Answers for the week of January 21-27, 2007
1. c. Power outages occurred in many places as ice wreaked
havoc with power lines. Some of the power problems
came from falling tree limbs snapped by the weight of the
ice. Ice-laden branches and trees also damaged cars and
buildings. The death toll from the storm was around 46.
Icy roads led to the cancellation of a number of Martin
Luther King Jr. holiday observances and parts of Missouri
and Oklahoma were declared disaster areas. Freezing
conditions in the west destroyed more than three-quarters
of California’s billion-dollar citrus industry.
2. a. The United Nations released its report estimating last
year’s total of 34,000 civilians killed in 2006 on a day when
more than 80 people died in bombings in Baghdad. The U.N.
warned that the absence of a functioning justice system in Iraq
meant that the violence was likely to continue. The estimate
came from figures provided by the Medico-Legal Institute in
Baghdad and hospitals around the country. In addition to the
deaths, 36,675 civilians are estimated to have been wounded.More than 16,000 of the total deaths occurred in Baghdad.
3. c. Helen Mirren won two best actress awards for her
portrayals of two Queen Elizabeths: Elizabeth II in The
Queen and Elizabeth I in the TV mini-series of that name.
The award for best dramatic movie went to Babel and for best
comedy/musical to Dreamgirls. Martin Scorsese was named
best director for The Departed. Former American Idol
contestant Jennifer Hudson won best supporting actress for
her role in Dreamgirls. The Globes are awarded by the 80
plus members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
4. b. National security letters allow access to personal and
corporate financial records kept by banks, credit card
companies and others. Only the F.B.I. has the authority to
use national security letters in domestic intelligence
gathering. In recent years, the Pentagon and C.I.A. have
begun using “noncompulsory” versions of the letters, a
development some civil liberties groups find troubling.
Congress has repeatedly denied the two agencies authority
to issue mandatory letters, citing a reluctance to allow
military involvement in domestic intelligence operations.
5. a. The New England Patriots beat the Chargers 24-21. The
Chargers seemed headed for victory when LaDainian
Tomlinson scored a 3-yard run for a 21-13 lead with 8:35 left in
the fourth quarter. Then the Patriots scored another touchdown
and with 70 seconds left in the game, Patriot rookie Stephen
Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal for the win. New
England has won all but one of its last 13 playoff games.
6. a. A number of U.S. attorneys are being forced out of their
jobs around the country. Among them is Carol C. Lam,
who led the successful corruption prosecution of former
Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.). Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) have
challenged the Attorney General to justify firing people
with good records and reputations. A little-known
provision of the Patriot Act expanded the authority of the
White House to make indefinite interim judicial
appointments without Senate review. Attorney General
Gonzalez stated, “We in no way politicize these decisions.”
7. b. The latest review of Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1821
autopsy report concludes that he died of stomach cancer,
which was listed then as the official cause of death. In
1961, an analysis of Napoleon’s hair showed elevated
levels of arsenic, which led to speculation that he had
been poisoned. The current research team notes that there
is no evidence of other signs of arsenic poisoning. The
autopsy also describes a 4-inch tumor in Napoleon’s
stomach that is consistent with fatal stomach cancer.
8. c. Fifty-one percent of women reported they were living
without a spouse in 2005. The Census also shows that
married couples are now a minority of all American
households. In 2000, forty-nine percent of women were
living without spouses, while in 1950, only thirty-five
percent were. The trend can be explained in part by
women marrying later or living with unmarried partners
for longer periods of time. More women are also living as
widows or delaying remarriage after divorce.
9. b. The American Cancer Society reported that the number of
cancer deaths in the U.S. dropped in 2004 for the second
straight year. The first reported drop in 70 years occurred in
2003 and was very small. A decline in 2004 suggests that this
may be a trend, rather than a statistical fluke. Much of the
decline is attributed to reduction in smoking and improvements
in detecting and treating several kinds of cancer. The greatest
decrease has been in deaths from colorectal cancer.
10. a. The new Democrat-ruled House voted to rescind large tax breaks and subsidies for oil drillers. The money will be channeled instead into renewable energy projects and new energy conservation technologies. The Bush administration and the oil industry oppose the bill. A key provision in the bill closes an Interior Department lease loophole that allows offshore drillers to avoid paying billions in royalties over the next decade. The measure still must pass in the Senate.
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