Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Effective Compassion," Sept. 1, 2007

President Bush addressed the VFW convention Aug. 22 after presidential hopefuls Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Fred Thompson, and said the recent surge of troops is "gaining momentum" and "changing the dynamic." McCain denounced war as "wretched beyond all description," but added, "As long as there is a prospect for not losing this war, then we must not choose to lose it."

By contrast, Obama told the Kansas City crowd of about 6,000 VFW members that "all of our top military commanders recognize there is no military solution in Iraq." The Illinois senator called for diplomacy but also sought to appear hawkish in pledging that as president he would redeploy at least two military brigades back to Afghanistan.

Iran

Iran has developed a new 2,000-pound "smart" bomb, state-run television reported Aug. 23, the latest in a recent series of announcements of new weapons systems. The guided bomb can be deployed by Iran's aging U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighter jets. Earlier last month the Islamic regime said it had started industrial-scale production of its own fighter jet to upgrade its moribund air force, much of which dates from before Iran's 1979 revolution.

The weapons plan unfolded just after the Bush administration announced plans to target the business dealings of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the largest branch of the country's armed services, with sanctions-a diplomatic screw-tightening aimed at getting Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The action formally links the Revolutionary Guards to support of terrorist groups, and the new measures could pave the way for U.S. military action against Iran should it fail to comply.

Miners

Hope narrowed to a pinpoint in the search for six miners trapped in a Crandall Canyon, Utah, coal mine. On Aug. 23, search organizers were set to begin drilling a sixth borehole. Mine co-owner Robert Murray said it would be the last. Seismic activity on Aug. 6 caused the implosion, trapping the six men 450 meters underground. No signs of life have been heard from inside the mine since. Three rescue workers were killed Aug. 17 when a seismic "bump" buried them under rubble. But Murray angered families of the missing miners when he said that if the search is abandoned, his company will not attempt to recover the bodies.

Housing

As the housing crunch continues, more Americans are losing their homes. U.S. foreclosure filings nearly doubled in July from the previous year, according to a report last week from RealtyTrac, Inc.-179,599 mortgage foreclosures in July, a 93 percent increase from the 92,845 foreclosures reported in July of 2006. That's one foreclosure filing for every 693 U.S. households in one month. Nevada has the highest rate, with one foreclosure for every 199 households.

Politics

Perhaps Democrats' new religious civility hasn't reached the Bayou State, where the Democratic Party aired an ad accusing Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal of calling Protestants "scandalous, depraved, selfish, and heretical." Jindal, a Republican and a Catholic, is running for governor. The narrator in the 30-second spot, which is running in heavily Protestant areas, says Jindal "wrote articles that insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants" before he was a public official. Jindal called the ad a defamatory distortion of his writings, but Democratic Party officials refused to stop airing it.

In a 1996 article for New Oxford Review, a Roman Catholic magazine, Jindal wrote that Catholicism was the true Christian faith, and referred to a "scandalous series of divisions and new denominations" of religions since the Reformation. But he also wrote that the Catholics must embrace "spirit-led movements" of other Christian faiths.

Sports

After maintaining his innocence for four months, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick changed his tune Aug. 20, announcing through his attorney that he would plead guilty to federal charges of illegal dogfighting. Should the plea agreement mirror those of Vick's two co-defendants, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Aug. 17, the NFL star could face 12 to 18 months in prison. What's more, the Virginia Commonwealth attorney for Surry County now plans to prosecute Vick on state charges of dogfighting and animal cruelty, crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

National security

An FBI request for help in locating two suspicious riders of Washington State ferries collided with political correctness from one of the region's major newspapers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer refused to publish a photo of the men because, as managing editor David McCumber explained, "we didn't have enough information to warrant it." Federal agents asked local media to run the photo after receiving several reports from passengers and ferry workers that the two men seemed "overly interested in the workings and layouts of the ferries." Washington State's ferry system is the largest in the country and the No. 1 target for maritime terrorism, according to a Justice Department assessment. Rather than assist the FBI, the Post-Intelligencer offered readers a chance to express their feelings on the story in a haiku contest, a move the paper quickly retracted amid public outcry.

Free at last

Free at ltas

And speaking of punishment, scholar Haleh Esfandiari, 67, was released Aug. 21 after four months in solitary confinement at Tehran's infamous Evin Prison. Her 93-year-old mother posted bail by handing authorities the deed to her apartment. Esfandiari still faces charges of endangering Iran's national security and authorities still hold her passport, making an immediate exit impossible.

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