Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

The latest on the week's biggest stories

Issue: "Is Romney rolling?," May 19, 2007

Britain

Tony Blair called an end to over 10 years as prime minister and a parliamentary career spanning three decades. The 54-year-old head of state announced May 10 that he will tender his resignation to the queen on June 27. "Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down," he said. Blair acknowledged that he entered office with expectations perhaps "too high," yet the largely liberal domestic reform agenda he championed was overshadowed by the war on terror. The Labor Party leader (and son of a Tory MP) made peace in Northern Ireland but could not bring fellow Brits to terms with the war in Iraq. He told supporters last week, "I did what I thought was right for our country."

Iraq

"Every morning" began the Sunday front-page story in The New York Times describing how often antiwar groups conference with Democratic leadership staff on Iraq. Newfound clout for a disparate group of postmodern peaceniks is a key reason for the congressional push to end a war members of Congress helped begin four years ago. With the House set again to cut off funding for U.S. troops- in its latest bill as early as July-President Bush told reporters he would veto such a measure again.

Election '08

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As former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) prepared to give a speech to Massachusetts Citizens for Life, news outlets reported that his wife Ann gave a $150 donation to Planned Parenthood in 1994. "Her positions are not terribly relevant to my campaign," Romney told the Associated Press May 9. But social conservatives may see the donation as one more line in a roster of inconsistent positions. Romney was pro-abortion until 2004, acknowledged campaign spokesman Kevin Madden, who said abortion is an issue "the governor was wrong on in the past and believes he is right on now."

Human rights

Amnesty International has accused China and Russia of continuing to supply arms to Sudan used in Darfur, breaching a UN arms embargo. The report comes as Libya, Egypt, and Chad begin a three-way summit on Darfur in a rare break from Arab League--aligned deliberations. It also comes as Amnesty, the world's largest human-rights organization, may for the first time in its history take a stand on abortion in support of the "decriminalization" of the procedure and its providers.

Tornado

Tragedy briefly became a political football last week when Kansas' Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius, said that the war in Iraq had diverted crucial National Guard resources and hurt recovery efforts in Greensburg, a Kansas town destroyed on May 4 by an F-5 tornado that killed 12. "The National Guard is one of our first responders," she said. "They don't have the equipment they need to come in, and it just makes it that much slower."

Sebelius later backtracked when it became clear that the emergency response from the federal government, as well as from neighboring towns, had been prompt and thorough in Greensburg. But she pointed out that she and other governors have long worried about being prepared for larger-scale disasters. "After four years" of war, she told The Washington Post, "there's no question that year after year Guard supplies are depleted not just in Kansas but all over the country."

Virginia Tech

The most difficult graduation ceremony in memory features a commencement speaker with knowledge of violence around the world. Gen. John Abizaid, who retired earlier this month after leading U.S. military operations in the Middle East, including Iraq, since 2003, was scheduled to address 3,600 graduates at Virginia Tech May 11, less than a month after a student killed 32 students and faculty members on campus. "It is my intention to honor the graduates, the community, the families of the fallen, and the fallen," he said, this time in reference to the Blacksburg, Va., community where the murders took place.

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