The latest news on climate change, Afghanistan, Iraq-politics, Gaza, Iraq-another GOP Senator rebels, Iraq-oil, health insurance, Darfur, Colombia, religion-Joel Osteen in UK, and select commentaries.
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Climate change. Live concerts rally round Earth “Lest you’ve been in a news-free zone for the past six months, Live Earth is the globe-spanning, star-studded, multimedia event that unfolds on seven continents Saturday. Over 24 hours, eight centerpiece shows will aim to bring further attention to an issue that Gore has made a focal point: the climate crisis, and the need to confront it through political and personal action.” A message from the melting slopes of Everest “Fifty-four years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to scale Everest, their sons have said the mountain is now so ravaged by climate change that they would no longer recognise it. On the eve of the Live Earth concerts this weekend, Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing yesterday issued a timely warning that global warming is rapidly changing the face of the world’s highest mountain.”
Afghanistan. Errant Afghan civilian deaths surge “After more than five years of increasingly intense warfare, the conflict in Afghanistan reached a grim milestone in the first half of this year: U.S. troops and their NATO allies killed more civilians than insurgents did, according to several independent tallies.”
Gaza. Israelis kill 11 militants in Gaza clashes “Israeli troops and armor backed by helicopters crossed into the Gaza Strip and clashed with Palestinian militants, killing 11, in the latest in a series of raids into the coastal territory since it was taken over by Hamas.” IDF kills at least 11 in Gaza Strip operation “The incident took place near the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, a site of frequent clashes between gunmen and the IDF. Israeli troops had probed about one kilometer inside Gaza on a routine operation against rocket-launching squads when air force patrols covering their advance spotted a group of armed Palestinians approaching, the military said. The aircraft fired at the gunmen and a ground battle developed between the patrol and the militants,” Palestinians mourn Gaza raid dead “Thousands of Palestinians have marched in Gaza at the funerals of 11 people, including nine Hamas fighters, who were killed in an Israeli raid into the central Gaza Strip a day earlier.”
Blockade helps Gaza militants, says report “Israel’s latest blockade of Gaza is threatening to destroy the territory’s commercial sector and drive more people into the hands of extremists, according to a report published yesterday. In the last three weeks, 75% of Gaza’s factories have closed because they are not allowed to import raw material or export finished products, forcing thousands of families to rely on food aid to survive.” Fatah on shaky ground in West Bank “Routed in the Gaza Strip, the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fractured and adrift at a moment when it is viewed by the outside world as the best hope for blunting the militant Hamas movement in the West Bank.”
Iraq-another GOP Senator rebels. Key GOP Senator Breaks With Bush “White House efforts to keep congressional Republicans united over the Iraq war suffered another major defection as Sen. Pete V. Domenici (N.M.) broke with President Bush and called for an immediate change in U.S. strategy that could end combat operations by spring.” G.O.P. Support for Iraq Policy Erodes Further”We cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress,” said Mr. Domenici, a six-term senator who has been a steadfast supporter of the president.”
Iraq-politics. Moderates Try to Break Iraq’s Sectarian Logjam “With Parliament and the cabinet barely able to function, some senior political figures in Iraq’s government have begun reaching out to try to address a long-stagnating list of legislation seen as crucial to the country’s future. A moderate group of four parties, two Shiite and two Kurdish, appear to be close to an agreement to work together on the legislation, party representatives say, and they are hoping to persuade the most moderate of the Sunni Arab parties, the Iraqi Islamic Party, to join them.”
Iraq-oil. Australian troops ‘in Iraq because of oil’ “The Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson has admitted that oil was a major factor in the government’s decision to keep troops in Iraq, a unexpectedly frank confession that sent political commentators into a tizzy.”
Health insurance. 2008 Candidates Vow to Overhaul U.S. Health Care“There is no better measure of the power of the health care issue than this: Sixteen months before Election Day, presidential candidates in both parties are promising to overhaul the system and cover more – if not all – of the 44.8 million people without insurance.”
Pardons. Clintons Accused Of Hypocrisy by The White House “The White House responded angrily to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement that President Bush was acting “above the law” in commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, accusing her of hypocrisy because of the pardons issued by her husband on the last day of his presidency.”
Darfur. China claims credit on Darfur “China claimed credit for coaxing Sudan to accept a planned United Nations presence in its troubled Darfur region, and said it had raised concerns about its arms exports flowing to Khartoum-linked militia there.”
Colombia. 1m protest Colombia kidnappings “More than a million people have staged marches and demonstrations across Colombia to demand the release of thousands of captives kidnapped by leftist rebels, some of whom have been held for years.”
Religion-Joel Osteen in UK. Would you let a man operate because he felt ‘called?’ “It is safe to say that the name of Joel Osteen rings few bells in Britain. But he’s big – very big – in the US as the leader of a new generation of television evangelists, successor to men like Billy Graham, which explains why tonight on his first tour of the UK he is hiring the Wembley Arena for a gathering of the faithful.”
Nuclear juggernaut (Editorial, Chicago Tribune) With each passing day, with each triumphant pronouncement from Tehran (even if exaggerated for maximum effect), the chances dim that diplomacy will — or can — stop Tehran’s juggernaut rush to develop nukes.
In Sudan, Help Comes From Above(JULIE FLINT, New York Times) The humanitarian’s first obligation is to do no harm. Talk of coercive military action must end. A no-flight zone would be recklessly dangerous and would not address the real problems in Darfur. To endanger the region’s humanitarian lifeline is not simply wrong-headed. It is inhumane.
An Unpardonable Act (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) I harbored no personal desire to see I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby spend a long time in prison for his perjury and obstruction-of-justice convictions. People who know him tell me he is a thoughtful and interesting man, and I have no reason to doubt them. Yet when I learned that President Bush had commuted Libby’s 30-month sentence, I was enraged although not surprised.