Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest news on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Meltdown," April 22, 2006

IMMIGRATION Following the success of coordinated protests across the nation this month, immigrant sympathizers launched plans for an economic boycott May 1. "We need to be recognized as contributors to the country," said Elias Bermudez, president of the Phoenix group Immigrants Without Borders. But while organizers insist businesses, particularly in states like Arizona, will be hit hard by a day without immigrant pay, experts say such a protest is largely symbolic. "It's business delayed, not business canceled," UCLA economist Christopher Thornberg told The Arizona Republic.

Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities on April 10. The demonstrations followed a weekend of rallies in 10 states that drew up to 500,000 people in Dallas, 50,000 in Atlanta, and even 3,000 people in the farming town of Garden City, Kan., with fewer than 30,000 residents.

"We love this country. This country gives to us everything," said Florentino Cruz, 32, an illegal worker from Mexico who has been in the United States since 1992. "This country was made by immigrants."

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Border watchdogs like the Minutemen called the protests "ridiculous." Peter Lanteri, director of New York's chapter of the Minutemen, said, "Illegal is illegal, and they break our laws to come here. . . . We want the illegal immigration stopped and the borders secured."

Lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill April 24 will be faced with deadlock on amnesty and guest worker provisions in a Senate bill vs. a crackdown on illegals proposed by the House. Less debated are Senate provisions to increase the number of skilled immigrant laborers admitted to the United States each year. Businesses insist they need that kind of overseas labor because American universities aren't turning it out (see "Have skills, will travel").

ENVIRONMENT California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dodged a call for caps on state emissions to fight global warming, but in a San Francisco speech on April 11 did move to support progressive controls on the amount of carbon dioxide put out by the largest state in the union.

Mr. Schwarzenegger compared his approach to losing weight: "If you develop the will power, and if you want to make some sacrifices and you want to listen to the experts, and change your eating habit and exercise every day, then you can have a long and healthy life."

But most environmental groups want a great leap to reduce greenhouse gases by strict-and costly-limits on industry. Some evangelical environmentalists present a muddled picture, calling for more moderate solutions even after signing a document calling for strict climate-change directives (see "Greener than thou").

UNREST Gunfire at dawn in the streets of the capital signaled stepped-up fighting between government troops in Chad and rebels who want to overthrow the president. Soldiers quelled the two-hour battle on April 13 but the government blames Sudan for aiding rebels, and the United States looks to Chad for assistance to launch a multinational force in the battered Darfur region of Sudan later this year.

AFGHANISTAN U.S. forces launched "Operation Mountain Lion" on April 11 with pre-dawn air-and-ground assaults in the Pech River Valley, an area of increasing terrorist activity.

Pakistani forces, too, struck suspected hideouts for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants along the Pak-Afghan border. The April 12 night raid killed six top militants, possibly including Mohsin Musa Matawalli Altwah, an Egyptian accused in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Pakistani forces also were deployed in Karachi to quell three days of rioting following a suicide bombing at a Sunni prayer service that killed 56.

INDIA Good news for Hopegivers co-founder Samuel Thomas: He was separated from taunting Hindu radicals in the jail where he has been held for Christian evangelism since March 16. The bad news: Rajasthan authorities on April 11 denied bail a second time. The pastor is being held along with the head of the Emmanuel Hope Home orphanage in Kota and other local Christians in an effort to force the closing of 13 orphanages, a hospital, and 65 schools in Rajasthan where Hindus extremists rule. He now awaits an April 24 bail hearing.

MOUSSAOUI Pity the defense attorneys now arguing insanity as a cover for the admissions of their client, Zacarias Moussaoui. When prosecutors successfully secured the testimony of shoe bomber Richard Reid last week, Mr. Moussaoui's attorneys protested: Their client, they said, should not be trusted when he said he and Mr. Reid planned to hijack a fifth plane on 9/11. That opened a Pandora's box where jurors will be asking, as Moussaoui takes the stand and the defense presents its final plea, "What can we believe from this team?"

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