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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


The United States Commission on Civil Rights released its report on the Floridaelection, concluding that blacks were widely disenfranchised by the actions of state officials and calling for an investigation by the Justice Department. After the National Academy of Sciences, in a report requested by President Bush, confirmed that global warming is in fact real, the White House was forced to disappoint its stockholders in the petroleum industry and acknowledge that climate change is an “issue that nations do need to deal withâ??all nations, industrialized nations, the United States, developing nations, as well.” President Bush went off to Europe, where he is viewed, according to a senior administration official, as a “shallow, arrogant, gun-loving, abortion-hating, Christian fundamentalist Texan buffoon.” SenateMajority Leader Tom Daschle, perhaps seeking to demonstrate the true grit of his party, promised that Democrats would not block President Bush’s judicial nomineesâ??unlike the Republicans, who blocked almost half the judges appointed by Bill Clinton.”I don’t believe in it,” Daschle said.”We have to break the cycle.” Trent Lott, the outgoing Senate majority leader, wrote a memo to his Republican colleagues declaring war on the Democrats. The World Meteorological Organization, after protests from Jewish groups, removed “Israel” from the list of potential names of hurricanes. Tropical storm Allison flooded Houston, killing over a dozen people. The United States Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a retarded Texan. A deranged man with a kitchen knife invaded a Japanese elementary school and killed eight children. “I hate everything,” he told police. “I tried to commit suicide several times but could not die. I wanted to be arrested and executed by the death penalty.” A judge turned down Timothy McVeigh’s request for a stay of execution, whereupon he was put to death; his last meal consisted of two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream.

A former federal prosecutor was sentenced to two years probation for withholding evidence that the F.B.I. used pyrotechnic tear gas canisters in the Waco siege, where 80 Branch Davidians died in a fire; the government claims the fire was set by cult members. Three Guatemalan military officers were sentenced to 30 years in prison for crushing the head of a Roman Catholic bishop in 1998, a few days after he issued a report blaming the military for the deaths of some 200,000 people. Carlos Castaño, the leader of the United Self-Defense Forces, an army of death squads that terrorize Colombia, said he was retiring to devote more time to poisoning the legitimate political process. Britain’s Labour Party defeated the Tories; William Hague, the Conservative leader, resigned. Roughly 10,000 gallons of raw sewage were spilled into a trout-spawning stream in Yellowstone National Park. The EPA decided how much radioactive waste would be allowed to leak from the proposed dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Documents revealed that for thirty years, beginning in the 1950s, the United States and Britain imported the cremated bones of Australian babies to test them for strontium 90, an indication that radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests had penetrated their bones. The tests were positive. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said that the White House was willing to deploy anti-missile defensetechnology before it was proved to work. A jury awarded $6.4 million to the family of a man who killed his wife, his daughter, and his grandchild after taking Paxil, an antidepressant; GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures the drug, was surprised by the verdict. A jury ordered Philip Morris to pay $3 billion to a former heroin addict who was unable to quit smoking and developed lung cancer.

Disney World agreed to let its employees wear their own underwear beneath their costumes; workers had complained of catching lice, crabs, and scabies from the communal underpants. The half-brother of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder lost his job as a sewage worker. Australia was vaccinatingsheep and cattle to prevent farting, which emits methane, a potent gas that contributes to global warming. Mad cow disease showed up in the Czech Republic. Mad Catz, a manufacturer of peripherals for computer games, was developing a controller, called Bioforce, which delivers electric shocks to players. An Israeli received a new heart from a Palestinian man whose family said he was killed by Jewish settlers. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System to help fat people lose weight. Japan claimed that since whales eat so much fish, an increase in whaling would protect the world’s fisheries. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange stopped for over an hour because of a software upgrade. Intel made a transistor just 80 atoms wide. Turkey banned the posting of falsehoods on the Internet. Rockets Redglare, the actor, died, as did Anthony Quinn. Moscow was covered in pukh.

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November 2008

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