Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

A quick look at this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Faith-based about-face," Aug. 27, 2005

IRAQ Protesters led by "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan prepared to enter a fourth week of vigil outside President George Bush's Crawford ranch, demanding an end to U.S. military efforts in Iraq. While media pools ignored the radical element of the campaign (Mrs. Sheehan accused the United States of waging a "nuclear war" in Iraq and told a San Francisco rally, "This country is not worth dying for."), the protesters could not escape a more pertinent post-Vietnam reality: These war casualties are volunteers. And not all grieving parents, or U.S. troops, are quitters. "There is a price that must be paid to do the things that need to be done," father Al Bloem told WORLD just after services on Aug. 15 for his son Nick, 20, killed in a bomb attack this month. Despite August being one of the worst months of the war, recruitment numbers are up, buoyed by some unusual enlistees (see "Best and Brightest" and "Unusual reqruits"). Iraqis found little solace in protest following a triple car-bomb attack in Baghdad that killed 43. Linked bombs targeted a police station, a bus terminal, and a hospital where victims were taken. The attack came as officials delayed presentation of a constitution, which goes before the people in an Oct. 15 referendum.
WHITE HOUSE Teen Challenge projects in four states are battling a federal government directive to cut food stamp benefits for people they help-ending 30 years of basic assistance. The success rate of Teen Challenge's rehabilitation programs targeting addicts and delinquents even a decade ago drew then-Texas Gov. George Bush's attention. He launched his faith-based initiative to give relief to just those types of nongovernment success stories. But now Teen Challenge finds itself ensnared by the same administration that has been one of its biggest cheerleaders (read "Stamped out").
CONGRESS Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott blames his fall from power in 2002 on a "personal betrayal" by current Majrity Leader Bill Frist. In a new book titled Herding Cats, A Life in Politics, Mr. Lott said Mr. Frist and other GOP heavyweights worked to bring him down after off-the-cuff comments at a birthday party suggesting Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a segregationist, was the right pick for president in 1948.

Sen. Lott's disaffection coincides with pro-life retrospection following Sen. Frist's flip-flop last month on stem-cell research. Mr. Frist's decision to support labwork using embryonic stem cells came without consultation with leading pro-life leaders in Tennessee who have long supported him, but tracks with previous comments the senator and transplant surgeon has made about abortion (see "Triple somersault").

LONDON Retail sales slumped in July after the bombings and attempted bombings in central London. An Aug. 15 report by the London Retail Consortium showed a sales drop of 9 percent compared with the same month last year. It followed a 4 percent increase in sales for June, before transportation disruption, security alerts, and consumer anxiety set in.

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AIR TRAVEL Aviation investigators have their hands full this month after the crash of a Caribbean airliner in Venezuela killed 160 people and a Cypriot airliner crashed over Greece, killing 121. The Aug. 16 Venezuela crash apparently took place when both engines fell from the wings. The Aug. 14 crash 25 miles northeast of Athens is proving more mysterious: Air Force pilots scrambled to trail the plane reported seeing two people wrestling for control, and the black box containing cockpit voice recordings for the Helios Airlines Boeing 737 is missing.

Investigators did recover the black box from the downed helicopter in which Sudanese Vice President John Garang and 12 others died July 30. Russian experts will examine its contents as part of an international probe. Khartoum delayed naming a new cabinet, scheduled Aug. 9, following the death of Mr. Garang, who became part of a new unity government only three weeks earlier.

NASA A final report from a task force investigating the 2003 Columbia disaster included a minority report from seven task force members who said "lessons that should have been learned have not been." Seven of 26 members of the task force said recovering the space shuttle program was hampered by "weak understanding of basic program management and systems engineering principles." Instead of establishing firmly why a chunk of foam fell off Columbia, charged former NASA engineer Charles Daniel, the foam was replaced with electric heaters near the fuel tank. Foam chunks also fell off during the Discovery launch last month, again halting the shuttle program.

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