1 | Seoul
NoKo Blamed for Sinking Ship
It seems no longer to be a question of whether North Korea sank a South Korean warship on March 26--ripping it in half with a torpedo and killing 46 sailors--but rather what the punishment should be for a potential act of war. On May 19, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan asserted what had long been suspected: It was "obvious" North Korea sank the Cheonan , he said. Now the South and its allies must walk a fine line. While some say Seoul needs to respond forcefully, others caution against provoking the nuclear North. Seoul is expected to ask the U.N. Security Council for tightened sanctions on Pyongyang, which the U.S. has indicated it will support. It is unclear what China will do, however, given its status as North Korea's biggest trading partner.
2 | Washington
Supreme Court Decisions
In U.S. v. Comstock, the court ruled May 17 that inmates deemed "sexually dangerous" can be held in federal prison indefinitely--even after they have served their original sentence.
In Graham v. Florida, the Justices decided that juvenile criminals--especially those not on trial for murder--cannot be sentenced to life in prison without parole. To do so, the court ruled, qualifies as "cruel and unusual" punishment.
3 | Kabul
Insurgents Step Up Attacks
Taliban militants shot grenades and missiles at the heavily fortified Bagram air base on May 19, killing an American contractor and wounding nine service members. The attack on the key U.S. military outpost came one day after a suicide bomber destroyed an American convoy in Kabul, killing six NATO soldiers. The strikes suggest that the Taliban are delivering on a promise made in early May to undertake an offensive against NATO forces and Afghan officials.
4 | Iraq
Recount Ends, Changes Little
More than two months after Iraq's parliamentary elections, a manual recount of some 2.5 million votes in Baghdad province maintained the status quo. Former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Sunni-backed bloc kept its two-seat lead over that of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had called for the recount, charging fraud. But the future is still uncertain, as neither bloc has a majority. Al-Maliki's recent alliance with another Shi'ite coalition tilts the balance of power in his favor, but a new government has yet to be formed, and the question of who will become Prime Minister remains unanswered.
5 | Iran
Nuclear Fuel Swap, Sanctions