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Issue: "Weapons of mass hysteria," March 15, 2003
'a great cloud of dust'
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo won't allow U.S. troops to fight Muslim terrorists in her country. Americans will still train forces there but not engage in combat. One Philippines-based group, Abu Sayyaf, is notorious for kidnappings and killings and is linked to Osama bin Laden. U.S. defense officials announced an agreement to deploy more than 1,000 troops for joint operations, but shelved the offensive after leaders claimed the Philippines constitution bars foreign troops from combat. Tensions rose once again after a bombing linked to Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation front killed 21 people at an airport. The one American killed in the attack was William Hyde, a 25-year Southern Baptist missionary. He had just picked up a missionary family returning from a trip when the bomb, concealed in a backpack, ripped through the open-air terminal shelter at the Davao airport. He died in surgery after suffering massive injuries to the head and legs. Barbara Stevens and her 4-year-old daughter Sarah were treated for minor injuries. Ten-month-old Nathan Stevens had debris embedded in his liver that may require surgery. Husband Mark Stevens was uninjured. "I would be hesitant to tag it with anything happening in the States at this time," said Bill Bangham, spokesman for the SBC's International Missionary Board. "The Moros have been involved in a lot of terrorism. It's been going on for decades." It's been going on for decades in Israel, too, but the first suicide attack since early January killed 16 Israelis and wounded 55 on Bus No. 37, packed with students from Haifa University, on March 5; the bomber carried a message praising the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Mahmoud Hamdan Kawasme, 20, strapped on 130 pounds of explosives laden with metal shrapnel; with the blast, according to an eyewitness, "the back of the bus [flew] into the air, and the windows blew out, and a great cloud of dust covered the bus." Ten of the victims were high-school students. Hours later, the Israeli military struck back at Palestinians, killing 11 in a rocket attack.
official timeout?
What a time for March Madness. The NCAA basketball tournament comes as Americans brace for an Iraqi invasion-and terrorist reprisals. Contingency plans are in the works in case war drives sports off TV or out of arenas. CBS (which has an 11-year, $6 billion deal) may move games to UPN or to cable networks like TNN, MTV, or Nick at Night. The NCAA has no plans to cancel the tournament, which features 65 teams competing from March 20 to April 7. What-if scenarios extend beyond college basketball. NFL Europe players say they worry about traveling. Baseball player Kevin Millar pulled out of a $6.2 million deal to play in Japan, citing concerns about a war. Tiger Woods gave up a $2 million appearance fee and withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates, just 900 miles from Iraq.
truth & consequences
Law enforcement officials around the country will soon start posting pictures of sex offenders on the Internet. It's constitutional, according to a Supreme Court ruling that lets states report on the histories of such convicts after they're released. Justices rejected the argument that jail time and a public shaming constitutes double jeopardy: Justice Anthony Kennedy said "dissemination of truthful information" is not punishment. The decision has huge implications because the federal government and all 50 states have sex-offender registry rules. So-called Megan's laws are named for a New Jersey girl who was kidnapped, raped, and killed by a convicted sex offender in her own neighborhood. Sex criminals must now report to police every 90 days to update their addresses and have their pictures taken. The decision came after the group Parents for Megan's Law charged that law enforcement lost track of tens of thousands of (supposedly registered) rapists, child molesters, and other sex offenders. An Associated Press investigation also discovered that California lost track of at least 33,000 sex offenders. The high court also strengthened the hand of law enforcement by affirming California's "three-strikes-you're-out" law. A federal appeals court struck it down as a violation of the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. In upholding California's law, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said states have a right to protect citizens from repeat offenders. Twenty-six states and the federal government have three-strikes laws.
filibusted ... for now
President Bush got the Senate regime change he desperately wanted, but with just 44 votes minority Democrats succeeded last week to in maintaining its blockade of one of the president's prized judicial nominees. Republican leaders mustered only four defectors from a Democratic filibuster strategy to thwart the appointment of Miguel Estrada, a Honduran-born, Harvard-educated lawyer, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The president accused Democrats of using a "double standard" and denounced the continued filibuster as a "disgrace": "Some senators who once insisted that every appeals court nominee deserves a timely vote have now abandoned that principle for partisan politics." Mr. Bush said he would "stand by Miguel Estrada's side until he is sworn in as a judge." The president's spokesman suggested Democratic liberals who insist on tactics of obstruction were causing moderates "discomfort." Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will seek to exploit that discomfort and press for additional Democrats to break ranks: "Let me be clear: The majority will press for an up-and-down vote on this nominee until Miguel Estrada is confirmed." Most likely targets: Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Bob Graham (Florida), Evan Bayh (Indiana), Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Thomas Carper (Delaware), Ernest Hollings (South Carolina), and Robert Byrd (West Virginia). Republicans need five of these or others to break the logjam.

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