By BILL STRAUB
Scripps Howard News Service
May 06, 2005
Bush sells Social Security - again
President Bush hit the road Tuesday, visiting the politically friendly venue of Mississippi in an effort to sell his troubled Social Security initiative. The visit marked the president's first venture outside of Washington after he expressed support for a funding plan that would keep retirement benefits for low-wage workers at anticipated levels while reducing the government check for all others. "The American people now understand we have a problem," Bush said. "And our leaders must choose _ do nothing and guarantee a massive tax hike, or a 30 percent benefit cut, or act now to keep the promises of Social Security for the 21st century."
Congress looks at immigration
The House on Thursday adopted legislation that would require states that issue driver's licenses to undocumented aliens to differentiate the permits from those provided to drivers who are in the country legally. The move is intended to bolster national security and ebb the flow of illegal aliens across the southern border. "Giving driver's licenses that can be used as identification to anyone, regardless of whether they are here legally or whether we know who they really are, is an open invitation for terrorists and criminals to exploit," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the prime sponsor.
Bush heads out
President Bush left Friday on a five-day overseas trip that will carry him to Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia and Georgia. The prime mission _ help Russia celebrate the end of World War II in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin is none too pleased that Bush is headed to Georgia and wasn't ecstatic that he has publicly chosen to note that Russia, in the wake of the war, sort of, kind of, took over Latvia and Georgia.
House Republican leader Tom DeLay of Texas continues to be pursued by ethics woes and seemingly every television news camera in Washington. The House ethics committee is considering an investigation into the financing of several overseas trips that DeLay took with lobbyist Jack Abramoff to determine who picked up the tab. Appearing Thursday before the 54th annual National Day of Prayer gathering on Capitol Hill, DeLay said, "No matter what your faith, no matter what your political persuasion, your prayers for our increased humility, for our ever-humbler service to God and neighbor are needed and wanted."
Lynndie in limbo
Pfc. Lynndie England, the Army reservist who grabbed a whole lot more attention than she ever bargained for when photographs of her leading a naked Iraqi man around on a leash gained wide circulation, tried to plead guilty before a military court for her actions at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. "I knew it was wrong," she said. But a judge declared a mistrial on Wednesday when questions were raised about the testimony of others involved.
Runaway rues departure
Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride from Duluth, Ga., who bolted for Las Vegas and Albuquerque, N.M., for three days rather than stand at the altar, precipitating a nationwide hunt, released a statement saying she is "truly sorry for the troubles I caused" and asserted that her flight was not the result of cold feet. "Those who know me know how excited I've been, and how excited I was about the spectacular wedding we planned, and how I could not wait to be Mrs. John Mason," the statement said.
Blair squeaks by
British Prime Minister Tony Blair won a third term, unprecedented for the Labor Party, in Thursday's voting but the margin was slim, leading to speculation that he might step aside in the not-too-distant future. Labor managed only a 60-seat margin in the House of Commons, down from 161. Blair cited the fighting in Iraq as a problem, noting, "I know that Iraq has been a deeply divisive issue in this country."
Violence in Iraq
A series of bombing, aimed at least to some extent at army recruits, killed at least 270 during a nine-day surge of bloodshed in Iraq. At least 60 died as the result of a suicide bomber outside a police-recruiting center in Erbil.
Bin Laden ally arrested
Pakistani authorities announced Wednesday the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a Libyan considered the third-most-senior member of the al Qaeda terrorist organization. Investigators hope al-Libbi can provide information in the ongoing hunt of Osama bin Laden. President Bush called the capture a "critical victory in the war on terror."
Iran eyes nukes
Iran, that other troublesome Middle East country that starts with an "I", declared Tuesday that it soon will resume nuclear activity it previously had suspended, accusing the United States and others of using fear about nuclear proliferation to stop smaller countries from making necessary technological advances. Tehran added, however, that it will not restart uranium enrichment as long as negotiations continue with Europe. Enriched uranium is used in the manufacture of warheads.
Ford, GM sink
Credit ratings for the nation's two biggest automakers, Ford and General Motors, were slashed by Standard & Poor's on Thursday, sending the two corporate behemoths into the netherworld of junk-bond status.
Raymond Gilmartin stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of pharmaceutical giant Merck in the wake of severe problems related to the firm's production of Vioxx, a painkiller.
Cream together again
Cream, the legendary rock band that featured guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, reunited for the second time since its animus-filled 1968 breakup with a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. If you have to ask how much tickets cost, you couldn't afford it. Time for another generation to peel itself off the ceiling after listening to "Crossroads."
Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, one of the most decorated military men to emerge from the Vietnam War who became a severe critic of the U.S. venture in Southeast Asia, died in Mexico on Thursday. He was 74.
MSNBC and Scripps Howard News Service.