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The week in review
Scripps Howard News Service


April 21, 2007

Thirty-three shot to death at Virginia Tech campus

Virginia Tech students and faculty suffered the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history Monday when English major Cho Seung-Hui gunned down 32 people before shooting himself. Cho, whom acquaintances described as a sullen loner, mailed video recordings to NBC the morning of the shootings in which he rambled against rich students and people he said had wronged him. "You decided to spill my blood," Cho said during the often-obscene tirade. "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today." Several Virginia Tech students complained that police and university authorities were slow to warn them of Cho's first attacks.




Gonzales struggles to explain dismissals of prosecutors

Senate criticism grew louder after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony Thursday over why he authorized the firings of eight federal prosecutors late last year. Gonzales vehemently denied political motives, but frequently claimed a faulty memory when asked about the extent of his own involvement. "The notion that there was something that was improper that happened here is simply not supported," he said. Several key Republicans were unconvinced. "The best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said President Bush believes Gonzales "can be effective going forward."

Ministers loyal to al-Sadr resign from Iraq Cabinet

Hopes for a political solution to Iraqi violence dimmed Monday when six Cabinet ministers loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resigned in protest over the prime minister's refusal to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Their exit raised concerns that al-Sadr's Mahdi Army might resume death-squad attacks that have killed thousands in Baghdad. Violence quickly escalated, with more than 80 execution-style civilian deaths discovered Tuesday and more than 180 deaths from suicide bombings Wednesday.

Reid says Iraq war is lost

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid angered the White House and several top Republicans Thursday when he said the U.S. military occupation of Iraq has failed. "This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," the lawmaker from Nevada said. Reid was referring to a wave of suicide bombings that killed more than 180 Iraqi civilians in a single day. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called Reid's position "disturbing" and dared Democrats to cut off war funding. "If this is his true feeling, then it makes one wonder if he has the courage of his convictions and therefore will decide to de-fund the war," she said.

World Bank orders investigation of Wolfowitz

The World Bank board of directors Friday ordered a review board to discuss the fate of bank President Paul Wolfowitz after disclosures that he helped get his girlfriend a high-paid job at the State Department. The board issued a statement expressing "great concern" over how former bank employee Shaha Riza obtained a salary of $193,590 and whether she was shown preferential treatment in job assignments while she worked at the bank. The board appointed a special panel to make recommendations over Wolfowitz's future. Wolfowitz said he "welcomes the decision of the board to move forward and resolve this very important issue."

College loan leader Sallie Mae will be sold

America's leading college loan provider, Sallie Mae, announced Monday that it will be purchased for $25 billion by a group of investors that includes the private-equity firms of J.C. Flowers & Co. and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe. Sallie Mae, officially known as the SLM Corp., originated more than $23 billion worth of student loans last year. The deal comes amid growing regulatory scrutiny over whether college officials have been influencing students to borrow from specific lenders. Sallie Mae settled a dispute with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo last week over its business practices by agreeing to pay $2 million into a student loan fund.

TurboTax online system overwhelmed on 'Tax Day'

The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday that it won't penalize thousands of taxpayers who were unable to file their income-tax forms on time because TurboTax's online computers were overwhelmed late Tuesday. The company's Internet facility near San Diego processed more than 1 million returns Tuesday, but the system had reached its capacity. "Volume was a key contributor to this, but we're going to dig under and try to understand it from a technology perspective," said TurboTax spokeswoman Julie Miller.

Wildfire destroys Georgia homes

A rapidly spreading wildfire destroyed 14 homes near Waycross, Ga., Monday, forcing more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes and closing several public schools. The fire started when a tree fell across a power line that ignited the tinder-dry underbrush of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, eventually burning 40 square miles. Forestry officials said their efforts to contain the blaze were hampered by high winds and a lack of roads into the federal refuge.

Bush pressures Sudan to stop mass killings in Darfur

President Bush sought Wednesday to increase U.S. pressure on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to cease the attacks in Darfur that have caused 200,000 deaths and the flight of an estimated 2.5 million refugees. "The world needs to act," Bush said. He said if al-Bashir does not obey U.N. mandates to stop the violence, then "the United States of America will act." He said Sudan must allow U.N. and African Union peacekeeping forces to deploy into the region and to sanction people who are attacking the residents of Darfur. "It is evil we're now seeing in Sudan and we're not going to back down," Bush said.

Supreme Court upholds ban on partial birth abortions

In a major decision praised by anti-abortion activists, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling Wednesday upholding a 2003 ban on partial birth abortions passed by the then-Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Bush. "The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the majority opinion. "This decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America," Bush said.

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska