Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 1-29-2008

The latest news on State of the Union, Democratic response, Republican campaign, Democratic campaign, Economy, War funding, Latino evangelicals, Baptists, Health insurance, Immigrants, Iraq, Gaza, Kenya, Darfur, Russia, and selected Op-Eds.

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State of the Union. Bush Speech Focuses on War and Taxes"Facing an unstable economy and an unfinished war, President Bush used his final State of the Union address to call for quick passage of his tax rebate package, patience in Iraq and a modest concluding agenda." Bush lays out a modest agenda for his final year"President Bush used his final State of the Union address to launch what the White House called "a sprint to the finish," but his modest agenda made it clear that his dismal political standing and a wary Democratic Congress prohibit grand ambitions for his final year in office." Bush focuses on 'unfinished business' "The president asked Congress to show "that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time."President Bush's State of the Union address was a reflection of the state of his presidency at the beginning of its final year: a short-term scramble for a long-term legacy." Bush Touts Iraq Progress, Economic Plan "President Bush told the American people that his strategy to stabilize Iraq is achieving results "few of us could have imagined just one year ago," even as he sought to reassure the public that his new stimulus plan will stave off a recession that threatens to hobble the nation's economy." Speech signifies lame-duck status "In his final State of the Union speech, President Bush tried to get a tuned-out America to listen to him about war, peace and a troubled economy." Bush seems ready to be president he wanted to be "Americans last night saw both the George W. Bush they have come to know over seven years as president and a glimpse of another Bush that might have been - a moderate leader talking of compromise on measures to enhance energy conservation, fight climate change, and restore economic security."

Democratic response. Sebelius Conciliatory in Democrats' Response to Bush Address "Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, responding to President Bush's State of the Union address, told Americans last night that "time is running out" for solutions to the nation's problems and urged Republican lawmakers not to wait until Bush leaves office to help "restore America's role in the world." Congressional Democrats scale back ambitions "Echoing the limited agenda President Bush outlined in his State of the Union address, congressional Democrats are eyeing their second year in the majority with much-diminished expectations."

Republican campaign. GOP race in Florida is Romney vs. McCain "Whoever wins here will get a shot of momentum going into Tsunami Tuesday, the 21 primaries and caucuses around the country on Feb. 5, with 41 percent of the total GOP delegates in play." Florida front-runners trade jabs "The two leading Republican presidential hopefuls traded barbs in a final frenzied campaign dash across Florida on the eve of the state's primary election today." Acrimony Reigns in G.O.P. on Eve of Florida Vote "The Republican contest for Florida ended in acrimony as the two leading candidates traded attacks, aggressively courting voters across the Florida peninsula in a primary battle that could produce a clear front-runner for the party's presidential nomination." McCain, Romney trade shots in Florida "The overheated, remarkably close contest between John McCain and Mitt Romney in Florida's Republican presidential primary is closing with a cross-fire of automated phone calls, hard-hitting radio ads and accusations of unfairness."

Democratic campaign. Big Crowd For Obama In District "Sen. Barack Obama rode the winds of his South Carolina victory into the District yesterday, appearing before an overflow crowd of thousands at American University and picking up the coveted endorsement of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy." Kennedy backs Obama "At the site of one of John F. Kennedy's most famous speeches, Sen. Edward Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama as a worthy heir to the martyred president."

Economy. Senate to Offer Own Stimulus Package "The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday unveiled a rival plan to stimulate the economy, offering a $500 check to virtually every American -- including low-income seniors and rich financiers -- in a direct challenge to the bipartisan deal reached last week." Senate Democrats adding to stimulus "Senate Democrats will move to add to a $150 billion economic stimulus package rebates for senior citizens living off Social Security and an extension of unemployment benefits,"

War funding. Bush seeks $70 billion for wars into 2009 "The White House is seeking a further $70 billion from Congress to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the 2009 fiscal year, the Pentagon said yesterday, provoking another potential showdown with Capitol Hill Democrats over war funding."

Latino evangelicals. Latinos courted as wild card among shifting evangelical voters "When Republican presidential candidates John McCain or Mike Huckabee need advice on the nation's surging Latino evangelical vote, there is one man to call: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez."

Baptists. Shared ideals fire up Baptists "At a time when many Baptists feel they must qualify their affiliation because of the often controversial stands taken by the Southern Baptist Convention, a gathering of more moderate and liberal Baptists aims to recast that image and create a competing identity for Baptists."

Health insurance. Panel kills Schwarzenegger's health plan "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's audacious plan to arrange medical insurance for nearly all Californians -- one watched as a potential model for the nation -- was rejected by the state Senate, obliterating the chance of anything but piecemeal healthcare changes from the Legislature this year." California Senate Panel Rejects Health Coverage Proposal "In a blow to universal health care coverage in California and possibly to its prospects nationwide, a State Senate committee rejected a sweeping plan by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would have offered insurance to millions of uninsured residents."

Immigrants. As dollar falls, migrants feel pinch "Across the US, the falling dollar value has sent ripples through immigrant communities that send money to family overseas. As some currencies for developing countries have risen substantially against the dollar, many immigrant workers are increasing their workweek by up to 20 hours or taking second jobs." Church Harbors Woman Facing Deportation "A Mexican woman says she is "picking up the torch" from another illegal resident who became a symbol for immigration reform when she took shelter in a Chicago church for a year before being deported."

Iraq. Five U.S. Soldiers Are Killed When Convoy Is Hit in Mosul "An American military convoy came under a barrage of gunfire in the northern city of Mosul on Monday and then was hit by a roadside bomb that killed five U.S. soldiers." 5 G.I.'s Die in Ambush in Mosul "Sunni Arab guerrillas ambushed an American convoy in the northern city of Mosul with a roadside bomb, then sprayed survivors with machine-gun fire from perches in a nearby mosque, killing five American soldiers."

Gaza. Hamas Helps Egypt to Reclose Gaza Border "Hamas militants joined Egyptian forces for a second day Monday in trying to restore control at three breaches in the Gaza border, building a chain-link fence to seal off one opening and directing traffic at two others." Hamas, Egypt cooperate in resealing Gaza border; U.S. peace envoy arrives "Egyptian security forces and Hamas militants strung barbed wire across one of the breaches in the border yesterday, blocking Palestinian traffic between the Gaza Strip and Rafah." Abbas wins Egypt backing on border "Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has won support from Egypt and the EU for a plan that would see the Palestinian Authority, rather than Hamas, take control of the Rafah crossing. The move comes as Egyptian and Hamas security forces repair breaches to the border," Egypt Presses for Abbas to Control Border "Egypt said that it preferred that the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, take control of the breached border between Gaza and Egypt, seeming to exclude Hamas."

Kenya. MP's killing sparks Kenyan unrest "At least four people have died after mobs torched houses in a slum in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, after the killing of an opposition MP nearby." Helicopters assist Kenya refugees "The former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, urged Kenya's leaders to do "whatever possible" to stop the violence that threatens to engulf the country." How Kenya came undone "Just a few weeks ago, Kenya remained an oasis of stability surrounded by nations at war. The tourist-friendly country is East Africa's economic engine, a hub for global trade, and a base for international humanitarian work."

Darfur. EU Chad peacekeeping force launched "The European Union has launched a long-delayed peacekeeping mission to eastern Chad to protect civilians and aid workers caught up in the violence in Darfur." Darfur force 'may take all year' "The UN-African Union peacekeeping force proposed for Sudan's Darfur region will take most of 2008 to deploy fully, the UN's head of peacekeeping has said."

Russia. A Cold War redux is seen on the horizon "Growing friction between the United States and Russia over Iran is only part of an increasingly difficult relationship that many diplomats and experts consider to be in its worst shape since the end of the Cold War, and at risk of further deterioration."


The Faith to Outlast Politics (DAVID KUO and JOHN J. DIIULIO Jr. New York Times) "President Bush has promised much. It will be left to the next president to deliver on those promises. The good news is that every major presidential candidate seems open to doing just that."

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