the latest news on the Iraq Summit, the Iraq Study Group, Iran, global warming, Frist (not) for president, Rick Warren and Barack Obama, the Pope is still in Turkey, living wage, and post-election analysis

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Iraq Summit. Bush, Maliki Put Off Meeting – “President Bush began consultations Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on how to halt the deterioration of security in his country, after their scheduled opening meeting was canceled Wednesday evening…” Bush’s meeting with Maliki is canceled – “A highly anticipated meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Bush was abruptly canceled, hours after the disclosure of a White House memo questioning Maliki’s ability to pacify his country.” Iraq´s Premier Abruptly Skips a Bush Session– “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and King Abdullah II of Jordan abruptly backed out of a meeting with President Bush, leaving the White House scrambling to explain why a carefully planned summit meeting had suddenly been cut from two days to one.”

Iraq Study Group. Study Group to Call for Pullback – “The Iraq Study Group, which wrapped up eight months of deliberations yesterday, has reached a consensus and will call for a major withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, shifting the U.S. role from combat to support and advising, according to a source familiar with the deliberations.” Iraq study group wraps up talks – “A blue-ribbon study panel on Iraq completed deliberations and announced plans to release a report next week that is expected to reject both a large U.S. troop increase and a quick U.S. withdrawal.” Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullback of Combat Troops– “The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal,” Joint Chiefs oppose Iraq pullout – “All six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, amid an ongoing Pentagon review of strategy for Iraq, oppose pulling out U.S. troops now, and are also against a specific withdrawal timetable, a defense source said yesterday.”

Democratic Leaders Seek Special Iraq Envoy to Try to Stem the Violence – “Leading Senate Democrats called Wednesday for President Bush to appoint a special envoy to work with Iraqi leaders to bring increasing violence in Iraq under control.”

Iran. Iran’s president urges Americans to back Iraq exit – “Iran’s president appealed directly to the “God-fearing, peace-loving and justice-seeking” American people in an open letter released Wednesday, saying that the U.S. should leave Iraq and spend the billions of dollars meant for war on the welfare of Americans instead.” Iran´s President Criticizes Bush in Letter to American People– Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the American people that he was certain they detested President Bush’s policies — his support for Israel, war in Iraq and curtailed civil liberties — and he offered to work with them to reverse those policies.” Old enemies embrace in Tehran – “Iran reached out to Iraq and the American public in separate gestures, giving the Baghdad government a $1 billion line of credit while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a personal letter to “noble Americans” calling for a military withdrawal from Iraq.”

Iran’s nuclear ambitions seen similar to Holocaust – “Iran’s reported drive to make an atomic bomb has become an existential threat to Israel that some Israelis are likening to the Holocaust — especially with the United States appearing to back away from confrontation with Tehran.”

Global warming. Court Hears Global Warming Case – “The Supreme Court yesterday cautiously confronted for the first time the issue of global warming, hearing a challenge to the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases in new vehicles.”

Politics. Frist Says He Does Not Intend To Run for President in 2008 – “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced yesterday that he will not run for president in 2008, saying that he plans to “take a sabbatical from public life” and return to his Tennessee home and professional roots as a doctor.”

Rick Warren & Sen. Obama. Evangelical pastor, Obama join forces to battle AIDS – “They came from different worlds: Rick Warren was the conservative white pastor of a 20,000-strong evangelical church in Orange County; Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was a liberal black politician, and a rising star in the Democratic Party. After meeting in Washington, D.C., in January, they started chatting regularly on the phone. … As Warren planned a second international conference on AIDS at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, he asked Obama to address the group during a session Friday titled “We Must Work Together.” Famed Pastor Defends Invitation to Obama – “Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren defended his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat’s support for abortion rights.”

Pope in Turkey. Pope reaches out to Orthodox flock – “Pope Benedict XVI journeyed to the ancient capital of Byzantium on Wednesday and celebrated a moment of prayer with the spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians,” Christian Schism Is Focus of Pope’s Second Day in Turkey – “Pope Benedict XVI turned from efforts to repair his damaged relations with Muslims to the central aim of his trip to Turkey: to help heal the 1,000-year rift between the once-united Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.”

Living wage. Groups Press Vanderbilt to Raise Workers’ Wages – “The fragile economic state of some of Vanderbilt’s union employees … and the contrast with university spending elsewhere, like the $6 million renovation of the chancellor’s 20,000-square-foot house, has become a point of contention between the administration and a loose coalition of labor, students and community members.”

Op-Ed. A Veteran Moderate Moves On (By David S. Broder, The Washington Post) – “The House of Representatives wastes no sympathy on defeated members. So at the beginning of this week, Jim Leach of Iowa sat in an office almost devoid of furniture, the walls stripped bare of the mementos of his 30 years of service — with just a few hours remaining before the painters moved in to prepare his domain for its new occupant.”

Post-election analysis. Election ’06: Big Changes in Some Key Groups – “Post-mortems on the election have rightly focused on a few big themes: the impact of the war, opinions about President Bush, and the strong Democratic performance among moderates and independents. But the shifting allegiance of some other important voter groups has gotten relatively less attention. One of the biggest stories is about young people. Another is what really happened to “The God Gap.” And a third is about the one-fifth of voters who aren’t white.” (Pew Research Center)

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