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the lastest reports on Afghanistan, climate change, Iran, Iraq in the Senate and House, the Mideast, Sudan, nuclear treaty with Russia, children’s health insurance, and Anglican talks

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Afghanistan. Pressing Allies, President Warns of Afghan Battle– “President Bush warned that he expected “fierce fighting” to flare in Afghanistan this spring, and he pressed NATO allies to provide a bigger and more aggressive force to guard against a resurgence by the Taliban and Al Qaeda that could threaten the fragile Afghan state.” Bush: Strike at Taliban – “With the expectation that Islamic militants are preparing to mount a major offensive this spring, President Bush called on NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan and allow their soldiers to take greater responsibility for fighting the Taliban.”

Iraq-Senate. Reluctantly, the Senate’s Weekend Warriors – “After four years of fighting in Iraq, and two weeks of trying to force senators to debate the conflict, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday wheeled out the ultimate weapon. He ordered his colleagues to work on Saturday. To the average American, this would be an inconvenience. To a senator, a Saturday vote is a hardship reserved for national crises.” Senate set for a new clash on Iraq rebuke – “As rhetoric heated up in the House over a measure to protest President Bush’s buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, Senate leaders moved toward a new showdown over conducting a similar debate.”

Iraq-House. Democrats face a struggle over war strategy – “Congressional Democrats quickly and easily united behind a nonbinding resolution denouncing President Bush’s plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq. But after the measure’s expected approval in the House today, party leaders will confront more divisive questions: how to force a determined president to back down from his plan, and whether to push for a complete withdrawal.” Pelosi Backs War Funds Only With Conditions – “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) linked her support for President Bush’s war-funding request to strict standards of resting, training and equipping combat forces, a move that could curtail troop deployments and alter the course of U.S. involvement in Iraq.” Bush, Congress Could Face Confrontation on Issue of War Powers – “President Bush has not been shy about asserting robust powers for the presidency in waging war, but lately he has seemed to concede that Congress has a role to play as well. Lawmakers, he has indicated, are within their rights to try to cap total deployments or limit where troops can go in Iraq.” Broad Swath of GOP Defecting on Iraq Vote – “From the moderate suburbs of Delaware to the rural, conservative valleys of eastern Tennessee, House Republican opponents of President Bush’s latest Iraq war plan cut across the GOP’s ideological and regional spectrum. Numbering a dozen or more, these House Republicans have emerged as some of the most prominent opponents of the plan to increase troop presence in Iraq.” Iraq Troop Boost Erodes Readiness, General Says – “Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said that the increase of 17,500 Army combat troops in Iraq represents only the “tip of the iceberg” and will potentially require thousands of additional support troops and trainers, as well as equipment — further eroding the Army’s readiness to respond to other world contingencies.”

Iran. Pelosi challenges president on Iran – “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without specific approval from Congress, a fresh challenge to the commander in chief on the eve of a symbolic vote critical of his troop buildup in Iraq.” Defense Chief Again Says U.S. Will Not Wage War With Iran – “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that the United States had no intention of attacking Iran and that any American military efforts against it would be confined to Iraq to disrupt the smuggling of bomb-making materials over the border.”

Mideast. Mideast summit holds particular promise – “A planned visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for an Israeli-Palestinian summit Monday comes at a potentially promising moment in the region, after last week’s agreement between the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to form a coalition government.”

Sudan. U.N. Chief Presses Sudan to Allow Team to Visit Darfur – “Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan had broken a personal pledge he made last month to give entry permits to a United Nations human rights team, and Mr. Ban urged the Sudanese leader to reconsider.” UN warns of Chad genocide – “The violence in Chad could turn into a genocide similar to that in Rwanda in 1994, the UN refugee agency has warned. The UNHCR says the killing tactics from neighbouring Darfur in Sudan have been transported to eastern Chad in full.”

Nuclear treaty. Russia may pull out of nuclear arms treaty – “Russia warned the United States yesterday it might pull out of a Cold War nuclear arms reduction treaty because of plans by Washington to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe. General Yuri Baluyevsky, head of the Russian general staff, said Russia could unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate
-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty),”

Children’s health insurance. Illinois congressmen push child health plan – “Reps. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat, and Ray LaHood, a Peoria Republican, don’t always see eye to eye on issues. But when it comes to children’s health care, the Illinois congressmen have found common ground. They will team up with other House members on Friday to support bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and dramatically expand a federal-state program providing health-care coverage for children who would not otherwise have it.”

Climate change. Global leaders reach climate change deal – “Leading world politicians and industrialists have reached a new, non-binding agreement at a meeting in the United States on tackling climate change. Delegates agreed that developing countries would have to face targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as well as rich countries.”

Anglican talks. ‘No talk of schism’ at Anglican conference – “As leaders of the world’s 77 million Anglicans gathered here amid fears of a split in the church over divergent views on gay bishops and same-sex unions, a spokesman said the first day of discussions was characterized by “intense listening.” A Move to Heal Anglican Rift, but Short of Conservatives’ Goal – “The Episcopal Church in the United States has taken steps to heal a rift over homosexuality that threatens to fracture the worldwide Anglican Church, but it has not compromised as much as conservative Anglican leaders have demanded.”

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