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The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Malaria: Kill or be killed," Oct. 29, 2005

AFRICA An old and much-maligned chemical compound is gaining renewed attention in the fight against malaria. To kill the mosquitoes causing the death of almost a million Africans every year, a broad-based coalition of public health specialists is pushing for the indoor spraying of DDT in Africa. Environmentalists despise the insecticide, but others say the de facto ban on DDT "has killed more people than Hitler" (See "Kill or be killed").

IRAQ Former dictator Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi tribunal and pleaded not guilty to the first charge of mass crimes. The five-judge panel moved to delay further proceedings until Nov. 28, allowing Saddam's defense to prepare its case (See "High crimes").

Iraqi police that same day, Oct. 19, arrested Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, a nephew to Saddam. Mr. Ibrahim allegedly funded the insurgency against U.S.-led forces, and Iraqi Defense Ministry officials called his capture a serious blow to terrorist networks.

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Iraqi and UN election officials continued to tabulate and certify results from the Oct. 15 nationwide vote likely to approve a new constitution. Chaldean church leaders said they are likely to ask Pope Benedict to formally intervene on the constitution's interpretation of religious freedom. At issue is a fundamental contradiction that church leaders say lies at the heart of the document: Article 2.1 (b) and 2.2 defend freedom and religious rights, but Article 2.1 (a) states: "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed laws of Islam."

STORM SEASON Officials ordered the evacuation of thousands from Mexico and Florida as Hurricane Wilma picked up strength. The storm left 15 people dead as it moved across Haiti, with much of Central America still recovering from Hurricane Stan, which killed or left missing 1,500. What could be the worst hurricane season's worst hurricane leaves emergency-preparedness officials beaten and relief coffers exhausted (See "Money: What a relief?"). Louisiana state officials, faced with a $1.5 billion hurricane-related shortfall, prepared to lay off workers and slash agency budgets to meet a no-deficit-spending requirement in state law. Louisiana is losing sales, income, business, and gambling taxes because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

EARTHQUAKE UN officials said the shortfall in aid for victims of the South Asian earthquake has made the relief situation worse than last December's tsunami. With Pakistan reporting more than 47,000 people dead in areas under its control in the Oct. 8 quake, Jan Egeland, UN emergency relief coordinator, warned of a second wave of deaths unless more aid reaches remote areas: "This is not enough. We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought the tsunami was the worst we could get. This is worse," he said.

SPORTS It took 44 seasons for the Houston Astros to make it to their first World Series ever and 46 for the Chicago White Sox to muster a comeback. The 101st World Series is likely to be a pitching duel following home-run-hitting contests of recent championships.

MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME Cold War warrior Penn Kemble, a longtime Democrat and socialist organizer turned Reagan ally in the war against communism, died Oct. 16 at age 64. After The Washington Post labeled him one of "Ollie's liberals" for siding with Reagan aide Oliver North in sending aid to Latin American freedom fighters, Kemble thanked the paper for noting that liberals, too, could "countenance armed resistance to a Marxist-Leninist police state in Central America." He led a delegation to Sudan in 2002, affirming accounts of Islamic-led slavery before a cancer diagnosis forced him into early retirement.

HEALTH Dire forecasts of a potential avian influenza pandemic have focused attention on efforts to make and distribute vaccines. But with the bulk needed, and the inability to produce an effective vaccine until the strain of the virus shows its face, experts say more mundane measures-hand-washing, school closings, quarantines-will do a lot to fight any flu crisis (See "Bird-flu watching").

SCIENCE Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe took the stand last week to defend in federal court intelligent design as sound science. "It's well-tested from an inductive argument," Mr. Behe said under cross-examination. "When you see a large number of parts interact in a purposeful arrangement of parts, we've found that to be design." The testimony came in a lawsuit brought by 11 parents against the Dover, Pa., school board. Dover requires teachers to read a statement saying that "gaps exist" in Darwinism and that intelligent design is an alternate theory. The parents argue that the statement is unconstitutional because, they say, intelligent design is based on religion, not science.


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