Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Exit strategies," Aug. 5, 2006

Courts

Five years after she killed her five children by drowning them in a bathtub, Andrea Yates (pictured) was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a Houston jury. Four years ago another jury convicted Yates of murdering her children, ages 6 months to 7 years old, but an appeals court overturned the conviction last year because a prosecution witness gave false testimony. Yates will likely be committed to a Texas mental health institution.

Washington's State Supreme Court upheld a ban on gay marriage July 26, ruling 5-4 to uphold a 1998 state law allowing marriage between a man and woman only. With a similar ruling from the New York Court of Appeals last month, that leaves Massachusetts the only state to allow gay marriage.

Mideast war

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The Israeli government, after a third, grim week of fighting that brought Israel's death toll to over 40 civilians and Lebanon's to over 400, said it would not expand an offensive against Hezbollah. That pledge was not returned in kind. Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, issued a call for Muslims to rise up in holy war against Israel. In a message broadcast by Al-Jazeera, he said fighting in Lebanon and Gaza should continue until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq." Al-Qaeda, he said, sees "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."

Israel did say its forces would continue a bombing campaign against Hezbollah targets across Lebanon, a campaign whose widespread destruction-shown all week in graphic detail on Middle East television-is more likely to build support for Hezbollah than erase it. After Arab, American, and European leaders meeting in Rome failed to reach full agreement on ways to stop the fighting, a vexed Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora declared, "Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere? Are we children of a lesser god? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?".

Iran

What does this photo mean? Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embraced Afghan president Hamid Karzai during the Iranian leader's goodwill tour to Tajikistan. The two neighboring leaders, who also met in Tehran in May, are seeking closer ties on security and economic issues, but the warm encounter came as Afghanistan's NATO allies met in Rome to press for the disarmament of Iranian-supported Hezbollah.

Iraq

What is it Democrats want in Iraq? Not a bill of rights, apparently. After Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to endorse the Bush administration's condemnation of Hezbollah, 20 House and Senate Democrats issued a letter demanding that the new head of state be disinvited from addressing Congress in joint session. The speech went forward as planned July 26, and the White House issued a civics lesson: "Let me try to explain democracy to people on Capitol Hill. It involves such rights as free speech and freedom of opinion. And the president is not a puppeteer in this case," said spokesperson Tony Snow. "He's not pulling the strings of Prime Minister Maliki."

Heat wave

Temperatures in Los Angeles finally dipped below 100 July 26, but thousands of southern Californians remained without power for nearly a week as a record heat wave maxed out electrical grids. Heat-related deaths climbed to above 80, and city officials across the state set up "cooling centers" to aid the sick and the elderly. Officials said the nation, too, would feel the heat, in the form of rising costs and dwindling produce after many California agricultural products roasted on the vine.

Bolton

Last fall U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton told WORLD that how long he stays at his post "is up to the president." A year after President Bush bypassed the Senate and issued a recess appointment for the controversial diplomat, Mr. Bolton appeared July 27 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with the president's blessing. What's different this time is that committee Republican Sen. George Voinovich from Ohio has announced his support for Mr. Bolton. A year ago his opposition emboldened committee Democrats to block a vote on the nominee. What's also different is that as crises over the Middle East and North Korea proliferate, senators on both sides of the aisle may decide this current state of world affairs is no stream for changing the horse.

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