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the latest news on Iraq and Congress, the Democratic debate, climate change, missiles in Europe, family, and abortion

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Iraq-Congress. Senate Passes Bill Seeking Iraq Exit; Veto Is Expected– “The Senate sent President Bush a $124 billion war spending measure that he has promised to veto, forcing Democrats to begin confronting the difficult question of what to do after the president acts.” Senate Sends War Timetable To Bush’s Desk – “The Senate approved a $124 billion Iraq war spending bill that would force troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1, inviting President Bush’s veto even as party leaders and the White House launch talks to resolve their differences.” Senate defies Iraq veto threat – “The Senate’s action outlines an exit strategy but also pitches the nation into a period of political brinkmanship and uncertainty as Congress and Bush dig in for what is likely to be a protracted showdown over terms of the bill that would pay for continuing war operations.”


Iraq-intelligence. Durbin kept silent on prewar knowledge – “The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.” Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq– “George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a “serious debate” about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States.”


Iraq-war. General Says Iraq Pullback Would Increase Violence– “The top military commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, warned that an American troop pullback this fall would lead to an escalation in sectarian killings and worsening violence.” Petraeus sees more violence if force shrinks – “Petraeus also offered new details of Iranian involvement in Iraq, addressed U.S. efforts to counter the suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Iraqis in recent months, and warned of the likelihood of additional American casualties.” Top US commander warns of worse to come in Iraq – “Gen Petraeus, who was put in charge of the Baghdad troop “surge” to pacify the Iraqi capital, warned of the enormous commitment and sacrifice facing the US in Iraq. His downbeat assessment, in contrast with Mr Bush’s optimistic statements, stiffened the resolve of Democrats in Congress pushing for an early withdrawal of US troops.”



Democratic debate. In Debate, Democrats Show More Unity Than Strife – “the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, a surprisingly sedate and meandering affair, filled with as many moments of awkward humor as memorable insight into the qualifications of the candidates or the policy differences among them.” Candidates Unite in Criticizing Bush – “Democratic presidential candidates largely set aside their differences here Thursday and presented a united front of opposition to President Bush and his Iraq policy, urging the president not to veto newly passed legislation that sets a timetable for beginning the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the conflict.” Democrats get their first close-up – “Even as they roundly attacked President Bush’s policies on Iraq, the leading Democratic candidates for president sought to burnish their credentials Thursday as tough leaders who would defeat terrorists.” Democrats face off in 1st debate – “The leading Democratic candidates for president, attempting to project strength on national security while condemning the war in Iraq, portrayed themselves as resolute in the fight against terrorism.”


Missiles in Europe. Putin to Suspend Pact With NATO– “President Vladimir V. Putin said that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the cold war, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO and the Kremlin.” Putin retaliates for American antimissile plan – “The announcement, made in Putin’s annual speech to parliament, further ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the United States over the antimissile system, which Moscow views as a step toward building a much larger system directed at Russia and China.” Putin threatens to scrap weapons treaty – “Putin described the US plan to site missile interceptor and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as a “direct threat”. Nato countries were “building up military bases on our borders and, what’s more, are also planning to station elements of anti-missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic”, he said,”


Climate change. Vatican issues green message – “The Vatican added its voice to a rising chorus of warnings from churches around the world that climate change and abuse of the environment is against God’s will, and that the one billion-stro
ng Catholic church must become far greener.” States take lead in cutting carbon emissions – “While the US ponders whether to curb greenhouse gases, several states are pushing ahead with plans that already are bearing fruit. At least 21 states and the District of Columbia are on track to create 46,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2020, eliminating 108 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions a year that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere,” Public Remains Split on Response to Warming – “Americans in large bipartisan numbers say the heating of the earth’s atmosphere is having serious effects on the environment now or will soon and think that it is necessary to take immediate steps to reduce its effects,”


Family. Youths fear decay of family – “The survey asked the 601 youths, 80 percent of whom were born in California, 7 percent elsewhere in the United States and 12 percent outside the United States, to identify “the most pressing issue facing your generation in the world today.” Twenty-four percent chose “family breakdown” as their biggest concern, followed by violence in local communities (22 percent), poverty (17 percent) and global warming (14 percent).”


Abortion. States see new fights on abortion – “Buoyed by last week’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion opponents in various states are dusting off old laws and drafting new ones to curb access to the nation’s most controversial medical procedure.”

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