Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest news on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Too close to call," Oct. 28, 2006

People

The nation's population officially hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m. EDT Oct. 16, when the Census Bureau's population clock rolled over to the big number, 39 years after it passed 200 million. Many experts think the population actually hit 300 million months ago; and there's a good chance that it walked across from Mexico. Strict exclusion rules to limit immigration aren't necessary, argues pastor and author David Dykstra, but it may be time to consider ideological restrictions on entries, much as the United States used during the immigrant surge a century ago.

The United States passed another demographic milestone with the Census Bureau reporting that traditional families no longer make up a majority of U.S. households. Married couples lead only 49.8 percent of households, or 55.2 million, compared to 55.8 million headed by singles living alone, single parents, or couples living out of wedlock. Six years ago, traditional families made up 52 percent of households.

Election '06

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October surprises are surprising no more. Continuing news in the Mark Foley sex scandal further reduced prospects of Republicans holding onto a crucial House seat in Florida, while new reports allege that retiring Arizona lawmaker Jim Kolbe, the only professed Republican homosexual in Congress, may have sought relationships with former pages. If the revelations appear timed to divide and discourage conservative-and Christian-voters, so does the mid-October release of a book by former White House aide David Kuo. Tempting Faith reveals a White House staff that undercut the president's faith-based initiative and regarded its evangelical advocates as "nuts" and "goofy"-tags that apparently surprised the mainstream press more than the groups so tagged. In an interview with WORLD, Kuo said he intended the book to draw pre-election attention to the unrealized potential of the faith-based movement, but now acknowledges that it could be used to hurt the election prospects of those most able to further it.

In an Oct. 19 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, voters say they prefer Democratic control of Congress to Republican control, 52 to 37 percent. The gap is the widest ever registered by either party in Journal/NBC surveys and marks the first time voter preference for one party has exceeded 50 percent.

North Korea

North Korea labeled UN action "a declaration of war" after the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution imposing sanctions on the communist regime Oct. 14. New sanctions followed the Oct. 9 testing of a nuclear weapon north of Pyongyang. With increased activity around the testing site, South Korea and Japan said they believe the North is preparing a second explosion while insiders say workers may have been repairing a tunnel fractured in the first blast.

North Korea "is under the impression that once they make more nuclear tests that somehow we will respect them more," chief U.S. envoy and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters after a meeting in Seoul with U.S. and Russian counterparts. "The fact of the matter is that nuclear tests make us respect them less."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also met in the region with Asian counterparts to instill resolve to enforce the sanctions even as a top Chinese envoy met for the first time Oct. 19 with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Iraq

U.S. commanders in Baghdad acknowledged that attacks in Iraq rose 22 percent this month, but the Bush administration rejected rumors that the country could be divided into three partitions-Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish-or that it was considering a phased withdrawal. "We're not looking for an exit strategy," said Vice President Dick Cheney. "We're looking for victory."

Auto industry

Ford Motor Co. will build the last Taurus sometime this week at its assembly plant near Atlanta. Taurus was the largest-selling car in America from 1992 through 1996 and likely will top 7 million in sales by the time production ends. But a Taurus in every neighborhood did not a fairy-tale ending make for the ailing automaker.

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