Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "Jerry Falwell," May 26, 2007

Iran

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told The Daily Telegraph that the European Union had to "get more serious" about Iran and recognize that its diplomatic attempts to halt Iran's enrichment program had failed. His warning came three days after a snap inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that Tehran seems to have overcome technical hurdles in efforts to expand uranium enrichment. The expert panel said that Iran at its current pace could have enough centrifuges operating by June to make one bomb's worth of nuclear material every year.

"We believe they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich," IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said. "From now on, it is simply a question of perfecting that knowledge. People will not like to hear it, but that's a fact.

Israel

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Israel targeted Hamas with three airstrikes on May 17, destroying a compound and a car carrying senior commanders of the Islamic group and killing three people in new violence layered over Palestinian infighting. All of the strikes were in Gaza City, where 22 Palestinians were killed May 16 in the most widespread factional fighting in nearly a year between Hamas and the rival Fatah-turning the densely populated seaside city again into a war zone and unraveling the Palestinian unity government.

Iraq

President Bush named Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute May 16 to be the new Iraq "war czar," a position that will put him in the White House reporting directly to the president on the war's progress while massaging the often competing agendas of the State Department and Pentagon. Lute served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan before coming to the Joint Chiefs staff last year. He is married to Jane Holl Lute, currently assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations at the UN. Since taking the post in 2003, Lute, herself an army officer who served in the Persian Gulf war and has taught at West Point, has earned some credit for redirecting an operation of over 100,000 worldwide peacekeepers she labels as "overstretched and oversubscribed." Still, with him watching over the war in Iraq and her in charge of the world's second-largest deployed military presence, that will be some pillow talk.

Justice

Key Republican senators dropped support for Alberto Gonzales as new testimony suggested the attorney general, while White House counsel, pressured then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to certify an eavesdropping program as Ashcroft recovered in intensive care from pancreatitis. "We're looking at a dysfunctional department which is vital to the national welfare," said ranking Judiciary Committee member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.). The department's second-in-command, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, resigned May 14.

Vietnam

In a four-hour trial at a Hanoi court, Christian lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan received five- and four-year prison sentences, respectively, for "propagandizing" against the Vietnamese state. Nguyen, 38, is well-known for defending persecuted Christians and began advocating for political freedoms in Vietnam last year.

Reporters and Western diplomats were not allowed in the courtroom, but had to watch the trial on closed-circuit television that was mostly inaudible because of technical glitches. Both plan to appeal to Vietnam's Supreme Court.

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