Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "'Infidel'," March 3, 2007

Politics

The Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama battle for the Democratic presidential nomination turned nasty when Obama's campaign contributor David Geffen (pictured) sounded off against the Clintons in The New York Times. Geffen, who once raised $18 million in support of Bill Clinton, told columnist Maureen Dowd, "Everyone in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling." Hillary Clinton's campaign responded by suggesting that Obama should return Geffin's $2,300 contribution and denounce his remarks. "It's not clear to me why I'd be apologizing for someone else's remark," the Illinois senator said while campaigning in Iowa. Obama spokesman Bill Burton said it was "ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen" when he was "raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom."

But if Obama is cutting into Clinton's Hollywood support structure, the New York senator is slicing at Obama's presumed stronghold among African-Americans with critical endorsements from black community leaders and some anti--Confederate flag campaigning in South Carolina (story, p. 24).

Iran

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defied a UN Security Council deadline to cease enriching uranium, maintaining that his country intends only to develop nuclear power and is not pursuing weapons-grade material. But UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei warned that Iran has now acquired the technological know-how to increase its uranium enrichment to industrial levels within six months. Despite a recent BBC report on U.S. contingency plans to bomb Iran should concrete evidence surface that the Islamist state is building a nuclear weapon or aiding attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, ElBaradei worries that even those measures could not undo Iran's technical expertise: "You cannot bomb knowledge."

Iraq

Sometimes you have to ask the right questions. With polls persistently showing disapproval of the Iraq War and Bush policy, a new poll shows a strong majority of Americans (57 percent) favor "finishing the job in Iraq." Given a choice of four policies, a survey of 800 registered voters by Public Opinion Strategies found that immediate troop withdrawal was least popular (17 percent), while setting a timetable was most popular (32 percent) and 27 percent of those surveyed believe the Iraq War "is the frontline in the battle against terrorism and our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order."

In a rare Saturday session, 56 U.S. senators voted for a nonbinding resolution opposing troop increases, a measure identical to one passed by the House Feb. 16, 246-182.

Islam

A man claiming obedience to Allah shot and killed Pakistani Cabinet minister Zil-e-Huma Usman last week because, he said, Islam does not allow women to hold positions of power. Usman, 37, was Minister for Social Welfare in Punjab province and a senior figure in the Pakistan Muslim League party, which supports President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Her death further highlights violent oppression against Muslim women-especially those who attempt to leave Islam, like former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the current bestseller, Infidel.

Law

Hundreds of pending court cases for Guantanamo Bay detainees are now illegitimate after a divided federal appeals court ruled 2-1 that foreign-born prisoners seized as potential terrorists may not pursue legal remedy to their detention. That favorable ruling for the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a victory for the Bush administration, which contends that foreign enemy combatants held outside the United States are not protected by habeas corpus. Human-rights groups and lawyers representing the detainees vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Health

A new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that the amount of public and private money spent on American health care will double in the next 10 years, pushing the annual figure to $4 trillion, or about 20 cents for every dollar earned in the U.S. economy. That expected increase is due to the population's changing age profile as baby boomers reach their golden years.

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