By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
April 28, 2006
Reacting to growing public anxiety over rapidly rising petroleum prices, President Bush announced Tuesday he'll temporarily halt federal gasoline purchases for the national strategic petroleum reserve in hopes of reducing demand for gas costing at least $3 a gallon in most cities. "Every little bit helps," Bush said. The president also ordered the Justice and Energy departments to start investigations into possible price gouging or any other improper manipulation of the market.
U.S. oil companies report largest profits in history
This week Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp. announced a record $15.7 billion in first-quarter profits, 17 percent more than earnings during the same period last year. The companies filed some of the largest profit statements in history. Some members of Congress are calling for new windfall-profit taxes against oil producers, a measure President Bush rejected. But Bush urged the oil giants Friday to re-invest their profits to increase gasoline supplies.
TV pundit Tony Snow becomes top White House spokesman
President Bush selected conservative TV pundit Tony Snow as his new press secretary Wednesday, shrugging off past criticisms Snow had made of his administration. "My job is to make decisions and his job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and to the American people," Bush said. The president said he asked Snow - who once called Bush "something of an embarrassment" - about the remarks. "You should have heard what I said about the other guy," Snow assured the president. He told the White House press corps, "I believe in the president."
Suicide bombers hit Egyptian resort, killing 24
Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit the Egyptian Dahab beach resort popular with foreigners Monday at the height of the tourist season, killing 24 people and wounding dozens of others. Most of the dead were Egyptians celebrating the start of spring. The attack was the third in the Sinai peninsula in the last two years and came a day after Osama bin Laden released a videotape calling on Muslims to support al Qaeda's struggles. Hamas, the radical anti-Israel group controlling Palestine, condemned the attack.
Florida lawmakers to shut down boot camps after boy's death
Florida Senate and House negotiators reached a deal this week to replace four so-called "boot camps" for juvenile offenders with new programs that will minimize contact between juveniles and their guards. The action follows the death of Martin Lee Anderson, 14, who died Jan. 6 after he was beaten by guards at one of the camps. Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist called for an investigation into Medical Examiner Charles Siebert, who ruled the boy died of natural causes. Crist wants the Florida Medical Examiners Commission to review Siebert's records to determine if there are "any other flawed autopsies of which we might not be aware."
North Carolina stripper made similar rape charges 10 years ago
The exotic dancer who said three members of the Duke University lacrosse team raped her also told police in 1996 that three men sexually assaulted her when she was 14. North Carolina authorities said the case was not pursued. The woman told Essence magazine she did not push for prosecution then for fear of her safety. Meanwhile, one of the Duke defendants, Collin Finnerty, 19, was ordered to stand trial in Washington, D.C., in an unrelated assault case in which he is accused of punching a man who asked Finnerty to stop calling him "gay and other derogatory names."
Spanish version of national anthem prompts White House ire
President Bush joined the criticism against a new Spanish-language recording of the national anthem by British pop-music producer Adam Kidron. "I think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to learn English," Bush told reporters assembled at the White House Rose Garden. "One of the things that's very important is - when we debate this issue - that we not lose our national soul." Kidron said he recorded "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Anthem" to honor American immigrants.
New Yorkers begin construction of Freedom Tower at Ground Zero
Months of dispute ended Thursday when New York City began construction of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower on the grounds of the former World Trade Center, destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Work began following an agreement between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre site, and developer Larry Silverstein. "It is going to be a symbol of our freedom and independence," Gov. George Pataki said.
Rove appears for fifth time before grand jury
Top White House aide Karl Rove spent more than three hours before a federal grand jury Wednesday in his fifth appearance to explain his role in the 2003 leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating why Rove failed to tell prosecutors that Rove spoke with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame before her name became public. Meanwhile, a federal judge Thursday refused to dismiss charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Senators call for demise of FEMA
Two senators Thursday called for the elimination of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a "symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy" that is too flawed to fix. The senators' report - "Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared" - was the third and most scathing congressional review so far. But Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., agreed that it is impossible to overhaul FEMA before June 1, when the hurricane season begins.
European Union documents 1,000 secret CIA prisoner flights
European Union lawmakers are continuing their investigation into the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program that secretly shuttled suspected terrorists to clandestine prisons in Eastern Europe, possibly to face brutal interrogation tactics. Italian lawmaker Giovanni Fava reported to the EU officials that "the CIA has used aircraft registered under fictitious company names or with private companies to secretly transfer terror suspects to other countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Afghanistan."
Iran defies United Nations and continues enriching uranium
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced Friday that Iran continues to enrich uranium and has refused to cooperate with nuclear inspections, in violation of U.N. Security Council directives. The council is expected to meet next week to consider new efforts to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country "won't give a damn" about future "useless resolutions" by the world body. President Bush said "the world is united and concerned" by Iran's actions.
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