The week in review

Biggest Constitutional news: President George W. Bush calls for an amendment to ban gay marriages. [See Essays on page 63 for a satirical take on the subject.–editor]

Worst allegation of kidnapping: Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns and leaves the country February 29, later claiming U.S. troops abducted him a charge the U.S. denies.

Worst explosion: On February 28, a tanker carrying 3.5 million gallons of ethanol goes down off the Virginia coast. At press time, three crew members were reported dead and 18 were missing.

Strangest bedfellows: Former Democratic governor Doug Wilder teams up with Republicans George Allen and Jerry Kilgore to propose a referendum on raising taxes, usurping the job of the General Assembly to come up with a budget.

Best news for careless college students: A bill to ban "morning-after" emergency contraception from publicly funded colleges is defeated in the Virginia Senate February 26.

Best nod to customer service by a public booze monopoly: The General Assembly passes legislation allowing ABC stores to open on Sundays in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Harshest rebuke to our Mayor: City Council kills Maurice Cox's pet project, Preston Commons, March 1.

Worst news for Charlottesville smokers and other taxpayers: City Manager Gary O'Connell proposes increasing cigarette taxes by 13 cents to fund schools, as well as raising trash sticker fees, which doubled last year, and E-911 taxes.

Worst jolt to homebuyers: The area's median home price climbed 18 percent last year to $195,954, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors.

Best gift to Ivy: Rivanna Solid Waste Authority plans to bio-remediate contaminants in the landfill's groundwater, a multi-million-dollar project that could take a decade, David Dadurka reports in the Daily Progress.

Worst shooting: Jeneal Robinson, 14, is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the accidental death of his 15-year-old sister, Quanmetrice Robinson, February 28.

Least competent: Sixteen-year-old Jessica Fugett, according to her attorneys, is not fit to stand trial for the February 2003 murders of her Crozet neighbor, Nola Charles, and Charles' three-year-old son, the Progress' Liesel Nowak reports.

Worst embezzlement: Barbara Jean McManama is convicted March 1 of stealing more than $150,000 from furniture maker Thorn and Company.

Saddest discovery: The remains of Edwina Sims, a local woman missing for three years, are found in a South Carolina swamp. Her former boyfriend, Ronald Coulter, is convicted of kidnapping her February 25 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, Reed Williams reports in the Progress.

Best news for Fido: UVA announces it will use simulators rather than live dogs in its elective Emergency Lifesaving Techniques class, following a public outcry about putting healthy pooches under the knife.

Best sign ignited some debate: A student-initiated referendum on partner benefits appears on UVA's spring ballot.

Most unusual referendum: Students will also be asked to vote on whether "Greg is delightful," reports the Cavalier Daily.

Most anticipated crucifixion flick: Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ opens February 25– Ash Wednesday– to sell-out crowds.

Worst diss to "The Greatest": A House of Delegates bill to honor Muhammad Ali is challenged February 27 by Delegate Mark Cole, who calls the former world heavyweight champ a "draft dodger and a man of questionable moral character."

Best picture: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King sweeps the Academy Awards February 29, taking home 11 Oscars.

Best photo/headline combo of unrelated stories in the Progress : An above-the-fold shot of an ambulance escorted by a fleet of bikers bears the headline, "Rural towns face urban exodus."