Scripps Howard News Service
January 21, 2006
Osama bin Laden broke a yearlong silence and threatened new attacks against the United States in an audiotape broadcast by the Arab network al-Jazeera. On the tape - which was authenticated by the CIA as the first public communication from bin Laden since December 2004 - the terrorist leader also offered the possibility of a truce under unspecified conditions. The Bush administration dismissed the suggestion as propaganda.
Supreme Court upholds assisted suicide
The Supreme Court backed Oregon's physician-assisted-suicide law, refusing to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die. The justices ruled 6-3 that the Bush administration improperly tried to use a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses under the 1997 state law.
Lawsuits challenge eavesdropping program
Two leading civil-rights groups sued the Bush administration to stop its domestic spying program. The two lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, were the first major court challenges to the eavesdropping. The groups said they want to learn whether the operation was used to monitor defense lawyers, journalists, scholars, political activists and other Americans with ties to the Middle East. The Justice Department said it would fight the lawsuits on national-security grounds.
Gore calls for special counsel
Former Vice President Al Gore urged the appointment of a special counsel to investigate President Bush's authorization of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency. In a speech on the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Gore charged that Bush's record on civil liberties posed a "grave danger" to America's constitutional freedoms. Gore said that "what we do know" about the spying program "virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law, repeatedly and insistently."
First mission to Pluto
The fastest spacecraft ever launched took off on the first mission to Pluto - a 3 billion-mile trip to study the planet and examine mysterious objects at the outer edges of the planetary system. The New Horizons probe was expected to reach Jupiter in just over a year and make it to Pluto by 2015. Pluto is the solar system's last unexplored planet.
Congress considers ethics reform
Fearing a voter backlash from the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, Republicans in the House and Senate backed stronger laws governing ethics. Democrats made their own proposals in an attempt to exploit the scandal for their own political gain. Among the ideas: Tightening the limits on free travel, meals and gifts.
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