Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "John Bolton: Take cover!," May 7, 2005

United Nations A full-scale assault on John Bolton, President Bush's nominee as U.S. ambassador to the UN, is less about temper tantrums and more about thwarting the foreign policy of the elected chief executive. Ahead of a May 12 showdown, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on Mr. Bolton, a stream of attack ads and websites spew anti-Bolton legends, much of it already refuted by colleagues and-in one instance-the British foreign ministry. Groups backing the attacks include one-worlders like the Global Federalism Movement and sore losers in last year's election like MoveOn.org. And the outcasts seem to have found an ear at major news outlets. New York Times veteran Douglas Jehl penned six stories over eight days filled with allegations from unnamed sources.

Capitol Hill Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist turned down a compromise proposal from Democrats that would permit consideration on three of seven federal court judges nominated by President Bush but force the majority to retract one. "At the end of the day, one will be left standing . . . the Constitution, which allows up-or-down votes, or the filibuster," Mr. Frist said. Democrats blocked 10 of President Bush's appellate court choices through filibuster threats, which means those nominees would have to get 60 votes before they could be confirmed to lifetime seats.

In a televised rally on April 24, Focus on the Family's James Dobson and others joined Mr. Frist to demand that Democrats stop blocking people of faith from serving on the court. But Democrats appear to fear not only the beliefs of these nominees but their constructionist views of the Constitution. Mr. Frist warned Democrats not "to escalate its judicial obstruction to potential Supreme Court nominees."

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Iraq Iraq's interim National Assembly approved a cabinet lineup on April 28, nearly three months after elections, laying the groundwork for the first elected government since Saddam Hussein's ouster. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said two crucial vacancies remained, for ministers of defense and oil. Overall, the selections signaled resolution on power-sharing squabbles between Shiites and Sunnis and on the suitability of Baathists to serve in the new government. The list also contained one surprise: Ahmad Chalabi, a popular Shiite dissident who has been credited, discredited, and recredited by the Pentagon and CIA, will be one of four deputy prime ministers.

Outside Baghdad, important resolution came when Kurdish and Arab leaders gathered for the first time at a new memorial to victims of chemical-weapons attacks under Saddam Hussein. U.S. Army Capt. Matt Smith said the April 22 visit to Halabja, where 5,000 died from poison gas in 1988, had the same impact on Arab skeptics as a trip to the concentration camps of Dachau would to those doubting the Holocaust. "When I go back home I will call my people and tell them everything we heard from Saddam Hussein was not true," said Ratha Hussan Asakra, the sheik of the largest Arab tribe in As Sadiyah. "It was all lies."

Lebanon Syria ended its 29-year military domination of Lebanon as soldiers flashing victory signs completed a withdrawal spurred by intense international pressure and massive Lebanese street protests against a force that once numbered 40,000.

Abortion A bill making it harder for minors to cross state lines to have an abortion passed the U.S. House easily. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he intends to bring the bill to a vote this summer as one of his top 10 legislative priorities. If enacted, it would be the fifth law passed to reduce abortions since President Bush took office in 2001.

The measure won't help a Florida woman whose late-term abortion ended in a live birth. Once she saw the baby move, she told WORLD, she regretted the abortion. But personnel at a Florida abortion clinic allegedly refused to help her save the baby and turned away medics the mother summoned to the clinic using her cell phone.

Saudi Arabia Little news surfaced of two Pakistani Christians apparently still in custody after Saudi Arabian religious police swooped in and arrested them at a house worship group in Riyadh. The Muttawa'in arrested 40 Christians altogether on April 22, confiscating essential identity cards and Christian tapes and beating some worshippers. The raid happened just before Crown Prince Abdullah met with President Bush at the Crawford Ranch. Reducing oil prices were a top agenda item, but the Saudis have done little to heed an older Bush request: to rein in the Islamic extremism that feeds persecution and worldwide terrorism.

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