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Duane Shank: Daily News Digest

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The latest news on North Korea, Iraq- Congress, strategy-, health insurance, Iran, politics- presidential, climate change, and select Op-Eds.

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Full news summary:

North Korea. N. Korea Agrees to Nuclear Disarmament- “In a landmark international accord, North Korea promised Tuesday to close down and seal its lone nuclear reactor within 60 days in return for 50,000 tons of fuel oil as a first step in abandoning all nuclear weapons and research programs.” North Korea agrees nuclear deal – “North Korea today agreed to take the first steps towards nuclear disarmament in exchange for energy aid, marking a diplomatic breakthrough after years of confrontation.” In Shift, Accord on North Korea Seems to Be Set- “The United States and four other nations reached a tentative agreement to provide North Korea with roughly $400 million in fuel oil and aid, in return for the North’s starting to disable its nuclear facilities and allowing nuclear inspectors back into the country.”

Iraq-Congress. Congress to debate Iraq – “Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead the way Tuesday as the Democratic-controlled House embarks on an extraordinary debate over the Iraq war, declaring that the public has decided that President Bush’s policies “have not worked, will not work and must be changed.” House to Take Up Resolution on Iraq – “The House will begin debate on a simple, tightly worded resolution opposing the deployment of additional combat troops to Iraq, even as Democratic leaders move forward on binding language that would curtail those deployments and begin to bring troops home.” House Democrats Unveil Measure Denouncing Iraq Buildup- The nonbinding resolution, two simple clauses that also express support for the troops, is expected to pass with overwhelming Democratic support but also with a bloc of votes from Republicans increasingly disenchanted with the administration’s Iraq policy.” House initiates anti-war motion – “House Democrats introduced a war resolution condemning President Bush’s plan to send reinforcement troops to Iraq, but their anti-war supporters say it misses the point because it doesn’t simply cut funding for the war.”

Iraq-strategy. As US focuses on Iraq turmoil, will it miss the bigger picture? – “In a little over a year, the US mission in Iraq seems to have narrowed dramatically. Instead of the lofty goals of fostering a democracy that could serve as a regional beacon, the US now aims to curb the violence, especially in Baghdad. This narrowing gives the American venture in Iraq more focus, while preserving hopes that the administration’s long-range goals can be achieved, analysts say. But some warn that it is also dangerous if it becomes an end in itself, causing US policymakers to lose sight of the bigger risks and objectives in the Middle East.”

Iran. Skeptics Doubt U.S. Evidence on Iran Action in Iraq- Three weeks after promising it would show proof of Iranian meddling in Iraq, the Bush administration has laid out its evidence – and received in return a healthy dose of skepticism.” Ahmadinejad puts faith in ‘people in US’ to avoid war – “Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yesterday shrugged off the threat of a US attack and said accusations that Tehran was arming insurgents in Iraq represented an attempt to find a scapegoat for American “defeats and failures”. Iran seen as key to untangling Iraq – “Iranian officials Monday U.S. accusations that Tehran is arming Shiite militias in Iraq with tank-piercing explosives “unfounded,” and said that Iran was committed to joining a regional effort to halt the tightening spiral of violence.” European Officials Agree to Widen Economic Sanctions Against Iran Over Nuclear Program- European negotiators, yielding to pressure from the United States, have agreed to widen a ban on financial transactions with Iran and the export of materials and technology that Iran could use to develop nuclear weapons.”

Politics. Rove strikes conciliatory note at GOP luncheon – “Top White House adviser Karl Rove told local Republican leaders Monday that it was essential for the GOP to accept and work with the new Democratic majority in Congress but said the party should not become timid or surrender its conservative ideals.”

Climate change. Time to begin ‘adapting’ to climate change? – “last week’s release of a report on the science of global warming – with its projections of warming based on emissions already in the air, as well as on potential future emissions trends – has helped underscore the need. “Climate change is here and now,” notes Ian Noble, a senior climate-change specialist at the World Bank. “We have to adapt.”

Politics-presidential. McCain, Romney Vying for Support Of Conservatives – “But McCain and Romney have significant hurdles to overcome if they are to win the support of conservative Christians, who by one estimate make up a quarter of the electorate and at least 40 percent of the Republican base.” Beltway support could boost Romney- “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who had a limited national profile just a few years ago, is matching the better-known Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) step-for-step in the race to round up support from an important audience: members of Congress and Washington lobbyists.” Will Mormon faith hurt bid for White House? – “In a diverse 2008 presidential field that includes a woman and an African-American on the Democratic side, polls show being Mormon is a handicap. In a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 72% say they would vote for a qualified nominee who is Mormon. That compares with 94% for a black nominee and 88% for a female nominee.”

In anti-war N.H., Obama separates self from rivals – “Bringing his opening campaign swing to the site of the influential first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Sen. Barack Obama sharpened distinctions with rival Democrats on the Iraq war even as he offered an apology to military families who might have been offended by a comment he made a day earlier in Iowa.”

Health insurance. States and U.S. at Odds on Aid for Uninsured- “In the absence of federal action, governors and state legislators around the country are transforming the nation’s health care system, putting affordable health insurance within reach of millions of Americans in hopes of reversing the steady rise in the number of uninsured, now close to 47 million. But the states appear to be on a collision course with the Bush administration, whose latest budget proposals create a huge potential obstacle to their efforts to expand coverage.”

Op-Ed. Litmus Test for Hypocrisy (By E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post) – “Why is it that abortion, a subject on which political candidates often claim to be expressing their most deeply held moral convictions, is often the issue on which they seem especially opportunistic and unprincipled?”



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