Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 2-13-2008

The latest news on Primaries, Surveillance, Mortgage crisis, Writers strike, Rev. Wright retires, Australia, Iran, Waterboarding, Iraq, Nuclear weapons, Canada-Afghanistan, Darfur, Kenya, Hezbollah leader killed, and Irrigation.

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Primaries. Obama on primary roll "It's time to remove the asterisk from the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race. And it is perhaps time to place one on the candidacy of the presumed Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain." Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries "Barack Obama extended his winning streak over Hillary Rodham Clinton, while John McCain succeeded in countering recent victories by Mike Huckabee." Winning Streak Extends To District, Md. and Va. "Sen. Barack Obama swamped Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Maryland, Virginia and the District, extending his post-Super Tuesday winning streak and forcing Clinton onto the defensive as the Democratic presidential race moves toward a showdown in Ohio and Texas." In Va., Huckabee Again Shows Strength on Right "Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) swept Republican primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District, defeating former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and adding to his vast delegate lead in the race to become his party's presidential nominee."

Surveillance. Senate Authorizes Broad Expansion Of Surveillance Act "The Senate yesterday approved a sweeping measure that would expand the government's clandestine surveillance powers," Senate Votes for Expansion of Spy Powers"After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory by voting to broaden the government's spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush's program of eavesdropping without warrants."

Mortgage crisis. Shadow victims of the mortgage crisis: renters "The Bush administration's announcement that it would put the foreclosure process on hold for 30 days to rescue struggling homeowners came several weeks too late for Mike Salgado." Detroit 'has most repossessions' "many renters who have found themselves homeless after their cash-strapped landlords stopped making mortgage payments and their houses or apartment buildings were foreclosed upon."

Writers strike. Hollywood writers strike ends "Hollywood's costly 100-day walkout came to a widely welcomed end Tuesday after members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to go back to work."

Rev. Wright retires. Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., preaches last sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ "In a stirring sermon that weaved the hopefulness of past African generations with dreams for the future, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. preached his final sermon Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ, leaving a 36-year legacy as pastor and activist in the black community."

Australia. Australia Offers an Apology to Aborigines "Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opened a new chapter in Australia's tortured relations with its indigenous peoples with a comprehensive and moving apology for past wrongs." Kevin Rudd says sorry Australia has formally apologised to the stolen generations with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reading a speech in Federal Parliament this morning." Building a nation together "THE Federal Government and Opposition have agreed to form a "war cabinet" for indigenous policy, a recognition that yesterday's apology was just the first step in addressing the social disadvantage plaguing Aboriginal Australia."

Iran. Warmth for Americans in Once Hostile Tehran "Generally speaking, Iranians like Americans - not just American products, which remain very popular, but Americans. That is not entirely new: Iranians on an individual level have long expressed a desire to restore relations between the countries. But the sentiment seems much more out in the open now."

Waterboarding. White House Pushes Waterboarding Rationale "After years of refusing public comment on a particularly harsh CIA interrogation method, top Bush administration officials have suddenly begun pressing a controversial argument that it was legal."

Iraq . With Gates's shift on drawdowns, little reprieve ahead for U.S. Army in Iraq "Defense Secretary Robert Gates's decision this week to hold off on removing more troops from Iraq after this summer means the Army probably won't get the reprieve many in the service had hoped for." Is violence on the rise again in Iraq? "Violence is increasing in Iraq, raising questions about whether the security improvements credited to the increase in U.S. troops may be short-lived."

Nuclear weapons. Panel Cites Drop in U.S. Attention to Nuclear Arsenal "The Defense Department is displaying a "precipitous decrease in attention" to the security and control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal," Air Force's nuclear focus has dimmed, studies find "The U.S. military has lost focus on its nuclear-weapons mission and has suffered a sharp decline in nuclear expertise, factors that may have contributed to a mishap last year in which a B-52 bomber unknowingly carried six nuclear warheads across the country,"

Canada-Afghanistan . Extension of Afghan Mission Likely "Canada's minority Conservative government said it is closer to securing an agreement to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan to 2011." Election fever symptoms ease only slightly "The Conservatives and Liberals moved Tuesday toward a compromise on Afghanistan that would give troops a changed mandate after 2009 and allow them to stay in Kandahar until 2011, but the drumbeats for a spring election were not silenced."

Darfur. Spielberg Drops Out as Adviser to Beijing Olympics in Dispute Over Darfur Conflict "After trying unsuccessfully to prod China to do more to try to end Sudan's attacks in the Darfur region, Steven Spielberg said he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics." Spielberg in Darfur snub to China "In a statement, he accused China of not doing enough to pressure Sudan to end the "continuing human suffering" in the troubled western Darfur region."

Kenya. Kenya rivals in power-sharing talks "Kenya's opposition wants to share power for two years with the president's party before holding new elections," Annan says Kenya rivals edging closer to deal "Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that Kenya would have a solution to its post-election crisis later this week as the country's dueling political parties retired to an undisclosed location for what are expected to be final talks."

Hezbollah leader killed.Mastermind of 1983 Beirut bombings killed in Damascus "The suspected mastermind behind a quarter century of spectacular terrorist attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, has been killed, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah accused Israel on Wednesday of staging the assassination." Bomb kills Syria Hizbullah chief "Imad Mughniyeh, the military commander of Hizbullah and the alleged mastermind of the US embassy and marine barrack bombings in Lebanon in the 1980s, has been killed in Syria," Hezbollah mourns senior leader "The Lebanese Shia group in a statement on Wednesday accused Israel of killing Imad Moghaniyah, who had been accused by the US of planning attacks on Western targets during the Lebanese civil war."

Irrigation. American pumps up Third World farmers' income "If there's a limit to what one person can do about Third World poverty, Paul Polak hasn't found it. For 25 years, he's been the Johnny Appleseed of the treadle pump, a simple foot-powered irrigation device that's enabled millions of farmers making $1 a day in places such as Bangladesh and Zambia to produce bigger crops and earn more."

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