Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Lebanon: Democracy now," Feb. 26, 2005

Terror

Grief and fury gripped a quarter-million Lebanese who joined the funeral procession of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated Feb. 14. Mr. Hariri was traveling along Beirut's trendy waterfront when an enormous explosion ripped through his motorcade, killing him and 13 others, and wounding over 120. The bomb also tore off several building faces.

Many fingered Syria in the attack because Mr. Hariri, who was prime minister for 10 of the last 14 years, opposed Syria's longtime occupation of Lebanon. Mr. Hariri's mourners chanted "Syria out!" as his flag-draped casket went by. As the protests extended beyond his funeral, Lebanon's Daily Star predicted a Kiev-like outpouring of street protest.

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Israeli Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky told WORLD it will take political transformation to eliminate terror from the Middle East. "I am very optimistic," he said of moves toward multiparty systems in Iraq and among the Palestinians. But only pressure from the United States, Europe, and others will maintain the momentum-a theme Mr. Bush is expected to underscore in his tour of Eastern and Western Europe.

Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf presented a bloody Valentine's Day "gift" to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo: Three bombings in capital Manila and two other cities killed at least seven and wounded more than 120.

Bush officials stressed to Congress that terror threats remain in the United States, as the president named John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the first National Intelligence Director. If confirmed by Congress, Mr. Negroponte will coordinate intelligence among the CIA, FBI, and defense agencies as recommended by the 9/11 Commission.

Iraq

Election officials certified Jan. 30 poll results, handing majority rule to the lead Shiite alliance in a country ruled by its Sunni minority for more than 30 years. With a two-thirds majority needed to select a president and two vice presidents, Shiite leaders are likely to look to Kurds, who placed second, as governing partners. In the provinces, election euphoria is proving less durable than frustration over shortages, particularly of jobs.

Environment

After seven years' incubation, the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions went into effect on Feb. 16, minus the United States. Only 35 industrialized nations of the 140 who have ratified the protocol have binding restrictions; by 2012, for example, the European Union has to reduce emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels.

As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, the United States is taking a lot of heat for not participating in Kyoto. But the protocol is unlikely to make much of a dent in projected climate warming. It will, however, cost the world $150 billion to $350 billion a year to implement, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Social Security

With Treasury Secretary John Snow hitting Wall Street and President Bush hitting the hinterlands, the administration received a needed boost from Fed chairman Alan Greenspan on Social Security reform. With characteristic cautiousness, Mr. Greenspan endorsed Mr. Bush's call for private savings accounts and told lawmakers the present retirement system is "not working." He did, however, caution against financing the transition to personal accounts through borrowing.

Religion

A debate is just beginning over the new Bible translation, Today's New International Version (TNIV). Some prominent conservatives-such as culture critic D.A. Carson and apologist John Stott-are making the case that inclusive language is appropriate when translating Scripture into contemporary language.

Bible scholar Craig Blomberg at Denver Seminary told WORLD, "If an original author used a linguistic form referring inclusively to men and women alike, then it is the translator's responsibility to be sure those intentions and that original meaning are adequately communicated." Mr. Blomberg cites his own experience in teaching the Bible, in which young people and new Christians are confused by passages they assume apply only to men. But in backing away from a 1997 translation agreement and in multiple changes-and additions-from original texts, TNIV scholars take accessibility to excess.

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