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The latest news on minimum wage, Iraq-Congress, immigration, Iraq-President Bush, North Korea, Iran, ethics and select op-eds.

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Immigration. Senate Votes to Keep Plan to Make Immigrants Legal – “The Senate turned aside the most significant challenge to the comprehensive immigration bill now under debate, voting 66 to 29 to keep a provision that offers legal status to most of the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants.” Amendments to dilute immigration bill are defeated – “Supporters of a comprehensive immigration bill repelled a series of attacks on it on the Senate floor this week, significantly raising the prospects that the Senate will pass the controversial measure.” Senate narrowly rejects additions to immigration bill – “Supporters of the bipartisan immigration reform package are heading into the Memorial Day recess with an air of cautious optimism after the Senate struck down a series of proposals that threatened to throw off the delicate balance of the legislation and erode support for the bill.” Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support in Poll – “As opponents from the right and left challenge an immigration bill before Congress, there is broad support among Americans – Democrats, Republicans and independents alike – for the major provisions in the legislation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”

Minimum wage. Congress Passes Increase in the Minimum Wage– “Congress handed a major victory to low-income workers by approving the first increase in the federal minimum wage rate in a decade.” Congress Approves Minimum Wage Hike – “The bill, which a spokesman for President Bush said he would sign, would end the longest stretch without an increase in the federal minimum wage since it was established in 1938.”

Iraq-Congress. Congress Passes Deadline-Free War Funding Bill – “Congress sent President Bush a new Iraq funding bill that lacked troop withdrawal deadlines demanded by liberal Democrats, but party leaders vowed it was only a temporary setback in their efforts to bring home American troops.” Congress Passes War Funds Bill, Ending Impasse– “The measure does not set a date to withdraw troops but sets benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet.” Congress passes war funding bill – “Bringing to a close an extended showdown between Congress and President Bush over the Iraq war, overwhelmingly united Republicans and deeply divided Democrats passed a $120-billion emergency war spending bill that would not require U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn.” Congress OKs Iraq funds, benchmarks– “The outcome resolves the immediate stalemate over withdrawal dates in Bush’s favor. But it binds the president even more closely to a highly unpopular war, and it postpones only until fall the next open battle between the Democratic-controlled Congress and Republican White House.”

Iraq-President Bush. After Victory on Hill, President Shifts Tone on Iraq – “President Bush faced reporters for his first full-scale, solo news conference in three months savoring what may be a last victory in his battle with Congress over the course of the war in Iraq.” U.S. Casualties May Spike This Summer, Bush Warns – “On a day when he expressed satisfaction with a deal in Congress that would finance American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan without the schedules for withdrawal from Iraq that Democrats had sought, Mr. Bush nonetheless said: “We’re going to expect heavy fighting in the weeks and months. We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties.” He added, “It could be a bloody – it could be a very difficult August.”

Iraq. Radical cleric resurfaces in Iraq – “Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, today resurfaced in public in Iraq for the first time since a US security crackdown in Baghdad began in February.” Sadr Back in Iraq, U.S. Generals Say – “Moqtada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric and militia leader who went into hiding before the launch of a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive in February, is in the southern city of Kufa, senior U.S. military commanders.”

North Korea. North Korea tests missiles – “North Korea today reportedly fired several short-range missiles towards the Sea of Japan in the latest provocative act from the unpredictable regime.” North Korea test-fires missiles North Korea’s missile development, along with its nuclear weapons programme, has been a major source of concern in the region.”

Iran. Stakes rise in US-Iran standoff – “Iran says it will not succumb to “enemy” efforts to halt its nuclear program, as a US armada deployed in the Persian Gulf – setting the stage for an important week in Iran’s standoff with the United States and other world powers.” U.S. Urges New Sanctions as Iran Stands Firm on Nuclear Policy – “President Bush said that the administration will press the United Nations to adopt new, expanded sancti
ons against Iran, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would “never retreat even one step” from its nuclear enrichment program.”

Ethics. Ethics Legislation Easily Passes House – “Prodded by Democratic leaders and by freshmen elected partly on promises to clean up Washington, the House approved new ethics legislation that would penalize lawmakers who receive a wide range of favors from special interests, and would require lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they collect and deliver to lawmakers.” House Votes to Lift Veil Over Donations From Lobbyists– “The House voted to drag into public view the role that registered lobbyists play in soliciting and collecting contributions for political campaigns, exposing for the first time one of the most effective ways that influence-seekers ingratiate themselves with lawmakers and presidents.”

Op-Eds.

Happy birthday to a visionary following his faith (Eugene Cullen Kennedy, Chicago Tribune) – “At this time when many observers bewail the lack of great leaders, a truly great one marks a milestone. Father Theodore Hesburgh celebrates his 90th birthday Friday. Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame for 35 years and is now president emeritus, could still take on the papacy or the presidency and lead the Catholic Church or the United States with great distinction.”

Letting Fear Rule (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) – “In 1882, Congress passed and President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Today we don’t name laws as bluntly as we used to. But anti-immigrant sentiments are very much alive, this time expressed in opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.”

The New Establishment (Hanna Rosin, Washington Post) – “Goodling is part of a new generation of evangelicals ushered in by Falwell, who insisted that Christians get involved in politics. They are graduates of the exploding number of evangelical colleges, which no longer aim to create a parallel subculture but instead to train “Christian leaders to change the world,” as the Regent mission statement reads.”

My wife, a prisoner in Iran (Shaul Bakhash, teaches Middle Eastern history at George Mason University in Virginia, Los Angeles Times) – “ON MAY 8, the walls of Tehran’s Evin prison closed around my wife, Haleh Esfandiari, a 67-year-old scholar, grandmother and dual citizen of Iran and the United States.”

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