The Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who gained notoriety for hurling his shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad last December, was sentenced to three years in jail on March 12. At his trial Zaidi had pleaded not guilty, claiming that his footwear fusillade was “a natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation.” Some experts on Iraqi domestic policy said they expected Zaidi to be pardoned before serving the full sentence. A statue erected in Zaidi’s honor (pictured above) in his hometown of Tikrit was taken down by order of the Iraqi Parliament.
Source: New York Times
According to a Harvard Medical School study, getting angry at work may help boost your career. The study followed 824 people over the span of 44 years, finding those who repressed their frustration were three times more likely to say they hit a career road block. Professor George Vaillant, lead author of the study of adult development, said that while uncontrolled fury is destructive, that people who are assertive while remaining respectful tended to be more successful.
Source: BBC News
Attorney General Eric Holder announced in late February that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal under state law. Currently, there are 13 states where medical marijuana is legal; however, there has been an ongoing federal resistance to the dispensaries, landing dispensaries owners in jail and out of business. Over the past two years, more than 100 individuals have been criminally charged—even though they were operating in compliance with state law. While the Drug Enforcement Administration has made arrests in all 13 states where dispensaries are illegal, it has been most actively prosecuting a no-tolerance policy in California.
Source: AlterNet, SafeAccessNow.org
Ryan Allen, a George Mason University senior and professional drag queen, was crowned homecoming queen at a sold-out basketball game against Northeastern University in late February. Allen, dressed in a gold-sequined top accepted his tiara and sash in front of a cheering crowd. Allen, known on campus for his drag queen personality, Reann Ballslee, lip-synched a Britney Spears song in zebra-print pants for the talent portion of the homecoming queen competition.
Source: Associated Press
On March 11, the Food and Drug Administration approved the FC2 Female Condom. While Chicago-based Female Health Company’s new product will not be available to American consumers for a year, FDA approval allows the United States Agency for International Development and other US organizations to buy it for distribution overseas, where it is already distributed in 77 countries. The FC2 is also touted as being quieter than the FC1, due to its softer material.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in late February that photographs of flag-covered caskets may be published, reversing an 18-year-old ban on coverage of American war dead. The Obama administration is working out the details, however; families will have the final decision on whether or not to allow the press into the ceremonies held at Dover Air Force base in Delaware, the official US entry point for caskets of war dead. The policy, enacted by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, at the beginning of the first Gulf War, was a response to an incident during the invasion of Panama in 1989. During an update Bush news conference about the progress of the invasion, US TV networks used a split screen to show the arrival of the first bodies at Dover Air Force Base from Panama.
Source: United Press International, Associated Press
Spain set a new record for wind-power generation on March 5 as gales blew across the country, with more than 40 percent of the country’s energy needs being covered by wind turbines mid-morning. For the month of February, renewable energy sources provided 31 percent of Spain’s total power needs. The country is on track to cover half its energy needs with renewable sources by 2020.
Source: The Guardian
The largest-ever study of weight-loss methods, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March, has found that weight loss is assured as long as you reduce calories. For the study, more than 800 overweight adults in Boston and Baton Rouge were assigned to one of four eating regimens—loosely based on the principles of popular diets like Atkins—which cut 750 calories from the normal diet. After two years, every diet group had lost (and often regained) about the same amount of weight regardless of which diet had been assigned.
Source: New York Times
The International Narcotics Control Board reported in late February that despite the continuing heavy US military presence in Afghanistan, the country remains the world’s largest producer of opium. Afghanistan is the source of 90 percent of the world’s opium, producing 7,000 tons in 2008. Though it has been the leading source of heroin to the Western world for almost three decades, Afghanistan is now facing a domestic drug abuse crisis, with at least one million people addicted to the drug. In addition, the BBC reported in February that it had received information suggesting that 60 percent of the police force in the southern province of Helmand used drugs.
Source: BBC News, Inter Press Service
Danish research company Aresa has developed a genetically modified tobacco plant—dubbed the Bio-Sensor—that will be able to detect land mines. Here’s how it works: The plant changes from green to red when it contacts high-levels of nitrogen dioxide that have leached from underground explosives. The plan is to drop seeds from a plane over a known or suspected mine-riddled area, wait 10 weeks for the plants to grow, then look for the red leaves. The UN estimates that there are more than 110 million active land mines scattered across 68 countries.
Twelve universities, including Michigan, Georgetown, and Columbia have ended their apparel-licensing agreements with the Russell Corporation since the company closed a unionized factory in Honduras employing 1,800 workers. On January 31, Russell, a subsidiary of Fruit of the Loom, which is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, shuttered its Jerzees de Honduras plant, where management and the union were in a contract dispute, claiming that the closing was the result of economic considerations, not unionization.
Source: New York Times
A Dallas high school principal, Donald Moten, with the help of the security staff at South Oak Cliff High School, reportedly locked feuding students in a steel cage to settle disputes with bare-knuckle fistfights. The fights occurred several times over the course of a two-year period, prior to Moten’s 2008 resignation due to a grade-changing scandal involving athletes. Moten, a former Dallas police officer who once lied about being kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint to get out of work, may face criminal charges.
Source: Dallas Morning News