Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Rich man, poor man," May 5, 2007

Democrats

Can the party of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi govern? The picture last week wasn't pretty. After spending weeks in wartime pushing through Congress a supplemental spending bill that President Bush had 100 percent guaranteed he would veto, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once again eschewed basic Washington decorum, refusing a face-to-face briefing with the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus. An aide told ABC News that Pelosi "could not make the briefing," but scheduling conflicts weren't a problem for the speaker last month when she traveled to Syria and met with its leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) likewise seemed to need no military briefing to conclude the Iraq War "is lost." That comment had even fellow Democrats squirming. "What Harry Reid is saying is that this war is lost-in other words, a war where we mainly spend our time policing a civil war . . . [but] the war is not lost," parsed Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Fox News Sunday. Fellow Democrat but officially independent Sen. Joe Lieberman called that argument "specious" and a binding timetable for withdrawal "dangerously wrong."

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The final conference report-a $124 billion appropriation-gives the Pentagon more money than the administration requested for combat operations in Iraq, at the same time that it calls for withdrawal beginning Oct. 1 with an end to all U.S. combat operations by March 2008. It passed the House 218-208 on April 25 and the Senate 51-46 on April 26. Bush promised a swift veto. In the House 13 Democrats sided with Republicans in opposing the measure, while only two Republicans voted with the majority. It is unlikely that Democrats have the votes to override the veto.

Candidates

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) formally announced his candidacy for the White House April 25 as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani surged ahead of him in polls as the lead GOP contender. Campaign strategist John Weaver points out that McCain still leads or ties polls in bellwether states Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina: "We wouldn't trade places with anybody." With recent speeches on the economy and the environment, McCain nonetheless continues to be defined by his support for the Iraq War. Asked on 60 Minutes recently about his support of the war, "At what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?" McCain answered with astonishing candor for a candidate: "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want."

China

In the space of two days in April, the Chinese government forced at least 60 women in Baise City, Guangxi Province, to have abortions. One woman, the wife of a house-church pastor, was seven months into her pregnancy. "We felt so shocked," Pastor Liang Yage told WORLD. "We had no choice and no freedom and it's just so painful." In recent years both Chinese officials and international observers have portrayed the 27-year-old one-child policy as loosening. Wei and her husband tell a different story.

Russia

Russians buried the body of Boris N. Yeltsin, the country's first democratically elected president, who died April 23 at the age of 76. The April 25 service was attended by Russia's political elite, current and former world leaders (including U.S. presidents Bush Sr. and Clinton), and his family and close friends. It was held in full accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition at Christ the Savior Cathedral, whose reconstruction Yeltsin approved while he was president after it was destroyed during the Communist era.

Somalia

Ethiopian tanks supporting government positions pounded insurgent strongholds in Mogadishu following a nine-day offensive that has killed 300 Somalis, mostly civilians. The battle for Somalia's capital has devastated whole neighborhoods and forced about one-third of the city's 1 million residents to flee-another refugee crisis for Africa. But government officials say they made gains in the capital against Islamist militias that have fought for months to oust the weak government, a conflict closely watched in what is becoming a terror haven on the Horn of Africa.

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