Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest news on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "No way out," May 13, 2006

TERRORISM U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema sent Zacarias Moussaoui to prison for life May 4, for his role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors had hoped the alleged "20th hijacker" would be executed but the jury ended the two-month trial with a life-sentence verdict May 3. An intense exchange between judge and defendant ended the often melodramatic proceedings, with the 37-year-old Moussaoui declaring America had lost and he had won. "Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun . . . hear the birds. . . . You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won," said Ms. Brinkema. "You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper."

IMMIGRATION Baptist leader Richard Land squared off with other evangelical leaders at an April 27 forum hosted by the Family Research Council. Mr. Land, who supports a limited guest-worker program for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country, found himself in the middle of the debate, but, more broadly, in the middle of the national debate on how to deal with the nation's immigration problem. May 1 "Day Without Immigrants" events saw record turnout for rallies and boycotting U.S. purchases in places like Los Angeles (300,000) but more hype than gripe in cities like Dallas (see "Defining immigration").

SUDAN Leaders from warring factions in Sudan's western region of Darfur met in Nigeria over a peace agreement that would end a bloody conflict that has cost at least 300,000 lives in the last three years. The talks quickly stalled, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick joined the negotiations. Meanwhile, the UN announced that it was running out of money to feed Sudanese displaced by the fighting. UN workers began cutting in half the already-minimal food rations for malnourished refugees (see "No way out").

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BOLIVIA President Evo Morales ordered Bolivian troops into the country's oil and gas fields and threatened to throw out foreign companies unless they agreed to new contracts within six months giving the state control of energy production. Mr. Morales campaigned last year on a pledge to nationalize the industry, but the May 1 move came just after the president returned from Havana, where he met with Cuban president Fidel Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The trio plan to form a new trade bloc to counter what they call U.S. domination in the region. Bolivia has the continent's second-largest natural gas reserves, after Venezuela, but most of its capacity remains untapped.

ISRAEL Ehud Olmert presented his new government to parliament May 4, pledging to remove isolated Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank but also to hold on to major enclaves and East Jerusalem. The borders of Israel in the coming years, he pledged, "will be significantly different from the territories under Israel's control today," vowing to draw final borders by 2010 with or without Palestinian agreement (see "Alliance and defiance").

Mr. Olmert also voiced anxiety about Iran's nuclear program, accusing Tehran of targeting the Jewish state for annihilation. Britain and France introduced a UN Security Council resolution May 3, with U.S. and German backing, that would be legally binding and set the stage for sanctions against Iran if the nation does not abandon uranium enrichment.

GAY 'RIGHTS' Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based public-interest law firm, agreed to defend Tim Bono, owner of Bono Film and Video in Arlington, Va., after the Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ordered Mr. Bono on April 18 to duplicate two pro-homosexual videos by lesbian activist Lilli M. Vincenz. Mr. Bono refused Ms. Vincenz's request to duplicate the documentaries because they ran counter to the company's biblical values. His case is just one symptom of a gay-rights agenda increasingly carried out at the local level (see "Under the radar").

CONGRESS Republicans agreed to a $70 billion package of tax cuts that, if enacted, will extend low tax rates on dividends and most capital gains until 2010 and prevent a $31 billion tax increase for more than 15 million U.S. households from the alternative minimum tax this year.

MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME French philosopher Jean-François Revel, 82, died on April 29. He was best known for an honest evaluation of his nation's embrace of dictators and distaste for American conservatives: "We French have had little to say against Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe, the imams of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or the bosses of China and Vietnam. We reserve our admonitions and our contempt and our attacks for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.' Revel was a young leftist, but on a U.S. visit in 1970 he was "astonished by evidence that everything Europeans were saying about the U.S. was false.'

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