The Week That Was

March 28, 2004

The World

The European Union fined Microsoft Corp. $613 million for abusively wielding its Windows software monopoly and ordered sanctions that go well beyond the U.S. antitrust settlement. Microsoft said it expected to ask a judge to suspend the order pending appeal.

The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli army's assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group.

Iraqi insurgents opened fire on a busload of police recruits south of Baghdad, killing nine.

Two U. S. soldiers were killed in an attack near Baghdad.

Antonio Saca, 39, a media baron favored by Washington, won the race for president of El Salvador over Schafik Handal, 73, a leader of the left.

India defeated Pakistan 3-2 in a five-game cricket match, the first between the two countries in four years.

Workers in Portsmouth, England, demolished a four decades-old shopping center that Prince Charles once described as a "mildewed lump of elephant droppings."

Six British cavers, including four members of the armed forces, were rescued from floodwaters in an underground cavern system in Mexico. Officials demanded to know if they were conducting training exercises there without permission.

The Israeli army said it killed two of three armed Palestinians who emerged from the ocean in wetsuits and attacked a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The third was wounded and fled. The militant group Hamas took responsibility.

A bomb was discovered on a rail line in northeastern France.

A 16-year-old Palestinian wearing a suicide bomb surrendered at an Israeli checkpoint. As soldiers stayed behind concrete barriers, a robotic vehicle carried scissors to the youth that he used to cut off the vest that held the explosives.

The Nation

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- with sales of almost $259 billion -- topped the Fortune 500 list for a third straight year.

Tens of thousands of immigrants denied a chance to apply for amnesty 17 years ago will be allowed to apply, the Homeland Security Department's Citizen and Immigration Services decided. The move would grant amnesty to immigrants who were eligible in 1982 but were wrongly denied the chance to apply.

A $300 million settlement of federal claims over PCB contamination in Anniston, Ala., will give plaintiffs an average of $7,725 each while paying their attorneys millions apiece -- including $29 million to the firm of California celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

More than 200 years after the Constitution stopped counting each black American as three-fifths of a person, the overall well-being of blacks is still about three-quarters that of whites, according to a survey compiled by Global Insight, a Pennsylvania research firm.

NASA's rover Opportunity found convincing evidence that the rocks near its landing site on Mars were laid down by salty water deep enough to swim in, scientists said.

The Senate approved legislation that makes it a separate crime to harm a fetus in any attack on a pregnant woman. Opponents denounced the measure as an erosion of abortion rights.

After criticism of her refusal to address the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks in open session, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice agreed to give more unsworn testimony in closed session. The panel heard extensive criticism of the Bush administration from former counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke during its two days of open hearings.

The House, on a 215-212 vote, passed a $2.4 trillion federal budget that follows the basic Bush administration proposal and comes with a $521 billion projected deficit. The Senate passed a similar measure. The bills now go to conference committee.

Gasoline reached a record high average price of $1.74 per gallon.

A report by the trustees of the Medicare system said the system is on track to run out of money in 2019, seven years earlier than previous predictions, because finances "have taken a major turn for the worse."

Bob Edwards was removed as host of NPR's Morning Edition, effective April 30.

The Region

George Paul Chambers, 46, a former Navy physicist standing trial for the second time on charges that he used the Internet to try to seduce a teen-age girl, was convicted after a federal jury in Baltimore rejected his claim that he was engaged in an online sexual fantasy.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens forced out county Fire Chief Roger C. Simonds after months of criticism of his management practices and his department's soaring overtime tab.

The Baltimore County school board banned smoking on school property around the clock -- not just during school hours.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was the host at a reception to honor the firefighters and Naval Reserve personnel who rescued victims from the capsized Inner Harbor water taxi this month. But Mayor Martin O'Malley did not attend, and neither did many city firefighters. Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. said: "Everyone's just not really in a celebratory mode yet."

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