Weekly Review — March 2, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: In the Fiery Furnace]

The British government declined to prosecute Katharine Gun, the linguist who leaked a United States National Security Agency memo asking British intelligence to spy on United Nations diplomats before the invasion of Iraq; there was speculation that the government was trying to avoid another embarrassing debate about the legality of the war.New York TimesClare Short, a Labor member of parliament who resigned from the Blair cabinet over Iraq, charged that British agents had spied on United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan just before the invasion of Iraq, and said that she had seen transcripts of Annan’s conversations.IndependentAnnan was said to be “disappointed” at the revelation.New York TimesIt was revealed that Hans Blix’s conversations in Iraq were bugged, andBloombergRichard Butler said that when he was chief U.N.weapons inspector he had to meet contacts in Central Park because he knew that his telephone conversations were routinely intercepted.CNNBritain’s top law-enforcement minister called for an expansion of domestic surveillance to combat terrorism.New York TimesU.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige said that the National Education Association is a “terrorist organization” because it opposes the president’s education policies, andCNNChina accused Hong Kong’s leading opposition party of being unpatriotic.New York TimesPentagon officials said that Guantnamo detainees who are found innocent might still be kept in detention indefinitely if they are deemed a security risk.BBCTwo Guantnamo prisoners were formally charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, and Amnesty International and other human rights groups were told that they will not be permitted to attend the military tribunals, because there just aren’t enough seats.New York Times

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled Haiti as a rebel army of thugs and former death-squad members approached Port-au-Prince, which was being terrorized by thugs loyal to the president; President Bush sent in the Marines to prepare for a multinational peacekeeping force.ReutersIraq’s governing council approved an interim constitution.GuardianTreasury Department officials have declared that it is a criminal offense to edit writings from countries under a trade embargo, such as Cuba or Iran.New York TimesThe Senate was considering a bill to give gunmakers immunity from prosecution, and theSan Francisco Chroniclechairman of the board of Smith & Wesson resigned after it was discovered that he is a convicted bank robber.Arizona RepublicUtah’s legislature voted to do away with the firing squad.New York TimesRussian president Vladimir Putin fired his prime minister and most of his cabinet.CNNGypsies rioted in Slovakia.New York TimesA mosque was set on fire in Houston, andNew York TimesIsraeli forces seized millions of dollars from two Jordanian banks in the West Bank.Al JazeeraFishermen in the Galpagos Islands were holding about 30 scientists and a number of giant tortoises hostage.BBCAfghan president Hamid Karzai declared that the Taliban has finally been defeated, andNew York TimesTaliban soldiers were going house to house in the village of Shah Joy, in the Zabul province, searching for Karzai supporters to kill.PakTribune.comFans of the Chicago Cubs baseball team blew up the ball they blamed for the Cubs’ humiliating failure to win the National League Championship last year.New York TimesThe United States government was working to build safer land mines.New York Times

President Bush came out in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gaymarriage.CNNThe Justice Department issued subpoenas to Planned Parenthood for abortion records, andNew York Timesthe U.S. House of Representatives voted to give legal protection to human fetuses.CNNIvory Coast confirmed a new case of polio; tests confirmed that the polio originated in Nigeria, which has resisted vaccination programs for religious reasons.ReutersA large beef producer in Kansas applied to test all its cattle for mad cow disease so that it can resume exporting its beef to Japan. “The problem we’re having now is that the U.S.D.A. is not wanting to do this,” said the company’s president. “They don’t want to test. They don’t want to recognize BSE is a problem. They are not going to allow anyone to test until they decide how or when. We believe that may be never.”New York TimesA scientist with the Department of Agriculture said that government researchers have been pressured by the office of Secretary Ann Veneman to approvelivestock and other products for import without taking proper safety precautions.New York TimesThe European Union banned live poultry and eggs from the United States because of the bird-flu outbreak, and the United States banned all French meat and poultry.New York TimesShoko Asahara, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which released sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, was sentenced to death, eight years after his trial began.BBCThe prosecution rested its case against Slobodan Milosevic in his genocide trial.New York TimesThe FBI was investigating whether it withheld or destroyed evidence pertaining to the Oklahoma Citybombing.New York TimesThe government of Thailand was cracking down on nightlife, andInternational Herald TribuneFinland lowered its alcohol tax.ReutersPrince Naruhito of Japan said that his wife, Crown Princess Masako, has been exhausted by royal life, and aAssociated Pressstudy of the stock portfolios of U.S. senators found that first-time senators beat the market by 20 percent on average; the portfolios of all senators averaged 12 percent better than the market.New York Times Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were said to be killing people, draining their blood, and stealing their genitals.BBCResearchers at the University of California successfully created a microrobot powered by living heart muscle.New ScientistFrench researchers concluded that oral sex can lead to oral cancer.New ScientistTwo polar bears in the Singapore zoo turned green.CNN

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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:

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“Now may be the unlikeliest time for us to grow a conscience about how our rapacity is endangering other species, since we’re now aware of how frightfully our rapacity is endangering us.”
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