1 | Washington Voting Rights Act Stays Alive In a highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling, the 1965 Voting Rights Act survived a legal challenge that many analysts expected to topple the landmark civil rights law. The court's 8-to-1 decision sidestepped the core constitutional issues in question, keeping intact a key provision of the statute. That measure, Section 5, requires all or parts of 16 states deemed to have a history of racial discrimination to seek federal clearance before changing voting procedures. Critics call the requirement outdated; defenders insist the scrutiny is still needed.
States Included in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
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• Fully covered • Partially covered Source: U.S. Department of Justice
2 | Damascus Engaging Syria U.S. officials confirmed that the Obama Administration will attempt to mend frayed ties with Syria by appointing an ambassador to the pivotal Middle Eastern state after a four-year hiatus. Analysts say the gambit, which follows special envoy George Mitchell's visit to Syria earlier in June, is intended to soothe regional tensions and combat Iranian influence. The U.S. had withdrawn its ambassador after the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, a crime many suspected Syrian intelligence officials of orchestrating.
3 | Somalia A Nation at the Precipice Somali President Sheik Sharif Ahmed declared a state of emergency after "witnessing the intensifying violence" between Western-backed government forces and al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab insurgents. The clashes have claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands. Sharif is urging international intervention to save the war-torn state.
4 | Italy Berlusconi's Troubles Deepen More allegations of sexual misconduct were hurled at embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose wife filed for divorce in May, citing his purported relationship with an 18-year-old female. Three women said Berlusconi had paid them to attend his parties; one also alleged that he had sex with a paid escort last November. Berlusconi dismissed their statements, saying that paying for sex would ruin the "pleasure of conquest."
5 | California Cookie Dough: Now Even Less Healthy Nestlé USA voluntarily recalled all its premade refrigerated cookie-dough products on June 19, removing an estimated 300,000 cases of goods from stores after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the products might be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. So far, 70 people--75% of them female--from 30 states have been stricken with a single E. coli strain since March. Nestlé's announcement, which comes on the heels of salmonella scares stemming from tainted peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts, does not affect cookie-dough ice cream, which is heat-treated to kill bacteria.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE SICKENED BY TAINTED FOOD
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Cookie dough (E. coli) March 2009 to present 70 in 30 states
Raw alfalfa sprouts (salmonella) February to May 2009 235 in 14 states
Peanut butter (salmonella) October 2008 to February 2009 714 in 46 states