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The latest news on children’s health care, Iraq, urban infrastructure, student aid, Iraq-Senate, Iraq-Administration wants more time, Darfur, Middle East, Dems-poverty, GOP-family values, Canada-healthcare, urban infrastructure, faith builds New Orleans, and select commentaries.
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Student aid. Senate Passes Bill to Boost Student Aid “The Senate passed a bill early Friday to increase aid to college students. The bill would give more money to Pell grant recipients, who are among the poorest. They get a maximum award of $4,310 annually now, but that would be bumped up to $5,400 by 2011.”


Children’s health insurance. Senate panel backs youth health plan”Defying a veto threat from President Bush, a Senate panel on overwhelmingly approved a compromise to expand health insurance for children of low-income working families by sharply hiking tobacco taxes. The 17-4 Finance Committee vote underscored the popularity of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program,” Senate Panel Adds Billions for Health “The bill calls for a total of $60 billion in spending over the next five years, which is $35 billion more than it would cost to continue spending at current levels. In the House, Democratic leaders are developing a proposal calling for a total of $75 billion. By contrast, President Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase, for a total of $30 billion.”


Iraq-Senate. Reid Unmoved by Calls For Iraq Compromise “Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid offered no apologies for his decision to reject compromise efforts to alter President Bush’s Iraq strategy that had the support of a growing number of Republicans. “We did the very best we could,” the senator from Nevada said in response to criticism that he had cut off debate on just as a bipartisan consensus on milder Iraq proposals was emerging.”


Iraq-Administration wants more time. White House lowers bar for Iraq success “The Bush administration mounted an offensive to tout progress in Iraq and lower Capitol Hill lawmakers’ expectations for success by September – a day after Democrats’ efforts to end the war sputtered in Congress.” U.S. military wants new date to assess buildup: November “The Bush administration and U.S. military officials predicted that a key September report would show progress in Iraq, but that it would be November before they could judge the success of the troop buildup.” U.S. Generals Request Delay in Judging IraqThe top commanders in Iraq and the American ambassador to Baghdad appealed for more time beyond their mid-September assessment to more fully judge if the new strategy was making gains. … But their appeals, in three videoconferences on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon, were met by stern rebukes from lawmakers of both parties.”


Darfur. Brown and Sarkozy Darfur pledge “Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy are prepared to make a joint personal trip to Darfur to seek an end to bloodshed in the region, the two leaders said as they met in Paris toda. The prime minister, in France on his second foreign trip since taking office, said the death toll in Darfur – where 200,000 are thought to have been killed – was “unacceptable” and Britain and France would cooperate on a new plan to help end “one of the great humanitarian disasters”. Bush Says He Considered Action in Darfur “President Bush said that he had considered unilaterally sending U.S. troops to Darfur to stop the mass slaughter in that Sudanese region but decided against it in favor of a multinational response that he conceded has been “slow” and “tedious.”


Middle east. Quartet, Iran See Different Futures for Middle East “Pledging to make headway where others have failed, Tony Blair made his debut as the new Middle East envoy at a meeting in Portugal with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and representatives of the European Union and Russia.” Abbas wants talks to hit core issues “A Thursday meeting of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators and the planned release Friday of 256 Palestinian prisoners by Israel are the latest in a flurry of moves to try to re-energize Mideast peace efforts and strengthen the position of President Mahmoud Abbas,” Mixed reaction in Middle East as Blair makes debut “Less than a month after leaving office, Tony Blair returned to a new and high-profile international role as envoy for the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which insisted there would be no dealings with the Islamist movement Hamas.” Israelis dodge military duty as solidarity fades “Growing numbers of young Israelis are finding ways to avoid compulsory military service, a trend that many think reflects declining social cohesion in the Jewish state and increasing alienation from its most venerated institution.”


Dems-poverty. Poverty is key theme for Democrats in ’08 “After decades of promoting economic growth as the best cure for poverty, Democrats are trying to woo voters with promises of direct financial aid and to reach out to people who have seen their lives worsen over the last eight years. Democrats are now embracing such solutions to combat entrenched poverty, and in the process taking on Republicans on issues beyond the war in Iraq.”


GOP-family values. A fight for GOP ‘family values’ banner “The emergence of Fred Thompson as a top contender in the Republican presidential race has sparked a clash with rival Mitt Romney over the social conservatives who are crucial to winning the GOP nomination.”


Canada-health care. Religion roils debate over Ontario hospital “The church, the state and the health-care system are set to collide in a rural Ontario town, where a large group of residents is trying to stop a secular hospital from becoming a Roman Catholic institution.”


Urban infrastructure. Cities work to fix signs of aging “An exploding steam pipe under a busy street in Midtown Manhattan this week dramatizes potentially dangerous decay in aging public works systems across the nation that will require tens of billions of dollars to fix. From New York to Atlanta, cities officials are raising utility rates, issuing bonds and trying to modernize public works systems that are straining under the demand of ever-increasing populations.” Blast shows age of U.S. infrastructure “With a blast that made skyscrapers tremble, an 83-year-old steam pipe sent a powerful message that the miles of tubes, wires and iron beneath New York and other U.S. cities are getting older and could become dangerously unstable.”


Faith builds New Orleans. Faith rebuilds house and soul “Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina, much of the city is deserted. Broken glass hangs from the windows of office towers. Weeds flourish in front of boarded-up homes. In the Lower Ninth Ward, entire blocks have been obliterated, the houses carted away to the junkyard, leaving nothing but the square outlines of foundations and the squat, concrete steps that once led to front doors. Yet many of those surveying this scarred landscape see reason for hope. It arrives, in wave after wave, on the sunburned faces and sweaty backs of hundreds of thousands of volunteers who come to rebuild the Gulf Coast. To many weary residents, every church van with out-of-state plates seems like a beacon of light, a sign they have not been forgotten.”


Commentary.


Fight homelessness with data (Editorial, Boston Globe) “Now public policy is getting smarter, and instead of managing homelessness, the federal government is seeking to end it. Rather than join sleep-outs, officials are relying on data. This change should transform lives and mesh well with state and local efforts.”


Making The Poor Visible (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “John Edwards may be running third in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he has already changed the national conversation on a crucial issue. Poverty is no longer a hidden subject in American politics.”

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