Historical Timeline

Calendar Months

    "Most newspaper article events happen anywhere from days, to months, to years before they reach publication. Consequently, most newspaper articles on this timeline are preceded by the date of the newspaper in which they appear." [E.M.]      *Color Code

November 2005

2005 - Astronomic Configuration - November 1st, 2005: "Sun [8 Scorpio], Moon [25 Libra], Mercury [1 Sagittarius], Venus [25 Sagittarius], Mars [17 Taurus R], Jupiter [1 Scorpio], Saturn [10 Leo], Uranus [6 Pisces R], Neptune [14 Aquarius], Pluto [22 Sagittarius], Chiron [28 Capricorn]."  

2005 - "Known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids" - November 1st, 2005: "On 1 Nov 2005 there were 719 known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids."

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/ (near bottom of page)] - [11/01/05]

2005 - Bird Flu / Canada - November 1st, 2005: "Nearly three dozen wild ducks have tested positive for the H5 bird flu virus in Canada, officials said Monday [10/31/05]. But they said it was unlikely to be the same strain blamed for more than 60 human deaths in Southeast Asia. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/01/05]

2005 - Death knell for St. Louis - November 1st, 2005:

Downtown St. Louis is having a difficult enough time keeping businesses. By closing Highway 40 from Kingshighway to Interstate 270, St. Louis will die a quick and painful death. Saving time and money are obvious considerations in the project, but the traffic problems, pollution and loss of time for commuters would be enormous.

[Based on: Opinion Page article (Death knell for St. Louis) by Barbara Erker-Baumstark, p. B8, S.L.P.D., 11/01/05]

2005 - Three Moons? / Pluto - November 1st, 2005: "Pluto has three moons, not one, new images from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest, researchers say. [....] Follow-up observations by the Hubble are planned in February [2006]. If they are confirmed, the International Astronomical Union will consider names for the objects. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/01/05]

2005 - Insurgent Attacks / Iraq - November 1st, 2005: "A spate of insurgent attacks Monday [11/01/05] killed at least 20 holiday shoppers in the southern city of Basra and also took the lives of six American soldiers, making October the deadliest month for the U.S. military in Iraq since January. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times]

2005 - Festival of Lights / India - November 1st, 2005: "Celebrations were tinged with mourning Tuesday [11/01/05] as Indians marked the Hindu festival of lights in the shadow of the weekend bombings that tore through two crowded markets, killing 59 people. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Higher Heating Costs? / U.S.A. - November 1st, 2005: "The profit-and-loss battles this winter could be more influenced by energy prices than ever before. And for some businesses, energy costs could rule the day. Natural gas, heating oil, propane - all will cost significantly more this winter. Businesses that rent could find themselves paying costs passed on by their landlords. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers]

2005 - Two-day Rally / U.S. Stock Market - November 1st, 2005: "NEW YORK - Stocks have staged their biggest two-day rally in almost a year as oil prices closed below $60 a barrel and reports showed gains in consumer incomes and spending. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen 2.4 percent in the last two days. It is the biggest advance for the S&P 500 since November 2004. [....]" [Based on: Bloomberg News article, p. C6, 11/01/05]

2005 - "The Ultimate Crime" / War in Iraq - November 1st, 2005: "After the two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's [10/28/05] indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. [....] Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech - that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa - was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar reports. And I knew that the White House knew it. [....] Valerie was an innocent in this whole affair. Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that 'she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment.' The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter. The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amount to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime. The war in Iraq has claimed more than 17,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, many times more Iraqi casualties and close to $200 billion. It has left our international reputation in tatters and out military broken. It has weakened the United States, increased hatred of us and made terrorist attacks against our interests more likely in the future. It has been, as Gen. William Odom suggested, the greatest strategic blunder in the history of our country. We anticipate no mea culpa from the president for what his senior aides have done to us. But he owes the nation both an explanation and an apology." [Based on: article by Joseph C. Wilson, p. B9, S.L.P.D., 11/01/05] - [As with most articles illustrated on this timeline, paragraph indents were removed to save space - E.M.]

*Trivia: "The amount of DU [Depleted Uranium] used in Iraq in 2003 is equivalent in atomicity to nearly 250,000 Nagasaki bombs."

[Based on: http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-ICT13dec03.htm]

*Trivia: "[....] Britain and America not only used DU in this year's Iraq war [2003], they dramatically increased its use-from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war to at minimum of 1500 tons in this one. And this time the use of DU wasn't limited to anti-tank weapons-as it had largely been in the previous Gulf war-but was extended to the guided missiles, large bunker busters and big 2000-pound bombs used in Iraq's cities. This means that Iraq's cities have been blanketed in lethal particles-any one of which can cause cancer or deform a child. In addition, the use of DU in huge bombs which throw the deadly particles higher and wider in huge plumes of smoke means that billions of deadly particles have been carried high into the air-again and again and again as the bombs rained down-ready to be swept worldwide by the winds. [....]"

[Based on: http://www.rense.com/general64/du.htm]

*Trivia:

There are two ways to determine if the use of a particular weapon in military operations is illegal. The easiest way is if the weapon is used in violation of a treaty that forbids its use and the State using it is a party to that treaty. If there is no treaty on a specific weapon, then one must determine if the use of that weapon would violate existing rules and principles of binding humanitarian (armed conflict) law. Under these rules (the "weapons test") – derived from The Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions, and all other sources of military law – a weapon may be banned if: (1) it has harmful effects outside the legal field of battle (the "geography" test); (2) it has harmful effects after the war is over (the "time" test); (3) its use is unduly inhuman or causes undue suffering (the "humaneness" test); or (4) it has a harmful effect on the environment (the "environment" test). The first two tests arise from the requirement that weapons may not be indiscriminate. Because there is no specific weapon treaty forbidding the use of depleted uranium, the illegality of DU must be shown by the second method.

Weaponry containing depleted uranium (DU) fails all four tests. [....]

[Based on: article by by Karen Parker, J.D. September 30, 2003 @
http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-ICT13dec03.htm - bottom of page]
Note: [Bold-face type & underline emphasis added - E.M.]

2005 - Promoted / David Addington & John Hannah - November 1st, 2005: "[....] Cheney promoted two of his advisers to fill the jobs handled by Libby, his confidant. David Addington, who has been the vice president's legal counsel, was named chief of staff, while John Hannah, his deputy national security adviser. Both men have been on Cheney's staff for more than four years. Addington has been a key figure in many of the White House's most controversial moves. He is the principal author of a memo that justifies the torture of terrorism suspects. He also headed the fight to keep secret the names of corporations involved in the vice president's energy task force, a position upheld by the Supreme Court in the case. Much like Cheney, Addington and Hannah were often at odds with the CIA before the war in Iraq, according to news reports. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A2, S.L.P.D., 11/01/05]

2005 - U.S. Supreme Court Nominee / Samuel Alito - November 1st, 2005: "[....] Alito [Samuel Alito] was chosen Monday [10/31/05] by President George W. Bush to take the place of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Defrocked Lesbian Minister / United methodist Church - November 1st, 2005: "A lesbian minister [Rev. Irene 'Beth' Stroud] was defrocked Monday [10/31/05] by the highest court within the United Methodist Church. The panel found that she violated the denomination's ban on 'self-avowed, practicing homosexual' clergy. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - FCC Approval / SBC-AT&T, Verizon-MCI Deals - November 1st, 2005: "Federal regulators on Monday [10/31/05] approved SBC Communications' takeover of AT&T and Verizon Comminications' purchase of MCI, a move consumer activists called anticompetitive. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Voluntary Retirement Incentive / St. Louis Post-Dispatch - November 1st, 2005: "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch hits the streets today with a heavy heart and an institutional memory several hundred years lighter. Nearly 12 percent of the Post-Dispatch's news and editorial staff accepted a voluntary retirement incentive that will save the newspaper's new owner, Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, up to $7 million a year. The one-time offer was designed to cut operating costs amid an advertising slump that has rattled newsrooms from New York to Los Angeles. The newspaper offered the buyout in August, making it available to most employees age 50 and older with at least five years of service. [....] A total of 130 Post-Dispatch employees took the buyout. Among those eligible were technology, administrative and security workers. Both union and management employees were eligible. The newspaper employs about 1,300 people. Egger [Post Dispatch publisher, Terrance C.Z. Egger] said. Contained in the buyout total are 41 full-time and part-time employees in a newsroom that had 351 journalists before the early retirement deal was offered. The net reduction isn't known because some vacancies are expected to be filled. [....]" [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. C1 & C8, 11/01/05]

2005 - Bird Flu Plan / U.S.A. - November 2nd, 2005: "Four times, President George W. Bush tried to reassure a jittery world. 'There is no pandemic flu in our country or in the world at this time,' he said, even as he outlined a $7.1 billion plan to get the country prepared - just in case. [....] The ambitious vaccine change will take years to complete - Bush's goal is 2010 - and his plan drew immediate fire from critics who said it didn't provide enough protection in the meantime. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / Project Serpo - November 2nd, 2005: "Project Serpo - The Zeta Reticuli Exchange Program - The gradual release of confidential documents pertaining to a top secret exchange program of twelve US military personnel to Serpo, a planet of Zeta Reticuli, between the years 1965-78. [....] The information began to be released on 2 November 2005 by a retired senior official within the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who calls himself “Anonymous”. Until he chooses to make his name known, this is the way he will be represented here. Anonymous reports that he is not acting individually and is part of a group of six DIA personnel working together as an alliance: three current and three former employees. He is their chief spokesman. Up to and including 21 December, the information was released in installments on a private UFO e-mail list moderated by Victor Martinez. The list contains about a hundred and fifty people, including many extremely well-known names in UFO research and related or leading edge scientific fields. Until permissions are granted, their names will be withheld out of courtesy and to respect confidentiality. [....]"

[Based on: http://www.serpo.org]

2005 - "What Did We Know?" - November 2nd, 2005: "Let me be frank: It has been a long political nightmare. For some of us, the nightmare has been merely intellectual. We realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but we were unable to get others to see the obvious. For others - above all, of course, those Americans risking their lives in a war whose real rationale has never been explained - the nightmare has been all too concrete. [....] By a 3-to-1 margin, according to a Washington Post poll, the public now believes that the level of ethics and honesty in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush. So the Bush administration has lost the myths that sustained its mojo and, with them, much of its power to do harm. But the nightmare won't be fully over until two things happen. First, politicians will have to admit they were misled. Second, the news media will have to face up to their role in allowing incompetents to pose as leaders and political apparatchiks to pose as patriots. It's a sad commentary on the timidity of most Democrats that even now it's hard to get leading figures to admit that they were misled into supporting the Iraq war. Kudos to John Kerry for finally saying just that last week. And there is much justified criticism of the failure of major news organizations, this one included [The New York Times], to exert due diligence on rationales for the war. But the failures that made the long nightmare possible began during the weeks after 9/11 when the media helped our political leaders build a false picture of who the leaders were. So the long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: What did we know, when did we know it and why didn't we tell the public?" [Based on: Other Views page article (Myths are crumbling as the nightmare seems to be ending) by Paul Krugman (The New York Times), p. C11, S.L.P.D., 11/02/05] - [Note: the title "What Did We Know" was specially created [as are the majority of titles on this timeline] to preceed this article. In consequence, it appears outside [not within] the quoted article text.] - [E.M.]

2005 - Elections Trivia / Zanzibar - November 2nd, 2005: "Zanzibar's incumbent president and his party were declared the winners Tuesday [11/01/05] of general elections marred by violence and allegations of fraud. Officials said nine people were killed in the latest clashes. Seif Shariff Hamad of the main opposition Civic United Front said five supporters died on the Zanzibar archipelago's second island, Pemba, on Tuesday. Incumbent president Amani Abeid Karume of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi won 53.2 percent of the vote, while Hamad had 46.1 percent, according to electoral chief Masauni Yussuf Massauni." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Taurid Meteor Shower - November 2nd, 2005: "In recent nights, sky watchers have seen some spectacular fireballs. Experts suspect it's the Taurid meteor shower, a display caused by debris from Comet Encke. [....] Most years the Taurid shower is weak, producing few meteors, mostly dim. 2005 appears to be different. Earth may be passing through a 'swarm' of pebbles and rocks within the larger cloud of Taurid space dust. The pebbles are responsible for the fireballs. The 2005 Taurid meteor shower is not over. Indeed, it's just beginning. Forecasters expect the complex shower to peak during the first two weeks of November. So keep an eye on the sky! [....]"

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [11/03/05]
[See also: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/03nov_taurids.htm]

2005 - "Fireball" / El Paso, Texas - November 2nd, 2005: "On. Nov. 2nd, a fireball streaked over El Paso, Texas, and when it exploded in mid-air it was brighter than a full moon. [....]"

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/08/05]

2005 - Secret Session / U.S. Senate - November 2nd, 2005: "Democrats forced the Senate into an unusual secret session Tuesday [11/01/05] to demand that the Republican majority further investigate the administration's handling of intelliegence related to the war in Iraq. [....] After a testy showdown that lasted more than two hours behind closed doors, Senate Republicans agreed to restart an inquiry into the administration's use of intelligence. [....]" At issue was a long-standing promise by Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to broaden the panel's investigation into how intelligence was used to go to war. The committee concluded last year that the intelligence was erroneous. But Democrats wanted the inquiry to determine whether it had been intentionally misused to justify the war. [....] The Senate Intelligence Committee voted in June 2003 to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq after U.S.-led forces found none of the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs that Bush had charged Saddam Hussein with hiding when making his case for war. In February of last year, the panel agreed to expand its inquiry to determine whether assertions by Bush, his lieutenants and other public officials about Iraq's alleged weapons programs and ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network were backed up by intelligence. The committee's report in July of last year on the first phase of its investigation excoriated the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for suffering from 'group think' and other flaws in erroneously concluding that Iraq was secretly stockpiling weapons in violation of a United Nations ban. But the second phase of the investigation has been held up by differences between Republicans and Democrats over requests for documents from the White House and whether statements about Iraq by members of Congress should be included in the review. [....] Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., dismissed accusations that calling the secret session was a political stunt. 'Having lost 2,025 of our best and bravest soldiers and 15,000 seriously wounded, with at least 25,000 innocent Iraqis having been killed over the invasion of Iraq based on intelligence which has now been discredited ... it is reasonable for us to ask whether any member of this administration or Congress misused the intelligence' to convince the public that war was necessary, Durbin said. On Tuesday [11/01/05], Reid and Frist agreed to name three Democrats and three Republicans on the intelligence committee, who will report to the leadership in two weeks on the progress of the panel's investigation." [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article, p. A1 & A8, S.L.P.D., 11/02/05]

2005 - Trivia / Floodwall Designers, Louisiana - November 2nd, 2005: "The engineers who designed the floodwalls that collapsed during Hurricane Katrina did not fully consider the porousness of the Louisiana soil or make other calculations that would have pointed to the need for stronger levees with deeper pilings and wider bases, researchers say. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Outside Inspectors / Gaza-Egypt Border - November 2nd, 2005: "Israel approved on Tuesday [11/01/05] the deployment of European inspectors at the Gaza-Egypt border. The decision is a breakthrough after weeks of slow-moving talks. It's also a major step after four decades toward giving Palestinians freedom of movement. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Sodomy Sentence / U.S. Army Chaplain - November 2nd, 2005: "A U.S. Army chaplain was sentenced Tuesday [11/01/05] to five years in prison after pleading guilty at his court-martial to three counts of forcible sodomy against enlisted men. Capt. Gregory Arflack, 44, a Roman Catholic priest serving as a chaplain with the 279th Base Support Battalion, also pleaded guilty to three counts of committing an indecent act, two counts of fraternization with enlisted service members and one count of conduct unbecoming an officer. The court-martial took place in Bamberg, Germany, where Arflack's unit is based. In addition to the prison term, Judge Col. R. Peter Masterton ordered that Arflack be dismissed from the Army and forfeit all benefits." [Based on: A.P. article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/02/05]

2005 - Trivia / Government Farm Payments, U.S.A. - "Half of government farm payments over the past decade have gone to just 22 of the 435 congressional districts, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group. The group wants the federal government to cut payments to large farm operations and revise provisions that allow some to collect millions of dollars a year in subsidies. The Senate could vote on the issue this week." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - New Judge / Rep. Tom DeLay Campaign Finance Case - November 2nd, 2005: "The judge [Bob Perkins] in the campaign finance case against Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was removed Tuesday [11/01/05] because of his donations to Democratic candidates and causes. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/02/05]

2005 - Suicide Bus / Iraq - November 3rd, 2005: "A suicide bomber detonated a minibus Wednesday [11/02/05] in an outdoor market packed with shoppers ahead of a Muslim festival, killing about 20 people and wounding more than 60 in a Shiite town south of Baghdad. In other action, six U.S. military personnel were killed, two in a helicopter crash west of the capital. Also Wednesday, the U.S. command confirmed moves to step up training on how to combat roadside bombs - now the biggest killers of American soldiers in Iraq. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - U.N. Inspectors / Iran - November 3rd, 2005: "Iran has met a key demand from the International Atomic Energy Agency by opening a military site to U.N. inspectors looking for signs of a nuclear weapons program, diplomats said Wednesday [11/02/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Purge of Reformers / Iran - November 3rd, 2005: "Iran said Wednesday [11/02/05] that it would fire 40 ambassadors and senior diplomats, many of them supporters of warmer ties with the West. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Charles & Camilla / U.S.A. - November 3rd, 2005: "Prince Charles dryly pronounced himself 'still here' and 'alive' Wednesday [11/02/05] on his arrival at the White House for a visit showing off his new bride, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. [....] Bush toasted the royal couple before dinner, saying their visit was a 'reminder of the unique and enduring bond between the United Kingdom and the United States.' " [Based on: News Services article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Machinists Strike / Boeing Co. - November 3rd, 2005: "Boeing Co. officials have yet to decide whether to scrub any satellite launches or to hire replacement workers after machinists struck in California, Alabama and Florida, a spokesman said Wednesday [11/02/05]. [....] The machinists said Boeing had proposed ending retirement health care coverage for new employees and wants to eliminate caps on out-of-pocket expenses for medical premiums and co-pays." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - "Will Not Torture?" / U.S.A. - November 3rd, 2005: "President George W. Bush's directive banning the torture of terrorism suspects applies to all prisoners - even if held in a secret prison reportedly set up by the CIA for its most important al-Qaida captives, a senior administration official said Wednesday [11/02/05]. National security adviser Stephen Hadley would not confirm or deny the existence of a secret compound in Eastern Europe that was described in a Washington Post account. The story said the facility was part of a covert prison system set up nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries. Hadley said that 'while we have to do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorist attacks and to win the war on terror, the president has been very clear that we're going to do that in a way that is consistent with our values. And that is why he's been very clear that the United States will not torture,' Hadley said at a White House briefing. 'The Unites States will conduct its activities in compliance with law and international obligations.' " [Based on: News Services article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Earth Entering / Solar Wind Stream - November 3rd, 2005: "Earth is entering an unexpected solar wind stream that could spark a geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight."   [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/03/05] 

2005 - We can't leave, but we can't "win," either - November 3rd, 2005:

[....] General Eric Shinseki was right when he said that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed for an effective post-Saddam occupation of Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy secretary of defense and the architect of the Iraq war, was spectacularly wrong when he told Congress that "Shinseki's estimate was 'widely off the mark.... It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself.'" With our experience in Iraq, the Pentagon can now conceive it. Shinseki's rerward for accuracy and honesty, however, was losing his job. The clearest lesson from Iraq is that we are incapable of imposing democracy by the use of force. We have not been able to translate military victory into political success. Rumsfeld and Cheney imagined well-wishers strewing flowers before our troops after a victorious war overthrowing Saddam. The "shock and awe" turned out to be theirs and ours; we were totally unprepared for what has come after our quick military victory. We are a superpower that, inevitably, has been humbled. The power imbalance created by fall of communism allowed us to intervene wherever and whenever we choose to do so, but the risk was that we would overstep. Propelled by rage and arrogance after the attacks of 9/11, we did exactly that. It was a mistake that any president - Republican or Democrat - easily could have made. Indeed, hubris is always the sword upon which the mighty have fallen. From here on, any president will have to level with the American people before going to war. No more foreign misadventures. [....]" [Based on: Other Views page article (We can't leave, but we can't "win," either) by Thomas F. Eagleton, p. B9, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Underequipped? / U.S. National Guard - November 3rd, 2005: "National Guard units in Illinois and Missouri are underequipped across the board, from vehicles to radios to night-vision devices, according to internal military figures. While Guard units' supplies are below full strength nationwide, as shown by a recent government study, military data on individual states paint a particularly stark picture for Illinois and Missouri. [....] 'If we don't have it, we can't train on it, and if we can't train then there's really no purpose to even go to drill,' Avery [Rep. Jim Avery] said. [....]" [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Anti-Psychotic Drugs / Alzheimer's Disease - November 3rd, 2005: "In short term, anti-psychotic drugs may boost death risk. [....] Researchers reviewed data from 15 studies, nine of them previously unreported, that had randomly assigned 5,110 people with dementia to be given an anti-psychotic or a placebo. Drugs used in the studies were aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal). About 87 percent of the participants, who averaged 81 years old, had Alzheimer's, and most were women. After about 10 to 12 weeks, 118 people taking the drugs (3.5 percent) had died, compared with 40 in the placebo group (2.3 percent). [....] Anti-psychotics are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia but not to treat behavioral disorders in people with dementia; the agency has asked drug makers to note that on medication labels. Eight of the nine unreported studies were funded by drug manufacturers. [....] It [the study] is published in the Oct. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association; abstract available online at www.jama.com." [Based on Health Studies article, p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Failed Effort / Machinists Strike, Northwest Airlines - November 3rd, 2005: "Defiant Northwest Airlines mechanics still picket. Their union urges them to stay strong. However, observers and some strikers say the effort is as good as over. Northwest says it's nearly finished hiring permanent replacements, including many former strikers. Many of the mechanics, cleaners and custodians who walked out on Aug. 20 have gotten other jobs. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Forced to Resign [2nd Time] / David Blunkett, Britain - November 3rd, 2005: "British cabinet minister David Blunkett was forced to resign Wednesday [11/02/05] for the second time in less than a year. The move is a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had strongly backed his scandal-prone friend The latest controversy comes after Blunkett quit as home secretary in December after a messy love affair with a married American magazine publisher, Kimberly Quinn. The affair made him a target for satire - inspiraing a play and a TV drama. On Wednesday [11/02/05], Blunkett acknowledged he had breached ministerial guidelines by taking lucrative corporate positions during his brief spell out of office, and that his job as work and pensions secretary had become untenable." [Based on: News Services article]

2005 - Newspaper Stocks Trivia / Private Capital Management L.P. - November 3rd, 2005: "The investor pushing for the sale of Knight Ridder Inc., the country's second-largest newspaper chain, has more than tripled its position in newspaper stocks since early 2003, including the new owner of the Post-Dispatch. Private Capital Management L.P., a  money manager for wealthy people, is the talk of the newspaper industry. PCM quietly has accumulated about $4.5 billion worth of newspaper stock, including 12 percent to 22 percent of seven newspaper companies, Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Ginnochio said Wednesday [11/02/05] in a research report. [....] But PCM lit a fire under Knight Ridder stock this week after it wrote a letter to the newspaper chain's directors, urging them to pursue a competitive sale of the company. Based in Naples, Fla., PCM threatened to support aggressive moves that would change Knight Ridder's board and install new management if a sale wasn't pursued. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article, p. C1 & C3, 11/03/05]

2005 - Belated Escape Confirmation? / Omar al-Farouq, Afghanistan - November 3rd, 2005: "Prison doors and cells have been fortified at the U.S. military jail in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said Wednesday [11/02/05] - but only after a breakout in July [2005] by four captives, one believed to be an al-Qaida leader. The Pentagon's belated confirmation of the identity of that one - Omar al-Farouq, a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden - sparked anger in Southeast Asia. Al-Farouq had been captured in Indonesia in 2002 and handed over to U.S. authorities. On Wednesday [11/02/05], Indonesian officials accused the United States of failing to inform them of the escape. [....] Last month, the four escapees boasted about their breakout on a video broadcast on Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya. [....] The prison holds more than 500 militants. It's a building next to runways and the command center at Bagram, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan. Several razor-wire fences surround the base. Areas outside remain mined from Afghanistan's quarter-century of war. Military officials have declined to elaborate on how the men escaped. But the officials say nobody else has managed to do so. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

2005 - Deer Cams? / Missouri - November 4th, 2005: "Just in time for the high holy days of deer season in Missouri comes word that researchers at the University of Missouri are mounting tiny TV cameras on captive deer to figure out what deer do and why: how they move, spread disease and why they manage to run in front of so many cars. [....] Eventually the videos will be available on the Internet. In the meantime, if you're going out in the woods this year, smile." [Based on: Opinion Page article (Bucks gone wild!!), p. C12, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

2005 - Bad for Heart? / Potbelly - November 4th, 2005: "Well-toned hips and a trim waist - not just the pounds you carry - appear to be one of the best protections against heart attacks, according to a study of thousands of people in different countries. Researchers reported in today's issue [11/04/05] of The Lancet medical journal that a hip-to-waist ratio is a better predictor of the risk of heart attack than bodymass index, the current standard. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Bird Flu Outbreak / China - November 4th, 2005: "China reported its fourth bird flu outbreak in three weeks Thursday [11/03/05]. The virus killed nearly 9,000 chickens in a northeastern village, prompting authorities to destroy 369,900 other birds. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Not Guilty Plea / I. Lewis Libby - November 4th, 2005: "Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff [I. Lewis Libby] pleaded not guilty Thursday [11/03/05] to charges of lying to the FBI and a grand jury about his conversations with reporters in the CIA leak investigation. His lawyer promised to fight the accusations in a trial that could bring government secrets into open court. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post]

2005 - Settlements / ImClone Systems Inc. - November 4th, 2005: "A physician and another friend of imprisoned ImClone Systems Inc. former Chief Executive Samuel Waksal have agreed to pay a total $2.8 million to settle civil insider-trading charges in the stock scandal that brought down Martha Stewart. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday [11/03/05] announced the settlement of the civil suit against Zvi Fuks, a doctor credited with pioneering cancer treatment research, and Sabina Ben-Yehuda. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

2005 - Delayed? / Meat Labeling Plan, U.S.A. - November 4th, 2005: "The Senate sent a $100 billion food and farm spending bill to President George W. Bush on Thursday [11/03/05]. The measure includes a two-year delay on lables telling grocery shoppers where their meat comes from. Approved on an 81-18 vote, the food and farm spending bill would postpone mandatory meat labeling until 2008. Originally sought by Western ranchers and required by law in 2004, country-of-origin labeling has stalled under pressure from meatpackers and supermarkets who call it a record-keeping nightmare. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

2005 - War Crimes Court / Desire Munyaneza - November 4th, 2005: "Survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide watched as the first person charged under Canada's War Crimes Act appeared in court in handcuffs Thursday [11/03/05] to face allegations he took part in the slaughter of his fellow countrymen. Desire Munyaneza, 39, a Hutu, was arraigned last month in Montreal on two counts of genocide, two counts of crimes against humanity and three charges of war crimes. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / Fourth Summit of the Americas - November 4th, 2005: "President George W. Bush will depart Washington today [11/03/05], taking leave for a few days from controversies over the CIA leak investigation, his Supreme Court nominees and low approval ratings, to visit a part of the world where he is liked even less. Tens of thousands of protesters are preparing for his arrival tonight in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata for the fourth Summit of the Americas. Mass demonstrations are planned for Friday [11/04/05] - coinciding with the opening of the two-day summit meeting - to decry Bush's policies, including his support for a continentwide free trade zone, the Iraq war and what critics call U.S. neglect of Latin American issues. [....] Bush will be among 34 heads of state from countries in the Western Hemisphere - with the exception of Cuban leader Fidel Castro - expected to attend the meeting. He faces a tough crowd, both inside and outside the session. Some polls have shown Bush's disapproval rating to be as high as 70 percent to 80 percent in large South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil. [....]" [Based on: Cox News Service article, p. A14, S.L.P.D., 11/03/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Chavez, top Cuban officials and demonstrators at a separate 'People's Summit' here [Argentina], claim Bush wants to open up Latin America to more corporations that will end up enslaving already poor workers. At the summit site, thousands of demonstrators began assembling to criticize Bush's trade push in the region where an estimated 220 million people are living in poverty. [....] [Based on: The Washington Post article, p. A14, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

*Trivia: "[....] At the American summit, the United States and 28 other countries supported setting a date to restart negotiations on creating the trading bloc. But because Brazil and four other nations preferred to wait for world trade negotiations to take place next month, no agreement was reached on new talks. So Sunday [11/06/05], Bush appeared determined to move on from the divisions over the FTAA talks and focus on those World Trade Organization negotiations in Hong Kong. The talks are aimed at cutting tariffs worldwide. In the hopes that success in the global talks would invigorate the FTAA's chances, Bush said he agrees with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that the United States must drop agriculture subsidies so it is easier for farmers in the developing world to compete. Bush said the United States promises to reduce and then eliminate those 'trade-distorting subsidies' - as long as Europe does the same. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, 11/07/05]

*Trivia: "Trade ministers representing most of the world's governments reached a deal in Hong Kong on Sunday night [12/18/05] that sets a deadline for wiping out subsidies of agricultural exports by 2013. [....]" [Based on: New York Times, 12/19/05]

2005 - Plans to Investigate? / Secret CIA Jails - November 4th, 2005: "The European Union and the continent's top human rights group said Thursday [11/03/05] that they would investigate allegations that the CIA set up secret jails in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to interrogate terrorism suspects, and the Red Cross demanded access to any prisons. [....] Europe's top human rights organization, the Council of Europe, said it, too, would investigate. [....] In implicating Poland and Romania, Human Rights Watch examined flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004, said Mark Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the New York-based organization. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "The European Union has formally requested answers from the United States about reports of secret U.S.-run prisons for terrorism suspects in Europe, and the United States will reply 'to the best of our ability,' the State Department said Wednesday [11/30/05]. [....] It would be illegal for the U.S. government to hold prisoners in isolation and difficult conditions in secret prisons in the United States. It has long been assumed that the CIA operates overseas sites to get around U.S. law and to keep terrorism suspects out of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. will reply to EU questions about secret prisons), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Eighth Night of Riots / Paris, France - November 4th, 2005: "The street rampage of angry youths continued to expand Thursday [11/03/05] accross immigrant-dominated suburbs of Paris, with gangs attacking commuter trains, elementary schools and businesses in an eighth night of violence, according to police officials. [....] Local police officials said that as many as 177 cars and trucks were set ablaze by rioters Wednesday night [11/02/05] and Thursday morning as many residents of the towns' high-rise, subsidized housing projects cowered in their apartments. [....] The rioting began after two Muslim boys - a 17-year-old immigrant from Tunisia and a 15-year-old whose parents are from Africa - were electrocuted when they hid in a high-voltage power substation while trying to avoid a police checkpoint in the northeastern Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. [....] Relatives said the youths were being chased by the police. Police officials deny that." [Based on: Washington Post]

2005 - Senate Vote / Alaska Artic Drilling, Etc. - November 4th, 2005: "The Senate on Thursday [11/03/05] narrowly approved a five-year plan to trim a wide range of federal benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and to allow drilling for oil and natural gas in a wilderness area of Alaska. The budget bill was approved 52-47. Five Republicans crossed party lines to oppose the measure, while two Democrats voted for it. [....] The Senate budget plan would reduce the growth of Medicare and Medicaid, trim farm programs across the board and increase premiums paid by corporations for insurance of private pension benefits. [....]" [Based on: New York Times]

*Trivia: "House leaders late Wednesday [11/09/05] abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill today [11/10/05]. They also dropped from the budget measure plans to allow states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts - regions currently under a drilling moratorium. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A5, S.L.P.D., 11/10/05]

2005 - Delayed / Confirmation Hearings, Samuel Alito - November 4th, 2005: "Resisting White House pressure, Senate leaders decided Thursday [11/03/05] to delay confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito until after the holiday season, beginning the proceedings Jan. 9 with the aim of holding a confirmation vote Jan. 20. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

2005 - Declining Support / President George W. Bush - November 4th, 2005: "[....] An AP-Ipsos poll of 1,006 adults said Bush's approval rating was at 37 percent, compared with 39 percent a month ago. About 59 percent of those surveyed said they disapproved. [....] A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,202 adults found on every key measure of presidential character and performance that Bush has never been less popular with the American people. venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who for years has swapped harsh rhetoric with the Bush administration, has described the proposed free trade zone as an 'imperialist plan' to enhance U.S. economic dominance over Latin America and the caribbean. [....]" [Based on: Staff Reports and News Services, p. A8 & A14, S.L.P.D., 11/04/05]

2005 - Spread Bogus Iraq Uranium Report / Rocco Martino? - November 4th, 2005: "Italy's spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday [11/03/05] as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy hundreds of tons of uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three Italian lawmakers said Thursday. The spymaster, Gen. Nicolo Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as SISMI, disclosed that Martino was the source of the forged documents in closed-door testimony to a parliamentary committee that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said. Sen. Massimo Brutti, a member of the committee, told reporters that Pollari had identified Martino as a former intelligence agency informer who had been 'kicked out of the agency.' The revelation came on a day when the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it had shut down its two-year investigation into the origin of the forged documents from Italy. The information about Iraq's desire to acquire the uranium ore, known as yellowcake, was used by the Bush administration to help justify the invasion of Iraq, notably by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address in January 2003. But the information was later revealed to have been based on forgeries. [....] Martino has long been suspected of being the person responsible for peddling the false documents on the Iraq-Niger connection. But this was the first time that his role was formally disclosed by Italian intelligence. Neither Martino nor his lawyer was available for comment. Brutti also told reporters that the Italian intelligence agency had warned the United States in early 2003 that the Niger-Iraq documents were false. 'At about the same time as the State of the Union address, they said that the dossier doesn't correspond to the truth,' Brutti said. He made the claim more than once, but gave no supporting evidence. Amid confusing statements by various lawmakers, he later appeared to backtrack in conversations with both The Associated Press and Reuters, saying that because SISMI never had the documents, it could not comment on their merit." [Based on: New York Times article by Elaine Sciolino & Elisabetta Povoledo (Italy alleges ex-spy spread bogus Iraq uranium report), p. A11, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/04/05]

2005 - Strong earthquake / Bismark Sea - November 5th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 10:48:23 (UTC) on Saturday, November 5, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in the BISMARCK SEA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfbai.htm]

2005 - Resignation / Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch - November 5th, 2005: "Ellen Soeteber, the top editor of the Post-Dispatch, jolted her own newsroom Friday afternoon [11/04/05], announcing her resignation in a teary farewell that cited her inability to come to terms with management over personal financial considerations and newspaper resources. Soeteber, 55, an East St. Louis native who in January 2001 became the newspaper's sixth editor, broke the news in a hastily arranged newsroom meeting on the paper's fifth floor. [....] Post-Dispatch Publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger named Managing Editor Arnie Robbins, 52, as Soeteber's successor. The changes take effect Dec. 1 [....]" [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

2005 - Deadly Tornado / Indiana - November 6th, 2005: "A tornado touched down in Kentucky, jumped the Ohio River and cut a 15-to 20-mile-wide swath through two Indiana counties. [....] The twister, with winds of at least 158 mph, ripped through a mobile home park in Evansville, killing at least 17. Five other deaths were confirmed. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/07/05]

2005 - Riots Trivia / Paris, France - November 6th, 2005: "The unrest that triggered scores of arson attacks on targets from the Mediterranean to the German border reached into Paris overnight. Police said early Sunday [11/06/05] that 13 cars were burned in the French capital. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/06/05]]

*Trivia: "[....] The corrosive gap between America's whites and its racial minorities, especially African-Americans, is the product of centuries: slavery, followed by cycles of poverty and racial exclusion that denied generation after generation the best that the United States could offer. France, on the other hand, is only beginning to struggle with a much newer variant of the same problem: the fury of Muslims of North African descent who have found themselves caught for three generations in a trap of ethnic and religious discrimination. [....] So far, although hundreds of cars and buses have been burned and dozens of businesses destroyed in violence that has spread to at least a dozen towns, most rioters appear to be teenage boys bent more on making the news than making a coherent political statement. Oliver Roy, a French scholar of European Islam, said the danger was a long-range one. So far, he said, the attacks on the police and the torching of cars have less the character of a religious war than of 'a local sport, a rite of passage.' [....] Mayor Manuel Valls of Evry, a Paris suburb that has seen violence in recent days, said, 'We've combined the failure of our integration model with the worst effects of ghettoization, without a social ladder for people to climb.' " [Based on: New York Times article by Craig S. Smith, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/06/05]

2005 - Trivia / Bogus Iraq Reports - November 6th, 2005: "[....] Four U.S. officials said the Italian military intelligence agency known as SISMI passed three reports to the CIA station in Rome between October 2001 and March 2002 outlining an illegal deal for Iraq to buy uranium ore, known as yellowcake, from Niger. [....] One of the reports passed by SISMI contained language that turned out to have been lifted verbatim from crudely forged documents that outlined the purported uranium-ore deal, the U.S. officials said. 'SISMI was involved in this; there is no doubt,' said a U.S. intelligence official who has closely followed the matter. The United States obtained complete copies of the forgeries in October 2002. Five months later, the International Atomic Energy Agency determined that the documents were fakes, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, and the White House later conceded that Bush shouldn't have made the allegations. The Italian government has denied that SISMI was involved in concocting or passing the forged documents. A July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report said three reports on the alleged deal were passed to the CIA in that period, but it didn't disclose the name of the foreign intelligence service that had provided them. Two of the U.S. officials said SISMI had passed similar reports about the alleged deal, based on the forgeries, to the intelligence services in Britain, France and Germany. Britain has continued to stand by a 2002 'white paper' report that charged that Iraq had sought to buy yellowcake in Africa. Bush cited the British assertion in his 2003 State of the Union address rather than the U.S. intelligence reports, which had been disputed by some CIA experts and by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The U.S. oficials were reacting to the reported testimony by SISMI Director Nicolo Pollari on Thursday [11/03/05] in a closed-door Italian parliamentary committee hearing. After the hearing, Italian lawmakers said Pollari had pinned the passing of the forgeries on a former SISMI informer named Rocco Martino. Pollari denied that any Italian intelligence agency was involved in concocting the fakes or disseminating them. News reports have quoted Martino as saying he had obtained the documents from a contact at the Niger Embassy in Rome, but this was the first time he was officially identified. Key questions remain about how the Niger claim made it into the Bush administration's case for war, including who concocted the forged documents and why the claim was in Bush's State of the Union after being cut from a draft of a presidential speeech some two months earlier." [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (U.S. again blames Italy for bogus Iraq reports) , p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/06/05]

2005 - "Operation Steel Curtain" / Syrian Border, Iraq - November 6th, 2005: "About 3,500 U.S. and Iraqi troops backed by warplanes dropping 500-pound bombs assaulted a town near the Syrian border Saturday [11/05/05]. The town is reputed to be a crossing point for foreign guerrillas. The operation in Husaybah, about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, the capital, was one of the largest since U.S. forces retook the Sunni triangle city of Fallujah a year ago. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Iraqi government soldiers join U.S. troops in offensive), p. A13, S.L.P.D., 11/06/05]

2005 - Riots Continue / France - November 7th, 2005: "President Jacques Chirac promised Sunday [11/06/05] to restore public order across France, but unrest spread for an 11th night. Rioters battled police, threw Molotov cocktails and rammed a car into a housing project. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

*Trivia: "[....] France's worst civil unrest in decades entered a 12th night Monday [11/07/05], as rioters in the southern city of Toulouse set fire to a bus after sundown and pelted police with gasoline bombs and rocks. [....] The Les Tilleuls youths noted that France had welcomed their parents as laborers years ago, often to do menial jobs most French did not want. Now, there are no jobs - or no one willing to give them one, they said. 'This isn't good for anything,' says Farid, 20, angrily shaking his French identity card. He and the others refused to give their surnames, saying they fear repercussions from police or in the community. [....] In terms of material destruction, the unrest is France's worst since World War II - and never has rioting struck so many different French cities simultaneously, said security expert Sebastian Roche, a director of research at the state-funded National Center for Scientific Research. [....] Villepin said 'organized criminal networks' are backing the violence and that youths taking part are treating it as a game, trying to outdo one another. He did not rule out the possibility that radical Islamists are involved, saying: 'That element must not be neglected.' France's community of Muslims, at about 5 million, is Western Europe's largest. [....] Nearly 600 people were in custody Monday night, and fast-track trials were being used to punish rioters. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A9, S.L.P.D.]

2005 - Hindu Mob Attack / Muslim Village - November 7th, 2005: "A Hindu mob attacked a Muslim village in northern India, burning homes and killing three people, after hearing rumors that cows, considered holy by Hindus, were slaughtered for Islamic celebrations, police said Sunday [11/06/05]. Police said no cattle had been killed in Mehndipur village in the northern Uttar Pradesh state." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Democrats' hypocrisy is hurting America - November 7th, 2005:

Let's reprise what the president had to say on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein:
   "If he refuses or continues to evade his obligations through more tactics of delay and deception, he and he alone will be to blame for the consequences.... Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction...? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devestating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who's really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too."
   Here's the hitch: That was Bill Clinton in 1998, not George W. Bush in 2002.
[....]
   Sen. Jay Rockefeller - the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and now a full member of the "Bush lied" chorus - declared: "I do believe that Iraq is an immediate threat" and "we can no longer afford to wait for a smoking gun." And Sens. Evan Bayh, Joseph Biden, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards all voted for the war.
   Most of these Democrats had access to the same intelligence as the president. But now, in one of the most repugnant and craven partisan ploys in modern American history, Democrats have decided that they cannot accept their own responsibility in what they clearly consider to be a mistake - except in beleiving Bush's "lies."
[....]
   Does anyone doubt that if there were no insurgency and Iraq were as far along in the democratic process as it is now, the Democrats would be boasting about their bi-partisan support for the war and cackling about how Democrats were right about "nation-building" all along?
   But they don't care. In their America, partisanship begins at the water's edge.

[Based on: Other Views page article by Jonah Goldberg (Democrats' hypocrisy is hurting America), p. B9, S.L.P.D., 11/07/05]

*Trivia: "Sunday [8/10/03] The Washington Post published the results of a lengthy investigation into the Bush administration's claims about an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The story also described the creation within the White House last August [2002] of a special group charged with winning support from Congress, from the United Nations if necessary and from the American people for a war against Iraq. [....]
   "September 11th left me emotionally battered, struggling and scared, and it was precisely that fear that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice tapped into - in me and everyone else - with their calculated, misleading conjurings of mushroom clouds, poisons and diseases.
   "Only later did I realize that the real campaign for this war began in the spring of 1997, with the creation of the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative acedemics, ideologues and once-and-future government functionaries. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush and many senior officials in the current administration signed its founding statement of principles.
   "On January 26, 1998, the Project issued a public letter to then-President Bill Clinton. It called for regime change in Iraq, by force if necessary.
   "Not quite four years later, the attacks of September 11th supplied an aching touchstone through which the Project, whose backers had returned to positions of power throughout government, could build support for its new-world-order objectives. Facts can be debated and the meaning of intelligence estimates can be argued, but the emotional, psycological and political power of September 11th is enduring and unassailable." [Based on: article by Eric Mink, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 08/13/03]

*Further reading ...

2005 - Abuse of Power? / U.S. Patriot Act - November 7th, 2005: "Lawmakers expressed concern Sunday [11/06/05] that the FBI was aggressively pushing the powers of the anti-terrorist USA Patriot Act to gain access to private phone and financial records of ordinary people. [....] Under the Patriot Act, the FBI has been issuing more than 30,000 national security letters allowing the investigations each year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The Washington Post reported Sunday [11/06/05], quoting unidentified government sources. The security letters, which were first used in the 1970s, allow access to people's phone and e-mail records, as well as financial data and the Internet sites they surf. The 2001 Patriot Act removed the requirement that the records sought be those of someone under suspicion. [....] Issued by the FBI without review by a judge, the letters are used to get electronic records from 'electronic communications service providers.' Such providers include Internet service companies but also universities, public interest organizations and almost all libraries, because most provide access to the Internet. The Patriot Act provision involving national security letters was enacted permanently in 2001, so it was not part of Congress' debate last summer over extending some provisions. As the Dec. 31 deadline has approached for Congress to renew provisions of the act, the House and Senate have voted to make noncompliance with a security letter a criminal offense." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Deceptive Prewar Statements? / U.S.A. - November 7th, 2005: "A government document raises doubts about claims that al-Qaida members received training for biological and chemical weapons in Iraq. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats defended on Sunday [11/06/05] their push for a report on how President George W. Bush's administration handled prewar intelligence. [....] 'We cannot have a government which is going to manipulate intelligence information. We've got to get to the bottom of it,' Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' [....] The document from February 2002 showed that the agency questioned the reliability of al-Qaida senior military trainer Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. He could not name any Iraqis involved in the effort or identify any chemical or biological materials or say where the training was taking place, the report said. [....] Levin said Bush, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and Intelligence and diplomatic officials cited chemical and biological training by Iraq as they gathered support for the war. This was months after the information from the defense agency in February 2002, he said. 'This newly declassified information provides additional dramatic evidence that the administration's prewar statements were deceptive,' Levin said. 'More than a year before Secretary Powell included that charge in his presentation to the United Nations, the DIA had said it believed the detainee's claims were bogus.' White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters with Bush on his South American trip that he had not seen a report about the documents." [Based on: A.P. article (Document indicates White House knew source linking Iraq, al-Qaida was flawed), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/07/05]

2005 - Available on Internet / NBC Nightly News - November 7th, 2005: "NBC News said Monday [10/31/05] that it would begin making its 'NBC Nightly News' broadcast available for free on the Internet starting next week. [....] The first newscast available on the Internet will be on Nov. 7." [Based on: News Services, 11/01/05]

2005 - Pirate Raid / Cruise Liner, Somalia Coast - November 7th, 2005: "The violent attack on a cruise liner off Somalia's coast [11/05/05] shows pirates from the anarchic country on the Horn of Africa are becoming bolder in their efforst to attack ships, a maritime official warned Sunday [11/06/05]. [....] That gang is one of three well-organized pirate groups on the 1,880-mile coast of Somalia. The country has had no effective government since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on oneanother. Warlords control the nation of 7 million. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / Iraq - November 8th, 2005: "A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle Monday [11/07/05] at a checkpoint south of Baghdad and killed four American soldiers, the military said. The U.S. command also announced that five soldiers from an elite unit were charged with kicking and punching Iraqi detainees. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Cancer Trivia? / U.S.A. - November 8th, 2005: "[....] Half of all men and one-third of women in the United States will develop cancer in their lifetime. Thanks to advances in early detection and treatment, the number who survive has more than tripled over the past three decades. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Cancer study focuses on follow-up), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Fashioning deadly fiascos -

   I've said it before and I'll say it again. Men are simply not biologically suited to hold higher office. The Bush administration has proved that once and for all.
[....]
   The former Powell chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who often verbalizes what Colin Powell does not say because the ex-secretary of state does not want to be in a public catfight with the cabal, charged on NPR that the cabal issued directives that led to the abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[....]
   The colonel also described how Vice shaped war policy. Cheney's fiercly ideological staff monitored the National Security Council staff in such Big Brother fashion that some of the NSC staff "quit using e-mails for substantive conversations because they knew the vice president's alternate national security staff was reading their e-mails now."
   Wilkerson said that there was an NSC memo that made a compelling argument for a large number of troops being necessary in Iraq, "and to this day, I don't know whether that memorandum ever got to the president of the United States."

[Based on: article by Maureen Dowd (Fashioning deadly fiascos), p. B7, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Ancient Church / Israel - November 8th, 2005: "Israeli prisoners Ramil Razilo ... and Biton Maymon on Sunday [11/06/05] clean ancient mosaics from what may be the Holy Land's oldest church. Razilo found the mosaics while removing rubble at Megiddo Prison in Israel." [Based on: A.P. picture article, p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Archaeologists said the church dated from the third century - decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Byzantine Empire. 'It's the oldest archaeological remains of a church in Israel, maybe even in the entire region,' said Yotam Tepper, the excavation's head archaeologist. [....] Razilo was helping to excavate the area before the construction of new wards for 1,200 Palestinians. [....] Two mosaics inside the church - one covered with fish, an ancient Christian symbol that predates the cross - tell the story of a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory 'of the god, Jesus Christ.' " [Based on: Washington Post article (Prisoner uncovers ancient church), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - U.S. Troop Rotation Trivia / Iraq - November 8th, 2005: "The Pentagon announced on Monday [11/07/05] a troop rotation for Iraq that will keep at least 92,000 soldiers there through 2008. On paper, that's much smaller than the force now in Iraq. But a Pentagon spokesman said no decision to reduce troop levels next year had been made. [....] About 17 combat brigades are now in Iraq, with about 3,500 soldiers in each. Monday's announcement did not include any Marine Corps units, although they apparently will be added later. [....] The announcement said Rumsfeld's deisions 'may result in changes to this rotation.' " [Based on: A.P. article (Rotation will keep 92,000 soldiers in Iraq), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Trivia / Gasoline Prices, U.S.A. - November 8th, 2005: "For the fifth consecutive week, average retail gasoline prices have dropped nationwide, falling below $2.40 a gallon for the first time since early August. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article, p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Foiled Terrorist Plot / Australia - November 8th, 2005: "Australian authorities arrested 16 suspects today [11/08/05] and said they had foiled a major terrorist attack on the country. [....] Among the men arrested was the radical Muslim cleric Abdul Nacker Ben Brika, also known as Abu Bakr. He is an Algerian-Australian who has said he would be violating his faith if he warned his students not to join the jihad, or holy war, in Iraq. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Arrested / Alberto Fujimori, Chile - November 8th, 2005: "Exiled former president Alberto Fujimori's attempt to return to Peru to resurrect his political career ended with his arrest in Chile early Monday [11/07/05]. Peruvian officials said they hope to extradite him to face charges of corruption and human rights abuses commited during his decade-long [1990-2000] presidency. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post]

2005 - Inquiry / Jewish Activist's Prison Death - November 8th, 2005: "Relatives of former Jewish Defense League activist Earl Krugel are calling for an investigation into his death at a federal prison in Phoenix. [....] He had been imprisoned for plotting to bomb a mosque in Culver City, Calif., and the field office of Arab-American Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, Calif. [....] Krugel's sister, Linda, said she was told that an inmate had hit her brother on the head with a chunk of cement while he was exercising on the prison grounds, three days after he arrived at the prison. State and federal law enforcement officials speaking on the condition of anonymity have said Krugel was attacked by a white supremacist." [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Inquiry into Jewish activist's prison death is sought), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Big Spender / Michael Bloomberg - November 8th, 2005: "New York's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, spent more than $77 million to get re-elected Nov. 8, according to campaign finance reports released Monday [12/05/05]. The spending amounts to more than $103 per vote." [Based on: News Services article (Big Spender), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/06/06]

2005 - Supreme Court Review? / U.S. Tribunals - November 8th, 2005: "The Supreme Court agreed Monday [11/07/05] to review a constitutional challenge to the administration's military trials for foreign terrorism suspects. [....] The administration had urged the court to stay on the sidelines until after the trials, arguing that national security was at stake. [....] Last year, the justices took up the first round of cases stemming from the war on terrorism. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring, wrote in one case that 'a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens.' " [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Washington Homecoming? / Ahmad Chalabi - November 8th, 2005: "Ahmad Chalabi, who helped bamboozle the Bush administration into invading Iraq, will arrive in Washington today to begin an eight-day visit to the United States. The proper way to welcome him would be to slap handcuffs on him. Instead, Mr. Chalabi, who is now Iraq's deputy prime minister, has appointments with Treasury Secretary John Snow and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; he may meet with Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. He has a speech scheduled before the American Enterprise Institute, the neoconservative think-tank which nurtured the pre-war hallucinations about how painless the entire Iraq enterprise would be. [....] How did Ahmad Chalabi even get a U.S. travel visa, much less an appointment with the secretary of state? The Senate if feuding over pre-war intelligence failures, for which Mr. Chalabi bears much blame. Mr Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis ... Libby, is under fresh indictment for lying about his involvement in a case involving bogus intelligence. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail protecting Mr. Libby, but may be drummed out of the Times for her gullibility in buying Mr. Chalabi's claims about Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Chalabi, 60, is an MIT-educated mathematician who later became an international banker and a fugative from bank fraud charges in Jordan. He has survival skills that a cockroach would envy. When the Iraqi people rejected his kind offer of becoming their new American-allied ruler, he began forging alliances with the other side. He made nice with Muqtada al Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, and then with the government of Iran. Indeed, in April 2004, U.S. troops raided his offices looking for evidence that he'd tipped off Iran that U.S. cryptographers had broken their codes. With friends like this.... Lately he's been in Tehran, cozying up to Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.' Now Mr. Chalabi is back in Washington with his neo-con pals, who wanted Saddam removed in part so Israel would be more secure. This is a mark of just how desperate the Bush administration is over Iraq, that Ahmad the bamboozler - who helped break things in the first place - is now seen as a key to putting things back together. Desperate, or clueless." [Based on: Opinion Page article (A Washington homecoming for a cockroach), p. B6, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

*Trivia: "Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq's deputy prime minister, will meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today [11/09/05] in a visit that would have been unimaginable two years ago. 'He is an official and a representative of the government of Iraq,' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said in explaining Rice's decision to meet with the Shiite leader. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 -  "We do not torture" / President George W. Bush - November 8th, 2005: "President George W. Bush defended on Monday [11/07/05] U.S. interrogation practices and called the treatment of terrorism suspects lawful. 'We do not torture,' Bush declared in response to reports of secret CIA prisons overseas. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Bush insists that terror suspects are being treated according to law), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

*Trivia: "Well, I guess that settles that. 'We do not torture,' said President George W. Bush on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture. 'We do not torture,' said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence. But... What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made? [....] What a difference a presidency makes. 'We do not torture,' he says. In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. We have imprisoned Muslims in America and refused to say if we had them, why we had them, or even to provide them attorneys. We have passed laws making it easier for government to snoop into what you read, who you talk to, where you go. We have equated dissent with lack of patriotism, disagreement with treason. And we have tortured. I'd never suggest we ought not fear terrorism. But we should also fear the nation we are becoming in response. We should fear the fact that we have abrogated moral authority, retreated from moral high ground, become like those we once chastised. 'We do not torture,' says the president. I can remember when that went without saying." [Based on: Other Views page article (If only we could believe "we do not torture"), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 11/13/05] - [Paragraph indents removed to save space - E.M.]

2005 - Costliest Year Ever / Catastrophe Damages, U.S.A. - November 8th, 2005: "U.S. property and casualty insurers paid out a record $40.8 billion in the third quarter to homeowners and businesses that were hit by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, according to an insurance data group. The ISO's Property Claim Services unit said Monday [11/07/05] the preliminary estimates for the July-September period indicate that 2005 will be the costliest year ever for castrophe damages." [Based on: Business page article (Payouts after hurricanes set record: $40.8 billion), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/08/05]

2005 - Trivia / Coffe & Cola - November 9th, 2005: "Here's good news for women who love coffee: Drinking it doesn't seem to cause long-term high blood pressure. But the same study says that for some reason, women who drink cola do seem to have a greater risk of high blood pressure. Researchers were surprised at that but cautioned that the study was inconclusive. Both beverages have caffeine, which has been shown to cause short-term increases in blood pressure. But the coffee drinkers in the study were no more likely than abstainers to develop high blood pressure over 12 years. [....] The government-funded study appears in today's [11/09/05] issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Lindsey Tanner, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/09/05]

2005 - Secured / Husaybah, Iraq - November 9th, 2005: "U.S. and Iraqi forces secured the town of Husaybah after four days of fighting along the Syrian border, the Marine commander said Tuesday [11/08/05]. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Trade Deal / U.S. & China - November 9th, 2005: "The United States and China on Tuesday [11/08/05] signed a deal limiting imports of Chinese clothing and textile products into the U.S., capping three months of negotiations. [....] 'Instead of terms that ensure that there is a true transition to unrestricted trade after 2008, the agreement imposes tight quotas on the products of greatest importance to American families: shirts, pants and underwear,' said Laura E. Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel." [Based on: A.P. article, p. C3, S.L.P.D., 11/09/05]

2005 - Fined / Bank of New York - November 9th, 2005: "The nation's oldest bank, The Bank of New York, has agreed to pay $38 million in fines and adopt reforms to end a long-running federal investigation into fraud and money laundering, prosecutors said Tuesday [11/08/05]. In exchange, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Manuskopf of Brooklyn and U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia of Manhattan said they would not prosecute the bank for failing to enforce federally mandated anti-money laundering measures and other banking rules." [Based on: Business Page article, p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/09/05]

2005 - Launch / Venus Express - November 9th, 2005: "A European-built probe designed to explore the hot, dense atmosphere of Venus blasted off early today on a Russian booster rocket, beginning a five-month journey to Earth's neighbor. The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe lifted off at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and headed into orbit. [....] Not only is Venus the nearest planet to Earth within the solar system, but the two share also roughly the same mass and density. Both have inner cores of rock and are believed to have been formed at roughly the same time." [Based on: A.P. article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/09/05]

2005 - Bar Pardon? / I. Lewis Libby - November 9th, 2005: "Four Senate Democrats challenged President George W. Bush on Tuesday [11/08/05] to rule out a pardon for I. Lewis Libby, the former White House aide charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case. [....] Reid [Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada] challenged the president to 'avoid falling in the footsteps of his father, who pardoned six men, some were convicted, some were indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal.' Shortly before leaving office, former President George Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and five other former officials who had served Ronald Reagan. The five were involved in the Iran-Contra affair, in which arms were secretly sold to Iran, with the proceeds funneled to anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua. [....] Also signing Tuesday's letter with Reid were Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - U.N. Mandate Extension / Iraq - November 9th, 2005: "The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday [11/08/05] to extend the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq for a year. [....] The force now comprises 157,000 American soldiers and 22,000 soldiers from other countries. Al-Jaafari requested the yearlong extension in a letter to the council last month." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - State of Emergency / France - November 9th, 2005: "The French government declared a state of emergency Tuesday [11/08/05], enabling police to impose curfews and other extraordinary measures to combat the worst riots in recent history. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times]

2005 - Discovered / Ancient Alphabet? - November 9th, 2005: "Pittsburgh archeologist [Ron E. Tappy] discovers ancient alphabet [between June 10th-16th 2005] in Israel [Tel Zayit] / Find will add fuel to biblical debate" [Based on: Title & Subtitle for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article By Anya Sostek] - [see link]

*Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05313/603007.stm

2005 - News Science Standards / Kansas - November 9th, 2005: "The Vote: The Kansas Board of Education approved science standards that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. Critics Say: The changes are not science, and the new standards make Kansas 'a laughingstock.' Supporters Say: The standards will expose students to legitimate scientific questions about evolution. [....] The standards change the definition of science to allow for nonnatural explanations and cast significant doubt on the theory made famous by Charles Darwin. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/09/05]

2005 - Banned / Same-Sex Marriage, Texas - November 9th, 2005: "Texas voters overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday [11/08/05] a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, making their state the 19th to take that step. In Maine a proposal to repeal a new gay-rights law was trailing by a wide margin. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Ethics Training / White House Workers - November 9th, 2005: "White House workers, from presidential advisers to low-ranking aides, began attending mandatory lectures on ethical behavior and the handling of classified documents Tuesday [11/08/05] after the recent indictment of a high-level official in the CIA leak case. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Worst Gonorrhea Rate / St. Louis, Mo. - November 9th, 2005: "St. Louis leads the nation in rates of gonorrhea, according to statistics released  Tuesday [11/08/05] by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The city ranked second in chlamydia and fifth in syphilis nationwide. St. Louis has long ranked high in cases of sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC report provided 2004 data on three STDs - gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. Young people, minorities and men who have sex with men were at greatest risk. Syphilis and chlamydia rates rose nationwide, while gonorrhea rates dropped to a historic low. Health officials estimate that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, almost half among people from 15 to 24. Most of the infections go undiagnosed. [....] Chlamydia was the most common STD nationwide, with a total of about 930,000 cases reported last year, according to the CDC report. Federal health officials said the actual number of cases is far higher, about 2.8 million new cases each year. [....] Gonorrhea hit an all-time low nationally, with about 330,000 cases reported. The national rate of 113.5 cases per 100,000 people was the lowest since the government started tracking cases in 1941. But syphilis has been steadily increasing since it hit a historic low in 2000. The rate of reported early-stage syphilis was 2.7 cases per 100,000 in 2004, up 29 percent since 2000. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D., pp. A1 & A15, 11/09/05]

2005 - 2nd Lawyer Slain / Saddam Hussein Trial - November 9th, 2005: "Three masked gunmen in a speeding vehicle killed a second lawyer [Adel al-Zubeidi] in the Saddam Hussein trial Tuesday [11/08/05], casting doubt on Iraq's ability to try the case. [....]." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Democratic Victories / New Jersey & Virginia - November 9th, 2005: "Democrats swept both governors' races Tuesday [11/08/05], with Sen. Jon Corzine winning New Jersey and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine taking Virginia despite a last-minute campaign push for his opponent from President George W. Bush. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Ordered by U.S. Pentagon / Humane Treatment of Prisoners - November 9th, 2005: "Thrown on the defenseive after the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has issued a broad new directive mandating that detainees be treated humanely and has banned the use of dogs to intimidate or harass suspects. [....] On Tuesday, the Senate voted 55-43, largely along party lines, against legislation that would create a commission modeled after the one that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Democrats contend that investigations into abuse allegations by the Pentagon have been incomplete. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Retired / Judith Miller - November 10th, 2005: "Judith Miller - the New York Times reporter who was first lionized and then criticized by her own newspaper for her role in the CIA leak case - has retired, the paper said Wednesday [11/09/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Defeated / Shimon Peres - November 10th, 2005: "A fiery union leader [Amir Peretz] won a stunning victory over Shimon Peres in the leadership contest for Israel's Labor Party, officials said today [11/10/05]. The vote deals a blow to the elder statesman that could have deep implications for the shaky governing coalition. Election officials announced that Peres had been defeated by Amir Peretz. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

*Trivia: "[....] Peretz promised to 'separate' Labor from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government and return to the opposition. He is much more dovish than Sharon in dealing with the Palestinians and has opposed the government's cuts in social spending. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, 11/11/05]

2005 - Major Defeat / Tony Blair - November 10th, 2005: "British lawmakers on Wednesday [10/09/05] rejected tough anti-terrorism legislation that would have allowed suspects to be detained for 90 days without charge. [....] Lawmakers, including 49 members of Blair's Labor Party, opted instead for a maximum detention period for terrorism suspects of 28 days without charge. That is still double the current 14-day maximum. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Fatality / Azahari bin Husin - November 10th, 2005: "One of Southeast Asia's most wanted terrorists apparently blew himself up Wednesday [11/09/05] to escape capture, the national police chief said. The blast is also believed to have killed two other suspects. The explosion was apparently the work of Azahari bin Husin, a native of Malaysia said to be in his 40s. He was a key figure in Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorism network with links to al-Qaida. Azahari was known as the 'Demolitian Man' for his expertise with explosives. His group has been blamed for a series of bombings as well as failed plots in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/10/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Police initially said Azahari blew himself up Wednesday [11/09/05] to avoid capture when his hide-out in east Java province was raided. But Sutanto said Thursday [11/10/05] that Azahari was fatally shot as he reached to detonate his suicide belt, and that another suspected militant holed up with him set off the device. The resulting explosion ripped off the roof of their rented house. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A13, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Trivia: / The Day After Roswell - November 10th, 2005: "A program entitled: UFO Files: The Day After Roswell, aired on The History Channel. The program mentioned that Mr. Corso died in 1998." [E.M.]

*Trivia: "Backed by documents newly declassified through the Freedom of Information Act, Colonel Corso [Retired], former head of the Foreign Technology Desk at the U.S. Army's Research and Development department, reveals for the first time [1997] his personal stewardship of alien artifacts from the 1947 Roswell crash, and discloses the government's astonishing role in the Roswell incident." [Link: 1]

2005 - Suicide Bombs? / Western Hotels, Jordan - November 10th, 2005: "Three blasts [11/09/05] target hotels owned by Western chains. A-Qaida is suspected. [....] No group immediately asserted responsibility for the attack. But several government officials said the coordination and execution - apparently by suicide attackers - bore the mark of the al-Qaida network. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Bombs kill over 50 in Jordan), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/10/05]

*Trivia: "[....] On Jordanian television Sunday [11/13/05], the surviving suspect [Sajda Mubarak al-Rishawi] said she tried to blow herself up at a crowded wedding party at the Radisson SAS Hotel, but the explosives vest she wore under an evening gown failed to detonate. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Bomber [Safah Mohammed Ali] may be former U.S. detainee), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/14/05] - [Brackets text added - E.M.]

*Trivia: "One day after Jordanian authorities presented to the world an Iraqi woman they said had taken part in the deadly Amman hotel terrorist attacks, investigators in Jordan said Monday [11/14/05] that she had volunteered to become a suicide bomber because three of her brothers were killed during 'operations' in Iraq. [....] While a videotaped confession showing al-Rishawi wearing the disarmed suicide belt was being broadcast around the world, details about her life, motivation and role in the attacks, which killed 57 people, began to emerge in Jordan and Iraq. One investigator said al-Rishawi had not shown any remorse during questioning. [....] On Sunday, Jordanian officials announced that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, was responsible for planning the bombings of the three hotels, which included the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn. Authorities said they had identified three Iraqi men who killed themselves in the attacks, including a Mr. Ali, and that earlier in the morning they had arrested al-Rishawi, the wife of one of the men. Al-Rishawi gave a videotaped confession that was first broadcast in Jordan on Sunday night [11/13/05]. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/15/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Southwestern Siberia, Russia - November 10th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 19:29:54 (UTC) on Thursday, November 10, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in SOUTHEASTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @ http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfga2.htm]

2005 - Go-around city - November 11th, 2005:

What an interesting idea. Let's close Highway 40 for up to five years.
   Not only will St. Louis continue be a fly-over city, it will now have the added distinction of being a drive-around city too.

[Based on: Opinion Page article by Lois Klayman, p. C12, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05] - [Typo? ... continue [to?] be ....]

2005 - Trivia / Fannie Mae - November 11th, 2005: "Mortgage giant Fannie Mae, struggling to untangle its accounting in an $11 billion scandal, disclosed Thursday [11/10/05] that new errors have been uncovered as it reached outside the company to hire a new finance chief. The government-sponsored company, which finances one of every five home-mortgage loans in the United States, also named Robert T. Blakely, CFO of MCI Inc., as its chief operating officer as it again missed a regulatory deadline for filing a financial report - this time for the third quarter. Fannie Mae hasn't filed an earnings report since late last year." [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Suicide Bombers / Iraq - November 11th, 2005: "Bombers killed 42 people Thursday [11/10/05] at a Baghdad restaurant favored by police and an army recruiting center to the north. [....] Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in an Internet posting that it staged the attack in retaliation for U.S. and Iraqi operations near the Syrian border. Earlier, it claimed responsibility for Wednesday night's deadly hotel bombings in neighboring Jordan, linking those blasts to the conflict in Iraq. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Bird Flu / Persian Gulf? - November 11th, 2005: "China reported two new bird flu outbreaks in poultry Thursday [11/10/05] and quarantined 116 people, while Kuwait confirmed the first known cases in the Persian Gulf, in an imported peacock and a wild flamingo. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A5, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Waning Violence / France - November 11th, 2005: "President Jacques Chirac for the first time directly addressed the inequalities and discrimination that have fuled two weeks of rioting across France, saying Thursday [11/10/05] that the country has 'undeniable problems' in its poor neighborhoods. Violence continued to slow under state-of-emergency measures and heavy policing, with far fewer skirmishes and fewer cars burned. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Trade Deficit - November 11th, 2005: "The U.S. trade deficit swelled to $66.1 billion in September, far surpassing the previous record and providing a stark reminder of America's dependence on foreign capital to fund its import bill. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article, p. B1, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

*Trivia: "[....] The chorus of worry grew especially loud Thursday [11/10/05] after the Commerce Department reported that imports exceeded exports by $66 billion in September. That represented an 11 percent increase from August and was, by a considerable margin, the biggest monthly current-account deficit ever. [....]" [Based on: article (Try looking at trade deficit from another perspective) by David Nicklaus, p. B1, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Female President? / Africa - November 11th, 2005: "A former finance minister and Harvard graduate claimed victory Thursday [11/10/05] in Liberia's presidential election, a win that, if certified, would make her the first elected female leader in Africa. With more than 90 percent of the ballots counted, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had 59 percent of the vote and former international soccer star George Weah nearly 41 percent, the national Elections Commission said." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Indicted / Phillip R. Bennett - November 11th, 2005: "The former chief executive of Refco Inc., one of the world's biggest commodities brokerages, was indicted Thursday [11/10/05] on charges that he conspired to commit securities fraud. Phillip R. Bennett was charged in the indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on the same day British commodities broker Man Group PLC announced it had won a bidding war to acquire Refco for $282 million in cash. Refco filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 17, a week after it announced that a $430 million debt to the company owed by a firm controlled by the ousted chairman and chief executive had been concealed." [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Defense Policy Bill - November 11th, 2005: "The Senate voted Thursday [11/10/05] to prohibit foreign terrorist suspects at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from filing lawsuits in American courts to challenge their detentions. A Supreme Court ruling last year had granted such access. In a 49-42 vote, senators added the provision by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to a sweeping defense policy bill. [....] The Senate hopes to complete work next week on the bill. It already includes provisions barring abusive treatment of foreign prisoners and standardizing interrogation techniques. [....] In 2004, the Supreme Court said the 500 or so prisoners held there could file habeas corpus petitions in U.S. courts to fight their detentions. Many of the prisoners were captured in Afghanistan and have been held at Guantanamo for several years without being charged. Since that ruling, prisoner lawsuits against the government have piled up. In a separate war matter, the Senate voted 82-9 to require National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to provide the Senate and House intelligence committees with details of any clandestine facilities where the United States holds or has held terrorism suspects. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A2, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Third-Quarter Sales / Solutia Inc. - November 11th, 2005: "Chemical maker Solutia Inc. on Wednesday [11/09/05] reported nearly flat net sales in its third quarter compared to the year-ago period as demand for its products was stifled by the impact of hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The company is based in Town and Country [Mo.]. [....]" [Based on: Staff Reports, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - FTC Subpoenas / U.S. Oil Companies - November 11th, 2005: "The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has subpoenaed oil companies in an investigation into possible price gouging after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Gasoline at the pump soared to more than $3 a gallon as the hurricanes shut down U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The FTC began the investigation in September as to whether fuel refineries and retailers had tightened supplies to artificially inflate prices." [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Warns Pennsylvania Town / Pat Robertson - November 11th, 2005: "Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday [11/10/05] that disaster may strike there because they 'voted God out' by rejecting school board members who favored teaching 'intelligent design.' All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election lost Tuesday [11/08/05] after trying to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Intelligent design holds the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power. 'I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city,' Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's '700 Club.' Eight families sued the district, claiming the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state. A federal trial ended days before Tuesday's vote; no ruling has been issued." [Based on: News Services article (Robertson warns town that 'voted God out'), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - Appetite Suppressant Hormone / Obestatin - November 11th, 2005: "Scientists have discovered a biological brake for a hunger hormone: a competing hormone that seems to counter the urge to eat. The substance is named obestatin. So far, it has been tested in laboratory rats only. But if it pans out, the discovery of the dueling hormones could lead not just to a new appetite suppressant, but it could also help unravel the complex ways that the body regulates weight. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Mayor Michael Sessions / Hillsdale, Michigan - November 11th, 2005: "Michigan town [Hillsdale] elects high schooler [Michael Sessions ] its youngest mayor ever. [....] He had saved $700 from his summer job to buy yard signs and business cards. That was his campaign. That, and the knocking on doors. [....]" [Based on: Detroit Free Press article, p. A14, S.L.P.D., 11/11/05]

2005 - F-2 Tornadoes / Iowa - November 14th, 2005: "[....] Stratford and Woodward, 30 miles to the south, were the hardest hit by the tornadoes that swept through central Iowa on Saturday afternoon [11/12/05]. The governor declared Hamilton and Dallas counties, north and west of Des Moines, disaster areas, making them eligible for state assistance. As many as 30 homes in Stratford were destroyed, and at least 40 in Woodward were severly damaged, officials said. Authorities said they believed all residents were accounted for. [....] National Weather Service meteorologist Karl Jungbluth said the tornadoes that struck Woodward and Stratford were both being classified as F-2 on the Fujita scale, which measures the strength of a tornado up to F-5, the strongest. Both towns were hit with winds that approached 150 mph." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Foreign Relations / Syria & Iraq - November 12th, 2005: "The Iraqi prime minister demanded Friday [11/11/05] that Syria do more to keep foreign fighters from crossing into western Iraq. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said it was 'no secret' that foreign fighters were entering Iraq from Syria. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Iraq presses Syria on border crossings), p. A27, S.L.P.D., 11/12/05]

2005 - Security Breach / U.S. Credit Bureaus - November 12th, 2004: "A desktop computer stolen last month from one of the nation's three major credit bureaus contained Social Security numbers and other credit information for as many as 3,600 people, the company confirmed Friday [11/11/05]. TransUnion LLC, which along with Equifax Inc. and Experian Information Solutions checks consumers' credit on behalf of banks and other lenders, acknowledged the security breach. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article (3,600 have data stolen), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 11/12/05]

2005 - Veterans Day Speech / President George W. Bush - November 12th, 2005: "In a Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania [11/11/05], the president mounted a defense against Democratic accusations that he manipulated prewar intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Making repeated references to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he reiterated his claim that Iraq has become the 'central front' in the fight against terrorism. [....]" [Based on: Front Page article (Bush on attack against Iraq critics), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/12/05]

*Trivia: "In a Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania, President George W. Bush said this about criticism of the war in Iraq: 'While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.' Then the president promptly rewrote history. Mr. Bush's version goes like this: Before the war, Democrats in Congress and allied intelligence agencies agreed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; after the war, bipartisan inquiries concluded the administration did not misrepresent that intelligence. Mr. Bush must be counting on short memories because both claims are inaccurate. [....] While it is true that the Senate found no evidence of the administration pressuring intelligence agencies to change their conclusions, it put off the related question of whether the administration distorted those conclusions. This was the so-called Phase 2 inquiry on which the White House and Senate Republicans have dragged their feet. [....] Mr Bush's speech and his well-timed use of servicemen and women as props amounted to a transparent attempt to play the patriotism card to silence critics of the war. Supporting the troops and opposing the war are not mutually exclusive. It is the hight of patriotism to insist that the president tell the truth to the American people and that the nation learn from past mistakes." [Based on: Opinion Page article (It's patriotic to ask questions), p. B8, S.L.P.D., 11/15/05]   

2005 - Settlement / Boeing Co. - November 13th, 2005: "Thousands of female employees involved in a gender discrimination lawsuit against Boeing Co. will be sharing in a $72.5 million settlement in the next few weeks. [....] Boeing admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to change its hiring pay, promotion and complaint investigation practices." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Summit Failure / Middle East - November 13th, 2005: "A U.S.-backed summit meant to promote political freedom and economic change in the Middle East ended Saturday [11/12/05] without agreement, a blow to President George W. Bush's goals for the troubled region. A draft declaration on democratic and economic principle was shelved after Egypt insisted on language that would have given Arab governments greater control over which democracy groups receive money from a new fund. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - U.S. Senate Vote / Detainees' Rights - November 13th, 2005: "For almost eight centuries, the 'great writ' of habeas corpus has been a bedrock principle of English and American law, from the Magna Carta to today's jails and courts. It's the means for a prisoner to contest his imprisonment before a judge. That's one reason legal experts were stunned when the Senate, after an hour of debate, voted Thursday [11/10/05] to overturn the Supreme Court's extension of habeas corpus protetion to 500-plus detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba. [....] The provision would reverse a 2004 Supreme Court decision that held that the detainees have the right to sue. Since then, almost 300 detainees have filed petitions in U.S. district court in Washington. [....] In an interview Thursday after the 49-42 vote, Graham [Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.] said his proposal was intended 'to correct the balance' in how terror suspects should be treated - as enemy combatants, not as potential criminal defendants. He said the action was needed because Congress' failure to set legal procedures for dealing with the detainees had forced the courts to step in. [....] Many legal experts said the reach of Graham's proposal was breathtaking. [....] Opponents are scrambling to overturn the Senate vote. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., is planning an amendment that would remove the habeas corpus provision from Graham's proposal, and the Senate may take that up Monday [11/14/05]. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder newspapers article, p. A2, S.L.P.D., 11/13/05]

2005 - Rounding the Sun / Sunspot NOAA 822 - November 13th, 2005: "Finally, a sunspot! After a month of low solar activity and few 'spots, a large active region is rounding the sun's eastern limb. Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas, snapped this picture [see link] of it flaring on Nov. 13th: [....] The name of the sunspot is NOAA 822, and it is crackling with M-class solar flares. So far the explosions have not been Earth-directed, but that could change later this week as the sun turns the 'spot to face our planet. Stay tuned." [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/14/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Seram, Indonesia - November 13th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 10:25:01 (UTC) on Sunday, November 13, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in SERAM, INDONESIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfjag.htm]

2005 - National Homelessness & Hunger Awareness Week / U.S.A. - November 13th-19th, 2005: "The week of November 13-19 was National Homelessness and Hunger awareness week. Held annually during the week before Thanksgiving, it gives us pause to contemplate where our priorities are. [....]" [Based on: Other Views page article, p. C23, S.L.P.D., 11/24/05]

2005 - Major Earthquake / Honshu, Japan - November 14th, 2005: "A major earthquake occurred at 21:38:51 (UTC) on Monday, November 14, 2005. The magnitude 7.0 event has been located OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: Preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfkbr.htm]

2005 - Profit Trivia / Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - November 15th, 2005: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported the smallest profit gain in four years after hurricanes shut stores and soaring energy prices crimped consumer spending. Lowe's Cos. said profit surged on a rise in home renovations. [....] Profit at Wal-Mart was cut by $40 million in expenses after hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma closed 10 stores. [....]" [Based on: Bloomberg News]

2005 - Paycuts / Northwest Airlines Pilots - November 15th, 2005: "Northwest Airlines Corp. pilots ratified a temporary pay-cut deal on Monday [11/14/05] that gives the nation's fourth-largest airline some of what it wants while negotiations continue on permanent concessions. The deal will slash hourly pay by 23.9 percent, saving Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, $215 million per year." [Based on: Business Page article, p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/15/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Honshu, Japan - November 15th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 20:20:45 (UTC) on Tuesday, November 15, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: Preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usflbh.htm]

2005 - U.S. & Iraqi Offensive / Obeidi, Iraq - November 15th, 2005: "U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a fresh attack Monday [11/14/05] against an insurgent stronghold near the Syrian border despite calls by Sunni Arab leaders to halt such operations to encourage a big turnout in next month's election. The U.S. command said about 50 insurgents were killed. Two U.S. Marines were killed and at least seven were wounded in the fighting in the border town of Obeidi, according to a New York Times reporter who is embedded with the Marines. A Marine spokesman told The Associated Press that he cannot report casualties until 24 hours after they occur. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/15/05]

2005 - FDA Rejection / Morning-After Pill, Over-The-Counter - November 15th, 2005: "Federal health officials took unusual steps in rejecting nonprescription sales of emergency contraception, congressional investigators say. Some documents suggest that the decision was made even before scientists had finished reviewing the evidence. The independent audit is the work of the Government Accountability Office and was made public Monday [11/14/05]. It says the Food and Drug Administration's rejection in May 2004 of the morning-after pill deviated from 10 years of agency practice in moving prescription drugs to over-the-counter. [....] By law, the FDA is supposed to base decisions on science, not on politics or industry pressure. Top-ranking FDA officials have acknowledged that they overruled their own scientists' decision that nonprescription sales of emergency birth control would be safe." [Based on: A.P. article (FDA broke with practice in rejecting pill, audit says), p. A3, S.L.P.D, 11/15/05]

2005 - Status / Sunspot 822 - November 16th, 2005: "Sunspot 822 is enormous. From end to end it stretches some 140,000 km, about the diameter of Jupiter. Yesterday, Mila Zinkova of San Francisco photographed the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. Among the sea gulls is sunspot 822; it's the one without the wings [see link]: [....] Sunspot 822 is crackling with M-class solar flares. So far the explosions have not affected Earth, but this could change in the days ahead. The sunspot is turning to face our planet, increasing the chances of an Earth-directed eruption. Stay tuned."

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/16/05]

2005 - New Test? / Alzheimer's Disease - November 16th, 2005: "Alzheimer's disease starts years or even decades before symptoms begin. Now scientists at Washington University [Mo.] and the University of Pittsburgh say they can see evidence of the disease in the brains and spinal fluid in people in the early stages of dementia and in a few people who don't yet have memory problems. Anne M. Fagan Niven, a researcher at Washington University, presented the results of the universities' joint study Tuesday [11/15/05] at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. [....] Fagan and her colleauges examined two dozen people, including some in the early stages of dementia and some with no symptoms of disease. The researchers drew fluid from the volunteers' spinal columns and probed the fluid to determine the levels of a protein called Amyloid-beta 42, which is also known as A-beta 42. The protein builds up in brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and forms plaques. The plaques kill brain cells, producing memory loss and other symptoms of the disease. In people without Alzheimer's disease, the protein is made in the brain, gets dumped into the spinal fluid and is finally flushed into the blood for disposal. But when the protein begins to build up in the brain, more A-beta gets absorbed into plaques leaving less to reach the spinal fluid, Fagan said. She and her colleagues found that people with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease had low levels of the A-beta 42 protein in their spinal fluid. [....] As expected, Fagan found that the people with dementia and low levels of the protein in spinal fluid also had A-beta 42 plaques in their brains. But three people who didn't show any symptoms of Alzheimer's disease also had low A-Beta 42 levels in their spinal fluid and plaques in their brains. The researchers are tracking the volunteers to find out whether they will eventually develop the disease. Fagan cautioned that the only definitive test for Alzheimer's disease is still a brain autopsy. The test will likely undergo many revisions and improvements but could be useful for diagnosing or ruling out Alzheimer's disease and screening people at risk of the disease once drugs to treat it are available." [Based on: Article by Tina Hesman (New test may detect Alzheimer's before it shows), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/16/05]

2005 - CIA Leak Case Trivia / Bob Woodward - November 16th, 2005: "Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday [11/14/05] in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed. Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released Tuesday [11/15/05]. Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or give details about the testimony." [Based on: Staff Reports & News Services article (Bob Woodward testifies in CIA leak case), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/16/05]

*Trivia: "[....] When Woodward learned Plame's name, he told The Associated Press Wednesday [11/16/05], he was in the middle of finishing a book about the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and didn't want to be subpoenaed to testify. [....] Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, in announcing the charges, portrayed Libby as the first high-level government official to reveal Plame's identity to reporters in summer 2003. Legal experts said Wednesday [11/16/05] the disclosure that Woodward had a source - who was not Libby - could be used by Libby's lawyers to bolster their claim that Plame's identity was common knowledge among government officials and reporters. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Watergate reporter's version could help defense, attorneys say.), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - State of Emergency Extension / France - November 16th, 2005: "France's lower house of parliament voted Tuesday [11/15/05] to extend a state of emergency for three months, after the government said the extra powers are still needed to end the country's worst civil unrest in four decades. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Doctor's Settlement / Tenet Healthcare Corp. - November 16th, 2005: "Four doctors who worked at a hospital formerly owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. agreed to pay $27.1 million to settle a federal investigation into claims they performed unnecessary procedures at the company's Redding Medical Center in California. Tenet also agreed to pay another $5.5 million to settle claims against the company, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott in Sacramento, Calif, said Tuesday [11/15/05]. Dallas-based Tenet had previously agreed to pay $54 million in August 2003 to settle government civil claims in the case." [Based on: Business Page article (4 doctors will pay $27 million in Tenet deal), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/16/05]

2005 - Manipulation - November 17th, 2005:

"I did not manipulate intelligence on Iraq." "I am not a crook." "We do not torture." "I did not have sex with that woman."
   When are presidents going to learn that denial means they've already lost the battle in the public's mind? The more they return to the theme, the more they seem like a criminal who returns to the scene of a crime.
   In fact, he did have sex with that woman, we do torture (at Abu Ghraib), and he was a crook. Draw your own conclusions about pre-war intelligence in Iraq.

[Based on: Opinion Page article by Christine Feely, p. C16, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Leonids Meteor Shower - November 17th, 2005: "The most famous of all meteor showers, the Leonids, peaks this year on Nov. 17th. A few years ago, the Leonids were storming, filling the skies with bright meteors. But not this year. The 2005 Leonids are expected to be few (less than 20 per hour) and hard to see because of the glaring full Moon. This doesn't mean you shouldn't watch the shower; just don't expect a strong display."

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/10/05]

2005 - Bird Flu / Mainland China - November 17th, 2005: "China reported its first human cases of bird flu on the mainland Wednesday [11/16/05], as health workers armed with vaccine and disinfectant raced to inoculate billions of chickens and other poultry in a massive campaign to contain the virus. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (China announces first human cases of bird flu on mainland; 1 is fatal), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - To Torture or Not to Torture? - November 17th, 2005: "I think Dick Cheney has been watching too many Hollywood flicks that glorify torture. He needs to get out of his undisclosed location and talk to the people on the ground. I'm a former CIA officer and a former counterterrorism official. During the last few months, I have spoken with three good friends who are CIA operations officers, all of whom have workerd on terrorism at the highest levels. They all agree that torturing detainees will not help us. In fact, they believe that it will hurt us in many ways. These are the very people the vice president wants to empower to torture - and they don't want to do it. [....]" [Based on: Other Views page article (Torture dehumanizes the torturers, too), p. C17, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Pension Safety Net? - November 17th, 2005: "Moving to address a $23 billion hole in the pension safety net for 44 million workers and retirees, the Senate passed on Wednesday [11/16/05] a sweeping bill to prod companies to shore up underfunded benefit plans. Adopted by a vote of 97-2, the bill also would hand a break to bankrupt Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines and other struggling carriers, letting them stretch out billions of dollars in pension obligations over 20 years. [....]" [Based on: MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE article (Senate acts to boost pension plans, aid airlines), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Potosi, Bolivia - November 17th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 19:26:49 (UTC) on Thursday, November 17, 2005. The magnitude 6.9 event has been located in POTOSI, BOLIVIA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 105 km (65 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfnbd.htm]

2005 - Revelation / Clandestine Iraqi Prison - November 17th, 2005: "Sunni Arab leaders and an alleged torture victim gave accounts Wednesday [11/16/05] of bloody beatings, starvation and killings in a secret underground prison run by Iraq's Shiite-led Interior Ministry and uncovered bu S.S. soldiers. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Sunni Arabs tell of torture in clandestine Iraqi prison), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Clinton Comments / Invasion of Iraq - November 17th, 2005: "In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, former President Bill Clinton told Arab students Wednesday [11/16/05] that the United States made a 'big mistake' when it invaded Iraq. He cited the lack of planning for what would happen after Saddam Hussein was overthrown. [....] 'The mistake that they made is that when they kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure of Iraq. ... We never sent enough troops and didn't have enough troops to control or seal the borders,' Clinton said. As the borders were unsealed, 'the terrorists came in,' he said. Clinton's remarks came when he was taking questions about the U.S. invasion. His response drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session. In Washington on Wednesday night [11/16/05], Vice President Dick Cheney accused Democratic senators who allege the government distorted intelligence to justify the war in Iraq of engaging in 'one of the most dishonest and responsible charges ever aired in this city.' Speaking before a Washington dinner of the Frontiers of Freedon Institute, Cheney said Democrats who say they were misled by the administration are 'making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.' Cheney's remarks are part of a White House effort to rebut critics who are becoming increasingly vocal as U.S. public opinion has turned against the war." [Based on: A.P. article (Clinton faults war), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Barely Screened? / U.S. Airline Cargo - November 17th, 2005: "While airline passengers go through security screening, the cargo in the hold beneath their seats is barely checked, a new federal report says. [....] Although the government created a plan in November 2003 to secure air cargo, officials have yet to finish it, the report said. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article, Airline cargo is barely screened, GAO report says), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - Deception Revelations / Richard Nixon - November 17th, 2005: "Even after Richard Nixon's secret war in Cambodia became known, the president persisted in deception. 'Publicly, we say one thing,' he told aides. 'Actually, we do another.' [....] On May 31, 1970, a month after Nixon went on TV to defend the previously secret U.S. bombings and troop movements in Cambodia, asserting that he would not let his nation become 'a pitiful, helpless giant,' the president met his top military and national security aides at the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif. [....] In a memo from the meeting marked 'Eyes Only, Top Secret Sensitive,' Nixon told his military men to continue doing what was necessary in Cambodia, but to say for public consumption that the United States was merely providing support to South Vietnamese forces when necessary to protect U.S. troops. 'That is what we will say publicly,' he asserted. 'But now, let's talk about what we will actually do.' [....] Nixon told his aides to plan offensive operations in neutral Laos, continue U.S. air operations in Cambodia and work on a summer offensive in South Vietnam." [Based on: A.P. article by Cal Woodward (Nixon told military to lie about actions in Cambodia), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/17/05]

2005 - HIV Trivia / U.S.A. - November 18th, 2005: "The rate of newly reported HIV cases among blacks has been dropping by about 5 percent a year since 2001, the government said Thursday [11/17/05]. But blacks are still eight times more likely than whites to be diagnosed with the AIDS virus. [....] The study was based on 2001-04 data from 33 states that have name-based reporting systems for HIV. [....] The CDC found that overall diagnoses in the 33 states decreased slightly, from 41,207 cases in 2001 to 38,685 in 2004. The rate fell from 22.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2001 to 20.7 per 100,000 in 2004. [....] The decline is also linked to a 4 percent decline in diagnoses among hetrosexuals. About 69 percent of the hetrosexuals diagnosed with HIV were black." [Based on: A.P. article (Study indicates decline in HIV infection rate among blacks), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/18/05]

*Trivia: "HIV infection rates are starting to decrease consistently in some countries for the first time, indicating that prevention programs set up over the last five years are finally yielding results, the United Nations said. But the AIDS virus continues to expand its reach with the estimated number of people living with the virus now passing 40 million, according to this year's  AIDS epidemic update report, published Monday [11/21/05] by the United Nations. That's an increase of some 900,000 cases over the estimate for the previous year. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in history. An estimated 3.1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, and 4.9 million more people became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 11/22/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Today, the greatest rise in new HIV infections [in USA?] is occurring among African-American women." [Based on: p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Arrested / David Irving - November 18th, 2005: "British historian David Irving, who once said that Adolf Hitler knew nothing about the systematic murder of 6 million Jews, has been arrested in Austria on a warrant accusing him of denying the Holocaust. [....] The historian has said he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis, but he has questioned whether large-scale gas chambers were used and has claimed that the numbers of those who perished are far lower than generally accepted. He also contends that most Jews who died at Auschwitz did so from diseases like typhus, not gas poisoning." [Based on: A.P. article (Author David Irving is arrested in Austria on Holocaust denial charges), p. A13, S.L.P.D., 11/18/05]

2005 - Genetically Engineered Mice - November 18th, 2005: "Scientists working with mice have found that by removing a single gene they can turn normally cautious animals into daring ones - mice that are more willing to explore unknown territory and less intimidated by signals and sounds that they have learned can be dangerous. The surprising discovery, reported today in the journal Cell, opens a window on how fear works in the brain, experts said. [....]" [Based on: New York Times]

2005 - Fined / U.S. Peace Activists - November 18th, 2005: "Iraq war protestor Cindy Sheehan and 26 other peace activists were found guilty Thursday [11/17/05] of protesting without a permit near the White House. They were each ordered to pay $75 in fines and court costs, but Sheehan's lawyer said he plans to appeal the verdict. 'We weren't demonstrating,' Sheehan said after the trial. All the defendents contended that on Sept. 26, they were trying to deliver petitions to the White House calling for an end to the war in Iraq but found no one willing to accept them. 'Our petitions were rejected like every request I have made of the president has been rejected,' Sheehan said." [Based on: News Services article (27 peace activists are fined for protest), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/18/05]

2005 - Poll on U.S. Role in the World - November 18th, 2005: "The public's belief that the United States should mind its own business internationally has reached levels not seen since after the Cold War ended more than a decade ago, a poll reports. [....] The new Pew poll reports that 42 percent of those questioned said the United States should 'mind its own business internationally' - up from 30 percent who felt that way in 2002 and comparable to the mid-1970s, after Vietnam, and the early 1990s. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Mind your own business, more say), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/18/05]

2005 - U.S. Missle Test / Pacific Ocean - November 18th, 2005: "The Navy intercepted and destroyed a warhead as it separated from its booster rocket during a test Thursday [11/17/05] off Hawaii - the first time a ship at sea has shot down a multistage missle. The guided-missle cruiser Lake Erie fired an interceptor missle and knocked out the rocket's warhead about 100 miles above the Pacific, the Missle Defense Agency said in a statement." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Revelation? / Dinosaurs Ate Grass - November 18th, 2005: "A new discovery debunks the old theory that grass first appeared long after the dinosaurs had died off. Fossilized dung tells the story. The most prominent plant-eating dinosaurs were digesting different variities of grass anywhere from 65 million to 71 million years ago, researchers write in today's issue of the journal Science. [....] The dinosaurs ate only small amounts of grass, the evidence shows. But grasses must have originated considerably earlier - well over 80 million years ago - for such a wide variety to have evolved and spread to the Indian subcontinent, the researchers concluded. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (In a surprise to scientists, dung shows that dinosaurs dined on grass), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/18/05]

2005 - Iraq Reconstruction Trivia / Robert J. Stein - November 18th, 2005: "U.S. occupation officials gave control of millions of dollars for Iraqi reconstruction to a man with a federal fraud conviction. Now the man is charged with taking kickbacks to steer contracts. The defendant is Robert J. Stein Jr., 50, of Fayetteville, N.C. who worked as a comptroller for the coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. [....] Stein faces charges of conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and other counts stemming from his relationship with Philip H. Bloom. Authorities say Stein steered contracts worth more than $13 million to Bloom, 65, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Romania for many years. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Former comptroller for Iraq rebuilding had prior conviction), p. A6, 11/18/05]

2005 - Movie Debut / "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - November 18th, 2005: "This is the first Potter movie with a PG-13 rating."

2005 - SBC Buyout / AT&T - November 19th, 2005: "SBC Communications Inc. completed its purchase of AT&T Corp. on Friday [11/18/05] after California officials voted to allow the $16 billion deal. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Pay Raise / U.S. Congress - November 19th, 2005: "The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday [11/18/05], then postponed decisions on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

 *Trivia: "I believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year should not live in poverty in the richest country in the world." [Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., arguing - March 2005 - for the Democratic proposal to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over the next 26 months.]

*Trivia: "The last time Congress [U.S.A.] raised the minimum wage was in 1996. Since that time, the Senate has voted to raise each senator's pay by $28,000. [....] Compassion is at a bare minimum in the new American Congress. So is fair and honest representation. - Steven Oertli, Affton  [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. B6, 03/09/05]

2005 - Charged / Michael Scanlon - November 19th, 2005: "The government charged a partner [Michael Scanlon] of lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Friday [11/18/05] with conspiring to defraud Indian tribes of millions in a scheme that lavished golf trips, meals and campaign donations on a member of Congress ['Representative No. 1']. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - HCS Gathering / Oslo, Norway - November 19th, 2005: "HCS [Higher Consciousness Society] Northern Europe Gathering." [See: http://www.higherconsciousnesssociety.org/]

2005 - New Grand Jury / CIA Leak Case - November 19th, 2005: "The special prosecutor who has been investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity is continuing his inquiry and will present more evidence to another grand jury, according to court papers filed Friday [11/18/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Audiotape / Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi - November 19th, 2005: "Mideast terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sought Friday [11/18/05] to justify a triple suicide bombing that killed 59 civilians at Amman hotels on Nov. 9. Al-Zarqawi denied that he had deliberately targeted a wedding party. [....] In an audiotape posted on the Internet Friday, he took a defensive tone to counter widespread anger over the civilian deaths. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Al-Zarqawi trieds to defend suicide bombings in Jordan), p. A31, S.L.P.D., 11/19/05]

2005 - Convicted / 2nd HealthSouth Ex-Exec. - November 19th, 2005: "A former HealthSouth Corp. executive [Hannibal Sonny Crumpler] was convicted Friday [11/18/05] of conspiracy and lying to auditors for his role in a $2.7 billion fraud at the rehabilitation chain. [....]" [Based on: Business page article, p. A34, S.L.P.D., 11/19/05]

2005 - Tropical Storm Gamma / Atlantic Ocean - November 19th, 2005: "Tropical Storm Gamma drifted north along the coasts of Belize and Honduras on Saturday [11/19/05] and was likely to turn onto a path that could threaten South Florida, but it was not expected to gain much strength. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A5, S.L.P.D., 11/20/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Gamma, the 24th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was expected to dissipate over the next day and was likely to miss Florida altogether. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, 11/21/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Simeulue, Indonesia - November 17th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 14:10:15 (UTC) on Saturday, November 19, 2005. The magnitude 6.5 event has been located in SIMEULUE, INDONESIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfqap.htm]

2005 - Arrested / Mordechai Vanunu, West Bank - November 19th, 2005: "Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was arrested by Israeli police Friday [11/18/05] after visiting the West Bank, authorities said. The former technician at Israel's main nuclear reactor last year completed an 18-year prison sentence for revealing Israel's nuclear capability to a British newspaper in 1986. Based on Vanunu's evidence, including photos, experts said at the time Israel had the world's sixth largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Israel neither acknowledges nor denies having a nuclear weapons' program, following a policy of nuclear ambiguity. An Israeli court had ruled in May that an earlier visit by Vanunu to the Palestinian areas did not constitute a violation of his conditions of release, which forbid him from visiting foreign countries. On Friday, Vanunu was arrested at a West Bank crossing into Jerusalem as he rode on a Palestinian bus, said police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby." [Based on: News Services article (Israeli police arrest nuclear whistleblower), p. A32, S.L.P.D., 11/19/05]

2005 - "Responsible" for Wife's Slaying / Robert Blake - November 19th, 2005: "Civil jury holds actor Blake [Robert Blake] responsible for wife's slaying. [....] ... a civil jury decided Friday [11/18/05] the actor was behind the slaying and ordered him to pay Bonny Lee Bakley's children $30 million. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A25, S.L.P.D., 11/19/05]

2005 - Suicide Bombers / Shiite Muslim Mosques, Iraq - November 19th, 2005: "Two suicide attackers simultaneously detonated bomb vests inside a pair of Shiite Muslim mosques in a town near the Iranian border Friday [11/18/05], killing at least 80 people and injuring 150 during midday prayers. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times]

2005 - U.S. Soldiers Murder Innocent Iraqi Civilians? / Haditha, Iraq - November 19th, 2005: "The scope of allegations that members of the U.S. military  have killed civilians in Iraq expanded Thursday [06/01/06] beyond reports of deliberate killings in Haditha in November [2005]. In San Diego, a defense lawyer said military prosecutors were on the verge of filing murder charges against seven Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman. The case involves the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man in April [26th]. The British Broadcasting Corp. said it had found video evidence implicating U.S. forces in the deliberate killing of 11 Iraqi civilians on March 15 in Ishaqi, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. U.S. military officials in Iraq said that all coalition military personnel - 130,000 Americans and 20,000 from other nations - would undergo special training in ethics 'and the values that separate us from our enemies.' The government of Iraq said it would start its own investigation into the killings in Haditha. There, U.S. Marines are alleged to have slain two dozen Iraqis on Nov. 19. The Iraqis said they'd look into other questionable events involving Americans." [Based on: News Services article (Troops face more accusations), pp. A1 & A11, S.L.P.D., 06/02/06]

*Trivia: "A military investigation has cleared U.S. soldiers of allegations that they intentionally killed Iraqi civilians in a raid in March in a village north of Baghdad. The armed forces made the announcement Friday [06/02/06] despite dramatic video footage of slain children in the village of Ishaqi. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Inquiry clears soldiers in death of civilians / Meanwhile, allegations against Marines in 2 cases remain unresolved.), p. A28, S.L.P.D., 06/03/06]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / Iraq - November 20th, 2005: "A suicide bomber detonated his car in a crowd of Shiite mourners north of Baghdad on Saturday [11/19/05], killing at least 36 people and raising the death toll in two days of attacks against Shiites to more than 120. Five American soldiers died in roadside bombings. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Unimak Island Region, Alaska - November 20th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 12:53:05 (UTC) on Sunday, November 20, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in the UNIMAK ISLAND REGION, ALASKA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 53 km (33 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfraj.htm]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Unimak Island Region, Alaska - November 20th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 12:53:05 (UTC) on Sunday, November 20, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in the UNIMAK ISLAND REGION, ALASKA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 53 km (33 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfraj.htm]

2005 - U.S. Exaggerated Claims? / Iraqi Biological Weapons Informant - November 20th, 2005: "The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush Administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the Iraq war. Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so. According to the Germans, President George W. Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's claims in his pre-war presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said. [....] 'This was not substantial evidence,' said a senior German intelligence official. 'We made clear we could not verify the things he said.' The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. 'He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy,' said a BND official who supervised the case. Curveball was the chief source of inaccurate pre-war U.S. claims that Baghdad had a biological weapons arsenal, a commission appointed by Bush reported earlier this year [2005]. U.S. investigators did not interview Curveball, who still insists his story was true, or the German officials who handle his case. [....] At the Central Intelligence Agency, senior officials embraced Curveball's claims even though they could not verify them or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after invasion. After the CIA vouched for Curveball's information, Bush warned in his State of the Union Speech in January 2003 that Iraq had 'mobile biological weapons labs' designed to produce 'germ warfare agents.' The next month, Bush said in a radio address and in a statement that Iraq 'has at least seven mobile factories' for germ warfare. [....] The BND supervisor said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball's information as a justification for war. 'We had always told them it was not proven. ... It was not hard intelligence.' " [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (U.S. exaggerated Iraqi informant's weapons claims, Germans say) by Bob Drogin and John Goetz [paragraph indents removed], p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/20/05]

2005 - Protestors / Fort Benning, Georgia - November 21st, 2005: "As many as 15,000 protestors gathered outside the main gate of Fort Benning Sunday [11/20/05] to demand the closing of the Western hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. [....] 'We ain't going away,' said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the Catholic priest who started the protests. Mixed with the demands to close the institute were voices against the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. The protestors are calling for the closing of the institute, which trains soldiers from Latin America. SOA Watch cites human rights abuses that have been committed by military personnel trained by the U.S. Army." [Based on: News Services article (15,000 protest war, school at Fort Benning), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/21/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Kyushu, Japan - November 21th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 15:36:31 (UTC) on Monday, November 21, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in KYUSHU, JAPAN. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfsan.htm]

2005 - Quits Likud Party / Ariel Sharon, Israel - November 21st, 2005: "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took back the initiative from the rejuvenated Labor Party, quitting the Likud Party he founded in 1973 and striking out on his own. He made the daring pre-emptive strike before elections set for days after his 78th birthday. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Hurricane Katrina Relief Cost / U.S.A. - November 21st, 2005: "The federal government has spent or obligated through contracts more than $18 billion in Hurricane Katrina relief. In slightly more than two months, storm recovery costs have already drawn even with the record spending package the United States has been using to fund Iraq reconstruction for the last two years. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Katrina relief at $18 billion, same as record Iraqi costs), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/21/05]

2005 - Nothing Unpatriotic About Opposing War  in Iraq? - November 21st, 2005: "President George W. Bush on Sunday [11/20/05] backed off his attacks on opponents of the war in Iraq, saying there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing the war. [....] 'People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq,' Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were 'reprehensible.' [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Terence Hunt (Softening tone, Bush says it's OK to oppose him on Iraq), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/21/05]

2005 - Halfway to Mars / Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter - November 21st, 2005: "A NASA spacecraft is halfway toward Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully fired its six engines for 20 seconds last week to adjust its flight path in anticipation of a March arrival, said Allen Halsell, deputy navigation chief at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. [....] The craft was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket in August." [Based on: News Services article, p. A4, S.L.P.D., 11/21/05]

2005 - "Sick of Poverty" - "New studies suggest that the stress of being poor has a staggeringly harmful influence on health. [....] When you examine socioeconomic status (SES), a composite measure that includes income, occupation, education and housing conditions, it becomes clear that, starting with the wealthiest stratum of society, every step downward in SES correlates with poorer health. [....] Lack of access to medical attention cannot explain the phenomenon, because the U.K., unlike the U.S., has universal health care. Similar SES gradients also occur in other countries with socialized medicine, including the health care Edens of Scandinavia, and the differences remain significant even after researchers factor in how much the subjects actually use the medical services. [....] Instead these psycological stressors involve the anticipation (accurate or otherwise) of an impending challenge. And the striking characteristic of such psychological and social stress is its chronicity. For most mammals, a stressor lasts only a few minutes. In contrast, we humans can worry chronically over a 30-year mortgage. [....] An extensive biomedical literature has established that individuals are more likely to activate a stress response and are more at risk for a stress-sensitive disease if they (a) feel as if they have minimal control over stressors, (b) feel as if they have no predictive information about the duration and intensity of the stressor, (c) have few outlets for the frustration caused by the stressor, (d) interpret the stressor as evidence of circumstances worsening, and (e) lack social support for the duress caused by the stressors. [....] Numbing assembly-line work and an occupational lifetime spent taking orders erode workers' sense of control. Unreliable cars that may not start in the morning and paychecks that may not last the month inflict unpredictability. Poverty rarely allows stress-relieving options such as health club memberships, costly but relaxing hobbies, or sabbaticals for rethinking one's prioroties. And despite the heartwarming stereotype of the 'poor but loving community,' the working poor typically have less social support than the middle and upper classes, thanks to the extra jobs, the long commutes on public transit, and other burdens. Marmot [Michael G. Marmot, University College, London] has shown that regardless of SES, the less autonomy one has at work, the worse one's cardiovascualr health. Furthermore, low control in the workplace accounts for about half the SES gradient in cardiovascular disease in his Whitehall population. [....] Adler's [Nancy E. Adler, of the Univ. of Calif., San Francisco] provocative finding is that subjective SES is at least as good as objective SES at predicting patterns of cardiovascular function, measures of metabolism, incidences of obesity and levels of stress hormones - suggesting that the subjective feelings may help explain the objective results. [....] For example, as Stephen Bezruchka of the University of Washington emphasizes, people in Greece on average earn half the income of Americans yet have a longer life expectancy. Once the minimal resources are available to sustain a basic level of health through adequate food and housing, absolute levels of income are of remarkably little importance to health. Although Adler's work suggests that the objective state of being poor adversly affects health, at the core of that result is the subjective state of feeling poor. [....] Whether considered at the level of cities or states, income inequality predicts mortality rates across nearly all ages in the U.S. [....] Why, though, is this relation not observed in, say, Canada or Denmark? One possibility is that these countries have too little income variability to tease out the correlation. [....] Wilkinson [Richard Wilkinson, Univ. of Nottingham, England] has shown, however that decreased income inequality predicts better health for both the poor and the wealthy. This result strongly indicates that the association between illness and inequality is more than just a mathematical artifact. Wilkinson and others in the field have long argued that the more unequal income in a community is, the more psychological stress there will be for the poor. Higher income inequality intensifies a community's hierarchy and makes social support less available: truly symmetrical, reciprocal, affiliative support exists only among equals. Moreover, having your nose rubbed in your poverty is likely to lessen your sense of control in life, to aggravate the frustrations of poverty and to intensify the sense of life worsening. If Adler's work demonstrates the adverse health effects of feeling poor, Wilkinson's income inequality work suggests that the surest way to feel poor is to be made to feel poor - to be endlessly made aware of the haves when you are a have-not. And in our global village, we are constantly made aware of the moguls and celebrities whose resources dwarf ours. [....] But, by definition, the bigger income inequality in a society, the greater the financial distance between the average and the wealthy. The bigger the distance, the less the wealthy have have to gain from expenditures on the public good. Instead they would benefit more from keeping their tax money to spend on their private good - a better chauffeur, a gated community, bottled water, private schools, private health insurance. So the more unequal the income is in a community, the more incentive the wealthy will have to oppose public expenditures benefiting the health of the community. And within the U.S., the more income inequality there is, the more power will be disproportionately in the hands of the wealthy to oppose such public expenditures. According to health economist Evans [Robert G. Evans, Univ. of British Columbia], this scenario ultimately leads to 'private affluence and public squalor.' This 'secession of the wealthy' can worsen the SES/health gradient in two ways: by aggravating the conditions in low-income communities  (which account for at least part of the increased health risks for the poor) and by adding to the psychological stressors. If the social and psychological stressors are entwined with feeling poor, and even more so with feeling poor while being confronted with the wealthy, they will be even more stressful when the wealthy are striving to decrease the goods and services available to the poor. [....] Using a complex statistical technique called path analysis, Kawachi [Ichiro Kawachi, Harvard University] has demonstrated that (once one controls for the effects of absolute income) the strongest route from income inequality to poor health is through the social capital measures - to wit, high degrees of income inequality come with low levels of trust and support, which increases stress and harms health. [....] Of Westernized nations, America has the greatest income inequality (40 percent of the wealth is controlled by 1 percent of the population) and the greatest discrepancy between expenditures on health care (number one in the world) and life expectancy (as of 2003, number 29). [....]" [Based on: Scientific American (December 2005) article (Sick of Poverty) by Robert Sapolsky, pp. 92-99] - [Bold type highlights added and paragraph indents omitted to save space - E.M.] *Further Reading ...

2005 - Civilian Deaths / Iraq - November 22nd, 2005: "Fearing that it might hold a suicide bomber, U.S. soldiers fired on a civilian vehicle Monday [11/21/05], killing at least two adults and a child northeast of the capital, American and Iraqi officials said. The troops fired on the car because it was moving erratically outside a U.S. base in Baqouba, 35 miles from Baghdad, said Maj. Steven Warren, a U.S. spokesman. 'It was one of these regrettable, tragic incidents,' Warren said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Bassem Mroue (U.S. troops kill 3 civilians in Iraq), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/22/05]

2005 - Uzbekistan Pullout / U.S.A. - November 22nd, 2005: "The Air Force has flown its last mission from an air base in Uzbekistan that was once a hub for operations in Afghanistan. In July, President Islam Karimov ordered the United States to vacate the base within six months. He acted after the United States joined international condemnation of a government crackdown on civilians in the eastern city of Andijan in May. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 11/22/05]

*Trivia: "Uzbekistan has told NATO that it can no longer use Uzbek territory or airspace to support peacekeeping missions in neighboring Afghanistan. [....] Uzbekistan's shift away from once-warm relations with the West has been matched by closer ties with Russia, of which it was a part until 1991. This month, the two countries signed a treaty opening the way for a Russian military deployment in Uzbekistan. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 11/24/05]

2005 - Guilty Plea / Michael Scanlon - November 22nd, 2005: "Michael Scanlon, a former lobbyist and former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty Monday [11/21/05] of conspiring to bribe public officials. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Defense Spending - November 22nd, 2005: "[....] Over the next five years, the United States will spend at least $2.2 trillion on defense, and that doesn't count much of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [....]" [Based on: Opinion Page article (Our View / Military Spending - The battle to come), p. B8, S.L.P.D., 11/22/05]

2005 - Job Cuts / General Motors Corp. - November 22nd, 2005: "General Motors Corp., pounded by declining sales and rising health care costs, said Monday [11/21/05] it would cut more than a quarter of its North American manufacturing jobs and close 12 facilities by 2008. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "Despite General Motors Corp's problems in its home market, the automaker's worldwide sales were at their highest level in 27 years in 2005 thanks to growth in Asia and Latin America, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said. 'Getting outside of the U.S. market we had a good year, on balance, around the world,' Wagoner said in a transcript of remarks released Saturday [01/07/06] by GM. Wagoner said preliminary sales figures show GM sold 9.2 million vehicles worldwide. The only other year GM sold more than 9 million vehicles was 1978, he said." [Based on: News Services article (GM worldwide sales highest in 27 years), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 01/08/06]

2005 - Sun in Sagittarius - November 22nd, 2005: "Reported date when the Sun entered the constellation Sagittarius." [Based on: http://www2.bitstream.net/~bunlion/bpi/ephm/E200511.html]

2005 - Arrested / Monsignor Dale Fushek - November 22nd, 2005: "The former vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix was arrested Monday [11/21/05] on charges he fondled boys and young men and asked them questions about sex that he misrepresented as being part of confession. As vicar general, Monsignor Dale Fushek was the highest-ranking administrator of the diocese next to the bishop. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Foreigners Finance U.S. Trade Deficit? - November 22nd, 2005: "[....] If foreign investors were to sour on the United States and unload their holdings, the prices of U.S. stocks and bonds could plunge. Interest rates - including those for mortgages - could soar. And the nation could face a financial crisis. [....] America's shortfall on all trade and investment income with the rest of the world mushroomed to a record high of $668 billion last year. This deficit, known as the current account, is expected to set a new record this year. [....] Of the more than $30 trillion in foreign investment tracked by the Bank for International Settlements in the first three months this year, 42.5 percent was in dollars, 39.3 percent in euros, Greenspan noted. The dollar's share was down by 4 percentage points from around three years earlier, while the euro's share was up by 5 percentage points, he noted. [....] Net purchases by foreigners of U.S. stocks, corporate bonds, Treasury securities and other investments totaled $118.1 billion in September, a sharp increase from August, according to the Treasury figures. Of that total, $113.8 billion came from private foreign investors, while foreign governments bought $4.3 billion worth of securities. [....] Japan, followed by China and Britain, is the biggest holder of U.S. Treasury securities. All three increased their holdings from August to September, Treasury data show. Greenspan has said the 'seemingly endless' U.S. ability to finance its trade deficits through foreign investment has confounded experts. He and Bernanke agree it can't go on forever, but both are optimistic the deficits can be curbed without inflicting serious damage. 'I believe that can be done over a period of time.' Bernanke told legislators. 'But it won't happen overnight.' " [Based on: A.P. article by Jeannine Aversa (U.S. relies on foreigners to finance deficit), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/22/05] - [Bold type highlights added - E.M.]

*Trivia: "[....] The Masonic bankers during the last 25 years have lent money to the governments of the industrial nations, which find it harder and harder to repay their enormous debt. The private sector has become exactly that much richer. This monetary power has enough money to stop any intransigent politicians. Popularly elected politicians no longer have any means of conducting the policies they wish. They cannot take back their power until the debts are paid. For every dollar borrowed, the politicians relinquish more power. The developing countries are in much worse situation. They are not even able to pay interest on their loans.
   "During 1982-1990 the banks of the industrial nations received $1,345 trillion in interest and annuity from these poor countries [....]." [Juri Lina, The Barnes Review, September/October 2004, p. 13] - [Bold type highlights added - E.M.]

2005 - Concludes Tour of Asia / George W. Bush - November 22nd, 2005: "Bush caps weeklong tour of Asia with symbolic visit to Mongolia." [Based on: Headline for Los Angeles Times article, p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/22/05]

2005 - U.S. Bans Poultry From British Columbia - November 22nd, 2005: "The United States banned poultry from mainland British Columbia on Monday [11/21/05] because of a case of bird flu, though Canadian officials said it wasn't the virulent form from Southeast Asia. [....]"

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Eastern New Guinea Region - November 22nd, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 15:11:31 (UTC) on Tuesday, November 22, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 68 km (42 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usftau.htm]

2005 - Tries to Limit Debate on Iraq War? / Dick Cheney - November 22nd, 2005: "Vice President Dick Cheney tried Monday [11/21/05] to set limits on acceptable debate over the Iraq war, saying that while it's fine to critisize administration policies in Iraq, it's 'reprehensible' to question how the United States got into the war in the first place. 'What is not legitimate, and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible, is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence,' Cheney said. [....]" [Based on: Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau article (Cheney tries to limit debate on Iraq war), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/22/05]

2005 - Indicted / Jose Padilla - November 23rd, 2005: "An American citizen held as an enemy combatant for more than three years without charges has been indicted on charges of conspiring to murder individuals overseas and of being part of a violent terrorist support cell. The indictment was unsealed Tuesday [11/22/05] and names Jose Padilla. It makes no mention of earlier allegations that Padilla was plotting a 'dirty bomb' attack on Washington and was planning to blow up apartment buildings, gas stations and train depots in the United States. [....]" [Based on: Cox News Service]

*Trivia: "Jose Padilla's transfer from a military brig to a civilian jail was unexpectedly delayed Wednesday [11/30/05] by a federal appeals court, the latest twist in the legal fight over the Bush administration's policy on U.S. terrorism suspects. A three-judge panel from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., demanded more information from lawyers on both sides before approving the transfer to the Justice Department." [Based on: Staff & News Services article (Judges hold up Padilla's transfer), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

*Trivia: "It would be 'wholly imprudent' for the Supreme Court to hear Jose Padilla's challenge to his military detention as an enemy combatant, the administration of President George W. Bush told the court in urging the justices to dismiss Padilla's case. Lawyers for the government contend that Supreme Court review is moot now that the government plans to try him on terrorism charges in a civilian court. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article, p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

*Trivia: "In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court on Wednesday [12/21/05] denied a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from a military to civilian law enforcement custody. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Court denies transfer of terrorism suspect), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Trivia / Japanese Military - November 23rd, 2005: "Japan's ruling party marked its 50th anniversary Tuesday [11/22/05] by proposing a constitutional change that could give the nation a more assertive international military presence. The alteration to the pacifist constitution would be its first since its adoption in 1947. It would set up an official role for the Japanese armed forces. The revision would allow those forces to assist military allies and help with armed international peacekeeping, say outside experts and members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Settlement / Larry Ellison - November 23rd, 2005: "Oracle's Ellison must pay $122 million to settle suit." [Based on: A.P. article headline, p. D2, S.L.P.D., 11/23/05]

2005 - Convicted / Ahmed Omar Abu Ali - November 23rd, 2005: "An American Muslim student was convicted Tuesday [11/22/05] of joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush. [....] Abu Ali, 24, is a U.S. citizen born to a Jordanian father and reared in Falls Church, Va. He could get life in prison on charges that included conspiring to hijack aircraft and providing support to al-Qaida. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Chancellor Angela Merkel / Germany - November 23rd, 2005: "Conservative Angela Merkel took power Tuesday [11/22/05] as Germany's first female chancellor and its first leader to grow up behind the Iron Curtain. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Blessing Basket Project / Whole Foods Market Inc. - November 23rd, 2005: "The Whole Foods Market Inc. organic grocer in Brentwood has returned nearly $10,000 in profit from sales of baskets from the nonprofit Blessing Basket Project of Granite City. The money was used to build a school for girls in Nyariga, Ghana, after village elders and weavers decided to use the money for that purpose. Previously, the village's girls attended school under a tree, said Theresa Wilson, founder of the Blessing Basket Project. Seventy-five girls attend the Doone Girls school. The Ghanian government provided desks and books for each of the girls after the school was built, Wilson said. [....] A Whole Foods market in Ann Arbor, Mich., also is participating. That market will rebate $900 in profit to the Blessing Basket Project, Wilson said. Blessing Basket tracks the origin of each basket sold. It donates the profits back to a community project that the weavers in that village designate. Blessing Basket pays weavers in poor countries a living wage for their products. About 3,000 weavers in five countries receive Blessing Basket wages." [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Shera Dalin, p. D2, S.L.P.D., 11/23/05]

2005 - Thanksgiving Day / U.S.A. - November 24th, 2005: "Thanksgiving Day holiday observed in U.S.A."

2005 - War Protestors / Bush Ranch - November 24th, 2005: "A dozen war protestors were arrested Wednesday [11/23/05] for setting up camp near president George W. Bush's ranch. Among them was Daniel Ellsberg, the one-time Pentagon analysst who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war. The protestors face charges of violating new local bans on roadside camping and parking. [....] Also arrested Wednesday was Ann Wright, who resigned her post as a senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia in 2003 in protest of the war in Iraq." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Surrendered / Abu Rob, West Bank - November 24th, 2005: "A top Islamic Jihad militant [Abu Rob] surrendered to Israeli soldiers early today, witnesses said, after a daylong siege during which army bulldozers knocked down the four-story house where he was hiding. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Tropical Storm Delta / Atlantic Ocean - November 24th, 2005: "Tropical Storm Delta neared hurricane strength Thursday [11/24/05] in the central Atlantic, continuing a record-breaking hurricane season. Delta formed Wednesday [11/24/05] as the 25th named storm of the season. But it poses a threat only to shipping, says the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was not headed for the United States. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Cheap Venezuelan Heating Oil / U.S. Poor - November 24th, 2005: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is extending his generous oil deals for his neighbors north to the United States. He plans to ship cheap heating oil to low-income people in New York and Massachusetts. Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum Corp. made a symbolic first delivery to a Boston-area family this week. [....] Venezuelan heating oil also is headed to the Bronx in New York City. Chavez has said he hopes to extend the project to other U.S. cities. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Marcel Honore (Venezuela plans to ship cheap heating oil to poor in U.S.), p. A17, S.L.P.D., 11/24/05]

2005 - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf / Liberia - November 24th, 2005: "[....] Confirmed Wednesday [11/23/05] as the winner of Liberia's first post-war elections, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said her victory marked a new beginning for her country and for African women, whom she called on to help govern their own countries. She is Africa's first elected female president. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Volcanic Eruption / Galeras Volcano, Columbia - November 24th, 2005: "A volcano erupted Thursday [11/24/05] in southwestern Columbia, spewing smoke and ash. Police and emergency officials were on high alert after the 14,110-foot Galeras volcano became active at dawn and dumped heaps of ash on the city of Pasto, 12 miles away. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A16, S.L.P.D., 11/25/05]

2005 - Volcanic Eruption / Karthala Volcano, Indian Ocean - November 24th, 2005: "On November 24, 2005, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving. Halfway around the world, some 2,000 people fled their homes, hoping to escape the latest eruption of the Karthala Volcano. The volcano covered nearby villages in ash, and locals had little means of protecting their lungs besides covering their faces with scarves. As of November 28, one casualty (an infant) had been reported. [....] Even after the volcano stopped erupting, trouble for the region was expected to continue. The November eruption fouled drinking water already made scarce by the region’s dry season. According to news reports, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that almost 120,000 people were without clean drinking water after the volcano dropped ash into water cisterns. [....]"

[Based on: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/natural_hazards_v2.php3?img_id=13268]

2005 - Mountaintop-Removal  Coal Mining / West Virginia, U.S.A. - November 24th, 2005: "A federal appeals court reinstated Wednesday [11/23/05] a streamlined Army Corps of Engineers process for granting permits for mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overruled a lower-court judge, finding that the corps had complied with the Clean Water Act. In mountaintop mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams, and the leftover rock and dirt are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying streams. Last year, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin revoked 11 permits issued by the corps. Among other things, he said the corps had not followed the proper procedures under environmental protection laws." [Based on: News Services article (Appeals court allows streamlined permits), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 11/24/05]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / Iraq - November 25th, 2005: "A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a hospital south of Baghdad on Thursday [11/24/05] as U.S. soldiers handed out candy and food to children. The blast killed 30 people and wounded about 40, including four Americans. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - River Pollution / China - November 25th, 2005: "China's government defended its handling of a chemical plant explosion that sent a 50-mile-long slick of toxic benzene flowing down a river through a major city Thursday [11/24/05]. The government blamed the disaster on a subsidiary of a state-owned oil company. The slick on the Songhua River in northeast China arrived at Harbin days after the city of 3.8 million people shut down its water system. The government said it would take about 40 hours for the chemical to pass the city. A government official said local leaders were warned of the chemical threat after the blast Nov. 13 that killed five people. The disaster has highlighted the environmental damage caused by China's sizzling economic growth and the complaints that the communist government is failing to enforce public safety standards. The government says all major rivers are dangerously polluted and many cities lack adequate drinking water. [....] 'We'll be very clear about who's responsible. It is the chemical plant of the CNPC,' Zhang [deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Zhang Lijun] said. Benzene is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents and pesticides. [....] Zhang Lanying, director of the Environment and Resources Institute at Jilin University, told the official Xinhua News Agency that massive amounts of the toxin can cause leukemia. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Joe McDonald (China defends its handling of river-polluting explosion], p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/25/05]

*Trivia: "[....] But it was only this week that Beijing announced that the blast had poisoned the Songhua River with about 100 tons of benzene. The chemical is a compound used in making detergents and plastics, and may cause cancer. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's apology to Russian Ambassador Sergei Razov was reported on the state television evening news. 'Li Zhaoxing expressed his sincere apology on behalf of the Chinese government for the possible harm that this major environmental pollution incident could bring to the Russian people downstream,' the report said." [Based on: A.P. article, p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/27/05]

*Trivia: "[....] The 50-mile-long slick is making its way toward Russia. It's expected to reach the major border city of Khabarovsk on Dec. 10-12." [Based on: A.P., 12/01/05]

*Trivia: "A deputy mayor [Wang Wei] who had denied any pollution from a chemical plant explosion has been found dead [12/06/05] at his home. [....] ... the cause of death was unknown. [....] The government held off announcing that the Songhua had been poisoned until 10 days later. That was after the city of Harbin was forced to shut down running water to its 3.8 million people. People who live along the river are angry that authorities failed to warn them immediately about the spill of 100 tons of cancer-causing benzene and other toxins. The spill disrupted water supplies to millions and sent a chemical slick flowing downriver to Russia. [....] An environmental official has complained that by failing to report the spill promptly, local authorities wrecked China's best chance of minimizing the damage. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Chinese official who denied toxic spill is found dead), p. A19, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05] 

2005 - Earthquake / Central China - November 25th, 2005: "An earthquake with a magnitude of at least 5.5 shook part of central China on Saturday, killing at least 14 people and injuring nearly 400. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/27/05]

2005 - Greenhouse Gases / Planet Earth - November 25th, 2005: "A core of ice nearly two miles long from the underbelly of Antarctica shows that levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane have not been so high as they are today for 650,000 years. The research is published in today's issue [11/25/05] of the journal Science. It shows that the level of carbon dioxide today is 7 percent higher than it has been in the last 650,000 years. And the level of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, is 130 percent higher, said Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher at the University of Bern and senior member of the European ice-coring team that wrote two papers based on the core. [....] Based on: Los Angeles Times article by Usha Lee McFarling (Greenhouse gases are much higher now, ice cores show), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/25/05] 

2005 - Indian Compensation Plan? / Canada - November 25th, 2005: "Indian chiefs and Inuit leaders sat down Thursday [11/24/05] with Canadian officials to hash out a multibillion-dollar plan to fight poverty and disease on native reserves and settle damage claims for mistreatment. Prime Minister Paul Martin is taking part in the two-day meeting, as are the premiers of Canada's 13 provinces and territories. Martin got a jump on the talks Wednesday by proposing a $1.7 billion payment for aboriginal victims of sexual and psychological abuse during forced Christian schooling. About 100,000 children were required to attend such residential schools over the past century. The sad history of their abuse has long been cited by Indian leaders as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reserves. Native reserves also are short 20,000 to 35,000 housing units. Their high school graduation rate is just over half the national average. And life expectancy for Indians is five to seven years lower than for other Canadians. [....] In the Canadian edition of Time magazine this week, Phil Fontaine - national chief of the Assembly of First nations and one of the key negotiators at the meeting - wrote, 'Canada has a Third World in its front yard and back alleys.' [....] If the school abuse deal is approved in court, survivors of rape, beatings and cultural isolation probably will be paid by the end of next year. The compensation plan is open to more than 80,000 former students. They can apply to get a minimum of $8,535, plus $2,560 for each year spent in the forced schooling." [Based on: A.P. article (Talks focus on redress for canada's Indians), p. A15, S.L.P.D., 11/25/05]

*Trivia: "Canada on Friday [11/25/05] pledged $4.3 billion to help Indian and Inuit communities. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Mindanao, Philippines - November 26th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 05:31:21 (UTC) on Friday, November 25, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 58 km (36 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfwae.htm]

2005 - Open / Rafah Terminal, Gaza Strip - November 26th, 2005: "[....] On Friday [11/25/05], Palestinians opened the Rafah terminal, which they'll run with the help of European monitors. The ceremony marked the first time that Palestinians had taken control of a border. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Asteroid Landing / Japanese Spacecraft - November 26th, 2005: "A Japanese spacecraft briefly touched down on an asteroid today and apparently succeeded in collecting surface samples, Japan's space agency said. Kiyotaka Yashiro, a spokesman for the agency, said the Hayabusa craft had taken off and was preparing to send information to Earth. Officials will know whether the mission succeeded after scientists examine the data, expected much later today. The asteroid is orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars. It is 2,300 feet long and 1.000 feet wide." [Based on: News Services article, S.L.P.D., 11/26/05]

*Trivia: "A Japanese spacecraft showed signs of trouble Saturday [11/26/05] after apparently landing on an asteroid and collecting surface samples in an unprecedented mission to bring the extraterrestrial material back to Earth, officials said. [....] JAXA announced earlier Saturday that Hayabusa appeared to have touched down for a few seconds on the asteriod about 180 million miles from Earth, collecting powder from its surface before lifting off again to transmit data to mission controllers." [Based on: News Services article (Spacecraft develops trouble near asteriod), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 11/28/05]

*Trivia: "According to the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), the Hayabusa probe successfully touched down on asteroid Itokawa on Nov 25th, possibly collecting samples for return to Earth in 2007. The probe is having troubles, though. After backing some 5 km away from the asteroid, Hayabusa reportedly developed a gas leak in one of its thrusters. Mission controllers are investigating. "

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [11/27/05]

2005 - Car Bombs / Iraq - November 27th, 2005: "Car bombs killed 10 people Saturday [11/26/05] in Baghdad and another city in central Iraq, while gunmen shot at campaign workers putting up posters for next month's parliamentary elections. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Southern Iran - November 27th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 10:22:19 (UTC) on Sunday, November 27, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in SOUTHERN IRAN. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfyag.htm]

*Trivia: "An earthquake killed 10 people and injured 70 in southern Iran on Sunday [11/27/05], officials and state-run television said. The temblor flattened seven villages and was felt as far away as Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Tehran's seismologic center said the quake was of magnitude 5.9, but the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said it had a magnitude of 6.1 A magnitude-6.0 quake can cause severe damage. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Quake in Iran kills 10, flattens villages), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/28/05]

2005 - Volcanic Eruption / Mount Manaro Volcano - November 27th, 2005: "[....] Mount Manaro Volcano is on Ambae island, part of the Vanuatu archipelago, an independent republic north of New Caledonia. The islands are 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. A 'red zone' has been declared around the volcano, which has been erupting since Nov. 27. [....] About 10,000 people live on the small island, one of 83 in the archipelago, which is studded with active and dormant volcanoes. The islands have a total population of 200,000. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Simmering volcano threatens island in South Pacific), p. A15, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Soldiers Face Discipline for Burning Taliban Bodies - November 27th, 2005: "Four U.S. soldiers face disciplinary action for burning the bodies of two Taliban guerrillas, the military said Saturday [11/26/05]. The videotaped incident sparked anger in Afghanistan, where Islam bans cremation. But the soldiers will not be prosecuted because their actions were motivated by hygienic concerns, the military said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Daniel Cooney (4 soldiers face discipline for burning of Taliban bodies), p. A16, S.L.P.D., 11/27/05]

2005 - Snowstorm / Plains, U.S.A. - November 28th, 2005: "Travelers trying to get home after Thanksgiving were stranded across the Plains on Monday [11/28/05] as the region's first big snowstorm of the season closed hundreds of miles of highways, cutting visibility to zero and piling up drifts 6 feet high. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Methyl Bromide Use / U.S.A. - November 28th, 2005: "Despite signing an international treaty banning all but the most critical uses by this year, the United States keeps permitting wide use of the pesticide methyl bromide. The chemical depletes the Earth's ozone layer and can harm the human neurological system, an increasing concern as people settle farther into what was once just farm country. [....] At the urging of agriculture and manufacturing interests, the Bush administration is making plans to ensure that methyl bromide remains available at least through 2008 by seeking and winning treaty exemptions. Also, the administration will not commit to an end date. [....] The reason is that farmers who each year grow Florida tomatoes, California strawberries, Georgia peppers and North Carolina Christmas trees worth billions of dollars are struggling to find a suitable replacement. Alternative organic techniques are too costly and substitute chemicals are not as effective, growers say. [....] Odorless and colorless, methyl bromide is a gas that usually is injected by tractor into soil before planting, then covered with plastic sheeting to slow its release into the air. It wipes out plant parasites, disease and weeds. It results in a spectacular yield, reduced weeding costs and a longer growing season. Workers who inhale enough of the chemical can suffer convulsions, coma and neuromuscular and cognitive problems. In rare cases, they can die. [....] The U.S. signed the Montreal Protocol treaty, committing to phase out methyl bromide by this year as part of the effort to protect the Earth's ozone layer. A provision allows for exemptions to prevent 'market disruption.' The U.S. has used it to persuade treaty signers to allow U.S. farmers to continue using the chemical. That is not what the treaty envisioned, said David Doniger, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. 'Nobody expected you would use the exemptions to cancel the final step of the phaseout or even go backward,' Doniger said." [Based on: A.P. article (In spite of treaty ban, U.S. farmers continue to use pesticide), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/28/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Mariana Islands Region - November 28th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 16:41:32 (UTC) on Monday, November 28, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in the MARIANA ISLANDS REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usfzaw.htm]

2005 - Settlement / Royal Ahold NV - November 29th, 2005: "Royal Ahold NV, which owns the Stop & Shop and Giant supermarket chains in the U.S. along with other retail operations worldwide, said Monday [11/28/05] it will pay $1.1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by U.S. shareholders after its 2003 accounting scandal. [....] Ahold's top lawyer, Peter Wakkie, said it was a coincidence that the amount of the settlement paralleled that of the scandal, in which Ahold overstated earnings by more than 1 billion euros in 1999-2002, mostly by inflating sales at its U.S. Foodservice subsidiary. Ahold's former top management resigned in February 2003 after the company made the fraud known, and its shares lost two-thirds of their value overnight. The company eventually restated earnings for 2002 to a loss of $5.01 billion. It avoided bankruptcy by selling assets and by an emergency credit line from its banks. [....] A Pennsylvania supermarket vendor pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Monday [11/28/05] to a conspiracy charge in connection with an alleged multimillion-dollar accounting fraud at a unit of Royal Ahold NV. [....]" [Based on: A.P. & Dow Jones Newswires article (Royal Ahold will settle lawsuit for $1.1 billion), p. C4, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / BP Alternative Energy - November 29th, 2005: "BP PLC said Monday [11/28/05] it will increase its investment in alternative energy projects through a new business unit, BP Alternative Energy. BP, based in Britain, said it expects to invest up to $8 billion in solar, wind, hydrogen and carbon-abatement technology over 10 years." [Based on: Business Page article (BP will invest $8 billion in alternative sources), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Holiday Campaign? / Canada - November 29th, 2005: "A corruption scandal forced a vote of no confidence Monday [11/28/05] that toppled Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government, triggering an unusual election campaign during the Christmas holidays. Canada's three opposition parties, which control a majority in Parliament, voted against Martin's government, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation. The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons, probably on Jan. 23, Martin and his Cabinet will continue to govern until then. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A7, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Insurgents Target Foreigners / Iraq - November 29th, 2005: "Insurgents continued a campaign against non-Iraqis on Monday [11/28/05], killing three foreign pilgrims just days after kidnapping four Western aid workers. [....] More than 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by insurgents and criminal gangs since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003." [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Insurgents in Iraq again target foreigners), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Settlement / Federated Investors Inc. - November 29th, 2005: "Federated Investors Inc., one of the nation's largest investment managers, has agreed to pay $100 million to settle a state and federal investigation into improper mutual fund trading by selected groups at the expense of individual investors, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and U.S. regulators said Monday [11/28/05]. [....] Federated is the 14th firm to settle improper mutual fund trading charges since Spitzer's case against the Canary Capital Partners firm in 2003. [....] Under the settlements, which involve three affiliates of Federated Investors Management Co., Federated Securities Corp. and Federated Shareholder Services Co. - they neither admitted nor denied the regulators' allegations. The investigation of Federated focused on mutual fund timing by insiders that can hurt long-term mutual fund shareholders by reducing their shares' value." [Based on: A.P. article (Federated Investors agrees to $100 million settlement), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Tropical Cyclone Baaz / Bay of Bengal - November 29th, 2005: "On November 29, 2005, a tropical cyclone brewed in the Bay of Bengal off the southern coast of India near the island of Sri Lanka. This image [see link] of the organizing storm, called Baaz, was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Tuesday, November 29, at 5:05 UTC (10:35 a.m. local time). The storm does not have the classical cyclone shape in the image, but some arcing bands of clouds are beginning to take shape to the northeast of the storm’s core, and several areas of “boiling” clouds suggest intense thunderstorm activity. As of the early afternoon of November 30, the storm had slowed in its west-northwest progress toward land, and forecasters at the Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center were predicting that the storm would be arriving at the coast of India within 48 hours. According to news reports, thousands of people were evacuating the low-lying coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in southern India, areas which were affected by the December 2004 tsunami as well as by flooding in recent weeks.  [....]"

[Based on: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/natural_hazards_v2.php3?img_id=13267]

2005 - Failing Facade / Supreme Court, U.S.A. - November 29th, 2005: "A basketball-sized piece of marble molding fell from the facade over the entrance to the Supreme Court on Monday [11/28/05], landing on the steps near visitors waiting to enter the building. No one was hurt. The chunk of Vermont marble was part of the dentil molding that serves as a frame for nine sculptural figures completed in 1935. The piece that fell was over the figure of Authority, near the peak of the building's pediment, and to the right of the figure of Liberty, which has the scales of justice on its lap. A group of visitors had just passed under the pediment when the stone fell." [Based on: News Services article (Chunk of moilding falls off court building), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Tropical Storm Epsilon / Central Atlantic - November 29th, 2005: "With every new storm, the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season continues to set new records. By November 29, the record for the number of named storms in a season hit 26 with the formation of Tropical Storm Epsilon This record shattered the previous mark of 21 set in 1933. Although hurricane season officially ends on November 30 every year, the occasional rare storm can form in December. Considering the magnitude of the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season, it is not surprising that on the last day of the official season Epsilon lurked in the Atlantic. [....] Epsilon formed from a mid-latitude low pressure center on November 29, 2005, in the central Atlantic about 840 miles east of Bermuda. [....]"

[Based on: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/natural_hazards_v2.php3?img_id=13270]

2005 - "Playing Lead Roles" / Iraqi Troop Battalions, Iraq - November 29th, 2005: "A growing number of Iraqi troop battalions - almost four dozen as of this week - are playing lead roles in the fight against the insurgency, a military spokesman said Monday [11/28/05]. American commanders have turned over more than two dozen U.S.-built bases to Iraqi government control, he said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (More Iraqis take lead against insurgents), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Guilty Plea & Resignation / Rep. Randy Cunningham - November 29th, 2005: "Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty of graft and tearfully resigned Monday [11/28/05]. He admitted he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors. 'The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office,' the 63-year-old Republican said at a news conference. 'I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my family and friends.' He could get up to 10 years in prison at sentencing Feb. 27 on federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud, and tax evasion. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 11/29/05]

2005 - Hostage Video / Iraq - November 30th, 2005: "After a hiatus of several months in the kidnapping of foreigners, television footage once again showed Westerners held captive: A German archaeologist - bound and blindfolded - knelt among masked gunmen in one video, and four peace activists were shown in another blurry tape. The latest attacks are part of a new wave of kidnappings police fear is aimed at disrupting next month's national elections. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "The kidnappers of four Christian peace activists threatened to kill the hostages unless all prisoners in U.S. and Iraqi detention centers are released, according to a videotape broadcast Friday [12/02/05] by the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A29, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Trivia / Samarra, Iraq - November 30th, 2005: "At a dusty school converted to a military outpost, American soldiers are packing up this week, preparing - yet again - to hand most of the security control of the city [Samarra] to Iraqi forces. It's their third try, and one big problem remains: Only 100 of the 700 police on the city payroll actually show up for work most days, U.S. commanders acknowledge. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. troops try again to leave volatile city), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Expectation and Health - November 30th, 2005: "Your medicine really could work better if your doctor talks it up before handing over the prescription. Research is showing the power of expectations, that they have physical - not just psychological - effects on your health. Scientists can measure the resulting changes in the brain, from the release of natural painkilling chemicals to alterations in how neurons fire. [....] 'Your expectations can have profound impacts on your brain and your health,' says Columbia University neuroscientist Tor Wager. 'There is not a single placebo effect, but many placebo effects,' that differ by illness, adds Dr. Fabrizio Benedetti of Italy's University of Torino Medical School, who is studying those effects in patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and pain. [....] Doctors have long thought the placebo effect was psychological. Now scientists are amassing the first direct evidence that the placebo effect actually is physical, and that expecting benefit can trigger the same neurological pathways of healing as real medication does. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Medicine studies hail expectation), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Flu Vaccine Trivia / U.S.A. - November 30th, 2005: "Delays in making and distributing seasonal flu vaccine are being overcome and millions more doses are on the way, a top federal health official said Tuesday [11/29/05]. Jeanne Santoli of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recent vaccine shortages shouldn't discourage people from getting vaccinated when these doses become available. 'It's definately not too late to get vaccinated,' Santoli said. 'Vaccination in December and beyond is still beneficial.' " [Based on: News Services article (More flu vaccine is on way, official says), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Panda Media Debut / Tai Shan - November 30th, 2005: "Baby panda Tai Shan squirmed in his keeper's arms at the national Zoo Tuesday morning [11/29/05] as she brought him out to make his official media debut. The cub then crawled and tumbled around a rock pile for several minutes before wandering off out of view. More than 100 journalists showed up at sunrise Tuesday for a chance to see the 41/2-month-old cub, who previously has been visible only by a Web-cam connected to his den at the Panda House. The cub goes on public display next week, and all the available free tickets are already gone. [....]." [Based on: Washington Post]

2005 - Suicide Bombers / Bangladesh - November 30th, 2005: "Two suicide bombers targeting courthouses killed at least seven people Tuesday [11/29/05]. Two police were among those who died in the blasts in this southeastern port city and Gazipur, 20 miles north of Dhaka, the capital. More than 50 people were injured, 20 of them critically. The bombers were suspected of being from the militant Muslim group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Most of Bangladesh's 140 million people are Muslim, and most of them are moderates." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - End? / Atlantic Hurricane Season - November 30th, 2005: "[....] Despite the end of the June 1-to-Nov. 30 season, hurricanes could still form over the next few months. In fact, a tropical storm took shape in the Atlantic on Tuesday [11/29/05]. But no hurricane has been known to hit the United States from December to May. [....] The 2005 season obliterated many long-standing records: *In 154 years of record-keeping, this year had the most named storms (26, including Tropical Storm Epsilon, which formed Tuesday), the most hurricanes (13), the highest number of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. (4), and the most top-scale Category 5 hurricanes (3). *Katrina was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928 (more than 1,300 dead) and replaced 1992's Andrew as the most expensive one on record ($34.4 billion in insured losses). *Total insured losses from hurricanes this year were put at $47.2 billion, above the previous record of $22.9 billion set last year when four hurricanes also hit the United States, according to risk-analysis firm ISO. *Wilma was briefly the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of minimum central pressure (882 millibars). It also was the fastest-strengthening storm on record - its top sustained winds increased 105 mph in 24 hours in the Caribbean. [....] So far, Congress has approved $62 billion in mostly short-term relief aid, and estimates put the cost of rebuilding at up to $200 billion. [....] There were 14-hour traffic jams as Houston emptied out ahead of Rita, which struck the Texas-Louisiana coast on Sept. 24, and South Florida was crippled for days after Wilma knocked out power to more than 6 million people on Oct. 24. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Costliest-ever hurricane season finally blows over), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Gay Priests Ban / Catholic Church - November 30th, 2005: "The Vatican officially released a new document on Tuesday [11/29/05] that strongly reinforced its ban on ordaining homosexuals as priests. A cardinal, making the church's first public comment, rejected the contention that the decree was discriminatory. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article (Vatican officially reinforces its ban on gay priests), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Pension Funds Settlement? / Kmart Corp. - November 30th, 2005: "As many as 150,000 employees and retirees of the old Kmart Corp. would share $11.75 million in a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against former company officials over the investment of pension funds in Kmart's now-worthless stock. The agreement involves those who participated in Kmart pensions from March 15, 1999, to March 6, 2003. Court documents say the people involved lost between $28 million and $300 million. [....] The suit said the company officials invested Kmart stock after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 22, 2002. It said the officials failed to exercise proper care for the pension money. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Settlement at hand on Kmart pension funds), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Acquitted / Anti-Gay Pastor, Ake Green - November 30th, 2005: "A Pentecostal pastor who denounced homosexuality as a 'cancerous tumor' in a sermon said he would stop preaching against gays after Sweden's highest court acquitted him Tuesday [11/29/05] of hate speech. The Supreme Court in Stockholm said Ake Green's anti-gay sermon two years ago was protected by the freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights. The verdict ended a two-year legal battle that drew widespread attention in Sweden and abroad, pitting freedom of speech against the protection of minorities. 'This is great for freedom of religion and speech,' Green, 64, said in a telephone interview from his home on the island of Oland, off Sweden's southeastern coast. 'It feels great that we get to keep that.' Even so, Green said he would deliver no more sermons about homosexuals. 'I don't need to,' he said. 'I have said so clearly where I stand on the issue.' The case stemmed from a 2003 sermon in which Green told his congregation that homosexuality was 'a deep cancerous tumor on all of society,' and he warned that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of leniency toward gays. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Pastor is cleard of hate speech), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 11/30/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Mindanao, Philippines - November 30th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 16:53:46 (UTC) on Wednesday, November 30, 2005. The magnitude 6.3 event has been located in MORO GULF, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 40 km (25 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgbav.htm]

2005 - Earth Entering / High-Speed Solar Wind Stream - November 30th, 2005: "A full day earlier than expected, Earth has entered a high-speed solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the sun. Sky watchers in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia should be alert for auroras. [....]"

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [11/30/05]

2005 - U.N. Climate Change Conference / Montreal, Canada - November 30th, 2005: "The United States came under renewed criticism Tuesday [11/29/05] as thousands of environmentalists and international officials worked out rules for a new treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. comments that it would resist any commitment to curb global warming by capping industrial emissions infuriated environmentalists. They accused the U.S. of trying to derail the U.N. Climate Change Conference. More than 8,000 environmentalists, scientists and government officials were attending the event in Montreal." [Based on: News Services]

December 2005

2005 - Astronomic Configuration - December 1st, 2005: "Sun [9 Sagittarius], Moon [4 Sagittarius], Mercury [25 Scorpio R], Venus [22 Capricorn], Mars [8 Taurus R], Jupiter [7 Scorpio], Saturn [11 Leo R], Uranus [6 Pisces], Neptune [15 Aquarius], Pluto [23 Sagittarius], Chiron [29 Capricorn]."

[Based on: http://www2.bitstream.net/~bunlion/bpi/ephm/E200512.html]

2005 - World AIDS Day - December 1st, 2005: "World AIDS day celebrated."

2005 - Standard-bearer - December 1st, 2005:

Jonah Goldberg believes that "historians are right to be forgiving of deceit in a just cause" when presidents lie ("Even if Bush did lie, so what?" Nov. 28). "Occasional duplicity" is required, Goldberg writes, for "statesmanship."
   I wonder if Mr. Goldberg holds the same standard for journalism, particularly for columnists such as himself?

[Based on: Opinion Page article (Standard-bearer) by Richard A. Brantley, p. C12, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Quits Labor Party / Shimon Peres - December 1st, 2005: "Elder statesman Shimon Peres quit Israel's Labor Party on Wednesday [11/30/05] to join forces with his one-time nemesis, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Peres called Sharon the best choice to lead Israel to peace with the Palestinians. Israel will hold elections in March. Last week, Sharon quit his Likud Party to form the new and centrist Kadima Party. [....]" [Based on: Cox News Service

2005 - Partial Facial Transplant / France - December 1st, 2005: "Doctors in France said they had performed the world's first partial face transplant, forging into a risky medical frontier with their operation on a woman disfigured by a dog bite. The woman, 38, who wants to remain anonymous, had a nose, lips and chin grafted onto her face from a brain-dead donor whose family gave consent. The operation, performed Sunday [11/27/05], including a surgeon already famous for transplant breakthroughs, Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Surgeons in France perform pioneering facial transplant), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Iraq War Speech / George W. Bush - December 1st, 2005: "American troops are in Iraq for the long haul and won't leave until insurgents are defeated, President George W. Bush signaled Wednesday [11/30/05] - notwithstanding declining public support for the war. A steadfast and unambiguous Bush dismissed any talk of 'artificial timetables' for a troop withdrawal, vowing that 'America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief.' [....]" [Based on: article (Bush holds the line in Iraq, calls for 'complete victory'), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - China Urges U.S. to Join Kyoto Treaty - December 1st, 2005: "China urged the U.S. to join the Kyoto treaty Wednesday [11/30/05], rejecting arguments that the pact is flawed because it fails to restrict emissions by developing countries. China's Sun Guoshunis said his country was already cutting the polluting emissions, adding it was unfair to expect China and India - with the world's largest population - to ask their impoverished people to cut back on energy consumption. More than 8,000 environmentalists, scientists and government officials were attending the first conference of the 140 countries that have ratified the treaty since it was signed in 1997 and took effect in February [2005]." [Based on: News Services article (China urges U.S. to join Kyoto treaty), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Neither the United States nor China are parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which limits emissions of greenhouse gasses. But even countries that have signed that agreement are failing to meet its targets. Japan, Canada and 11 European Union countries have either increased their emissions or failed to reach their Kyoto targets. [....]" [Based on: Opinion Page article - Our View / Global Warming - (Hot air and disappointment in Montreal), p. C10, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - First Saudi Women Win Elective Office - December 1st, 2005: "[....] Saudi officials said Wednesday [11/30/05] that Lama al-Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher had won election to the board of Jiddah's chamber of commerce. Little information was available about the two women, who could not be reached for comment The Chamber's weekend elections were the first polls in Saudi Arabia in which women were allowed to run and to vote. [....] King Abdullah, who ascended to the throne in August and is seen as a reformist monarch, has said he wants to lighten restrictions on women. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (First Saudi women win elective office), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Trivia / Tobacco Settlement Funds, U.S.A. - December 1st, 2005: "Just a fraction of the money that states received from tobacco settlements and taxes is being used to prevent smoking, advocacy groups reported in a study Wednesday [11/30/05]. Missouri is one of only five states and the District of Columbia that spend no state funds at all on prevention programs, the report found, while 35 states, including Illinois, fund at less than half of the recommended amount. [....] This year, Missouri will collect about $244 million from the landmark 1998 settlement with tobacco companies and tobacco taxes. Other states that spend none of their settlement money on tobacco prevention programs are Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Tennessee. A spokesman for Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt said the governor had proposed spending $875,000 for youth tobacco prevention programs in his recommended budget this year, but the funds were cut during the legislative process." [Based on: A.P. article (Group faults use of Tobacco settlement funds), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Trivia / Cholesterol & Alzheimer's Disease - December 1st, 2005: "[....] Laboratory research indicates that cholesterol plays a role in the development of the waxy deposits, or plaques, that clump together in the brain and characterize Alzheimer's. Might lowering cholesterol through medication affect the development of the disease? [....] Find this study: December issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry; abstract available @
http://jnnp.bmjjournals.com. [....]" [Based on: Health Studies article, p. A3, S.L.P.D. 12/01/05]

2005 - Looming Funding Crisis? / British Pension System - December 1st, 2005: "The British government said Wednesday [11/30/05] it would consider raising the retirement age as high as 69 as recommended by a panel commissioned to avert a looming funding crisis in the state pension system as people live longer and have fewer children. The Pensions Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002, also said the state pension should be increased and proposed creating a National Pension Savings System in which every worker would be enrolled automatically. [....] But Hutton [Work & Pensions Secretary, John Hutton] said changes have to be made. He noted there will be 50 percent more pensioners by 2050 and said nearly 10 million people of working age are not saving enough for their retirement. Britain's state pension, currently [2005?] paid to women beginning at age 60 and men at 65, is $138 a week." [Based on: A.P. article (Britain may raise retirement age), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Trivia / Single Family House Mortagages, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - December 1st, 2005: "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are raising the limit on the size of single-family house mortgages they will purchase by 16 percent to $417,000, increasing the pool of buyers who will qualify for lower-cost financing. The increase is the biggest in at least 25 years and should provide a boost to the real-estate market, which has been showing some signs of cooling." [Based on: Business page article (Fannie, Freddie raise purchase limit), p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/01/05]

2005 - Trivia / Sunspot 826 - December 2nd, 2005: "Yesterday [12/01/05], sunspot 826 unleashed an M1-class solar flare and now it is crackling with C-flares - a sign of things to come? Stay tuned for updates. Meanwhile, if you have a safely-filtered solar telescope, take a look at this 'spot. It's changing by the hour. " [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [12/02/05]

2005 - Status / Sunspot 826 - December 2nd, 2005: "Magnetic fields connected to sunspot 826 [see link] have erupted twice today, producing strong M-class solar flares. The explosions did not hurl coronal mass ejections toward Earth, so geomagnetic storms are, for now, unlikely. Stay tuned for updates. [....] Sunspot 826 is growing quickly. In only two days it has ballooned from a barely-visible speck to a sprawling group almost as wide as the planet Jupiter: [....] If you have a safely-filtered solar telescope, take a look at this 'spot. It is changing by the hour. The magnetic field of a fast-changing sunspot like 826 can easily become unstable and explode. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of X-class solar flares during the next 24 hours."

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [12/02/05]

2005 - Not Guilty Plea / Conrad Black - December 2nd, 2005: "Conrad Black, the former chairman of Hollinger International Inc. accused of helping steal $51.8 million from the newspaper company, pleaded not guilty to wire and mail fraud charges Thursday [12/01/05] at Chicago's federal courthouse. Black was freed on $20 million bail. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article (Conrad Black pleads not guilty to fraud), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Trivia / Anthrax Shots, U.S.A. - December 2nd, 2005: "The government asked a federal appeals court Thursday [12/01/05] to reinstate mandatory anthrax inoculations for many military personnel. The government is appealing a decision by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan." [Based on: News Services article (Anthrax Shots:), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Same-Sex Unions? / South Africa - December 2nd, 2005: "South Africa's highest court ruled Thursday [12/01/05] in favor of gay marriage, a landmark decision that clears the way for the country to become the first to legalize same-sex unions on a continent where homosexuality remains largely taboo. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Hurricane Epsilon / West of Azores - December 2nd, 2005: "Epsilon strengthened into a record 14th hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday - two days after the 2005 season officially ended. Forecasters said it posed no threat to land. [....]" [Based on: News Services, 12/03/05]

2005 - Spreading? / Diarrhea-Causing Germ - December 2nd, 2005: "A new, more dangerous strain of a germ that has long caused diarrhea in hospital patients is now widespread in the United States, causing severe, sometimes deadly outbreaks around the country, researchers reported Thursday [12/01/05]. [....] The germ may have emerged in part due to the overuse of antibiotics, the experts said. [....] The bacterium, known as Clostridium difficile, has long been known to cause diarrhea among hospital patients, particularly in those who are taking antibiotics for other reasons. The antibiotics kill other microbes that keep it in check, allowing it to grow and cause illness. Such infections, however, had usually been easily treatable with other antibiotics. In recent years, though, unusually severe outbreaks of the infections have been reported around the world. In 2003, a particularly severe outbreak among hospital patients in Quebec killed perhaps more than 200 people. In three new reports released Thursday by the CDC and the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers identified the strain responsible for the Quebec cases, determined that the same strain is present throughout the United States and described other outbreaks." [Based on: Washington Post article (Diarrhea-causing germ spreads), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Approved / U.S. West Nile Virus Test - December 2nd, 2005: The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday [12/01/05] that it has approved the first test to screen blood, organ and tissue donations for West Nile virus. The test has been widely used since 2003 at bllod banks on an experimental basis. [Based on: News Services]

2005 - "Information Operations Soldiers" / Iraq - December 2nd, 2005: "The White House demanded Thursday [12/01/05] that the Pentagon hand over information about a secret U.S. military operation to plant news stories in the Iraqi news media. Senators plan to meet behind closed doors with military commanders to learn about the information effort under way in Iraq. Press secretary Scott McClellan said the White House is very concerned about reports that a defense contractor in Iraq, working with U.S. soldiers, is paying newspapers in Baghdad to run positive stories written by U.S. soldiers. 'We are seeking more information from the Pentagon,' McClellan said. Pentagon officials said they were scrambling to get information from commanders in Baghdad about the arrangement between the U.S. military and a Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which specializes in 'strategic communications' in combat zones. [....] Information operations soldiers write stories, called 'storyboards,' and deliver them to the Iraqi staff of Lincoln Group. After that, Lincoln Group staffers translate the storyboards into Arabic and pay newspaper editors in Baghdad to run the stories, the documents and sources indicated. Documents revealed that the articles also often run with Associated Press and Reuters photos that information operations soldiers take off Web sites, a practice that could violate copyright rules. The photos that run with the stories do not necessarily depict the events described. [....] Senior Pentagon officials, including Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they had no knowledge about the secret campaign before news articles this week. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article by Mark Mazzetti (Secret media strategy is probed), pp. A1 & A10, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

*Trivia: "The U.S. military acknowledged Friday [12/02/05] that it has been using third parties to buy advertising space in Iraqi newspapers for articles designed to counter enemy propaganda. [....] The articles were designed to counter 'misinformation and propoganda by an enemy intent on discrediting the Iraqi government and the Coalition, and who are taking every opportunity to instill fear and intimidate the Iraqi people,' the statement said." [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (U.S. military acknowledges buying space in Iraqi papers via 3rd parties), p. A29, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Overturned / Pedophiia Convictions, France - December 2nd, 2005: "A Paris appeals court overturned the pedophilia convictions of six people Thursday [12/01/05] in a case the French justice minister called a 'disaster' in which they had been falsely accused and jailed. A contrite public prosecutor said the case in the town of Saint-Omer last year had been riddled with errors and called for the defendants to be acquitted. The six who were acquitted Thursday spent between 2 1/2 and 3 years behind bars while awaiting trial. Another defendant committed suicide behind bars. Others lost custody of their children." [Based on: News Services article (Appeals court overturns pedophilia convictions), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Preliminary 3rd-Quarter Figures? / Freddie Mac - December 2nd, 2005: "Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance company attempting to recover from a $5 billion accounting scandal, said Thursday [12/01/05] that profit was about $600 million in the third quarter after losses related to hurricanes and errors in calculating mortage interest. The government-chartered company, providing preliminary third-quarter figures, also boosted its quarterly common stock dividend by 34 percent to 47 cents a share. [....] The increase indicates Freddie Mac 'has confidence that their business is going well,' Front [Marshall Front] said. Freddie's estimate of its condition is the fourth since a 2003 disclosure that it understated net income by $5 billion. Led by Chief Executive Richard Syron, Freddie Mac plans to complete an accounting overhaul, restore current financial reporting and provide 2005 results by March 31 [2006]. It has not filed a current, complete report since early 2003. Current, or fair market, value of Freddie Mac's assets minus liabilities decreased by $500 million to $26.9 billion from the second quarter, the company, based in McLean, Va., said. Freddie Mac on Nov. 8 said mistakes in calculating interest on mortgage securities compelled it to reduce first-half profit by $220 million." [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Freddie Mac expects profit; hikes dividend), p. C3, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Fatality / Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi - December 2nd, 2005: "Former Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi  has died [12/02/05] at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad, the American military said Monday [12/05/05]. He was 67 and once was one of the top members of Saddam Hussein's government. Al-Zubaydi, a Shiite Muslim, died Friday [12/02/05] after being transferred to U.S. 344th Corps Support Hospital after complaining of chest pains, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill. [....]" [Based on: News Services, 12/06/06]

2005 - Blames Bush for Election Boycott / Hugo Chavez - December 2nd, 2005: "President Hugo Chavez blamed President George W. Bush on Thursday [12/01/05] for a growing election boycott in Venezuela, hours after all the country's major opposition parties joined the ballot protest. Thousands of Chavez supporters massed in the streets to protest the pullout. The opposition move cleared the way for candidates aligned with Chavez to expand their dominance of Congress in a vote Sunday." [Based on: News Services article (Chavez blames Bush for election boycott), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Secret Gulf of Tonkin Papers / Released on Web - December 2nd, 2005: "The National Security Agency has released hundreds of pages of long-secret documents on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that played a critical role near the beginning of the Vietnam War. The material posted on the Internet at midnight Wednesday [11/30/05] included one of the largest collections of secret, intercepted communications ever made available for study. The most provocative document is a 2001 article in which an agency historian argued that the agency's intelligence officers 'deliberately skewed' the evidence passed on to policymakers on the crucial question of whether North Vietnamese ships attacked U.S. destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964. Based on the mistaken belief that such an attack had occurred, President Lyndon Johnson ordered airstrikes on North Vietnam, and Congress passed a broad resolution authorizing military action. The historian, Robert Hanyok, wrote the article in an internal publication and it was classified top secret despite the fact that it dealt with events in 1964. Word of Hanyok's findings leaked to historians outside the agency, who requested the article under the Freedom of Information Act in 2003. [....] In his 2001 article, an elaborate piece of detective work, Hanyok wrote that 90 percent of the intercepts of North Vietnamese communications relevant to the supposed Aug. 4, 1964, attack were omitted from the major agency documents going to policymakers. 'The overwhelming body of reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened,' he wrote. 'So a conscious effort ensued to demonstrate that an attack had occurred.' [....] 'A lot of people at the agency haven't been happy that communications intelligence was used to support a wrong conclusion,' he said. Agency employees worked late Wednesday [11/30/05] to meet a self-imposed end-of-November deadline, posting the intercepts, oral history interviews with retired agency officials and internal reports on the agency's Web site at www.nsa.gov/vietnam." [Based on: New York Times article (Secret Gulf of Tonkin papers are released on Web), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/02/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Near East Coast of Honshu, Japan - December 2nd, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 13:13:12 (UTC) on Friday, December 2, 2005. The magnitude 6.5 event has been located in NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 51 km (32 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgdan.htm]

2005 - Painted Animals - December 3rd, 2005: "Friz Koneiczka's farm near Loganton, Pa., is small but easy to spot - it has the orange-striped steer, horses, goats and dog. Konieczka paints his animals during the bear and deer hunting seasons to keep them safe. He uses a paint he said does no damage and brushes out." [Based on: Wire Services article (Painted Animals:), p. A24, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Greenspan Speaks - December 3rd, 2005: "Outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Friday [12/02/05] warned anew that the exploding U.S. budget deficit and a protectionist backlash against trade deficits could disrupt the global economy. [....] He said U.S. deficits are set to soar with the pending retirement of 78 million baby boomers. He suggested that Congress trim Social Security and Medicare benefits because the government probably has promised more than it can afford. If something isn't done to trim benefit costs, the resulting budget deficits would 'cast an ever-larger shadow' over the future living standards of Americans, Greenspan said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Martin Crutsinger (Greenspan again sounds alarm over trade and budget deficits), p. A32, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Roadside Bomb / Iraq - December 3rd, 2005: "The U.S. military on Friday [12/02/05] announced the deaths of 10 Marines and the wounding of 11 others near the western city of Fallujah in the single deadliest attack on U.S. troops in Iraq in four months. [....] Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced Friday that U.S. and Iraqi troops had launched an offensive in the turbulent western city of Ramadi. [....]" [Based on: Chicago Tribune article, p. A29, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Capital Punishment Trivia / U.S.A. - December 3rd, 2005: "A convicted murderer was put to death Friday [12/02/05] in North Carolina - the nation's 1,000th execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977. [....]" [Based on: Wire Services article, p. A24, S.L.P.D, 12/03/05]

2005 - Trivia / Middle East Missles - December 3rd, 2005: "An Israeli Arrow missle fired in a test Friday [12/02/05] destroyed a missle similar to Iran's long-range Shahab-3. [....] Meanwhile, Russian media sources reported Friday [12/02/05] that Russia had agreed to sell more than $1 billion worth of missles and other defense items to Iran. The news agencies Interfax and ITAR-Tass cited unidentified sources in the Russian military-industrial complex as saying that Russian and Iranian officials had signed the contracts last month." [Based on: A.P. article (Israeli missle passes defensive test-firing), p. A27, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

2005 - Fatality? / Hamza Rabia - December 4th, 2005: "One of al-Qaida's top five leaders was killed by Pakistani security forces near the Afghan border, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday. He was identified as Hamza Rabia, a key associate of al-Qaida No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahri. Rabia died Thursday [12/01/05] in an explosion in the North Waziristan tribal area, with his remains identified by DNA tests, said Information Minister Sheikh Rashid. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A17, S.L.P.D., 12/03/05]

*Trivia: "Shrapnel that appeared to be from an American-made missle was found Sunday [12/04/05] at the house where Pakistan said a top al-Qaida operative was killed in an explosion. U.S. and Pakistani officials declined to confirm an NBC report that the attack on the house where Hamza Rabia reportedly died was launched by a U.S. drone. President George W. Bush's national security adviser would not confirm the death. Local residents said they found at least two pieces of shrapnel at the blast scene inscribed with the designation of the Hellfire missle, which is carried by the U.S. Air Force's unmanned, remote-controlled Predator aircraft. The metal pieces bore the designator 'AGM-114,' the words 'guided missle' and the initials 'US.' [....] A senior Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday [12/03/05] that Rabia died in a huge explosion set off by a missle attack. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Hellfire missle links U.S. to al-Qaida leader's death), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Elections Trivia / Chechnya - December 4th, 2005: "A Kremlin-backed political party has won the largest number of seats in Chechnya's parliament, the official said Saturday. The party - United Russia - won 33 of the 58 seats in the election Nov. 27, said Ismail Baykhanov, head of the Chechen Central Election Commission. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A18, S.L.P.D., 12/04/05]

2005 - Blue Cross Bank? - December 5th, 2005: "The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association wants to start a bank that will administer its consumer-directed health plans. [....] The bank would be an independent entity based in Salt Lake City. Health savings accounts are high-deductible insurance plans. Employees deposit money into a tax-free savings account that can be used for medical expenses and rolled over like 401(k) retirement plans." [Based on: News Services article (Blue Cross organization plans to establish Bank), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Security Lags? / U.S.A. - December 5th, 2005: "The U.S. is at great risk for more terrorist attacks because Congress and the White House have failed to enact several security measures, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said Sunday [12/04/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Security lags, former 9/11 panel says), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - "Tis The Season" / U.S.A. - December 5th, 2005: "The holiday shopping season has begun and financial experts and store owners are eagerly anticipating the sales reports from the stores. Will it be a good holiday season? Defining that is easy for them, because it all comes down to one question: Will people spend more money this year than last? [....] Ever since shopping became America's national pastime, the quality of the retail worker's job has deteriorated. In the quest for ever more sales dollars, it's the retail worker who pays the price in a society that demands that stores be open round the clock. The result has been longer and longer shifts and less and less time off between shifts. Seven-day, 70-hour weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are not unusual in the retail workplace. And in many cases, these workers are classified 'salaried workers,' making them inelligible for overtime. [....] Now factor in relatively low pay and clueless executives who may never have worked a single shift on a sales floor or behind a cash register, and the working environment can become downright dsyfunctional. No wonder the service can stink. [....] I wouldn't suggest asking sales clerks for autographs the next time you're out shopping. But it wouldn't kill us customers to let them know we realize how hard they work under very demanding circumstances. There's no reason good will and holiday cheer can't go both ways in the retail marketplace." [Based on: Other Views page article by Tim Hollenbach, p. B9, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Fence Jumper / U.S. White House - December 5th, 2005: "A man identified as Shawn A. Cox of Arkansas is taken into custody by the Secret Service after scaling the White House fence around lunchtime Sunday [12/04/05]." [Based on: A.P. picture caption, p. A3, S.L.P.D. 12/05/05]

2005 - Principles of Democracy? - December 5th, 2005: "[....] Even as the Bush administration was complaining that the press was missing the progress in Iraq, the Pentagon was planting stories in the Iraqi press saying the same thing. The stories reportedly were written by American psychological operations troops and turned over to operatives of the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based PR firm. The contractors kept a string of corrupt editors who'd run the stories and disguise them as legitimate journalism. In other cases, the military and its PR firm created the 'Baghdad Press Club,' which kept selected Iraqi journalists on the payroll. They lifted text and pictures from legitimate newspapers and passed it off as independent reporting. A military spokesman in Iraq defended the practice, saying that control of 'the information environment' was almost as important as the 'combat environment.' Said Major Gen. Rick Lynch, 'We don't lie. We don't need to lie ... everything we do is based on fact, not based on fiction.' [....] But at the Pentagon, at least one surprised senior official got the point, telling The Times: 'Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it.' " [Based on: Opinion Page article (For Sale: Truth), p. B8, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Top 10 Safest Passenger Cars, U.S.A. - December 5th, 2005: "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced a new designation, the Top Safety Pick award, based on the performance of vehicles in their crash tests. Safety scores based on Frontal offset and side impact tests and a test that reviews seat and head restraints in rear crashes. Gold awards: Mercury Montego & Ford Five Hundred (Corporate twins); Saab 9-3; Subaru Legacy; Honda Civic four-door. Silver awards: Audi A6; Audi A3; Audi A4; Chgevrolet Malibu, with side air bags; Volkswagen Jetta; Volkswagen Passat." [Based on: AP Photo/Institute for highway Safety - article, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Universal Suffrage? / Hong Kong, China - December 5th, 2005: "Tens of thousands of protestors marched Sunday [12/04/05] in Hong Kong, demanding the right to choose their leaders. Outside government headquarters, protestors demanded Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang respond immediately to calls for a plan specifying when and how the territory can have universal suffrage, promised as an eventual goal under its miniconstitution. Organizers said the protest drew 250,000 people. Police put the turnout at 63,000." [Based on: News Services article (Demonstrators protest for right to elect leaders), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Rocket Attacks / Israel  & Palestine - December 5th, 2005: "Palestinian militants fired two rockets from Gaza into an Israeli village Sunday evening [12/04/05], following Israeli airstrikes earlier in the day launced in response to previous attacks. [....] The Israeli airstrikes Sunday were the first since Oct. 27, the military said. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Two Palestinian rockets hit village in Israel), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - Assassination Attempt? / Ayad Allawi - December 5th, 2005: "An angry crowd confronted former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi at a Shiite shrine south of Baghdad on Sunday [12/04/05], forcing him to flee in a hail of stones and shoes. Allawi called the attack an assassination attempt. In Baghdad, one of the five judges in the trial of Saddam Hussein stepped down because one of the co-defendants may have been involved in the execution of his brother, a court official said Sunday. Another official said police had uncovered a plot to fire rockets at the courtroom when the trial convenes today for a third session. [Based on: A.P., 12/05/05]

2005 - Interest-Free Loan? / U.S. Storm Victims - December 5th, 2005: "The cost: $200 million if all the estimated 20,000 eligible homeowners apply. Where would the money come from? Federal Housing Administration insurance reserves funded by premiums paid by borrowers who have FHA-insured mortgages. Do they have to pay it back? Yes. But it's an interest-free loan not due until the homeowner's original FHA-insured mortage is paid off. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Storm victims get federal mortgage relief), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05]

2005 - New Pain Treatments Block Nerve Signals - December 5th, 2005: "Scientists are developing new ways to relieve chronic pain, the long-lasting suffering that afflicts millions of people worldwide. They're learning how to block the nerve signals that carry pain messages to the brain without interfering with normal body functions, as earlier treatments did. [....] To meet the challenge of severe chronic pain, two novel therapies are being developed at the dental and craniofacial institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Both involve breaking the circuit that connects pain nerves to the brain through the spine. One method uses a poisonous substance called RTX (short for resiniferatoxin) derived from a cactus plant in Morocco. Inserted into the sheath surrounding the spine, RTX kills certain specialized clusters of neurons - nerve cells - that help transmit painful sensations to the brain. 'RTX deletes only the sensory neurons,' said Michael Iadarola, a pain expert at the institute. Other nerves, such as those that control touch, motion and balance, are unaffected. Iadarola has used RTX successfully to relieve pain in dogs that have severe bone cancer and is seeking approval to test the technique in humans next year. 'We hope the response will be as nice as we saw in dogs, he said. The other technique uses a toxic molecule called SP-PE35 to selectively remove the outer, pain-sensing layer of the spinal cord while leaving intact the nerves that control muscles, breathing and other organs. 'We shave neurons off the top of the spinal cord,' Iadarola said. 'Some have referred to the technique as using a molecular scalpel.' Researchers plan to test the new process in dogs and eventually in humans. It already has been shown to work in laboratory rats, who feel no pain when their tails are pinched." [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article by Robert S. Boyd (New pain treatments block nerve signals), p. H2, S.L.P.D., 12/05/05] 

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Lake Tanganyika Region, Congo-Tanzania - December 5th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 12:19:55 (UTC) on Monday, December 5, 2005. The magnitude 6.8 event has been located in the LAKE TANGANYIKA REGION, CONGO-TANZANIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usggai.htm]

*Trivia: "An earthquake Monday [12/05/05] killed at least two people in eastern Congo, a region already beset by violence and poverty. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 and struck at 2:20 p.m. (6:20 a.m. CST). [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / Tom DeLay - December 6th, 2005: "Although a judge dismissed a conspiracy charge Monday [12/05/05] against Rep. Tom DeLay, the judge refused to throw out far more serious allegations of money laundering. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Civil Partnerships / Britain - December 6th, 2005: "Gay couples began registering for civil partnerships at town halls across Britain on Monday [12/05/05] as a law took effect giving them many of the same legal rights as married hetrosexuals. [....]" [Based on: News Services, 12/06/05]

2005 - Trivia / Saddam Hussein Trial - December 6th, 2005: "Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein [....] and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti berate the court during their trial Monday [12/05/05] in Baghdad, Iraq. Saddam's defense team left after the judge denied a motion to challenge the court's legitimacy." [Based on: AFP/Getty Images picture caption, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Elections Trivia / Venezuela - December 6th, 2005: "Supporters of President Hugo Chavez said Monday [12/05/05] that they would accelerate Venezuela's shift to a 'new socialism' after claiming victory in parliamentary elections. Politicians backing the president were expected to win all 167 seats in the National Assembly. Several of Venezuela's major opposition parties boycotted the vote on Sunday [12/04/05], which had an estimated turnout of only 25 percent. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "European observers said Tuesday [12/06/05] that Venezuela's congressional elections were fair despite opposition complaints. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Job Cuts / Los Angeles Times - December 6th, 2005: "The Los Angeles Times will cut 110 jobs and close a production plant, extending a retrenchment brought on by rising costs and lagging sales The newspaper will consolidate production at three facilities in downtown Los Angeles, Costa Mesa and Irwindale, Calif., the paper said Monday [12/05/05]. Chicago-based Tribune Co., the newspaper's parent, last month cut 85 jobs in its newsroom. Tribune, the No. 2 U.S. newspaper publisher, is paring spending to improve earnings. A decline in circulation prompted the company to trim 100 jobs at its Chicago Tribune last month." [Based on: Bloomberg News, 12/06/06]

2005 - Elections Trivia / Kazakhstan - December 6th, 2005: "Opposition leaders in Kazakhstan said Monday [12/05/05] that the overwhelming re-election of President Nursultan Nazarbayev should be declared invalid. Nazarbayev won 91 percent of the vote in Sunday's [12/04/05] elections, the central Elections Commission said. His closest challenger, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, received 6.64 percent, while Alikhan Baimenov came in third with 1.65 percent. Seventy-seven percent of registered voters cast ballots, the commission said. A mission led by the Organization  for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the vote did not meet international standards for democratic elections." [Based on: News Services article, p. A13, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Kidnapped / Bernard Planche, Iraq - December 6th, 2005: "Masked gunmen snatched a French engineer [Bernard Planche] off the streets of Baghdad on Monday [12/05/05]. The kidnapping of a Westerner was the latest in a spate that coincides with Saddam Hussein's trial and the approaching parliamentary elections on Dec. 15. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Anti-Terrorism Tactics - November 6th, 2005: "[....] 'Our people, wherever they are, are operating under U.S. law and U.S. international obligations,' Rice [U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice] said. She said that included the U.N. Convention Against Torture - a document the administration has previously said does not fully apply to Americans overseas. [....] Throughout Monday [12/05/05], Rice refused any outright answer to the underlying question European governments have asked: Did the United States run clandestine detention sites on the continent? 'Were I to confirm or deny, say yes or say no, then I would be compromising intelligence information, and I'm not going to do that,' she said on her plane to Germany. [....] The Washington Post said last month that the CIA ran a network of hidden prisons, including some in Eastern European democracies. The advocacy group Human Rights Watch followed the news report with claims that it has tracked suspicious CIA flights around Europe since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The group pointed to sites in Poland and Romania as probable hosts for secret prisons, but both those nations have denied it. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. anti-terrorism tactics keep Europe safer, Rice asserts), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Financial Condition / Delta Air Lines Inc. - December 6th, 2005: "Delta Air Lines Inc., the No. 3 U.S. air carrier, won't be able to fully repay creditors the $28.3 billion they're owed, a company lawyer on Monday [12/05/05] told a bankruptcy judge in New York. Delta detailed its financial condition for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Prudence Carter Beatty to persuade her to authorize cuts in pilot's pay, Delta wants to save $325 million a year as part of a plan to reduce expenses by $3 billion." [Based on: Business page article (Delta says it can't fully repay its creditors), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Murder Charges Dropped / U.S. Officer, Iraq - December 6th, 2005: "The Army dropped murder charges Monday [12/05/05] against an officer accused of giving soldiers in his platoon permission to kill two Iraqi civilians. Second Lt. Erick J. Anderson, 26, of Twinsburg, Ohio could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Officer won't face murder charge), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Push to Protect Pensions? / George W. Bush - December 6th, 2005:

   President George W. Bush said Monday [12/05/05] that American companies must honor promises to their retired workers. He urged Congress to pass tough legislation to protect retirees' pension checks. "In our society, we've had some companies - big companies - go bankrupt, and workers at those companies know what I'm talking about," Bush said. 'And so my message to corporate America is: 'You need to fulfill your promises.' " [....]

[Based on: A.P. article by Deb Reichmann (Bush pushes for tough law to protect pensions), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

*Trivia: "The House is abandoning plans to move soon on legislation to shore up the financially troubled employer-based pensions systems, a Republican leader said Tuesday [12/07/05]. Acting majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said there was 'really no likelihood' that the House would vote any time soon on a bill to overhaul traditional defined-benefit pension plans. Last month, on a 97-2 vote, the Senate approved its version of the legislation. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (House drops effort to act soon on pensions legislation), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - New Iraq (Blather) Strategy? / George W. Bush - December 6th, 2005: "[....] Guess the Bush administration didn't learn anything this fall when federal auditors charged it with violating the law by buying favorable news coverage of education policies. The administration got right back into the fake news business, paying to plant propoganda in the Iraqi press. They outsourced this disinformation campaign to something called the Lincoln Group. Have they no shame? [....] Last Wednesday at the Naval Academy, Bush claimed that 40 Iraqi battalions were taking the lead in the fight against insurgents, and that in the battle of Tal Afar this year, 'the assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces - 11 Iraqi battalions providing support.' Anderson Cooper of CNN swiftly produced Time magazine's Baghdad bureau chief, Michael Ware, who was embedded with the U.S. military during the entire Tal Afar battle. 'With the greatest respect to the president, that's completely wrong,' Ware said. 'I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al-Qaida. They were not leading.' He also told Cooper: 'I have had a very senior officer here in Baghdad say to me that there's never going to be a point where these guys will be able to stand up against the insurgency on their own.' Ware recalled that in a battle two weeks ago, he saw an Iraqi security officer put down his weapon and curl up into a ball when he was under attack. 'I have seen that on - on many, many occasions,' he said. Curling up in a ball. Good national Strategy for Victory." [Based on: article by Maureen Dowd, (The president offers new Iraq (blather) strategy), p. B9, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Managers Pensions Freeze? / Verizon Communications - December 6th, 2005: "Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest phone company, said Monday [12/05/05] that it would freeze the guaranteed pension plan covering 50,000 of its managers and expand their 401(k) plans instead. In freezing the plan the company will pay workers the benefits they have already earned but will not let them build up additional benefits. Verizon also said that it would contribute less to the health care benefits of those managers when they retire. Over all, the company hopes to save about $3 billion over the next decade by taking these steps. The moves are part of a broader effort by Verizon to overhaul its pension and health care plans to keep up with rival cable and technology companies that typically pay lower salaries and provide fewer benefits. [....] Verizon's 200,000 retirees and its 105,000 current union employees will not be affected by the change. But in cutting retirement benefits for about a quarter of its work force of 215,000, Verizon may be setting the stage for concessions it may hope to gain from its unionized workers during their next round of negotiations. The company's decision to scale back benefits for some employees echoes similar steps taken in recent months by other big technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Motorola Inc. Businesses across America have been trying to find ways to reduce their pension burdens and contain health care costs that are spiraling upward." [Based on: New York Times article (Verizon will freeze manager's pensions), p. C2, S.L.P.D., 12/06/05]

2005 - Suicide Bombers / Iraq - December 7th, 2005: "Two suicide bombers detonated explosives inside Baghdad's main police academy Tuesday [12/06/05], killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 70, police said. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack, the capital's deadliest in months. In other developments: Al-Jazeera aired a video in which insurgents claim to have kidnapped a U.S. security consultant - the seventh Westerner abducted in Iraq since Nov. 26. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/07/05]

2005 - Power Outages / Zimbabwe - December 7th, 2005: "Widespread power outages struck Zimbabwe on Tuesday [12/06/05], blacking out much of president Robert Mugabe's state of the nation address. In it, he promised to address the country's chronic electricity shortages. [....] Zimbabwe imports more than 30 percent of its electricity from neighboring countries. Power and water outages have become routine in Zimbabwe, which is caught in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Trivia / Saddam Hussein Trial - December 7th, 2005: "The first witness Tuesday [12/06/05] at Saddam Hussein's trial did something that even the judge has been unable to do: She silenced the defendants. [....] The witnesses told compelling stories and blamed Saddam for their suffering. But none presented evidence directly linking the former dictator to the killings of nearly 150 people in the city of Dujail, as he is charged with in this case. By the end of Tuesday's nine-hour session, Saddam was threatening to boycott today's session. He complained that he had been unable to change his clothes and underwear in three days. When the judge refused to delay the trial, Saddam called the court 'unjust' and snapped at the judge: 'Go to hell!' Saddam and seven co-defendents are charged with ordering the killings shortly after an assassination attempt in 1982. If convicted, they could be executed. [....] In what was supposed to be the questioning of a witness in the afternoon, Saddam gave a 15-minute diatribe, pointing at the judge and the prosecutor. 'The biggest concern of mine is my people and my nation,' he said. 'Do the American people know what kind of crime their nation committed against humanity?' " [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Testimony on torture quiets Saddam), pp. A1 & A8, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Economic Recovery? / U.S.A. - December 7th, 2005: "Falling gasoline prices have led to some improvement in consumer confidence over the past few weeks.  But the public remains deeply unhappy about the state of the economy. According to the latest Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans rate the economy as only fair or poor; 58 percent say economic conditions are getting worse, not better. [....] Family income data for 2004 released by the census bureau in August showed a remarkable disconnect between overall economic growth and the economic fortunes of most American families. It should have been a good year; the economy grew 4.2 percent, its best performance since 1999. Yet most families actually lost economic ground. Real median household income (adjusted for inflation) fell for the fifth year in a row. And one key source of economic insecurity got worse: The number of Americans without health insurance continued to rise. We can't have comparable data for 2005 yet, but its pretty clear that the results will be similar. Behind the disconnect between economic growth and family incomes lies the lopsided nature of the economic recovery that officially began in late 2001. Corporate profits have risen more than 50 percent, even after adjusting for inflation, but real wage and salary income is up less than 7 percent. Wealthy Americans who derive a large share of their income from dividends and capital gains on stocks have benefited, but these people constitute a small minority. For everyone else, the sluggish growth in wages is the real story. And much of that growth took the form of rising payments to executives and other elite employees. Average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers, adjusted for inflation, are lower now than when the recovery began. So there you have it. Americans don't feel good about the economy because it hasn't been good for them. Most people are falling behind. [....] Wages and median family income often lag behind profits, but not this far behind, and not for so long. Nor is there any easy way to place more than a small fraction of the blame on Bush administration policies. At this point, the joylessness of the economic expansion for most Americans is a mystery. But advisers who believe Bush can repair his political standing by telling the public how well the economy is doing misunderstand the situation. The problem isn't that people don't understand how good things really are. It's that they know things really aren't that good." [Based on: Other Views page article (Most people haven't benefited from the improved economy - No wonder they're not happy about it.) by Paul Krugman, p. C13, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Up In Smoke? / U.S. Credibility - December 7th, 2005: "Between Nov. 8 and Nov. 20, 2004, U.S. forces in Iraq conducted Operation Phantom Fury, also known as the Battle of Fallujah. It was a ferocious fight for control of the city of 250,000 just 35 miles west of Baghdad. [....] 'Some artillery guns fired white phosphorus rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water,' the Washington Post had reported from Fallujah during the battle. 'Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorus burns.' A doctor at a nearby hospital confirmed that 'some corpses' of insurgents 'were melted.' Nor was it the first time U.S. forces had used white phosphorus against human targets in Fallujah. During an April 2004 operation that was cut off in midstream on orders from Washington, mortar companies routinely alternated white phosphorus shells with conventional high explosives. [....] All this was known - notwithstanding the State Department's false denial of a year ago - when a documentary aired last month on Italy's RAI television. The Nov. 8 broadcast presented what it said were photographs and testimonial evidence that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were horribly killed and injured by white phosphorus during the U.S. assault on Fallujah last November. [....] U.S. embassies overseas issued carefully worded statements implying that white phosphorus had been used only for smoke and illumination, not against people. A few days later, under subheading 'United States did not use phosphorus weapons,' a somewhat narrower Pentagon statement declared that 'we did not use white phosphorus against civilians.' It took a week for a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Barry Venable, to finally acknowledge to the BBC that the U.S. had used white phosphorus 'as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants.' Still, he insisted, at no time did U.S. forces target civilians. The idea that U.S. forces would deliberately target civilians with white phosphorus or anything else is, of course, nonsense. But the Pentagon's shifting explanations - on top of a five-year pattern of evasions, half-truths and false denials by the Bush administration - have given the world reason to doubt what should be an obvious truth. And the government's on-going legal hair-splitting and double-speak only makes it worse:

   Is white phosphorus a chemical weapon? Depends on your interpretation of "toxic properties" as defined in the international Chemical Weapons Convention. But didn't the U.S. call it a chemical weapon when we heard Saddam used it on the Kurds in 1991? So what? Is it an incendiary weapon? Not if it's used for smoke and illumination. But the U.S. used it as an incendiary. Did we? The Pentagon finally admitted it did in Fallujah. And Protocol III on incendiary weapons of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits its use in a "concentration of civilians." The U.S. never ratified Protocol III.  

   Because of the Bush administration, what America says to the world is no longer regarded as credible. It could take a generation to repair the damage." [Based on:  Other Views page article (U.S. credibility goes up in smoke) by Eric Mink, p. C13, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/07/05] - [Paragraph indents removed to save space - E.M.]

2005 - Israeli Closure / West Bank & Gaza Strip - December 7th, 2005: "Israel clamped an open-ended closure on the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday [12/06/05] in response to a suicide bombing that killed five Israelis. The Israelis barred virtually all Palestinians from Israel and arrested 15 Palestinian militants. Israeli officials also said the army would target Islamic Jihad operatives in the West Bank, both through raids and targeted killings. The Israelis also promised to renew airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to any Palestinian rocket attacks. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/07/05]

2005 - Brutal Cold / Rockies & Midwest U.S.A. - December 7th, 2005: "Brutally cold air spread across the Rockies and Midwest on Wednesday [12/07/05], closing schools, crippling cars and sending volunteers into the streets looking for homeless people to rescue. In West Yellowstone, Mont., a hamlet on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park and a frequent icebox, the mercury plummeted to 45 below zero, shattering the old record for Dec. 7 of 39 below set in 1927. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Br-r-r-r-rutal / Cold in Rockies, Midwest sets records), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Volcanic Activity / Mount Manaro Volcano - December 7th, 2005: "A volcano on a southwestern Pacific island shot out steam gas and ash Wednesday [12/07/05], forcing thousands to flee. Mount Manaro Volcano is on Ambae island, part of the Vanuatu archipelago, an independent republic north of New Caledonia. The islands are 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. A 'red zone' has been declared around the volcano, which has been erupting since Nov. 27. Several ships are ready to evacuate islanders if the situation worsens dramatically. About 10,000 people live on the small island, one of 83 in the archipelago, which is studded with active and dormant volcanoes. The islands have a total population of 200,000. [....] A new cone inside the mountain's crater is believed to be venting up to 2,000 tons of ash a day, as well as dangerous gases. 'The level of gas flows is very high,' Garae [Esline Garae] said, adding that the gas could trigger acid rain. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Simmering volcano threatens island in South Pacific), p. A15, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

*Trivia: "A volcano pumping a plume of gas, steam and ash into the atmosphere is unlikely to explode soon, a volcanologist [Brad Scott] said Thursday [12/08/05]." [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Data suggest volcano is unlikely to blow), p. A20, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Iranian Military Plane Crash / Tehran, Iran - December 7th, 2005: "A military plane loaded with Iranian journalists crashed into a 10-story apartment building Tuesday [12/06/05] as the pilot tried to make an emergency landing after developing engine trouble. The crash killed at least 115 people, the Tehran police chief said. The plane was a C-130, a four-engine turboprop. It crashed into the Towhid apartment complex in a Tehran suburb that is home to air force personnel and is near Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. [....] Everyone on the plane - 84 passengers and a crew of 10 - was killed. Most were Iranian radio and television journalists heading off to cover military maneuvers in southern Iran. [....] The plane belonged to the army air force. It had just taken off for Bandar Abbas in southern Iran when it developed engine trouble. As it headed back to Mehrabad Airport, the pilot was unable to keep his altitude, state-run television said. The report discounted sabotage or terrorism. Aviation officials were unavailable for comment. Witness Iraj Moradin said the plane had appeared to be circling the airport when its tail suddenly burst into flames, leaving a smoke trail as it plummeted. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Ali Akbar Dareini (115 die as plane hits apartments in Iran), p. A13, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Heavy Metal Contamination / La Oroya, Peru - December 7th, 2005: "St. Louis University researchers discovered widespread heavy metal contamination  among residents of La Oroya, Peru - home to a decades-old metallurgical plant operated by Maryland Heights [Mo.]-based Doe Run Co., a study released on Tuesday [12/06/05] says. [....] The findings were delivered to Peruvian officials on Tuesday in the cities of Lima and Concepcion. 'We are confronting a combination of toxic metals that are affecting an entire population,' said Dr. Fernando Serrano of the St. Louis University's School of Public Health, the principal investigator. Levels of antimony, a heavy metal, turned up in La Oroya at 30 times the average in the United States. Cadmium levels were six times what is found in the U.S. population. [....] It is unclear how the metals got there, but researchers say Concepcion is 70 miles downwind and downriver from La Oroya. [....] The company has invested more than $140 million and plans to spend a similar amount to improve the plant in the future, Shepard [Doe Run Spokeswoman, Barbara Shepard] said. Doe Run, which also operates a lead smelter in Herculaneum [Mo.], bought the metallurgical complex in 1997 and agreed to a cleanup program. Earlier this year, a study by the government found that nearly every young child living near the smelter was lead-poisoned." [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Peruvian towns show contamination) by Ken Leiser, p. A4, 12/07/05]

2005 - Mistakenly Abducting German Citizen? / U.S.A. - December 7th, 2005: "The United States admits it mistakenly abducted a German citizen [Khaled Masri] on suspicion of terrorist links, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday [12/06/05] after meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. [....] Rice faced more questions about CIA practices at a later news conference in Romania. She was making a three-hour stopover there designed to highlight an agreement under which Romania will let 1,500 U.S. military people use one of its air bases. On Tuesday, Masri filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., against former CIA Director George Tenet, three private airline companies and unidentified CIA officials. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (U.S. admits mistakenly abducting German, Merkel says), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Data Disclosure Trivia / U.S. Federal Civilian Employees - December 7th, 2005: "Without explanation, the administration has witheld the names and work sites of about 900,000 of its civilian workers, says a lawsuit filed Tuesday [12/06/05]. [....] The federal government began publicly identifying its employees, their job category, salary and workplace in 1816. The first entry in the 1816 register was James Madison. He was identified as president of the United States in Washington at a salary of $25,000 - and born in Virginia. The last complete data set provided by the Office of Personnel Management covered 2003. Since then, all records of civilian employees of the Defense Department have been witheld, the suit says. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. has stopped disclosing data on many federal workers), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/07/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Kermadec Islands, New Zealand - December 7th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 23:32:54 (UTC) on Wednesday, December 7, 2005. The magnitude 6.3 event has been located in the KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 37 km (23 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgib7.htm]

2005 - Trivia / Iraq Debate - December 8th, 2005: "[....] President George W. Bush said in a speech Wednesday [12/07/05] that there had been progress in pacifying and reconstructing Iraq. Afterward, Murtha [Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa.] said the White House was divorced from reality. The war suffered 'poor planning from the start,' Murtha insisted. He said Bush's plan amounted to 'stay the course and hope.' He said the president had lost credibility. [....] The White House has received some support from Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. He has suggest that his party should resist undermining Bush's credibility because he remains commander in cheif for three more years. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Murtha says thousands of letters back his call for Iraq pullout), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Gold Hits 24-Year High - December 8th, 2005: "Gold prices rose Wednesday [12/07/05], hitting a 24-year high. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, December gold futures, or spot gold, rose $4.10 to finish at $514.30. Spot gold has not traded at that level since 1981. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article, p. D2, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Fatality / Mahmoud Arkan - December 8th, 2005: "An Israeli aircraft fired a missle Wednesday [12/07/05] at a car carrying Palestinian militants, killing one person and wounding 10 others. [....] Palestinians identified the dead man as Mahmoud Arkan, a field operative in the PRC. The Israeli army confirmed that Arkan, 29, had been the target of the attack. The Israelis said he had been responsible for several deadly attacks on Israelis. A spokesman for the group pledged to hit back. 'We are ready to retaliate, and the retaliation will tough and painful,' said the spokesman, Mohammed Abdel-Al. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Israeli missle attack kills Palestinian militant; group vows to retaliate), p. A16, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Trivia / Deliquent Loans, U.S.A. - December 8th, 2005: "America's elderly and disabled cannot escape debts from old student loans, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday [12/07/05]. The decision frees the government to pursue Social Security benefits as part of an effort to collect billions in deliquent loans. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Elderly, disabled must pay student loans, court says), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Microsoft Investment / India - December 8th, 2005: "Microsoft Corp. plans to nearly double its work force in India in the next four years, investing $1.7 billion and adding 3,000 jobs in a vote of confidence in one of the world's fastest-growing markets. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/08/05]

2005 - Fatality / American Airlines Passenger - December 8th, 2005: "A troubled passenger was fatally shot by federal air marshals Wednesday [12/07/05] as he charged off an American Airlines jet at Miami International Airport. He had said he had a bomb in his backpack. The incident marked the first time marshals had fatally shot a passenger on or near a U.S. plane since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The passenger was identified as Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, of Maitland, Fla. He was a U.S. citizen with no apparent terrorist motives, officials said. [....]" [Based on: South Florida Sun-Sentinel article (Air marshals kill passenger who said he carried bomb), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Sustained Decline? / U.S. Housing Market - December 8th, 2005: "A sustained decline will hit the housing market next year, costing the nation as many as 800,000 jobs, according to a report made public on Wednesday [12/07/05]. The slowdown is likely to last several years, with as many as 500,000 construction jobs and 300,000 financial sector positions lost, the quarterly Anderson Forecast predicted. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Alex Viega (Extended downturn expected in housing market), p. D3, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - No-Show at Trial / Saddam Hussein - December 8th, 2005: "Saddam Hussein followed through Wednesday [12/07/05] on his threat to boycott his trial, and the court adjourned until after next week's national elections. [....] The group is on trial in the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims after an assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in 1982. [....] After hearing from two more witnesses, Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Admin adjourned the hearings until Dec. 21. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Saddam is no-show as trial is put on hold until after vote), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - CIA Leak Investigation / Viveca Novak - December 8th, 2005: "[....] Since the indictment on Oct. 28 of Vice President Dick Cheney's cheif of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, two more reporters have been pulled into the investigation - The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Time magazine's Viveca Novak. [....] Fitzgerald is seeking Novak's testimony about her conversations last year with Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin. Fitzgerald witheld comment on Wednesday's grand jury session, which ran nearly three hours. Rove's legal problems stem from the fact that not until more than a year into the criminal investigation did he tell the prosecutor about disclosing Plame's CIA employment to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 11, 2003. [....] Rove revealed the CIA employment of Wilson's wife to Cooper two days after another conversation in which Rove and conservative columnist Robert Novak discussed Plame's CIA work. Robert Novak was the first journalist to disclose Plame's CIA employment, on July 14th, 2003. Cooper co-wrote a Time article about Plame on July 17, 2003. Two and one half months later, the Justice Department began the criminal investigation." [Based on: A.P. article (CIA leak prosecutor spends nearly 3 hours with grand jury), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Genetically Engineered Corn / Europe - December 8th, 2005: "Monsanto Co., the world's biggest developer of genetically modified crops, says that farmers in five European Union nations planted engineered corn this year, boosting the potential EU market to 37 million acres. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article, p. D2, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Barred From Torture Anywhere? / U.S.A. - December 8th, 2005: "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday [12/07/05] that U.S. forces operating overseas were barred from mistreating terrorism suspects. Her statement appears to be a major shift in U.S. policy on detainees. Previously, the administration had argued that its obligation to uphold a U.N. treaty's ban on 'cruel, inhumane and degrading' practices applied only on U.S. territory. The treaty is the Convention Against Torture, or CAT. On Wednesday in Kiev, Rice said, 'As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States' obligations under the CAT, which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment - those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are.' [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Treaty bars U.S. from using torture anywhere, Rice says), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

*Trivia: "Prime Minister Tony Blair faced renewed demands Thursday [01/19/06] for an inquiry into secret CIA flights that allegedly passed through British airports after a leaked memo indicated he was advised to avoid giving detailed answers on the issue. The briefing paper, sent from the Foreign Office to Blair's 10 Downing Street office, advised ministers to 'avoid getting drawn on detail.' The four-page memo, dated Dec. 7 and first reported Thursday by the left-leaning weekly magazine New Statesman, urged the government to 'try to move the debate on' and focus on the importance of cooperating with the United States in the war on terrorism." [Based on: News Services article (Blair faces inquiry on secret CIA flights), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 01/20/06] - [Paragraph indents not transcribed - E.M.]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Eastern New Guinea Region - December 8th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 09:01:27 (UTC) on Thursday, December 8, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located in EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgjaf.htm]

2005 - Nobel Literature Prize Acceptance Speech / Harold Pinter - December 8th, 2005: "Playwright Harold Pinter turned his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on Wednesday [12/07/05] into a howl of outrage against American foreign policy. He said the United States not only had lied to justify waging war against Iraq but also had 'supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship' in the last 50 years. 'The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them,' Pinter said. [....] The playwright was awarded the $1.3 million Nobel literature prize in October. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article (Nobel laureate blasts U.S. in acceptance speech), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/08/05]

2005 - Paxil Trivia / U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "The Food and Drug Administration is strengthening its warning that the antidepressant Paxil may be associated with birth defects when taken in the first three months of pregnancy. The FDA and GlaxoSmithKline have reclassified the drug, which goes by the generic name paroxetine. Now it's a 'Category D' drug for pregnant women. The classification means that studies in pregnant women have shown that the drug poses a risk to the fetus. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (FDA toughens warning on use of Paxil by pregnant women), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Trivia / Iraq Economy - December 9th, 2005: "Iraq's economy is expected to grow by 4 percent this year and by double digits in 2006 as reconstruction efforts begin to bear fruit, a U.S. official said Thursday [12/08/05]. But the cost of the insurgency remains high, both in financial and emotional terms. Iraqi merchants complain that business has dropped off because bombings have terrorized customers and say the government must do more to help. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Iraqi economy grows despite violence, U.S. says), p. A17, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / Iraq - December 9th, 2005: "A suicide bomber forced himself onto a crowded bus in Baghdad Thursday [12/08/05] and blew himself up. The explosion killed 32 people and wounded 44, witnesses and police officials said. Separately, an Islamic insurgent group claimed in an Internet posting to have executed a kidnapped American security consultant. The posting neither identified the consultant nor provided evidence to back the claim. [....]" [Based on: New York Times]

2005 - Mortgage Rates Rise / U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "Rates on 30-year mortgages, which had fallen for two weeks, rose this week. On Thursday [12/08/05], Freddie Mac said that rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages averaged 6.32 percent, up from 6.26 percent last week. Rates three weeks ago had hit 6.37 percent, which had been the highest level in more than two years. Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.87 percent this week, up from 5.81 percent last week. One-year adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 5.16 percent." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Tax Reductions Trivia / U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "[....] The House voted 234-197 for tax reductions that would benefit mainly businesses and investors and would amount to $56.1 billion over five years. Together with three other tax cuts that the House approved Wednesday [12/07/05], the package would total $94.5 billion over five years, nearly twice as much as the $50 billion five-year spending reductions that the House adopted last month. Even without these tax reductions, the deficit is projected to total $314 billion in fiscal 2006, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The House tax cuts could make the deficit bigger, even as lawmakers expect to spend perhaps $100 billion more on Iraq next year and billions more in relief to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers]

2005 - Trivia / Laser Pointers at Planes - December 9th, 2005: "People who aim laser pointers at planes could face fines of up to $250,000 and five years in prison under a bill passed Thursday [12/08/05] by the House. [....] Since late last year, 287 incidents have been documented." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / Bangladesh - December 9th, 2005: "A suicide bomber on a bicycle killed six people and wounded dozens on a crowded street Thursday [12/08/05]. Authorities called the attack the latest in a series by extremists who want to set up an Islamic state in Bangladesh. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / 3rd-Quarter Debt, U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "U.S. consumer, business and government debt increased at a faster pace in the third quarter than in the previous three months, and hosehold net worth rose to a record, Federal Reserve figures showed. Non-financial debt, which excludes borrowing by banks, rose at a 9.1 percent annual rate from July through September, after an 8.1 percent increase in the previous three months, the Fed said in a report Thursday [12/08/05]. The acceleration reflected the biggest jump in household borrowing in 18 years. Government borrowing also accelerated, while business debt rose at a slower pace. Third-quarter household debt rose at an 11.6 percent rate, the fastest pace since the second quarter of 1987." [Based on: Business page article (Consumer, government, business debt increases), p. E2, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Record Low / U.S. Measles Cases - December 9th, 2005: "The United States had 37 cases of measles last year [2004], the smallest number in more than 90 years of recordkeeping, the government said Thursday [12/08/05]. Nearly all of the cases originated abroad, with 14 occurring in U.S. residents who traveled to other nations, 13 in foreigners who brought the disease to the United States, and six in people infected by those two groups. [....] In the decade before a measles vaccine became available in 1963, more than 500,000 measles cases and about 450 measles deaths occurred in the United States each year." [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. measles cases hit record low, CDC says), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Trivia / Israeli & Palestinian Fighting - December 9th, 2005: "An Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday [12/08/05], while a Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem. [....] The Israeli army said the cheif target of the airstrike had been Iyad Qadas, a senior militant organizer. [....] Israeli forces also lobbed artillery shells and launched missles from the air into the northern Gaza Strip to quell rocket being fired into Israel by Palestinian guerrillas. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times]

2005 - Foreign Relations / Britain & Ireland - December 9th, 2005: "Queen Elizabeth II and Irish President Mary McAleese shook hands on Northern Ireland soil for the first time Thursday [12/08/05] - a symbolic milestone after years of peacemaking in this long-disputed British territory. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (A first for queen, Irish president), p. A20, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - "Cleared the Air?" / Condoleezza Rice - December 9th, 2005: "[....] Rice said she should give no assurances that terrorism suspects wouldn't be treated harshly again despite what she called clear U.S. rules against torture. She said, 'Just because you're a democracy, it doesn't mean that you're perfect.' But she said that abuses would be investigated and violators punished. 'That is the only promise we can make,' Rice said. [....] A dinner Wednesday [12/07/05] opened with discussion of terrorism policies. Rice is said to have assured allies that neither their airports nor their airspace had been used to facilitate torture. She said Thursday, 'I was very pleased that a number of them spoke up an affirmed that they understood this about the United States: We are a nation of laws.' NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer said at a news conference that the storm had blown over. He said that Rice had 'cleared the air.' " [Based on: A.P. article (Rice in Brussels reassures allies), p. A19, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

*Trivia: "The White House's attempts to clarify the government's torture policy are getting a bit tortured. [....] Gonzales [Attorney General, Aberto Gonzales] said that although the United States was not legally bound by all the international standards of the anti-torture treaty, it was 'adhering to those obligations as a matter of policy.' Added McClellan [White House spokesman, Scott McClellan]: 'I think the distinction here is between policy and law.' The president's spokesman noted that when the Senate ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, senators had noted that the treaty did not spell out what constituted 'cruel and inhumane, degrading treatment.' So they added side language saying the U.S. would be governed by its own Constitution. Ivo Daalder, who was director of European affairs in the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, suggested that the administration was playing word games, perhaps maneuvering to save face if legislation by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is enacted. McCain's measure would expressly ban torture or lesser forms of mistreatment of prisoners. The administration opposes it on the ground that it could undermine the war on terrorism. But Rice's statements in Europe seemed to be a tacit endorsement of McCain's approach, said Daalder, now a fellow with the Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, President George W. Bush himself worked to lower the temperature. He told Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel in the White House on Thursday [12/08/05] that the U.S. was abiding by laws and conventions forbidding torture." [Based on: A.P. article (Rice adds to confusion over policy on torture), p. A19, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Trivia / Oil & Natural Gas Prices, U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "Oil and natural gas production along the Gulf Coast probably won't recover from this year's hurricanes until next summer. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Thursday [12/08/05]. He urged conservation as the cost of heating homes is expected to soar this winter. [....] Natural gas prices climbed to a record Thursday, soaring 9.5 percent, as frigid weather from Chicago to New York increased demand for the heating fuel. [....] Natural gas typically will go up the month of December in a big way,' said Lannie Cohen, president of Capitol Commodity Services Inc., a broker in Indianapolis." [ Based on: A.P. article (Gulf oil, natural gas may not recover til summer), p. E3, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05] - [Bloomberg News contributed to this report.]

2005 - Political Corruption Concerns? / U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "Indictments, investigations and a congressman's guilty plea for taking millions in bribes have left most Americans convinced that political corruption is a deeply rooted problem, says an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Missteps and misconduct at all levels of government have helped drive 88 percent of those surveyed to say the problem is a serious one. [....] Sixty-five percent of respondents disapproved of lawmakers' work in Washington and only 31 percent approved. Those numbers are the worst since AP-Ipsos began asking the question in January. Last year, federal lobbyists spent $2.1 billion - the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Congo or the amount the U.S. government spends annually on energy assistance for low-income Americans. In that same year, candidates pursuing the presidency and seats in Congress spent more than $3 billion. 'It seems like everything seems to be corrupted,' said Sylvia Kind, a dietitian from Akron, Ohio. [....] 'They're so power hungry they'd do anything to stay in power,' said Renee Becher, a 51-year-old homemaker from Dahlonega, Ga. 'They've made our country become like Rome.' The AP-Ipsos survey found that 91 percent of women consider corruption a serious problem, compared with 84 percent of men. Overall, 67 percent said the number of people involved in corruption ranged from moderate to a lot. [....] The scandals could cost incumbents in next year's election. The low regard for Congress nearly mirrors the numbers recorded in polls conducted in December 1993. That was several months before the Republican tidal wave that ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House. Worldwide, the United States gets higher marks. This year's index on corruption perceptions ranked the U.S. at 17, not far behind Germany, Hong Kong and Canada, according to Transparency International, a nongovernment global watchdog on corruption." [Based on: A.P. article by Donna Cassata (Political corruption concerns Americans, poll finds), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Heavy Snow / Great Lakes to New England - December 9th, 2005: "A powerful, fast-moving storm has left a trail of heavy wet snow from the Great Lakes to New England, causing hazardous road conditions, flight delays and school cancellations. [....]" [Based on: New York Times, 12/10/05]

2005 - Two Nobel Winners Criticize Bush on Science - December 9th, 2005: "Two American Nobel Prize winners said Thursday that they are worried about President George W. Bush's attitude toward science and accused his administration of ignoring important research. 'There is a measure of denial of scientific evidence going on within our administration, and there are many scientists who are not happy about that,' said Roy J. Glauber. He shared this year's physics prize with fellow American John L. Hall and Germany's Theodor W. Haensch. Their research on the quantum nature of light has resulted in more precise optical clocks and measuring systems, and is used in today's satellite positioning systems. Glauber also said some members of Congress are more concerned about the political consequence of research projects than their scientific importance when they decide where to allocate money. Hall agreed that the attitude toward science in the Bush administration 'does not go in the right direction.' " [Based on: News Services article (Two Nobel winners criticize Bush on Science), p. A20, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Move Israel to Europe, Iran's leader Suggests - December 9th, 2005: "Iran's hard-line president sparked another outcry Thursday [12/08/05] by saying that Israel should be moved to Europe - and by questioning whether the Holocaust took place. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad implied that European countries had backed the founding of Israel in the Middle East in 1948 out of guilt over the Nazi genocide. 'Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps,' Ahmadinejad said. 'Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned.' 'Let's assume what the Europeans say is true,' he said. 'Let's give some land to the Zionists in Europe or in Germany or Austria. They faced injustice in Europe, so why do the repercussions fall on the Palestinians?' Israel condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks as 'outrageous and even racist.' The United States denounced them as 'appaling and reprehensible.' Both Israel and the United States cited Iran's hostility toward Israel as a reason why the Iranian theocracy must be prevented from developing nuclear weapons. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Move Israel to Europe, Iran's leader suggests), p. A18, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Israel Prepares Military for Iranian Nuclear Threat - December 9th, 2005: "Israel is expanding its military arsenal to deal with what it views as the greatest threat to its existance: a nuclear attack by Iran. It has aquired dozens of warplanes with long-range fuel tanks to allow them to reach Iran. And it has signed a deal with Germany for two submarines said to be capable of firing nuclear missles. [....] Hard feelings between Israel and Iran intensified just before the Islamic revolution of 1979, when the Israelis joined the United States in siding with the Shah before he was deposed. Partly because of that, revolution leader Ayatollah Khomeini called Israel the 'Little Satan' - saving the term 'Great Satan' for the United States. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Israel prepares military for Iranian nuclear threat), p. A18, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Trivia / Hurricane-Related Unemployment Claims, U.S.A. - December 9th, 2005: "The number of workers who lost jobs in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita rose to 599.700 last week as their impact continued to be felt months after they slammed the gulf coast. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Hurricane-related claims for unemployment rise), p. E3, S.L.P.D., 12/09/05]

2005 - Trivia / Eli Lilly & Co. - December 10th, 2005: "Eli Lilly & Co., maker of the top-selling schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, raised its 2006 earnings forecast by 63 percent to reflect expanding sales of its newest products. [....]" [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Eli Lilly looks to get well in 2006), p. A37, S.L.P.D., 12/10/05]

2005 - Died / Richard Pryor - December 10th, 2005: "Comedian Richard Pryor, ... died of a heart attack in a hospital on Saturday [12/10/05]. He was 65. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Civilian Court? / Jose Padilla - December 10th, 2005: "President George W. Bush's administration filed a motion with a federal appeals court on Friday [12/09/05] to allow Jose Padilla, accused of terrorism, to be released from military custody so he could stand trial in civilian court. [....] Before the government changed course and decided to charge Padilla in a civilian court, it had sought the appeals court's approval to detain him as an enemy combatant. The court ruled in the government's favor, only to find that the administration no longer needed its support. When the Justice Department asked the court to agree to the transfer, the appeals court instead asked the government to explain itself. In a paper Friday, lawyers for the Justice Department said that the president had the authority to choose to prosecute Padilla on charges of participating in a terrorist cell. As a consequence, the issues raised in the case on whether he could be held as an enemy combatant were now moot, the department said. Padilla was originally accused of planning to detonate a radioactive 'dirty bomb.' But the recent criminal charges make no mention of this accusation." [Based on: New York Times article (Justice Dept. says president can shift suspect to civilian court), p. A25, S.L.P.D., 12/10/05]

2005 - Died / Eugene J. McCarthy - December 10th, 2005: "Former Minesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy died Saturday [12/10/05] in his sleep at an assisted living home. He was 89. [....]" [Based on: Article, p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/11/04]

2005 - Record Semiconductor Sales - December 10th, 2005: "Worldwide semiconductor sales will rise 6.9 percent to a record $235 billion in 2005, surpassing the previous high mark set at the tail end of the high-tech boom five years ago, the research firm Gartner Inc. said Friday [12/09/05]. [....]" [Based on: Busines Page article, p. A34, S.L.P.D., 12/10/05]

2005 - Departure From CIA / Valerie Plame - December 10th, 2005: "The CIA officer [Valerie Plame] - whose exposure led to a criminal investigation of the White House spent her last day at the spy agency Friday [12/09/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - "Equal Rights for All Workers?" / Ireland - December 10th, 2005: "More than 70,000 labor union members brought Irish cities to a standstill Friday [12/09/05] to protest a plan to replace ferry workers with low-paid Eastern Europeans. More than 40,000 trade unionists and their supporters marched down Dublin's main thoroughfare to Parliament, carrying a banner that read 'Equal Rights for All Workers.' Smaller protests in at least eight Irish cities blocked major roads, and many buses and trains were delayed or canceled. Two weeks ago, Irish Ferries began hiring new laborers - most of them from Latavia - for $4.25 an hour, less than half of Ireland's minimum wage. Union chiefs seized control of two of the company's four ships, forcing it to shut down service at a daily loss estimated at $2.5 million. 'There is a threshold of decency below which the Irish people will not accept anyone being dragged,' David Begg of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions told the crowd in Dublin on Friday. In September, Irish Ferries offered the 543 unionized workers on its main Britain-Ireland routes a total of $30 million if they quit voluntarily. Labor tension has been rising in Ireland since last year, when the country joined Britain and Sweden in admitting workers from Eastern European countries newly admitted to the European Union. More than 150,000 immigrants have come to work in bars and restaurants and on construction sites and farms, often for less than the minimum wage. Most are from Poland and Latavia. Irish Ferries insists it is legal for an international shipping company to ignore Ireland's minimum wage. The company has applied to register its ships in Cyprus." [Based on: A.P. article (Union protests paralyze Irish cities), p. A32, S.L.P.D., 12/10 /05 - Saturday paper]

2005 - Demands Access to Terrorism Suspects / International Red Cross - December 10th, 2005: "The international Red Cross renewed its demand Friday [12/09/05] that it be allowed to visit all detainees in 'undisclosed locations.' [....] Under the Geneva Convention on warfare, the Red Cross checks on conditions of detainees. Kellenberger [Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger] said Friday that he had been urging top U.S. officials for at least two years to make sure the Red Cross had access to all detainees. 'We continue to be in intense dialogue with them,' he said. [....] " [Based on: A.P. article (Red Cross again demands access to all U.S. terrorism suspects), p. A31, S.L.P.D., 12/10/05]

2005 - Neo-Nazi Rally / Ohio - December 11th, 2005: "Members of a neo-Nazi group rallied at City Hall on Saturday [12/10/05] - two months after their gathering sparked a four-hour riot in which a mob attacked businesses and police. [....] A Judge granted the city's request Friday [12/09/05] to block the neo-Nazi group and counterdemonstrators from rallying beyond the grounds of the downtown government building." [Based on: A.P. article (Neo-Nazi group has rally in Ohio), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 12/11/05]

2005 - Fatal Jet Crash / Nigeria - December 11th, 2005: "A Nigerian jetliner filled with students going home for Christmas crashed Saturday [12/10/05] while landing in a lightning storm in this delta oil port. At least 103 people were killed, officials said. [....] The plane was a Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 designated as Flight 1145 from the capital, Abuja. Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Sam Adurogboye said early reports indicated that seven people had survived. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "[....] It was the second major air accident in seven weeks in Africa's most-populous nation. [....] The wreckage lay Sunday [12/11/05] in two principle parts several hundred yards apart, with investigators picking through the pieces in search of clues. Tommy Oyelade, an Aviation Ministry official, said the plane's flight-data recorders had been recovered. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (In Nigeria, fatal crash of jet remains mystery), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

2005 - Foreign Relations / U.S. & Korea - December 11th, 2005: "North Korea has denounced the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea for calling the communist nation a 'criminal regime.' North Korea said Saturday [12/10/05] that his remark was tantamount to a declaration of war. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow made the comment Tuesday [12/06/05]. He cited allegations of illicit activities such as money laundering and counterfeiting. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (North Korea protests ambassador's words), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/11/05]

2005 - Nobel Peace Prize / Mohamed Elbaradei - December 11th, 2005: "Terrorists pursuing atomic weapons make the risk of nuclear disaster as great as it was in the Cold War, chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei said Saturday [12/10/05]." [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / U.N. Global Warming Conference - December 11th, 2005: "A U.N. conference on global warming ended Saturday [12/10/05] with more than 150 nations agreeing to open talks on mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases after 2012. The United States refused to go along. But the Americans accepted a second, weaker conference decision by agreeing to join an explatory global 'dialogue' on future steps to combat climate change. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Charles J. Hanley (U.S. to join 'dialogue' on climate), p. A15, S.L.P.D., 12/11/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / New Britain Region, New Guinea - December 11th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 14:20:44 (UTC) on Sunday, December 11, 2005. The magnitude 6.6 event has been located in the NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgmat.htm]

2005 - Voting Begins / Iraq - December 12th, 2005: "Voting begins today in hospitals, military camps, and even prisons across Iraq, launching the process to choose a new parliament. Even Saddam Hussein could vote. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Racial Unrest / Australia - December 12th, 2005: "Thousands of drunken white youths attacked police and people they believed were Arab imigrants at a Sydney beach on Sunday [12/11/05], angered by reports that youths of Lebanese descent had assaulted two lifeguards. [....] About 5,000 white youths, wrapped in Australian flags and chanting racist slurs, fought with police, attacked people of Arab appearance and assaulted a pair of paramedics at Cronulla beach in southern Sydney, police said. Police fought back with batons and pepper spray. [....] Cronulla, one of the few beaches in Sydney that is easily accessible by train, is often visited by youngsters from poorer suburbs, many of them of Arab descent. Residents accuse the youths of traveling in gangs and sometimes intimidating other beachgoers. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Racial unrest sparks riots on beach in Australia), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

*Trivia: "Violence spilled into a second night Monday [12/12/05] as scores of youths drove through predominantly white suburbs of Sydney, smashing windows of cars, homes and stores and raising fears of spreading racial unrest. [....] Carloads of youths also tore through the suburbs Monday night, attacking vehicles and throwing bottles through windows. One person was reported injured and six arrested." [Based on: News Services, 12/13/05]

2005 - Trivia / CIA Leak Case - December 12th, 2005: "Months before Karl Rove corrected his statements in the Valerie Plame investigation, his lawyer was told that the president's top political adviser might have disclosed Plame's CIA status to a Time magazine reporter. Rove says he had forgotten the conversation he had on July 11, 2003, with Time's Matt Cooper. But the magazine reported Sunday [12/11/05] that in the first half of the year, Rove's lawyer got the word about a possible Rove-Cooper conversation from a second Time reporter, Viveca Novak. Novak described her conversation with the lawyer, Robert Luskin, in an account released Sunday on Time's Web site. [....] Six weeks ago, Luskin disclosed his conversation with Novak to the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. Rove remains under investigation. [....] Fitzgerald questioned Novak under oath Thursday [12/08/05], the day after the prosecutor began presenting evidence to a new grand jury. [....] Novak says Luskin appeared surprised when told last year of a possible Rove-Cooper conversation about the CIA status of Wilson's wife. Luskin said in effect that Novak wrote that Luskin said, 'Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt. I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me.' Novak said she told Luskin "something like, 'Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around time.' He looked surprised and very serious" and at the end of their discussion that day said, "Thank you. This is important." Novak said the conversation with Luskin occured anywhere from January to May last year [2004]. It was not until October last year that Rove told the prosecutor of his conversation with Cooper. Rove's disclosure followed Luskin's discovery of a White House e-mail from July 11, 2003. The message, from Rove to then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, referred to Rove's conversation earlier that day with Cooper. [....] Time said Novak is now on a leave of absence by mutual agreement with her employer." [Based on: A.P. article (Another Time reporter details talk with Rove lawyer in CIA leak case), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

2005 - Fuel Depot Explosions / Britain - December 12th, 2005: "Explosions ripped through a major fuel depot northwest of London on Sunday [12/11/05], injuring dozens of people, blowing doors off nearby homes and sending fireballs and clouds of black smoke into the sky. [....] The Buncefield terminal stored 4 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel in large round tanks. [....] The Environment Agency said any leaking kerosene, oil or gasoline could damage nearby rivers or streams. The explosions came four days after a videotape appeared on the Internet calling for attacks on facilities carrying oil 'stolen' from Muslims in the Middle East. Portions of the video were released Sept. 19 and shown on Al-Jazeera television. The tape featured a man identified as Ayman al-Zawahri of al-Qaida. 'I call on the holy warriors to concentrate their campaigns on the stolen oil of the Muslims, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam,' he said. [....] BP also has a storage facility at the site, which was not damaged in the blast. [....] The 20 blazing tanks were being allowed to burn themselves out, and about 100 firefighters and 100 police officers stood watch at the site. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Blsts rock fuel depot in Britain), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

*Trivia: "A fire at an oil depot in southern Britain sent toxic smoke as far away as France and caused jitters on the global oil market Monday [12/12/05] as firefighters struggled into a third day to douse the flames with chemical foam. [....]" [Based on: News Services, 12/13/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Firefighters announced [12/13/05] that the last of 20 oil tanks ignited in the blaze has been extinguished after a battle that used millions of gallons of foam and water. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Only small fires remain at oil depot), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Shaul Mofaz / Kadima Party, Israel - December 12th, 2005: "Israel's defense minister [Shaul Mofaz ] quit the Likud Party on Sunday [12/11/05] to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new centrist faction, saying his former party had been hijacked by 'right-wing extremists.' [....] Sharon formed the Kadima Party last month after concluding that the so-called Likud 'rebels' who tried to torpedo his Gaza withdrawal plan would work to block any future peace moves with the Palestinians." [Based on: News Services article (Defense minister joins Sharon's new party), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

2005 - Wounds Heal Slower for Troubled Couples - December 12th, 2005: "Stress may slow physical healing a lot more than doctors already believed, according to a new study. It's this severe: The stress a typical married couple feels during an ordinary half-hour argument is enough to slow their bodies' ability to heal from wounds by at least one day. Moreover, if the couple's relationship is routinely hostile, the delay in that healing process can be doubled. The study was aimed at identifying and explaining the ways psychological stress can effect human immunity. The findings may effect everything from long-term therapy to surgery and even insurance costs, researchers said. The new study was published in a recent issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The research focused on a group of 42 married couples who had been together an average of at least 12 years." [Based on: News Services article (Wounds heal slower for troubled couples), p. H2, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05] - [Paragraph indents removed to save space - E.M.]

2005 - Trivia / Nuclear Power Plant Construction, Iran - December 12th, 2005: "Iran opened the door Sunday [12/11/05] for U.S. help in building a nuclear power plant. The offer was issued as Israel said it had not ruled out a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. In Washington, neither the State Department nor the White House issued any comment on the proposal. On Sunday, Israel denied a report in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that it has plans to attack Iran in March, but officials said they would not rule out a military strike if Iran makes advances in building nuclear weapons." [Based on: News Services article (U.S. can bid on nuclear power plant construction), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/12/05]

*Trivia: "The United States has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, according to three U.S. officials with detailed knowledge of the secret effort. The small, pilotless planes, entering Iranian airspace from U.S. military facilities in Iraq, use radar, video, still photography and air filters designed to pick up traces of nuclear activity to gather information that is not accessible to satellites, the officials said. The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack and is also employed as a tool for intimidation. [....] The drones were first spotted by dozens of Iranians and set off a national newspaper frenzy in late December [2004] over whether the country was being visited by UFOs. [....] In mid-January [2005], Iran's national Security Council met in Tehran to discuss them, according to an Iranian official. 'It was clear to our air force that the entire intention here was to get us to turn on our radar,' the official said. [....] But it did not work. 'The United States must have forgotten that they trained half our guys,' the Iranian official said. Iran's national security officials ordered their forces not to turn on the radar or come into contact with the drones in any way." [Based on article by Dafna Linzer, The Washington Post, 02/13/05]

2005 - Volcanic Eruption / Augustine Volcano, Gulf of Alaska - December 12th, 2005: "Augustine Volcano in the Gulf of Alaska erupted on December 12, 2005, sending a plume of ash and steam approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) toward the southeast. [....] Augustine Volcano is regarded as the most active volcano in the eastern Aleutian arc. Its biggest historical eruption occurred in 1883 when the volcano’s dome collapsed. Dome growth since that time has restored the volcano’s height to what it was prior to 1883. The volcano erupted again in 1986, producing an avalanche of ash, rock fragments, and gas. Augustine’s activity reaches much further back in time than historical records cover. Its oldest dated volcanic rocks are more than 40,000 years old."

[Based on: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/natural_hazards_v2.php3?img_id=13282]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Hindu Kush Region, Afghanistan - December 12th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 21:47:46 (UTC) on Monday, December 12, 2005. The magnitude 6.7 event has been located in the HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 230 km (143 miles). (This is a computer-generated message -- this event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgnay.htm]

2005 - Casualty Count / Iraq - December 13th, 2005: "President George W. Bush said Monday [12/12/05] that although the war in Iraq had claimed the lives of 30,000 Iraqis and 2,140 Americans, the establishment of a durable democracy there would ultimately justify the sacrifice. [....] It was the first time Bush had discussed publicly the casualty count in Iraq. White House officials later said the 30,000 figure was not an official tally but was the best estimate available based on media reports. It appeared to be in line with some previous estimates by independent monitors. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (2005 is 'turning point' in Iraq's history, Bush says), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - Geminid Meteor Shower - December 13-14th, 2005: "The Geminid meteor shower is underway and it peaks tonight, Dec. 13th and 14th. Unfortunately, the Moon is peaking, too: it's almost full. Because of intense moonlight, few Geminids will be visible. [....]"

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [12/13/05]

2005 - Executed / Stanley Williams - December 13th, 2005: "Executed this date in history: Stanley Tookie Williams."

2005 - Trivia / Foreign-Born Americans - December 13th, 2005: "Immigration - both legal and illegal - has accelerated, pushing the foreign-born percentage of the U.S. population to the highest point in nearly a century. The United States is now home to 35.2 million foreign-born people - about 12.1 percent of the population, says a report issued Monday [12/12/05] by the Center for Immigration Studies. In the past five years, about 7.9 million people moved to the United States, the report says. That's the highest five-year period of immigration on record, says the report, which is based on the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey from March. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Proportion of foreign-born Americans nears 100-year high, study finds), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - "Time-Bomb" / Athens, Greece - December 13th, 2005: "A bomb targeting Greece's national Economy Ministry shattered windows and damaged cars in Athens' main square early Monday [12/12/05], injuring three people, police said. Authorities said the bomb, detonated by a timer, was apparently hidden in a container on the back of a stolen motorcycle at the central Syntagma Square. There was no claim of responsibility." [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Man-Made Toxins / Artic Whales - December 13th, 2005: "Killer whales have the highest concentration of man-made toxins of all Artic mammals tested in Europe because of the oceangoing predators' taste for fatty fish, according to a study released Monday [12/12/05]. Man-made toxins, such as PCBs build up in animal fat and become more concentrated in moving up the food chain. Most toxins, often from household products, are carried to Artic waters by ocean currents, winds, or in migratory fish and mammals. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Whales have top toxin levels in Artic study), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Fiji Region - December 13th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 03:16:10 (UTC) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005. The magnitude 6.7 event has been located in the FIJI REGION. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 37 km (23 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgpaf.htm]

2005 - Proposed? / Great Lakes Cleanup, U.S.A. - December 13th, 2005: "A partnership of federal, state and local officials proposed a 15-year, $20 billion plan Monday [12/12/05] for cleaning up the Great Lakes - the source of drinking water for 30 million people and a vital link in the nation's shipping network. The plan makes recommendations on how to fix the lakes' most pressing problems. Among them: *The proliferation of invasive species. *The deterioration of animal habitats. *Toxic hot spots from pollution. *Tainted wetlands and tributaries. [....] Eight states and two Canadian provinces border the lakes, which contain 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water. [....] The partnership also called for new federal laws to block invasive species. It also wants cuts in discharges of mercury, PCBs, dioxin, pesticides and other toxins into the lakes. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article ($20 billion plan to clean up Great Lakes), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - Fatality / Anti-Syrian Journalist, Lebanon - December 13th, 2005: "A Lebanese journalist and lawmaker who was relentless in his criticism of Syria was killed Monday [12/12/05] in a car bombing. Gibran Tueni, 48, general manager of Lebanon's leading newspaper, An-Nahar, was killed only a day after returning to his homeland from France. He had spent months there, fearing assassination. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Bombing in Lebanon kills anti-Syrian journalist), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - Severe Torture? / Shiite Police Forces, Iraq - December 13th, 2005: "Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Monday [12/12/05] said he would not tolerate torture by the Shiite-dominated government police forces, renewing his condemnation of the practice after U.S. and Iraqi forces found abused starved detainees at an Interior Ministry detention center. U.S. and Iraqi officials on Sunday [12/11/05] said they had discovered at least 12 cases of what an Iraqi official called 'severe torture' at a prison run by the Interior Ministry's special police commandos. Prisoners' bones were broken and their fingernails were pulled out, they were subjected to electric shocks, and burning cigarettes were crushed into their necks and backs, said the Iraqi official, who U.S. officials said had firsthand knowledge of the torture. The Iraqi official spoke on condition that he not be named, fearing retribution. The cases appeared more severe than those of beaten, emaciated prisoners found in the basement of another Baghdad Interior Ministry facility last month. At a news conference Monday [12/12/05], al Jaafari called the evidence of torture an 'unhealthy phenomenon.' " [Based on: Washington Post article (Iraq's leader says police torture won't be tolerated), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - "Witness Against Torture" / Guantanamo Bay Naval Base - December 13th, 2005: "American activists camping outside the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay started their first day of a water-only fast Monday [12/12/05] to protest the handling of terrorism suspects held at the base. The group is called Witness Against Torture. Its members are demanding access to the base to meet with inmates. After a five-day march from the eastern Cuban city of Santiago, the activists arrived late Sunday [12/11/05] at a Cuban military checkpoint. There, they set up camp, about five miles from the U.S. base. [....] The Guantanamo detention center has become a symbol of the debate over the handling of detainees. Thirty-two prisoners there are on a hunger strike to protest what they say is cruel and inhumane treatment. Twenty-five of the 32 are being fed through tubes. U.S. officials say the hundreds of prisoners held at Guantanamo are treated humanely." [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. activists fast in protest near Guantanamo base), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/13/05]

2005 - Delayed Indefinately? / Mayoral Elections, New Orleans - December 13th, 2005: "Gov. Kathleen Blanco has postponed New Orleans' mayoral elections indefinately. Her decision set up a legal battle with voters who sued to have the election held as scheduled. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - 17-Year High / Silver - December 14th, 2005: "Silver, after reaching a 17-year high this week, will outperform gold next year, based on historical charts of previous rallies in precious metals, Barclays Capital Inc. analyst Jordan Kotick said. Silver may rise 18 percent from this year's high to $11 an ounce in 2006, Kotick said in a report Monday [12/12/05], the same day prices reached $9.345, the highest since May 1987, on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange." [Based on: Bloomberg News article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Insurgent Attacks / Iraq - December 14th, 2005: "On Tuesday [12/13/05], the last day of campaigning, a roadside bomb killed four American soldiers and gunmen assassinated a candidate for parliament in this week's election. A Shiite politician escaped injury in a bombing south of Baghdad. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Bomb kills four U.S. soldiers in Iraq), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Settlement / DirecTV Group Inc. - December 14th, 2005: "DirecTV Group Inc. agreed to pay $5.4 million to settle charges it violated federal 'Do Not Call' rules by hiring telemarketers who phoned consumers against their wishes, the Federal Trade Commission said. [....]" [Based on: Bloomber News article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - U.S. Detainees / North Africa? - December 14th, 2005: "A European investigator said Tuesday [12/13/05] that he had found mounting indications that the United States had illegally held detainees in Europe but had hurriedly shipped out the last ones a month ago when word leaked out. The statement came from Dick Marty, a Swiss senator looking into claims that the CIA operated secret detention centers in Europe. He said an investigation that began last month had unearthed clues implicating Poland and Romania. [....] 'To my knowledge, those detainees were moved about a month ago, maybe a little more,' he said after breifing the legal committee of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog. 'They were moved to North Africa.' When asked to specify the North African country, he said: 'I would imagine that it would be Morocco - up to you to confirm it.' [....] He said, 'Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards.' Marty is expected to present a full report to the council's parliamentary assembly late next month. [....] Marty has asked for air traffic logs from European countries as he seeks to trace flight patterns for several dozen airplanes believed to have been used by the CIA. He also had asked for satellite images of Sczytno-Szymany airport in northeastern Poland and Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania. Marty said some governments might have been unaware of the detention centers." [Based on: A.P. article (Clues support allegations of a secret CIA detentions in Europe, investigator says), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Interim Agreement / Delta Airlines - December 14th, 2005: "Delta Air Lines Inc., the No. 3 U.S. carrier, won court approval of an interim agreement with its pilots to reduce their pay by 14 percent until a new labor contract is reached. Delata reached the agreement with its pilots after nine days of hearings on the contract dispute. The pilots had agreed to a 32.5 percent pay cut last year." [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Foreign Relations / U.S. & Canada - December 14th, 2005: "The U.S. ambassador issued a rebuke Tuesday [12/13/05] to Prime Minister Paul Martin for bringing the Canadian-U.S. relationship into the national election campaign. [....] Last week, Martin told a U.N. conference on climate change 'To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: There is such a thing as a global conscience, and now is the time to listen to it, now is the time to join with others in the global community.' " [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. ambassador criticizes Canadian prime minister), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Hampered Production / Thailand Rubber - December 14th, 2005: "Rubber prices may reach their highest in 21 years as violence in Thailand prevents the world's biggest supplier from meeting China's surging demand. Plantation owners in Thailand, which supplies 38 percent of the world's rubber, are being hampered by fighting between police and Muslim activists seeking a separate Islamic state in the 90 percent Buddhist country. Production, already hampered by heavy rains, may fall further because a curfew and fear of attacks are reducing the time workers spend tapping rubber trees. Manufactured-rubber output in Thailand's southern region fell 4 percent in October from a year earlier to 69,004 tons." [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Rubber prices may hit 21-year high), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Spaceport Construction? / New Mexico - December 14th, 2005: "Virgin Galactic, the British company set up by entrepreneur Richard Branson to send tourists into space, and the state of New Mexico will team up to build a $225 million spaceport. [....] Virgin Galactic is planning to begin flights in late 2008 or early 2009. New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans said construction of the spaceport, to be built largely inderground in the south of the state near the White Sands Missle range, could begin in early 2007, depending on approval from environmental and aviation authorities. [....] The spaceport, to be located some 25 miles south of the town of Truth or Consequences, will be constructed 90 percent underground, with just the runway and supporting structures above ground. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article ($225 million spaceport is a 'go' in New Mexico), p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Raised / Federal Funds Interest Rate, U.S.A. - December 14th, 2005: "The Federal Reserve on Tuesday [12/13/05] pushed a key interest rate to the highest level in 4 1/2 years while signaling that its campaign to raise interest rates to fight inflation probably is drawing to an end. The action left the Fed's target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, at 4.25 percent. It was the 13th quarter-point move since the Fed began raising rates in June 2004. At that time the funds rate was at a 46-year low of 1 percent. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - Settlement / DuPont Co. - December 15th, 2005: "DuPont Co. has agreed to pay $10.25 million in fines and $6.25 million for environmental projects to settle Environmental Protection Agency allegations that it hid information about the dangers of a toxic chemical used to make the nonstick coating Teflon, officials said Wednesday [12/14/05]. [....] The settlement involves EPA action taken against DuPont for allegedly witholding information about the potential health and environmental risks posed by perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, under provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The EPA alleged that DuPont witheld information for more than 20 years about the health effects of PFOA, also known as C-8, and about the pollution of water supplies near the company's Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, W.Va. Among other things, the EPA said that DuPont witheld test results indicating that the chemical had been found in at least one pregnant worker from the Washington Works plant and had been passed on to her fetus. [....] The supplemental environmental projects involved in the settlement include funding for a research program to evaluate the potential for biodegradation of chemicals such as PFOA and funding for microchemistry and green chemistry programs in West Virginia schools. [....] The settlement, which must be approved by the EPA Environmental Appeals Board, resolves four counts of reporting violations filed by the EPA last year. Four additional counts raised by the agency this year also were resolved, according to DuPont, which made no admission of liability." [Based on: A.P. article (DuPont pays $16 million over Teflon reports), p. B6, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Nazi Holocaust a "Myth?" - December 15th, 2005: "Iran's hard-line president said Wednesday [12/14/05] that the Nazi Holocaust was a 'myth' used as a pretext for carving out the state of Israel in the heart of the Muslim world. [....] The White House said Ahmadinejad's words underscored the need to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the speech illustrated 'the extremist policy goals of the regime.' " [Based on: A.P. article (Iran's president calls Holocaust a 'myth'), p. A17, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Trade Deficit - December 15th, 2005: "A surge in oil imports and a flood of Chinese televisions, toys and computers pushed the U.S. trade deficit to a record high in October. The Commerce Department said Wednesday [12/14/05] the gap between what the U.S. sells abroad and what it imports increased by 4.4 percent to $68.9 billion, surpassing the previous record of $66 billion set in September. The U.S. had record deficits in October with most of its major trading partners, including China, the 25-nation European Union, Canada and Mexico. [....] The worse-than-forecast October performance was blamed in part on the Gulf Coast hurricanes, which curtailed domestic production of oil, chemicals and plastics, forcing companies to turn to overseas suppliers. [....] A surge of Chinese shipments of televisions, toys and computers delivered to U.S. retailers' shelves for holiday shoppers pushed the U.S. deficit with China to a new monthly record of $20.5 billion." [Based on: A.P. article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Avian Flu / Crimean Peninsula - December 15th, 2005: "Ukraine announced Wednesday [12/14/05] that tests had confirmed that a potentially deadly strain of avian flu had established itself among birds in the Crimean Peninsula. Thousands of birds were culled in an effort to contain the virus' spread, it said. Health and emergency service officials said that the strain, H5N1, had been found in 11 villages and that an outbreak was continuing to kill birds near the Black and Azov seas, Ukrainian and regional news agency reports said. There have been no reported cases of the flu afflicting Ukranians." [Based on: News Services article (Avian flu reaches Crimean Peninsula), p. A17, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Israeli Airstrikes / Gaza Strip - December 15th, 2005: "Israeli missles fired from the air ripped apart two cars in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday [12/14/05], killing four Palestinian militants and wounding five other people, including an Islamic Jihad spokesman, the military and Palestinians said. [....] The airstrikes in eastern Gaza city were Israel's third and fourth since it renewed the practice of targeting militants in the wake of a deadly suicide bombing in Israel on Dec. 5. Altogether, seven militants have been killed. [....] Late Wednesday [12/14/05] and early today [12/15/05], Israeli artillery and aircraft also pounded northern Gaza, where militants fired rockets at Israel. Two Palestinians were slightly wounded. The first airstrike interrupted a news conference by Hamas at which leaders of the Islamic group were presenting their list of candidates for the parliamentary election, the first in a decade - and the first time Hamas is running." [Based on: A.P. article (Israeli airstrikes kill 4 Palestinians, injure 5 in gaza Strip), p. A15, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Wal-Mart Expansion / Latin America - December 15th, 2005: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. took a firm step Wednesday [12/14/05] toward boosting its presence in Latin America, buying 140 Brazilian hypermarkets, supermarkets and wholesale outlets from a Portuguese conglomerate. The $764 million purchase from Sonae SGPS SA fits into Wal-Mart's strategy of rapid foreign growth, and executives with the world's largest retailer said they want to expand more in Latin America and elsewhere outside the United States. [....] In addition to Brazil, Wal-Mart owns stores in Argentina, Mexico and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The company in September bought a 33 percent stake in Costa Rica-based Central American Retail Holding Co., which owns 363 stores in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. [....] With the Brazil purchase, Wal-Mart strengthens its spot as the No. 3 retailer in Latin America's most populous country, and essentially bumps No. 4 Sonae off the ranking chart. Wal-Mart Brasil President Vicente Trius said the company isn't concerned about pushing its position higher. But analysts predicted the retailer wants eventually to surpass the market leader, Brazil's Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao SA, or at least rise above the second-largest player, France's Carrefour SA. 'I don't think Wal-Mart's appetite will stop here. The company's focus is to be the top player or second in markets where they operate,' said Alexandre Garcia, a retail analyst with the Agora Senior brokerage in Rio de Janeiro." [Based on: A.P. article (Wal-Mart expands in Latin America), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

*Trivia: "[....] The company [Wal-Mart] isn't just America's largest private employer. It's also a symbol of the state of our economy, which delivers rising GDP but stagnant or falling living standards for working Americans. Likewise, Wal-Mart is a huge and hugely profitable company, but it compensates workers poorly and offers them minimal benefits. [....] It's true, of course, that the company is getting larger every year. But when Wal-Mart adds 100,000 people to its work force, that doesn't mean that 100,000 jobs have been added to the American economy. On the contrary, there's every reason to believe that as Wal-Mart expands, it destroys at least as many other jobs as it creates and drives down workers' wages in the process. Think about what happens when Wal-Mart opens a store in a previously untouched city or country: The new store takes business away from stores that are already in the area. As a result, these stores lay off workers or even go out of business. Because Wal-Mart's big-box stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than the smaller stores they replace, total retail employment in an area surely goes down, not up, when Wal-Mart comes to town. And if the lost jobs paid more than Wal-Mart does, overall wages fall when Wal-Mart moves in. [....]" [Based on: Other Views page article by Paul Krugman (Wal-Mart creates jobs? Not really.), p. C11, S.L.P.D., 12/14/05]

2005 - List of Residents with Diabetes? / NYC - December 15th, 2005: "New York adopted on Wednesday a health code regulation that will make it the first American city to keep track of people with diabetes. [....] Diabetes is the fourth-leading cause of death in the city. But people who monitor their condition are less likely to develop fatal or debilitating symptoms, including blindness, kidney failure and heart problems. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (NYC will start list of residents with diabetes), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Black Flint Artifacts / Pakefield, England - December 15th, 2005: "Ancient tools found in Britain show that humans lived in northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than was previously known, at a time when England's climate was warm enough to be the home of elephants and saber-tooth tigers, scientists said Wednesday [12/14/05]. The 32 black flint artifacts, found in river sentiments in Pakefield, in eastern England, date back 700,000 years and represent the earliest unequivocal evidence for human presence north of the Alps, the scientists said. The finding dashes the longheld theory that humans did not migrate north from the relatively warm climates of the Mediterranean region until half a million years ago, the scientists said. [....] Jim Rose, a professor at the University of London who also was involved in the study, said that 700,000 years ago England was still connected to the European mainland and enjoyed periods of balmy weather between the time that massive glaciers swept through the area. [....] The artifacts suggest the early humans didn't colonize northern areas of Europe, but merely expanded their migratory patterns there when the weather permitted, the scientists said." [Based on: A.P. article (Flint tools trace humans farther in Europe's past), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - Updated Site / Access to Archival Databases - December 15th, 2005: "[....] The National Archives and Records Administration has made it easier to search online through tens of millions of the electronic records it holds. The revamped Access to Archival Databases site - http:// www.archives.gov/aad - lets the public search for free through 85 million documents in 475 files amassed by more than 30 federal agencies. The updated site went live on Monday [12/12/05] but remains in test mode, said the agency's David Kepley. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

2005 - "Reservoir Wall Failure?" / Lesterville, Missouri - December 15th, 2005: "The shut-ins are a series of volcanic rock formations through which the Black River's east fork bubbles and cascades. Union Electric Co., the forerunner of AmerenUE, built its Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant on Proffit Mountain in 1963 to provide extra jolts of electricity during times of peak demand - mainly because of the increasing popularity of air-conditioning. The 55-acre hilltop reservoir, built of a concrete-lined wall of crushed rock, can hold 1.5 billion gallons of water to a maximum depth of 90 feet. Proffit Mountain is just west of Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri's highest point. The system generates electricity by running water down a tunnel through turbines and then into a 380-acre lower reservoir on the east fork of the Black. At night, when demand is lower, AmerenUE pumps the water back up again. It was during the routine pump-back early Wednesday [12/14/05] that things went wrong. Ameren UE officials suspect that the automatic pumping system didn't shut off when it filled the upper reservoir. The resulting spillover eroded and then collapsed a 600-foot section of the wall. Because the breach was on the northwest side of the wall, the water rushed down the western slope of Proffit Mountain and into the east fork of the Black River, less than one-half mile upstream from the Toopses' home. 'It was a fairly massive breach of the upper reservoir, and it probably drained very quickly,' Gary Rainwater, AmerenUE president, said Wednesday afternoon. Rainwater said guages at the company's main hydro-power plant at the Lake of the Ozarks showed the upper reservoir pumped full - to a depth of 90 feet - at 5:12 a.m. But it was down to its low level of about 20 feet just 12 minutes later. Thomas R. Voss, company executive vice-president, said backup systems should have shut off the pumping. 'We don't know why they wouldn't have operated,' Voss said. Rainwater called the company's theory of what went wrong 'preliminary' and said engineers and geologists would study the site. He also said that the upper reservoir had leaked for years and that the company installed a plastic liner two years ago. But he said the walls had never been breached or even compromised, and regular inspections indicated they were sound. A spokesman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission inspected both reservoirs Aug. 25 and found them 'properly maintained,' a spokesman said. [....] Local emergency crews were scheduled Wednesday for a drill on how to handle just this sort of disaster at the TaumSauk plant. Reynolds County Sheriff Gary Barton said deputees at first suspected that his calls to duty were part of the drill. 'No, we've got people on the scene,' he told them. 'It's real.' AmerenUE confirmed that the drill was set to begin at 12:30 p.m. Instead, the company drained what was left of the upper reservoir. [....]" [Based on: p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/15/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Among those checking the failed reservoir were members of the state dam inspection staff. Chief engineer James Alexander said he was 'shocked to learn that the (failed section) was not granite, but mainly a mixture of soil and rock fill.' He said most of the rest of the upper reservoir's wall was made of granite. [....] Preliminary findings by Ameren on Wednesday [12/14/05] suggested equipment failure was to blame. Chief Executive Gary Rainwater said a concrete and rock wall eroded and ruptured after the reservoir overflowed. Instruments that are supposed to stop the reservoir from filling when the water reached a certain limit apparently failed, as did a backup system. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Amid investigation, future of reservoir is uncertain), p. A15, 12/16/05]

*Trivia: "A gush of water spilled over the northwest wall of the Taum Sauk reservoir in late September and led to warnings that more overflowing could lead to a collapse, according to an internal Ameren UE e-mail. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Memo warned of dam danger) by Eric Hand, p. A1, 01/15/06]

*Trivia: "Instruments meant to keep the AmerenUE's Taum Sauk reservoir from overflowing hadn't worked properly for months leading up to the Dec. 14 rupture that flooded Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, according to a report released Monday [05/01/06] by federal investigators. [....]" [Based on: Article (Taum Sauk sensors weren't working), p. C1, S.L.P.D., 05/02/06]

2005 - Separate but aligned - December 16th, 2005:

   Twice, the series "Mysteries of the teen brain" (Dec. 11-14) said that Citizens Commission on Human Rights is "supported by the Church of Scientology," implying a religious and financial relationship that doesn't exist.
   This is misleading and inaccurate. The Post-Dispatch was provided with CCHR's relationship to the Church of Scientology long before the articles were published.
   CCHR was founded by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969. Certainly the Church of Scientology endorses the purpose of CCHR, which is to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights. The church endorses many human rights activities, as do many, if not all, other religions. However, CCHR receives no financial support from the church, and there is no religious connection between the Church of Scientology and CCHR.

[Based on: Opinion Page article (Separate but aligned) by Moritz Farbstein / University City Public Affairs Director, CCHR St. Louis, p. C18, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

*Trivia: "The Post-Dispatch is to be congratulated for 'Mysteries of the teen brain' (Dec. 11-14), a comprehensive series of articles about teen suicide. Valid concerns exist about whether mental health services are available to care for people who are identified from screening as having a mental illness. [....]" [Based on: article by Dr. Alvin M. Janski, p. A51, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Died / John Spencer - December 16th, 2005: "John Spencer - the tough and dedicated politico on 'The West Wing' - died of a heart attack Friday [12/16/05] at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 58. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Trivia / Palestinian Elections - December 16th, 2005: "Young Palestinian activists from the ruling Fatah Party have decided to push aside the corrupt old guard associated with Yasser Arafat and form their own party for next month's parliamentary elections. They decided to reject a call for unity after meeting Thursday [12/15/05] with their imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouti. The action deepened the problems of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and threatened to boost militants from the Islamic group Hamas. In another blow to Fatah, Hamas swept to victory in elections in the West Bank's largest city, Nablus, according to official results announced early today. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Adult Literacy Levels / U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "About one in 20 adults in the U.S. isn't literate in English, which means that 11 million people lack the skill to handle many everyday tasks, a federal study shows. From 1992 to 2003, adults in general made no progress in their ability to read sentences and paragraphs or understand other printed material, such as bus schedules or perscription lables. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Adult literacy levels in America aren't increasing, a study finds), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Parliamentary Elections / Iraq - December 16th, 2005: "Baghdad, Iraq - On a day remarkable for its claim, millions of Iraqis cast ballots across this war-torn country Thursday [12/15/05] to elect a parliament to a four-year term, with Sunni Arabs turning out in what appeared to be heavy numbers and guerrillas staging relatively few attacks. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Trivia / West Nile Virus, U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "West Nile virus cases in the U.S. have risen more than 16 percent this year, the government said Thursday [12/15/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (West Nile cases in U.S. show an increase of 16 pct.), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Freezing Rain / Southeast, U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "Freezing rain fell across Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday [12/15/05], snarling traffic, causing power outages to more than 450,000 customers and forcing schools to close. At least one death was blamed on the storm when an ice-laden tree crashed through a man's house. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

*Trivia: "Widespread damage from a deadly ice storm left more than half a million customers still in the dark Friday night [12/16/05]. Utility officials said the electricity might not be fully restored in parts of the Carolinas until Tuesday [12/20/05]. [....]" [Based on: News Services, p. 28, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Tossed Out / Tobacco Penalty, U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "In a huge victory for the nation's tobacco industry and another defeat for Madison County plantiffs, the Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday [12/15/05] narrowly struck down a $10.1 billion judgement against Phillip Morris USA, saying its marketing of 'light' cigarettes did not constitute consumer fraud. [....]" [Based on: p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - U.N. Pulls Western Staffers From Eritrea - December 16th, 2005: "The United Nations reluctantly withdrew on Thursday [12/15/05] the American and other Western peacekeeping staff members monitoring Eritrea's fragile peace with Ethiopa. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/16/05]

2005 - "Has Agreed to Pay" / Edward Jones - December 16th, 2005: "Edward Jones said Thursday [12/15/05] that it has agreed to pay about $2.5 million to compensate customers for its failure to file their claims on time in a class-action lawsuit. [....]" [Based on: p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Accepted / Torture-Ban Provision, U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "President George W. Bush reversed course Thursday [12/15/05] and accepted a Senate-approved measure to ban cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of terrorist suspects by U.S. interrogators. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Bush accepts McCain's torture-ban provision), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Steep Drop / Consumer-Price Index, U.S.A. - December 16th, 2005: "[....] The consumer-price index, a widely followed measure of inflation, fell 0.6 percent in November - the largest drop since July 1949 - primarily because of a drop of 8 percent in energy costs, the Labor Department said. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (CPI drops at steepest rate since July 1949), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/16/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Near East Coast of Honshu, Japan - December 16th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 18:32:14 (UTC) on Friday, December 16, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located in NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgsa9.htm]

2005 - Google Stake? / AOL - December 17th, 2005: "Google Inc. is buying a 5 percent stake in America Online for $1 billion as part of a far-reaching business and advertising partnership that will link the two companies in many ways and greatly enhance AOL's financial prospects, according to people familiar with the agreement. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Google pays $1 billion for 5 percent of AOL), p. 35, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Trial Set / Conrad Black - December 17th, 2005: "A judge on Friday [12/16/05] set a March 2007 starting date for Conrad Black's fraud and racketeering trial after the former newspaper tycoon pleaded not guilty to new charges linked to the alleged plundering of more than $84 million from Hollinger International Inc. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Former newspaper tycoon Conrad Black's trail is set) [< typo?], p. A35, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Recall / Dell PC Batteries - December 17th, 2005: "Dell Inc. of Round Rock, Texas, the world's largest maker of personal computers, is recalling about 35,000 notebook PC batteries sold worldwide because they may pose a fire risk. The batteries were sold with laptops and as replacement parts from Oct. 5, 2004, to Oct. 13, 2005, the company said Friday [12/16/05]. Notebook computers accounted for 26 percent of Dell's third-quarter sales. Customers should contact Dell to see if their battery is part of a recall. They can get free replacements at www.dellbatteryprogram.com]" [Based on: Business Page article (Dell recalls PC batteries), p. A34, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Pfizer Wins Lipitor Case - December 17th, 2005: "Pfizer Inc. won a court ruling that will block generic competition for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, the best-selling prescription drug, until 2011. [....] Lipitor, with $10.9 billion in global sales last year, accounted for about 20 percent of the $52.5 billion total for New York-based Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker. The company argued that two patents on the drug blocked generic competition until 2011. It has exclusively granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until April 2006 [sentence typo?]." [Based on: Business Page article (Pfizer wins Lipitor case), p. A34, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. War on Terrorism - December 17th, 2005: "President George W. Bush's war on terrorism suffered a double blow on Friday [12/16/05], when: *The Senate blocked renewal of the Patriot Act. *A key republican said he would hold hearings on reports that the president had authorized government officials to eavesdrop on Americans. [....]" [Based on: Houston Chronicle article, p. A24, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Slight Improvement? / "America's Deficit" - December 17th, 2005: "America's deficit in the broadest measure of international trade showed a slight improvement in the July-September quarter, though it was still at the third-highest level in history. The Commerce Department said Friday [12/16/05] the deficit totaled $195.8 billion in the third quarter. [....] Analysts are forecasting that the current account deficit for all of 2005 will set a new high, topping $800 billion, and will rise above $900 billion next year. Those figures are well above the current record, last year's deficit of $668.1 billion. [....] While the country's trade performance continues to deteriorate, analysts said they saw no slackening in demand by foreigners to hold dollar-denominated assets. They pointed to a Treasury report on Thursday [12/15/05] that showed foreigners had made net purchases of $106.8 billion in U.S. securities in October, an all-time high. 'The key point is that the deficit is being easily financed,' said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, a forecasting firm." [Based on: A.P. article by Martin Crutsinger (Insurance payments help moderate trade deficit), p. A37, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - British Agent? / Dennis Donaldson - December 17th, 2005: "Sinn Fein expelled a prominent party member Friday [12/16/05] for serving as a British agent for the past two decades. Gerry Adams, leader of the Irish Republican Army-linked party, said Dennis Donaldson confessed to passing information to British intelligence agents for the past 20 years. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Sinn Fein ousted member for serving as british spy), p. A32, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Ford Settlement / Plastic Intake Manifolds - December 17th, 2005: "Ford Motor Co. reached a final settlement that requires the automaker to pay at least $735 to each sedan owner who had to replace a plastic intake manifold, lawyers for the plantiffs said Friday [12/16/05]. Ford also is extending warranty coverage on the plastic part to seven years to cover vehicle owners who haven't replaced the manifold. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Ford reaches settlement on plastic intake manifolds), p. A36, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Trivia / Pentagon-Paid Incentives to Defense Companies - December 17th, 2005: "The Pentagon paid incentives worth an estimated $8 billion to defense companies between 1999 and 2003, regardless of performance, including $203 million on the scrapped Comanche helicopter program run by Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Co. That's according to a study made public this week by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed nearly 600 Defense Department contracts. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Pentagon pays incentives to contractors regardless of performance, study finds), p. A33, S.L.P.D., 12/17/05]

2005 - Excommunications / St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, St. Louis, Mo. - December 17th, 2005: "St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said Friday [12/16/05] that the six lay members of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church and a priest they had hired to be their pastor had been excommunicated. The church is at 1413 North 20th Street, northwest of downtown St. Louis. [....] The dispute between Burke and St. Stanislaus stems from a late 19th-century arrangement that gave the parish board control of the church property. Since he arrived in St. Louis in January 2004, Burke has demanded that the church conform to the same legal structure as other parishes, where the bishop oversees finances. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Burke excommunicates board and priest), p. A5, 12/17/05]

2005 - AIDS Charity / Bill Frist - December 18th, 2005: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the charity. One of the consultants is the wife of Sen. Christopher 'Kit' Bond, R-Mo. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

2005 - Personal Losses / Trent Lott - December 18th, 2005: "U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., says personal losses he suffered because of Hurricane Katrina will weigh on his decision whether to run for re-election in 2006. Lott lost his waterfront home in Pascagoula in the storm Aug. 29. 'It was about half my net worth. I have a $400,000 loss after the flood insurance,' said Lott, a former Senate majority leader. Lott is suing his insurance company over whether a wind-driven storm surge is the same as flooding. Another consideration, he said, is that he is 'so disappointed with the administration's response to the disaster that I'm almost embarrassed.' Lott, 64, was elected to the Senate in 1988 after serving 16 years in the House." [Based on: A.P. article (Lott might retire due to storm), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

2005 - Minor Stroke? / Ariel Sharon - December 18th, 2005: "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hospitalized Sunday [12/18/05] with what doctoirs described as 'a minor stroke.' The development raised questions as to weather he is healthy enough to lead his new Kadima Party into the elections of March. Sharon will turn 78 next month and is seriously overweight. On Sunday, he left his office in Jerusalem and was en route to his Negev ranch when he suddenly felt sick. His convoy sped to Hadassah Hospital, arriving about 8 p.m. [....] Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hurried to the hospital, as did broadcast reporters. Although it appears that Sharon will make a full recovery, the political impact of the episode leaves a lot in doubt. 'It will be exploited by everyone,' said political analyst Reuven Hazan, 'because at 77, this is the chink in his armor. We know nothing about this new Kadima Party, other than that its leader is Ariel Sharon and that polls show it will get one-third of the seats in the Knesset,' Israel's parliament. 'But what happens if he has a heart attack before or after the election? What are we getting in this package deal called Kadima? 'I think not only will his medical condition become an issue, but he is going to have to sell his path, his team and his legacy a lot harder to the Israeli public, which will be concerned about what happens should he not be there to carry through.' [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Israeli leader Sharon is hospitalized after suffering 'minor stroke,' doctors say), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/19/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Doctors insisted that he [Ariel Sharon] must go on a diet, something they've been urging unsuccessfully since 1965. Estimates of the 5-foot-7 Israeli leader's weight varied widely in Israeli media, from 258 to 313 pounds. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Don't 'overdo' treats, Sharon advises), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

*Trivia: "Doctors plan to seal a small hole in Ariel Sharon's heart - a hole that they said Monday [12/26/05] had led to his recent mild stroke. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/27/05]

2005 - "I Spy" / President George W. Bush - December 18th, 2005: "President George W. Bush said Saturday [12/17/05] that he secretly ordered the national Security Agency [NSA] to eavesdrop on Americans with suspected ties to terrorists because it was 'critical to saving American lives.' He said his actions were 'consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution.' Bush said the program has been reviewed regularly by the nation's top legal authorities and targets only those people with 'a clear link to these terrorist networks.' Noting the failures to detect hijackers already in the country before the strikes on New York and Washington, Bush said the National Security Agency's domestic spying since then has helped prevent other attacks. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article by Peter Baker (Bush confirms and defends secret eavesdropping order), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

*Trivia: "The National Security Agency first began to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mail messages between the United States and Afghanistan months before President George W. Bush officially authorized a broader version of the agency's special domestic collection program, according to current and former government officials. The security agency surveilance of telecommunications between the United States and Afghanistan began in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the officials said. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article (Warrantless taps first targeted Afghanistan), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

*Trivia: "[....] On Sunday [12/18/05] morning news shows, Republican Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona all noted that a 1978 law specified that a special federal court must approve any intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens on American soil. Graham seemed the most skeptical of Bush's authority. The senator said Bush needed to do more than simply notify top congressional officials of his orders. [....] Specter said on CNN, 'There are limits as to what the president can do under the constitution, especially in a context where you have the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it unlawful to have soies or surveillance or interceptions on citizens in the United States unless there is a court order.' Bush said Saturday [12/17/05] that he had authorized the surveillance to prevent further terrorist attacks. He said he had notified top members of Congress 12 times, and said the decisions had been reviewed by the attorney general and by his top legal counsel. [....] Congressional leaders acknowledged over the weekend that Bush had notified the four Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, as well as the four top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that she had been notified shortly after Bush authorized the spying and had been given updates 'on several occasions.' But Pelosi said the administration had considered the briefings notifications, 'not a request for approval.' 'I expressed my strong concerns during these breifings,' Pelosi said. McCain said he would welcome congressional hearlings to determine why the president sidestepped the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But he cautioned that the war against terrorism required aggressive intelligence gathering. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (GOP senators keep heat on White House over eavesdropping), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/19/05]

*Trivia:

   President George W. Bush said Monday [12/19/05] that by voting to let him use force in Iraq, Congress also had given him permission to authorize domestic spying, secretly and without court approval. [....] "Do I have the legal authority to do this?" Bush asked rhetorically at a White House news conference. "The answer is, 'Absolutely,'" he said. "The legal authority is derived from the Constitution as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress." [....]

[Based on: Cox news Service article (Congress OK'd spying, Bush says) by Ken Herman, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

*Trivia:

   The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in today's [12/23/05] Washington Post. It suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution. [....] As drafted, and as finally passed, the resolution authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the Sept. 11 attacks. "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas - where we all understood he wanted authority to act - but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional request authority. I refused." Daschle wrote that Congress also rejected draft language from the White House that would have authorized the use of force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States," not only against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Republican legislators involved in the negotiations could not be reached for comment Thursday night [12/22/05].

[Based on: Washington Post article (Daschle counters White House's spying defense), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Nuncio to the United States / Archbishop Pietro Sambi - December 18th, 2005: "Pope Benedict XVI has named an experienced Vatican diplomat, now serving in Israel, to be the Holy See's new envoy to Washington. The Vatican said on Saturday [12/17/05] that Archbishop Pietro Sambi would serve as nuncio to the United States, replacing 75-year-old Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who is retiring from the post he has held since 1998. Sambi, 67, has been posted in Israel since 1998." [Based on: News Services article (New washington envoy is selected), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/18/05]

2005 - Insurgent Attacks / Iraq - December 19th, 2005: "Suicide bombers and gunmen killed nearly two dozen people across Iraq on Sunday [12/18/05], shattering the relative quiet since the parliamentary election. Also Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq. He suggested that the vote could pave the way for an eventual U.S. pullout. And Germany said kidnappers had freed a German woman taken hostage in northern Iraq on Nov. 25. She is Susanne Osthoff, 43, an aid worker and archaeologist. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/19/05]

2005 - Oval Office Speech / George W. Bush - December 19th, 2005: "President George W. Bush declared Sunday [12/18/05] that America was winning the war in Iraq but warned that withdrawing U.S. soldiers now would be premature. In a speech broadcast from the Oval office, bush took on critics of the war who argue for a U.S. pulluot. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/19/05]

2005 - Civilian Slayings / Haditha, Iraq - December 19th, 2005: "The Marine  Corps chain of command in Iraq ignored 'obvious' signs of 'serious misconduct' in the 2005 [11/19/05] slayings of two dozen civilians in Haditha, according to an Army general's [Maj. Gen Eldon A. Bargewell] investigation. [NP] His report said commanders fostered a climate that devalued the life of innocent Iraqis to the point that their deaths were considered an insignificant part of the war. [....] " [Based on: Washington Post article (Marines ignored misconduct, shrugged off civilian losses, report says), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 04/22/07]

2005 - Democratic Bid / Maj. Tammy Duckworth - December 19th, 2005: "Maj. Tammy Duckworth of the Army National Guard formally announced her Democratic bid Sunday [12/18/05] for the congressional seat of outgoing Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde. Duckworth, who lost her legs in Iraq last year after her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, becomes the third Democratic challenger for Illinois' 6th Congressional District. [....] On ABC's 'This Week' on Sunday, Duckworth said she disagreed with President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, even though she volunteered to serve in the war." [Based on: News Services article (Iraq war veteran enters congressional race), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/19/05]

2005 - "Where is Heaven?" - December 20th, 2005: "A 2-hour ABC Barbara Walters special [9 p.m. E.S.T.] asked the questions: Where is Heaven? and How do we get there?" [E.M.]

2005 - Hostage Trivia / Iraq - December 20th, 2005: "A video posted by an extremist group on a Web site Monday [12/19/05] showed a man it said was an American hostage being shot in the back of the head. The extremists claimed the victim was U.S. contractor Ronald Allen Schulz. [....] But there was no word on the fate of four other Western hostages - an American, a Briton and two Canadians - kidnapped late last month. [....] Schulz, a native of North Dakota, served in the Marines from 1984 to 1991. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Identity of man shot on video is unconfirmed), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - "Smart Grid?" / Texas - December 20th, 2005: "The utility TXU Corp. said Monday [12/19/05] it will offer highspeed Internet service using power lines to millions of Texans as part of a $150 million project to improve its ability to monitor the power grid. The 'smart grid' build-out will enable what would become the nation's largest broadband-over-power-line Internet roll-out. The 10-year partnership with Current Communications Group Inc., a privately held company in Germantown, Md., however, isn't expected to yield residential Internet service until the second half of 2006. Proponents say broadband-over-power-line technology, or BPL, could be especially significant for rural areas, where highspeed Internet access has lagged due to the higher costs to telecommunications and cable companies of serving sparsely populated areas. [....] BPL moves data at roughly the same speeds as cable or DSL lines. [....] Current, which counts Google Inc. and Hearst Corp. as major investors, has smaller pilot projects in Hawaii, Maryland and Southern California. [....] One of the current largest roll-outs is in Manassas, Va., where 850 subscribers have signed up since the municipal utility began offering BPL in October." [Based on: A.P. article (Texas utility will offer Web access), p. C3, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Western Music Ban / Iran - December 20th, 2005: "Leader bans broadcast of Western music." [Based on: News Services article headline, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Trivia / Google Market Value - December 20th, 2005: "Google market value briefly surpasses IBM." [Based on: Bloomberg News article headline, p. C2, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Likud Party Candidate / Benjamin Netanyahu - December 20th, 2005: "[....] On Monday [12/19/05], members of the hard-line Likud party picked ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu to run for prime minister in the elections March 28. [....]" [Based on: Wire Services article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Murder Rate Increase / U.S.A. - December 20th, 2005: "The nation's murder rate jumped 2 percent in the first six months of this year, the FBI said Monday [12/19/05]. [....] Murder rates rose across the country. But the Midwest saw the highest increases - 4.9 percent. Kansas City reported 56 murders in the six months of this year but only 39 in the same period last year. St. Louis recorded 60 murders in the first six months of this year, up from 48 last year. Overall, St. Louis had 3,736 violent crimes in the first half of this year, up from 2,975 last year. The FBI did not disclose its raw crime counts for all communities, because it considers these six-month reports to be preliminary. But for all cities with more than 100,000 people, it reported 4,080 murders in the first half of this year and 3,979 in the same period last year. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (FBI: Murder rate rose in the first half of the year), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Pension Fee Proposal / U.S.A. - December 20th, 2005: "Companies that declare bankruptcy and dump their pension plans onto the federal government would face a $3,750 fee per covered worker under a budget plan passed by the House early Monday [12/19/05]. The vote to pass the $39.7 billion federal budget bill was 212-206. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Pension fee proposal wins House approval), p. 12/20/05]

2005 - American Beef Returns to Japan - December 20th, 2005: "After a two-year ban over mad cow fears, American beef sizzled once again on Japanese grills Monday [12/19/05]. [....] Japan shut its ports to U.S. beef on Dec. 24, 2003, after the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease - known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE - in the U.S. herd. [....] A recent poll shows a strong majority of Japanese still harbor fears about American beef. And some restaurants were reluctant to market American beef until they are certain the public will be receptive." [Based on: A.P. article (After two-year ban over mad cow, American beef returns to Japan), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Solar Wind Strean / Planet Earth - December 20th, 2005: "A solar wind stream is blowing past Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm at high latitudes. Sky watchers in Scandinavia, Alaska and Canada should be alert for auroras."   [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [12/20/05]

2005 - Chemical Spill / Bei River, China - December 20th, 2005: "A city in southern China shut down running water for eight hours after a smelter dumped chemicals in a river, residents said Wednesday [12/21/05], a month after a toxic spill in a northwestern river disrupted water supplies to millions. The twin disasters highlighted China's chronic environmental problems and the precarious state of its scarce water supplies. The latest spill occurred on the Bei River in Guangdong, China's most densely populated providence with more than 100 million people and a center for its export-driven manufacturing industries. [....] The accidents are an embarrassment to the government of President Hu Jintao, which has promised to clean up environmental damages from China's 25 years of breakneck economic growth. [....] Tuesday's water shutdown in Shaoguan came after the government said a smelter in Shaoguan dumped toxic chemicals into the Bei, causing levels of the heavy metal cadmium to jump to 10 times acceptable  levels." [Based on: A.P. article (Chemical spill cuts water in Chinese city), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Elected Parliament / Afghanistan - December 20th, 2005: "An elected Afghan parliament was sworn in Monday [12/19/05] for the first time in more than 35 years. Now, that government must deal with threats from drug lords, rampant corruption and a surge in suicide bombings. [....] Afghan farmers are expected to harvest more than 4,500 tons of opium, just a 2.4 percent drop from last year. Afghanistan is expected to earn $2.7 billion from illegal drug exports this year, almost as much as it did last year, the study said. That's worth more than half the country's legal gross domestic product. [....] In addition to the presence of drug suspects in the new parliament, up to 60 percent of the lower house's members are linked to human rights abuses, according to the New York based Human Rights Watch. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article, Afghan parliament is seated - first elected one in decades]

*Trivia: "U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan will be reduced by about 3,500 in the spring, thanks to increased NATO forces and a growing Afghan army, the Pentagon said Tuesday [12/20/05]. The announcement of the first major reduction in U.S. troop strength there since late last year launches what is expected to be a gradual decline in troop levels that will also include reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq. The reduction would bring U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to about 16,500. Troop levels in Afghanistan peaked at 20,300 in April 2004, dropped to about 16,500 by the end of last year, and then increased to about 20,000 earlier this year. [....] The first full session of Afghanistan's new parliament almost broke down Tuesday after a lawmaker demanded that authorities bring to justice all warlords, some of whom are delegates. Underscoring threats to the democracy, a statement forwarded to The Associated Press from fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar called the parliament 'fake,' and a suicide bombing wounded three Italian peacekeepers and three civilians." [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. says it will reduce Afghan force), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Dead Fish / Wrightsville Beach, N.C. - December 20th, 2005: "Thousands of dead menhaden fish are seen on the beach on Monday [12/19/05] in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. A state official suggested that the fish may have become trapped in an inlet as the tide went out, died and washed up on the beach. Or, a large fishing net could have broken. Fish and water samples were to be tested." [Based on: Getty Images picture caption, p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Seaplane Accident / Miami Beach, Florida - December 20th, 2005: "A propeller-driven seaplane carrying 20 people crashed just off Miami Beach Monday [12/19/05], killing at least 19 of those aboard, authorities said. Witnesses said the plane had exploded in flames as it came down, and the FBI joined the investigation. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

*Trivia: "The deadly crash off [< typo?] a seaplane shortly after takeoff was apparently caused by the right wing breaking off the fuselage, investigators said Tuesday [12/20/05]. It was unclear why the wing detached during flight. [....] Salvage crews pulled the wing from the water with its propeller and engine still attached, but Rosenker [Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the NTSB] declined to provide details about the wing's condition. [....] Investigators were still trying to find the cockpit voice recorder. But it was in the tail, which was difficult to reach because the plane was mangled." [Based on: A.P. article (Seaplane crashed because wing fell off, NTSB says), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

*Trivia: "A 1940s-era seaplane that lost a wing during takeoff and crashed within sight of the beach, killing all 20 people aboard, had undetected cracks in its airframe that apparently caused the aircraft to break up, federal investigators said Wednesday [12/21/05] [....] Authorities also recovered the plane's cockpit voice recorder, which was sent along with part of the beam to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington. The recorder, however, was unreadable for an unknown reason, said Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the Safety Board. Rosenker said the cracking in the 58-year-old seaplane should have been found and repaired, though the cracks could not be seen with the naked eye and it would have taken 'a very serious' inspection to find them. If Chalk's officials had known about the cracking in the Grumman G-73T Turbine Mallards 'they would have repaired it and we wouldn't be here today. I don't think they knew it,' Rosenker said. [....] Some additional stress on the airframe must have contributed to the cracking because age alone would not cause it, Rosenker said." [Based on: A.P. article by Curt Anderson (Seaplane in deadly crash had cracks in airframe, federal investigators say), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

*Trivia: "Federal investigators have suffered a setback: Nothing audible was found on the cockpit voice recorder recovered from a seaplane that crashed off Miami Beach [....] Investigators had hoped to learn more from the cockpit voice recorder. The device was found intact in the tail of the aircraft and flown to an NTSB lab in Washington for examination. But Rosenker said there was nothing readable on it. The plane was not required to carry a second device, the flight data recorder, that might have shed additional light on the crash's cause. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Cockpit recorder no help in crash inquiry), p. A9, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Withdrawal? / Delphi Wage-Cut Proposal - December 20th, 2005: "Delphi will withdraw wage-cut proposal." [Based on: A.P. article headline, p. C2, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Mariana Islands Region - December 20th, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 05:51:13 (UTC) on Tuesday, December 20, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located in STATE OF YAP, FED. STATES OF MICRONESIA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 29 km (18 miles). (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgwae.htm]

2005 - Pollution Fine / MSC Ship Management Limited - December 20th, 2005: "A shipping company based in Hong Kong has agreed to pay a $10 million fine for dumping 40 tons of oil sludge into the Atlantic Ocean, federal prosecutors said Monday [12/19/05]. Coast Guard officials said it was the biggest criminal fine ever paid anywhere in the world in a case involving deliberate pollution from a single vessel. Under a deal with prosecutors in Boston, MSC Ship Management Limited agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, making false statements and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said one of the company's container ships, the MSC Elena, dumped the sludge in 2004 by using a specially fitted steel pipe to bypass required pollution prevention equipment." [Based on: News Services article (Dumping of sludge nets $10 million fine), p. A6, S.L.P.D, 12/20/05]

2005 - Three Firms Fined / Bad Mutual Fund Practices - December 20th, 2005: "Merrill Lynch & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and LPL Financial Services on Monday [12/19/05] were fined $19.4 million by the NASD for selling investors higher-cost mutual fund shares when cheaper options may have been available. Merrill Lynch was fined $14 million, Wells Fargo was penalized $3 million and LPL, also known as Linsco, was fined $2.4 million, according to a statement Monday by the NASD, the brokerage regulator formerly known as the National Association of Securities Dealers. [....]" [Based on: Bloomber News article, p. C3, S.L.P.D., 12/20/05]

2005 - Electronics that Bend - December 21st, 2005: "University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign engineers have made stretchy electronic components that could follow the folds of knees, elbows and knuckles. The achievement paves the way for electronics worn on the skin - or even in it. And you thought iPods were the pinnacle of wearable electronics. [....] Rogers [U of I materials scientist, John Rogers] published the results last week in ScienceXpress, an online publication of the journal Science. They intrigued Stephanie Lacour, an electrical engineer at a rival research group at princeton University. [....] Lacour's rival group has achieved stretchiness by creating islands of bendable silicon components connected by stretchy gold filaments. [....] The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research arm of the Department of Defense, funded both groups. Rogers said the agency wants to embed sensors into clothes that measure the health of soldiers. Lacour doesn't doubt that stretchy electronics will wind up in clothes - not just for measuring personal health but also for promoting personal style. 'You could be a walking billboard,' he said." [Based on: S.L.P.D. article by Eric Hand, p. A4, 12/21/05]

2005 - Elections Trivia / Iraq - December 21st, 2005: "Sunni Muslim political leaders claimed Tuesday [12/20/05] that Iraq's preliminary election results were rigged, raising fears that they'll reject the new government as illegitimate. If that happens, many fear that Sunnis will depend on the insurgency to achieve their political aims, not the parliament pushing the nation toward civil war, not consensus, and threatening U.S. plans to withdraw some troops. Election results released Tuesday, with nearly 90 percent of the votes counted, showed that Shiite Muslims, who make up about 60 percent of the population, won about 110 seats in the 275-member National Assembly through their United Iraqi Alliance slate. Sunnis had 33, and the Kurds had 40. Most of the remaining seats went to smaller parties. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article, p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

*Trivia: "[....] In all, 10.9 million of 15.6 million registered voters cast their ballots across Iraq on Dec. 15 for a new four-year government. [....] Iraqi electoral officials warned that the current figures could still change, either up or down. [....]" [Based on: New York Times article, 12/22/05]

*Trivia: "Sunni Arab and secular Shiite factions demanded Thursday [12/22/05] that an international body review complaints about voting fraud in last week's elections. But the United Nations rejected the idea. 'The U.N. is not going to conduct an independent review,' U.N. spokesman Robert Sullivan said in New York. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/23/05]

2005 - Transit Strike / New York - December 21st, 2005: "Commuters trudged through the freezing cold, rode bicycles and shared cabs Tuesday [12/20/05] as New York's bus and subway workers went on strike for the first time in more than 25 years and stranded millions of riders at the height of the Christmas rush. A judge slapped the union with a $1 million-a-day fine. [....]" [Based on: A.P.] 

*Trivia: "A judge has ordered leaders of New York's striking transit union brought before him and is threatening tojail jail them for criminal contempt. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/22/05]

*Trivia: "Faced with mounting fines and the wrath of millions of commuters, the city transit union sent its members back to work without a new contract Thursday [12/22//05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/23/05]

2005 - Trivia / Morgan Stanley Profit - December 21st, 2005: "Morgan Stanley profit tops estimates." [Based on: Bloomber News article headline, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Trivia / Teen Fitness, U.S.A. - December 21st, 2005: "About a third of U.S. teens would flunk a treadmill fitness test, a new study shows, meaning that more than 7 million youngsters could face higher risks for heart disease later in life. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Indictment / Joseph Nacchio - December 21st, 2005: "Joseph Nacchio Quest Communications' former chief executive, was indicted Tuesday [12/20/05] on 42 counts of insider trading. He is accused of illegally selling off $101 million in stock after he learned privately the company might not meet its financial goals. Nacchio, 56, appeared in court a few hours after the indictment was announced and pleaded not guilty before being led away in handcuffs. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Ex-Quest CEO faces insider trading charges), p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Molucca Sea - December 21st, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 07:09:03 (UTC) on Wednesday, December 21, 2005. The magnitude 6.4 event has been located in the MOLUCCA SEA. The hypocentral depth was poorly constrained. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgxah.htm]

2005 - Married / Elton John & David Furnish - December 21st, 2005: "Elton John and partner David Furnish exchanged vows and wedding bands Wednesday [12/21/05] at a ceremony that capped the first week of legalized civil unions in the United Kingdom. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/22/05]

2005 - Winter Solstice / Northern Hemisphere - December 21st, 2005: "Northern winter begins on Wednesday, Dec. 21st, at precisely 1835 UT (10:35 am PST) when the sun reaches its southernmost declination: -23.5 degrees. The nights around this date are the longest of the year, e.g., 14 hours of darkness in southern California and more than 18 hours in Alaska. On the other hand, if you live south of the equator, Wednesday is the beginning of summer. Either way, Happy Solstice! "

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [12/20/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / South of Panama - December 21st, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 14:32:38 (UTC) on Wednesday, December 21, 2005. The magnitude 6.0 event has been located SOUTH OF PANAMA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgxal.htm]

2005 - Cheney Urges Strong Presidential Power - December 21st, 2005: "President George W. Bush's decision to bypass court review and authorize domestic wiretapping by executive order was part of a concerted effort to rebuild presidential powers weakened in the 1970s as a result of the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday [12/20/05]. Returning from a trip to the Middle East, Cheney said threats facing the country require that the president's authority under the Constitution be 'unimpaired.' [....] New rounds of criticism followed reports Tuesday of comments by Bush last year in which he seemed to assure his audience that the government only conducted wiretaps with court approval. 'Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order,' the president in a speech in Buffalo, N.Y., [said?] on April 20, 2004, in which he discussed enactment of the Patriot Act. 'Nothing has changed, by the way,' the president continued in the speech. 'When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.' [....] Sen. John D. 'Jay' Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence Committee, said on Monday [12/19/05] that he wrote Cheney after one breifing in 2003 and expressed concern about the surveillance. [....] A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest against Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation. Two associates familar with his decision said Tuesday [12/20/05] that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work. Robertson declined to comment when reached at his office late Tuesday." [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Cheney urges strong presidential power), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05] - [Brackets text inserted - E.M.]

*Trivia: "The federal judge who quit the nation's secret spy court in protest over covert domestic wiretaps has been one of the judiciary's most active and feisty critics of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Despite his resignation from the spy court, U.S. District Judge James Robertson, 67, remains on the federal bench. The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is perhaps the most secretive in America. It reviews U.S. government requests for surreptitious eavesdropping in the National Security Agency to gather intelligence. Last year, according to a report to Congress, the court got 1,758 warrant requests - and approved all but four. [....] The court was set up under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Administration officials cited the need for 'agility' in bypassing the court. [....] 'Apparently Judge Robertson did not want to aid and abet criminal (National Security Agency) electronic surveillance,' the New York Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement. The center has alleged for four years that Bush has been overstepping his warpowers in his policies on detainees in the war on terrorism. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Judge who quit spy court has been active critic of U.S. detention center), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Barred / "Intelligent Design" Teaching, Pennsylvania - December 21st, 2005: "In one of the biggest courtroom clashes between faith and evolution since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a federal judge on Tuesday [12/20/05] barred a Pennsylvania public school district from teaching 'intelligent design' in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise. [....] The ruling was a major setback to the intelligent design movement, which is also waging battles in Georgia and Kansas. Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher force. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Judge bars the teaching of 'intelligent design'), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Profit Forecast Trivia / American Electric Power Co. - December 21st, 2005: "American Electric Power Co., the third-largest U.S. utility owner, raised its 2005 profit forecast because cold weather is boosting energy demand and earnings from wholesale electricity sales are increasing. [....]" [Based on: Bloomber News article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Unchecked Power? / President George W. Bush - December 21st, 2005: "[....] On Saturday [12/17/05], President George W. Bush confirmed what The New York Times had reported exclusively the day before: In 2001, Bush ordered the National Security Agency to begin intercepting phone calls and e-mails between people here in America and people overseas - without first getting the warrants required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Caught, again, disregarding the law, the administration has been scrambling ever since to rationalize its actions. But the NSA's domestic spying isn't all it needs to explain. Three days before the Times' story, NBC News reported the existence of a secret Pentagon database containing records of military spying operations against Americans in this country. Among the targets of Defense Department agents have been  meetings of church groups and individuals opposed to the war  in Iraq, as well as public protests of the war, NBC reported. [....] '... A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens,' wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Yet Bush keeps pushing the blank-check-in-war claim - citing the part of the Constitution that grants him authority as commander in chief of the military. Had he continued reading, he might have noticed the line in the next section requiring all presidents to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' Even more outlandish is the administration's assertion that Congress approved warrantless spying on Americans in this country. As evidence, Bush cites the joint resolution Congress passed on Sept. 14, 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In fact, that bill - 'Authorization for Use of Military Force' - is very brief and very clear. It authorizes him 'to use all necessary and appropriate force' against those who attacked us and to prevent them from attacking us again. It says nothing about spying on U.S. soil, ignoring the courts, disregarding laws the administration finds inconvenient or making a mockery of the part of the Constitution that guarantees Americans' security from 'unreasonable searches and seizures' without a warrant based on evidence. [....] Do you ever say anything to your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, mother or father, friends or co-workers that you don't want anyone else to hear? Turn the question around: What would you not say if you thought someone else might be listening - someone you're talking about, a stranger, the government - not because you're talking about anything illegal but just because it's, well, private? If the government, having been caught in the act, admits that it's bugging some domestic phone calls and e-mails in the name of national security without bothering to get warrants, it's logical to wonder if the same thing's happening with regular mail. How about fedEx and UPS packages? For that matter, why shouldn't agents peep into the places we work, the schools we attend, the rooms in our homes - in order to keep us safe?  [....] He can bristle, as he did at Monday's press conference, at the suggestion that he is asserting unchecked power, but that is precisely what  he's doing." [Based on: Other Views page article (Title: Who's listening out there? Subtitle: The administration thinks it has to trample on American values to save America.) by Eric Mink, p. C13, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05] - [Paragraph indents removed to save space - E.M.

2005 - Antitrust Lawsuit / ExxonMobil Corp. & BP PLC - December 21st, 2005: "An antitrust lawsuit filed against ExxonMobil Corp. and BP PLC alleges that the two oil giants are conspiring to crush competition and restrict the nation's supply of natural gas. The suit was filed Monday [12/19/05] by the Alaska Gasoline Port Authority. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Energy giants won't sell gas), p. B1, S.L.P.D., 12/21/05]

2005 - Launch / Cargo Ship for International Space Station - December 21st, 2005: "An unmanned Russian cargo ship carrying supplies and Christmas gifts for the crew of the international space station blasted off Wednesday [12/21/05] from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a spokesman said. [....] The ship is expected to dock Friday [12/23/05] with the station orbiting about 220 miles from Earth." [Based on: News Services article, 12/22/05]

2005 - Sun in Capricorn - December 22nd, 2005: "Reported date when the Sun entered the constellation Capricorn." [Based on: http://www2.bitstream.net/~bunlion/bpi/ephm/E200512.html]

2005 - Christmas Lottery / Spain - December 22nd, 2005: "The Spanish Christmas lottery known as 'El Gordo' - the Fat One - is even chubbier this year, with prize money of $2.4 billion. An estimated three of every four Spaniards will be holding tickets for the complex sweepstakes. The lottery will be held Thursday [12/22/05] in a three-hour televised event that brings Spain to a standstill. People holding first-place winning tickets will receive $360,000, up from $240,000 last year. Although other lotteries have bigger top prizes, Spain's is billed as the world's richest lottery for the total sum of prizes. In the lottery, thousands of numbers win. Prizes range from the ticket price all the way up to the first-prize number." [Based on: A.P. article (Spanish Christmas lottery 'El Gordo' has $2.4 billion in prizes), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/19/05]

2005 - Economic Growth / U.S.A. - December 22nd, 2005: "The nation's economy grew at the fastest pace in 1&1/2 years in the summer as booming automobile sales offset the adverse effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, slower growth is forecast for the year's end. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article by Martin Crutsinger (Hurricanes and oil prices fail to stunt growth), p. B4, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Trivia / Presidential Powers - December 22nd, 2005: "[....] Political scientist Dave Adler of Idaho State University specializes in presidential war powers. He says, 'During times of war, presidents push the envelope. They assert powers that often rise above constitutional powers.' [....] 'The founders were extremely nervous about presidential authority,' said law professor Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago, who wrote 'Perilous Times,' a book about wartime restrictions on civil liberty. 'It's not for the president to decide these things on his own in secret.' [....] Wilson [U.S. President Woodrow Wilson], Congress and the courts supported the Sedition Act of 1918, similar in spirit to the discredited Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The 1918 law made it illegal to 'utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about' the government, the Constitution, the American flag or 'the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States.' The law was repealed three years later. President Harry Truman suffered a rare wartime rebuke in 1952, when the Supreme Court blocked the plans for a federal takeover of the steel industry in the Korean War. Truman wanted to avert a strike that he feared would disrupt war supplies. But the court concluded that he needed congressional approval. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Presidential powers test is long-standing battle), p. A3, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Settlement / H&R Block Inc. - December 22nd, 2005: "H&R Block Inc., the biggest U.S. tax preparer, agreed to pay $62.5 million to settle class-action lawsuits alleging it charged 'usurious' interest rates on loans to customers awaiting tax refunds. [....] It covers about 8 million customers and loans from as early as 1989 through this year." [Based on: A.P. & Bloomberg News Reports]

2005 - Extension? / U.S. Patriot Act - December 22nd, 2005: "Senate Republican leaders gave in to Democratic demands Wednesday [12/21/05] and agreed to extend the USA Patriot Act by six months. [....]" [Based on: Knight Ridder Newspapers article (Senate defies Bush, OKs extending Patriot Act just six months), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

*Trivia: "In a frantic finish before adjourning for the year, the House and Senate voted Thursday [12/22/05] to extend the broad anti-terrorism bill known as the USA Patriot Act by five weeks. [....] The action on the anti-terrorism law was taken after the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., had threatened to derail a six-month extension passed by the Senate late Wednesday night [12/21/05]. As it wrapped up business for the year, Congress also gave final approval to a $453.3 billion military spending bill that included $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, $29 billion in new aid for hurricane victims, $3.8 billion to prepare for a possible outbreak of avian flu and a governmentwide 1 percent spending cut. The Republican leadership stripped out language for $2 billion in extra assistance for low-income people to pay their home heating bills. [....] The deadline for reauthorizing the bill was moved, from Dec. 31 to Feb. 3, timing that could prove a problem for the White House." [Based on: New York Times article p. A1 & A4, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Trivia / Saddam Hussein Trial - December 22nd, 2005: "Saddam Hussein charged at his trial Wednesday [12/21/05] that he and his co-defendants had been beaten and tortured by American captors. [....] Saddam returned to court Wednesday after a two-week recess. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article]

2005 - Flood Trivia / Central Vietnam - December 22nd, 2005: "Floods this week have killed nearly two dozen people in central Vietnam, raising the overall death toll to 69, officials said Wednesday [12/21/05]. [....]" [Based on: News Services]

2005 - Emissions Defects / DaimlerChrysler - December 22nd, 2005: "DaimlerChrysler Corp. agreed to spend $90 million to fix defective emission controls on 1.5 million vehicles and pay a $1 million penalty to settle charges it failed to report the problem to regulators, the Justice Department said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. & Bloomberg News Reports]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Molucca Sea - December 22nd, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 12:20:04 (UTC) on Thursday, December 22, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located near the PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgyaq.htm]

2005 - Federally Funded Study / Diabetes - December 22nd, 2005: "Diabetics who tightly control their blood sugar levels can cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes in half, a long-awaited federally funded study shows. [....]" [Based on: News Services article (Study points to tight control of blood sugar), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Growing / Southern & Western States, U.S.A. - December 22nd, 2005: "Southern and Western states are growing so much faster than the rest of the country that several are expected to grab House seats from the Northeast and Midwest when Congress is reapportioned in 2010. Demographers and political analysts project that Texas and Florida could each gain as many as three House seats. Ohio and New York could lose as many as two seats apiece. Several other states could gain or lose single seats. [....] The projections are based on state population estimates by the Census Bureau. The bureau releases its July 2005 estimates today, showing that Nevada grew at a faster rate than any other state for the 19th consecutive year, followed by Arizona, Idaho, Florida and Utah. Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts lost population, as did the District of Columbia. The populations of North Dakota, Ohio and Michigan grew, but at a slower rate than others." [Based on: News Services article (South, West keep setting pace as people magnets), p. A5, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Bird Flu Patients Die Despite Taking Tamiflu - December 22nd, 2005: "In a development health experts are calling alarming, two bird flu patients in Vietnam died after developing resistence to Tamiflu, the key drug that governments are stockpiling in case of a largescale outbreak. [....] Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu expert at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, called the deaths frightening and said they demonstrate the dangers of hoarding drugs. 'People who stockpile will naturally share or take drugs at the wrong dose, and that's really a bad idea,' said Moscona, who wrote an accompanying commentary in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Since 2003, avian flu has killed about 70 people, mostly in Vietnam and Thailand, and nearly all involved close contact with infected birds. Health experts fear the virus could morph into a form that spreads easily among people. Tamiflu and another drug, Relenza, are expected to be the frontline defense if that happens, but they must be taken soon after infection to be effective. Tamiflu, made by Swiss-based Roche Holding AG, is the favored drug because it appears to be effective against all kinds of flu. GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza requires an inhaler and has not been widely tested in people with avian flu." [Based on: News Services article (Bird flu patients die despite taking Tamiflu), p. A10, S.L.P.D., 12/22/05]

2005 - Strong Earthquake / Ecuador - December 23rd, 2005: "A strong earthquake occurred at 21:47:27 (UTC) on Friday, December 23, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in ECUADOR. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/usgza1.htm]

2005 - "Celebration" / Morman Church - December 23rd, 2005: "Joseph Smith Jr.'s 200th birthday is coming Friday [12/23/05], and millions of members of the church he founded - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - are celebrating. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/18/05]

2005 - Settlement / Reliant Energy Inc. - December 23rd, 2005: "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Thursday [12/22/05] it has accepted a $512 million settlement with Reliant Energy Inc., California utilities and commission staff to resolve claims stemming from the energy crisis in the West in 2000-01. [....] As part of the settlement, Reliant must give FERC data about sales of electricity in the West. In addition, Reliant will be subject to semiannual independent audits of outages." [Based on: Dow Jones/AP article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Egyptian Calls Holocaust a Myth - December 23rd, 2005: "The leader of Egypt's main Islamic opposition group said Thursday [12/22/05] that the Holocaust was a 'myth.' He further assailed Western governments for criticizing disclaimers of the Jewish genocide. [....] Akef [Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Mahdi Akef] wrote on his group's followers on its official Web site [< typo sentence?], 'Western democracies have slammed all those who don't see eye to eye with the Zionists regarding the myth of the Holocaust.' [....] In his Web message, Akef lashed out at the United States and other Western powers for what he described as a campaign against Islam. He wrote, 'The sword of democracy is only unsheathed against those who raise the flag of Islam.' [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Egyptian calls Holocaust a myth), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Israeli troops kill three militants in raid [12/22/05] - [Based on: News Services headline, p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/23/05]

2005 - Ordered to Pay / Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - December 23rd, 2005: "A California jury awarded on Thursday [12/22/05] $172 million to thousands of employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. who claimed they were illegally denied lunch breaks. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/23/05]

2005 - Off-Limits Zone / Gaza Strip - December 24th, 2005: "Israel will enforce a new off-limits zone in the Gaza Strip with artillery, helicopter and gunboat fire, defense officials said Friday [12/23/05]. The zone is Israel's latest response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/24/05]

2005 - New House Sales Tumble / U.S.A. - December 24th, 2005: "Sales of new houses plunged in November by the largest amount in nearly 12 years, the most dramatic evidence yet that the housing market is starting to cool off. The Commerce Department said that sales of new single-family houses fell by 11.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.245 million units. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A29, S.L.P.D., 12/24/05]

2005 - Trivia / Domestic Wiretaps, U.S.A. - December 24th, 2005: "When Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito worked at the Justice Department in President Ronald Reagan's administration in 1984, he defended in a memo the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security. The National Archives released the memo and scores of other documents related to Alito on Friday [12/23/05]. The memo dealt with whether government officials should have blanket protection from suits when authorizing wiretaps. Alito wrote, 'I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity. But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here.' Despite Alito's warning that the government would lose, Reagan's administration took the fight to the Supreme Court. The case questioned whether  President Richard Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, could be sued for authorizing  a warrantless domestic wiretap to gather information about a terrorist plot. In its court brief, the government argued for absolute immunity for the attorney general on matters of national security. The case ultimately led in 1985 to a ruling by the Supreme Court that the attorney general and other senior officials could be sued for violating people's rights, in the name of national security, with such actions as domestic wiretaps. But the court said Mitchell was protected from such suits, because when he authorized the wiretap, he was unaware that his actions violated the Fourth Amendment. The decision was consistent with the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in 1972 that it was unconstitutional for the government to conduct wiretaps without court approval." [Based on: A.P. article (Court nominee defended domestic wiretaps in 1984), p. A22, S.L.P.D., 12/24/05]

2005 - Settlement / American Express Co. - December 24th, 2005: "A $75 million settlement has been approved between American Express Co. and thousands of cardholders who contended in a class-action lawsuit that they paid hidden transaction fees for charges made in foreign currencies. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A31, S.L.P.D., 12/24/05]

2005 - "Data-Mining Operation?" / U.S.A. - December 24th, 2005: "The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President George W. Bush approved, current and former government officials say. The volume of information harvested from telecommunications data and voice networks without court-approval warrants is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said. The program went into effect after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity. It allows for domestic surveillance without warrants. Under the program, the NSA has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to get back-door access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said. [....] What has not been publicly acknowledged is that besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, NSA technicians have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation. This 'pattern analysis' on calls within the United States would, in many circumstances, require a court warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom." [Based on: New York Times article (Snooping is said to entail broad 'pattern analysis'), p. A22, S.L.P.D., 12/24/05]

2005 - Nervous Politicians? / U.S.A. - December 25th, 2005: "Jack Abramoff is hardly a household name outside the U.S. capital. But in Washington's corridors of power, his name is spreading waves of anxiety about a possible political corruption scandal that could tarnish members of Congress, their aides and Capitol Hill lobbyists. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Abramoff investigation is making politicians of both parties nervous), p. A7, S.L.P.D., 12/25/05]

2005 - Democracy Advocate Sentenced / Egypt - December 25th, 2005: "A Egyptian court on Saturday [12/24/05] sentenced Ayman Nour, the lawyer and politician who challenged President Hosni Mubarak at the polls, to five years in prison on charges of forging petitions. Supporters and human rights groups denounced the conviction as an outrage. In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Saturday that the United States was 'deeply troubled' by the verdict. [....]" [Based on: The Washington Post, 12/25/05]

2005 - Celebrations / Christmas & Hannukah - December 25th, 2005: "[....] This year, the first night of Hanukkah [chnkh] coincides with Christmas Day, a rare coincidence of the two calendars - the first time since 1959. [....] Hanukkah recalls the victory against all odds of the small Maccabean army against the Syrian king Antiochus in 165 B.C. The eight-day length of the festival is a result of the account that when the Jews rededicated the temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day, burned miraculously for eight. The story has become one of the main trademarks of Hanukkah, which means 'dedication' in Hebrew. The holiday is also known as the 'Festival of Lights.' [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

2005 - Eruption / Popocatepetl Volcano, Mexico - December 25th, 2005: "Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano staged a pre-dawn explosion Sunday [12/25/05], sending a column of ash two miles into the air and spewing red-hot lava. The explosion was the latest in a series of moderate eruptions from the 17,886-foot volcano, 40 miles southeast of the Mexican capital." [Based on: News Services article, p. A13, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

2005 - U.S. Forces Control Jails / Iraq - December 26th, 2005: "The U.S. armed forces will keep control of jails and individual detainees until Iraqi authorities demonstrate higher standards of care, an American military spokesman said Sunday [12/25/05]. He spoke two weeks after the discovery of 120 abused Iraqi prisoners. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/26/05]

2005 - Trivia / "King George III" - December 26th, 2005:

   Among the facts "submitted to a candid world" by the Declaration of Independence was this complaint against King George III: "He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers."
   What was a problem 229 years ago is a problem today. President George W. Bush (by coincidence, the third U.S. president named George) is refusing his assent to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act gives the judiciary, in the persons of 12 judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, the right to decide when wiretaps will be used in foreign intelligence investigations on U.S. soil. [....]
   Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W. Va., the nation's senior constitutional scholar, put it well. Arguing that Congress must summon the president and his men and women to account for themselves, Mr. Byrd said Mr. Bush had claimed "powers reserved only for kings and potentates."
   Mr. Byrd continued: "The president has cast off federral law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizures guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution.
   "We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and Constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law." [Based on: Opinion Page article (The secrets of George III), p. B8, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

*Trivia: "[....] When the government wishes to search or seize a tangible thing - or a conversation - the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution requires it to present to a judge evidence of probable cause of criminal activity on the part of the person whose papers, things or conversations it wants to search. The courts that hear search warrant applications are available around the clock and meet in secret. If they find that probable cause exists,  they issue the warrant. If they don't they decline to issue it. [....] When President Nixon claimed in 1970 that he had the inherent power to wiretap antiwar protestors without search warrants for national security reasons, the Supreme Court rejected his argument unanimously. Indeed, the House Judiciary Committee determined that by directing or authorizing electronic surveillance without search warrants, Nixon disregarded the constitutional rights of American citizens; it voted an article of impeachment against him for doing so. In reaction to Nixon's unlawful behavior, Congress wrote two new laws. One was the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This law made it easier to wiretap foreign persons by lowering the judicial threshold from probable cause of a crime to probable cause of 'foreign agency.' But FISA did not - and could not - change the constitutionally-mandated standard for search warrants of Americans: probable cause of criminality. Congress also enacted a new anti-wiretapping law. This made it a felony - punishable by five years in a federal prison for each offense - for anyone under color of law to authorize or install a wiretap on an American without a search warrant issued by a judge. President Bush claims that Congress, in effect, replaced the anti-wiretapping statute, for him and him alone, when it authorized him to use force against those who facilitated the 9/11 attacks. This is utter nonsense. A sitting Congress can repeal a law written by a previous one, but it is a given principle of law that it must do so specifically and directly in order for us to know what the law is. Never in American history has there been a repeal by implication, one with no reference to the statute allegedly repealed, one granted to one person under one set of circumstances. It is not likely to be upheld in any court. The president's lawyers know this, but we do not know if they told him. The president has also claimed that he has the inherent power to abrogate longstanding criminal law in his capacity as commander in chief. When he claimed that he could lock up Americans in solitary confinement and throw away the key just by declaring them 'enemy combatants' and that such declarations were immune from judicial review, the Supreme Court rejected his arguments by a vote of 8 to 1, and reminded him that he, like all Americans, is subject to the Constitution. Why would a president who has sworn to uphold all parts of the Constitution and enforce all the federal laws, whether he finds them conveinent or not, authorize such direct violations of both? Why would he attempt to nullify the Fourth Amendment's guaranteed right of privacy on which so much public, legal and social policy is based? The inescapable conclusion is that President Bush does not recognize the constitutional limitations imposed on his office. His only concern is victory over 'the enemy.' In a famous Supreme Court dissent, Justice Louis Brandeis foresaw the articulation by a later generation of justices of the right to privacy. 'The makers of our Constitution,' he wrote, '... conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone - the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.' The Fourth Amendment embodies this natural right. It is the lynchpin not only of our personal privacy but also our individual dignity. No president and no Congress can violate it with impunity." [Based on: Other Views page article (Walking on thin constitutional ice) by Andrew P. Napolitano, p. B9, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05] - [Note: In an effort to save space, the paragraph indents for this (as with most) articles on this timeline were not transcribed. - E.M.

2005 - Council Installed / Somalia Capital - December 26th, 2005: "Warlords and civilians installed a council Sunday [12/25/05] to govern Somalia's capital. The action further fragments the nation but could bring the city under the control of a single group after 14 years of anarchy. [....] Somalia has been without a central government since 1991, when warlords ousted a dictatorship. They then turned on each other, carving the nation into a patchwork of fiefdoms." [Based on: A.P. article (Council is installed to lead Somali capital), p. A8, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

2005 - Trivia / Worst U.S. Cities for Respiratory Infections - December 26th, 2005: "St. Louis has made it on another list it would rather be off. Sperling's BestPlaces ranks St. Louis No. 12 on the list of worst cities for respiratory infections. [....] The list ranks the 50 worst cities. Leading the list are Greenville, S.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and birmingham, Ala. See the whole list at www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/respiratory.aspx." [Based on: News Services article (We're on the 'bad' list for respiratory ailments), p. H2, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

2005 - Summoned Newspaper Editors / President George W. Bush - December 26th, 2005: "President George W. Bush has been summoning newspaper editors to the White House lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories that he considers damaging to national security. The efforts have failed. But the rare White House sessions - with the executive editors of The Washington Post and The New York Times - suggest how seriously the president takes recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terrorism tactics. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Bush met with editors in effort to suppress sensitive stories), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/26/05]

2005 - Insurgent Attacks / Iraq - December 27th, 2005: "Violence increased across Iraq Monday [12/26/05] after a lull following this month's elections. At least two dozen people - including a U.S. soldier - were killed in shootings and bombings that mostly targeted the Shiite-dominated security services. Officials blamed insurgent efforts to deepen the political turmoil surrounding the contested vote. [....]" [Based on: A.P.]

2005 - Federal Spending / U.S.A. - December 27th, 2005: "Three growing entitlement programs consumed nearly half of all federal spending last year - and budget analysts expect them to make up an even bigger share in the future. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for more than $1 trillion in the budget year that ended Sept. 30, 2004, says the Consolidated Federal Funds Report. The document is being released today [12/27/05] by the Census Bureau. Overall federal spending was $2.2 trillion, an increase of 5 percent from 2003. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/27/05]

2005 - Heavy Snow / Northern Maine - December 27th, 2005: "A storm that began on Christmas Day piled up more than 3 feet of heavy, wet snow on parts of extreme northern Maine before winding down Tuesday [12/27/05]. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, 12/28/05]

2005 - Entering Solar Wind Stream / Planet Earth - December 27th, 2005: "Almost a day earlier than expected, Earth is entering a high-speed solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the sun. Northern sky watchers should be alert for auroras." [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [12/27/05]

*Trivia: "For the second day in a row, a high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and sparking mild geomagnetic storms. Northern sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. [....]" [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/] - [12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / Iraq - December 28th, 2005: "Kurd militia controls some Iraqi army units / Leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate and say they'll fight for independence." [Based on: Title and subtitle for Knight Ridder Newspapers article, p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

2005 - Snowstorm / Europe - December 28th, 2005: "A storm that dumped heavy snow from the Czech Republic to Italy created headaches for commuters Wednesday [12/28/05], causing dozens of auto accidents in Austria and stranding hundreds of motorists overnight in northern France. [....] Only about half as much snow fell on the Vienna region, but it was enough to knock out power to hundreds of homes and create treacherous road conditions blamed for dozens of crashes. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Waste Dumps Trivia / U.S.A. - December 28th, 2005: "[....] Across the United States, dumps have been converted into airstrips for radio-controlled airplanes, shooting ranges, snow skiing hills and soccer fields. [....] Because they contain tons of rotting trash - America generates more than 230 million tons of municipal solid waste a year - there are limits to how a landfill can be reused, experts say. [....] There are 23 active municipal solid waste landfills in Missouri and two more that accept demolition debris. There are fewer than 60 landfills in Illinois, state officials say. Nationwide, there are about 2,000 landfills, said Bruce Parker, president of the National Solid Wastes Management Association. In Missouri, today's landfills are required to be closed properly once they stop accepting trash, and their operators must provide detailed plans for post-closure maintenance for a minimum of 30 years. They are capped with special plastic liners and then clay. Vegetation is planted to prevent soil erosion. 'Bottom line is in post-closure maintenance you are really obligated to maintain the landfill so it doesn't become an environmental risk,' Bell [Jim Bell, chief of engineering for the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources] said. Among other things, landfill operators must continue to monitor the methane gas and groundwater for the liquid byproduct called leachate. [....] 'It is a health hazard, absolutely,' she [president of the American Bottom Conservancy, Kathy Andria] said. 'There are a lot of studies that show people who live around landfills have higher degrees of cancer and a lot of other illnesses. It is from what comes out in the air.' " [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Transforming dumps into destinations), p. A1&A4, 12/28/05]

2005 - Plea Deal? / Richard Causey - December 28th, 2005: "Ex-Enron accounting chief Causey reportedly in plea deal." [Based on: A.P. article title, p. B1, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

*Trivia: "Former top Enron Corp. accountant Richard Causey pleaded guilty to securities fraud Wednesday [12/28/05] and agreed to help pursue convictions against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Ex-Enron accountant cuts deal, admits guilt), p. B1, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / CIA Abduction Cases - December 28th, 2005: "The CIA's independent watchdog is investigating fewer than 10 cases in which terrorism suspects may have been mistakenly swept away to foreign countries by the agency, an official says. That figure is lower than published reports but still enough to raise concern among some. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (CIA abduction cases under inquiry are few in number, officials say), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

2005 - Wildfires / Oklahoma & Texas - December 28th, 2005: "By the time the smoke cleared Wednesday [12/28/05], more than 100 homes across wildfire-stricken Texas and Oklahoma lay in ruins and at least five people were dead, including two elderly women trapped in their homes by the flames. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / "Signals Intelligence" / U.S.A. - December 28th, 2005: "[....] The Justice Department argues that spying on everseas e-mail and phone calls is 'signals intelligence,' and that signals intelligence is a fundamental incident of war. Thus, the lawyers say, the wiretap program was authorized by Congress, and presidential power is at its 'maximum' - not its nadir. But critics argue that it's hard to believe the broad, general Sept. 11 resolution was intended to amend a specific, detailed wiretap law without even mentioning it. [....]" [Based on: Newsday article (Legal debate muddies wiretap law), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

2005 - "Weapons Fire" / Israel & Lebanon - December 28th, 2005: "Israeli warplanes struck a Palestinian militant training base inside Lebanon early today [12/28/05]. The raid was in response to rocket fire from inside Lebanon on Kiryat Shemona, a town in northern Israel. Israel said the base belonged to a small group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Israel strikes Palestinian militants' training base in Lebanon), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

2005 - Ukrainian & Bulgarian Soldiers Leave Iraq - December 28th, 2005: "The last Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers left Iraq, and Poland plans cuts in its deployment next year [2006], the countries said Tuesday [12/27/05]. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (U.S. allies are pulling some soldiers from Iraq), p. A6, S.L.P.D., 12/28/05]

2005 - New Use / Femara - December 29th, 2005: "[....] The federal Food and Drug Administration approved on Wednesday [12/28/05] a new use for Femara, a medication already licensed for treating advanced cancer. Now, Femara can be given as initial therapy to women past menopause who have early breast cancer, the agency said. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (FDA approves drug for early breast cancer), p. A1, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / Energy Futures Rise - December 29th, 2005: "Energy futures rose sharply on Wednesday [12./28/05] after Iran's oil minister said OPEC should consider cutting production next month. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Bloody Shootout / Iraqi Prison - December 29th, 2005: "A bloody melee erupted Wednesday morning [12/28/05] at an Iraqi-run prison after an inmate grabbed an officer's gun and began shooting, leaving left [< typo?] as many as 10 people dead and a dozen wounded, Iraqi authorities said. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Bloody shootout erupts at prison run by Iraqis), p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Guilty Plea / Marc Weisberg - December 29th, 2005: "Former Quest Communications executive Marc Weisberg pleaded guilty Wednesday [12/28/05] to wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors trying to convict other company officials - including former Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio - of wrongdoing. [....]" [Based on: Business Page article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Death Threat / U.N. Investigator - December 29th, 2005: "A pro-Syrian group that claimed it killed a Lebanese editor has threatened to kill the next head of the U.N. commission investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The threat was reported Wednesday [12/28/05] by the editor's newspaper, An-Nahar. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / Coronal Mass Ejection - December 29th, 2005: "A coronal mass ejection (CME) billowed away from the sun yesterday [12/29/05]: movie [see link]. The source of the blast is uncertain; it could be an active sunspot just over the sun's southeastern limb. If so, solar rotation will turn the 'spot toward Earth in the days ahead. Stay tuned." [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [12/30/05] 

*Trivia: "An active sunspot might soon appear on the sun's southeastern limb. How do we know? In recent days, SOHO coronagraphs have observed at least three CMEs hurled over the limb by unseen explosions: movie [see link]. The blast site will be revealed when the sun's rotation turns it to face Earth. Stay tuned." [Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [12/31/05] 

2005 - Detention Status / Jose Padilla - December 29th, 2005: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday [12/28/05] to allow the immediate transfer of Jose Padilla from a military brig to civilian custody to stand trial on terrorism charges, despite an appellate court ruling last week that blocked the move. [....] The Justice Department's application to the Supreme Court came a day after lawyers for Padilla, in a filing of their own before the high court, argued that Bush had overstepped his authority in jailing their client as an enemy combatant without charges. In their filing, his lawyers also cited Bush's authorization of eavesdropping by the National Security Agency without warrants as another sign of an 'unchecked executive branch,' raising constitutional questions that they said the Supreme Court needed to resolve. Padilla's lawyers argued that the Supreme Court should address the grave issues raised in the case to 'ensure the checks and balances that the Framers erected to preserve America as a land of liberty under the rule of law.' The Bush administration, in declaring Padilla an enemy combatant and jailing him in a military brig without access to a lawyer, initially accused him of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radiological 'dirty bomb' on American streets." [Based on: New York Times article (Justice Dept. asks court to allow civilian custody of terrorism suspect), p. A2, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / Uranium Enrichment, Iran - December 29th, 2005: "In a conciliatory move, Iran says it is studying a Russian proposal that the two nations enrich uranium in Russian territory. Even so, Iran insisted Wednesday [12/28/05] on its right to carry out enrichment at home. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A12, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

*Trivia: "[....] Iran said it was considering the European-and U.S.-backed proposal, a relatively conciliatory stance after weeks of outright rejection of moving enrichment abroad. Under the proposal, Iran would generate fuel for its reactors in Russia." [Based on: News Services article (Nation seeks clarification of nuclear proposal), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05]

2005 - Banned Cookies? / NSA Web Site - December 29th, 2005: "The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them. These files, known as 'cookies,' disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday [12/28/05] they had made a mistake. Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, said that 'it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy.' NSA spokesman Don Weber said, 'After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies.' " [Based on: News Services article (NASA [< typo?] Web site gets rid of its 'cookies'), p. A4, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - 2nd Pay Cut / Delta Airlines Pilots - December 29th, 2005: "Pilots at Delta Air Lines Inc. approved a 14 percent pay cut Wednesday [12/28/05] in a deal their union worked out with management to help the bankrupt carrier cope with an expected cash crunch. About 58 percent of the members who voted approved the deal, the second double-digit pay cut the airline pilots have accepted in 13 months. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Trivia / Militants in Palestinian Cabinet? - December 29th, 2005: "The United States and three international supporters of the Middle East peace process said Wednesday [12/28/05] that the next Palestinian Authority Cabinet should exclude members of Hamas or other militant groups committed to violence. Hamas was not mentioned in the statement by the four parties, known as the Quartet. But the statement said a future Palestinian Cabinet 'should include no member who has not committed to the principles of Israel's right to exist in peace and security and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism.' The four parties are the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. The Quartet helped to draft a Middle East peace plan known as the road map. [....] Israel wants to keep Hamas out of the election process, because Hamas has carried out suicide bombings. Israel has warned that it will refuse to negotiate with any Palestinian Authority government that includes Hamas. [....] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government had warned that it will bar Palestinians from voting in east Jerusalem because Hamas is participating there. But on Monday [12/28/05], Israeli officials said they might drop their objections to Palestinians voting there. The Quartet statement noted the continued importance of security needed to conduct free and fair elections." [Based on: A.P. article, p. A6, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - German Family Kidnapped / Yemen - December 29th, 2005: "Armed men kidnapped a former German diplomat and his family touring the mountains of eastern Yemen on Wednesday [12/28/05] and pressed the Yemeni government for the release of jailed members of their tribe, officials in both nations said. [....]" [Based on: News Services article, p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - "Isn't Due Anything?" / Richard Scrushy - December 29th, 2005: "HealthSouth Corp. accused ousted chief executive Richard Scrushy of trying to 'pillage' the company of more than $100 million in court papers filed Wednesday [12/28/05], and said he isn't due anything for being fired. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. B2, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Can we please have more light in 2006? - December 29th, 2005: "This year, we have been surrounded by darkness, and no matter where we turned, it was hard to find the truth. It always may be the case, but this year, we really felt it. [....] We live in a time when facts may not be accepted as factual, when law may not be accepted as legal. It is frightening to raise children at a time when truth is relative, and evil is not something to be fought, but to be understood. We are victims of the desire to make right and wrong a matter of perspective. And so, a prayer for the new year: Father, the book that reveals You declares 'God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.' What we humbly ask for the new year is that there will be less darkness and more light; that we will know the truth, and that the truth shall set us free. Amen." [Based on: Other Views page article (Can we please have more light in 2006?) by Amy White, p. C11, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05] - [In order to save space, article paragraph indents were not transcribed - E.M.]

2005 - Trivia / Stock Market Investors, Saudi Arabia - December 29th, 2005: "[....] Five Years ago, about 50,000 Saudis had dealings with the stock market. Today, more than 2 million are active investors in a nation of 26 million. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (More than 2 million are active investors in a nation of 26 million.), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/29/05]

2005 - Elections Review? / Iraq - December 30th, 2005: "An international team agreed Thursday [12/29/05] to review Iraq's parliamentary elections. The decision was praised by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups, who have staged protests around Iraq complaining of widespread fraud and intimidation. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article, p. A13, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05]

2005 - Really Nuke Free - December 30th, 2005:

   The dream of freeing the Middle East, in its entirety, of all weapons of mass destruction should not lose its holistic character. Attempts or proposals forwarded by Western and regional powers - or regional parties on behalf of international players - to divide the issue up into separate parts are certain to harm the collective interest of the region in attaining comprehensive security and stability.
   During the pat few years, Israel has insisted that its nuclear capacity - which remains subject to a policy of ambiguity, even before the world's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency - should only be dealt with in the context of a comprehensive settlement concerning its disputed occupation of Arab territories. Unfortunately, this disingenuous call has received significant international support, especially that Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which all other Middle Eastern states - Iran included - are party.
   Moreover, this stipulation was received with little Arab opposition - with the exception of Arab states bordering Israel. Further dividing the collective security issue, Arab countries in North Africa and the Gulf have pursued separate security arrangements, with some involving heavy U.S. participation in the Gulf.
   Thus, it was disturbing to hear official statements coming out of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit this week putting clear emphasis on the issue of Iran's nuclear energy aspirations and a less than plain emphasis on Israeli nuclear weapons....
    The language ultimately adopted in the final communique of the GCC summit on the need to free the entire Middle east is the right line to pursue but must be pursued comprehensively....

[Based on: Other Views page article (Really Nuke Free) by Al-Ahram, Cairo, p. C13, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05]

2005 - Spyware Suit / Sony BMG - December 30th, 2005: "The proposed settlement of lawsuits against Sony BMG Music Entertainment would let consumers receive free music downloads to compensate them for  Sony including flawed software on millions of CDs, lawyers said Thursday [12/29/05]. [....] According to the court papers, the software program made the user's computer more susceptible to unwanted intrusions from third parties and effectively disabled any firewall and anti-spyware protection programs previously installed on a computer." [Based on: A.P. article by Larry Neumeister (Sony BMG strikes deal to settle spyware suit), p. B3, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05]

2005 - Suicide Bomber / West Bank - December 30th, 2005: "A Palestinian suicide bomber reportedly intent on attacking a crowded Hanukkah gathering detonated a load of explosives when Israeli troops stopped him at a West Bank checkpoint Thursday [12/29/05]. An army lieutenant and two Palestinians were killed along with the bomber. [....] The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was responsible for the bombing, according to Arabic-language media reports and an official of the group in the Gaza Strip. But West Bank leaders of Islamic Jihad were uncharacteristically silent on the attack. [....]" [Based on: Los Angeles Times article (Palestinian suicide bomber kills 3 at checkpoint), p. A14, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05]

2005 - Anti-Ballistic-Missle Laser / U.S.A. - December 30th, 2005: "The prospect of shooting down enemy ballistic missles has tantalized the Pentagon for decades. But developing missle defense weapons is costly - about $100 billion has been spent on them since 1985 - and littered with failures. Earlier this month, a program run by Boeing Co.'s defense business provided a shot in the arm to the Pentagon's quest to build a layered, national missle defense shield. Boeing said it test-fired a laser with enough power and duration to rupture the fuel tank of a ballistic missle. The test took place in a California laboratory and cleared the way for Boeing to load the laser into the belly of a heavily modified 747 freighter jet. The company said it is now three years away from a shootdown demonstration. In 2008, it hopes the speed-of-light weapon will be fired in-flight from the nose turret of a 747 at a missle several hundred miles away. [....] After President George W. Bush took office, spending on missle defense more  than doubled, topping more than $9 billion each in fiscal 2004 and 2005. Bush requested $8.7 billion for missle defense in his fiscal 2006 budget. [....] Fired from a Boeing 747 loitering in the sky at 40,000 feet, Northrop Grumman's chemical oxygen iodine laser would travel up to several hundred miles and bore a hole into a missle's fuel tank. That would disrupt the flight and ultimately bring the missle down to ground before it reached U.S. shores. In a five-second burst, the laser produces enough energy to power a typical household for more than an hour, the Missle Defense Agency says. [....] Hyslop [Boeing's airborne laser program manager, Greg Hyslop] said preserving the airborne laser program is vital to developing future directed-energy weapons. 'The real power of having a speed-of-light weapon is that you can't see it and you can't hear it - and it's there at the speed of light,' Hyslop said. 'If the airborne laser is successful, it will open up a lot of other missions for directed energy that we probably have just started to scratch the surface. This really is the next major leap in warfare.' " [Based on: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article (Boeing test-fires anti-ballistic-missle laser) by Tim McLaughlin, p. B1, S.L.P.D., 12/30/05] - [In order to save space, this article's paragraph indents were not transcribed - E.M.]

2005 - Moderate Earthquake / South of Panama - December 30th, 2005: "A moderate earthquake occurred at 18:26:43 (UTC) on Friday, December 30, 2005. The magnitude 5.7 event has been located SOUTH OF PANAMA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)"

[Based on: preliminary earthquake report @: http://earthquakes.usgs.gov/recenteqsww/Quakes/ushgat.htm]

2005 - New Travel Rules / U.S.A. - December 31st, 2005: "Americans traveling to Canada and Mexico would need passports to come home to the United States under guidelines proposed Tuesday [04/05/05] in the latest effort to deter terrorists from entering the country. The new rules, which would be phased in by 2008, apply to Americans traveling from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama. They also apply to citizens from those countries who want to enter the United States - prompting Canadian officials to announce that they might reciprocate. [....] The new requirements would take effect on Dec. 31, 2007, for travelers entering the United States from Mexico and Canada by land, and on Dec. 31, 2006, by air or sea. The deadline is a year earlier - Dec. 31, 2005 - for travel from Bermuda, the Caribbean and Panama. [....]" [Based on: A.P., 04/06/05]

2005 - Celebration / New Year's Eve - December 31st, 2005: "New Year's Eve celebrations observed around the world." [E.M.]

2005 - Trivia / U.S. Prison Population - December 31st, 2005: "About 7 million adults - acounting for 3 percent of the U.S. population - were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, the Justice Department said Thursday [11/30/06]. [NP] Of that total, 2.2 million individuals were in federal and state prisons or local jails, 4.1 million were on probation and more than 784,000 were on parole. [....] The total number of inmates in federal and state prisons rose 35 percent between 1995 and 2005, but their racial composition was little changed. In 2005, blacks made up 40 percent of all inmates, whites 35 percent and Hispanics 20 percent." [Based on: News Services article (U.S. counts 2.2 million imprisoned at end of '05), p. A11, S.L.P.D., 12/01/06]

2005 - Pay Cut / CEO, Tyson Foods Inc. - December 31st, 2005: "Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat processor, said it cut Chairman and Chief Executive John Tyson's pay by 44 percent this year as profit fell. John Tyson received $5.536 million in salary, bonus and other compensation, Tyson Foods, of Springdale, Ark., said Friday [12/30/05] in a proxy filing with the government." [Based on: Article (Tyson cuts CEO's pay), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Restated Income / Dana Corp. - December 31st, 2005: "Dana Corp., the biggest maker of axles for light trucks, reduced its net income by $44 million in restatements of financial results for the last five-and-a-half years, eliminating almost a fifth of the profit it had reported. The revisions reduce net income from the start of 2000 through the first half of this year by 19 percent to $183 million, the company, based in Toledo, Ohio, said Friday [12/30/05]." [Based on: Article (Dana restates income), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Trivia / Coronal Mass Ejections - "An active sunspot might soon appear on the sun's southeastern limb. How do we know? In recent days, SOHO coronagraphs have observed at least three CMEs hurled over the limb by unseen explosions: movie [see link]. The blast site will be revealed when the sun's rotation turns it to face Earth. Stay tuned."

[Based on: http://spaceweather.com/index.cgi] - [12/31/05] 

2005 - Dismal Year? / U.S. Automakers - December 31st, 2005: "A lackluster December was expected to cap a dismal year for U.S. automakers, which saw Asian rivals eat away market share throughout 2005. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Carmakers are expected to cap off dismal year), p. A33, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Upside-Down Bond Yields / U.S.A. - December 31st, 2005: "The bond market turned upside down this week in a move that may end up costing many people more to buy a home. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Upside-down bond yields could hurt home buyers), p. A33, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Iraqi Oil Minister / Ahmed Chalabi - December 31st, 2005: "As a fuel shortage worsened in Iraq, the government replaced its oil minister with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, once a favorite of the United States. [....] Previous oil minister Ibrahim Bahr Uloom was put on a mandatory monthlong leave. He had previously threatened to resign over the government's recent decision to increase gas prices sharply. That decision has outraged motorists and sparked attacks on gas stations and fuel convoys. [....] Chalabi's government portfolio already includes direction of the country's electrical commission and of security for oil refineries and pipelines. He had briefly led the oil ministry earlier this year while the current government was being assembled. [....]" [Based on: Washington Post article (Discredited WMD source now runs Iraqi oil), p. A27, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Reported Loss / Delta Air Lines Inc. - December 31st, 2005: "Bankrupt Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, said it lost $182 million in November, pushing its red ink to roughly $12 billion since January 2001." [Based on: Article (Delta reports loss of $182 million), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Up 40 Percent? / Oil Futures, U.S.A. - December 31st, 2005: "Oil futures settled above $61 a barrel Friday [12/30/05] and finished 40 percent higher than they started in 2005, capping a tough year for consumers but a great one for the petroleum industry as prices soared amid strong demand and tight supplies. For similar reasons, there was an even sharper advance in 2005 in the price of natural gas, which surged more than 80 percent, making it extra expensive to produce electricity, manufacturing goods and heat homes. [....]" [Based on: A.P. article (Oil ends 2005 up 40 percent, but experts think price will go down in 2006), p. A33, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Tropical Storm Zeta / Atlantic Ocean - December 31st, 2005: "Tropical storm Zeta moved across the Atlantic on Saturday [12/31/05], a day after it tied a record for the latest developing named storm in an already infamous hurricane season. [....]" [Based on: News Services, 01/01/06]

2005 - President-Elect Evo Morales / Bolivia - December 31st, 2005: "Bolivia's socialist president-elect got a greeting reserved for heads of state when he arrived in communist Cuba on Friday [12/30/05]: a red carpet, a military band and a smiling Fidel Castro. Stepping off the Cuban plane sent to pick him up in Bolivia, Evo Morales said his trip to the Caribbean island was 'a gesture of friendship to the Cuban people.' [....] Morales, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 22, won the presidency with nearly 54 percent of the vote." [Based on: News Services article, 12/31/05]

2005 - Quotas Rejected / Steel Pipe from China - December 31st, 2005: "President George W. Bush rejected a request by U.S. manufacturers and workers to impose quotas on $154 million of steel pipe from China, saying new limits on imports would harm the economy by raising prices for consumers. [....] Since 2002 Bush has turned down three other so-called 'section 421' petitions to curb imports from China. Two additional petitions were voted down by the International Trade Commission before they reached his desk." [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Bush rejects request for steel pipe limits), p. A32, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Markets Close Year on Sour Note / U.S.A. - December 31st, 2005: "Stocks fell on the final trading day of the year Friday [12/30/05], erasing the Dow Jones industrial average's 2005 advance, as speculation increased that profit and economic growth will slow next year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index trimmed its advance for the year, notching its worst performance since the end of the bear market in 2002. Energy-related companies, including Halliburton Co., had the only gain among 10 groups in the S&P 500 as oil prices surpassed $61 a barrel. For the year, the Dow, down 0.6 percent in 2005, had its worst annual performance since 2002 and the smallest change since 1926. The S&P 500, up as much as 5 percent this year at its high reached Dec. 14, gained 3 percent, a third of its 2004 gain. In 2003, a 26 percent rally snapped a three-year decline. The Nasdaq composite index, created in 1971, recorded its smallest-ever annual move, with a 1.4 percent increase. [....]" [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Markets close out the year on a sour note), p. A34, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

*Trivia: "Stocks continued their New Year's rally Wednesday [01/04/06], led by Google Inc. as the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at its highest since June 2001. [....]" [Based on: Bloomberg News article (Stocks continue rally; S&P hits 4 1/2-year high), p. D4, S.L.P.D., 01/05/06]

2005 - Major Flaw? / Windows Operating System - December 31st, 2005: "Engineers at Microsoft Corp. are trying to find a major flaw in Windows operating systems that threatens users who simply visit certain Web sites. [....] All one has to do is visit a Web site or read an e-mail designed to capatalize on the flaw and attackers can insert viruses, worms or spyware that could search for a computer user's personal information or damage the system. The flaw relates to a problem with the way Windows displays image files. The flaw appears in all versions of Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows NT, Microsoft said Thursday [12/29/05] in a statement. [....] About 90 percent of all personal computers use Windows. [....]" [Based on: S.L.P.D. article (Microsoft scrambles to find major Windows flaw), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Expanded Health Insurance Plan? / Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - December 31st, 2005: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to offer members expanded health-insurance plans through its Sam's Club stores starting next month as it prepares to raise the warehouse club's membership fees. Sam's Club and competitor BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. are raising membership fees by $5 in January." [Based on: Article (Wal-Mart will offer health plan at Sam's), p. A30, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Justice Department Probe / Spy Program Leak, U.S.A. - December 31st, 2005: "The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into recent disclosures about a domestic eavesdropping program, officials said Friday [12/30/05]. Justice Department prosecutors will focus on whether classified information was unlawfully leaked to The New York Times. [....] The Justice Department's decision to disclose the opening of a criminal investigation is rare, particularly given the highly classified nature of the inquiry. [....] The case is the latest in a series of clashes between the press and the administration. Bush's administration has aggressively enforced restrictions on classified information and has frequently complained about press disclosures related to terrorism or the war in Iraq. [....] The American Civil Liberties Union has argued that a special prosecutor should be appointed to determine if Bush violated federal wiretapping laws. The group called the leak probe an unwarranted attack on whistleblowers." [Based on: Washington Post article (Justice Dept. will probe spy program leak), p. A23, S.L.P.D., 12/31/05]

2005 - Hottest Year on Record? / Northern Hemisphere - "[....] According to calculations by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office, 2005 was the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere. At roughly 1.3 degrees above the historical average, 2005 was either the hottest or second hottest year in mankind's history, according to the research. [....]" [Based on: Other Views page article, p. D11, S.L.P.D., 02/23/06]

2005 - Flood Trivia / 2005 - "Number of notable floods this year: at least 18. Number of recorded flood deaths: at least 1,803+." [E.M.]

2005 - Volcano Trivia / 2005 - "Number of volcanic eruptions [and, or] notable volcanic events this year: at least 24." [E.M.]

2005 - Avalanch Trivia / 2005 - "Number of notable avalanches, landslides and/or mudslides events this year: at least 4. Number of recorded deaths: at least 935." [E.M.]

2005 - "Hurricane" Trivia / 2005 - "Number of notable storms this year include: at least 27 Tropical Storms, 15 Hurricanes, 9 Cyclones, & 20 Typhoons. Number of reported deaths: at least 473 [deaths due to flooding are generally recorded under Flood Trivia]." [E.M.]

[Storms link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/Archive/natural_hazards_archive.php3]

2005 - Earthquake Trivia / 2005 - "Number of notable earthquakes [generally, 6.0 or above] in the year 2005: at least 110. Number of recorded deaths from earthquakes in 2005: at least 87,640."

[Links: http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eq_depot/2005/2005_deaths.html]

2005 - "Natural Disaster" Deaths / 2005 - "Estimated number of people who died from natural disasters in 2005: at least 90,851." [E.M.]

Calendar Months

The Future

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