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The latest news on Iraq-Congress, veterans-, Iran-weapons, nuclear program-, Obama announces presidential campaign, Arab tensions, North Korea, Putin accuses U.S., Harvard’s first woman president, Episcopal church, Hungry in Ohio, and select Op-Eds.

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Iran-weapons to Iraq. U.S. makes case that Iran arms flow into Iraq – “U.S. defense and intelligence officials sought to bolster the charge that Iran was providing arms to Shiite Muslim militants in Iraq, displaying munitions and weapons fragments that they said constituted evidence that Tehran was contributing to Iraq’s violence.” Military Ties Iran To Arms In Iraq – “Senior U.S. military officials in Iraq sought to link Iran to deadly armor-piercing explosives and other weapons.” U.S. Says Arms Link Iranians to Iraqi Shiites– “After weeks of internal debate, senior United States military officials literally put on the table their first public evidence of the contentious assertion that Iran supplies Shiite extremist groups in Iraq with some of the most lethal weapons in the war.” Target Tehran: Washington sets stage for a new confrontation – “The United States is moving closer to war with Iran by accusing the “highest levels” of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed 170 US troops and wounded 620.”


Arab tensions. Sunni Arab states fortify against Iran – “Alarmed by the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and the prospect of a military clash between its Shi’ite regime and the United States, Persian Gulf leaders intend to use billions of dollars of oil revenue to purchase a huge array of military hardware.” Across Arab World, a Widening Rift – “The growing Sunni-Shiite divide is roiling an Arab world as unsettled as at any time in a generation.” U.S.-Iran tensions stir fears in Iraq – “Analysts now say that the U.S. and Iran could be at the start of the same sort of “proxy war” in Iraq, perhaps the first such conflict in the new era of warfare since the end of the Cold War.”


Iran-nuclear program. Iranian leader says nuclear work will advance – “Tens of thousands of flag-waving Iranians converged on Azadi Square on to voice support for Iran’s bid for nuclear energy, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed to press forward with the nation’s uranium enrichment program.” Iran Softens Tone, Declares Readiness To Resume Talks – “Facing the prospect of broader international sanctions, Iran’s president and national security chief offered to resume negotiations over their country’s nuclear program and eased up on some of the contentious rhetoric of the past,” No News From Iran’s Leader on Nuclear Program– “he stopped short of making a promised announcement about “good news” in the country’s nuclear progress, raising speculation that domestic political pressure and technological glitches may have put off a milestone in the government’s efforts to begin mass enrichment of uranium.” Iran reformists want U.S. to tone it down – “But many Iranians say the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear program has become a rallying point for a president who otherwise would be facing substantial public dissatisfaction over soaring inflation, rising unemployment and widespread censorship.”


Iraq-Congress. Iraq war debate shifts to the House – “As the House this week launches its first major debate over the Iraq war since the November elections, Democrats are counting on many Republicans to join them in passing a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup” Iraq debate shifts to the House – “House Democrats say they intend to keep it simple. Their resolution, to be announced Monday, is expected to have two parts: One affirms that Congress will continue to support US troops who have been committed to the war in Iraq; the other affirms that members do not agree with the proposed escalation.” GOP Expects Defections as House Debates Iraq Resolution – “One House Republican close to the GOP leadership spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be blunt. “This next week is going to be a very tough one for us to get through,” he said. “The Democrats know that. We can sit back and hope they overplay their hand, but I don’t think they will.”


North Korea. Nuclear Talks on North Korea Hit Roadblock– “Negotiations on a step-by-step deal that the Bush administration hopes will lead North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program appeared near collapse over North Korea’s demands for huge shipments of fuel oil and electricity before agreeing to a schedule for turning over its nuclear weapons and fuel.” North Korean talks extended 1 more day – “Deadlocked over energy aid to North Korea, envoys to six-nation nuclear talks decided night to give themselves one more day to come up with an agreement.”


Obama announces presidential campaign. Obama Joins Race With Goals Set High – “Illinois Sen. Barack Obama formally opened his campaign for president, i
nvoking memories of Abraham Lincoln and challenging a new generation to help him transform the nation.” Obama Formally Enters Presidential Race– “standing before the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, [Obama] announced his candidacy for the White House by presenting himself as an agent of generational change who could transform a government hobbled by cynicism, petty corruption and “a smallness of our politics.” Obama’s a huge draw, but a work in progress – “Soon enough the novelty will end, says Barack Obama. But not now. Not this weekend.”


Putin accuses U.S. Gates Counters Putin’s Words on U.S. Power– “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, disputing a lengthy critique of American power by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Saturday, said Sunday at a European security conference here, “One cold war was quite enough.” Putin Hits U.S. Over Unilateral Practices – “Russian President Vladimir Putin, in some of his harshest criticism of the United States since he took office seven years ago,” Putin Says U.S. Is Undermining Global Stability[Putin] “accused the United States on Saturday of provoking a new nuclear arms race by developing ballistic missile defenses, undermining international institutions and making the Middle East more unstable through its clumsy handling of the Iraq war.”


Iraq veterans. Told to wait, a Marine dies | VA care in spotlight after Iraq war veteran’s suicide – “When a clinical social worker called the next day, Jonathan, 25, told again of his suicidal thoughts and other symptoms. And then, with his stepmother listening in, he learned that he was 26th on the waiting list for one of the 12 beds in the center’s ward for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers. Four days later, on Jan. 16, he wrapped a household extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself.”


Harvard’s first woman president. Governing boards approve Drew Gilpin Faust as next president of Harvard – “Drew Gilpin Faust, a Civil War historian and Harvard University dean, grew misty-eyed yesterday as she declared, “I can imagine no higher calling, no more exciting adventure than to serve as the president of Harvard.” Drew Gilpin Faust: Coming of Age in a Changed World – “Sunday, through the convergence of grand changes in higher education, her own achievements and the resignation of Harvard’s previous president under pressure, she became the first woman appointed to lead the Ivy League university founded in 1636.” Faust points Harvard forward – “Congratulations to Drew Gilpin Faust. In July she will become Harvard’s new president. A historian and dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Faust has made history. She is the first woman to run the university.”


Episcopal church. New Episcopal Leader Braces for Gay-Rights Test– “This week, Bishop Jefferts Schori will represent the Episcopal Church at a meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the presiding bishops of the 37 other provinces in the global Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest church body. Some of those bishops, known as primates, have broken their ties with the American church after it ordained an openly gay bishop and permitted the blessing of same-sex unions.”


Hungry in Ohio– “The job and wage stagnation that have long plagued the northeastern and southeastern regions of the state seem to be reaching central Ohio, said Laura Holton of the Fairfield County Department of Job and Family Services. In her Lancaster-area community, the number of residents receiving food-stamp benefits was up 190 percent over the same six-year period. … “A majority of these families are working families, and I think the public really needs to hear that,” Holton said. “Our unemployment rate might not be that bad, but the wages just aren’t enough.”


Op-Eds.
Where’s love in the budget? ( Donna Brazile, Washington Times) – “Looking at President Bush’s budget for fiscal 2008, I can’t help but conclude that the only things he cares about are the war in Iraq and protecting the bank accounts of America’s wealthiest citizens. Certainly, the president, who once campaigned as a compassionate conservative, has overlooked the poor, those living on fixed incomes and even the middle-class.”


The danger of a ‘chosen’ nation (Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, USA Today) – “Israel holds a sacred place in the words of the Old Testament. But does Christian doctrine give that country a free pass at the expense of peace in the Middle East?”


A road map out of Iraq (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Los Angeles Times) – “The war in Iraq is a historic strategic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions. It is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties, as well as some abuses, are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.”


Nations must enforce Darfur peace agreements ( Omer Ismail And Colin Thomas-Jensen , Boston Globe ) – “Accountability for crimes against humanity will build much needed leverage, but punitive actions such as targeted sanctions must be accompanied by a more vigorous international effort to rebuild a peace process that can produce a durable agreement.”

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