The latest news on Hurricane Felix, the Republican presidential race, Iraq, US-Australia relations, the Asian-Pacific summit, German terror plot, nuclear weapons, immigration, Myanmar, Israel, Darfur, Sen. Larry Craig, religion and politics, and select op-eds.
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Hurricane Felix. Felix death toll climbs to 38 “More than 200 people missing in Central America, with flash floods and landslides feared still to come.” Death toll, floods rise in Felix’s wake “Night descended hard and unforgiving here. It was another night without clean water and without much hope in the pitch-black wreckage of what was left of this coastal fishing town of 30,000 people.”

Iraq security forces. Iraqi Army Unable To Take Over Within A Year, Report Says “Iraq’s army, despite measurable progress, will be unable to take over internal security from U.S. forces in the next 12 to 18 months and ‘cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven,’ according to a report on the Iraqi security forces published today.” Panel Sees More Than a Year Before Iraq Can Handle Security “A report by an independent commission says that it will be at least 12 to 18 months before Iraq’s army and police can take charge of the country’s security.” Experts Doubt Drop In Violence in Iraq “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.”

Iraq-Congress. Dems already dismissing Iraq war report “Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’ credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can’t be trusted.” Moderates seek to end Iraq impasse “Frustrated with the fierce partisanship of the war debate, moderate lawmakers on Capitol Hill are intensifying their drive to craft compromise measures to break the congressional impasse over U.S. policy in Iraq.” Democrats Newly Willing to Compromise on IraqSenate Democrats are hoping to force at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.”

US-Australia. Rudd repeats Iraq stance after Bush meeting “Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has reiterated Labor’s position on Iraq, saying Australian troops are needed closer to home. Mr Rudd today met US President George W Bush, and while he would not reveal the details of their conversation, it is understood he made it clear that Labor would negotiate a staged withdrawal from Iraq if elected to government.” Australia’s Howard hurt by ties to Bush “Australian Prime Minister John Howard has tied his political future to President Bush’s unpopular war in Iraq, and he is on the verge of being ousted by a feisty war opponent. Nationwide polls show the prime minister, in office for 11 years, lags 18 points behind Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd,”

Asian-Pacific summit. APEC rift opens over climate change debate “Leaders at an Asia-Pacific summit appeared deadlocked on Thursday over what their “Sydney Declaration” on climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions should say.” Australian, Bush Vow Action on Warming “One of the first agreements to emerge Wednesday from meetings between President Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard was a pledge to take joint action to combat climate change.”

Republican presidential race. Thompson announces bid for GOP presidential nomination “Nearly five years after leaving the Senate, the 65-year-old movie actor and “Law and Order” star from Tennessee is now a candidate in the crowded race for the Republican nomination for president.” Candidate who is not there upstages GOP debate “Fred Thompson launched his presidential bid Wednesday night on a TV talk show in Burbank as eight candidates for the Republican presidential nomination parsed their differences over immigration, Iraq and other issues — while slinging a few barbs at their newest rival.” GOP candidates slam Thompson’s decision to skip debate “Republican presidential candidates elbowed one another for advantage Wednesday in a debate kicking off a fall sprint to the primaries – and slammed new rival Fred Thompson for skipping it.” Top Republicans back Bush Iraq strategy in debate “The top Republican White House hopefuls pledged support for President George W. Bush’s strategy in Iraq and battled war critic Ron Paul on Wednesday at a debate upstaged by the candidate who did not attend — newly minted contender Fred Thompson.”

German terror plot. Germany Says It Foiled Bomb Plot “German authorities said Wednesday that they had disrupted a “massive” bombing plot targeting American interests in Germany,” Foiled bomb plots in Germany, Denmark may be linked to al Qaida “A potentially “massive” terrorist attack against U.S. installations in Germany – linked to al Qaida – was doomed to fail from the day that anti-terrorism police broke into a rented garage in Germany’s picturesque Black Forest and found barrels of bomb-making chemicals, police said Wednesday.”

Nuclear weapons over America. Nuclear bombs mistakenly flown over U.S. “A B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states last week, prompting an Air Force investigation and the firing of one commander,” In Error, B-52 Flew Over U.S. With Nuclear-Armed Missiles “An Air Force B-52 bomber flew across the central United States last week with six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads that were mistakenly attached to the airplane’s wing,”

Immigration. Chertoff warns meddling ‘sanctuary cities’ “Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a House panel that his agency will not tolerate interference by so-called “sanctuary cities” when it comes to hiring illegal aliens.” Customs raids spur training on rights “In living rooms, laundromats, and community centers across Massachusetts, immigrant-rights groups are running an underground campaign to teach illegal immigrants to protect themselves from federal agents.”

Myanmar . First Lady Makes Issue of Myanmar’s Junta “In a gesture of public policy not normally associated with first ladies, she telephoned the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Friday and called on him to denounce the junta that rules Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.”

Israel . Report on war rips Israelis “Public debate here in the year since the war has focused on faulty decision-making, questionable tactics and logistical shortcomings that critics say led to the deaths of 119 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians in the conflict. There has been little discussion of the huge cost in Lebanese civilian lives and whether Israeli forces violated the laws of war in their attacks — a charge made in a new report by Human Rights Watch.”

Darfur . U.N. Chief, Sudanese Leader Set Talks“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said that new peace talks to end the four-year conflict in Darfur will start Oct. 27 in Libya.” Fresh Darfur peace talks agreed “Sudan and Darfur rebels will hold peace talks on 27 October, but a key rebel leader refuses to attend.” U.N. Chief Sees Protests and Refugees in Sudan “Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, ran into protests and delays as he sought to visit residents of camps for people driven from their homes by the violence in Darfur.”

Craig. Craig’s About-Face Worries GOP Colleagues “Sen. Larry E. Craig yesterday launched a campaign to save his political career, dismaying fellow Republicans with his determination to stay in the Senate if he successfully overturns his guilty plea, made after he was arrested in a sex sting in an airport men’s room.”

Religion and politics. Polls Suggest Democrats Closing ‘God Gap’ “Recent surveys suggest Democrats may be closing the “God gap” credited with helping President Bush win re-election in 2004, according to a recent analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.”


How To Change Iraq (Madeleine K. Albright, Washington Post) “The threshold question in any war is: What are we fighting for? Our troops, especially, deserve a convincing answer.”

How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army (L. Paul Bremer III, New York Times) “IT has become conventional wisdom that the decision to disband Saddam Hussein’s army was a mistake, was contrary to American prewar planning and was a decision I made on my own. In fact the policy was carefully considered by top civilian and military members of the American government. And it was the right decision.”

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