Dispatches > The Buzz
- Bashar Assad won 97.29 percent of the vote in last week's election for Syria's presidency. Of course, his name was the only one on the ballot. The former eye doctor and son of deceased President Hafez Assad begins his seven-year term this month with key support from the country's military and political establishment. Middle East analysts never doubted Bashar Assad's career path: The elder Assad had brutally ruled Syria and had designated his son as his successor. Syria has a recent history of presidential landslides: Hafez Assad was "elected" with between 99.6 and 99.99 percent of the vote in his presidential referendums.
- The Colorado Supreme Court last week refused to allow a referendum on eliminating bilingual education to reach voters. The court ruled that the proposed constitutional amendment, which would have required public schools to teach students in English, was misleading. Now supporters of the proposal must develop a new version that the justices find acceptable, then collect 62,600 signatures and submit them by August 7.
- A fight between adults at a kid's hockey game in Reading, Mass., had deadly consequences-and the father of one of the players stands accused of beating another man to death. Authorities charged Thomas Junta with manslaughter after doctors declared Michael Costin brain dead from injuries suffered at the ice rink. Police say Mr. Junta became angry when the game, which was supposed to be non-contact, became rough and players engaged in checking. He and Mr. Costin, who was on the ice with the 10-year-old players, began arguing. During the fight, Mr. Junta knocked Mr. Costin to the floor and punched him in the head, according to police. Mr. Junta faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Stop the presses. The European Central Bank last week revealed that a Munich-based printer had misprinted $32 billion worth of euro notes, the continent's new supranational currency, making the notes worthless scrap paper. The problem involved a misprinted security design that the bank had ordered to foil counterfeiters. Non-botched euro notes haven't done so well, either. The currency's exchange rate with the dollar has slipped to 95 cents. Europe launched the euro at a value of $1.16 in January 1999.