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The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "States' rights," Oct. 27, 2007

Plan B

A settlement reached in a two-year-old Illinois lawsuit over access to "morning after" pills requires pharmacies to fill prescriptions for Plan B and other "emergency" contraceptive pills, but individual pharmacists who believe dispensing the pills violates their religious beliefs can turn that task over to the pharmacy owner or another employee.

Abortion

A Kansas district attorney filed 107 criminal counts against a local Planned Parenthood facility Oct. 18. The charges allege the organization has unlawfully falsified documents in order to conceal and cover up the fact that it was ignoring viability testing laws and regulations and therefore performing illegal late-term abortions in the state. A district judge reviewed all the charges earlier in the week for eight hours and found probable cause to proceed.

Campaign '08

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Despite the resounding rejections of his candidacy from major Christian leaders like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Richard Land, GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani accepted an invitation to address more than 1,500 conservatives and evangelicals at the Family Research Council's (FRC) Values Voter Summit Oct. 20. Nearly every Republican presidential hopeful will address the crowd, including others with tenuous relations with evangelicals, such as Mitt Romney and John McCain. FRC officials say they invited Democratic presidential candidates to the event, but none accepted.

Justice

Confirmation hearings for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey began Oct. 17 with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee appearing mostly conciliatory. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) lauded the nominee, his former classmate at Yale Law School, for building a career on the virtues of "personal excellence, integrity, independence, hard work, commitment to the rule of law and our system of justice." Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) pressed Mukasey to distinguish his philosophy from departing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whom many Democrats considered a yes-man for the Bush administration. Mukasey pledged to operate independently from the White House and to tell the president "no" when he disagreed-commitments likely to speed his confirmation.

Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto, 54, made a dramatic return to Pakistan on Oct. 18, ending eight years of exile to reclaim a share of power with the country's U.S.-backed military leader. More than 150,000 supporters gathered to greet her amid massive security. Bhutto is expected to seek the premiership for a third time and partner in ruling Pakistan with U.S.-backed President Gen. Pervez Musharraf-a move that will require a constitutional amendment. "I counted the hours, I counted the minutes and the seconds, just to see this land, to see the grass, to see the sky," said Bhutto, who left Pakistan in 1999 amid charges of corruption.

Sudan

African Union and UN officials are looking into reports of a new massacre in Darfur, where witnesses say Sudanese government troops and their allied militias killed more than 30 civilians, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away. This latest massacre comes more than three years after Congress passed a resolution declaring the killings in Darfur to be genocide.

Turkey

The Turkish parliament voted Oct. 17 to approve military strikes at Kurdish rebels in Iraq-complicating the U.S. war in Iraq and setting up a scenario feared since the 2003 invasion.

Oil

The spike in Turkish-Iraqi tension pushed oil prices to a new record last week and comes with the region already subject to other geopolitical power plays. Meeting in Tehran Oct. 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin forged an alliance of Caspian Sea nations who oppose Western military action against Iran, pledging to help complete a controversial Iranian nuclear plant and to block outside energy development in the region.

Tibet

Chinese officials called President George W. Bush's private meeting with the Dalai Lama on Oct. 16 "a gross interference in China's internal affairs." The exiled leader of Tibet traveled to the White House to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi demanded the United States cancel the award, while others threatened "a serious impact" on relations between the United States and China.

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