Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Stand in the gap," Nov. 5, 2005

FED Wall Street gave a strong vote of confidence to Ben Bernanke, President Bush's nominee to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising nearly 170 points on Oct. 24, the day Mr. Bush announced the nomination. Mr. Bernanke, a former Princeton University professor, Federal Reserve governor, and White House economist, said his first priority will be "to maintain continuity" with the policies and strategies of the Greenspan years. He has in the past, however, championed greater openness at the Fed and the establishment of formal inflation targets. "He's got the right pedigree," economist Ethan Harris told the Bloomberg news service. Still, "you're replacing an icon with a mere mortal, and he's going to have to prove himself in the job."

COURTS Citing a confirmation process that "presents a burden for the White House," Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers in an Oct. 27 letter to the president withdrew her name from nomination. Her decision to abandon high-court prospects-and the president's swiftness to accept-came one day after Ms. Miers was supposed to return a second Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire centering on her role as White House counsel and just over a week before hearings in the committee were set to begin (See "End of the road").

QUAKE Two weeks after a devastating earthquake in Pakistan, officials upped the death toll to 80,000-making it one of the deadliest quakes of modern times. Relief workers are racing against time to provide winterized tents and other shelter for between 2 million and 3 million made homeless by the October earthquake. Shock is now beginning to set in, with families realizing the full tragedy of lost loved ones and homes (See "Unveiled grief").

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HURRICANE Facing massive hurricane damage from Wilma, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took blame for slow delivery of relief supplies, but also took time to tell survivors some hard truths: "People had ample time to prepare. It isn't that hard to get 72 hours' worth of food and water." Aid agencies and weather experts, meanwhile, are straining to cope with the worst storm year many have seen. "There is a gradual cumulative tired that we experience in these record years," said the National Hurricane Center's Frank Lepore. "[But] we've been in a period of above normal activity since 1995" (See "Forecast: accumulating exhaustion").

IMMIGRATION GOP leaders (and presidential hopefuls) in the Senate reached an agreement Oct. 25 on how to proceed with a massive overhaul of U.S. immigration. Over 1 million illegal immigrants are arrested nationwide each year, and over 11,000 are apprehended each month in south Texas alone. Security in the area, home to major beef-producing ranches, is increasingly compromised by violent, trespassing illegals and a cottage industry in immigrant smuggling (See "Illegal invasion").

WORLD SERIES Chicago prepared a celebration of the century to welcome its White Sox after the team swept past the Houston Astros 4 games to 0. The shutout was sweet remedy for a club that had not won a World Series in 88 years. "So what do we do with the chip on our shoulder?" asked Sox fan and lawyer Mike Laird.

OIL FOR FOOD More than half of 4,500 companies from 60 countries paid kickbacks or surcharges to Saddam Hussein to obtain Iraqi oil. Bribe payers-including Daimler-Chrysler and Volvo-netted Saddam $1.6 billion, according to the final report issued by the UN's specially appointed Oil-for-Food investigator and former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. He emphasized that the corruption "could not have been nearly so pervasive if there had been more disciplined management by the UN and its agencies."

NORTH KOREA The Kim Jong Il regime wined and dined New Mexico governor Bill Richardson as the country celebrated 60 years of its Communist workers' party in late October. Mr. Richardson, a former UN ambassador, is a well-liked old Pyongyang friend but was there in an unofficial capacity ahead of dicey six-party talks over nuclear buildup-a visit reminiscent of Clinton-Gore-Albright glass-clinking with the North Korean dictator more than tough engagement with the brutal state.

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