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The latest news on an interview with President Bush, Iraq, Iran, Darfur, minimum wage, hunger, homelessness and selct commentaries.

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Interview with Pres. Bush. Bush Sees ‘Opportunities’ on Social Security, Immigration – “President Bush said yesterday that he intends to work with the new Democratic majority in Congress on a broad range of domestic issues, declaring that despite the impending power shift there are “some wonderful opportunities” to address concerns that have long festered without a political solution.” 25 Minutes in the Oval Office: President Bush on Iraq, Elections and Immigration-“This 25-minute interview was conducted yesterday in the Oval Office by Washington Post staff writers Peter Baker, Michael A. Fletcher and Michael Abramowitz.”

Iraq. U.S. Not Winning War in Iraq, Bush Says for 1st Time – “President Bush acknowledged for the first time that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq.” President Wants to Increase Size of Armed Forces– “Bush said that the United States should expand the size of its armed forces, acknowledging that the military had been strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would need to grow to cope with what he suggested would be a long battle against Islamic extremism.” Repeat duty tied to acute stress – “American soldiers who serve repeated tours of duty in Iraq are more likely to suffer from acute stress, according to a mental health survey released Tuesday by the Army. Overall, 13.6% of soldiers serving in Iraq reported suffering from acute stress in late 2005,”

Top general in Mideast to retire– “Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq.” General Opposes Adding to U.S. Forces in Iraq, Emphasizing International Solutions for Region– “General Abizaid, who is completing the final months of a highly decorated military career, acknowledges that additional American forces, favored by some of President Bush’s top advisers, might provide a short-term boost in security. But he argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security.”

New Iraq Strategy Emerges: First Security, Then Politics– “The debate over whether to increase the American military presence in Baghdad is much more than a dispute over troop levels. It reflects a more fundamental dispute over the American mission.”

Iran. Blair blames Iran for Middle East conflicts – “Tony Blair today labelled Iran as the main obstacle to hopes for peace in the Middle East. Speaking in Dubai at the end of his five-day tour of the region, the prime minister called on moderate Muslim states to unite in combating Islamic extremists, such as the hardline regime of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Darfur. Darfur: Genocide without borders – ‘this man-made inferno now sweeping across the plains is taking place across the Sudanese border in Chad. The pattern is identical to events in Darfur, where the well-armed Arab raiders allied to the Sudanese government set villages ablaze, rape the women, and leave a trail of dead black Africans in their wake. Just as in Darfur, the Sudanese government is being accused of being behind the violence in Chad, an accusation which is rejected by Khartoum.” 71 UN aid workers removed after attack – “The United Nations evacuated 71 aid workers from the largest refugee camp in Darfur on Tuesday after gunmen looted their compounds, leaving about 130,000 refugees virtually without humanitarian help.”

Minimum wage. Raising the Floor on Pay – “On the verge of controlling Congress, the Democrats are making a much-delayed increase in the minimum wage their signature attempt to lift incomes and quiet widespread economic anxiety. But the party’s modest proposal does not catch up with what the states have already done to raise the wages of tens of millions of workers.”

Hunger. Study Warns of Hunger Among Hispanics – “Nearly one in five Hispanics lacks sufficient access to nutritious food and one in 20 regularly goes hungry, posing serious health and economic risks to the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority group, according to a new study.”

Homelessness. Las Vegas likes boom, homeless feel broom – “This is a boom town, but it also is scattered with signs of bust — namely, homeless people. And the city is taking a hard line against them.”

Commentary.

Humanitarian aid: winning the terror war – (Kenneth Ballen, Christian Science Monitor) – ” Amid the uncertainty about the best strategy in Iraq and how to answer the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the world, there is one Ameri
can policy of the past two years that has proven successful time and again: humanitarian missions by the US military. This policy is pro-military, pro-American, pro-humanitarian, and antiterrorist. Most important, it is actually curbing anti-American feelings in Muslim countries.”

Reiterating the keys to peace (Jimmy Carter, Boston Globe) – “My book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” was published last month, expressing my assessment of circumstances in the occupied territories and prescribing a course of action that offers a path to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors.”

How evangelicals can aid immigrants (William McKenzie, Dallas Morning News) – “Evangelicals are in a great place to work on this challenge, since many are politically conservative. They can show their fellow conservatives – the loudest voices opposing guest workers and legalization – how immigration doesn’t have to be such a threat. Evangelicals have a reason to reach out, too. The Bible teaches Christians to comfort strangers in a strange land.”

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