Weekly Review — February 10, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]
Caught in the Web, 1860.

President George W. Bush, apparently worried that John Kerry was beating him in recent opinion polls, appeared on a Sunday morning talk show. Bush defended his decision to conquerIraq, and although he admitted that his stated reason for invading was false, he also suggested that weapons of mass destruction might still be found. The president said that he had total confidence in the CIA but suggested that he had been misled by incorrect intelligence. “Saddam Hussein was dangerous with weapons. Saddam Hussein was dangerous with the ability to make weapons,” Bush said. “I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It’s too late if they become imminent.”ReutersSecretary of State Colin Powell said that he might not have supported the invasion of Iraq if he had known that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction; within a few days he corrected himself and affirmed that the president had made the right decision no matter what the facts really were.New York TimesAttorney General John Ashcroft said that Saddam Hussein’s use of “evil chemistry” and “evil biology” justified the war.Associated PressHans Blix, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, said that Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair had acted like insincere car salesmen in their exaggerations of the Iraqi threat.GuardianJohn Kerry noted that “now the president is giving us a new reason for sending people to war. And the problem is not just that he is changing his story now. It is that it appears he was telling the American people stories in 2002.”San Jose Mercury NewsA new study found that men cause more pain than women.New ScientistGenetic engineers succeeded in causing mice to produce fish oils, which are thought to be healthy.New ScientistHalliburton agreed to repay the government for $27.4 million in overcharges for military meals.Washington PostA bomb blew up on the Moscow subway.New York Times

President Bush submitted a $2.4 trillion budget to Congress but failed to include the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget, which projects a record $521 billion deficit, calls for big increases in military spending and cuts for programs that help people without much political influence.New York TimesThe dollar continued to fall.ReutersThe Group of 7 declared that “excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates are undesirable for economic growth.”New York TimesUnrest continued in Haiti.ReutersThe FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force subpoenaed Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, to hand over records concerning an antiwar conference sponsored by the university and the National Lawyers Guild.National Lawyers GuildIvan Rybkin, a Russian presidential candidate who recently took out a full-page newspaper ad accusing President Vladimir Putin of being “the biggest oligarch in Russia,” disappeared; a murder investigation was announced, and then it was cancelled.CNNRicin, a powerful poison made from castor beans, was found in the mailroom of Senate majority leader Bill Frist, whoAssociated Presssaid that “it is impossible” to make sure that all Americans have health insurance.New York TimesIsrael attempted the assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader by firing a missile at his car in Gaza City but succeeded only in killing an aide and a 14-year-old bystander.BBCIsraeli police questioned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in connection with a bribery investigation.New York TimesThe Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered the state to permit homosexual marriages; Republicans were delighted.Associated PressIt was revealed that two male chinstrap penguins in New York’s Central Park zoo have been homosexual lovers for years. They once tried to hatch a rock, and when their keeper gave them a fertile egg to hatch “they did a great job” raising the chick. Scientists, it was noted, have observed homosexuality in more than 450 species.GuardianPrince Charles visited Iraq and Iran.Reuters

The Bush Administration praised Pakistan after General Pervez Musharraf pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan, the nuclear scientist who took the blame for selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea; Khan claimed that no one in the government or in the military was aware of his activities.MSNBCMusharraf said that Khan “is still my hero; he is still high in the sky for me.”New York TimesNorth Korea agreed to resume talks with the United States.New York TimesThe Ohiosniper continued to shoot at cars, andNew York TimesSenator John Kerry continued to win primaries.Washington PostTaiwan’shookers held a rally in Taipei and called for legalized prostitution.BBCAn American Airlines pilot on a flight from Los Angeles to New York asked Christians to raise their hands and told non-Christians that they were crazy.BBCPolice in Peru said that a decapitated baby boy found near Lake Titicaca, on a hill surrounded with flowers, liquor, and blood, might have been sacrificed to a pre-Colombian earth god.GuardianA British company was selling MP3 players designed to be attached to Kalashnikov rifles; the player, which replaces the ammunition clip on the rifle, holds 3,000 audio books or 9,000 songs.News.com.auA new study found that many organic food products sold in the UK contain genetically modified ingredients.Nature.comResearchers at DeCODE Genetics in Iceland found a gene that doubles one’s risk of heart attack.New York PostA former EPA microbiologist testified that the agency knowingly used bad data to reject a petition to prohibit the use of sewage sludge (known euphemistically as “biosolids”) as fertilizer.CBS NewsThe worker at Vern’s Moses Lake Meats who killed the Washington State mad cow insisted that the cow was not a downer. “I can’t stand a government cover-up,” said Dave Louthan. “Since we only had a few walkers on this trailer full of downers, we just killed her along with them. We took a brain sample from her head because the USDA gives up $10 per sample. If we would have unloaded her in the pens, we would have never caught the BSE. How many other walkers have BSE? We will never know.” Columbia Basin HeraldA panel of international experts said that mad cow disease is now “indigenous in North America” and advised the United States to ban feeding animal protein to cattle. The panel’s chairman said that if the U.S. performed adequate tests it could find “a case a month.”New York TimesFoot and mouth disease was killing cattle and pigs in Vietnam.ReutersBird flu jumped the species barrier to pigs, andIndependentPrime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand declared that Saturday was “Eat Chicken Day.”BBC

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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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