.ReutersA gang of Catholic schoolgirls chased down and pummeled a flasher in Philadelphia.CNNIn Mississippi, a woman driver penetrated President Bush’s security and crashed her car into a wall about 50 feet from where the president was sitting in his limo.New York TimesA clown robbed a bank in Virginia.Ananova

A new study from the Center for Public Integrity revealed that the 70 companies that have benefited the most from $8 billion in government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan collectively contributed more than $500,000 to President Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.Boston Globe, New York TimesCongressional negotiators stripped a measure criminalizing war profiteering from the final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq.U.S. Newswire, Office of Sen. Patrick LeahyIsraeli police questioned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for seven hours as part of two corruption investigations.New York TimesArgentina’s presidential jet was grounded, forcing President Néstor Kirchner to take a commercial flight, after two of his three pilots were removed as part of a crackdown on corruption.ReutersRussian financial markets dropped after police arrested the country’s richest man, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the CEO of Yukos Oil, on charges of fraud and tax evasion.New York TimesPrime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who is considered pro-business, said he was “deeply concerned” about the case, but experts agreed that most Russians hate the rich.New York TimesThe Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary conclusion that clones are safe to eat; it was noted that some companies plan to use clones’ milk to manufacture pharmaceuticals.New York TimesShropshire lads were warned by British police to stop throwing eggs or face prosecution; parents were asked to keep a close watch on the household egg supply, and police cautioned shopkeepers to be suspicious of egg-buying children.BBCAn alligator got loose in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet in Newark, New Jersey.Associated PressThe Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop,Associated Pressand Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, released a new CD of love songs.ReutersResearchers from the University of Chicago reported that male Guinea baboons fiddle with one another’s genitals when they perform a complex greeting ritual; the fiddling follows face pulling and rump presentation. White-faced capuchin monkeys, in contrast, stick their fingers up one another’s noses.Nature.comA horde of rhesus macaques was tormenting workers in New Delhi, and neuroscientistsReutersdetermined that motherhood makes female ratssmarter, calmer, and more courageous.Reuters

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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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