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Week In Review

The week's top stories
Scripps Howard News Service


October 07, 2006

House page scandal and Hastert's fate

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., continued to feel the heat of the page scandal since his office was notified several months ago - and perhaps as long as three years ago - about improper e-mails from Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., to teenage males who had served as House pages. Hastert said Thursday he has no intention of resigning. Meanwhile, Foley, who resigned Sept. 29, said Monday through his attorney that he had checked into a rehabilitation center for alcoholism, that he is gay, and that he was abused by a clergyman when he was 13, 14 or 15. He did not identify a clergyman.

High death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq




The holy month of Ramadan has fanned sectarian and insurgency violence in Iraq. A U.S. military spokesman said the past week had seen the highest number of car bombs and roadside bombs in Baghdad this year. At least 24 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq since Sept. 30, one of the deadliest periods since the formal end of combat operations. The total death count on Wednesday was at least 2,727 U.S. soldiers dead since the beginning of the war in March 2003, according to the Defense Department. Iraqi authorities pulled a brigade of 700 policemen out of service Wednesday in a move to uproot troops linked to death squads that have terrorized Sunni minorities.

Amish children slain in Pennsylvania

A 32-year-old truck driver took over a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Bart Township, Pa., Monday, ejected the boys and adults and shot 10 girls multiple times. Five had died by Friday. The gunman killed himself at the scene. The shooter, Charles Carl Roberts, had called his wife from the school to say he was troubled over memories of abusing two young relatives 20 years earlier and was fearful he would soon repeat the crime. There was no evidence he sexually abused the Amish girls. The Amish said they forgave the killer.

Record-size area burned by wildfires

The U.S. Forest Service reported more than 15,000 square miles have burned in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. That's the most burned areas since 1960, officials said. The firefighting cost was more than $1.5 billion. Last month, federal fire-control efforts topped $12 million a day. If spending continues at this rate, 2006 will be the most expensive year on record for wildfires. The pace of the spending drew concern from Congress and the White House Office of Management and Budget and raised fears it will siphon money from other programs, including reforestation efforts to fix previous fires' damage.

Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans

Stanford University biochemist Roger Kornberg won the top science prize in chemistry. As a child 47 years ago, Kornberg attended the Nobel Prize award ceremony for his father, Dr. Arthur Kornberg, who won the prize in medicine while also a Stanford professor. Scientists John Mather and George Smoot won the prize in physics. Mather works at NASA's Goddard Center in Maryland. Smoot works at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Two others shared the prize in physiology or medicine: Craig Mello of the University of Massachusetts medical school and Andrew Fire of Stanford University's medical school.

Child-porn charge dropped against John Mark Karr

A California judge Thursday dismissed child-pornography charges against John Mark Karr, extradited from Thailand after claiming in e-mails that he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died in her Colorado home. DNA evidence had shown he had no connection with the killing of the 6-year-old pageant winner. The outstanding pornography charges were dismissed for lack of evidence after investigators had lost key computer evidence from 2001.

Dow average hits record high

The closing Dow Jones average of 30 leading manufacturing companies moved into record highs this week, hitting 11,727 at midweek and closing Friday at around 11,850. Wall Street was buoyed by solid earnings reports, positive statements from members of the Federal Reserve Board, stable interest rates and declining petroleum prices. But broader indices like the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have yet to return to the record levels they reached in 2000.

Top Rove aide resigns for White House contacts with Abramoff

A special assistant to White House political strategist Karl Rove resigned Friday after a congressional report listed hundreds of contacts between the White House staff and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, center of a large corruption scandal. Susan Ralston submitted her letter of resignation during the final weeks of hyper-competitive congressional elections. "She did not want to be a distraction to the White House at such an important time and so we have accepted her resignation," said White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

FBI starts criminal probe of infected spinach that killed three

Health officials this week reported that at least three people died from California-grown spinach infected by an especially dangerous strain of E. coli. At least 190 others became sick. The latest fatality was a Nebraska woman in her 80s who died in late August from the strain. FBI agents on Wednesday searched two California produce companies for signs of environmental-law violations, reviewing records to determine if spinach producers failed to follow correct food-handling procedures.


Contact Richard Powelson at powelsonr(at)
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Ketchikan, Alaska