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The latest news on Iran, health insurance, State of the Union, Senate-Iraq, global warming, abortion, campaign finance, immigration, wages and profits, Evangelicals, and sports history.

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State of the Union. Bush speech faces obstacle course – “Planning a State of the Union address Tuesday night heavy on health care, energy and education, President Bush will attempt to get beyond a raging debate over the war in Iraq as he faces a new Democratic-controlled Congress for the first time.” Bush To Face Skeptical Congress – “President Bush plans to reach out to the opposition in his State of the Union address with new and recycled proposals on health care, energy, immigration and education, but the uproar over his decision to send more U.S. troops to Iraq has eclipsed potential consensus on domestic policy.” President’s speech will stay close to home – “As President Bush prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address to a Democratic-controlled Congress, he may be at the lowest point in his six-year presidency. Yet on domestic policy, at least, the president may have an opportunity to revive his fortunes on several fronts, including healthcare, immigration and energy policy.”

Senate-Iraq. Key Republican Senator Offers Bipartisan Call to Reject Bush Plan for More Troops in Iraq – “Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, one of Congress’s leading authorities on the military, presented a bipartisan proposal on Monday that soundly rejected President Bush’s plan to send more American troops to Baghdad and urged the administration to find a new course in Iraq.” Warner Backs Resolution Opposing Troop Increase – “Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, endorsed a new resolution opposing President Bush’s buildup of troops in Baghdad, as even some of the most loyal Republicans scrambled to register their concerns and distance themselves from an unpopular policy.” Warner bill hits Bush’s troop surge – “Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia and other Republicans publicly offered a resolution condemning President Bush’s proposal to send more troops to Iraq.”

Global warming. Internal Rifts Cloud Democrats’ Opportunity on Warming – “The House Democrats had not quite finished their “100 hours” agenda when they met in the Capitol basement Thursday morning, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was already looking ahead. As her colleagues ate bagels and turkey sausage, she warned that their next challenge would be a lot tougher than popular issues such as student loans and ethics reforms. For her next act, she planned to take on global warming…”

Health insurance. Bush wants states to plan coverage of uninsured – “President Bush’s top healthcare official proposed a strategy for covering the uninsured that would offer incentives to each state to develop its own plan for expanding access, but stopped short of guaranteeing universal protection.”

Abortion. Abortion Foes to Renew Efforts – “Tens of thousands of abortion opponents marched through melting snow on the Mall yesterday and vowed to work harder — since Democrats have taken control of the Capitol — to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.” Pro-lifers march by the thousands – “Tens of thousands of people converged on the District to participate in the March for Life and to attend Masses in recognition of the 34th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case.”

Iran. Iran Bars Inspectors; Cleric Criticizes President – “Iran is barring 38 nuclear agency inspectors from entering the country in retaliation for a United Nations resolution aiming to curb Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Iranian lawmaker said Monday. The announcement came only days after Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran’s most senior dissident cleric, criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiant stance against the West on the nuclear issue …”

Campaign finance. Death Knell May Be Near for Public Election Funds– “The public financing system for presidential campaigns, a post-Watergate initiative hailed for decades as the best way to rid politics of the corrupting influence of money, may have quietly died over the weekend. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York became the first candidate since the program began in 1976 to forgo public financing for both the primary and the general election because of the spending limits that come with the federal money.”

Immigration. Labor Groups, Business Seek Immigration Law Overhaul – “Worried that surprise raids are driving away workers who are their lifeblood, businesses are pooling their money and joining unusually broad alliances that include labor unions and civil rights groups to push Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. The coalition Alliance for Immigration Reform 2007 announced its formation this week, placing the force of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Service Employees International Union and the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights group behind a unified lobbying effort to get a law passed before the politics of the 2008 presidential campaign make a compromise on the contentious issue unworkable.”

Wages & profits. Disparity in wages, profits widening – “workers are struggling to keep pace with growing U.S. economic wealth. Company profits as a percentage of gross domestic product are at a 40- year high, rising to 12 percent in the third quarter
from 7 percent five years ago. Wages and salaries fell to 45 percent from 49 percent, government data show.”

Evangelicals. Can the ‘E-word’ be saved? – “Who’s an evangelical? Until last year the answer seemed clear: Evangelical was the label of choice of Christians with conservative views on politics, economics and Biblical morality. Now the word may be losing its moorings, sliding toward the same linguistic demise that “fundamentalist” met decades ago because it has been misunderstood, misappropriated and maligned.”

Sports history. Black coaches open up the field – “For all his years in the game of football, Al Lavan struggles to describe the emotions of the past couple of days. Lavan spent almost two decades as an assistant coach in the National Football League, starting in the mid-1970s as one of the few African Americans in the professional ranks. On Sunday afternoon, he watched the NFL playoffs at home in Delaware and rooted not for the teams but for their coaches – Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. The 70-year-old Lavan found himself yelling at the television screen as Smith and then Dungy became the first African Americans to guide their squads into the Super Bowl. “It was like 30 years of emotion,” Lavan said. “I looked over at my wife and she was crying.” From pro football down through college, all the way to high school fields, Sunday’s watershed moment reverberated across a nation of black coaches who say they are still fighting for equal opportunity.”

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