The latest news on the Iraq Study Group, select editorials, the Defense Secretary, Congress, the war in Iraq, Judaism and same-sex unions, poverty, Somalia, and Biblical archeology.

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Iraq Study Group.
Iraq Panel Proposes Major Strategy Shift – “A panel of prominent elder leaders offered a stinging assessment of virtually every aspect of the U.S. venture in Iraq and called for a reshaping of the American military presence and a new Middle East diplomatic initiative to prevent the country from sliding into anarchy.” Panel Urges Basic Shift in U.S. Policy in Iraq – “A bipartisan commission warned that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating,” and it handed President Bush both a rebuke for his current strategy and a detailed blueprint for a fundamentally different approach,” Blunt report calls Iraq situation `dire’ – “While intending to propose a rescue plan for the faltering U.S. military mission in Iraq, the Iraq Study Group delivered a broader rebuke of the Bush administration’s policies there and throughout the Middle East.” Iraq Policy ‘No Longer Viable’ – “Bush administration policies have set off a “slide toward chaos” in Iraq, a bipartisan national commission declared in a major reappraisal that challenges President Bush’s view of the war and builds new pressure for disengagement.” Citing report, Democrats vow era of more intense war scrutiny – “Congressional Democrats didn’t say “I told you so,” but the Iraq Study Group’s report represented an important sense of vindication for a group of lawmakers who spent much of the last year denouncing President Bush’s “stay the course” policy.”

Analysis: The Realists’ Repudiation Of Policies for a War, Region – “From the very first page, in which co-chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton scold that “our leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people,” the bipartisan report is nothing less than a repudiation of the Bush administration’s diplomatic and military approach to Iraq and to the whole region.” War panel gives Bush a safe path out of Iraq – “Some bipartisan commissions try to move public opinion on contentious national issues. Others try to help Congress find compromise solutions to thorny problems. The Iraq Study Group … had a different, and unusual, goal: persuading President Bush to change his mind about staying the course in Iraq.” A Blueprint for Iraq: Will It Work in the White House? – “In 142 stark pages, the Iraq Study Group report makes an impassioned plea for bipartisan consensus on the most divisive foreign policy issue of this generation. Without President Bush, that cannot happen.”


Los Angeles Times: What they said …

Chicago Tribune: Squeezing Iraq
Washington Times: A bipartisan path to surrender?

Washington Post: The Study Group Reports

New York Times: Welcome Political Cover

Defense Secretary. Senate Confirms Gates as Defense Secretary – “The Senate overwhelmingly approved Robert M. Gates as the new defense secretary to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld, sealing a swift confirmation with a vote of 95 to 2 that reflected bipartisan confidence in his willingness to overhaul U.S. strategy in Iraq.” Senate Confirms Gates as Secretary of Defense – “The decision came after a confirmation hearing and floor debate that unfolded in less than 48 hours, reflecting the bipartisan sentiment that a course change in Iraq is vital.”

War in Iraq. Iraq violence claims 10 U.S. servicemen– “Ten U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in four separate incidents Wednesday, and at least 84 Iraqis were reported killed by bombs, mortar rounds or bullets. U.S. military fatalities since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 had reached 2,919 as of Wednesday night,” 10 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq– “Ten American troops died in Iraq, the U.S. military reported, matching the highest number of U.S. service members killed on a single day in the past year. It was also a deadly day for Iraqi civilians,”

Congress. GOP Congress winds down – “In the final hours of Republican rule, the Senate put forward an all-purpose bill covering everythi
ng from normalized trade with Vietnam and tax breaks for millions of taxpayers to an expansion of offshore oil drilling. The House, while preparing its own tax and trade agenda, gave conservatives perhaps their last chance for a while to vote on an abortion bill. It was defeated.” Democratic Wave in Congress Further Erodes Moderation in GOP – “Iowa Rep. Jim Leach (R) seemed a natural to weather voters’ antiwar sentiment this fall. His independent streak and moderate views had engendered the allegiance of his Democratic-leaning district for the past 30 years, and he broke with his party and President Bush in October 2002 by voting against the Iraq war. Yet on Election Day, voters in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District ousted him in favor of an untested Democrat” At swearing in, congressman wants to carry Koran. Outrage ensues – “When America’s first Muslim congressman, a Democrat from Minnesota, let it be known he will carry a Koran to his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 4, conservative pundit Dennis Prager called it “an act of hubris … that undermines American civilization.”

Judaism and same-sex unions. Conservative Rabbis Allow Same-Sex Unions – ‘”A panel of rabbis gave permission for same-sex commitment ceremonies and ordination of gays within Conservative Judaism, a wrenching change for a movement that occupies the middle ground between orthodoxy and liberalism in Judaism.” Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions – “The decision, which followed years of debate, was denounced by traditionalists in the movement as an indication that Conservative Judaism had abandoned its commitment to adhere to Jewish law, but celebrated by others as a long-awaited move toward full equality for gay people.”

Poverty. More poor now live in suburbs – “For the first time last year, the suburban poor outnumbered their city counterparts, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a study of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.” Poverty jumps in suburbs of Cleveland – “The number of poor people in the suburbs of Cleveland is growing faster than in almost any other big city in America.”

Somalia. Peacekeeping Force For Somalia Approved – “The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an East African peacekeeping force to prevent an alliance of Islamic militias from overthrowing Somalia’s fragile interim government.”

Biblical archeology. Apostle Paul’s tomb unearthed – “Vatican archeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus thought to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul that had been buried beneath Rome’s second-largest basilica.”

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