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the latest news on the School of the Americas, Iraq, education, Darfur, the congressional agenda, ethics, the Bush administration, Republican leadership, Ted Haggard

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School of the Americas. Foes aim anew at Army school – “Thousands of demonstrators yesterday paraded, chanted and raised white crosses outside the Army’s Fort Benning as they continued a 17-year-long effort to close a military school they blame for human rights abuses in Latin America.”

Iraq. Pentagon May Suggest Short-Term Buildup Leading to Iraq Exit – “The Pentagon’s closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials.”

Education. Schools Slow in Closing Gaps Between Races– “When President Bush signed his sweeping education law a year into his presidency, it set 2014 as the deadline by which schools were to close the test-score gaps between minority and white students that have persisted since standardized testing began. Now, as Congress prepares to consider reauthorizing the law next year, researchers and a half-dozen recent studies, including three issued last week, are reporting little progress toward that goal.”

Darfur. Sudanese forces seen sweeping through North Darfur – “A large force of Sudanese soldiers backed by allied janjaweed militiamen is sweeping through North Darfur, killing civilians and looting and burning villages in violation of a cease-fire agreement, international observers and rebels said yesterday.”

Congressional agenda. Democrats to Push Pocketbook Issues – “After retrieving control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years, Democrats will set out to redefine the domestic agenda through policies they say would address the economic needs of middle- and working-class Americans.” AMT | Minimum Wage | College Costs | Medicare | Social Security | Energy

Ethics. Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law– “After railing against Congressional corruption under Republican rule, Democrats are divided on how far their proposed ethics overhaul should go.”

Bush administration. Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush – “Leading into the final chapter of his presidency, fresh from the sting of a midterm election defeat, Bush finds himself with fewer and fewer friends. Some of the strongest supporters of the war have grown disenchanted, former insiders are registering public dissent and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame him for losing Congress.”

Republican leadership. Boehner, Blunt Picked To Lead GOP in House – “House Republicans overwhelmingly elected Reps. John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) to lead their minority team, opting for experience over ideology as the GOP adjusts to a challenging new world on the outskirts of congressional power. The results marked a setback for conservative activists who tried to wrest control of the party by arguing that it had lost its ideological moorings.” What shake-up? House GOP keeps its leaders – “After an electoral shellacking widely seen as a message for change in Washington, House Republicans on Friday decided to stick with much the same leadership team as they adjusted to becoming the chamber’s minority.”

Ted Haggard. Minister´s Own Rules Sealed His Fate – “Years ago, Mr. Haggard had asked four of his closest friends, all senior pastors of their own churches, to serve as a board of overseers. They had only one function: if Mr. Haggard was ever accused of immoral conduct, they would act as judge and jury.”

Election-Latinos. Republicans Lost Ground With Latinos In Midterms – “Two years ago, Latino voters gravitated in larger-than-ever numbers toward President Bush, the former governor of Texas, a Mexican border state, and his brother Jeb, the loquacious Florida governor who speaks fluent Spanish. How times have changed. Pollsters generally agree that the same voters abandoned the president’s party in droves during last week’s elections, with Latinos giving the GOP only 30 percent of their vote as strident House immigration legislation inspired by Republicans and tough-talking campaign ads by conservative candidates roiled the community. “

North Korea. U.S. Signals New Incentives for North Korea– “In a series of closed-door meetings on the edges of the economic summit meeting of Asian nations here, President Bush and
his aides have signaled that they will dangle a new set of incentives for North Korea to give up nuclear weapons and technology, American officials said. But the offers would hinge on the North’s coming to talks next month agreeing to begin immediately dismantling some of the equipment it is using to build an arsenal.”

Features-Darfur. Why We Haven’t Stopped Darfur’s Genocide– “Early in his first term, President Bush received a National Security Council memo outlining the world’s inaction regarding the genocide in Rwanda. In what may have been a burst of indignation and bravado, the president wrote in the margin of the memo, “Not on my watch.” Five years later, and nearly four years into what Bush himself has repeatedly called genocide, the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region is intensifying without a meaningful response from the White House.” The Arabs Are Victims, Too – “In the fourth year of the war in Sudan’s Darfur region, tens of thousands of Arab nomads are barely clinging to life in the ravaged valley that extends north from the central Jebel Marra massif. Their settlements have been destroyed and their herds targeted. Their traditional migration routes have been cut. The villages, markets and clinics on which they depended lie abandoned and in ruins. … The abhorrent crimes of the Janjaweed — rape, pillage, murder — have made it easy to forget that Darfur’s indigenous nomads are themselves victims, driven into the embrace of a government of serial war criminals by drought, desertification and brute poverty.”

Interview-Salvation Army National Commander. Salvation Army’s chief on a mission – “The late management guru Peter Drucker called the Salvation Army the most effective organization. It coordinates 3,661 officers, 112,513 soldiers, 422,543 members, 60,642 employees and 3.5 million volunteers. (By contrast, Wal-Mart, the largest private employer, has 1.8 million employees.) USA TODAY corporate management reporter Del Jones interviewed National Commander Israel Gaither at his Alexandria, Va., office just as the Salvation Army was preparing to launch its Red Kettle Christmas campaign. Gaither, 62, had this advice to business leaders on how to instill employees with a sense of mission.”

Op-Eds.

The Minimum Necessary – “We need a clear plan for our troops, a political strategy for Iraq and a mechanism like the oversight group to hold the neighbors to their commitments.” (Sen. Joseph Biden, Washington Post)

Bomb Iran – “It has been four years since that country’s secret nuclear program was brought to light, and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.

Our options therefore are narrowed to two: We can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it.” (Joshua Muravchik, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Los Angeles Times)

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