By BILL STRAUB
Scripps Howard News Service
May 30, 2005
Senate showdown averted
A group that has come to be known as the Gang of 14 - seven Republicans and seven Democrats - brokered a deal Monday night that averted a showdown over judicial filibusters in the Senate. The deal allowed votes on some of President's Bush's nominees to the federal bench, but not all.
As expected, the negotiators, particularly those on the GOP side, were roundly chastised for working things out. "We have kept the republic," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. As a result of the deal, the upper chamber confirmed the nomination of Judge Priscilla Owen to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a four-year wait.
Bush meets with Karzai
President Bush hosted Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House on Monday. The two discussed reports about the abuse of Afghan prisoners under U.S. control. Bush offered no indication of when he might be willing to turn the prisoners over to the Kabul government.
Court takes up abortion
Here we go again. The Supreme Court agreed to consider a case out of New Hampshire about parental-notification statutes, the first time in five years that the nation's highest court agreed to hear arguments over the issue that simply will not go away.
Prez threatens veto
President Bush said he opposes House-passed legislation that would expand federal financing for embryonic stem-cell research and vowed to veto the package if it reaches his desk. Bush said the proposal "would take us across a critical ethical line."
Democrats successfully blocked a Senate vote on John Bolton, President Bush's choice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, asserting that the White House has failed to provide information pertinent to the nomination. Angry GOP lawmakers charged the Democrats with staging a filibuster. The vote likely will occur next month.
Abbas visits White House
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was praised by President Bush as "a man of courage" during a visit to the White House on Thursday, crediting the new leader with helping to push the Middle East peace process forward. Bush offered the authority $50 million to help with construction costs in Gaza, which the Israeli government plans to turn over sometime this summer.
A military inquiry revealed five instances in which the Koran, the Islamic holy book, was "mishandled" by guards and interrogators at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected Muslim terrorists are being held. Last week, Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita told reporters that there had been no "credible allegations" of Koran abuse at Gitmo.
Jackson defense rests
The defense rested in the child-molestation trial of singer Michael Jackson, providing the public a well-earned respite from having to see his face on television. Final arguments likely will begin next week. Hopefully, the republic will survive.
Runaway bride indicted
Proving that there is a law against just about everything, a Gwinnett County, Ga., grand jury on Wednesday indicted Jennifer Wilbanks, who ran out on her wedding last month and hightailed it to New Mexico, much to the excitement of cable-news viewers, for falsely reporting a crime and making a false statement to a government agency. She has not yet been charged for getting cold feet.
Deaths in Iraq
Insurgents detonated at least three car bombs in Iraq on Monday, killing at least 33 and wounding 120 in another bloody week of violence. On Thursday, two American servicemen were killed in a helicopter crash near Baqubah. All told, 22 Americans died in Iraq this week.
Iran agrees to freeze
The foreign ministers of Great Britain, France and Germany, working with little help from the United States, succeeded Wednesday in convincing Iran to continue its freeze on nuclear activity, avoiding a showdown, at least temporarily, and permitting Iran to escape international sanctions.
Shocking heart news
Guidant Corp., the Indianapolis-based manufacturer of medical devices, apparently forgot to tell doctors and patients that a device intended to shock a weakening heart had a tendency to short-circuit. About 24,000 were implanted over a three-year period.
Housing prices skyrocket
The National Association of Realtors announced that housing prices rose faster over the past year than at any other time since 1980. The median sale price for an existing home reached $206,000 in April, up 15.1 percent over a year ago and breaking the $200,000 barrier for the first time ever. In Washington, D.C., $206,000 won't even buy a pup tent in somebody's back yard.
In the most highly anticipated news event of the week, Carrie Underwood bested Bo Bice in the latest "American Idol" competition, an event that drew 28.8 million viewers to Fox on Wednesday night. Underwood, a country-music fan, said winning the crown represented "the best night of my life." Since she hails from Checotah, Okla., no one contradicted her.
Ismail Merchant, the India-born filmmaker who teamed with director James Ivory to produce lavish fare like "A Room With a View," "Howards End" and "The Remains of the Day," died in London Wednesday at age 68.
Former Chicago White Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel, who in 1951 became the first Latin player to appear in baseball's All-Star game, died Thursday in Caracas, Venezuela. He was 77.
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