Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Africa: The new frontier," July 16, 2005

Britain

Four near-simultaneous bomb attacks in central London July 7 shut down the city, brought transportation to a standstill, and brought terrorism close to home again for the United States and its key ally. The attacks-three underground at subway stations and one on a bus-may have been the first suicide bomb attacks ever in London. Scotland Yard, long experienced with tracking terrorists, launched a manhunt for suspects and said the strikes may have been London's worst since World War II, certainly the worst in 30 years. At least 40 people were killed and more than 700 wounded. (see "Nightmare comes to Britain")

"It certainly makes Londoners dig deep into their vintage spirit of fortitude and say, 'Nothing like this is ever going to make us bow to the fear in such evil,'" said Charlie Colchester, international director of London-based Christian charity CARE. "London may be in a state of shock but it is already shaking itself down and beginning to start again," he told WORLD on the afternoon of the bombings.

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In Washington, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a news conference the U.S. national threat level would be raised to orange for "regional and inner-city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems."

Supreme Court

The first woman to take a seat on the nation's highest court became the first to retire. In a surprise announcement July 2, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she would step down before the court's next session, paving the way for a brutal nomination fight between judicial conservatives and liberal, pro-abortion activists. (see "Ready or not") Justice O'Connor angered pro-lifers by affirming Roe v. Wade in several court cases. But she voted with the bench's conservative minority on key cases, siding with the president's legal team in ending Florida's 2000 vote recount; and, most recently, with private property owners in the Kelo case. (see "Whose domain?")

Medicine

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, is taking heat from pro-abortion groups because it does not sell the morning-after pill in its pharmacies. The company says it doesn't stock the pills for "business reasons," but Planned Parenthood and NARAL are responding with classic political tactics: letter-writing and picketing campaigns. NARAL spokesman Ted Miller calls Wal-Mart's stand "disconcerting" because "for many rural women, Wal-Mart is their only pharmacy." In cases across the country, however, others are finding it disconcerting that they are being forced not only to tolerate but to actively promote abortion and homosexuality. (see "One choice fits all")

Cinema

War of the Worlds took in $77.6 million over the 4th of July weekend, lifting the Steven Spielberg remake to $114 million in box office receipts and true blockbuster status. But it was not enough to overcome Hollywood's record revenue rut: The movie industry entered its 19th straight weekend with revenue down from last year's figures. War of the Worlds fell short of last year's 4th of July high set by Spider-Man 2 at $180 million. But the film's gritty realism and sustained intensity may redefine blockbuster as storytelling if not as moneymaker. (see "Movie review")

Energy

Newspaper headlines and TV talking heads are breathlessly reporting that oil prices and gasoline prices are at or approaching record highs. But that's only true when the prices aren't adjusted for inflation. Oil and gasoline prices have indeed risen this year, but they are not as high as they were in the true record-setting year of 1981, and they do not affect the economy as much now as they did then. (see "Money")

Africa

The last Live8 concert drew 50,000 to Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 6. The concerts, held throughout the world, were meant as entertaining vehicles to pressure G8 leaders (who were preparing to meet in Scotland) into canceling the debt of poor countries and giving their often-corrupt governments more aid. Rock guitarist and organizer Bob Geldof told the crowd of Scots: "On Friday, there will be a great silence across the world while we await the verdict of eight men. Is [Africa] to live or die?" But even as Mr. Geldof spoke, others who hadn't waited on governments were on the ground in Africa, providing spiritual and material help to poverty-stricken and AIDS-ravaged Africans. (see "The other venue")

Religion

The July 4 decision of the Cleveland, Ohio-based United Church of Christ to endorse same-sex marriage will force the exodus of many more churches in the 1.3-million-member UCC, evangelical renewal leader David Runnion-Bareford predicted. He heads the New Hampshire-based Biblical Witness Fellowship, the largest renewal group in the UCC. He noted that the liberal denomination, which counts some 5,700 congregations on its roster, had shrunk by 160,000 members in the last year alone, making it Protestantism's loss leader.

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