Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "An evolving debate," May 21, 2005

Iraq U.S. Marines killed over 100 insurgents in the first days of an offensive in western Iraq. The fighters are linked to wanted terrorist Abu al Zarqawi, believed hiding in the western town of Qaim, nearly 200 miles west of Baghdad. The U.S. attack began Sunday morning, May 8, at a bridge crossing beneath a ridgeline separating Iraq and Syria. As the offensive, known as Operation Matador, unfolded, the terrorists put up a fight, at one point firing on Euphrates bridges; firing armor-piercing bullets at Marines through basement hideouts; and digging holes for roadside bombs. At least five U.S. troops were killed.

The week was far bloodier for Iraqis; at least 112 Iraqi civilians were killed May 9-12 in bomb attacks. The largest:

· May 11-suicide car bomber in Tikrit killed 33 and wounded 80.

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· May 11-suicide bomber south of Kirkuk blew up himself outside an army recruitment center, killing 32 and wounding 34.

· May 12-car bombing in busy east Baghdad market killed 17, wounded 34.

Bush President Bush ended his European tour in Georgia, where locals gave him a hero's welcome for supporting democracy. Mr. Bush also hit Latvia, the Netherlands, and Russia in honor of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. He showed camaraderie with Russian President Vladimir Putin by taking a spin in the leader's 1956 Volga, but raised Russian hackles when he warned officials not to meddle in the budding democracies of its former Soviet satellites. In Tbilisi, Georgia, an estimated 150,000 locals thronged Freedom Square and cheered Mr. Bush, who supported their 2003 Rose Revolution. Some wore red, white, and blue and formed into a human American flag.

Capitol Hill "Get out, get out!" came the May 11 alarm to lawmakers and staff from Capitol police. Fighter jets scrambled over Washington and authorities hurriedly evacuated the White House, Supreme Court, and U.S. Congress when an unidentified plane roamed into restricted airspace, sparking fears of a 9/11-style attack. Two Pennsylvania pilots were detained but released following the incident.

Bolton The Senate Foreign Relations panel passed on the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the UN in a tense session on May 12. Republicans' two-member edge nearly failed to support the Bush pick after Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) called the longtime State Department diplomat "arrogant" and "bullying." Sen. Voinovich said he would vote against Mr. Bolton's confirmation in the full Senate but, "We owe it to the president to give Mr. Bolton an up-or-down vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate."

Kansas Nearly two dozen expert witnesses testified May 5-7 before a committee of the Kansas State Board of Education, calling on the board to require science teachers to present scientific evidence against Darwinism as well as for the theory. Darwinian scientists denounced and boycotted the hearings, saying the proposed revisions to the state's education standards would introduce creationism into Kansas classrooms. But scientists in favor of a balanced approach noted that the revisions do not mandate the teaching of any theories other than Darwin's and that they focus on science. Said the Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer: "There is a tremendous amount of criticism of the theory that students should be permitted to know about."

Sex-ed "It looks like we're in Kansas after all," disgruntled high-school parent Charlotte Fremaux told The Washington Post after a district court judge threw out a controversial Montgomery County, Md., sex-ed program. The curriculum, set to hit classrooms this month, taught that sex play between same-sex adolescents was normal and labeled biblical teaching on homosexuality "a myth." Declared Ms. Fremaux: "Next, they'll be challenging evolution."

Gay rights Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reversed himself on May 6, saying the software giant would support a Washington state bill barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. With its own longstanding gay-preference practices, Microsoft initially supported a new law to impose those hiring and benefits preferences on other employers. It withdrew support under pressure from family groups, led by Seattle-area pastor Ken Hutcherson. The measure was defeated in the Washington state Senate by one vote. Now rekindled by Microsoft's flip-flop, the bill won't get a pass from Mr. Hutcherson. The former NFL linebacker told WORLD: "God called us to be the salt of the earth and salt irritates any open wounds."

Sudan The UN's World Food Program pulled out of the desperate Darfur region after bandits killed two of its drivers transporting aid to the region. The agency also pulled out of five Darfur refugee camps in neighboring Chad after violence there left three people dead.

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