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Associated Press/Photo by Rodrigo Abd

The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "All-American adoption story," Nov. 21, 2009

Doing a deal

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that she was "very proud" of U.S. involvement in a power-sharing deal signed by ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti on Oct. 29. With national elections scheduled for Nov. 29, the agreement remained shaky, and critics warned it could undercut the democratic principles Obama administration officials say they are upholding.

U.S. officials played a key role in the deal that would return Zelaya to power until his term expires in January, but under one substantial condition: approval from the Honduran Supreme Court and Congress that ousted the leader in June. (Both bodies said the president was attempting to circumvent the constitution to serve more than one term.) Both Zelaya and Micheletti belong to the Liberal Party, with members split over whether to support Zelaya's return. Getting Micheletti to sign the agreement hinged on a golden carrot: The U.S. and international community would recognize the outcome of Nov. 29 elections, a crucial dynamic for the country's stability. But critics say the United States should recognize the elections regardless of Zelaya's status. Even if the legislature agrees to Zelaya's reinstatement, it's not clear how the agreement will unfold. If Zelaya returns to power, he's unlikely to have time to push for a constitutional revision for a run at another term.

Overdue

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President Obama fulfilled a promise from the early days of his presidency by lifting a ban on HIV-positive visitors traveling to the United States, a move welcomed by Democrats and Republicans. "We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat," the president said. The decision to introduce the ban in 1987, he said, was "rooted in fear rather than fact."

The ban originated as an executive order under President Ronald Reagan and then became law through an amendment by Republican Sen. Jesse Helms. President Bush took the first step toward lifting the ban in 2008 by removing it from immigration regulations, while Obama lifted the ban that still stood in health regulations. "Canceling the ban on HIV-infected people coming to this country is clearly correct and long overdue. It was very unfortunate to have been discriminating against people based on HIV status," David Thomas, head of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, told WORLD.

In harm's way

When two massive explosions ripped through three government buildings in Baghdad on Oct. 25, killing more than 150 and wounding at least 600, soft targets suffered too.

St. George's Anglican Church, restored and reopened shortly after the U.S. invasion, was heavily damaged, perhaps beyond repair. "Christians do have it hard," said pastor Canon Andrew White, noting that the church has endured repeated bombings and attacks ("Soft targets," Jan. 26, 2008). Last year 93 members of the church were killed, including 11 of 13 converts he baptized, said White. But there was some good news: The October bombing took place at 10:30 in the morning, not during afternoon services when about 500 Iraqis would have been attending.

Applicable app

In the crowded field of new iPhone applications comes one perhaps more applicable than Tap Tap Revenge or even Weather Channel Max: Logos Bible provides up to 30 leading Bible translations at a touch, as well as Greek and Hebrew lexicons. The free application also allows comparison of various translations of all books of the Old and New Testament.

Maine stand

Traditional marriage advocates won a victory in Maine when voters approved a referendum to overturn Maine's law legalizing same-sex marriage. Gay marriage has now failed every time it has been put to a popular vote, and the five states legalizing it-Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut-have done so through legislation or court order. The National Organization for Marriage contributed $1.8 million to the Stand for Marriage Maine campaign, and executive director Brian Brown told reporters the vote proves "marriage is a winning issue."

Honor and horror

U.S. officials marked Veterans Day in part by hosting the first-ever mental health summit to draw attention to the acute need faced by returning soldiers now serving in the nation's longest wars, often punctuated by random bombings that maim soldiers and civilians, including children. Defense secretary Robert Gates, in a keynote address Oct. 26, criticized a government and military bureaucracy that is "frustrating, adversarial and unnecessarily complex" for addressing post-traumatic stress and other syndromes. He cited a Rand study last year that said the number of veterans affected by these mental health problems could top 600,000.

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