Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Attack and dissent," May 19, 2001

Under the radar screen, the Bush Administration continues aggressively courting conservatives to keep the GOP base secure for 2002 ... the Council for National Policy held its 20th anniversary conference in Washington May 3-5 and received lavish attention from the White House ... CNP is a confidential network of several hundred highly influential conservative business leaders ... CNP's elite Gold Circle Club met May 3 at the White House with chief strategist Karl Rove and President Bush ... Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke at a private Gold Circle dinner ... Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to the entire CNP. As Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force prepares to issue its plan to increase the U.S. energy supply, federal health experts are beginning to consider the grim prospect that this may be the worst summer for heat-related deaths (HRDs) in U.S. history ... the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an average of 371 Americans suffer HRDs each year, more than from earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods combined ... 62 percent are seniors, age 55 and over ... during a 1980 summer heat wave, 1,700 people died from HRDs ... during July 1995, more than 1,000 Americans suffered HRDs ... in the Chicago area alone, 465 people died and more than 40,000 people were hospitalized ... but this summer could be far worse, particularly for low-income minorities and fixed-income seniors ... energy prices are skyrocketing, making air-conditioning prohibitively expensive for some ... rolling blackouts mean California's 34 million residents face the prospect of no air-conditioning at all for hours or days at a time ... James Golden of the Center for New Black Leadership says his group will release its findings soon, highlighting the dangers and calling for a federal-state task force to coordinate an emergency response to this emerging public health threat ... Is publisher Mort Zuckerman about to end U.S. News & World Report as we know it, taking it out of the newsweekly business? ... absolutely not says editor Stephen Smith, whose job is rumored to be in doubt as ad sales slide and circulation is down nearly 6 percent ... but staffers inside the No. 3 news magazine (behind Time and Newsweek) confirm there is serious talk that the magazine may be dramatically reshaped from covering major news and business stories to covering science and history ... "There's a lot of reconsideration of where U.S. News should be in terms of a magazine," says a key inside staffer ... "Everyone's on pins and needles," says another staffer ... "We expect to get hit like every magazine with layoffs, but we didn't know we were going to become a health and history magazine. What's that all about?" ... Smith says "the rumor mill is blasting away," but any rumors about a "change in emphasis" are "very premature" ... one insider doubts dramatic changes will happen ... "Mort needs this. If he doesn't have a magazine that has influence and that people read, then he's a nobody in Washington" ... The bald eagle may be the national bird, but two New Yorkers think bald men aren't well represented ... so they've launched HAIRPAC, sort of a "political hair club for men" to raise money to elect bald politicians ... "We figure we get discriminated against because we haven't got enough hair," Arnie Rubin, a Brooklyn electrician, tells Reuters ... "As soon as I started to get bald, my wife says, 'that's it.' She left me, found somebody with hair," says Mark Lampert, a bartender ... "It's an image thing. Bald men don't feel represented."

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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