The Week That Was

February 22, 2004

The World

India and Pakistan agreed on a "road map for peace," setting a six-month schedule for discussions on a range of issues, including their long-standing dispute over Kashmir.

Runaway train cars carrying fuel, fertilizer and industrial chemicals derailed and exploded in northeastern Iran, killing more than 300 people, injuring hundreds and devastating five villages.

Two trucks packed with explosives blew up outside a Polish-run base south of Baghdad, Iraq, after coalition forces opened fire on the suicide bombers racing toward them. Eight Iraqi civilians were killed and at least 65 people were wounded, many of them coalition soldiers.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in Baghdad and Baquba.

Yvon Neptune, Haiti's prime minister, pleaded for international help to end the violent uprising in his country, but officials in Washington and Paris and at the United Nations offered limited assistance, saying Haitians themselves must decide whether the government stays in power. The U.S. government urged Americans to leave the country.

Jose Lopez Portillo, who as president of Mexico from 1976 to 1982 brought his nation to the brink of economic collapse, died at age 83.

The Nation

Richard G. Convertino, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, who won the first - and so far only - jury-trial conviction in the war on terror, sued the Justice Department, contending that he was not given adequate support, and that senior government officials seemed more interested in publicity than in seeing justice served.

A jury in Phoenix convicted Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of leaving the scene of an accident after he killed a jaywalker in June. O'Brien, 68, could receive up to three years and nine months in prison.

A federal jury in Alabama ordered Tyson Fresh Meats to pay a group of ranchers $1.28 billion after finding the nation's largest meat packer used illegal cattle contracts to artificially lower the amount it paid the ranchers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of about five dozen scientists including 20 Nobel Prize winners, issued a document accusing the Bush administration of deliberately and systematically distorting the facts for the sake of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry.

The number of major U.S. traffic "choke points" - places where highways can't handle all the cars - rose 40 percent over five years, according to a study by the American Highway Users Alliance.

Tapping the powerful Hubble Space Telescope and a rare quirk of cosmic physics, astronomers said they had discovered the most distant galaxy in the universe, a faint smear of light that flared 750 million years after the big bang.

The Supreme Court agreed to take the case of Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gang member accused of plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the United States, deciding whether the Bush administration can hold U.S. citizens indefinitely and without access to lawyers or courts when they are suspected of being "enemy combatants."

Former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling pleaded not guilty to 35 counts of fraud, insider trading and conspiracy.

University of Colorado football coach Gary Barnett was suspended when he responded to allegations by place kicker Katie Hnida that she was raped while on the Colorado team by denouncing her kicking abilities, saying she was "not only a girl, she was terrible." Authorities are investigating several allegations of rape against Colorado football players.

The Region

Representatives from more than 15 media outlets showed up at City Hall in Frederick to get a look at more than 8,500 pages of documents, a pornographic compact disc and three VHS tapes that make up the "black book" gathered in an investigation of a prostitution ring.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. agreed to help the Baltimore school system with a $42 million loan after the city Board of Estimates and the Abell Foundation each approved $8 million loans to the cash-strapped system.

Jovan House, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder in the retaliatory killing of city police Detective Thomas G. Newman, clearing the way for prosecutors to argue for the death penalty.

Dontee Stokes, acquitted in 2002 of shooting a priest he said had molested him, was given another reprieve: The Court of Appeals threw out a handgun charge for which he was convicted in the wounding of the clergyman.

Richard A. Schmidt, a former Baltimore resident arrested in Cambodia, will face charges under a Homeland Security act that allows U.S. agents to pursue "sex tourists" overseas.

Howard County school Superintendent John R. O'Rourke, who had vowed to stay in that job until June 30 though the school board announced last month that his contract would not be renewed, agreed to leave at the end of this month with a $100,000 buyout. Retired administrator Sidney L. Cousin was named interim superintendent.

The Maryland Court of Appeals threw out the death sentence for John A. Miller IV, who was convicted of raping and killing 17-year-old Liberty High honor student Shen D. Poehlman in 1998 after luring her to his house with an offer of a baby-sitting job.

Howard High graduate Albert Heppner, 29, was found dead in California, apparently commiting suicide three days after failing to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 50-kilometer race walk.

Quote

"The voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message. The message was this: Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear."

Sen. John Edwards,who finished a surprisingly close second to Sen. John Kerry in Wisconsin's presidential primary

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