The latest news on foreign policy, arms sales, Iraq, the election, global warming, mountaintop removal, forced child-labor, and select op-eds.

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Election. Unregulated groups wield millions to sway voters Unions, corporations and wealthy individuals have pumped nearly $300 million this year into unregulated political groups, funding dozens of aggressive and sometimes shadowy campaigns independent of party machines.

In Key House Races, Democrats Run to the Right – “In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party. Moderate Republicans Feeling Like Endangered Species Facing the loss of fellow moderates in the Nov. 7 elections, Republican centrists in the House and Senate are faulting Congressional and party leaders for pursuing a strategy dominated by conservative themes. Leading moderates say Republicans concentrated on social wedge issues like same-sex marriage while pressing national security almost to the exclusion of popular wage and health policies that could have helped endangered Republicans in the Northeast and the Midwest.

This Time, Ballot Issues Could Rally Liberal Base In 2004, Republicans in Ohio and elsewhere tended to benefit from ballot initiatives. Measures to ban same-sex marriage, for example, passed easily. In the process, some election analysts said, the measures revved the conservative base to help Republican candidates from President Bush on down. In 2006, Democrats are hoping to prove that ballot politics can work in the other direction. Measures to increase the minimum wage are before voters in six states.

GOP at a loss? Karl Rove has an 11th-hour plan to win As the midterm campaign enters the homestretch, the GOP congressional juggernaut that has dominated national politics for more than a decade may be over. Polls show Democrats extending their leads in pivotal races across the country. But the man largely responsible for the Republicans’ glory days and arguably still the most powerful political operative in the United States is far from discouraged. Midterm Vote May Define Rove’s Legacy Even within Rove’s own party, expectations are widespread that the Nov. 7 elections will mark a repudiation for the base-rallying, contrast-drawing brand of politics with which he and Bush have been so closely aligned. But it is a mark of the particular place Rove holds in the Washington psyche that even the most exuberant Democrats are wondering why he seems so confident.

Foreign policy. Rices Counselor Gives Advice Others May Not Want to Hear– For the last 18 months, Philip D. Zelikow has churned out confidential memorandums and proposals for his boss and close friend, Condoleezza Rice, that often depart sharply from the Bush administrations current line.

Iraq. Tipping Point for War’s Supporters? October 2006 may be remembered as the month that the U.S. experience in Iraq hit a tipping point, when the violence flared and shook both the military command in Iraq and the political establishment back in Washington. U.S. Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms for Iraqis The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis,

Arms sales. Russia Led Arms Sales to Developing World in ’05 Russia surpassed the United States in 2005 as the leader in weapons deals with the developing world, and its new agreements included selling $700 million in surface-to-air missiles to Iran and eight new aerial refueling tankers to China, according to a new Congressional study. Those weapons deals were part of the highly competitive global arms bazaar in the developing world that grew to $30.2 billion in 2005, up from $26.4 billion in 2004. It is a market that the United States has regularly dominated.

Mountaintop removal. Taking On a Coal Mining Practice as a Matter of Faith The Mennonite Central Committee Appalachia and other Appalachian Christians are trying to halt the controversial coal mining practice known as mountaintop removal.

Global warming. Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling. In the United States, annual federal spending for all energy research and development not just the research aimed at climate-friendly technologies is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago.

Forced child labor. Africas World of Forced Labor, in a 6-Year-Olds Eyes The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, estimates that 1.2 million are sold into servitude every year in an illicit trade that generates as much as $10 billion annually. Studies show they are most vulnerable in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Africas children, the worlds poorest, account for roughly one-sixth of the trade, according to the labor organization. Data is notoriously scarce, but it suggests victimization of African children on a huge scale.

Op-Ed. A Case for Strengthening Marriage (By Leah Ward Sear, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.) For the first ti
me in history, less than half of U.S. households are headed by married couples. And on Sept. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that almost 36 percent of all births are the result of unmarried childbearing, the highest percentage ever recorded. In family law, as in the rest of American society, there is an intensifying debate about how we should respond to this kind of news.

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