The Week That Was

January 04, 2004

The World

A car bomb ripped through an elegant Baghdad restaurant crowded with diners at a New Year's Eve party. It killed at least five Iraqis and injured 35 other people, including at least two Americans and a Briton.

Moving to prevent terrorist hijackings, U.S. officials ordered foreign airlines to carry armed guards aboard some planes entering or flying over the United States and said they might be refused entry into U.S. airspace if they do not comply. Several international flights to the United States were canceled or intercepted during the holiday security alert.

The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip grew by 16 percent in the past three years, to 236,381, almost twice the number that existed when Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, according to Israeli government figures.

Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinian militants near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, and Israeli leaders signed orders to evacuate four settlement outposts in the West Bank.

An extreme nationalist party allied with war crimes suspect Slobodan Milosevic won Serbia's parliamentary elections but failed to get the majority needed to govern. Milosevic, the former Serbian president, and three other war crimes suspects were candidates, but no immediate decision was likely on whether they would get seats.

Oscar Berger, a pro-business former mayor, parlayed his urban popularity into an easy victory in a presidential runoff in Guatemala, four years after he left politics and swore he would never go back.

Pakistan's parliament passed a constitutional bill in the National Assembly giving vast powers to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, including authority to fire the elected government.

Russia's newly elected Parliament met and the coalition of parties supporting President Vladimir V. Putin established a two-thirds majority, enabling it to enact any changes it wants in the law and the constitution.

China launched its first high-altitude orbiting satellite as part of a joint program with the European Space Agency to study Earth's magnetic field.

The grand sheik of Al Azhar, the Muslim world's most prestigious center of Sunni Islamic learning, in Cairo, Egypt, said that although wearing the head scarf, or hijab, was a religious duty, governments of non-Muslim countries had the right to pass any laws they liked on dress codes. The sheik, Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, was speaking before meeting with officials from France, where the government is trying to ban Islamic head scarves and other religious symbols in state schools.

President Richard M. Nixon seriously considered a military takeover of several oil-producing states in the Middle East during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, newly released British documents show.

Great Britain is worth $8.8 trillion, the government's Office for National Statistics reported. That includes the value of all land, buildings and houses, vehicles, machinery, bridges, roads, shares and bank accounts.

The Nation

Almost 5,000 ships and less than a fourth of the nation's ports, ferry terminals and tank farms failed to meet the Dec. 31, 2003, deadline for submitting security plans showing how they will deal with terrorism threats.

The Defense Energy Support Center, which buys fuel for the military throughout the world, will take over oil imports into Iraq, weeks after Pentagon auditors said Halliburton - Vice President Dick Cheney's former company - might have overcharged taxpayers by $61 million in a contract to supply fuel.

The Justice Department named a special counsel to lead the investigation after Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the inquiry into who leaked the name of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame to a news columnist.

The Bush administration banned the herbal weight-loss supplement ephedra from the marketplace because of concerns about its effects on health.

The FBI warned police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular references could be used to assist terrorists with "target selection and pre-operational planning."

The Pentagon took a step closer to holding military trials for suspected terrorists held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appointing retired Army Gen. John D. Altenburg Jr. to oversee the tribunals and a four-member review panel to hear appeals of cases.

The Energy Department spent $330 million in taxpayer money to reimburse its private contractors for legal bills over a 5 1/2 -year span, including for lawsuits they lost and settlements of sexual-harassment and whistleblower allegations, congressional investigators reported.

The average pay for chief executive officers at 200 of the largest U.S. companies held steady last year at about $11.3 million, while fees paid to corporate directors jumped as much as 15 percent, according to an analysis by compensation consultant Pearl Meyer & Partners.

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