Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "The Kennedy Assassination," Nov. 22, 2003

saudi bomb Last week's death toll in the war on terror claimed more non-Americans than U.S. lives as shadow forces targeted vulnerable U.S. allies in the Middle East. A multibomb blast in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killed 11 in a multinational housing compound where mostly Lebanese live. Seven of those killed and 35 of the injured were Lebanese, primarily Christians. One Riyadh resident told WORLD that many expatriates believe the compound was selected for its non-Muslim Arab residents. Emile Lahoud, Lebanon's Christian president, has called in recent weeks for the replacement of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, widely regarded as a puppet for terror-sponsoring Syria and its Hezbollah base in Lebanon.

IRAQ war Guerrillas launched their deadliest attack on coalition forces, killing 16 Italian troops in a Nov. 12 bomb blast in Nasiriyah. The attack destroyed Italian military headquarters, killed at least two Italian civilians and eight Iraqis, and wounded more than 100, including U.S. aid workers.

The attack, taken together with the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad last August and Red Cross offices last month, is intimidating U.S. allies but not American forces. The U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division launched counterattacks, including aerial assaults, the same day on suspected terror hideouts. And chief administrator L. Paul Bremer was recalled to Washington for an emergency meeting to retool U.S. strategy. In an interview with WORLD, Mr. Bremer gave an upbeat prognosis on fighting the insurgency with guns and butter. He also gave a chilling analysis of religious freedom-that could include Islamic religious law-in a "Free Iraq." (Story, page 18.)

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WAR ON TERROR The U.S. Senate with just three "no" votes gave President Bush the new $400 billion defense spending bill he sought-with his priorities largely intact. At the Supreme Court, the justices agreed to hear the appeal of terror suspects held at Guantanamo; the high court will decide whether the foreign detainees may contest in the U.S. court system their captivity. And an Energy Department report concluded terrorists pose a "very significant" threat to detonate inside the United States a so-called dirty bomb, which would disperse radioactive debris across a wide area. "There is no shortage of radioactive materials that could be used," the report warns.

Trade sanctions President Bush told reporters he was "reviewing the data" from federal trade officials before deciding whether to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that U.S. steel tariffs are illegal. Mr. Bush imposed temporary import duties on steel that were widely seen as a political play for Rust Belt votes. Mr. Bush's political opponents would probably just as soon keep the president on the horns of a dilemma over tariffs. It means the big unions will work harder than ever to send a Democrat to the White House next year. (Story, page 25.)

AIDS funding U.S. lawmakers are moving closer to funding a $15 billion package that would combat AIDS in Africa with a five-year plan. Now they must win hearts and minds of African leaders on how best to ease the epidemic. The U.S. Senate, in approving $2.4 billion for next year's AIDS fund, said groups promoting behavior changes that reduce the risk of HIV infection will be preferred over those that confront it with condoms. Botswana President Festus Mogae told a Washington AIDS conference last week that abstinence may be fine, but "in the meantime people will die, and we have to give away condoms, too." His comments reinforce the battle looming for U.S. officials on the way to making the billions really count for African AIDS victims: contracting with faith-based groups who embrace abstinence teaching or secular groups who market condom giveaways and anti-viral drug cocktails. (Story, page 26.)

Ten Commandments Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was removed from office-the harshest punishment possible-by a unanimous vote of a state ethics panel for willfully and publicly ignoring a federal judge's order. "The chief justice placed himself above the law," declared William Thompson, who presided over the panel. Mr. Moore's reaction: "I have absolutely no regrets. I have done what I was sworn to do." (Story, page 27.)

Republicans last week mounted a marathon, 30-hour-plus debate on the Senate floor in hopes of breaking a Democratic filibuster of four appeals-court nominees, including the Alabama attorney general who prosecuted the ethics case against Mr. Moore. Democrats complained that the time was spent talking about judges instead of eight spending bills that may not pass before the Senate's Nov. 21 adjournment. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who once spoke for 14 hours and 13 minutes (the eighth-longest Senate speech in history) during a filibuster of a civil-rights bill, refused to participate in "this marathon, talkathon, blameathon, whatever you want to call this." Republicans answered that they could move on to other issues if Democrats would simply allow votes on the nominees. "These people deserve an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor," said President Bush. "And yet a few senators are playing politics and it's wrong and it's shameful." White House aide Tim Goeglein accused Democrats of placing "a glass ceiling" over three of the nominees-Janice Rogers Brown, Carolyn Kuhl, and Patricia Owen.

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