the latest reports on the Supreme Court, immigration, the GOP and Bush, Democrats debate, Iraq, Brown’s cabinet, executive privilege, Iran, nuclear weapons, Colombia, death penalty, Baptists, and select op-eds
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Supreme Court. Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts “A divided Supreme Court restricted the ability of public school districts to use race to determine which schools students can attend, a decision that could sharply limit integration programs across the nation.” Supreme Court curbs use of race in school policies“Affirmative action in education survives but with tighter limits under the decision in two related cases from Kentucky and Washington state. Districts in Louisville and Seattle, hoping to maintain diversity, had considered race when deciding which schools students could attend.” High court strikes down school integration plans “With its emotional and splintered decision striking down two voluntary school integration programs, the Supreme Court wrestled with a question that has dogged the long fight over integration: when will the nation be able to disregard an individual’s race entirely?” Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for IntegrationVoting 5 to 4, the Supreme Court declared that public school systems cannot seek integration through measures that take explicit account of a student’s race.” Across U.S., a New Look at School Integration EffortsThe Supreme Court ruling striking down voluntary plans to integrate schools left hundreds of school districts struggling to assess whether they must change their policies.” The Same Words, but Differing ViewsLawyers from Brown v. Board of Education said that Thursday’s Supreme Court decision misconstrues its true meaning.”

Immigration. Immigration Bill Dies in Senate “The most dramatic overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation was crushed yesterday in the Senate, with the forces of the political right and left overwhelming a bipartisan compromise on one of the most difficult issues facing the country.” Border bill’s final blow? “After months of political wrangling and raised expectations, the Senate voted down the sweeping immigration reform bill, and the vexing issue seems highly unlikely to be resurrected again in Congress until after the 2008 elections.” Senate buries immigration bill “The Senate resoundingly defeated a bill that would have overhauled the nation’s immigration laws for the first time in two decades, crushing the chances of settling the contentious matter in the next few years.” Bush loses on immigration; his presidency fading fast too “The Senate’s rejection of President Bush’s immigration plan was the latest in a series of embarrassments that have exposed Bush’s political weakness and shaken his hold on power.”

GOP and Pres. Bush. GOP inflicts Bush’s latest wounds “President Bush began the week struggling to salvage his most important foreign and domestic initiatives: the war in Iraq and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. He ends it closer to losing both than at any time in his presidency.”

Dem debate. Democrats Address Race Issues In Debate “In the first presidential debate designed to focus on minority issues, the Democratic contenders aggressively sought to outmuscle one another on the topics of race and poverty and derided yesterday’s Supreme Court decision banning most affirmative action in public schools.” Frank conversation at debate “In a blunt conversation before a largely African-American audience, the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday occasionally departed from polite talking points as they discussed everything from the spread of HIV and AIDS to racial profiling in the criminal justice system.” Domestic Issues Frame Democratic Debate “For 90 minutes, eight Democratic candidates debated before an audience made up largely of one of their party’s most reliable and liberal constituencies, African-American voters, and used the stage to urge a revitalization of domestic programs they said had faltered under President Bush.”

Iraq. Sectarian Attacks Kill Dozens in Baghdad “A spate of grisly attacks believed to have been carried out by Sunni Arab militants killed dozens of Shiites around Baghdad, just days ahead of a planned huge march of devout Shiites through Sunni heartlands to the remnants of a revered shrine.” Unguarded Iraqi pipelines easy targets for thieves, insurgents“Anyone who wants to understand why Iraq’s Northern Oil Co. still runs at just 20 percent of capacity need only visit the crews assigned to undo the work of thieves and saboteurs along the 50-mile stretch of pipes that dip below and above the sandy terrain between Kirkuk and Baiji.”

Brown cabinet. New faces to heal old wounds “Gordon Brown set a blistering pace in his first full day as prime minister by totally recasting his cabinet and announcing that the new team will meet today in a special session to discuss his plans to restore trust in politics lost during the last decade.” New British Leader Appoints Critics of Iraq War to Cabinet “Gordon Brown, Britain’s new prime minister, appointed some critics of the Iraq war to his youthful circle of senior cabinet ministers, underlining his ambition to heal rifts over the conflict and to win back the support of the disenchanted.”

Executive privilege. Bush Claims Executive Privilege on Subpoenas “The White House invoked executive privilege in withholding subpoenaed documents on fired U.S. attorneys out of confidence that it can prevail in court and weather a political storm by blaming Congress for overreaching,” Bush rebuffs records demand “President Bush refused to turn over records sought by Congress in its investigation of the firing of federal prosecutors, setting up a standoff with no quick resolution unless one side or the other blinks.” Bush Asserts Executive Privilege on Subpoenas “President Bush moved one step closer to a constitutional showdown with Democrats, as the White House asserted executive privilege in refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents related to the dismissal of federal prosecutors.”

Iran. Unrest Grows Amid Gas Rationing in IranUnrest spread in Tehran on Thursday, the second day of gasoline rationing in oil-rich Iran, with drivers lining up for miles, gas stations being set on fire and state-run banks and business centers coming under attack.” Iran urged to end petrol rations after violent unrest “The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was under pressure to perform a U-turn on petrol rationing yesterday after the restriction prompted violent protests at filling stations across the country this week.”

Nuclear weapons. UN agrees deal over North Korea reactor “The UN has reached agreement with North Korea on handling the shutdown of the country’s main nuclear reactor,” Chávez hints at nuclear future for Venezuela “President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House.”

Colombia. U.S. firms linked to Colombia militias “A former paramilitary soldier told a congressional panel Thursday that several U.S. companies provided financial support to illegal militias accused of killing Colombian civilians.”

Death penalty. Top court spares life of mentally ill killer “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas should not execute a severely mentally ill man because he could not comprehend why he was going to be put to death.” Justices Block Execution of Delusional KillerAmplifying its ban against execution of the insane, a closely divided United States Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a delusional Texas murderer who insisted that he was being punished for preaching the Gospel.”

Cooperative Baptists. ‘Fellowship Baptists’ converge with aim to define themselves “Several thousand moderate Baptists have taken over the Washington Convention Center this week but with a far different message than their more conservative cousins, the Southern Baptists. These are the Baptists – about 700,000 of them – who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1991 to form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, based in Atlanta.”


The Gospel Of Obama (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “Obama recognized the central role of religion in the history of American social reform, from women’s rights to the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement. And he made a sophisticated distinction between the religious right and American evangelicalism, rather than lumping them together as a monolithic menace.”

Standing in the Schoolhouse Door (Eugene Robinson, Washington Post) “It’s time for those of us who are old enough to remember when the U.S. Supreme Court was a major force for racial integration and justice to stop living in the past. We need to realize that for the foreseeable future any progress our increasingly diverse country makes toward fairness and equality will come in spite of the nation’s highest court, not because of it.”

Not One More Roberts or Alito (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “Just say no. The Senate’s Democratic majority — joined by all Republicans who purport to be moderate — must tell President Bush that this will be their answer to any controversial nominee to the Supreme Court or the appellate courts.”


Los Angeles Times – The grand failure “THE DEMISE of the Senate immigration reform bill Thursday was a grim reminder of how much easier it is to block legislation on controversial issues than to pass it. Although the provisions were worked out by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and President Bush had made it a top priority, in the end neither he nor Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could persuade even a simple majority of the Senate to keep the bill alive.”

Washington Post – An Immigrant’s Lament “AFTER SEN. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina joined 36 of her Republican colleagues, 15 Democrats and one independent in the Senate yesterday in squashing the last, best hope for now of overhauling the nation’s bankrupt and busted immigration laws, she was asked what she proposed for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. “I think that is something that can be dealt with at a later time,” she replied airily.”

Chicago Tribune – The speech Bush didn’t give “U.S. senators who tried for two years to solve this nation’s immigration dilemma met a bracing truth Thursday: Too many Americans distrust their comprehensive plan to regulate the flow of foreigners into this country and its economy.”

Washington Times – The people killed amnesty “The justifiably furious reaction of the American public, which deluged senators with telephone calls, e-mails and faxes, forced the Senate to reverse itself yesterday and send the amnesty bill crashing to defeat – a potentially fatal blow.”

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