the latest news on the Katrina anniversary, child poverty, Iraq, immigration, Iran, Sudan-Darfur, Senator Craig, the death penalty, and select opinion articles

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Katrina anniversary. ‘We’re still paying attention,’ Bush tells New Orleanians “Against a backdrop of criticism over the slow pace of the federal rebuilding effort two years after Hurricane Katrina struck, President Bush marked the storm’s anniversary Wednesday with an optimistic message.” Bush Says Gulf Coast Isn’t Forgotten “But the president appeared on the defensive as he was forced to contend with cynicism in the region about his administration and with a barrage of criticism from Democrats that the administration had not done enough to help speed the area’s recovery from the storm’s destruction.” Commemorations for a City 2 Years After StormThis city remembered Hurricane Katrina’s second anniversary Wednesday with sadness, hurt and flashes of anger over a recovery that has returned it to only a portion of its former self.” New Orleans making strides, but a full recovery is a long ways off “a look at some of the key indicators in the city’s rebuilding effort:”

Iraq-policy. Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals “Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report.” Pentagon won’t make surge recommendation to Bush “In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said that it won’t make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month’s strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations.” White House Is Gaining Confidence It Can Win Fight in Congress Over Iraq Policy “The White House is growing more confident that it can beat back efforts by Congressional Democrats to shift course in Iraq, a significant turnabout from two months ago, when a string of Republican defections had administration officials worried that President Bush’s troop buildup was in serious danger on Capitol Hill.”

Iraq-US military. Analysts say Iraq surge can’t last past Aug. ’08 “The Pentagon cannot sustain its current force levels in Iraq beyond next summer, effectively giving the Bush administration and the Iraqi government until the middle of 2008 to capitalize on recent security improvements before the US military must draw down its forces,” Durbin: Petraeus to warn of low troop morale “Following a dinner they shared in Baghdad, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Wednesday that he expects Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, to report to President Bush and Congress next month that American troops are exhausted by the war effort there.”

Iraq- Shia truce. Mahdi army calls truce after fighting kills 50 “The Iraqi militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, called a six-month truce yesterday after fighting with a rival Shia Muslim group in the holy city of Kerbala left more than 50 dead.” Cleric suspends his Mahdi Army militia after day of mayhem “The announcement … seemed to be a startling admission that the militia, which twice fought brutal uprisings against U.S. troops and has been blamed for thousands of death-squad killings, was no longer under Sadr’s control.” US welcomes Mahdi army freeze “The US military has welcomed an order given by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shia leader, to freeze his Mahdi army militia’s activities following deadly clashes in southern Iraq.”

Immigration. Planned Crackdown on Immigrants Denounced “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO this week separately assailed a new White House-backed crackdown on illegal immigration, warning of massive disruptions to the economy and headaches for U.S. citizens if the proposal goes ahead as planned in the coming days.” Va. Republican Bill Would Bar Illegal Immigrants From College “Virginia Republicans announced legislation Wednesday that would prohibit public colleges and universities from accepting illegal immigrants even if they attended a public high school and were brought to the United States at an early age by their parents.”

Iran . IAEA: Iranian Cooperation Significant “The U.N. nuclear agency said Thursday that Iran was producing less nuclear fuel than expected and praised Tehran for “a significant step forward” in explaining past atomic actions that have raised suspicions.”

Sudan-Darfur. Canada expels Sudanese diplomat “Canada furthered its hard line in a diplomatic squabble with Sudan yesterday and announced it is expelling a diplomat from that country’s embassy in Ottawa. The move is in direct retaliation to the recent “unwarranted” expulsion of Canada’s top diplomat from the African country.” UN warns of ‘arms’ in Darfur camps “The UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, has described the refugee camps in Darfur as militarised. Mr Holmes told the BBC that some of the 1.2 million refugees are impatient, politicised, and armed.” Darfur rebels say bombing drives thousands from homes “Darfur rebels accused the government of bombing South Darfur on Thursday, the latest attack in an aerial campaign that has driven thousands of people from their homes over the past month.”

Sen. Craig. GOP calls grow for Craig to resign U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s hold on his job grew increasingly tenuous Wednesday as he lost the confidence of fellow Republicans, from President Bush to his colleagues in the Senate. The three-term Idaho senator saw his clout and political support diminish by the hour.” Craig gives up four Senate committee seats; calls out for his resignation Sen. Larry Craig has agreed to temporarily give up his seats on four Senate Committees at the request of Senate Republican leadership, while his political support eroded significantly today when three fellow Republicans in Congress called for his resignation.” For Idaho Paper And Reporter, Craig Story Posed a Moral Dilemma “The kind of dilemma facing the Statesman has played out repeatedly in recent years as news organizations have grappled with secondhand accounts about political figures and questionable sexual conduct.”

Death penalty. Judge takes on death row gridlock “Federal appeals jurist urges reforms, saying heavy backlog and a dysfunctional system make capital punishment an illusion. The death penalty system in California is so backed up that the state would have to execute five prisoners a month for the next 10 years just to clear the prisoners already on death row.”

Child poverty. Poor diet factor in child deaths “Malnutrition is a major contributor in more than 6 million childhood deaths worldwide each year, but numerous low-cost methods can help reduce its impact, a global research group says.”


Four views on Islam and the state (Christian Science Monitor) “Can Islam support a secular, democratic government?”

Comment: Values flushed away (Sheldon Alberts, National Post-Canada) “The cumulative impact of the scandals bodes ill for Republican hopes of motivating the party’s base – particularly religious conservatives who place a premium on ethical behaviour – ahead of the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.”

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