Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Opium wars," May 12, 2007


NATO forces in Afghanistan launched Operation Silicon in southern Helmand province, aimed at rooting out Taliban forces: 136 Taliban were killed in three days of fighting amidst poppy fields that continue to supply steady income for both the Taliban and war-weary farmers.

Good news for Afghans: Infant mortality in Afghanistan has fallen dramatically since the demise of the Taliban, according to a Johns Hopkins study, with 40,000 fewer babies dying every year than in 2001.


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President George W. Bush and congressional Democrats negotiated over a war funding bill that may drop a timeline for withdrawal after the president vetoed-and the House failed to override-a $124 billion spending measure that included an October deadline to begin withdrawal, along with funding for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president called it a "prescription for chaos and confusion." In a six-minute speech marking only the second veto of his two terms, the president said, "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible."


Turkey's parliament voted to annul presidential elections when it became clear that leading secularist parties would not stand for the election of Islamist candidate Abdullah Gul. Gul's supporters, who hold a majority in parliament, postponed elections until July 22 amid massive street demonstrations over his candidacy in a growing showdown between political factions seeking Islamic government and traditional secularist parties.


Protest organizers didn't get the same groundswell of support this year for a May 1 immigrants' protest that last year drew well over 500,000 mostly Hispanics in Los Angeles. This year-with immigration reform seemingly stalled in Congress-officials estimated just 25,000 showed up for a rally in Los Angeles.


Chinese officials are challenging the findings of a UN panel on climate change, accusing the West of "climate terrorism" in trying to pressure China to go green and curtail rapid economic development. New projections that China will surpass the United States this year as the world's foremost emitter of greenhouse gases have redirected debate on climate change toward strategies for including China in post-Kyoto emissions caps. But President George W. Bush is holding the line against economically damaging policies, calling for patience to develop new technologies that will provide inexpensive alternatives.


Lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced companion bills to enshrine in federal law women's "fundamental right" to abort a child following the Supreme Court's decision last month to uphold a ban on partial-birth abortions (story, p. 26). The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would prohibit "interference with reproductive health" including any regulation of "facilities, services or information" that would "discriminate" against a woman's right to abort. The bill's primary House sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), said the measure is necessary because "we can no longer rely on the Supreme Court to protect a woman's constitutional right to choose." With Democrats in control of Congress the measure could pass, but a Bush veto is almost certain.


Queen Elizabeth arrived in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown-the first royal visit to the United States since 1991. "I left England to get away from her and what does she do? She follows me over here," joked Terry O'Neill, 66, owner of a thick Liverpool accent and of Penny Lane pub in Richmond, where the queen planned to stop in, along with addressing the state's General Assembly, meeting with President Bush in Washington, and attending the Kentucky Derby.


World editor in chief Marvin Olasky conducts an in-depth, three-hour interview on C-SPAN2's Book TV, first airing Sunday, May 6, at 12 p.m. and again Saturday, May 12, at 9 a.m.


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