the latest news on Iraq, North Korea, election – Republicans, death penalty, immigration, Karl Rove, Darfur, Jose Padilla, spying, Iran, Venezuela, Newark shootings, Kenya, Chinese toys, and a special report on Jerusalem
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Iraq. U.S. commanders weigh partial pullback of troops “Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province. ” ‘Surge’ Has Led to More Detainees “U.S. military operations associated with the troop increase in Baghdad have boosted the number of detainees held in American facilities in Iraq to about 23,000, up 5,000 from four months ago.” Iraq’s minorities under threat “Caught in a triangle of religious, ethnic and criminal violence, communities which once made up as much as 14% of the country’s population get little state protection.” Violence casts doubt on ‘surge’ “Sectarian violence has continued and many believe the surge has simply led to extremists targeting other areas.”

North Korea. N Korea floods devastate farmland “Severe flooding in N Korea has ruined more than one-tenth of farmland and left 300,000 people homeless, officials say.” North Korean floods threaten food supplies “The normally secretive regime has released an unprecedented amount of information about the disaster, in what observers believe is a thinly disguised plea for aid.”

Election – Republicans. A Campaign Undeclared, Not Invisible “Mr. Thompson, a Republian, has been able to set up what looks like a stealth campaign on the Internet because federal election laws and enforcement have failed to catch up with the surge in campaigning in cyberspace. As a result, he has been able to promote his positions and raise money through his Web site, all while technically remaining a noncandidate. And that status enables him to remain on television on “Law and Order” reruns without NBC facing demands from other candidates for equal time. It exempts him from the more rigorous rules on reporting donors that declared candidates must adhere to.”

Death penalty. Gonzales to Get Power In Death Penalty Cases “Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, under political siege for his handling of the U.S. attorney firings and other issues, is to get expanded powers to hasten death penalty cases under regulations being developed by the Justice Department.”

Immigration. 3 Jailed Immigrants Die in a Month “Three detainees died within weeks of one another while in federal immigration custody, adding to a toll of more than 60 who perished in recent years and fueling complaints of medical maltreatment from civil rights advocates.”

Rove resignation. The Rove Legacy “As he packs his desk just 15 steps from the Oval Office, Karl Rove says he will not join any 2008 presidential campaign. That’s just as well because none of the Republican candidates presumably could afford the association even if they wanted his strategic smarts.” White House Memo: With Rove’s Departure, a New Era “Six years later, the departure of Karl Rove from Mr. Bush’s brain trust will bring an end to that outsider approach. With the exception of Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush’s inner circle is now populated entirely by the kinds of Washington pragmatists and insiders whom the incoming president had seemed to dismiss openly.” Karl who? White House downplays Rove’s role “As one of the most powerful and controversial presidential advisors in modern history heads out the door, the White House is engaged in an unusual game of double spin: While President Bush bear-hugged Rove and showered him with praise in a South Lawn ceremony, officials like Gillespie quietly began to whittle down Rove’s image as the man who played a key role in almost every major decision of the Bush era.”

Darfur. Symbolic Torch Relay Aims to Shine Light on China, Darfur and Death “A group of activists, actors and athletes is hoping to press China, as host of the 2008 Olympics, to use its influence to stop to the killing and displacement of civilians in Darfur.”

Jose Padilla. Padilla verdict may cast a long shadow “When jurors announce their verdict in the trial of Jose Padilla, they could be seen as either endorsing the government’s long detention of Padilla or questioning the controversial policy of keeping so-called ‘enemy combatants’ in military jails.”

Spying. Intelligence Agencies Urged to Hire Minorities “U.S. spy agencies need to recruit more racial and ethnic minorities, especially first-generation Americans whose language skills and cultural backgrounds could help fill critical gaps in knowledge and analysis, two top intelligence officials said.”

Iran. U.S. Weighing Terrorist Label for Iran Guards “If imposed, the declaration would signal a more confrontational turn in the administration’s approach to Iran and would be the first time that the United States has added the armed forces of any sovereign government to its list of terrorist organizations.” Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’ “The United States has decided to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and finances.” Iran Guards ‘join US terror list’ “The move was intended to increase the pressure on Iran amid growing concern in Washington that Tehran is funding and supporting insurgents in Iraq and the Taleban in Afghanistan, as well as groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the officials said.”

Venezuela. Chávez to Propose Removing His Term Limits “President Hugo President Hugo Chávez will unveil a project to change the Constitution on Wednesday that is expected to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, a move that would enhance his authority to accelerate a socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society.will unveil a project to change the Constitution on Wednesday that is expected to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, a move that would enhance his authority to accelerate a socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society.”

Newark shootings. In Newark Murder, a Mixed Band of Men and Boys “In the 10 days

since the shootings, with three people in custody and three others the subject of an intense search stretching down the East Coast to Virginia, a rough and disturbing portrait is taking shape of the mixed band of men and boys, of immigrant felons and local teenagers, who, whatever their real gang affiliations, certainly considered themselves a crew of their own.”

Kenya. Kenya’s media in gagged protest “Kenyan journalists have staged a silent protest through the streets of the capital against a media law that would compel them to disclose their sources.”

Chinese toys. Mattel Recalls 19 Million Toys Sent From China “Amid a wave of increasing safety concerns about products made in China, Tuesday’s recall threatened to set the toy industry on its heels.” Mattel Recalls More Chinese-Made Toys “This is Mattel’s second major recall this month and the third time since June that Chinese firms have been blamed for using lead-based paint, which is banned in the United States, on children’s toys. It spurred an immediate call from some in Congress to tighten controls on products imported from China, the source of 80 percent of the toys sold in the United States. About 65 percent of Mattel’s toys are from China.”

Jerusalem. (L.A. Times special report) A holy city still divided “In daily life, Jews and Arabs inhabit side-by-side worlds. Palestinians feel hemmed in by Israeli rule over their East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Jews in West Jerusalem, though victimized by numerous suicide bombings, in quiet times maintain the rhythms of a normal existence: schools, shopping and trips to the park. Disparities in living conditions are glaring. The two sides also have separate professional associations and cultural institutions, and contrasting visions of the future.” Change cast in concrete “The serpentine 90-mile section that roughly tracks Jerusalem’s boundaries on three sides is part of a series of fences, concrete walls and patrol roads being built along the length of Israel’s border with the West Bank, and sometimes deep into the Palestinian territory. The Jerusalem section, about two-thirds complete, is expected to be finished by early next year, Israeli officials say.” Clashing values alter a city’s face “Forty years ago, when Israel captured East Jerusalem and absorbed the Arab neighborhoods, it set out to maintain a large and sustainable Jewish majority in the city it was declaring its eternal and undivided capital. Instead, Jerusalem is gradually becoming more Palestinian and less Jewish.”
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