Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Katie can't bar the door," July 15, 2006

Mexico

A recount on July 6 confirmed the results from earlier in the week: Conservative presidential candidate Felipe Calderón won a very narrow victory over his leftist rival, Andres Manuel López Obrador. Fewer than 300,000 votes out of 41 million separated the two candidates. Supporters of López Obrador wept in the streets, while their candidate urged them to protest the results. The vote helped keep America's closest Latin American neighbor from joining the ranks of Latin American countries-such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela-that are governed by leftist leaders. Read more

North Korea

Facing a U.S. crackdown on his country's illicit sources of income and minor rebellions within his own military, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il last week defied world leaders and launched several test missiles-including one with the capability of hitting the United States and Canada. That missile was a flop technologically, but it and the others ignited criticism in Tokyo, Washington, and around the world. "We expect you to adhere to international norms," President Bush said of the world's message to Kim. "We expect you to keep your word." Read more

Sudan

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Rebel groups that rejected a May 5 peace deal in Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur formed an alliance and last week attacked government buildings in a town near Khartoum. The Sudanese army said at least a dozen people had died and that fighting continued. The raid was the latest sign that the peace accord between the Sudanese government and one rebel faction isn't working. The new rebel alliance says the peace agreement doesn't go far enough to protect and restore Darfur's three million refugees.

Aid workers say violence continues to escalate at grim displacement camps where refugees lack food and clean water. Gunmen recently killed the watchman for one nongovernmental organization (NGO) inside southern Darfur's largest camp. Bandits have robbed the compounds of other NGOs as well. War-related violence and disease have claimed some 300,000 lives since fighting began three years ago.

Business

Former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay (below) died on July 5 after suffering a massive heart attack at a Colorado vacation home. An autopsy revealed that Lay, 64, had coronary artery disease. Lay died less than two months after a Houston jury convicted him of multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy connected to the downfall of the once-mighty Enron Corporation. The company's demise cost thousands of blindsided employees their jobs and retirements. Lay, who maintained his innocence, faced decades in prison. Born the son of a Baptist preacher in rural Missouri, Lay is survived by his wife, two children, and three stepchildren.

Gambling

The 12 casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., fell silent last week, victims of a budget battle between Gov. Jon Corzine and the state legislature. Without a budget in place, the governor ordered all non-essential government workers to stay home. Since that included state gaming inspectors, the casinos had to shut down. At least one gambler was able to consider the bright side: "I look at it this way-I'm saving money," 67-year-old Kenneth Shean told the Chicago Tribune. "If I can't bet, I can't lose."

Marriage

In a setback for same-sex marriage advocates, the top state courts in Georgia and New York upheld laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. New York's Court of Appeals ruled on July 6 that gay marriage is not permissible under state law. The court rejected the argument of 44 homosexual couples that the state had violated their constitutional rights by denying them marriage licenses. Judge Robert Smith said New York law clearly limits marriage to a man and a woman and any changes should come through the state legislature, not the courts.

That same day, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling and reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage that Georgia voters had approved in 2004. The lower court had said that the ban, which passed with 76 percent of the vote, violated the state's single-subject rule for ballot initiatives because it dealt with both same-sex marriage and civil unions. The Georgia high court unanimously decided that the ban did not violate the rule.

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