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Iran. “Iran’s foreign minister expressed optimism yesterday that negotiations would resolve the dangerous impasse over his country’s nuclear program…”

Politics. “Republicans and Democrats scrambled to gain the advantage in their final week before breaking to campaign for crucial midterm elections…”

Darfur. “A Sudanese government offensive and a spate of attacks by rogue rebel groups have left relief organizations with less access to the suffering in Darfur than at any point in the war in the devastated region…”

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Detainees. Detainee Measure to Have Fewer Restrictions – “Republican lawmakers and the White House agreed over the weekend to alter new legislation on military commissions to allow the United States to detain and try a wider range of foreign nationals than an earlier version of the bill permitted, according to government sources.”

Lebanon. In Lebanon, a War’s Lethal Harvest – “The scourge of munitions from the cluster bombs now littering southern Lebanon, mostly American-made but some manufactured in Israel, will be a “lasting legacy,” the United Nations has said.” Peacekeepers Have ‘Robust’ Mandate, Rice Says – “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon yesterday to act on what she termed “a very robust” mandate approved by the United Nations that grants international troops authority to challenge anyone who attempts to block their mission, and to use force if necessary.”

Iraq. U.S. Extends Iraq Tour For Another Army Unit – “The Pentagon yesterday delayed for six weeks the return home of about 4,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq’s volatile Anbar province — the second extension of U.S. forces in the country in two months — as the insurgency and rising sectarian violence exert heavier demands on a stretched American ground force.” Soldiers In for Extended Tour of Duty – “… the extension of the 1st Brigade’s assignment was the latest sign that the U.S. military was having a difficult time sustaining the 145,000-strong troop level in Iraq.” Retired generals say Rumsfeld is bungling war – “Retired military officers yesterday bluntly accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of bungling the war in Iraq, saying US troops were sent to fight without the best equipment and that critical facts were hidden from the public.”

Qaeda Operative, an Escapee in ’05, Is Killed in Iraq – “A senior operative of Al Qaeda who brazenly escaped from a high-security American prison in Afghanistan last year was killed Monday in a predawn raid by British soldiers in a quiet, wealthy neighborhood in southern Iraq.”

Darfur. Situation Said Worsening in Darfur – “A Sudanese government offensive and a spate of attacks by rogue rebel groups have left relief organizations with less access to the suffering in Darfur than at any point in the war in the devastated region, according to the U.N.’s head of humanitarian affairs there.” House bills target violence in Darfur – “The House yesterday passed several measures aimed at putting a stop to the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. Lawmakers adopted by unanimous consent late last night the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions against “those responsible” for the “war crimes, or genocide” in Darfur. … The Senate has already unanimously agreed to the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, paving the way, lawmakers said, for action in the genocide-stricken region.”

Immigration. Immigration Setback for GOP – “In a setback to Republican-led efforts to promote an enforcement-only approach to overhauling immigration law, a congressional negotiating committee on Monday shunted aside several measures the House passed last week. With Congress rushing to tie up loose ends by week’s end so lawmakers can recess to campaign for the November elections, the committee balked at attaching the provisions to a “must-pass” bill to fund the Homeland Security Department next fiscal year.”

Pope Benedict and Islam. Pope Assures Muslims, Envoys Of His Commitment to Dialogue – “Pope Benedict XVI assured Muslims on Monday that he respected them and was committed to dialogue, in an unprecedented encounter designed to defuse anger over his use of a quotation suggesting their faith was spread by the sword.” Pope Assures Ambassadors of His Respect for Muslims – “Pope Benedict XVI sought again on Monday to repair the church’s rift with the Islamic world, telling ambassadors from 22 Muslim countries that he respected Muslims and that “interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity.” Text of Pope Benedict XVI’s Comments

Iran. Door still open to negotiations with West, Iranian official suggests – “Iran’s foreign minister expressed optimism yesterday that negotiations would resolve the dangerous impasse over his country’s nuclear program, raising hopes that Iran might voluntarily curb uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and technological incentives.” Iran close to nuclear suspension – “Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to
Bush administration officials.”

Politics. Stricter Voting Laws Carve Latest Partisan Divide – “ … a spreading partisan brawl over new and proposed voting requirements around the country. Republicans say the laws are needed to combat fraud, especially among illegal immigrants. Democrats say there is minimal fraud, if any, and accuse Republicans of suppressing the votes of those least likely to have the required documentation — minorities, the poor and the elderly — who tend to vote for Democrats.” Security and War Take Center Stage as Campaign Break Nears – “Republicans and Democrats scrambled to gain the advantage in their final week before breaking to campaign for crucial midterm elections, with Republicans trying to push through bills on national security and Democrats trying to keep the focus on the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq.” Negative Ads a Positive in GOP Strategy – “While President Bush and national GOP leaders are attacking Democrats on such big issues as national security and America’s role in the world, individual Republicans are hitting their opponents hard — below the belt, some critics say — on personal and local issues. Negative campaigning is hardly new, and Democrats are dishing dirt against Republicans too.”

UK Politics. Blair Rival Makes Pitch to Lead Labor Party – “Projecting himself as passionate and private, magnanimous and modest – above all, a contender – Gordon Brown on Monday opened what could be the final chapter of his campaign to replace Tony Blair as Britain’s prime minister, promising a pro-American government with “soul.”

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