Tuesday, January 4
Wassef Hassoun failes to show up at his military base at noon after being allowed holiday leave to visit family. Who the hell is Wassef Hassoun? He's the 24-year-old marine who was listed as a deserter on June 20, 2004 when he did not report for duty in Iraq. Then, a week later, Al-Jazeera, the Arabic world's version of FOX, broadcast a photo of Hassoun blindfolded with a sword behind his head along with a threat from an Iraqi insurgency group. Hassoun then contacted American officials on July 8 in Lebanon but didn't give clear details about how he got there or how he freed himself from the group. He was last seen in West Jordan, Utah after his family took him to the airport for a flight to North Carolina. He was returning to face inquiries into his mysterious disappearance and reappearance in Iraq.
Wednesday, January 5
Meteorologists predict this next weekend will see weather headlines across the nation as three storms collide over the Midwest. The pineapple express will sweep in from Hawaii drenching Los Angeles and the Southwest before meeting the arctic express sliding down from Canada. Both will meet a warm, moist anonymous express from the Gulf of Mexico. Some weather predictors are anticipating a once-or-twice-a-century-type storm to begin by Friday and stretch into early next week.
During a leisurely drive up Blacks Creek Road we witness a military helicopter flying around at low altitude. Being a little paranoid we think it is spying on us during the light snowstorm. We decide to hightail it back to Boise, but while driving around a curve in the road we discover the Apache helicopter is blocking our exit route. It takes off and we make it back to Boise with adrenalin pumping through our veins. Apparently you too can occasionally see a chopper in action because, according to the wing commander of the National Guard Helicopter Division, they sometimes fly up that way and we happened to catch them practicing a snow landing. And we had our camera with us. Lucky us.
Thursday, January 6
The Electoral College meets today to vote for the president and vice president. During this joint session of Congress, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) challenge the validity of the Ohio electors but the motion is defeated 267-31 by the House and 74-1 by the Senate. The Senator says she and others did it to bring attention to election reform in the wake of alleged voter fraud in Ohio. Not since 1969, when the Electoral College proceedings were interrupted to discuss a faithless elector voting for George Wallace instead of Richard M. Nixon, has this happened. There are no surprises in the counting of electoral votes in 2005, and George W. Bush retains his Presidency.
Friday, January 7
Local weathermen predict one to three inches of snow today with more over the weekend. One local media source goes so far as to declare the prediction on the front page. As of midnight, there is no snow in the valley.
Say goodbye to the quaint little cottages along 5th Street between Main and Grove. A demolition team begins tearing down the houses just a half-block away from BW's offices. No more downtown housing for Boise's hipsters but we'll have more parking spaces. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
The Internal Revenue Service announces that a new law enacted today allows charitable donations for tsunami relief to be made up until January 31 and citizens will still be able to recognize them on their 2004 tax returns. It is, however, only for cash donations so there goes your plan to round up all your old Boise River Fest T-shirts and mail them to Sri Lanka.
Saturday, January 8
It's official: According to their publicist, Brad and Jennifer have split up. The happiest couple in entertainment is now available again and millions of desperate libidos can once again dream that a piece of Hollywood can be theirs.
Still no snow. In fact, it was almost tropical.
Sunday, January 9
Guess what? No snow today in Boise, but we hear that Sun Valley got dumped on. Friends coming back from Bogus Basin report some fresh powder but none down here in the valley. Not even a raindrop.
Monday, January 10
We wake up this morning to find ... no snow. How surprising. Moreover, last week's national weather experts' dire predictions for an apocalyptic weather system turning the Midwest into Cocytus, Dante's ninth circle of hell completely consumed by ice, turned out to be a false prediction. The country got a little snow, a little rain and a tornado watch or two ... hardly a cataclysm. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has been turned into the Venice of the West.
Kempthorne gives his State of the State address. Visit www.boiseweekly.com to read the entire speech. We don't have enough room here.
The City of Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission sends developer Bill Clark back to the drawing board for his proposed 98-unit condominium development on Crescent Rim. (See BW, Dec. 29, Size Matters On the Boise Bench by Carissa Wolf) After a five-hour meeting, with close to 100 area residents attending and over half testifying, the commission, in a 6-0 vote, denies Clark the conditional use permit he needs to begin the project.
Tuesday, January 11
What's that? We think we saw a snowflake on our car this morning? Oh glory be! It sure didn't last long.
war in Iraq
U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, January 11, 1,355 U.S. service members (including 10 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 1,068 in combat and 287 from noncombat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 10,372.
Last week 20 soldiers have died in Iraq.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 15,229 and 17,443.
COST OF IRAQ WAR: $149,384,000,000.
COST OF IRAQ WAR TO BOISE: $64,293,823.
The outstanding national public debt went down last week. Pete Hollenbach, spokesman for the Bureau of Public Debt said it is not unnatural for daily fluctuations of several billion dollars to happen as the governement pays off debt or gets revenue. "It's seasonal," he said. As of January 11 is $7,602,964,270,338. Each citizen's share is $25,746.38.
Wedding Event of the Year--Make your reservations now for the ACLU Wedding Event. Speaking will be Roey Thorpe, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon fighting for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians and Mary Li & Becky Kennedy, the first same-sex couple in Oregon and lead plaintiffs in ACLU's case against the state of Oregon. The Event is at 7:30 p.m. at The Rose Room, 714 Idaho. Suggested donation of $10. But the real happening is the pre-event reception honoring David Nevin, defending lawyer of the wrongfully accused Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. You'll be able to mingle with all the wedding guests, too. 5 to 7 p.m., 1519 East Holly, $50 per person. Make your reservations by calling the ACLU at 344-9750 or Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.