Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "When the base cracks," July 21, 2007


The White House convened an emergency multi-agency meeting July 12 to assess growing intelligence suggesting an al-Qaeda attack on U.S. soil is planned for this summer. But jihadists continued to demonstrate at least as great an interest in attacking the brethren: A truck bomb exploded at an Algerian army barracks on June 11, killing eight soldiers in the deadliest attack claimed by al-Qaeda's North Africa wing since a triple suicide bombing in April. And a week-long siege at Pakistan's Red Mosque ended with at least 82 dead after Pakistani forces stormed the Islamabad facility. Intense fighting killed militant pro-Taliban leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi, along with women and children he used as human shields.


One week ahead of the release of the final book in the series, the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix raked in a U.S. record $12 million in just its midnight opening July 11. That doubled the opening of the last Potter film and forecast a blockbuster week for the J.K. Rowling franchise: Following the release of the movie of her fifth Harry Potter book comes the long-awaited July 21 release of the final Harry Potter book.

Iraq war

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A progress report on the president's six-month-old strategy for Iraq showed satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress, unsatisfactory progress on another eight, and mixed results on two.

Drafted by the National Security Council, the report showed U.S. forces meeting preliminary goals toward an increase in security and a reduction in violence.

Religious freedom

A Hudson Institute report confirms what we thought all along: Countries with religious freedom have better political and economic liberties than those without it. A survey of 100 countries released July 9 said abuses of religious freedom are "massive" and intensifying around the world. Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, and the United States earned highest ranks for religious freedom, while Muslim countries tended to have the most restrictions. But Muslim-African nations Mali and Senegal were more free than some Western European countries, like France.

Campaign '08

By mid-July he still had not announced his candidacy, but Fred Thompson edged into second place among GOP candidates, trailing Rudy Giuliani in the polls by 8 points. Religious conservative leader Richard Land says Thompson's rise is a measure of how hungry voters are for a conservative GOP candidate, as former front-runner John McCain lost two key aides and looks to come up millions short in fundraising when quarterly FEC filings are made this week.


Battling recalls around the world for its tainted food and toothpaste, Chinese authorities executed China's former food and drug chief Xiaoyu Zheng July 11. Zheng reportedly took $850,000 in bribes to approve substandard products during his 1998-2005 tenure.

Meanwhile, the China Aid Association said "Typhoon No. 5," a government campaign that has ejected about 100 foreign missionaries-including Americans-between April and June, is the largest number of expelled foreigners since 1954.

Man Knows Not His Time

Lady Bird Johnson, who accepted a marriage proposal from Lyndon Johnson on their first date in 1934, died at her Texas home June 11 at age 94. The first lady to the 36th president of the United States was a quietly persistent presence through the assassination of John F. Kennedy that elevated LBJ to office and vitriolic campaigns for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. She pressed her husband not to seek a second term and campaigned most rigorously for beautifying America.


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