Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest news on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "A few good men," May 6, 2006

WHITE HOUSE Fox News commentator Tony Snow became White House press secretary at the end of a month of personnel shakeups. The president acknowledged that Mr. Snow has disagreed with his policies, calling Mr. Bush in one recent column "something of an embarrassment" to conservatives. "I asked him about those comments," Mr. Bush said in announcing his selection, "and he said, 'You should have heard what I said about the other guy.'"

Mr. Snow joins a new White House lineup that includes chief of staff Josh Bolten, budget director Rob Portman, and policy aide Joel Kaplan. Mr. Bush has not named a replacement for departing faith-based programs coordinator Jim Towey, a lesser-known figure in the White House political roster but one who oversaw programs that stretched across nearly every government agency.

CONGRESS Lawmakers unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, adopt a budget, or face spending cuts looked to create a diversion by proposing legislative remedies to rising fuel prices. Democrats, blaming the Bush administration for $3 a gallon pump prices, say they will unveil a new energy bill this month, likely to include a windfall-profits tax on oil companies. Mr. Bush said higher taxes will not mean lower fuel costs. On April 25 he called a halt to deposits to the strategic petroleum reserve, temporarily suspended environmental rules that add to the price of gasoline, and asked Congress to roll back tax breaks for oil companies. Exxon Mobil reported a 7 percent increase in first-quarter profits and net income of $8.4 billion-fueling bipartisan intervention to ease the "pain at the pump."

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IMMIGRATION "Send this message to as many people as possible," read mass e-mails bouncing from Mexico to Central America as immigrant-rights groups launched a 24-hour boycott of U.S. goods and services May 1. Even gringo-friendly Ciudad Juarez announced that the 5,000 members of its chamber of commerce planned to join the boycott, and activists planned to block the bridge linking the city to El Paso in another round of pro-immigrant protests. But the outcry is producing a backlash, activating U.S. groups even in the heartland that want tough border-security measures before granting further privileges to illegals.

EGYPT Two suicide bombers tried to attack international peacekeepers on the Sinai Peninsula April 26, blowing themselves up just two days after bombings killed at least 21 people at the Sinai resort of Dahab. Egyptian authorities believe the attacks are linked to terror bombings at two other Sinai resorts in 2004 and 2005.

NEW ORLEANS Hurricane Katrina turned FEMA into a "symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy" so far beyond repair that it should be scrapped, a U.S. Senate panel said, just as New Orleans heads into a runoff election predicated on the rate of recovery-and the ability of registered voters to return once again to city polling places.

MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME "We're living a nightmare," said Taylor University spokesman Jim Garringer, after four students and a staff member were killed in a nighttime car crash on April 26. The victims all worked in dining services at the 1,900-student evangelical school and were returning to campus from preparing a banquet to welcome the school's new president when a semi crossed the median and slammed into the Taylor van. Four others in the van were hospitalized, one in critical condition. It was the second fatal crash involving Indiana students in a week; five Indiana University graduate students were killed when their plane crashed on April 20. "We don't know why this happened or what will come of it, but we trust that God does," said Taylor junior David Ridenour, 21, who knew one of the car crash victims.

Urbanologist Jane Jacobs, 89, died on April 25. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a highly influential critique of big-government and big-corporation urban renewal policies. She thought it vital to allow for individual quirks and small-scale entrepreneurial bursts that make cities full of lively surprise. She wanted cities to be walkable and opposed expressways and big-block buildings that hurry people to gated destinations while missing life along the way.

IRAN Iran received its first batch of North Korean--made surface-to-surface missiles, putting European countries within firing range, just before a deadline to comply with UN demands to halt its nuclear weapons program. The BM-25 missiles have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to an Israeli intelligence report.

URBAN RENEWAL More than four years after terrorists flying airplanes brought down the World Trade Center's twin towers, construction crews moved in April 27 to begin skyscraper construction at the site. A long-awaited deal the day before between private developer Larry Silverstein and New York's Port Authority cleared the way for building Freedom Tower, a $2.1 billion super-highrise that will anchor redevelopment at Ground Zero. Five planned towers are set to be completed at the 16-acre site by 2012, along with a memorial and mass transit hub already underway.

Anticlimax

Anticlimax

In all-day Saturday deliberations nearly six months after elections, Iraq's parliament chose its leaders. The surprise choice of unknown Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister will strengthen the role of twice-elected Jalal Talabani, the president.

Jalal Talabani, President

Founder and general secretary of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; member of the interim Iraq Governing Council

Jawad al-Maliki, Prime Minister-Designate

Veteran leader of Shiite Dawa Party; managed Shiite guerrillas in Saddam's Iraq while exiled in Syria; helped to purge former Baath Party members from military and government

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Parliament Speaker

Sunni Arab activist and doctor; major in former Iraq military; arrested twice by Saddam's regime in the 1980s and 2000

Adil Abdul Mahdi, Vice President

Shiite politician and economist; leading official in Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; exiled to France in 1969

Tariq al-Hashimi, Vice President

Sunni Arab, general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic Party; loosely associated with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. On April 27 four gunmen killed his sister and a driver in Baghdad.

Khalid al-Attiyah, Deputy Parliament Speaker

Shiite cleric and independent lawmaker; fled Iraq in 1979 after several arrests by Saddam's regime; head of the Islamic studies department at Oxford, 2000-2004

Aref Tayfour, Deputy Parliament Speaker

Leading member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and lawyer; exiled to Iran and Austria, returned after the 1991 Gulf War

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