The latest news on Iran, global warming, Iraq-Congress, New commander, in country-, minimum-wage, the budget, Rabbi Abraham Heschel centennial, Fr. Robert Drinian, and select op-eds.
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Iraq-Congress. Bush’s war powers debated – “In an intensifying debate on the war in Iraq, Democratic senators began probing how Congress could halt President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq or even use its powers to halt the war altogether.” House Dems want to change direction of war funds – “Murtha: ‘We’ve got problems in our own country’ – Democratic leaders in Congress plan to make extensive changes to the Bush administration’s anticipated $100 billion request for new war funds.” For GOP, Discord In Dissent On Iraq – “Republican misgivings over President Bush’s new war strategy are increasingly dividing the GOP as the Senate moves toward a showdown over the deployment of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.” In Senate, Allies of Bush Work to Halt Iraq Vote– “The new effort by President Bush’s allies, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is aimed at blocking two nonbinding resolutions directly critical of the White House that had appeared to be gaining broad support among Democrats and even some Republicans.”

Iraq-New commander. Peace in Iraq ‘a long time coming,’ Fallon says – “President Bush’s choice to be the new military commander in the Middle East warned that the U.S. may have to lower its expectations for Iraq, saying the country’s transition into a peaceful democracy may be “a long time coming.” ‘I don’t know the details’ – “The admiral picked by President Bush to oversee his new strategy for Iraq testified that he does not know much about the plan that the administration says will determine whether the U.S. wins the war.”

Iraq-in country. Militias on rise in Iraq, imperiling hope for a political solution to insurgency – “The messianic Soldiers of Heaven militia that fought US and Iraqi troops in one of the fiercest battles of the war Sunday is among the more than two dozen extremist militias operating across Iraq that are fast becoming a powerful, and hidden, new enemy.” Audit: Millions wasted in Iraq – “he U.S. government wasted tens of millions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction aid, including scores of unaccounted-for weapons and a never-used Baghdad training camp with an Olympic-size swimming pool.”

Iran. Europeans fear US attack on Iran – “Senior European policy-makers are increasingly worried that the US administration will resort to air strikes against Iran to try to destroy its suspect nuclear programme.” Air Force’s role in Iraq could grow – “The Air Force is preparing for an expanded role in Iraq that could include aggressive new tactics designed to deter Iranian assistance to Iraqi militants … The efforts could include more forceful patrols by Air Force and Navy fighter planes along the Iran-Iraq border to counter the smuggling of bomb supplies from Iran,” Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers – “Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents,” General says U.S. has proof Iran arming Iraqi militias – “Iran is supplying Iraqi militias with a variety of powerful weapons including Katyusha rockets, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday. “We have weapons that we know through serial numbers … that trace back to Iran,” Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said in an interview.” New type of IED comes via Iran, say U.S. officials – “A sophisticated type of roadside bomb that U.S. officials have linked to Iran has been used increasingly against U.S. troops in Iraq.”

Opinion. The neocons have learned nothing (Francis Fukuyama, The Guardian)“What I find remarkable about the neoconservative line of argument on Iran, however, is how little changed it is in its basic assumptions and tonalities from that taken on Iraq in 2002, despite the momentous events of the past five years and the manifest failure of policies that neoconservatives themselves advocated. What may change is the American public’s willingness to listen to them.”

Minimum wage. Senate Adds Tax Breaks as It Passes a Wage Bill – “The Senate voted overwhelmingly on to move ahead on a bill to increase the minimum wage, signaling that the measure is likely to pass this week. But the vote also sets up a conflict with the House that is likely to stall any increase.”

Budget. House Democrats refigure GOP budget– “House Democrats sent to the floor a spending measure that substituted some of their priorities for those that Republicans put in the nine appropriations bills th

ey failed to pass last year.” Democrats Move Leftover Spending Measure – “House and Senate Democratic leaders agreed to a $463 billion spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year that would freeze many federal agencies at 2006 levels but include more money for veterans’ health, education, scientific research, HIV programs and public parks, among other things.”

Politics. States revisiting Electoral College – “A movement to upend the Electoral College in favor of a popular presidential vote aims to sweep state legislatures this year, starting with Colorado.”

Global warming. Fossil fuels are to blame, world scientists conclude – “A major international analysis of climate change due Friday will conclude that humankind’s reliance on fossil fuels — coal, fuel oil and natural gas — is to blame for global warming,” Lawmakers on Hill Seek Consensus on Warming – “As 600 scientists meet this week in Paris to finalize the first worldwide assessment in six years of the evidence on global warming, lawmakers on Capitol Hill searched for a political consensus on how to address climate change.” Climate is changing, politically – “After years of languishing on Capitol Hill, efforts to curb global warming have picked up momentum, powered by a growing bipartisan belief that climate change can no longer be ignored.”

Rabbi Abraham Heschel centennial. Rabbi’s legacy of spirituality and activism is guiding light – “When members of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in Philadelphia need inspiration to tackle society’s thorny problems, they look no further than a social room named for their late hero: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. … This year at the centennial of Heschel’s birth, Jews and gentiles alike are remembering him as more than one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. For people of varied backgrounds, he also is an enduring role model.”

Fr. Robert Drinan. Father Drinan, Model Of Moral Tenacity (ColmanMcCarthy, Washington Post) – “I saw him as a towering moral giant, a man of faith whose practice of Christianity put him in the company of all my Jesuit heroes … In his office, ferociously unkempt and as tight as a monk’s cell, our conversation ranged from politics to law to the morning’s front pages.” Robert F. Drinan, S.J. (Editorial, Boston Globe) – “THE REV. ROBERT F. DRINAN, who died this week, is best known as a five-term congressman forced to leave office by an edict of Pope John Paul II. He ought to be remembered as well as a Catholic from Boston who extended the boundaries of the institution that nurtured him to serve the needs of the broader society.”

ON THIS DAY– “On Jan. 31, 1865, the House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery.” ( Go to article.)

And, Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson – “On Jan. 31, 1919, Jackie Robinson , who made history in 1947 by becoming the first black baseball player in the major leagues, was born. Following his death on Oct. 24 , 1972, his obituary appeared in The Times.” (Go to obit)

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