The Week That Was

March 14, 2004

The World

Less than a year after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, members of the Iraqi Governing Council, with American and British officials looking on, signed an interim constitution designed to pave the way to democratic self-rule.

British police freed all five Britons flown home from the jail at the American base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, raising questions about why they were held for two years.

Gunmen dressed as police killed two American civilians and their Iraqi translator - all employees of the U.S.-led coalition - at a makeshift checkpoint south of Baghdad.

Israeli troops carried out their deadliest raid in Gaza in 17 months, killing 14 Palestinians and wounding 81.

Mohammed Abul Abbas, the Palestinian who planned the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro passenger ship in which a wheelchair-bound American tourist was killed and thrown overboard, died in U.S. custody in Baghdad, where he was captured by U.S. forces in April.

Iranian ministers said the country's defense industries had built low-level nuclear centrifuges. It also said Tehran would resume uranium enrichment once problems with the International Atomic Energy Agency were resolved, and asserted this was for civilian purposes.

In a tumultuous session, South Korea's Parliament voted to impeach embattled President Roh Moo-hyun after he was found to have violated election laws with comments aimed at influencing parliamentary polls.

Zimbabwean authorities said they had seized a U.S.-registered cargo plane they said was carrying military equipment and 64 suspected mercenaries who were allegedly on their way to Equitorial Guinea to stage a coup.

Boniface Alexandre was installed as interim president of Haiti as crowds in Port-au-Prince marched in support of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, chanting "Aristide or death!"

Ricardo Palmera, the most senior Colombian rebel ever captured, pleaded guilty to a charge of rebellion but said he was innocent of murder and kidnapping as his trial began. Palmera, known as Simon Trinidad, was a commander in the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Greeks dumped the Socialist Party that has ruled them for most of the past quarter-century, voting to bring in a conservative government just five months before the nation holds the Summer Olympics.

The Nation

The Hubble Space Telescope has gathered enough feeble light from the fringes of the cosmos to create a portrait of the universe as it existed less than 800 million years after the big bang. Under congressional pressure, NASA agreed to re-examine plans to cancel a space shuttle mission needed to keep Hubble operating.

As Sen. John Kerry easily won primaries in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, the Bush campaign launched a series of negative TV ads against the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Four competing Internet powerhouses - Microsoft, America Online, Yahoo and EarthLink - joined forces to file six lawsuits targeting spammers who have swamped the nation's personal computers with billions of cheesy come-ons for Viagra, cut-rate mortgages and porn.

Plague researcher Thomas C. Butler, 62, of the University of Texas, was sentenced to two years in prison for conviction on theft, embezzlement and fraud linked to consulting contracts. Butler had been acquitted of original charges of lying to the FBI about missing germ vials that triggered a bioterror scare last year.

The United States' trade deficit reached a monthly record of $43.1 billion in January, the Commerce Department reported.

Leonard Gregg, a 31-year-old former Arizona firefighter who told authorities that in 2002 he set what turned out to be the largest wildfire in the state's history to create work for himself, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $27 million.

The body of Spalding Gray, who laid bare his life in a series of acclaimed monologues such as "Swimming to Cambodia," was found two months after he walked out of his Manhattan apartment and disappeared. He was 62. It is believed he jumped off the Staten Island Ferry.

Susan Lindauer, 40, of Takoma Park, who has had a peripatetic career as a press aide, free-lance writer and political activist, was charged with spying for Iraq.

California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the court addresses the issue.

The House voted to raise the fine for broadcast indecency to $500,000. The current maximum is $27,500.

The Region

Baltimore leaders rejected a state plan to rescue the city's nearly insolvent schools, offering instead a $42 million city loan intended to eliminate the need for strings-attached state help.

Three women and two girls were arrested on charges of beating into unconsciousness a 12-year-old girl in an incident that started over a kiss at a birthday party in West Baltimore.

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