By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
January 28, 2006
Hamas, the militant Islamic group that sponsors suicide bombings in Israel, won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections to the consternation of world leaders who'd hoped stalled peace negotiations would resume. "A political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal," President Bush said.
Abramoff scandal knocks at White House door
The White House acknowledged several meetings between President Bush and his staff with admitted influence-peddling lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But the administration refuses to release photos of the meetings. "Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with him or know him very well," Bush said. "It's part of the job of the president to shake hands with people and smile." The disclosure prompted Senate Democrats to push for a special counsel to head the widening FBI investigation.
Judiciary Committee endorses Alito
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 along party lines to endorse Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. The committee sent the nomination to the full Senate. Confirmation was seen as certain, but Democrats delayed the vote until next week. So far three Democrats, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, announced they will support Alito. Plans for a Democratic filibuster fizzled.
Author admits to fabrications
Best-selling author James Frey admitted that "A Million Little Pieces," his memoir about addiction and recovery, included many false stories and details about characters. Frey admitted to television audiences that some facts and characters had been "altered," but maintained that the essence of his memoir was real. "I feel duped," Oprah Winfrey said while confronting Frey on one show. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers." His book has sold nearly 1.8 million copies.
Bush speaks out on torture and spying
President Bush, at his first press conference of the new year, vowed that the United States has not and will not torture suspects as part of its war on terrorism. "No American will be allowed to torture another human being anywhere in the world," he said. But he insisted he has the authority to tap telephones without a warrant and does not want Congress to change existing laws. "In an attempt to try to pass a law on something that's already legal, we'll show the enemy what we're doing," Bush said.
Ford announces major cutbacks
Ford Motor Co. announced plans to cut up to 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants in an attempt to return its North American auto business to profitability. Beset by Asian competitors, Ford faces large losses in its North American operations and a decreasing market share. Ford said its plan will restore profitability by 2008.
Researchers calculated that 2005 was the warmest year in a century. A federal analysis concluded that the year produced the highest annual average surface temperature worldwide since instrument recordings began in the late 1800s. The second-warmest year now is 1998.
General admits U.S. is "stretched" in Iraq
Gen. George Casey told reporters in Diwaniyah, Iraq, that American forces are "stretched" in Iraq but said he has no plans to seek withdrawals of the 130,000-member U.S. occupation. "The forces are stretched. I don't think there's any question of that," Casey said. "But the Army has been for the last several years going through a modernization strategy that will produce more units and more ready units."
Richard Hatch found guilty
"Survivor" winner Richard Hatch was convicted of failing to pay taxes on his prize money from the show. Hatch won $1 million in the show's first season. He was also found guilty of evading taxes on $327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned. He faces up to 13 years in prison.
Economic growth slowed last quarter
The Commerce Department reports the economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 1.1 percent during the fourth quarter last year, the slowest growth in three years. The finding surprised most analysts who'd been expecting a 2.8 percent rise in the Gross Domestic Product. Because the earlier three quarters were stronger, 2005 closes its ledgers with a respectable 3.5 percent rate of growth.
Vermont judge reverses punishment for child molester
Judge Edward Cashman, who became a bogeyman on many cable talk shows, imposed a three-year-minimum sentence on convicted child molester Mark Hulett. The Vermont judge originally sentenced Hulett to 60 days after prosecutors did not offer a treatment program for Hulett, who admitted to having a four-year sexual relationship with a girl starting when she was 6. "Punishment is not enough of a response in some cases. This is one of those cases," Cashman said.
Fate of American journalist unknown
The U.S. military released five Iraqi women detainees, but said the act was "coincidental" to a demand by the kidnappers of American freelance reporter Jill Carroll, abducted in Baghdad on Jan. 7. The women were delivered to the home of a Sunni politician in Baghdad. There has been no word on the fate of Carroll, whom militants vowed would die unless all female detainees under U.S. control are freed.
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