The Peach State prepares for a political frenzy as a pair of January runoffs determine the balance of the Senate—and the shape of the presidency
Dispatches The Buzz
IRAN UN Security Council members agreed to impose a 30-day deadline on Iran to halt its nuclear program. U.S. ambassador John Bolton called it "the first major step" to deal with Iran's "20-year-old clandestine nuclear weapons program." Approval of the statement demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment was a surprise, considering support for Iran from veto-wielding members China and Russia.
Mr. Bolton is pressing just as hard on a reform agenda at UN headquarters, leaving behind a checkered confirmation process that put him there only with a Bush recess appointment.
IRAQ Kidnappers released American journalist Jill Carroll after three months of captivity.
WHITE HOUSE President Bush named Office of Management and Budget director Josh Bolten chief of staff after the resignation of long-time Bush loyalist Andrew Card.
ELECTIONS Former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert clinched the title of prime minister, becoming Ariel Sharon's successor by a nose in March 28 elections.
Popular Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko faces a difficult choice after his party's poor showing in parliamentary elections: He must form an alliance with a former prime minister he fired or with his longtime nemesis, pro-communist leader Vicktor Yanukovych, whom he forced to step down in 2004.
In Belarus, at least 20 detained opposition supporters began a hunger strike to protest the detention of 400 opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, whose reelection to a third term has been widely criticized as fraudulent (including a Bush administration protest). Over 1,000 activists have been arrested for protesting the result.
COURTS The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples from states where gay marriage is banned cannot legally marry in Massachusetts. The court three years ago made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage but upheld a 1913 law making it illegal for nonresidents to marry within the state unless they could legally marry in their home state. "We don't want Massachusetts to become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage," said Gov. Mitt Romney in approving the ruling.
IMMIGRATION President Bush arrived in Mexico on March 30 for a trilateral summit with Mexican president Vicente Fox and Canadian president Stephen Harper. The three toured Mayan ruins and struck low-key poses, in contrast to serious negotiations to resolve a stalemate on U.S. tariffs. Terrorism, security, and immigration also figured high on the Cancun agenda.
If President George W. Bush is to sign a massive immigration reform bill, Senate Republicans will have to mend some fences. A reform proposal that passed the House easily in March revealed divisions within the Republican majority over how best to deal with the flood of migrants streaming across the southern border and the millions that are already here.
Protesting reform proposals, students and unionists blocked U.S. ports of entry and rallied in support of worker amnesty for illegal immigrants on March 29.
LOBBYING The Senate approved legislation on March 29 that mandates far greater disclosure of lobbying activities but preserves travel perks for lawmakers. For the first time, disclosure is required of paid grass-roots lobbying campaigns that use mass mailings and phone banks to influence lawmakers.
The new rules came as disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff received a nearly six-year sentence on fraud charges in Florida. And a Washington Post investigation revealed that former chief of staff for indicted House leader Tom DeLay, Edwin A. Buckham, could face FBI scrutiny for pocketing Abramoff-related proceeds from the nonprofit U.S. Family Network.
At the same time, Georgia politician and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed avoided criminal prosecution in Texas when Travis County prosecutor David Escamilla announced March 28 that he would not open an investigation into Mr. Reed's lobbying activities in the state.
MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME Casper Weinberger, defense secretary under Ronald Reagan and architect of the trillion-dollar U.S. military revitalization that preceded the collapse of Soviet communism, died March 28 in Bangor, Maine; he was 88. Born in San Francisco, Mr. Weinberger got his political baptism as a Republican lawmaker in California (where he was an Episcopal lay leader on the side). He served in high positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, where a cost-cutting reputation earned him the nickname "Cap the Knife." Under Reagan, he wrote, "We armed so that we could negotiate from strength, defend freedom, and make war less likely." Indicted on charges related to the Iran-Contra arms investigation, he was pardoned in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.
Lyn Nofziger, a former California journalist who worked in the Nixon White House and later as press aide and political strategist for Ronald Reagan, died March 27 in Falls Church, Va., of cancer; he was 81. He was known to the end for his trademark rumpled appearance, mustache and goatee, and sometimes brutal outspokenness. Just this past Christmas, he used his blog to chide President Bush for sending out a "holiday" greeting card that omitted mention of Christmas. After a lengthy court battle where he was cleared of influence-peddling charges involving Wedtech, Mr Nofziger became a regular attender at Christ Church of Arlington, whose pastor Jim Hutchens was to conduct a memorial service April 1.