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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Judge Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Bush Administration has no right to withhold the identities of people it has detained as part of the September 11 investigation, and she gave the government 15 days to release the names. “The first priority of the judicial branch,” she said, “must be to ensure that our government always operates within the statutory and constitutional constraints which distinguish a democracy from a dictatorship,” and such oversight in this case is currently impossible. “Secret arrests are a concept odious to a democratic society,” she added, and “as of this moment the public does not know how many persons the government has arrested and detained as part of its September 11 investigation, nor does it know who most of them are, where they are, and whether they are represented by counsel.” A British court ruled that a law used to detain foreigners without charging them with crimes was discriminatory, disproportionate, and illegal. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened hearings on whether to invade Iraq, which this week invited United Nations arms inspectors to Baghdad for talks. Senator Trent Lott claimed that President Bush does not need congressional approval to invade Iraq since he was given the authority last fall to pursue military action against Al Qaeda. The senator said that he “suspects” there are Al Qaeda elements in Iraq. President Bush signed a corporate crime bill and declared an end to the era of “easy money for corporate criminals.” Two former executives at WorldCom were arrested and paraded in handcuffs before photographers. A federal judge told the White House that specific reasons must be given for withholding records from Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, which are being sought in a lawsuit charging that energy companies had inappropriate influence on the proceedings, and that claims of “executive privilege” are not sufficient. Little Richard announced that he would retire from rock and roll at the end of the year.

Coptic and Ethiopian priests at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem had a fistfight and threw rocks at one another in a dispute over whether an old Coptic priest would be allowed to sit in the shade of a courtyard controlled by the Ethiopians. A teenage suicide bomber killed himself and injured five others at a falafel stand in Jerusalem. Jewish settlers ran amok in Hebron and killed a Palestinian child. A backpack blew up in a cafeteria at Hebrew University’s Frank Sinatra Student Center; seven people were killed, including five Americans, and more than 80 were injured. A bomb blew up a commuter bus in Galilee, killing nine people; five more Israelis were killed in other attacks the same day, all of which were said to be in retaliation for the assassination last week of a Hamas leader in which 14 other Palestinians, including nine children, were killed. Israel demolished several homes belonging to relatives of past suicide bombers in an attempt, officials said, to deter future attacks. A large pod of pilot whales was stranded on beaches in Cape Cod and died despite attempts to rescue them. After violent protests by peasants armed with machetes, the Mexican government called off plans to confiscate the peasants’ lands and build an airport on them. Rwanda’s and Congo’s presidents shook hands, smiled shyly at each other, and tried to make peace. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who created the AK-47 automatic rifle, said he wishes he had invented a better lawnmower instead. Three 12-year-olds in England were arrested, fingerprinted, and forced to give DNA samples for playing cops and robbers using a toy gun. A British teenager was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for cutting the heart out of his 90-year-old neighbor and drinking her blood. There were riots in Caracas, Venezuela. A ghost was said to be pinching women’s bottoms in northern India. Pamplona, Spain, held its first annual running of the ostriches.

The French were considering banning pornography from television. A French pornographer who also writes children’s novels attacked the proposed ban: “Porn is one of the fruits of the youth uprising of May 1968,” he wrote, “and it is a precious cultural asset.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defying the Bush Administration, approved the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Ten thousand bras were stetched out along six miles of the Las Vegas Strip to raise awareness of breast cancer. Queen Elizabeth II visited a mosque and took off her shoes; she was the first reigning British monarch to do so. Janet Reno, who is running for governor in Florida, booked Elton John to sing at a fund raiser. Former congressman James Traficant, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for corruption, was forced to remove his hairpiece during a routine search at the jail where he is currently being held. A study found that hairdressers have an increased risk of giving birth to small babies. Iran’s Education Ministry decreed that students and teachers in girls’ schools may remove their veils in the classroom; Jomhuri-e-Islami, a conservative newspaper, denounced the ruling: “The aim of this plan is to encourage nudity.” A Canadian man successfully killed a mountain lion that attacked him from behind, badly injuring his head and face, by using a small folding pocket knife. The scientist who invented clumping cat litter and liquid paper died. A plague of grasshoppers was eating the paint off houses in Nebraska.

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November 2008

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