Three of five living presidents met at the White House two days before former President Bill Clinton underwent surgery to remove fluid and scar tissue that developed in his left lung after his quadruple heart bypass six months ago.
President Bush met with his father and Mr. Clinton, who reported that Americans had donated $1 billion in private aid to victims of the Asian tsunami. The president appointed his two predecessors, who have developed what colleagues describe as a good friendship after a bitter 1992 presidential campaign, to head private fundraising efforts after the Dec. 26 tsunami killed over 280,000 in 11 countries. They completed a tour of the region last month. Even then Mr. Clinton knew he must undergo the unusual but low-risk March 10 procedure.
At a charity golf tournament in Florida on March 9, Mr. Clinton said, "I've had an unusual life. If something happens-if I get struck by lightning on the golf course today-I'd wind up ahead of where 99.99 percent of the people who ever lived. . . . I'm just grateful for every day when the sun comes up."
Boston pitcher Curt Schilling and six other baseball stars were subpoenaed on March 9 to testify before a House committee about steroid use in major league baseball (MLB). Teammates said they welcomed his speaking out because Mr. Schilling has a reputation for staying clean. "We definitely want [baseball] to be clean, not just for the even playing field and whatnot but for the kids that are coming up," said teammate Johnny Damon. (MLB said in a statement last week that the players "will respectfully decline the invitations to testify.") Mr. Schilling told WORLD staying clean got a lot easier when he became a Christian eight years ago. "I realize the lessons in everything, even losing, and can take away something about better preparation or the need for humility," he said.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he expects Palestinian militant groups to declare a formal cease-fire in their four-year-old uprising against Israel at a March 15 meeting in Cairo. Meanwhile, Mr. Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz concluded the first handover of key checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank, which the Israeli government promised last month to return to the Palestinian National Authority. Parents of Abigail Litle, a 14-year-old American killed two years ago this month in a suicide bombing attack in Haifa, said they are glad Israelis and Palestinians are talking. But "true peace requires an ability to forgive," Phil Litle told WORLD. "I don't see those kinds of changes happening apart from a supernatural intervention of God."
The World Council of Churches urged its members to divest from select companies that do business with Israel. The WCC, which says it represents 340 denominations with 400 million members, followed the lead of prominent member the Presbyterian Church (USA), which last year promised economic pressure against companies that profit from Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza. American Jewish leaders called the strategy biased and one-sided for not also demanding that Palestinians work to end suicide bombings against Israelis.
Senate lawmakers cautioned against reading too much into a 53-46 vote March 8 allowing protesters to use bankruptcy proceedings to avoid payment of court fines or penalties. But the vote could have an immediate effect on pro-life protesters facing insolvency. It also signaled challenges ahead for the Democratic minority on even tangential pro-life measures-a change for the Senate, which has been more tentative on abortion-related votes than the House. "Clearly, with the freshman class that came in this year you gained a number of pro-life votes," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, one of seven conservative Republicans who won their seats last fall.
Prosecutors in Seattle are moving to revoke the voter registrations of 99 convicted felons believed to have cast illegal votes in the 2004 general election. They also are investigating more than 800 possible felon voters identified by the state Republican Party. GOP candidate Dino Rossi, who is contesting the results of Washington state's gubernatorial election last year, has compiled a list of over 1,000 felons and 45 dead people he says were included among the rolls of counted voters. Mr. Rossi and the state GOP believe such illegal ballots handed Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire her razor-thin 129-vote victory. Now Republicans must prove illegal votes changed the election's outcome to nullify the results.
Martha Stewart completed a five-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators about her sale of ImClone stock, just as two friends of jailed ImClone founder Samuel Waksal were arrested on securities fraud charges. Prosecutors allege that the two, like Ms. Stewart, were tipped off by Mr. Waksal leading to their 2001 stock sale. Mr. Waksal, a longtime friend of Ms. Stewart, is serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison over illegal stock tips.
For the third straight year, North Korea topped Open Doors' "World Watch List" of countries where Christians are persecuted. Tens of thousands of Christians suffer in North Korean prison camps and at least 20 were shot or beaten to death in 2004 while in detention, the Calif.-based group said. Saudi Arabia again ranked second on the list, followed by Vietnam, Laos, and Iran.