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  THE WEEKLY RUNDOWN FOR JUNE 13.  
   
   
   
 

 

Somebody forgot to turn the war off. The guns are going, and the bombs are dropping in Iraq again. (It doesn't seem as if they ever stopped, but the president said the "major" fighting was over). Some 4,000 U.S. troops surrounded a town called Dhuluiya on Wednesday, just north of Baghdad. American forces said the town was filled with Baath party loyalists who planned attacks on U.S. troops. Ten Americans have died in the past two weeks or so, most of them in a surge of resistance attacks. On Thursday, ground troops and air raids were used against what the U.S. Army called a "terrorist training camp" northwest of Baghdad. Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the senior American commander in Iraq, said the military had found leaflets around Baghdad's outlaying areas offering rewards for killing U.S. troops. Man, this "war" is sounding better and better. There's bounty hunters, no weapons of mass destruction and total chaos. Like if Boba Fett got in on that stupid orgy in The Matrix Reloaded.

 

 
   
 

 

Nothing like pretending to care about poor people to boost your polls. After getting slammed two weeks ago for signing a tax bill that left out a credit for low-income families, President Bush has had a change of heart. The Senate passed a bill extending the credit, and Bush pretty much ordered the House to do the same. (So much for separation of powers.) The president spent part of the week stumping for Medicare reforms while a prescription drug benefit bill was up for a vote in the Senate. The White House has supported a plan that would offer better drug coverage to those who belonged to private, government-subsidized health plans instead of Medicare. With the Democrats crying foul, the president has backed off in order to sign a bill that would curry him favor in the 2004 election. If the war keeps going, it'll take a little more than cheap Klonopin to cheer up the voting masses. Then again, we'll still take the cheap Klonopin.

 

 
   
 

 

That roadmap to peace is a bitch to fold. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared war on Palestinian militants after a suicide bomber boarded a boss and killed 16 people on Wednesday. Israel's army responded with at least three air strikes against the group Hamas, which then said it instructed "all military cells to act immediately" against Israel. Palestine's new p.m., Mahmoud Abbas, refused to order Hamas to stop the killings for fear of a civil war. He also said the Palestinian Authority is unable to carry out mass arrests. Abbas might have wussed out, but Yassar Arafat left his compound for long enough to call for a ceasefire. More than a dozen Palestinian died from Israeli responses to the bombing. Are we the only ones to realize that these people simply can't get along? Accept that and plan around it. Maybe peace will come if they can all just learn to ignore each other. Works wonders in New York City.

 

 
   
 

 

Think Martha's scared now? Samuel Waksal, former CEO of ImClone, the company that brought Martha Stewart an indictment last week, is in some trouble of his own. Waksal was sentenced to just over seven years in prison for his involvement in insider trading. In addition to serving time, Waksal was fined $3 million and owes an additional $1.3 million to the New York State Tax Commission for dodging sales tax on some art he bought. He's under house arrest until July 2, when he will report to prison. Waksal's attorney requested his client go to Eglin Federal Prison Camp, known among the inmates as "Club Fed" for its nice Florida weather and un-Oz-like weather. The Federal Bureau of Prisons gets to make the final call, though. Wherever he goes, Waksal will have to work 7.5 to 8 hours a day. That's fewer hours than anyone at The Black Tabel works, so Club Fed sounds pretty nifty to us.

 

 
   
 

 

The world is a now little less informed, a little less classy. Newsman David Brinkley and actor Gregory Peck died this week.

Brinkley, a TV news pioneer, is best known for co-hosting "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" from 1956 to 1970 on NBC and later "This Week with David Brinkley" on ABC (now called "This Week" and hosted by George Stephanopolous). Known for his political coverage, Brinkley was a little fed up by the end of his career. He wrapped up coverage on the 1996 election by telling the audience they could expect more "goddamned nonsense" in the next four years.

Peck was an actor's actor, beloved for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. His first screen showing was in 1944's Days of Glory, but the hits came with Roman Holiday, The Yearling and Twelve O'Clock High. He won the Best Actor Oscar for Mockingbird in 1962. The role also won him the number-one hero in film history slot by the American Film Institute.

 

*BT*

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