Dispatches > The Buzz
- To the chagrin of environmentalists, the Supreme Court limited the scope of the federal Clean Water Act. The court voted 5-4 that the 1972 law covers only navigable waterways or marshes that drain into such waterways. "The government was essentially saying they could regulate someone's backyard pond," Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer Anne Hayes complained to the Los Angeles Times. This may wind up an important state's-rights victory, because the justices took a narrower view of the interstate commerce clause that affects all sorts of federal regulations.
- Here's a late year-in-review entry: According to a company that keeps track of such things, major catastrophes-including widespread flooding and the mass killing of members of a doomsday cult-claimed 17,000 lives in the year 2000 and caused losses totaling $38 billion. The biggest single loss of life came from flooding in India and Bangladesh at the end of August, where 1,200 people died, the Swiss Reinsurance Co. said in its annual catastrophe review. Incidents of flooding were responsible for four of the top five disasters in 2000.
- Up, up, and away goes TWA. The St. Louis-based airline declared bankruptcy hours after its board approved a $500 million buyout from American Airlines. American chairman and chief executive Donald J. Carty said his company jumped at the chance to scoop up TWA, parts of US Airways, and a large stake in a new startup carrier for $1.8 billion in cash and $3.5 billion in lease obligations. The deal would place American Airlines and rival United in control of about half of the nation's air-travel market.