Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Who will be the next pope?," April 16, 2005

Papacy

Less than a dozen men are likely contenders to succeed Pope John Paul II when the College of Cardinals meets on April 18 to begin deliberations toward replacing the longest-serving pope in history. The death of the Roman Catholic Church head was expected to draw 1 million mourners to the Vatican from Poland, his birthplace, alone. The Global Language Monitor, which scans the internet, found 35,000 new stories on the pope in the 24 hours after his death on April 2-compared to 3,500 news stories on President Bush within a day of his reelection, and 1,000 news stories following President Reagan's death.

Iraq

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Jalal Talabani has come a long way since he told WORLD that religious freedom "is one of the principles of democratic society," and "guaranteeing this right will help to prepare our people for democracy." That statement in a 1998 interview followed a U.S.-brokered peace settlement between the Kurdish leader and his rival Massoud Barzani. On April 7 Mr. Talabani took the oath of office as Iraq's new president, and quickly named Shiite Arab Ibrahim al-Jaafari as interim prime minister. Both appointments give Iraq its first freely elected government in 50 years and allow Kurds-an oppressed non-Arab minority once targeted for ethnic cleansing-a historic powerbroker in Baghdad.

Afghanistan

A U.S. helicopter crashed in bad weather, the deadliest incident in Afghanistan for Americans since the fall of the Taliban. Of 16 who died on board, 13 were U.S. military personnel, three were U.S. contractors.

Congress

The Bush administration launched its campaign to preserve and expand the USA Patriot Act, the much-debated anti-terrorism legislation enacted after Sept. 11. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales defended the administration's use of the law and warned that any effort to dismantle it would be tantamount to "unilateral disarmament" in the war on terrorism. Portions of the law are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts. Civil-liberties groups and libertarian conservatives say it gives the government too much power to intrude into citizens' lives.

Marriage#n#

Kansans overwhelmingly voted to add a ban on gay marriage and civil unions to their state constitution, 70 percent to 29 percent. But even the referendum's stauchest supporter predicted it won't stand. "All these state amendments are going to be struck down by federal judges," said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. "We're in a race now-in a race between the democratic process in Kansas and other states and the federal courts."

Monaco

Prince Rainier III, Monaco's long-reigning monarch, died on April 6 after suffering from heart, kidney, and breathing problems. Rainier, 81, was Europe's longest-ruling monarch. He married American movie star Grace Kelly in 1956. Rainier's bold schemes jump-started Monaco's economy and sparked a construction boom that increased the country's territory by 20 percent with land reclamation from the sea. His bachelor son, Prince Albert, assumed royal powers but not yet the throne.

NCAA

The University of North Carolina's 75-70 victory over Illinois on April 4 will be hard to repeat. Not only will the Tar Heels lose seniors Jackie Manuel, Melvin Scott, and Jawad Williams, but its star juniors-Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, and Sean May-could bolt for a professional basketball career. NBA officials, meanwhile, are considering instituting a minimum age of 20 for playing in the NBA, a move that would at least keep most freshmen and sophmores from opting for the NBA draft.

Politics

A plan to extend daylight-saving time by two months became a part of a proposed energy bill last week when the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved an amendment authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Under the bill, daylight-saving time would begin on the last Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November. Mr. Markey said this would encourage conservation: "The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use."

Culture

Author Saul Bellow died on April 5 at the age of 89. After establishing himself as a major writer in 1953 with The Adventures of Augie March, Mr. Bellow went on to win three national book awards, a Pulitzer Prize in 1975, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976.

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