The Week That Was

THE WEEK THAT WAS

October 03, 2004

The World

* U.S. and Iraqi forces battled their way into the heart of the Sunni stronghold of Samarra in what appeared to be the first major offensive before the January elections to regain control of areas lost to insurgents. More than 100 guerrillas were killed and 37 captured, according to an Iraqi official. The military said one American soldier was killed and four were wounded.

* Russia's Cabinet approved the Kyoto protocol on global warming, clearing the way for the worldwide adoption of the document once the Russian parliament ratifies it, as is widely expected. The protocol must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries that accounted for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990, and Russia's participation would tip the scale. The United States, China and some other big industrial nations have rejected the treaty. It seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are widely seen as a key factor in global warming.

* Officials in Thailand announced that a 32-year-old woman had been hospitalized with avian influenza and that two of her family members had died of a flu-like illness, raising the possibility that these might be among the first cases of human-to-human transmission. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health said in a joint statement that avian influenza is "a crisis of global importance."

The Nation

* Merck & Co. announced that it was pulling Vioxx from the market after new data found the arthritis drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Merck's stock plunged almost 27 percent as the pharmaceutical giant said the recall will hurt its earnings. Merck said clinical trial data showed an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular complications 18 months after patients started taking Vioxx.

* Mount St. Helens, the Washington state volcano that blew its top with cataclysmic force in 1980, erupted for the first time in 18 years, belching a huge column of white steam and ash after days of rumblings under the mountain.

* Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, The former Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Mass., was indicted on charges of raping two boys during the 1970s, becoming the highest-ranking official of the American church to be indicted since the sexual abuse scandal unfolded in Boston nearly three years ago.

* A wide-ranging effort involving parents, schools, communities and government is needed to turn the tide of childhood obesity, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. Today, about 9 million children older than 6 are obese, the report said. The report called for a efforts that would include less time in front of television and computer screens, changes in food labeling and advertising, more school and community physical education programs and education to help children make better choices.

The Region

* A gun was fired outside Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy as students fled a fire inside - a chaotic scene that frightened teenagers and enraged parents and teachers, who say some Baltimore schools are out of control. School officials rushed to defend classroom safety, insisting that the incidents are not part of a larger trend of violence across the city's 186 schools.

* Pressured by regulators, the Mid-Atlantic branch of Atlanta-based Mirant Corp. owner of four major power plants in the Washington area, including three in Maryland, announced plans yesterday for cutting air pollution linked to urban smog and "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay. Mirant agreed to install modern pollution-control equipment, which could cost more than $100 million by 2010, at all its plants - including Chalk Point in southern Prince George's County, Morgantown in Charles County and Dickerson in Montgomery County, as well as Potomac River in Alexandria.

Quote

"After 30 years of waiting and waiting and waiting and lots of hard work and more than a few prayers, there will be baseball in Washington in 2005!"

- Mayor Anthony A. Williams speaking at a news conference at the Washington City Museum where a move to the city by the Montreal Expos was announced.

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