Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Foster care's future," March 5, 2005

White House

President Bush ended a barnstorm tour of Europe, repairing relations with allies still angry over his handling of Iraq. In Brussels, Mr. Bush told leaders of NATO and the European Union that the historic relationship between the world's leading democracies would transcend any fleeting difficulties. "No passing disagreement of governments, no power on earth will ever divide us," he vowed.

After a stop at a U.S. military base in Germany, Mr. Bush traveled to Slovakia for a meeting with his most difficult ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Though the two men are on a first-name basis and issued a joint agreement on new measures to combat nuclear terrorism, Mr. Bush publicly challenged his counterpart over setbacks to democracy in Russia.

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A Florida judge on Feb. 21 denied bail to John and Linda Dollar, the adoptive parents accused of beating, shocking, and starving five of their eight children. The case came to light when the couple's 16-year-old son was admitted to a hospital with head wounds. Weighing just 60 pounds, he told of abuse ranging from being locked in a closet to having his toenails torn off with pliers.

The Dollar case highlighted problems at the Florida Department of Children and Families, the state agency responsible for placing children with foster and adoptive parents. Officials hope a new effort to privatize and localize child welfare services will prevent such cases in the future. Faith-based organizations in Florida give the privatization effort generally high marks-and it could serve as a model for other states to follow.

Middle East

Conventional wisdom said shoving elections upon Iraq would lead to civil war and widening conflict. Instead the pundits are borrowing tipping-point theories to explain the dramatic turnaround in the region since Iraqis went to the polls on Jan. 30.

Thousands of protesters-Muslim, Christian, and Druze-flooded Beirut streets last week in an unprecedented anti-government demonstration following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. "Syria out. Syria out," they chanted in a widening call for Lebanon's pro-Syria government to expel 14,000 troops. Over 60 intellectuals and human-rights activists in Syria joined the call with a formal plea to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Syrian forces have remained in the country since its civil war ended a decade ago-ostensibly as a buffer against Israeli aggression, but also in support of Hezbollah and other terror groups that regularly launch attacks on Israel from south Lebanon.

In Egypt more than 500 people rallied in Cairo to protest a new term in office for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and moves to ensure that his son Gamal succeed him. Mr. Mubarak, a key U.S. ally, is up for reelection this year to a fifth term of office under state-of-emergency rules still in force 24 years after he succeeded Anwar Sadat following his assassination.


The United Iraqi Alliance nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari to become Iraq's prime minister on Feb. 22 following an electoral lead that gives the alliance 140 seats in a new National Assembly. "We are liberal powers and we believe in a liberal Iraq and not an Iraq governed by political Islamists," Mr. al-Jaafari told reporters to dispel concern that his close ties to Iran will lead to theocratic government.

Kurdish parties and leading Sunnis vowed to work with the new head of state. His strongest opposition could come from fellow Shiites. Current interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said he would challenge the front-runner. Mr. al-Jaafari said he welcomed it: "Mr. Allawi is one of the Iraqis, and he's my brother."

With insurgent attacks on police stations in central Iraq killing two dozen last week, one Iraqi soldier told WORLD it will take longer to restore security and to "liberate the residue from our minds of the old regime and liberate together into one Iraq."


More than 500 people likely died in a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Iran's Kerman province. Snow and heavy rain hampered rescue workers from reaching the injured in mountain villages leveled by the quake.

North Korea

From a high-rise window across the border in China, a U.S. businessman says he is witnessing startling changes in North Korea. More lights at night, more traffic across the nearby bridge that is the only land link between the two countries, and more openness from visiting North Koreans all suggest regime change could be underway.

United Nations

In a surprise move, the UN called on member states Feb. 18 to ban all forms of human cloning. The vote followed three years of deadlock pitting Latin American nations against European delegates, who compromised on the nonbinding measure. "Human cloning is the deliberate creation of a human life for utilitarian purposes," said Sen.Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who has led the U.S. effort for a national ban on cloning. "I am extremely encouraged that the international community has made such a strong statement."


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