Weekly Review — December 16, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian Lion, March 1875]

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz decreed that Canada, Germany, France, Russia, and other nations that opposed the conquest of Iraq will be ineligible for $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts. The announcement was greeted with astonishment by the blacklisted countries; Russia said that it would now refuse to consider restructuring Iraq’s $8 billion debt, and Canada said the decision would probably rule out further reconstruction aid.Boston GlobeGerman Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said the blacklist might violate international law. “International law?” the president responded. “I better call my lawyer.”Washington PostA suicide car bomber blew up outside an Iraqi police station, killing at least 17 people; a gas truck exploded in the middle of Baghdad, and an American soldier died while trying to disarm a bomb.Christian Science MonitorA bank in suburban Baghdad was robbed of about $800,000 andNew York TimesSaddam Hussein was found cowering in a pit on a farm near Tikrit.ReutersNew Jersey’s big bear hunt ended with 328 confirmed kills.GuardianVice President Dick Cheney reportedly killed more than 70 farm-raised ringneck pheasants during a “canned hunt” in which 500 of the birds were released for the pleasure of Cheney and nine companions; the men were credited with 417 pheasants and an undisclosed number of ducks.Pittsburgh Post-GazetteU.S. forces killed six children in Afghanistan, along with two adults, just four days after nine children were killed during another air strike. A military spokesman admitted that “such mistakes” might hurt America’s reputation in the area.Washington PostNewly released White House tapes revealed that President Richard Nixon disliked Ronald Reagan. Nixon said that “he’s just an uncomfortable man to be around, strange.”Associated PressOther tapes revealed that Nixon was planning to use the Justice Department and the FBI to take revenge on his enemies once the Watergate scandal blew over. Nixon also thought that New York City “should go through a cycle of destruction.”New York Times

The United States Supreme Court upheld the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which bans unlimited political contributions to political parties. The majority concluded that “it was not unwarranted for Congress to conclude that the selling of access gives rise to the appearance of corruption.”New York TimesSeveral officials in Las Vegas were in trouble for accepting bribes from a strip-club operator. “There’s a tendency on the part of people to think politicians are inherently corrupt,” said the mayor. “That’s unfair, but it’s a fact.”New York TimesDavid Lynch let it be known that he is helping the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi raise $1 billion to build 100 “peace palaces” around the world. “When you do [transcendental meditation],” Lynch declared, “this level of unity can be enlivening the world consciousness and it can go into the atmosphere.”GuardianCanadian psychologists found that men are unable to think rationally when they see a beautiful woman.New ScientistAl Gore endorsedHoward Dean for president; Joe Lieberman, Gore’s former running mate, was somewhat miffed.Los Angeles TimesGlaxoSmithKline’s head of genetics admitted that “the vast majority of drugs ?? more than 90 percent ?? only work in 30 or 50 percent of the people.”IndependentThe British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warned doctors not to give antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa to children and adolescents, because the drugs have been linked to suicide and self-harm.New York TimesMoody’s Investors Service downgraded California’s credit rating after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the registration fee for automobiles without having a plan to pay for the change, and theAssociated PressPentagon accused Halliburton, which recently removed its name from outside its corporate headquarters in Houston, of overcharging for gasoline in Iraq.ReutersPresident Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan was almost assassinated.New York TimesCanada’s Air Transport Security Authority banned fruitcakes in carry-on luggage.CBC

A new theory was put forth that global warming began 8,000 years ago, when farmers began clearing forests for agriculture and grazing large herds of livestock, which increased carbon dioxide and methane levels; by AD 1700, according to the theory, human activity had increased the global temperature by 0.8 degrees Celsius, an increase roughly equal to that caused by industrial activity since then.Climatic Change, Nature.com, New ScientistIt was reported that the earth’s magnetic field has weakened by about 10 percent over the last 150 years; scientists said that large solar storms could cause “significant but not catastrophic” damage to the ozone layer as a result.Newsday, New York TimesLightning struck a church in Swaziland and killed a priest, five children, and three others.News.com.auMick Jagger accepted a knighthood; Keith Richards was disgusted and said it was a disgrace: “It’s not what the Stones is about, is it?”Associated Press, ReutersStress, it was discovered, can make you live longer.Science DailyElephants in Thailand were said to be hijackingsugarcane shipments, andWashington TimesKeiko the killer whale died of pneumonia in a Norwegian fjord. Local officials said it was “downright sad.”Aftenposten NettutgavenScientists were studying the bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, in the hope of building a better airplane engine.New ScientistPhysicists at Harvard University succeeded in “freezing” a beam of light.New Scientist

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I was tucked in a blind behind a soda machine, with nothing in my hand but notepad and phone, when a herd of running backs broke cover and headed across the convention center floor. My God, they’re beautiful! A half dozen of them, compact as tanks, stuffed into sports shirts and cotton pants, each, around his monstrous neck, wearing a lanyard that listed number and position, name and schedule, tasks to be accomplished at the 2019 N.F.L. Scout­ing Combine. They attracted the stunned gaze of football fans and beat writers, yet, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, continued across the carpet.

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Thirty miles from the coast, on a desert plateau in the Judaean Mountains without natural resources or protection, Jerusalem is not a promising site for one of the world’s great cities, which partly explains why it has been burned to the ground twice and besieged or attacked more than seventy times. Much of the Old City that draws millions of tourists and Holy Land pilgrims dates back two thousand years, but the area ­likely served as the seat of the Judaean monarchy a full millennium before that. According to the Bible, King David conquered the Canaanite city and established it as his capital, but over centuries of destruction and rebuilding all traces of that period were lost. In 1867, a British military officer named Charles Warren set out to find the remnants of David’s kingdom. He expected to search below the famed Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, but the Ottoman authorities denied his request to excavate there. Warren decided to dig instead on a slope outside the Old City walls, observing that the Psalms describe Jerusalem as lying in a valley surrounded by hills, not on top of one.

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Eleven years ago, on a bitter January night, dozens of young men, dressed in a uniform of black berets, white T-­shirts, and black pants, gathered on a hill overlooking the Nigerian city of Jos, shouting, dancing, and shooting guns into the black sky. A drummer pounded a rhythmic beat. Amid the roiling crowd, five men crawled toward a candlelit dais, where a white-­robed priest stood holding an axe. Leading them was John, a sophomore at the local college, powerfully built and baby-faced. Over the past six hours, he had been beaten and burned, trampled and taunted. He was exhausted. John looked out at the landscape beyond the priest. It was the harmattan season, when Saharan sand blots out the sky, and the city lights in the distance blurred in John’s eyes as if he were underwater.

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The Catholic School, by Edoardo Albinati. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1,280 pages. $40.

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