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the latest news on Iraq and U.S. policy, Congress, Iran, HIV/AIDS in Africa, poverty in America, and Barack Obama and Rick Warren

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Iraq and US policy. Reid Pledges To Press Bush On Iraq Policy – “Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who was elected Senate majority leader yesterday, said last night that President Bush still has not grasped the urgent need to change course in Iraq. Reid vowed to press quickly for phased troop withdrawals, a more international approach to Iraq’s problems and rebuilding of the depleted U.S. military.” Get Out Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say– “Even some vehement critics of the Bush administration’s policies believe that Iraq is not ready for the U.S. to withdraw.” Can Iran help stabilize Iraq? – “Bringing Iran – and Syria – into a regional process to stabilize Iraq is being touted both by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Iraq Study Group, the US commission studying options that both Republicans and Democrats hope will provide a framework for facesaving change in Iraq.”

War in Iraq.Uniformed men kidnap scores in Iraqi capital – “In a mass kidnapping audacious even by Iraq war standards, dozens of assailants wearing police commando uniforms stormed a Higher Education Ministry building, abducted scores of people and fled in more than 30 trucks and armored sport utility vehicles,” Iraqi residents say U.S. airstrike kills 30 – “Victims include women and children, witnesses in Ramadi say. The military has no immediate comment.”

Congress. Spending Bills Stall as Congress Focuses on Leadership Races – “The House and Senate struggled yesterday to move ahead on major unfinished bills, amid the distractions of leadership elections and a growing impatience to end a long and bitter campaign year.”
G.O.P. in House Gears Up for New Leadership Fight– “House Republicans are engaged in their second leadership fight in a year, this one part of a soul-searching over how they lost the election and what they can do about it.” Conservatives wary of choice to lead RNC – “President Bush’s decision to back Sen. Mel Martinez to help lead the Republican Party, a move intended to appeal to disaffected Latino voters, drew sharp criticism from some of the party’s core conservatives, who disdain the Florida lawmaker’s support for liberalized immigration laws.”

Iran. Iran’s nuclear program progressing, U.N. agency says – “Iran has slowly but steadily increased its ability to enrich uranium despite international calls to halt its nuclear activities, experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency say in a report released Tuesday.” Iran’s Leader Cites Nuclear Progress – “Iran’s president declared yesterday that his country’s nuclear program was nearing an important milestone, even as international atomic inspectors reported that they had found unexplained traces of plutonium and that Tehran continued to be so uncooperative in answering questions that they had been unable to confirm earlier claims of progress.”

HIV/AIDS in Africa . African Children Often Lack Available AIDS Treatment – “The children of Africa are still not getting AIDS prevention or treatment drugs, experts say, even though the drugs have become affordable and available.”

Poverty in America. Report: Hunger has more than doubled in low-income areas – “Between 2002 and 2005, hunger more than doubled in low income communities across Massachusetts because of poverty and the high cost of living, a local advocacy group told state lawmakers yesterday.” Grass-roots surge to boost minimum pay reaches L.A. – “The city council is set to vote Wednesday on a ‘living wage’ law that would mandate $10.64 an hour at airport hotels.”

Religion. Purpose’ pastor has pulpit for Obama – “Like many fellow Democratic politicians, Sen. Barack Obama is no stranger to the pulpit. But in December, Obama will go where few progressive Democrats usually venture–to a large, conservative evangelical church that boasts a Sunday attendance of more than 20,000 people.”

Op-Ed. Election signals decline of old school liberalism (Kirsten Powers, a political appointee in the Clinton administration, USA Today) – “without centrist Democratic candidates, it would have been President Bush and GOP strategist Karl Rove celebrating last week. More than half of the new House members will join the New Democrat Coalition or the Blue Dog Coalition caucuses, known for their fiscal responsibility, business-friendly stance and generally more socially conservative views. While most criticized the war, few have called for an immediate withdrawal. In addition to running fiscally responsible candidates, the Democratic Party appealed to the vital center by slaying a few of old school liberalism’s sacred cows: aggressive secularism and intolerance of anti-abortion views.”

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