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The latest news on immigration, the justice department, nuclear weapons-Iran, Iraq-Congress, Iraq-war, Iraq-terrorism, Nuclear weapons-U.S., nuclear weapons, Iran, Europe-missiles, Mideast, Darfur, Pope Benedict, and select editorials.

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Immigration. Senate gets tougher on border in immigration bill Sen. Judd Gregg’s amendment to beef up security in a bipartisan measure sparks a clash before it passes. Senate OKs tweaks to immigration bill The fragile immigration bill weathered a series of legislative hits Wednesday as senators approved amendments to alter key provisions of the framework for bringing in temporary guest workers and enforcing security along U.S. borders. Senate Scales Down Proposed Guest-Worker Program The Senate slashed the size of a proposed guest-worker program for foreign laborers yesterday, dealing the first real blow to a fragile overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws since it reached the Senate floor”

Divisive bill stokes GOP anger; base rejects path to citizenship The bipartisan immigration bill being pushed by the White House and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, is fracturing rather than “saving” the Republican Party nationally, No. 2 Senate Republican Calls for Passage of Immigration Bill Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi defended the grand bargain, which has come under heavy fire from the right and the left. Chertoff to immigration bill’s critics: Get real Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday said Republican conservatives working to block an immigration bill risk endorsing a “silent amnesty” by insisting on deportations that are “not going to happen.”

Iraq-Congress. On War Funds, Democrats Saw No Option but to Cede Ground to Bush The decision by the Democratic majority to strip the measure of a timetable for troop withdrawal has raised the prospect that it could be approved mainly by Republicans with scattered Democrat support. Plan funds war without troop withdrawals A Democratic-led Congress eager to end the war in Iraq is expected to send President Bush a bill as early as today that would continue war funding without demands for troop withdrawals. Antiwar Groups Press Democrats to Vote Against Iraq BillAntiwar groups waged a last-ditch effort to block an Iraq spending bill after Democrats, conceding that they did not have enough votes to override a threatened veto from President Bush, dropped deadlines for troop withdrawals from the legislation.

Iraq-war. Morgue Data Show Increase In Sectarian Killings in Iraq More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again. 9 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq; Abducted Soldier Found Dead Nine U.S. soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq, and the military said that the body of a man found in the Euphrates River was that of an American soldier abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago, U.S. officials said.

Iraq-terrorism. Bush Says Iraq Pullout Would Leave U.S. at Risk President Bush, addressing head-on the criticism that Iraq has turned into another Vietnam, argued Wednesday that withdrawing from Iraq would be dangerous because, unlike the enemy in Vietnam, terrorists in Iraq had the ability and desire to strike Americans at home. Bush declassifies selected Al Qaeda intelligence reports President Bush, who repeatedly has declassified select snippets of U.S. intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, revealed new details of an Al Qaeda attempt two years ago to coordinate attacks against the U.S. with operatives based in Iraq.

Nuclear weapons-US. New Nuclear Warhead’s Funding Eliminated The House Appropriations subcommittee that controls the U.S. nuclear weapons complex’s funding voted to eliminate all money that would have paid for engineering and cost studies for the new nuclear warhead that the Bush administration hoped to put in production in 2012. Unpaid U.S. dues hit nuke-test monitoring The international organization administering the nuclear test-ban treaty has warned that it would not be able to complete a global network of stations monitoring testing unless the United States, its largest contributor, pays millions of dollars in arrears.

Nuclear weapons-Iran. Iranian Defiance of U.N. Over Enrichment Detailed – “Iran has again defied U.N. demands to suspend its nuclear enrichment programs, according to a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S., Annoyed by U.N. Report on Iran and Uranium, Hopes to Use It to Widen Sanctions – The Bush administration said th
at it would use a new report detailing Irans progress in enriching uranium to encourage European and Asian allies to seek a major expansion of sanctions against Tehran, Iran makes steep nuclear gains Defying the international community, Iran has sharply upgraded its capacity to enrich uranium in recent months while the outside world’s access to and grasp of Tehran’s nuclear program “has deteriorated,” according to an unusually blunt report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran ‘three to eight years’ away from nuclear weapon Iran is between three and eight years away from producing a nuclear weapon if it chooses to do so, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Europe-missiles. Putin denounces US plan for missile shield President Vladimir Putin travelled to the heart of Europe yesterday to denounce the Bush administration’s plans to deploy a missile defence shield in the region.

Mideast. Israelis arrest 33 Hamas officials – Responding to a week of rocket attacks, Israeli troops today arrested 33 senior members of Hamas, including the Palestinian Authority’s education minister, three members of parliament and six mayors, Fatah and Hamas Chiefs Meet on Cease-FireThe Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, met privately with Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas to try to secure a cease-fire between their factions and to discuss how to calm an escalating conflict with Israel,

Darfur. Crisis appeal for Darfur region UK charities have launched an emergency appeal to save lives in Sudan’s Darfur region and neighbouring countries. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) says 4.5m people are affected by the conflict in the region while looming rain threatens to bring further misery.

Justice department. Goodling Says She ‘Crossed the Line’ A former senior aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales leveled serious new accusations against him and his deputy yesterday, describing an “uncomfortable” attempt by Gonzales to discuss the firings of U.S. attorneys as Congress and the Justice Department were intensifying their investigation Ex-Justice Aide Admits Politics Affected HiringA former top Justice Department aide testified on that she had crossed the line in considering the political beliefs of applicants for nonpartisan legal jobs.

Pope Benedict. Pope recognizes colonial injustices Confronted with continued anger in Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday acknowledged that the Christian colonization of Indian populations was not as rosy as he portrayed in a major speech earlier this month in Brazil.

Editorials.

Immigration bill is credible start to a formidable task (USA Today) If the test of a good legislative compromise is whether it makes both sides angry, the new immigration reform bill in the Senate certainly passes. In the week since the deal was announced, critics on the left have denounced it as inhumane and overly strict; critics on the right say it’s much too tolerant of rampant illegality.

Pay the poor for good behavior? (Christian Science Monitor) New York Mayor Bloomberg wants to reduce poverty through cash incentives. It just could work. What if poor parents were paid to talk with their kid’s teacher? Or to visit a dentist, or get job training? New York’s mayor believes such incentives can reduce the nearly 20 percent poverty rate in his city. Kudos to him for taking a new crack at an old problem.

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