The Week That Was

September 05, 2004

The World

Commandos stormed a school Friday in southern Russia and battled separatist rebels holding 1,200 hostages as crying children, some naked and covered in blood, fled through explosions and gunfire. An official said the death toll could be in the hundreds.

Shattering a nearly six-month lull in suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, two attackers blew themselves up less than a minute apart aboard a pair of crowded buses in the southern desert city of Beersheba. At least 16 passengers were killed, and nearly 100 were injured by the blasts, which scattered charred metal, glass shards and body parts across a palm-lined boulevard. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened his top advisers to weigh a response to the blasts, which came hours after the Israeli leader told lawmakers in his restive Likud Party that he was determined to press ahead with an initiative to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

The Army charged a military police reservist with assault and dereliction of duty in the deaths of two prisoners in Afghanistan, and investigators have implicated about two dozen other soldiers, Army officials said.

The Nation

America's payrolls picked up in August, with the economy adding 144,000 jobs, slightly less than economists were forecasting, and highlighting the slow and uneven recovery in the labor market that job-seekers have braved. The unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent last month from 5.5 percent in July. While the new jobless rate was the lowest since October 2001, the drop in the unemployment rate in August came as people left the work force for any number of reasons.

Georgia Sen. Zell Miller delivered a scathing condemnation of fellow Democrat John Kerry as "wrong," "weak" and "wobbly" on national security, joining Vice President Dick Cheney in denouncing President Bush's opponent as an indecisive, unreliable politician.

Activists donned pig snouts, climbed trees and staged small demonstrations from one end of Manhattan to the other last week as police scrambled to manage civil disobedience aimed at the convention. Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. but there were few scenes of violent confrontation .

Astronomers racing one another to find the first habitable, Earth-like planet in another solar system announced a significant advance in their quest yesterday - the discovery of two of the smallest planets ever detected circling sunlike stars. "Small" is a relative term. The two new planets are whoppers. Scientists think they're about the size of Neptune, with at least 17 times the mass of Earth and a diameter several times as large. But NASA was calling them the first in "a new class of planets."

The criminal case against Kobe Bryant was dropped by Colorado prosecutors who said they had no choice but to drop the sexual assault charge because the NBA star's accuser no longer wanted to participate. Bryant responded with an apology to the woman who had accused him.

The Region

The city of Baltimore announced plans for its biggest housing devleopment in decades on a nearly 100-acre site in the southwest corner of the city near the Baltimore County line, by clearing a vacant low-income housing complex and relocating a church to create space for 1,100 apartments, houses and condominiums. "This is the most significant new housing development we've done in 50 years," Mayor Martin O'Malley said. "We need to bring beople back to the city."

Granted the most prominent speaking role of any African-American at the Republican National Convention in New York, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele invoked Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he built a case that the Republicans' vision of helping the poor without "destroying" the rich is more favorable to blacks, as well as whites, than the Democrats' vision is. "What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn't whether you can get a seat at the lunch counter," Steele said. "It's whether you can own that lunch counter in order to create legacy wealth for your children."

Earlier in the week, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told Maryland's convention delegation, "I saw a message coming out of the Democratic convention: If you happen to have black skin, you have to believe one way. You have to. Or you are a traitor to your race." He added: "That's racist," a remark that caused a stir in the state.

Toxicologist Ellen K. Silbergeld, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, plans to include more than 100 current and former Eastern Shore poultry handlers in a study of whether the industry's growing use of antibiotics is harming human health and the environment. "This is a very serious issue. I believe there is a lot of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is getting out into the community and into the environment, and nobody is paying attention to what it's doing," said Silbergeld.

Ismail Selim Elbarasse, A Virginia man held 10 days as a material witness in a case involving the militant group Hamas, was released from a Baltimore prison after his lawyer said friends put up their houses as collateral for $1 million bail. Elbarasse and other members of his family were stopped Aug. 20 after police spotted his wife videotaping the Bay Bridge while returning from what they said was a vacation. A grand jury in Chicago named him that day as an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged plot to launder money on behalf of Hamas.

Quote

"I am running for president with a clear and positive plan to build a safer world and a more hopeful America."

President Bush, accepting Republican presidential nomination.

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