The latest news on Iran, Iraq, subprime mortgages, the GOP presidential race, Sen. Larry Craig, the death penalty, Billy Graham, and select op-eds.

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Iran. US and Iran spar ahead of Iraq report “American and Iranian leaders are boosting their belligerent rhetoric, even as the UN’s nuclear watchdog reported that Iran’s nuclear program is moving slower than expected and below capacity.” Iran said to be sharing nuclear data “Iran continues to expand its ability to enrich uranium, but is operating far below capacity and cooperating more fully in clearing up questions about its efforts, a U.N. report said.” Report on Iran’s Nuclear Activity Exposes SplitA report showing a slow but steady expansion of Iran’s nuclear technology has exposed a new divide between United Nations arms inspectors and the United States and its allies over how to containTehran’s atomic program.”

Iraq. Pentagon Challenges GAO’s Report on Iraq “The Pentagon has disputed parts of a progress report on Iraq drafted by the Government Accountability Office, and asked that some of the assessment’s failing grades on key political and security benchmarks be changed before the final report is made public next week,” Bush’s war support rising? “The White House believes it has made significant progress in swaying public opinion for a continued U.S. military effort in Iraq, a key presidential adviser said.” Reid Opens Door to Pact With Antiwar Republicans “Saying the coming weeks will be “one of the last opportunities” to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.”

FBI & Coretta Scott King. FBI spied on King’s widow for 4 years after slaying “FBI agents secretly monitored Coretta Scott King’s activities and conversations for at least four years after her husband’s assassination in 1968, according to hundreds of pages of documents released this week.” FBI spied on Coretta Scott King, files show “In memos that show Coretta Scott King being closely followed by the government, the FBI speaks of concern that she might attempt “to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement.”

Subprime mortgages. Bush Will Offer Relief for Some on Home LoansPresident Bush, in his first response to families hit by the subprime mortgage crisis, plans to announce several steps to help Americans who have credit problems meet the rising cost of their housing loans,” Deceptive ads at bottom of sub-prime mortgage crisis “Most deceptive ads featured loans for borrowers with spotty credit. They were given home loans with very low interest rates for one to three years, then the 30-year loans would adjust annually to rates that many borrowers couldn’t afford.” US credit crisis likened to Great Depression “The US financial industry displayed fresh signs of distress from the credit crunch afflicting global money markets yesterday, with one mortgage provider describing lending conditions as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Q&A: Sub-prime lending “Providing loans and mortgages for people with poor credit histories, so-called sub-prime lending, has been big business in the US and UK over the past few years.”

Republican politics. Music to His Ears “… hip is precisely what Huckabee has become in the weeks since he placed second in the Iowa Straw Poll on Aug. 11. … Huckabee has been seen as the cuddly antidote to what has been an awfully tough-talking Republican field. He’s the affable, compassionate, good guy and rock-and-roll evangelical who plays guitar and wants to hang with the Rolling Stones.” Fred Thompson Confirms Bid for GOP Nomination “Actor and former senator Fred D. Thompson confirmed yesterday that he is running for president, ending a political flirtation he has been conducting since March and thrusting himself into the thick of the battle for the Republican nomination.”

Sen. Craig. Pressure builds on Craig to resign “Sen. Larry E. Craig was free-falling in Idaho opinion polls and getting excoriated on talk-radio shows as the state’s largest paper yesterday called for his resignation over a sex scandal.” Senators in GOP Senate leadership all but call for Craig to resign “Republican leaders stepped up pressure on Idaho Sen. Larry Craig as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called his conduct “unforgivable” and the chairman of the Senate Republican re-election committee suggested that Craig should resign.”

Darfur . France and UK make Darfur vow “Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have called for intense action to secure a ceasefire in Darfur.” In Nubia, fears of another Darfur “First, southern Sudan erupted in a 20-year civil war, followed by the east and, most recently, the western region of Darfur. Now many fear that Sudan’s northern territory of Nubia will be the next to explode over the fight for resources and all-too-familiar accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and complaints of marginalization by an Arab-dominated government.”

Death penalty. Perry commutes sentence of death row inmate “Gov. Rick Perry blocked the execution of death row inmate Kenneth Foster and reduced his sentence to life in prison Thursday after weeks of statewide protest and controversy over the law used to convict him.” Perry stops execution “Amid international protest of an impending execution of a Texas man who drove the getaway car after a 1996 murder, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday commuted the death sentence to life in prison and urged the Legislature to re-examine the state law that allowed the accomplice to be tried by the same judge and jury as the shooter.”

Billy Graham. Graham home after 2 weeks in hospital “After almost two weeks of treatment, Billy Graham left an Asheville hospital Thursday and returned to his home in Montreat, … The Charlotte-born evangelist was admitted to the hospital, 20 minutes from his home, in the early hours of Aug. 18 because of intestinal bleeding.”

Canada . Canada invited to join controversial nuclear club “Canada is poised to join an elite club of “advanced nuclear nations” that — led by U.S. President George W. Bush — plans to promote nuclear energy as a key solution to global warming and to control the international movement of enriched uranium and radioactive waste,”

India arms buildup. Building a Modern Arsenal in India” India is developing a military appetite to match its growing economic power. Over the next five years, military analysts expect the country to spend as much as $40 billion on weapons procurement alone, more than its entire annual armaments budget today.”

Editorial. Five children in one week (Haaretz) “Three Palestinian children were killed by Israeli fire in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The three were cousins from the al-Ghazale family – Yihiye, 12, Mahmoud, 10, and Sara, 10. The Israeli public reacted to these killings, just like it did to the killing of two other children several days earlier, with near complete apathy. It might as well be an act of god, or an acceptable price that balances out the frustration at the continued Qassam rocket attacks. This indifference is dangerous because it does not encourage greater care in identifying targets.”


We are pushing to save the Darfuris (Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, Times of London) “There has been important progress on Darfur in the past two months. In July we agreed on the deployment of a robust UN/African Union (AU) force and the start of peace talks. But the situation remains completely unacceptable. In the coming weeks and months, we commit as leaders to redouble our efforts to make further progress.”

Ignoring New Orleans’ poor — again (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) “Two years later, too little has changed in New Orleans. … As presidential candidates returned to the Big Easy for anniversary photo opportunities, they found plenty of visibly bad news to use as backdrops.”

In Other, Non-Dog News . . . (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “Consider the contrast between the extravagant coverage afforded Michael Vick for his guilty plea on a federal dogfighting charge and the scant attention given a new Census Bureau finding that the number of Americans without health insurance had risen by 2.2 million, to 47 million. The number of Americans under 18 without health insurance increased to 8.7 million.”

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