Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on this week's biggest stories

Issue: "Street warfare," April 7, 2007

Politics

The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas to Justice Department staffers in its ongoing investigation of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, but received less than full cooperation. Monica Goodling, a high-ranking Justice Department aide, invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify because she believes Democratic lawmakers have already made up their minds that the dismissals were improperly politically motivated. Indeed, Sen. Chuck Schumer has accused the Bush administration of orchestrating the firings to prevent the imminent prosecution of some Republicans-a charge lacking concrete evidence.

Goodling's refusal to cooperate may foreshadow an even grander showdown between congressional Democrats and the president over White House aides testifying publicly on the matter. Bush has sworn to uphold executive privilege. That position is backed by legal precedent, but it puts the White House in a bind to explain why it is resistant to such testimony, when Bush insists there is nothing to hide and that the firings were legitimate.

Iran

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Europe may want Iranian oil and the UN may want critical nuclear negotiations on track, but Britain wants its sailors back. A showdown appeared in the making after Iran seized the 14 male and one female navy personnel from a merchant vessel. Britain claims the incident took place in Iraqi waters but Tehran insists the Brits had invaded Iranian territory.

Iraq

Everyone has a plan. Senate Democrats want a March 31, 2008, deadline for bringing troops home from Iraq. The House passed a bill with an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline. And now Moveon.org, the liberal advocacy group, is pushing for a withdrawal by the end of the year. It will host an April 10 "virtual town hall meeting" expected to up the anti-war pressure nationwide, with a panel featuring Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell would like to go home, too, but he'd like to finish the job first. The deputy commander in Baghdad now meets daily with Iraqi counterparts and is walking street patrols. With less than half the president's mandated surge in place, Campbell needs one more thing besides more soldiers: more time.

Northern Ireland

Protestant leader Ian Paisley and Catholic leader Gerry Adams, often fierce enemies, met face-to-face for the first time last week and agreed to a power-sharing provincial government. "After a long and difficult time in our province," said Paisley, "I believe that enormous opportunities lie ahead." Adams called the agreement "the beginning of a new era of politics." The governing arrangement is set to begin on May 8.

Washington

Two years after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy for cancer, White House press secretary Tony Snow is fighting the disease again. Doctors last week said that a growth removed from Snow's abdomen is cancerous and that the cancer had spread to his liver. Medical experts say Snow's cancer may be treatable. "If the disease is confined to the liver, there is a chance that it can be operated on at some point, and that it is potentially curable," Mary Mulcahy, director of gastrointestinal oncology at Northwestern University's School of Medicine, told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a low chance, but it's real."

Sports

American swimmer Michael Phelps set three world records in three days last week at the world swimming championships in Melbourne, Australia. Phelps dominated the competition in setting new marks for the 200-meter freestyle, the 200 butterfly, and the 200 individual medley and in winning a record 14th world championship medal. "He is just a phenomenon, a mutant or something," U.S. women's team captain Tara Kirk said. "He's just going for personal best times now and they just happen to be world records." The U.S. women's 800 freestyle relay team also set a new world record in winning the gold.

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