Insurgents set off six bombs in one day on June 20 targeting Iraqi army units. One explosion killed 20 policemen, bringing to over 1,000 the number of Iraqi soldiers and police killed this year. The death toll is not slowing U.S. training of Iraqi units, nor a handover of control scheduled to begin this month. (see "Marathon men")
Dick Durbin should remember that all politics is local. The Democratic senator from Illinois stirred ire on both sides of the aisle with a June 14 statement that U.S. treatment of Guantanamo detainees "must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime-Pol Pot or others-that had no concern for human beings." Some applauded him (see "Fallen Star"), but every state has loyal members of the armed forces, Mr. Durbin himself represents Holocaust survivors, and they were incensed with the comparison. After a week's prevarication, Mr. Durbin took the Senate floor to apologize June 21. "I made references to the Nazis and Soviets and other repressive regimes," he said. "Mr. President, I've come to understand those were very unfortunate words."
The House of Representatives on June 22 approved a constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure that for the first time stands a chance of passing the Senate as well. Conservatives are divided, with some arguing the flag deserves special protection, while others say an amendment would interfere with First Amendment protections. (see "Blaze of Old Glory")
The House declined to censure the Air Force Academy for campus evangelism after Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) attached an amendment to the Pentagon budget that would condemn the "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing." (See "Attack formation," May 7.) That maneuver prompted Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) to note, "Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians." Democrats briefly demanded that Mr. Hostettler be censured for the remark, but when it was all over, the amendment was voted down 210-198.
A mixed-race jury convicted one-time Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen on June 21 of the 1964 slayings of three civil-rights workers. The murders, which took place exactly 41 years before the conviction, galvanized the struggle for equality, spurring passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and later inspiring the Oscar-winning movie Mississippi Burning. Jurists convicted Mr. Killen, 80, of manslaughter rather than murder as the alleged ringleader of klansmen. With each count carrying a 20-year sentence, he could still spend the rest of his life in prison.
Missouri attorney Al Johnson, a longtime researcher into the case, said he believed the verdict was fair if unprecedented. "To go out and get a conviction using testimony from a previous case," he told WORLD, "with all the testimony read into the record from transcripts of previous proceedings now nearly four decades old, and with three out four primary witnesses dead-it's a remarkable achievement."
MasterCard announced June 17 that up to 40 million credit-card accounts, including Visa, American Express, and Discover accounts, had been exposed to fraud after computer hackers stole credit information. Besides the hackers themselves, the problem arose with CardSystems Solutions, which stored cardholder information in breach of contract. The scam could affect consumers as far away as Japan and Hong Kong. (see "Money")
Microsoft has agreed to block certain "profanities" from parts of its new internet portal in China-words such as democracy, freedom, and human rights. Beyond the wild, wild internet, China is also trying to rein in runaway growth among underground churches. Starting May 22, police raided 100 house churches in Jilin Province and arrested 600 Christians (see "Freedom to conform"). They released most within two days, but 100 leaders remain in custody, among them university professors.
Prime Minister Phan Van Khai made a White House visit June 21, the first time a Vietnamese premier has met with an American president since 1975. Topping Mr. Khai's agenda was cultivating trade ties, but hundreds of pro-democracy protesters outside the White House had a different priority: improving Vietnam's human-rights record. The same day, three Vietnamese house-church leaders submitted congressional testimony detailing abuses against Christians.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice marked her end-of-June Mideast tour chiding allies to "abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy." Ms. Rice hammered home the theme in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt, where she canceled a February trip because a prominent opposition leader was jailed.
Saad Hariri's anti-Syrian slate won parliamentary elections in Lebanon after four stages of voting. The win sparked waves of flag-waving, horn-honking celebrations in the country.
In Iran, an expected run-off for the presidency turned into an unsavory choice between evils: Tehran's ultra-Islamist mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to second place against top-runner Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Mr. Ahmadinejad's ascendancy sparked off allegations of vote-rigging, newspaper shut-downs, and a scramble among reformers to support hardliner-turned-pragmatist Rafsanjani.