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The lastest news on Iraq-White House report, housing, US-UK, Canada-Afghanistan, US military, Edwards-poverty, Dem debate-NAACP, health care, America’s children report, Darfur, Iran, Pakistan, Canada-Jordan, and select editorials.
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Iraq-White House report. Iraq war policy failing “President George Bush insisted that he had a winning strategy in Iraq even as a White House report said the Iraqi government had failed in its efforts to stem violence and bring about reconciliation.” Key goals in Iraq elusive “The Bush administration’s status report on the Iraq war gives the Iraqi government an even mix of “satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory” grades, but a closer look provides a more sobering impression: The least progress is being made on the most important goals.” Sober report on Iraq “In a notable departure from his typical approach, during a White House news conference beamed out to the world, the president acknowledged the personal toll of sticking with his beliefs when they were so profoundly in opposition to those of the American people.” Bush asks for more time “President Bush yesterday said that he realizes that the American people are suffering from “war fatigue” but that the U.S. military must stay in Iraq long enough to give fighting Iraqi factions a chance to reconcile politically, or Iraq will become a haven for terrorists and will destabilize the region.” Iraqi Military’s Readiness Slips “Despite stepped-up training, the readiness of the Iraqi military to operate independently of U.S. forces has decreased since President Bush’s new strategy was launched in January,” Fending Off a Deadline: Bush Seeks Time on IraqPresident Bush’s Iraq strategy now boils down to this: He is trying to buy time for a surge that is living on borrowed time.” A Mixed Review “The Bush administration’s interim assessment of 18 benchmarks to be met by the Iraqi government.”


Iraq-House. House rebuffs Bush’s appeal for more time for Iraq plan “Hours after President Bush appealed for more time for his Iraq plan to work, the House of Representatives voted 223-201 for a dramatic change of course – a troop withdrawal to start in four months and a shift in the mission by next year.” House approves April troop pullout “The Democrat-led House yesterday passed a bill to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by April – gaining two new Republican supporters in three months but leaving it well shy of the votes needed to override President Bush’s promised veto.”


Canada-Afghanistan. Change tune on war, PM told “The Harper government has been told to stop referring to “fighting terrorism” and the Sept. 11 attacks, and to banish the phrase “cut and run” from its vocabulary if it is to persuade a skeptical public that the military mission in Afghanistan is worth pursuing.”


US military. More entering Army with criminal records “Nearly 12 percent of Army recruits who entered basic training this year needed a special waiver for those with criminal records, a dramatic increase over last year and 2 1/2 times the percentage four years ago, according to new Army statistics obtained by the Globe.”


UK-US. Brown restates commitment to US alliance “Gordon Brown insisted he would work closely with the Bush administration, after one of his cabinet allies hinted at a shift away from the US.” Britain’s Brown denies shift away from U.S. “British Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied a shift in foreign policy away from the United States after one of his ministers told an audience there that a country’s strength depended on alliances not military might.”


Housing. Nation’s poor hit by housing crunch “Growing numbers of the nation’s poorest households are using more than half their earnings for rent while waiting years for federal housing assistance that may never come.” Graphic | Who gets housing assistance? Affordable housing – a rehab plan “It seems counterintuitive. America’s in a housing slump, with real estate prices in some areas so low that homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their dwellings are now worth. And yet, the nation’s biggest housing problem is affordability.”


Edwards-poverty. John Edwards road-tests poverty theme “Seeking to regain his political footing, White House hopeful John Edwards is pursuing a road less traveled: a three-day, eight-state tour through pockets of urban and rural poverty. Beginning Sunday night in New Orleans and ending Wednesday in Appalachian Kentucky, the former North Carolina senator will reinvigorate an old campaign theme and test an even older notion: that talking about poor people is a politically losing proposition.”


Dem debate-NAACP. Hopefuls court votes at NAACP “throughout a two-hour forum before the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the full field of Democratic presidential candidates spoke about issues of poverty, justice and equality in the clearest terms to date in this campaign.” Presidential Candidates Appear at N.A.A.C.P. Forum “Although the welcome was warm for all the presidential candidates who spoke here Thursday at an N.A.A.C.P. forum, no one else was greeted with as much enthusiasm as Senator Barack Obama, whose mere presence on the stage shot adrenalin through the mostly African-American audience of thousands.”


Health care. Free care may come at a cost to poor “For the first time, many low-income patients seeking free care at hospitals will face deductibles and copayments similar to those charged to insured patients, under proposed rules released yesterday that are designed to push more Massachusetts residents to get health insurance.”


America’s children report. Teen Sexual Activity and Birthrates Decline “Teen birthrates continued their 15-year decline in 2005 as adolescents increasingly got into the habit of using condoms during sexual intercourse.” Report Card Mixed For Kids In U.S.: Report “More children in the United States are living in a household with at least one working parent and fewer teens than ever are having babies, the annual federal report on children has found. But the news is not all good.” Teen birth rate falls, as does percentage of high schoolers having sex “A lower percentage of high school students are having sex these days, and more are using condoms. The teen birth rate has hit a record low.”


Darfur. Can Darfur’s disparate rebels unite? “Just a year or two ago, Sudanese militant leaders Al-Hadi Adam Agabeldour and Sadiq Ali Shaibo would have considered each other enemies. They belonged to different militias, and their ethnic groups – Arab and Zaghawa, respectively – were fighting on opposite sides of the war in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. But today, they have united to fight the Sudanese government in Khartoum for its neglect and destruction of Darfur.” Hundreds of Darfur refugees flock to Israel Refugees from “Sudan’s Darfur crisis are reaching Israel in ever higher numbers, prompting plans to confine them in a refugee camp and eventually force them back to Egypt.”


Iran. Iran relaxes stance on nuclear inspections “The UN nuclear watchdog said today that Iran had agreed to lift its ban on inspectors visiting a controversial nuclear facility, and was ready to answer questions about its past plutonium experiments.”


Pakistan. Pakistan pledges to fight militants “President Pervez Musharraf vowed to crush Islamist extremists across the country and move strongly against religious schools after a bloody standoff at a mosque in the capital left scores dead.” Musharraf Defends Raid that Ended Red Mosque Siege“Wherever there is fundamentalism and extremism we have to finish that, destroy that,” President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said.”


Canada-Jordan. Jordan’s king, PM to focus on mideast “When King Abdullah II of Jordan visits Canada Friday, it will mark his first visit to Canada under the Harper government, … The king’s first order of business will therefore be meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The leaders will focus their discussion on the Palestinian situation and the revival of the Middle East peace talks, but they will also discuss the situation in Iraq.”


Editorial. Progress? Not enough (Chicago Tribune) “When you cut through the verbiage and all the squishy qualifiers in the Iraq report released by the Bush administration on Thursday, here’s the situation: The troops, mostly Americans, are doing a lot. The Iraqi pols aren’t.”

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