Looking Forward/looking Back

April 17, 2005

LOOKING FORWARD

Monday

More than 100 members of the College of Cardinals will begin meeting to select a successor to Pope John Paul II behind closed doors in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. Starting that afternoon, the cardinals will send up smoke signals from the burned ballot papers of the vote to indicate whether they have found a successor. Black smoke means no pope has been elected; white smoke signals a new pope.

Tuesday

A memorial service will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others in Oklahoma City. Vice President Dick Cheney will speak at the service.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled in Wichita, Kan., for Dennis Rader, who is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Rader is believed to be a notorious serial killer known as BTK.

A new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum will be dedicated in Springfield, Ill. The $90 million museum's stated blend of "scholarship with showmanship" has been controversial, with some critics dubbing it "Six Flags over Lincoln" for its many life-size figures, interactivity and other modern features.

Wednesday

NASA holds an online media briefing to discuss a new finding from the Spitzer Space Telescope involving a star about the size and age of the sun, with another intriguing similarity.

Lawyers and experts in secrecy and government accountability hold a briefing in Washington on the impact of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' case before the D.C. Circuit Court and the "trend of excessive government secrecy aimed at avoiding accountability." Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, was fired in 2002 after repeatedly reporting "serious security breaches and misconduct."

Friday

The 35th anniversary of Earth Day is marked by events scheduled in Maryland and across America. The first Earth Day, in 1970, had participants and celebrants in 2,000 colleges and universities, roughly 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. Environmental activists credited the first Earth Day with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency.

Saturday

The first day of Passover begins at sundown. The Jewish holiday (lasting seven days in Israel and among some liberal Diaspora Jews, and eight days among other Diaspora Jews) commemorates the exodus and freedom of the Israelites from Egypt.

LOOKING BACK

The World

After meeting at his Texas ranch with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Bush made a statement backing Sharon's Gaza pullout plan, but warned against any expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Jeffrey Ake, a 47-year-old U.S. contractor, was kidnapped near Baghdad and later appeared in a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera pleading for his life.

Eighteen people died when two suicide car bombers struck minutes apart in Baghdad. Earlier, a bomb apparently aimed at a U.S. convoy patrolling a crowded market in Samarra killed three Iraqis and injured more than 20 others. Three Marines and three civilians were wounded when suicide bombers struck a Marine outpost in western Iraq.

Court documents released in Britain revealed that a yearlong terrorism trial of nine North Africans accused of plotting to release the deadly poison ricin resulted in one conviction, while the other eight either had their charges dropped or were acquitted. The conviction was of Kamel Bourgass, a 29-year-old Algerian with ties to al-Qaida, who was sentenced in June to life in prison for fatally stabbing a policeman during a raid in northwest England on Jan. 14, 2003.

A fire in a Paris hotel that was primarily used to house North African immigrants awaiting resettlement killed at least 20 people, many of them children. More than 50 were injured in the blaze that consumed the Opera Hotel, located in a popular shopping and tourist area.

Disease experts continued to struggle to contain an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus that has killed 200 in Angola.

The Nation

Eric Rudolph, who spent five years eluding police while hiding in the mountains of North Carolina, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to four bombings that killed two people. In court appearances, Rudolf appeared proud of his bombings - in 1998 at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., in 1997 at a gay nightclub and a women's clinic in Atlanta, and at an Olympic gathering spot during the 1996 games in Atlanta. He was given four life sentences.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 5-4 against recommending resuming the use of one brand of silicone breast implants, but, in a 7-2 vote, recommended approval of another manufacturer's implant.

Maryland native Michael Griffin, who holds degrees from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, won Senate approval as head of NASA and was sworn in to the top job in the nation's space agency.

Baltimore native John Bolton was described as a "serial abuser" for his treatment of subordinates in the State Department by a former State Department intelligence chief in Senate hearings on his nomination as U.S. delegate to the United Nations. He was expected to win approval from the Foreign Relations committee.

Four people - a Texas oil trader, a South Korean and two other businessmen, a Bulgarian and a Briton - were charged by federal prosecutors with making millions of dollars in illegal profits by cutting secret deals with Saddam Hussein through the United Nations' oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Tiger Woods won the Masters for the fourth time, beating Chris DeMarco on the first playoff hole.

Quote

"I'm a lucky guy, and I'll always remember this day for the rest of my life."

Brian Schneider,Washington Nationals catcher, after President Bush threw him the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals' home opener

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