The Week That Was

August 29, 2004

The World

Rebel forces loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr left the city of Najaf under a a deal forged by Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, ending their fight with U.S. troops. The crisis had gripped Iraq since Aug. 5, reduced much of central Najaf to ruins and challenged the authority of the nation's fledgling government.

Russian investigators said that the destruction of at least one of two airliners that crashed simultaneously was a terrorist act after finding traces of explosives in its wreckage. They were looking into the presence of two women from Chechnya, one on each plane. An Islamic extremist group claimed that its fighters had hijacked the planes to avenge the deaths of Muslims in the war in Chechnya - site of a bloody separatist war - and elsewhere.

More than two dozen U.S. military intelligence soldiers and civilian contractors participated in detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib, according to a Pentagon report that portrays the Iraq prison scandal as reaching well beyond the pranks of a few low-ranking Army reservists.

The Nation

A controversy over independent Republican attack ads criticizing Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's Vietnam war record continued. Two highly decorated Vietnam veterans said they were interviewed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for material to be used in a new round of television spots attacking Kerry. President Bush told The New York Times that he did not think Kerry lied about his war record, but refused to denounce the ads.

Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, proposed breaking the CIA into three pieces, with each reporting to a separate branch of a new National Intelligence Service that would be led by a national intelligence director with authority over all components of the spy community.

The Department of Labor imposed new rules to govern overtime pay for work beyond 40 hours a week. The department says the updated rules will mean that 1.3 million workers who are not entitled to overtime pay will be eligible. But critics say the change could nullify added pay for extra hours for 6 million workers.

The number of Americans with high blood pressure has increased to 65 million from 50 million a decade ago, driven by the aging of the population and possibly aggravated by the increase in obesity, a new study says.

The Region

Ismail Selim Elbarasse, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Palestine who lives in Northern Virginia, became a suspect in an alleged terrorist reconnaissance of the Bay Bridge only hours after a federal indictment was unsealed in Chicago, naming him in an alleged conspiracy to launder money on behalf of the militant group Hamas.

Maryland health officials are reviewing the way many of the state's medical labs are regulated after finding such serious problems at a Rosedale facility that 3,000 patients are being offered retesting to check the accuracy of results for sexually transmitted diseases.

The Maryland Court of ApPeals, handing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. a victory, overturned labor pacts with state employees negotiated during Gov. Parris N. Glendening's final days in office, meaning thousands of state employees covered under collective bargaining laws are working without contracts.

Mayor Martin O'Malley ordered all city office buildings, parks, police stations and firehouses to trade their standard American flags for the 15-star, 15-stripe variety that waved over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore 190 years ago.

Quote

"Just as we're doing things to make our schools look good and to increase enrollment ... there will be others who for political reasons will be doing everything in their power to make us look bad, especially just on the verge of school opening, so as to depress our enrollment numbers and make the fiscal recovery more difficult."

Mayor Martin O'Malley, at a news conference in City Hall where he accused Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of orchestrating the routine release of bad news about the city's public education system

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