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The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Not over till it's over," Nov. 1, 2008

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Williams' death and said she was spreading Christianity. "Our [leaders] issued a decree to kill this woman," spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Associated Press. "This morning our people killed her in Kabul." Williams worked in Afghanistan for two years, directing projects to integrate the disabled into mainstream education.


With the hijacking of another ship off the Horn of Africa Oct. 21, Somali pirates are holding at least 11 ships for ransom. They include a Ukrainian vessel carrying 33 Soviet-era tanks seized late last month and reportedly bound for the government of South Sudan. Pirates are demanding a ransom of at least $8 million for release of that ship.

In the past year piracy off the coast of Somalia has soared, with at least 30 ships hijacked and an estimated $18 million to $30 million in ransom paid. More than 20,000 ships use the straits off the Horn of Africa each year, accounting for around a third of global container trade, much of it oil- and gas-related.

Prop 8 and Ake

In the weeks winding down to Election Day, a religious dissident is touring California. His message to Christians: What happened to him could happen to them. Tall and spectacled with a wreath of silver hair, Pastor Ake Green, 67, doesn't look like a dissident but in 2004 a Swedish court sentenced him to a month in prison for missakt-ing, or "disrespecting," homosexuals by preaching from the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. A Swedish appeals court overturned the conviction, but a determined prosecutor took the case to the nation's Supreme Court. Justices there declined to convict Green, largely because the pastor had vowed to appeal to the European Union, where the law still protects freedom of speech and religion.

Now Green is speaking at California churches, urging Christians to support Proposition 8, an initiative that would amend the state constitution to recognize only traditional marriage. "People still need to wake up," Green told WORLD, saying that he detects complacency on the issue, a sense that Americans believe they will always have freedom of speech and religion: "We in Sweden thought the same thing."

The oil bubble

Consumers may celebrate as the price of oil has plummeted to about half of where it stood in July, but if a drop in demand caused by economic trouble is the only cause of the price decline, then their parties will be short-lived. A number of analysts say something else is bringing down prices: Oil prices were inflated by a speculative bubble-and that bubble is bursting. "This is a market that is basically returning to the price level of a year ago which it arguably should never have left," Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citigroup, told The Wall Street Journal. "We pumped up a big bubble, expanded it to an impressive dimension, and now it is popped and we have bubble gum in our hair."

Reversal of fortunes

An Italian minister is calling the current EU plan for reductions in greenhouse gases an "act of madness." Germany's environment minister is lobbying for less severe standards on automakers and contends that steel and other industries deserve protection from tough carbon controls. What's going on? Turns out there could be no green in going green. Climate policy-particularly a December deadline to make dramatic greenhouse-gas cuts in accord with an EU/UN agreement-is colliding with the financial crisis. Now Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and others are calling for a review of European climate policy and its severe carbon-cutting standards in light of the economic crisis.


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