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Former secretary of the treasury Paul O’Neill revealed in a new book that President George W. Bush was already looking for an excuse to invade Iraq during the first few weeks of his presidency. “It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it,” O’Neill said. “The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’”CBS NewsO’Neill said that the very first meeting of the National Security Council involved discussions of a “post-Saddam Iraq,” peacekeeping troops, and war-crimes tribunals. O’Neill provided the book’s author, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, with 19,000 internal documents â?? one of which, from March 5, 2001, was entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” and included a map of Iraqi oil fields listing contractors and countries with interests there.CBS NewsO’Neill also said that Bush was disturbingly disengaged (“like a blind man in a room full of deaf people”) during cabinet meetings, and that many high-ranking administration officials have no idea what the president wants them to do and that they operate on “little more than hunches about what the president might think.”New York TimesThe Carnegie Endowment for International Peace issued a report concluding that Iraq did not in fact possess any weapons of mass destruction. The report, which drew on intelligence material and documents discovered by weapons inspectors after the war, criticized the United States government for its deliberate exaggerations of Iraq’s military capabilities.New ScientistThe Bush Administration withdrew a 400-member weapons-inspection team from Iraq because they are no longer needed, andNew York TimesSecretary of State Colin Powell admitted that he never saw any hard proof of Iraqi links to Al Qaeda but failed to explain why he lied to the U.N. Security Council last February.New York TimesPresident Bush was preparing to announce plans to colonize the Moon and to send astronauts to Mars, officials said, but they were vague about how he intends to pay for the scheme.BBCLockheed Martin and Boeing were said to be enthusiastic.New York TimesThe International Space Station seemed to have sprung a leak.Associated Press
The International Monetary Fund published a report warning that the United States’ budget and trade deficits threaten to destabilize the entire global economy; Bush Administration officials dismissed the report and said that lots of countries run huge budget deficits.New York TimesThe head of the Army Corps of Engineers waived federal contracting requirements for Halliburton’s operations in Iraq that would have required the company to submit cost and pricing information on its gasoline imports even though Halliburton was recently accused of overcharging the government $61 million for gasoline.New York TimesThe United States Transportation Security Administration decreed that passengers may no longer line up to use the toilet on airplanes.Sydney Morning HeraldThe Department of Homeland Security handed out three $2 million contracts to build a missile-defense system to prevent civilian aircraft from being shot down by surface-to-air missiles.New ScientistAnother U.S. helicopter was apparently shot down in Iraq, and 35New York Timessoldiers were wounded when Iraqi guerrillas shelled a U.S. camp west of Baghdad.New York TimesAmerican soldiers killed two Iraqi policemen in Kirkuk, and theNew York TimesTaliban were still killing people in Afghanistan.New York TimesThe United States granted Saddam Hussein status as a prisoner of war.New York TimesThe Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. economy created only 1,000 new jobs in December.New York TimesScientists found that some people are capable of deliberately suppressing memories.New York Times
General Wesley Clark was wearing argyle sweaters at campaign appearances in an attempt to appeal to women voters. The retired general told a reporter that some women have “an impression that the armed forces is a male-dominated, hierarchical, authoritarian institution.”New York TimesSenator Hillary Clinton apologized for joking that Mahatma Gandhi used to run a gas station in St. Louis.CNNMikhail Saakashvili was elected president of Georgia in a huge landslide; early projections showed him winning 96.7 percent of the vote.New York TimesThe prime minister of Greece announced his resignation and said it was time for younger, more daring politicians to take over, andNew York TimesGerman Chancellor Gerhard SchrĂ¶der was chased from a building in Leipzig by a mob of student demonstrators chanting “First education, then games!”BBCThere was a 50-car pileup in Pennsylvania.New York TimesIsrael began building a wall around Jerusalem, using mostly Arab workers, andNew York TimesBritain released plans for new emergency powers that will permit government authorities to ban public gatherings and to destroy or confiscate private property without compensation.New York TimesIt was reported that 18 people died of variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease, last year in Britain, one more than died in 2002.New York TimesAmerican researchers found that farm-raised salmon have ten times the PCB, dioxin, and pesticide contamination of wild salmon. Using EPA risk estimates, the scientists suggested that people eat no more than 110 grams, or about half a normal portion, of Maine salmon a month; Scottish salmon, among the most contaminated in the study, which analyzed fish from all over the world, should be limited to 55 grams a month.New ScientistA large new study found that up to half of all plant and animal species on land could face extinction by 2050 because of global warming.New ScientistThe popularity of herbal medicines, environmentalists warned, threatens to wipe out thousands of wild medicinal plant species.New ScientistChinese authorities were drowning civet cats in chemicals, electrocuting them, and burning them in hopes of preventing further SARS cases; rats, raccoon dogs, and hog badgers are also being exterminated.New York Times, Associated PressBrigitte Bardot was not amused.Associated PressA second case of SARS was reported in China, in a waitress who works in a restaurant that serves civet; the first SARS patient, who has apparently recovered, has had no known contact with civets, but there were reports that he had recently thrown a mouse out his window using chopsticks.New Scientist, New York TimesA wild boar invaded a Berlin apartment and bit the owner on the leg.New York TimesA man wearing a chicken>suit robbed a grocery store in Columbus, Ohio.NBC5.comAustralian physicists concluded that the high notes sung by opera singers are often hard to understand, and aBBCpolitical scientist in New York City perfected the science of cutting cakes.Nature.com
More from Roger D. Hodge:
Number of mine-detecting monkeys erroneously reported to have been given to the United States by Morocco in March:
The Pacific trade winds are weakening as a result of global warming.
In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of oneâ€™s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many timesâ€”in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."