the latest reports on Rove’s resignation, Brazil’s rainforests, hostages in Afghanistan, refugees, human rights, Republican election politics, Iraq, Darfur, Gaza, Iran, Israel-Palestine, and healthcare
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Rove Resigns. Rove to Leave White House “Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush’s two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, announced today that he will resign at the end of the month, and associates said he plans to leave politics behind, for now at least.” Karl Rove, Top Strategist, Is Leaving the White House “Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush … first discussed his departure last summer, Mr. Rove said, his voice breaking at times. Instead he stayed on, through the midterm elections last fall, which put Democrats in control of Congress and tempered Mr. Rove’s reputation as a political genius who had ushered in an enduring Republican majority.” ‘Proud’ Rove bids goodbye to Bush “He has continued to be dogged by controversy. Last month, the U.S. Senate issued a subpoena against him as part of an investigation into the sacking of eight federal prosecutors, but Mr. Bush ordered him not to testify, citing executive privilege. Mr. Rove was also investigated in connection with the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame, though prosecutors decided he should not face any charges.”

Environment. Brazil Amazon destruction slows “Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has welcomed new figures showing that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has decreased by 25%. The government says environmental policies, including measures against illegal logging, have had an effect. ” Brazilian ministers claim victory over illegal loggers “Environmental groups welcomed the figures, but warned that the fall in deforestation levels owed more to a drop in soya bean prices and a rise in the value of Brazil’s currency than to government action. Economic factors had made razing the forest to grow soya less profi table, activists claimed.”

Afghanistan. Taliban frees two Korean women “Two South Korean hostages kidnapped by the Taliban in mid-July have been released to the International Committee of the Red Cross in an emotional handover, Al Jazeera reports.” Taliban frees 2 South Korean hostages in Afghanistan “Taliban kidnappers freed two South Korean female hostages today, a move the fundamentalist militants described as a gesture of goodwill while they negotiate the fate of the 19 other Christian aid workers they still hold.” Taleban free two S Korea hostages “The women were brought to a meeting point pre-arranged with the Taleban and handed over to officials from the Afghan Red Crescent.”

Refugees. U.S. Anti-Terrorism Laws Hold Up Asylum Seekers “More than seven months after the Bush administration promised help to a group of foreign nationals whose applications for asylum or refugee status have been hindered by strict interpretation of anti-terrorism laws, only a handful of the applicants have had their cases resolved.”

Human rights. US terror interrogation went too far, experts say “Jose Padilla had no history of mental illness when President Bush ordered him detained in 2002 as a suspected Al Qaeda operative. But he does now. The Muslim convert was subjected to prison conditions and interrogation techniques that took him past the breaking point, mental health experts say.”

Election – Republicans. Romney faces fierce fight for the right “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has fought for months to unite social conservatives behind his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. But his weekend victory in an Iowa straw poll only underscored the fierce competition he still faces for conservatives who remain wary of the GOP’s top White House contenders.” For a Joke-Telling Candidate, a Second-Place Finish “If much of the country knows Mr. Huckabee at all, it is as the Southern Baptist minister and former governor from Arkansas who lost 110 pounds, wrote a book about it and toured the television talk show circuit promoting good eating habits.” Tommy Thompson Leaves Race After Poor Showing in Iowa Poll “Former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination last night, a day after finishing sixth in the straw poll in Ames, Iowa.”

Iraq. When a US soldier in Iraq won’t soldier “Every war has its deserters, troops who abandon their posts. And every war has its converts to pacifism. The Defense Department reports that 5,361 active-duty service members deserted the US Armed Forces last year; nearly 37,000 since October 2001. In today’s all-volunteer force, that means a desertion rate of less than half a percent – much lower than the Vietnam War draft era, when it reached a 1971 high of 7.4 percent. In the past six years, 325 Army soldiers have applied to be recognized as conscientious objectors (COs), soldiers who no longer believe in war; 58 percent were accepted.” U.N. votes to expand its role in Iraq “The Security Council agrees unanimously to help solve political, economic and humanitarian problems.”

Darfur. AU to provide all Darfur troops “Africa is in a position to provide all 26,000 troops for the UN’s peacekeeping operation in Darfur, the head of the African Union said today.” Africa’s Darfur bombshell “The chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, dropped something of a bombshell after holding talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Speaking to the media, he insisted that the 26,000-strong hybrid United Nations-African Union force would be drawn entirely from Africa, and that it would be under African command.” AU chief wants African Darfur force “Sunday’s comments from Alpha Oumar Konare appear to contradict earlier statements by the US envoy to Sudan. Andrew Natsios had said that Khartoum would have to accept the presence of non-Africans because the continent has insufficient trained soldiers to fully staff the peacekeeping contingent.”

Gaza. Hamas bans unregistered protests “Hamas has closed a pro-Fatah public television and radio station and a news agency, and controls all electronic media in Gaza, except for one radio station linked to the Islamic Jihad group.”

Iran. Iranian Official Says Inquiry Into U.S. Scholars Has Ended “But the official, Hassan Haddad, who is Tehran’s deputy prosecutor, did not disclose the conclusions of the investigation into the detainees, Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, and

Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planner with ties to the Open Society Institute, a pro-democracy policy planning organization financed by George Soros.” Ahmadinejad dismisses two key ministers “Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has sacked his oil and industry ministers in an apparent attempt to tighten his grip on power while deflecting blame for failed economic policies.”

Healthcare. US tumbles down world ratings list for life expectancy “A combination of expensive health insurance and an ever-increasing rate of obesity appear to be behind a startling fall by the US in the world rankings of life expectancy. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, America has dropped from 11th to 42nd place in 20 years, according to official US figures.”

Mideast. IDF backtracks on criminalization of illegal W. Bank construction “The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces have moderated an order issued roughly six months ago, which declared that unauthorized construction in the West Bank would be considered a criminal offense. The order would not have required a warning be issued against the construction, as is common practice inside Israel proper. The defense establishment revoked the decision after a request made by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a group of right-wing attorneys advocating for West Bank settlers. The organization threatened to petition the High Court of Justice against the decision.” MKs criticize Itzik for ignoring Holocaust survivors’ plight “In an unusual turn of events, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik came under fire Monday for her alleged unwillingness to hold a special session during the Knesset’s summer recess on Holocaust survivors.”
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