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  THE WEEKLY RUNDOWN FOR JUNE 6.  
   
   
   
 

 

WMD really means: "Well, Maaaybe... D'oh!" President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are taking heat this week for accusations that they politicized intelligence information to draw support for the war in Iraq. Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon, referred to the rumors as "urban legend" derived from a "goulash of inaccuracies." (The Black Table gives Feith points for colorful imagery. Plus, we love goulash.) On Wednesday, Blair denied charges of government distortion of intelligence before a raucous House of Commons. Blair countered a BBC report accusing his administration of assisting in the preparation of an intelligence report claiming that Iraq could deploy WMDs in 45 minutes or less. If Domino's lies about that assertion, the pizza is free. If Blair or Bush administrations are lying now, France would hate us even more, joined by everyone else on the planet.

 

 
   
 

 

Thankfully, someone finally noticed. The inspector general of the Justice Department issued a report Monday criticizing the roundup of illegal immigrants in the months after September 11, 2001. The F.B.I. arrested 762 immigrants after the attacks. None were ever charged with terrorism, though most were deported. The report said immigrants arrested in or around New York were most likely subject to "unduly harsh" detention policies. Attorney John Ashcroft defended the government's actions on Wednesday, claiming that the U.S. response to the attacks was "built on a solid foundation." Ashcroft would not comment on the report, but he'll have to say something, eventually. Both the House and Senate are planning hearings on the matter.

When it Raines, he's done. Following the Jayson Blair flap and a staff on the verge of mutiny, New York Times executive editor Howell Raines resigned Thursday, along with managing editor Gerald Boyd. Raines, who led the Times through September 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was executive editor for 21 months. Newsroom morale plunged after Blair's record of lies and plagiarism was revealed, and many blamed Raines for playing favorites and initiating a top-down management style. Joseph Lelyveld, who retired as executive editor in 2001, will take over in the interim until a new management team is hired. (Oh, and this matters to you because The New York Times sets the news agenda in this country and don't you believe anything different.)

 

 
   
 

 

Who's going to get rid of *this* regime? An opposition group in Zimbabwe has urged millions to take to the streets as the ultimate show of defiance in a week of protests. The protests and accompanying nationwide strike are the Movement for Democratic Change's efforts to unseat President Robert Mugabe, who has terrorized the country for 23 years. Mugabe's security force used teargas, dogs, batons and, at times, even live ammunition to quell the dissidents in the "interests of peace and security," Mugabe told South African TV this week. Hundreds of protesters have been beaten, though the MDC took out newspaper advertisements urging them to keep up the fight, telling people they have a "constitutional right to express yourselves peacefully against murder, rape, starvation, disease, violence and general misrule." Yeah, that about covers it.

Make like Milosevic and get indicted. A joint United Nations-Freetown Tribunal has indicted Liberian leader Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is the second sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes since Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic. Taylor is accused of supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the alleged source of atrocities during a decade-long civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. The UN Security Council issued sanctions against Taylor's regime, banning the sale of arms to Liberia, the import of its diamonds and barring its leaders from international travel. Taylor left Liberia for the first time in several years to attend peace talks in Ghana and the indictment was handed down hours later. The tribunal also issued an international warrant for his arrest. During Sierra Leone's civil war, 50,000 people died. The RUF was responsible for many of these deaths, observers say, and the group gained notoriety for hacking off the limbs of those who disagreed. Again, does President Bush have any interest in ridding the world of this terror?

 

 
   
 

 

It's not such a good thing. Martha Stewart was indicted Wednesday on several counts of obstruction of justice and one count of securities fraud. Oddly, none of the charges were related to the celebrity homemaker's alleged insider trading of ImClone stock. Stewart sold her stock in ImClone in December 2001 after the hearing that the company's flagship cancer drug did not receive U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval. This would be fine, except Stewart learned of the FDA's dis from her broker, who heard it from ImClone's president. This is not how it's supposed to work. Stewart's deviance saved her a whopping $45,673. While that's underhanded, Stewart got in trouble for lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's certainly not how it's supposed to work. Stewart has resigned her position as chair and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She also pleaded not guilty to the charges. What a busy day, Martha! Happily, The Black Table is assured that she will make it home in time to whip up a nice batch of humble pie, from scratch.

 

 
   
 

 

Copacabanose. Singer Barry Manilow walked into his bedroom wall this week and broke his nose. Manilow, known to be more of a crooner than a looker, joked that "I may have to have my nose fixed and, with this nose, it's going to require major surgery." The singer bashed his honker after waking up disoriented in the middle of the night. The Black Table is simply not buying that totally lame excuse -- just do a Jennifer Grey and be frank about it, Barry.

Put that in your bat and cork it. Sammy Sosa is both stupid and unlucky. Not only did he cork his bat (drilling a hole in it and dumping in some cork to make it lighter), but of the 77 bats he uses regularly, he had to break the one with the cork in it. (X-rays of the remaining 76 bats were negative for cork.) Sosa says he only uses the corked bat in practice to show fans a home run or two. He could be telling the truth. After all, how different can 77 baseball bats look, especially when you don't write "corked for practice" on the bat? Major League Baseball's vice president in charge of discipline (how's that for a job title?) will decide Sosa's fate.

 


*BT*

Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, (and another one, about muckraking, on the way!) writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.