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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


The European Union told countries that hope someday to join the organization that they should refuse to sign agreements with the United States promising never to turn over American soldiers to the International Criminal Court. American officials were upset. “We’re not applying any pressure on countries to sign these agreements,” one State Department functionary said. “And we don’t think it’s appropriate for the European Union to prevent other countries from signing them.” Senior military officers revealed to the press that the Reagan Administration continued to provide military support to Iraq during its war with Iran even after the administration learned that Iraq was using chemical weapons; Iraq’s past use of chemical weapons has been cited repeatedly by President Bush as justification for an invasion. Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal warning President George W. Bush not to start a war with Iraq. Scowcroft’s close relationship to the President’s father has led to much speculation that the elder Bush disapproves of his son’s aggressive war posture and that he used his faithful adviser to convey that message publicly. Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Wesley Clark also said they opposed a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Applications to the Peace Corps were up. A number of videotapes made by Al Qaeda were discovered; several contained footage of dogs being killed by what appeared to be chemical weapons, and one contained a documentary in which Osama bin Laden called Saddam Hussein a bad Muslim. Sudan changed its national slogan from “Jihad, Victory, and Martyrdom” to “Peace, Unity, and Development.” Saudi Arabia beheaded an Egyptian for murder and cut off the hand of a Syrian pickpocket. Texas executed a Mexican.

Israel began vaccinating about 1,500 health workers against smallpox, and the health minister said that the entire population could be vaccinated within a few days if necessary. Israel’s supreme court issued a one-week restraining order against the army’s practice of sending a Palestinian bystander into the home of a suspect to demand his surrender after a 19-year-old Palestinian boy was ordered to knock on the door of a Hamas suspect and was shot dead (the soldiers then demolished the house with the suspect inside). Human-rights groups argued that this practice was a violation of the Geneva Convention’s prohibition against using civilians as human shields, which the army agreed in May to stop doing. Judge Robert Dumar of Federal District Court reiterated his order that government prosecutors must submit documents to support their classification of an American citizen as an enemy combatant and said that he would not act as a “rubber stamp” for the government in this important case. “This case,” he said, “appears to be the first in American jurisprudence where an American citizen has been held incommunicado and subjected to an indefinite detention in the continental United States without charges, without any findings by a military tribunal, and without access to a lawyer.” The pope visited Poland and told a crowd of 2 million people to change their ways: “Frequently man lives as if God did not exist, and even puts himself in God’s place,” he said. “He claims for himself the Creator’s right to interfere in the mystery of human life.” The pope blamed “the noisy propaganda of liberalism, of freedom without truth or responsibility,” for these great sins. A man from Gulfport, Mississippi, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for having sex with a horse while he was on ecstasy. Governor Jeb Bush of Florida asked members of a Pentecostal church to pray for his daughter Noelle, who has been arrested recently on drug charges. “Every time I think about my daughter,” he said, “it’s very hard.” The inventor of the Breathalyzer died. Ed Headrick, the designer of the modern Frisbee, died in California. Brand names, researchers found, engage the emotional side of the brain more easily than other words do. US Airways declared bankruptcy. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus closed the most popular McDonald’s restaurant in Minsk and threatened to replace all the McDonald’s in the country with a chain that serves cabbage soup, sausage, and fried mashed potatoes.

President Bush held an economic forum in Waco, Texas, in an effort to demonstrate that he’s doing something about the economy. Several major campaign contributors were featured, including Charles Schwab, a big Republican contributor who this week laid off several hundred employees. “I think one of the things you’ll hear,” the President said in his opening remarks, “is that even though times are kind of tough right now, that we’re America.” He also said that “we’ve got the best tax policy in the world. I mean, we’ve got a lot going for us.” The President also let it be known that he was considering ways to make the stock market go back up. Nigeria’s lower house of parliament told President Olusegun Obasanjo that he should quit or face impeachment because of mismanagement and disrespect for the rule of law. A few days later the Nigerian government postponed elections because the country’s voter-registration records had been eaten by termites. Russia refused to issue an entry visa to the Dalai Lama, citing China’s disapproval of his political activities, and suspended space-tourist training for Lance Bass of the band ‘N Sync because he fell behind on his payments. The CryoLife Corporation, the nation’s largest processor of donated human tissue, issued a recall on all tendons, ligaments, and cartilage processed after October 3. The New England Cryogenic Center applied for permission to export bulk shipments of sperm to the United Kingdom, where sperm banks are experiencing a shortage. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania successfully grew pig, mice, and goat testicles on the backs of laboratory mice; one researcher said that the testes “produced as much sperm, gram for gram, as testes in the donor species.” Larry Rivers died. A Romanian prisoner cut off his toes and ate them to protest his girlfriend’s marriage to another man, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt called Ariel Sharon, the prime minister of Israel, a fatso.

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November 2008

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