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Presidential primaries. South Carolina tips first domino on primaries “New Hampshire and Iowa officials faced new pressure yesterday to bring forward their presidential selection contests even earlier — perhaps before the winter holidays — after South Carolina Republicans announced they will move their primary to Jan. 19.”

Immigration. U.S. Seeks to Curb Illegal Immigration “The Bush administration is planning new efforts to curb illegal immigration by raising fines and speeding up deployment of border agents after failing to push through legislation earlier this year.” Bush to propose tighter migrant work rules “The 25 measures — some new and some of which expand upon current policies — come in addition to the expected announcement today of a plan to crack down on illegal immigrants by forcing employers to fire workers with discrepancies in their Social Security information.” Bush Plans Immigration CrackdownThe effort stems, in part, from White House frustration with the failure of Congress to approve President Bush’s proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws and grant legal status to most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.”

Budget & Economy. Bush Rejects Gas Tax To Fund Bridge Repair, Decries Hill Spending “President Bush rejected a gasoline tax increase to repair thousands of structurally deficient bridges such as the one that collapsed in Minneapolis, pointing the finger instead at Congress for what he called misguided spending” President insists economy is strong “Facing an economy beset by volatile stocks, troubled mortgages, a struggling housing market and questions about the stability of the nation’s infrastructure, President Bush sought Thursday to reassure Americans that the economy is strong and that his policies will ensure it stays that way.”

Iraq. U.S. Seeks U.N. Help With Talks On Iraq “The Bush administration is proposing a series of U.N.-brokered talks in Baghdad between the United States and Iraq’s neighbors in an effort to rally support for the beleaguered Iraqi government.” Jordan Yields Poverty and Pain for the Well-Off Fleeing IraqThe war has scattered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis throughout the Middle East, but those who came here tended to be the most affluent. Most lacked residency status and were not allowed to work, but as former bank managers, social club directors and business owners, they thought their money would last. It has not.” Lost In Iraq: The Illusion Of An American Strategy “As a policy it is hard to see how any surge can fix an Iraq so traumatised by tyranny and war and then broken by invasion and occupation. It takes place as an already indecipherable ethnic and sectarian patchwork is being pulled bloodily to pieces. Iraq has reached advanced societal breakdown. Ethnic cleansing proceeds regionally, through neighbourhoods, even street by street.”

Iran. Cheney urging strikes on Iran “Behind the scenes the president’s top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran’s support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Bush warns al-Maliki on Iran “The US president has rebuked Iraq’s prime minister for speaking too favourably about Iran. “If the signal [from Nuri al-Maliki] is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend, the prime minister. Because I don’t believe they are constructive,” Maliki, Bush may differ on Iran’s role “Appearing at a White House news conference, Bush denounced Tehran for what he said was its support of terrorist groups, and for its nuclear program and threats to Israel. The president, who says that Iran provides explosives used against U.S. troops in Iraq, warned that Tehran would face unspecified “consequences” if such activity continued.”

Pakistan. Facing a Furor, Pakistan Rejects Emergency RulePakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was on the brink of declaring a state of emergency in his increasingly volatile country but backed away after a gathering storm of media, political and diplomatic pressure,” Musharraf denies emergency “The U-turn highlights the apparent disarray in the Musharraf camp as a tangled confrontation between the government, opposition and judiciary … moves towards a climax.”

South Africa. A President in denial, a ravaged nation denied hope “Thabo Mbeki’s stance on Aids has left South Africa with the world’s worst HIV epidemic. Yesterday, he silenced the woman fighting to end the suffering of millions … The fight against Aids in South Africa, the epicentre of the global pandemic, has been dealt a devastating blow. President Thabo Mbeki stunned and outraged campaigners yesterday by sacking the country’s deputy health minister, the woman credited with ending a decade of Aids denialism at the heart of the South African political leadership.”

Russia. Russia revives global bomber patrols “Russia’s strategic bombers have resumed Cold War-style long-haul missions to areas patrolled by NATO and the United States, top generals said yesterday.”

Darfur. Heavy fighting reported in Darfur “Fighting over a strategic town in southern Darfur has killed many rebels and government forces in the last week, and the Sudanese air force has bombed several villages, said rebels and international observers.”


Why the Democrats Caved (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “Shortly before noon last Saturday, about 20 House Democrats huddled in Speaker Nancy Pelosi ‘s office to decide what to do about a surveillance bill that had been dumped on them by the Senate before it left town.”

A Date Certain on Darfur (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “After four years of brutal raids, ethnic cleansing and systematic rape in Darfur, Sudan — and nearly three years after the Bush administration declared this a genocide — the U.N. Security Council has finally approved a credible peacekeeping force.”

Stealing healthcare from babies (Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times) “Does president Bush really believe what he’s saying about the effort from congressional Democrats and some leading Senate Republicans to provide health coverage for millions of uninsured children? He’s portraying it as the first step on a slippery slope toward “government-run healthcare,” as if senior senators in both parties were conspiring with Michael Moore to import Cuban doctors to inoculate and indoctrinate American children.”

Competence over ideology (Cal Thomas. Washington Times) “I care about social issues and the eroding morality of the country but I care more about competent government. We spend more on government than ever and get less for our money. A government that can’t keep track of nearly 200,000 weapons during a war does not inspire confidence. Let’s have a little less ideology from the presidential candidates of both parties and a lot more talk of how to repair broken government.”

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