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The latest news on Israel-Palestinian authority, farm subsidies, AIDS, Iraq, Gaza, Congress-nuclear weapons,unions,and the budget,- Vatican-commandments for the road, domestic partnership, politics-Bloomberg leaves GOP, politics-progressive conference, refugees, inequalities, Canada-green cars, and select op-eds.
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Iraq. Offensive Targets Al-Qaeda In Iraq “Thousands of U.S. troops waged a new offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq north of the capital, focusing in particular on the extremist group’s bombmaking facilities, while at least 60 people were killed and more than 85 wounded in a massive suicide truck blast at a Baghdad mosque,” U.S. shifts offensive to north Iraq “American commanders say the offensive, which involves about 10,000 U.S. troops in Baqubah and other parts of Diyala province, is designed to stop the flow of bombs into Baghdad.” U.S. Seeks to Block Exits for Iraq Insurgentsthe planners of this latest operation are attempting to plug the holes that have allowed the insurgents to escape in the past. The goal is not merely to reclaim western Baquba from insurgent control, but to capture or kill the estimated 300 fighters to 500 fighters who are believed to be based in that part of the city.”



Israel-Palestinian Authority. PM willing to take ‘far-reaching’ measures with new PA government “The new Palestinian government should be given assistance and a chance to succeed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in Washington.” Egypt and Jordan quietly back Abbas “The creation of separate Palestinian micro-states last week left two of America’s closest Arab allies – Jordan and Egypt, which share borders with the West Bank and Gaza respectively – groping for a new policy toward a conflict that has spilled over their borders and contributes to their own instability.” Second chance for Abbas and Olmert? “The violent divorce between the main Palestinian factions has provided a second wind for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, two weak leaders whose earlier attempts at peacemaking went nowhere.” After Meeting Israeli Leader, Bush Gives Support to AbbasPresident Bush threw his weight behind President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, using an Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel to declare Mr. Abbas “the president of all the Palestinians” Blair may become Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair could soon be appointed the Middle East Quartet’s envoy,…The British prime minister will step down on June 27 and officials from the Bush administration are understood to be in talks with him over the role.”


Gaza. Israel Lets Food and Medicine Enter Gaza to Avert Crisis“Israel allowed 12 trucks of food and medical supplies to enter the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials and international aid representatives said, in an effort to avert a looming humanitarian crisis.” Gazans Adjust to Power Shift as New Rulers Revel “In post-revolutionary Gaza, trashed and looted, Hamas’s victory has left many feeling vulnerable and afraid.” Inside Gaza, a Landscape Marked by Violent Change “At the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a man with a three-day growth of beard and bluejeans raised his fist and let out a hoarse scream amid the stench and desperation of the dozens of men, women and children who have been gathered here for days,”


Congress-nuclear weapons. House Vote Stops Appropriation for New Generation of Nuclear Weapons “The House approved plans to halt funding for the development of a new generation of nuclear warheads as House leaders called on the Bush administration to provide a post-Cold War nuclear strategy that would detail the future size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.”


Congress-unions. Clash Nears in the Senate on Legislation Helping Unions OrganizeSenate Democratic leaders moved to force a vote on organized labor’s top legislative priority, a bill that would make it far easier to organize workers. But Republican leaders vowed to kill the measure,”



Congress-budget. Democrats Push Health Care, Environment “Senate Democrats pressed for budget increases for party priorities such as health, special education and medical research as an appropriations panel approved a $152 billion spending bill. Earlier, a Senate panel responsible for environmental and public lands programs approved a $27.2 billion measure.”

Farm subsidies. House Panel Votes to Extend Controversial Farm Subsidies “Setting the stage for a contentious congressional debate over farm subsidies, a House panel voted unanimously to extend for five years the current system of payments to farmers and rejected a series of proposed changes.” A Slow Demise in the Delta “From 2001 to 2005, the federal government spent nearly $1.2 billion in agricultural subsidies to boost farmers’ incomes and invigorate local economies in this poverty-stricken region of the Mississippi Delta. Most residents are black, but less than 5 percent of the money went to black farmers. They own relatively little land, and so they generally do not qualify for the payments. Ninety-five percent of the money went to large, commercial farms, virtually all of which have white owners.”


AIDS. Spread of AIDS in Africa Is Outpacing Treatment “doctors are not winning — and probably cannot win — the war against the epidemic, because it is spreading far more quickly than doctors are treating its victims. Even as billions of dollars are spent expanding access to antiretroviral drugs, the goal of controlling AIDS in Africa remains remote.”


Vatican-commandments for the road. Drive safely and sin no more “The Vatican on Tuesday issued a 10 commandments for motorists to keep them on the road to salvation, warning drivers against the sins of road rage, abuse of alcohol or even simple rudeness.”


Domestic partnerships. Unmarried couples lose legal benefitsStates that have banned gay marriage are beginning to revoke the benefits of domestic partners of public employees.” Domestic partners in Mich. face tough choices “A Michigan court ruled in February that public employers may not offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees because the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage recognized only a marriage between a man and a woman.”


Politics-Bloomberg leaves GOP. Bloomberg Severs G.O.P. Ties, Fueling Talk of ’08 BidMayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that he was dropping his Republican affiliation, a step that could clear the way for him to make an independent bid for the presidency.”


Politics-progressive conference. Liberals get their groove back-at least at conference “Six years ago, the Take Back America conference was just a meeting of a few dozen progressive activists held in a local office building, where they talked about how to voice their liberal views at a time of Republican domination in U.S. politics.” Candidates fuel hopes of party liberals “Two powerful blocs among Democrats – organized labor and liberal activists – heard several of the party’s presidential contenders pledge allegiance Thursday to a progressive agenda more sweeping than would have seemed politically palatable not long ago.”


Refugees. Number fleeing homeland starts to rise “The number of refugees in the world has risen for the first time since 2002, says the UN refugee agency. The crisis in Iraq is a major factor, with 1.5 million Iraqis fleeing to neighbouring states,”



Inequality. Gap between rich and poor widens “Globalisation has reduced the bargaining power of unskilled workers and pushed up inequality in many western countries, the OECD said yesterday, urging governments to improve their social safety nets.”


Canada-green cars. Green fund expected to rev up parts sector “A new, $650-million Ontario fund to encourage environmentally friendly technologies and manufacturing could be a major shot in the arm for the province’s battered auto parts sector.” GREEN ACTIVISTS SKEPTICAL ABOUT $650M AUTO FUND “Ontario industries will get $650-million in provincial government funding to develop “green” cars and other technologies, but environmental activists said yesterday it is not clear what taxpayers will get for their money in terms of actual reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.”


Op-Ed. Unchained by Idealism (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “In many quarters, the role of religion in public life and foreign policy is under question as a source of hatred and extremism. But this year marks the 200th anniversary of history’s strongest counterexample — the strange, irrational end of the British slave trade.”

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