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The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "All's fair at the fair," Aug. 25, 2007

Campaign '08

Free barbeque sandwiches and oatmeal cookies weren't enough to keep Tommy Thompson in the race for the White House: The former governor of Wisconsin dropped out of the GOP presidential contest after placing sixth in the Aug. 11 Iowa straw poll. "I respect the decision of the voters," he said.

GOP presidential candidates at the carnival-like event in Ames, Iowa, courted voters with free food and entertainment, hoping for support in the non-binding poll traditionally seen as the first major test of Republican candidates' strength.

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Front-runners Rudy Giuliani and John McCain didn't participate, leaving former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to easily seize the top spot. But the coup of the day went to runner-up Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister gained unexpected traction he hopes will help him garner support from social conservatives and compete with likely GOP candidate Fred Thompson.

Peru

Rescuers battled a shattered countryside Aug. 16 to reach victims of a magnitude-8.0 earthquake in Peru that killed over 300 people. In the desert oasis city of Ica 125 miles southeast of Lima, a quarter of all buildings collapsed, including a historic church that killed at least 17 inside. In the nearby port of Pisco, at least 200 people were buried in the rubble of a church where they had been attending a service. More than 800 were reported injured in the quake and the Red Cross said the toll would rise.

Iraq

Coordinated attacks by four suicide bombers outside Mosul in northern Iraq left at least 250 and possibly as many as 500 Iraqis dead-the bloodiest and worst attack of the war. The victims of the Aug. 14 attacks were Yazidis, a small Kurdish-speaking Islamic sect that has been targeted by Muslim extremists who consider its members to be blasphemers. The blasts in two villages near the Syrian border crumbled buildings, trapping entire families beneath mud bricks and other wreckage, and flattened entire neighborhoods.

North Korea

After almost 21 inches of rain in less than a week, the worst flooding in a decade has hit North Korea, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In a rare plea, North Korean officials asked for help in coping with the disaster, which they said has displaced 300,000 and wiped out a tenth of the country's already meager crops.

Hunger

Aid group CARE International will give up $45 million a year in federal funds, claiming the U.S. food aid system is too inefficient-and hurts the hungry it means to help. The system relies on shipping tons of U.S. crops such as corn to famished countries, but critics say the extra grain depresses the price of local crops, jeopardizing long-term agriculture. The Bush administration proposed buying more emergency food locally as a way to improve U.S. aid efforts.

Economy

With the subprime mortgage mess growing and stock prices swooning, the Federal Reserve last week "injected" tens of billions of dollars into investment markets. By loaning banks $88 billion, with mortgage-backed securities as collateral, the Fed hoped to ease investors' fears of an economy-wide credit crunch.

Some investors were counting on an interest-rate cut from the Fed, but that appeared unlikely. William Poole, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, told the Bloomberg news service that only a "calamity" would justify a cut at or before the Fed's Sept. 18 meeting. "It's premature to say this upset in the market is changing the course of the economy in any fundamental way."

Lutherans

Gay activists and their sympathizers in the 4.8-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gained leverage at this month's biennial assembly. The assembly on its final day adopted a resolution urging the denomination's regional synods, bishops, and presiding bishop to "refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining" ELCA clergy in "a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship."

Gerald Kieschnick, president of the 2.5-million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said the ELCA "has failed to act in keeping with the historic and universal understanding of the Christian church regarding what Holy Scripture teaches about homosexual behavior as contrary to God's will and about the biblical qualifications for holding the pastoral office."

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