Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Looking for votes," March 11, 2006

INDIA Thousands of protesters in Bombay and other cities did not dampen Bush administration enthusiasm over a U.S.-India pact cemented on March 2 during the president's first trip to India. The deal will enhance bilateral relations on trade, counterterrorism, and disaster relief but focused most on "full civil nuclear energy cooperation." India under the arrangement will receive access to U.S. nuclear technology in exchange for agreeing to open its nuclear facilities to inspection. Asian critics don't like the new U.S. role in India's energy programs, while U.S. critics worry that the pact will spread the potential for rogue use of nuclear technology. Wary of the fight to ratify the agreement ahead on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bush said: "Congress has got to understand that it's in our economic interests that India have a civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off the global demand for energy."

The Samajwadi Party, a socialist Muslim-dominated opposition party based in Uttar Pradesh that calls for a confederation of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, largely orchestrated street protests in which thousands bore signs and burned effigies of Mr. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As the president prepared to end his Asian tour-which included a surprise touchdown in Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops and President Hamid Karzai-in Pakistan, a bomb exploded outside the U.S. consulate on March 2, killing a U.S. diplomat and at least two others and injuring scores of bystanders.

IRAQ Iraqi leaders again failed to reach agreement on forming a national unity government, nearly three months after parliamentary elections. Street violence continued, with at least 400 people killed since Feb. 22, when one of Islam's holiest shrines was bombed in Samarra. The bombing has sparked copycat attacks: a mosque in Hurriya destroyed on March 1, four civilians killed and over 20 injured in a Baghdad mosque attack, a mausoleum (where Saddam Hussein's father is buried) in Tikrit blown up. The Muslim-on-Muslim violence, relished and perhaps precipitated by outside foreign forces and terror factions eager to see the country descend into civil chaos, added an ironic twist to weeks of Islamic protests over Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad or characterizing Muslims as violent (See "Ancient enemies").

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DEATHS Henry Morris, the father of the modern "creation science" movement and the founder in 1970 of the Institute for Creation Research, died on Feb. 25 following strokes; he was 87. Mr. Morris taught engineering at five universities and chaired the civil engineering department at Virginia Tech. While there, he co-authored The Genesis Flood in 1961 with fellow scientist John C. Whitcomb. It became the founding document of today's creationist movement and was the first of Mr. Morris' several dozen books on the creation theme, including Scientific Creationism in 1974.

ACTORS Don Knotts and Dennis Weaver, both 81, also died late last month. Mr. Weaver starred in the hit TV shows Gunsmoke and McCloud. He called McCloud, which ran from 1970 to 1977, "the most satisfying role of my career." Mr. Knotts starred in many comedy films and sitcoms but is best remembered as clumsy Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to 1968. "Don was a small man . . . but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions," Andy Griffith said. "Don was special. There's nobody like him."

MONEY The Federal Reserve shipped 800 million new-and-improved $10 bills to commercial banks, and this week cash registers and ATM machines are offering up made-over Alexander Hamiltons. The bill is the latest of three denominations to be enhanced with colors and hidden decoders to thwart counterfeiters.

LAW The USA Patriot Act, one of the Bush administration's chief tools for investigating and fighting terrorism, is scheduled to expire on March 10, but the law appeared headed for renewal after the Senate voted 84-15 on March 2 to end a filibuster by its primary opponent, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). Most Senate Democrats supported renewal of the law after Republicans agreed to increase protections for libraries and recipients of subpoenas.

ITALY The draft of an Italian commission report supports the theory that the Soviet Union backed the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981: "This commission believes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope Karol Wojtyla." The Soviets viewed the pope as a threat, the parliamentary commission concluded, because of his support for the free trade union Solidarity in Poland.

GEORGIA Ethical questions continue to dog Ralph Reed's bid to become lieutenant governor of Georgia. The National Journal reported that the former Christian Coalition leader was one of the people named in a federal subpoena investigating a defunct nonprofit group tied to Jack Abramoff, though a Reed spokesperson said the candidate had not received any subpoena. The Senate Finance Committee is considering its own investigation into Mr. Abramoff's use of nonprofits in his dealings with Indian tribes. Georgia polls show Mr. Reed with a four-point lead in his attempt to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor (See "Southern discomfort").

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