Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Why Grey matters," March 17, 2007

Military

With public attention focused on gross mismanagement at U.S. military hospitals, the White House last week announced that former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala will lead a presidential commission on the medical treatment of wounded veterans. The announcement came as hearings on Capitol Hill-prompted by an exposé last month in The Washington Post-revealed substandard conditions and treatment for vets at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "These kinds of problems are viewed as unacceptable by everyone," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "Apparently, they exist in other bases around the nation as well."

Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in 2005 took such matters into their own hands as best they could. The brainchild of two Marine officers, the camp's Wounded Warrior barracks helps wounded Marines navigate the logistical details of medical treatment and outpatient care. The project also allows them to heal together and remain productive members of the Marine Corps. "The people best prepared to take care of Marines," says Gunnery Sgt. Bill Rosborough, "are Marines."

Politics

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Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. are requesting a new trial, and his defenders in the conservative press are calling for a presidential pardon after a jury last week found Libby guilty of perjury and obstruction in the investigation of the leaked identity of CIA official Valerie Plame. At issue was whether errors in Libby's grand jury testimony about the case were due to forgetfulness or criminal intent. The jury said the latter, even though it was State Department official Richard Armitage, not vice presidential chief of staff Libby, who actually leaked Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Arguing that the non-leaker Libby had no motive for a cover-up, The Wall Street Journal called on the president to take action: "Maybe now Mr. Bush will realize that this case was always a political fight over Iraq and do the right thing by pardoning Mr. Libby."

Iran

Members of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed March 8 to cut technical aid to Iran in compliance with UN sanctions contained in a resolution passed by the Security Council last December. Only two other states in the IAEA's 50-year history have been stripped of nuclear aid over fear about possible diversions into bombmaking: North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Surmounting an earlier split over what to do about Iran, the IAEA will curb 22 of 55 aid projects after four years of stonewalled investigations into Iran's nuclear agenda.

Somalia

Some welcome. About 800 African Union (AU) peacekeepers from Uganda-the first peacekeepers to arrive since the UN pulled out of a failed mission a decade ago-arrived beginning March 6 and faced a shower of mortar fire from insurgents during a welcoming ceremony at the airport. The attack wounded one civilian. The following day AU convoys suffered ambush and 10 civilians died in a battle between peacekeepers and what appear to be remnants of anti-government militias of the Council of Islamic Courts.

Money

A mistake by the United States Mint accomplished what atheist/activist Michael Newdow has yet to achieve. Tens of thousands of new dollar coins reportedly made it past inspectors and went into circulation without the traditional "In God We Trust" and "E Pluribus Unum" logos. The engraving defect made the "Godless dollars" immediately valuable as collectors' items. "The first one sold for $600 before everyone knew how common they actually were," Ron Guth, president of Professional Coin Grading Service, told the Associated Press. "They're going for around $40 to $60 on eBay now, and they'll probably settle in the $50 range."

Media

`0 Sex, it turns out, may hinder selling-at least for companies that advertise on television. A study by British researchers Ellie Parker and Adrian Furnham, published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, found that viewers of TV shows with sexual content have trouble remembering the brand names of commercials that air during the shows. Viewers of more family-friendly fare did not have the same problem. Sexual images, the researchers suggested, take up so much "cognitive space" that viewers' brains cannot process the commercials. c

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