Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Goodbye again," June 9, 2007

"If we wanted to put things off further, you'd have annual meetings at the UN for the next five years. If you want to accelerate it, we do a lot of groundwork in between the UN meetings so we can bring the work product to the UN meetings," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

TB

Apparently earning frequent flier miles and getting married in Europe were more important to Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker than following doctor's orders. The 31-year-old personal injury lawyer knew he had tuberculosis, a contagious, airborne respiratory disease, when he boarded a flight for Paris last month, but once there learned from doctors that it was an extensively drug-resistant strain considered especially dangerous. Despite warnings from federal health officials not to board another commercial flight, Speaker took four flights within Europe-from France to Greece to Italy to Czech Republic-before boarding a flight for Montreal, exposing dozens of passengers and crew members to the deadly disease, including about two dozen University of South Carolina students who sat near him on a flight home and now must undergo testing (anyone know a good personal injury lawyer?). Federal officials placed Speaker under quarantine in Atlanta, the first since 1963.

New Orleans

"The rich and the poor meet together and the Lord is the maker of them all. . . . Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it," read Desire Street Academy senior Jonathan Rochon, quoting Proverbs 22. Despite two Hurricane Katrina--related relocations and flash floods in New Orleans' 9th Ward on graduation day, the inner-city school for boys held its first commencement May 23. Fourteen young men, most the first in their families to finish high school, received diplomas as rain fell and water rose-again-in 9th Ward streets outside.

War zones

Two deadly helicopter crashes in less than a week show militants coordinating more ground-to-air attacks on U.S. forces. In Iraq a helicopter with two pilots aboard was shot down near Baquba May 29. As a quick-response team arrived on the scene, one of its vehicles hit a roadside bomb, killing eight U.S. soldiers altogether. In Afghanistan, Taliban militants shot down a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, killing five U.S. soldiers, a Canadian, and a Briton. NATO said troops going to the crash site in southern Helmand province were ambushed, and the unit called in an airstrike "to eliminate the enemy threat." At least nine U.S. helicopters have been shot down this year, killing 30 military personnel.

For four years, Fort Hood, Texas, the nation's largest military installation, has operated as a virtual revolving door for Iraq, its major units on second and third deployments into combat. The base has suffered nearly 400 casualties in Iraq this year, and its military community continues to absorb the most war fatalities. "People have begun to face the fact that not everyone comes home," said recently widowed Wendy Weikel. "I saw that at Memorial Day last year. A soldier came up to me and said, 'I used to think Memorial Day was for barbecues. Now I get it.'"

Venezuela

Despite the threat of riot police armed with live ammunition, tear gas, and water cannons, Caracas demonstrators continued street protests against President Hugo Chavez. Protests began when Chavez refused to renew the license of a popular independent TV station, RCTV, open since 1953 but critical of Chavez. At midnight May 27 a new state-run channel took its place. About 180 protesters were arrested, mostly university and high-school students. Chavez also began warning another independent channel, Globovision, over its protest coverage: "I recommend that you take a tranquilizer, because if not, I am going to do what is necessary."

Billy Graham

Visitors to the new, presidential-style museum in Charlotte, N.C., honoring evangelist Billy Graham enter and exit the building through crosses as tall as 40 feet high, part of a controversial project that has at times even divided the Graham family. But a May 31 private dedication included former Presidents Carter, Clinton, and George H.W. Bush among 1,500 well-wishers. Billy Graham, 88, suffers from fluid on the brain, prostate cancer, and Parkinson's disease, and is largely confined to his home in Montreat, N.C. After Graham toured the museum himself, his only complaint, according to son and successor Franklin Graham: "Too much Billy Graham."

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