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Dispatches The Buzz

IRAQ Coalition forces struck a safehouse near Baquba, Iraq, killing terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi June 7, a remarkable strike of military precision and dead-aim intelligence that British Prime Minister Tony Blair called a milestone on the path "to escape the past legacy of Saddam and the present evil of terrorism." Iraqi journalists in Baghdad burst into spontaneous applause upon hearing the news from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Jordanians celebrated in the streets of Amman.

CANADA The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believe domestic surveillance works. Using captured documents and tracking jihadists via internet websites, the Mounties broke a Canadian terrorist cell in Toronto planning to bomb parliament and murder Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The 17 Muslims arrested last week were in possession of over three tons of ammonium nitrate, the fertilizer component used in making explosives-an amount three times the amount of ammonium nitrate used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

MARRIAGE By a 49-48 procedural vote, the U.S. Senate on June 7 shot down the federal Marriage Protection Amendment, which would have changed the U.S. Constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. "Eventually, Congress is going to have to catch up to the wisdom of the American people or the American people will change Congress for the better," said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who supported the measure. He may be right: 81 percent of Alabama voters approved a state constitutional amendment June 6 that defines marriage along traditional lines, making Alabama the 20th state to pass such a measure. The same day, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 136-61 in favor of that state's Marriage Protection Amendment, the first step in the process toward full adoption. Six more states-Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin-will consider amendments in November.

COURTS Iowa Federal District Court Judge Robert W. Pratt ruled this month that the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, a government-sponsored prison ministry, violates the separation between church and state. Supporters of the voluntary rehabilitation program plan to appeal, arguing that InnerChange is open to people of all beliefs and provides a cost-effective method to reduce rates of recidivism. In his ruling, the judge said he was not considering the program's success but only its "pervasively sectarian" nature.

ELECTIONS When former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore led a Ten Commandments showdown in 2003, he became a hero to some on the state's religious right. With Republican Governor Bob Riley advocating for a $1.2 billion tax hike, the governor's mansion seemed like Mr. Moore's next step. But three years later, Alabama voters yawned their way through a June 7 GOP primary, sending incumbent Gov. Bob Riley back for a reelection bid. The former judge received just 36 percent of the vote behind weak voter turnout.

In California, Republicans held on to a coveted seat made vacant by jailed former House Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, after scandal seemed to have given Democrats a shot at the seat. Republican Brian Bilbray managed to hold on, defeating his opponent by nearly 5,000 votes to temporarily hand GOP leaders a seat they may desperately need to keep control of Congress.

UN The exchange was more duel than diplomacy, but the setting was New York and the duelers were UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown and U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. In a New York speech the British Mr. Malloch Brown criticized the U.S. delegation for holding to "maximalist positions when it could be finding middle ground." He also said public discourse "that reaches the U.S. heartland" was left to UN detractors "such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News." Then he threw down a gauntlet: Refuse to engage the UN fully and "you will lose the UN one way or another."

Mr. Bolton fired back, calling on the secretary-general's office to repudiate the speech, as a "very, very grave mistake" that would damage reform efforts. "This was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant; it's just illegitimate," he said.

CHINA Chinese officials blasted the United States for "rude interference" after the State Department marked the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre by calling for an accounting of the government's crackdown. Thousands remain unaccounted for from the 1989 assault on student demonstrators.

Chinese workers, meanwhile, demolished the cofferdam protecting the wall of the massive Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river in China's central Hubei province using 191 tons of explosives, enough to topple 400 10-story buildings. The world's largest demolition project sets the stage for completion of the world's largest dam.

SOMALIA An Islamic militia captured Mogadishu and surrounding areas after weeks of fighting a secular warlord alliance reportedly backed by the United States. The upsurge in battles was the worst the lawless country has seen in years, killing about 330. Armed with heavy machine guns, militiamen with the Islamic Courts Union quickly set up an Islamic court in Balad, about 20 miles outside of the capital. The secular alliance, meanwhile, took up defensive positions in Jowhar, its last remaining stronghold.