The U.S. Department of Justice has instructed federal prosecutors not to pursue medical-marijuana users or distributors as long as they are in compliance with state laws. Attorney General Eric Holder couched the directive as a commitment to the "efficient and rational use" of the Justice Department's limited resources. It marks a significant shift from Bush Administration policy, under which authorities raided dispensaries in the 13 states that currently permit residents with specific medical conditions, including AIDS and glaucoma, to toke up. While some advocacy groups hailed the measure--which codifies a plan loosely outlined by the Obama Administration in March--critics warned the guidelines could pave the way for more states to relax their marijuana laws or weaken enforcement.
2 | Boston
Federal authorities charged Tarek Mehanna, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from Massachusetts, with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, alleging he planned to carry out a "violent jihad" by killing U.S. politicians, attacking American troops in Iraq and targeting customers at U.S. shopping malls. U.S. attorneys claim that Mehanna sought terrorist training in the Middle East in 2004 and worked with two other men on various plots designed to "kill, kidnap, maim or injure" U.S. citizens and soldiers from 2001 to 2008. Mehanna was indicted in January for lying to the FBI during another terrorist investigation.
3 | Warsaw
One month after President Obama said he would scrap his predecessor's plans to place a U.S. missile-defense shield in Poland, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the East European ally would, in fact, host interceptors in a revamped version of the system. Obama's decision to remove Poland from the antiballistic-missile program had irked Warsaw, which viewed the deal as providing integral protection against potential long-range attacks.
4 | Vatican City
A Papal Power Play
In an apparent bid to boost its ranks by capitalizing on a rival's internal friction, the Vatican said it would make it easier for Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining their own traditions. The world's 80 million Anglicans have grown increasingly divided in recent years over their church's stance on same-sex unions and the ordination of women and gays, prompting fears of a schism. Some analysts say the Vatican's move could be perceived as predatory, potentially imperiling efforts in recent decades to foster dialogue between the churches.
5 | Madrid
Rolling Up ETA
Aitor Elizaran Aguilar, the political leader of the Basque separatist group ETA, and a top aide were captured in France on Oct. 19 amid a crackdown against the organization. The arrests followed the detention earlier this month of 10 accused members of a banned, ETA-linked political party; three military leaders have also been snared in the past year. Authorities have intensified their pursuit of the Spanish group since a 2006 bombing at Madrid's airport. ETA has been blamed for more than 820 deaths since 1968.
6 | Sudan
Carrots and Sticks
The U.S. unveiled incentives to persuade the Sudanese government to curb violence in its Darfur region. If Sudan addresses the humanitarian crisis and implements a 2005 agreement to end its civil war, Washington said it would consider normalizing relations. President Obama promised new sanctions should Khartoum refuse.
7 | Iran
A DEADLY BLAME GAME
Iranian officials accused the U.S., Britain and Pakistan of helping to orchestrate a suicide bombing in Sistan-Baluchestan province Oct. 18 that killed 42 people, including commanders of the Revolutionary Guard, the nation's elite military unit. Though the Sunni rebel group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack--Iran's deadliest in nearly two decades--President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the foreign powers for funding the majority-Shi'ite country's insurgency in order to destabilize its borders. All three nations denied involvement.
8 | Atlanta
A Shift in Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society announced that the benefits of prostate- and breast-cancer screenings have been overstated, after a study found that such tests often detect nonlethal tumors but fail to catch faster-spreading malignant growths. Screenings for colon and cervical cancers, on the other hand, have led to a marked decline in late-stage cancers.
9 | Pakistan
Forging a 'Path of Riddance'
Responding to a spate of attacks by Taliban militants that killed more than 100 people in the first three weeks of October, Pakistan's government launched a new offensive in insurgent-plagued South Waziristan that it dubbed Operation Path of Riddance. Pakistan's army chief requested the support of the area's Mehsud tribe, whose members fill many of the Taliban's top posts. Thousands of civilians fled the region, where 30,000 troops were fighting.
Bloodletting in Pakistan
1 ISLAMABAD, 10/5
Suicide bombing outside U.N. agency
DEATH TOLL: 5
2 PESHAWAR, 10/9
100 wounded when car explodes
DEATH TOLL: 53
3 RAWALPINDI, 10/11
Hostages taken at army headquarters
DEATH TOLL: 14
4 LAHORE, 10/15
Three security facilities attacked
DEATH TOLL: 27
5 PESHAWAR, 10/16
Bombing outside the Central Investigation Agency
DEATH TOLL: 13
6 ISLAMABAD, 10/20
Twin bombs at a university
DEATH TOLL: 5
10 | New York City
A Rigged Game on Wall Street
Prosecutors in Manhattan said they broke up a major insider-trading ring, the largest ever centered in the hedge-fund industry. Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire co-founder of the Galleon Group, and five others were arrested and charged with earning $20 million off stock trades on the basis of information unavailable to the public. Rajaratnam, whose firm manages $3.7 billion, allegedly relied on a broad network of sources, including executives at IBM and McKinsey & Co., for lucrative tips; one leak about a Google earnings report yielded his firm $8 million in profits in 2007, authorities said. The investigation was the first insider-trading probe to make use of wiretaps and may signal a tougher attitude toward white collar crime in the wake of the Bernard Madoff scandal.
* | What They're Guaranteeing in Finland: Forget life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How about the right to high-speed Internet? On Oct. 14, Finland announced plans to ensure that its 5.3 million citizens have access to a 1-megabit-per-second broadband connection by July 2010 and a 100-megabit-per-second connection by 2015. Government officials say Finland is the first nation to make broadband access a legal right.
Percentage increase in the number of U.S. children who died from parental abuse or neglect in 2007 compared with 2001
Remaining members of the Amazonian Akuntsu tribe, which was first contacted by Brazil's Indian-affairs agency in 1995
1 IN 10
Proportion of Americans seeking help at homeless shelters who are victims of foreclosures, according to a recent study
Average annual tuition at a four-year U.S. public college this fall, a 6.5% jump from 2008; the average tab at a private college is $26,273
1: JIM WILSON--NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX
Several types of marijuana for sale at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Calif.
3: JANEK SKARZYNSKI--AFP/GETTY
Biden and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agree to a security pact on Oct. 21
4: EVANDRO INETTA--ZUMA
7: MARYAM RAHMANIAN--UPI/NEWSCOM
10: LOUIS LANZANO--AP
Rajaratnam, 52, is led from FBI headquarters in New York City on Oct. 16
"The World." Time 2 Nov. 2009: 12. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Nov. 2009.
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