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Iraq. 4 Marines Charged In Haditha Killings Four U.S. Marines were charged with multiple counts of murder yesterday for their alleged roles in the deaths of two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year. Marines Charge 4 With Murder of Iraq Civiliansthe criminal charges filed reflect an unusually aggressive judicial reaction by military prosecutors to a massacre that has damaged the militarys credibility with Iraqi officials and civilians,


Draft. Draft machinery to be tested The Selective Service System is making plans to test its draft machinery in case Congress and President Bush need it, even though the White House says it doesn’t want to bring back the draft.


Iran-sanctions. U.S., EU urge vote on Iran ban The United States and European Union pushed for a U.N. Security Council vote as early as today on Iran sanctions, a diluted version that drops a U.S.-backed travel ban on Iranian nuclear officials in a bid to win Russian support. UN poised to pass Iran sanctions The United Nations security council is finally expected to pass a resolution today to impose international sanctions on Iran for the first time since the 1979 revolution, a punitive move that will heighten diplomatic tensions and risks a military confrontation in the Gulf.


Iran-elections. Ahmadinejad opponents win majority of local election seats Moderate conservatives opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a majority of seats in local elections across Iran, according to final results announced yesterday. They were followed by reformists, making a comeback after being driven out of local councils, parliament, and the presidency over the past five years. Iran leader unfazed by election losses President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called President Bush “the most hated person” in the world Thursday, keeping up his tirades against the West despite elections that showed Iranians want him to focus on the country’s domestic problems.


New Orleans. New Orleans symbolizes U.S. war on poverty If this is ground zero for the federal government’s war on poverty, it’s hard to find the front lines. Since Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, only 94 homeowners and no tenants have received federal aid to rebuild. The poor have been treated at walk-in health clinics while a federal-state partnership struggles to finance a new medical complex.


Giulani. Star power of Giuliani may win over conservatives Social conservatives — contrary to conventional wisdom — will seriously consider supporting the Republican presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani even though he’s a pro-choice, anti-gun New Yorker, political analysts and operatives say.


Political ads. Court Overturns Limits on Political Ads, Part of the Campaign Finance LawA three-judge panel overturned a key segment of the campaign finance law that banned issue advertisements paid for by corporate or union money in the critical weeks before federal elections. Issue Advocacy Ads May Run During an Election, Three-Judge Court Rules the court found that the government had no compelling justification to regulate television ads such as the ones Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. broadcast in July 2004, which advocated stopping congressional filibusters against President Bush’s judicial nominees.


Immigration. Immigration busts put employers in cross hairs After years of inaction or wrist slaps, federal authorities have begun to round up illegal workers, impose million-dollar penalties and threaten executives with prison.


Farm bill. Powerful Interests Ally to Restructure Agriculture Subsidies There may be no better sign of the changing debate over the nation’s farm subsidies: A Midwestern governor running for president calls for cuts in a system that has steered hundreds of millions of dollars a year to his state. Politicians such as Vilsack have joined a host of interest groups from across the political spectrum that are pressing for changes in government assistance to agriculture. They want the money moved from large farmers to conservation, nutrition, rural development and energy research. Vilsack, for example, favors programs that improve environmental practices on farms. Bread for the World, an anti-hunger organization, has brought religious leaders to Washington to lobby for cuts in subsidies, which they argue can lead to a glut on world markets that hurts poor farmers abroad.


Op-Eds.


Bloomberg’s Brave Bet on Innovation (E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) In the new year, both Democrats and Republicans will have an interest in thinking about government in new ways. They will have to break the vicious cycle that blocks innovation. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a nominal Republican who doesn’t care much about party labels, has some ideas about doing just that.


What We Wanted to Tell You About IranHERE is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agencys Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions. Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.
(Flynt Leverett, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and Hillary Mann, former Foreign Service officer, participated in the United States discussions with Iran from 2001 to 2003.)

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