The Week That Was

August 15, 2004

The World

The Olympic Games opened in their native land of Greece as the lavish opening ceremony at the main stadium in Athens began with the sound of 28 heartbeats - one for every modern Olympics held since 1896 - and then featured fireworks that led to an extravaganza evoking Greek mythology and culture.

Explosions and gunfire echoed across the holy city of Najaf as the U.S. military and Iraqi forces launched a full-scale assault to crush a weeklong uprising by militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

A long-awaited report on the role of the Army's military intelligence troops in the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison will recommend that more than two dozen soldiers be disciplined but would spare anyone above the colonel who commanded them at the infamous facility outside Baghdad, Pentagon officials said. The Army report, expected to be released by the end of the month, contends that responsibility for the abuses goes beyond the seven soldiers from a Maryland-based military police unit who are the only ones to face charges in the scandal, said the officials, who requested anonymity.

The Nation

President Bush nominated Porter J. Goss, 65, a seven-term Republican congressman from Florida and former undercover CIA agent, as the next director of central intelligence, filling a crucial vacancy atop the nation's beleaguered spy community at a time of heightened terror alerts. The choice drew criticism from congressional Democrats as a partisan move, but the Democrats later said Goss' nomination would not be seriously opposed.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told cheering scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center to begin planning a robotic mission to save the popular Hubble Space Telescope. O'Keefe authorized NASA crews at Goddard to find a way to repair the telescope and install two new instruments - a sophisticated camera and a spectrograph. He estimated the cost at $1 billion to $1.6 billion.

Two-time Maryland Republican presidential hopeful Alan Keyes officially entered the Illinois race for U.S. Senate yesterday against Democrat Barack Obama - the first Senate race in which the candidates from both major parties are black. Keyes, a conservative political commentator, accepted the nomination from the Illinois Republican State Central Committee to replace primary winner Jack Ryan, who dropped out amid a sex scandal.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates modestly for the second time this summer, despite signs of a weaker job market and slower economic growth. The central bank said the economy is poised to shake off its sluggishness and resume "a stronger pace of expansion going forward."

The Region

A federal jury found Baltimore investment banker Nathan A. Chapman Jr. guilty of 23 counts of fraud and filing false tax returns after a seven-week trial. The U.S. District Court jury concluded that Chapman was not guilty of seven additional counts, and could not reach a verdict on two others. Chapman, 46, was found guilty of defrauding the Maryland state employee pension system, stealing from his own publicly traded companies and filing false personal income tax returns, but was found not guilty of corrupting a member of the state pension board.

A mysterious mussel no bigger than a fingernail is attaching itself to boat ropes, crab pots and anything else it can latch onto in the Magothy River and other Chesapeake estuaries, and the cumulative filtering power is making the water as clear as an aquarium. Scientists credit heavy rains in recent months that have made the waters more inviting by reducing the bay's salinity.

Home prices in the Baltimore area continued a strong double-digit march upward in July. The average existing home sold for nearly $260,000, about 15.3 percent more than in the same month last year. It was the first time since February that the average price increased less than 20 percent annually, a sign that the hot market might be cooling. Some real estate agents say they are seeing a new nervousness among buyers who fear making deals just before values stop their upward spiral.

Carnival Cruise Lines, which disappointed hundreds of customers this summer by canceling their vacations after overbooking cruises out of Baltimore, says it won't be sailing out of the port next year, despite the popularity of the trips. "We'd like to come back to Baltimore. ... It's just that the program for 2005 is already completed, and we don't have a ship to come up there," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman. Norwegian Cruise Lines, another of the five lines that make up the port of Baltimore's fledgling but growing cruise industry, also has no cruises planned out of Baltimore next year. But Royal Caribbean plans to increase its number of Baltimore cruises and also bring back its sister line, the more upscale Celebrity, next year.


"Words cannot adequately express the sorrow I have had over the years for the grief that so many have endured and continue to suffer. I am truly sorry for what occurred."

- Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols, addressing a court for the first time, proclaiming his faith in God and asking victims of the blast for forgiveness as a judge sentences him to 161 consecutive life sentences.

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