The Week That Was

July 25, 2004

The World

Militants in Iraq took seven foreign truck drivers hostage and threatened to behead them unless their company ends its business in Iraq and their countries - India, Egypt and Kenya - pull their citizens out of the country.

Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, sanctioned the reopening of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's newspaper, which had been closed by American officials in March because they said it was inciting violence.

A tanker truck loaded with explosives blew up near a police station in Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring 60.

A U.S. Army report said that there have been 94 cases of abuse against prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq and blamed those on a small number of soldiers, saying there is no systematic problem.

Israel's construction of its West Bank barrier went ahead full force, hours after the United Nations General Assembly called for the structure to be torn down in compliance with a world court ruling.

French President Jacques Chirac stated that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would not be welcome in France until he explains comments he made that urged the Jews of France to move immediately to Israel to escape anti-Semitism at home.

U.S. troops killed 25 Iraqi insurgents in a battle in the Sunni Muslim city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, the Marine who disappeared in Iraq last month and reappeared three weeks later in Lebanon, said that he had been taken by enemy forces, emphatically denying that he had deserted.

Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group, said it had Sudanese government records showing that the authorities in Sudan are recruiting, arming and protecting the Arab militias attacking black Africans in the Darfur region in a campaign that United Nations officials have called ethnic cleansing.

Pope John Paul II appointed a special inspector to investigate a seminary in Austria where authorities uncovered 40,000 pornographic photos, including child porn and photos of candidates for the priesthood kissing and fondling each other and their religious instructors.

Greece agreed under heavy pressure from the United States to allow 400 American Special Forces soldiers to be present at next month's Olympic Games under NATO auspices, and to allow American, Israeli and possibly British security officers to carry weapons.

Two Canadian women who married about a year ago after a landmark court decision legalized same-sex marriage in Ontario are now seeking what may be the first Canadian same-sex divorce. The couple were together for 10 years before they married, but separated five days after their wedding.

The Nation

The final report of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said a clumsy bureaucracy failed to anticipate or prevent the attacks and called for sweeping changes in the nation's intelligence community.

Samuel R. Berger, national security adviser under former President Bill Clinton, quit as an adviser to John Kerry's presidential campaign after it was revealed that he is the subject of a criminal investigation into the mishandling of classified documents.

The amount of cash bankrolling the two presidential campaigns this year is approaching and might well exceed $1 billion - an eye-popping number that has shattered any hope that recent campaign finance reform would put a brake on spending.

Microsoft Corp. said it would pay its shareholders $75 billion in a one-time cash dividend of $3 a share at a cost of $32 billion.

Adolph Coors Co., the third-biggest U.S. brewer, and Canadian brewer Molson Inc. announced plans to merge in a deal aimed at helping them compete against the world's beer-making giants.

AT&T Corp., the nation's largest long-distance company, said it would stop seeking new customers for its traditional consumer long-distance service, once the bedrock of the company known as Ma Bell.

The Region

A state panel investigating causes of a $58 million deficit in the Baltimore school system found that school spending spiraled dangerously out of control as a system that lacked strong leadership and oversight tried to respond to pressure for improved academic performance.

Court records revealed that Albert Gene Antonelli, 32, of Queenstown, the driver of a pickup truck that slammed into a police cruiser and killed decorated Maryland Transportation Authority Officer Duke G. Aaron III, was driving with a suspended license and has a history of traffic violations.

The state jobless rate held steady at 3.9 percent last month as employers added 5,700 jobs, more than in any June since the boom year of 1998, according to numbers released by Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele will be a featured speaker at next month's Republican National Convention, where he will deliver a message of racial equality and economic empowerment for a party looking to broaden its appeal among minorities.

Quote

"On that September day, we were unprepared. We did not grasp the magnitude of a threat that had been gathering over a considerable period of time."

Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as it released its report.

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