Thousands of Americans descended to a beach in Beirut to board Marine Corps landing craft for evacuation to Cyprus. Luxury condominiums-some complete with indoor car elevators-dotted the hills behind them, built by Saudi businessmen and Gulf-states oil magnates, testimony to Beirut's decade-long climb from civil war to playground of the Arab elite.
The second wave of U.S. exodus July 20 marked one week of Israeli bombardment of the city after Lebanon's Hezbollah militants attacked Israeli forces across the border, killing eight and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. It also signaled a halt to Beirut's celebrated resurgence, as Israeli Defense Forces shelled the coastline, bombed Beirut's airport and main bridges out of the city, and flattened 20 buildings, including Hezbollah strongholds. More than 300 Lebanese have been killed, while dozens of Israelis were killed in over 100 Hezbollah rocket launches on Haifa, Tiberias, and even Nazareth. See "Hezbollah havoc"
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (pictured) said he was prepared to continue the assault. Lebanon's government, having accommodated Hezbollah in spite of a longstanding UN resolution calling for its disarmament, pressed the UN Security council for a ceasefire. "No one has explained how you conduct a ceasefire with a group of terrorists," said U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton on the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mission to the region.
Rescue workers dug through ruined towns and locals awoke from another night sleeping on the hillsides after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake July 17 triggered a tsunami along Java's southern coast that killed at least 531 with 270 missing.
More than five years into his presidency, George Bush used his first veto to underscore a bold stand against federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said after rejecting calls that he change his policy. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect." The House failed July 19 to override the veto, 235-193.
Two Atlanta-area men, both U.S. citizens, are accused in a new federal indictment of undergoing paramilitary training in north Georgia and plotting attacks on civilian and government targets. Syed Ahmed, 21, and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 19, traveled to Washington to film possible targets, including the U.S. Capitol and the World Bank headquarters, and are accused of plotting attacks on an Air Force base in Georgia. Their plans highlight growing concern about potential threats to U.S. mid-size cities. See "Heartland Security"
A July 18 car bombing killed 53 Iraqis-the deadliest attack in a month in which an average of more than 100 civilians per day have been killed. Iraq's government reported that 14,338 civilians have been killed in violent attacks since January-a 77 percent increase in the death toll.
Ted W. Engstrom, former head of Youth for Christ International and World Vision International, died July 14 at his home in southern California; he was 90. The influential evangelical leader and author was known for showing many churches, parachurch ministries, and other nonprofit organizations how to apply effective business standards and stay out of the red. He was one of the founding architects of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
With a background in writing and printing, Engstrom landed a job in the 1940s with a small publisher in Grand Rapids, Mich.-Zondervan Publishing House. On the side, he also directed the local chapter of Youth for Christ. In that post, he directed a 10-day evangelistic crusade in 1947 led by a young and coming evangelist named Billy Graham, the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
In 1951, he became executive director of Youth for Christ International and in 1963 World Vision founder Bob Pierce recruited him as executive vice president of a then-struggling relief ministry to war orphans in Pasadena, Calif. Engstrom played a key role in building World Vision into one of the world's premier relief, development, and advocacy agencies and served two years as president before retiring in 1987.