Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Books and Movies 2006," July 1, 2006

Iraq

Military prosecutors on June 21 charged seven Marines and one sailor with premeditated murder in the April 26 death of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, west of Baghdad. Prosecutors say they kidnapped Hashim Ibrahim Awad, shot him, and then planted evidence to make him appear to be an enemy fighter. The Marines and the Navy corpsman could face the death penalty if convicted.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, pushed for resolutions to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, even as captured documents from terrorist leaders showed that they recognized that the war was starting to go against them. Read more.

Iran

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President Bush warned Iran last week that the world community would isolate the country politically and economically if it did not suspend its uranium enrichment efforts. "Iran's leaders have a clear choice," Mr. Bush said. "We hope they will accept our offer and voluntarily suspend these activities so we can work out an agreement that will bring Iran real benefits." Initial signs were not encouraging: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would respond by Aug. 22 to an offer of incentives to end enrichment, a delayed timetable that President Bush rejected.

North Korea

Many nations also joined President Bush in calling on North Korea to scrap plans to test-fire a long-range missile. "If this [test] happens, there will be a strong statement and a strong answer from the international community," said Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who holds the EU's rotating presidency. "And Europe will be part of it. There's no doubt."

The United States rejected a North Korean call for direct talks between the two countries over the missile-test issue, instead saying any talks would have to include other countries in the region. "You don't normally engage in conversations by threatening to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles," UN Ambassador John Bolton said.

Indonesia

Rescue workers last week searched for survivors after floods and landslides hit the South Sulawesi province. At least 198 people were killed and 73 remained missing, as soldiers, police, and volunteers tried to clear roads buried by the landslides. A spokesman for the hard-hit Sinjai district said the region has dozens of villages "whose fate remains unknown as there is no longer any land access to those areas."

Religion

At a divided and rancorous general convention, the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) failed to respond conclusively to conditions laid out by the Anglican Communion-including a moratorium on blessing same-sex unions and consecrating active homosexuals as bishops-for continued membership in the worldwide body. A watered-down resolution pleased neither liberals, who said they would continue to consecrate gays, nor conservatives, who said the response was "clearly and simply inadequate." Read more.

Sports

After two games of the NBA Finals, Dallas seemed like a lock to win the title. The Mavericks' two blowout wins over the Miami Heat in Games 1 and 2 prompted Dallas owner Mark Cuban to proclaim on the David Letterman show that the series was in the bag. City of Dallas officials even announced parade plans. But everything changed in Game 3. Dallas blew a double-digit lead in the closing minutes behind a Heat rally led by guard Dwyane Wade. Miami never looked back and went on to four straight wins-with the clincher on June 20, the same day Dallas officials had set aside for a victory parade.

The series marked the first championship for Heat coach Pat Riley since 1988, when he led the Los Angeles Lakers to the title; it also witnessed the emergence of the 24-year-old Mr. Wade as a superstar compared by some reporters to a young Michael Jordan. Read more.

Cities

Elk Grove, Calif., was the fastest-growing large city in the country last year, according to a report from the Census Bureau. Elk Grove's population rose 12 percent between July 2004 and July 2005 to 112,338. Among cities with populations over 500,000, Fort Worth, Texas, grew the fastest, registering 3.5 percent growth. San Antonio, Texas, meanwhile, overtook San Diego, Calif., as the seventh-most-populous city in the country.

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