The Week That Was

January 18, 2004

The World

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, said that members of an interim assembly must be chosen through direct elections, putting at risk White House plans to transfer sovereignty by July 1.

A Palestinian woman blew herself up at the Israel-Gaza border, killing three Israeli soldiers and a private security guard and signaling a new tactic by Hamas militants, who had never before dispatched a female suicide bomber.

Israel is set to resume targeted killings of top Hamas militants, a senior official said, and leveled a blunt warning to Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the group's elderly spiritual leader, that he tops the list of those to be hunted.

Spirit, the U.S. Mars rover, made its first trip onto the surface of the planet, rolling 10 feet from its landing platform.

Harold Shipman, an English physician known as Dr. Death for killing 215 of his patients, committed suicide in his cell at a Yorkshire prison.

A court in Barcelona, Spain, sentenced a Muslim spiritual leader who published a book teaching Muslim men how to beat their wives to 15 months in prison for inciting violence against women.

Afghanistan's Supreme Court protested the lifting of a ban on female singers on state TV.

An American Airlines pilot, jailed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, after he protested the fingerprinting and photographing of incoming Americans by making what the police described as an obscene gesture, paid a fine of $12,750 and was released.

Molly Kelly, whose childhood trek across 1,000 miles of the Australian desert to return to her aboriginal mother inspired the 2002 movie Rabbit-Proof Fence, died at her home in western Australia. She was believed to be 87.

Iraqi women protested a plan by the U.S.-backed transition council to put family matters under Islamic law, wiping out legal protections women had under Saddam Hussein.

The Nation

President Bush proposed to develop a new spacecraft to carry Americans back to the moon by 2015, and to establish a long-term base there as an eventual springboard to Mars.

The Supreme Court gave police leeway to use random roadblocks when seeking information about recent crimes. The high court also refused to hear an appeal from civil liberties groups demanding information the government holds on terror suspects held since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FBI agents arrested 15 people in New Jersey and announced that they had broken an international Internet child pornography ring.

Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to serve in the Senate and the only woman running for the Democratic presidential nomination, abandoned her long-shot candidacy and endorsed Howard Dean.

Philadelphia officials have banned the sale of soft drinks throughout the public school system, a move that nutrition experts said would help prevent obesity.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to acquire Bank One Corp. for $58 billion in a stock deal that would realign the competitive landscape among the world's global banking giants.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal organization that protects the pensions of 44 million American workers, said its deficit reached a record $11.2 billion last year.

The Region

The majority Democratic Senate overrode three bills vetoed by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a move GOP lawmakers described as a "slap in the face" of the executive.

State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said that he is closing a six-month investigation of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's fund-raising practices, finding no violations of Maryland election laws. Federal authorities are continuing a separate inquiry.

The bitter cold that gripped the Northeast was blamed for at least four deaths, including a Baltimore woman who died from asphyxiation in her Fells Point home.

Baltimore school officials threatened to fire 1,200 more employees - primarily teachers - next month to deal with a worsening financial crisis if unions do not agree to either an eight-day furlough or a 6 percent to 7 percent pay cut through June 30.

The parents of Brianna Cohen, a 2-year-old girl who died from a medication error, filed a malpractice claim against Johns Hopkins Hospital and its Home Care Group, which improperly mixed an intravenous solution that apparently caused her heart to stop.

The Orioles agreed on a three-year, $22.5 million contract with free-agent starting pitcher Sidney Ponson.

The NCAA overwhelmingly approved an amendment that thwarted attempts to eliminate Johns Hopkins' ability to offer scholarships for Division I lacrosse and play the rest of its sports at the Division III level.

A 19-year-old man awaiting trial for first-degree murder in Baltimore was indicted on charges of conspiring to kill two eyewitnesses in his case - the 10-year-old daughter and 47-year-old wife of a man who was killed in Southwest Baltimore in August.

A 48-year-old Westminster man pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse and providing alcohol to minors after admitting that he had sex with a girl, 17, at his daughter's sleepover party - where he provided beer to members of Westminster High's girls basketball team.

Quote

"This is both a smack in the face and an invitation to the dance."

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, commenting on the majority Democratic Senate's override of three bill vetoed by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

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