the latest reports on abortion, the economy, Gaza, the Democratic debate, immigration, Iran, nuclear weapons, Sudan, Pakistan, and selected op-eds
Abortion. Antiabortion cause stirs new generation "Thirty-five years after Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, opponents are pouring resources into building new generations of activists. Young people are responding with passion. Today's students and young adults have grown up in a time when abortion was widely accessible and acceptable, and a striking number are determined to end that era." Pro-lifers to brave the cold, long road "Thousands of people are expected to converge on the Mall today to mark the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion." As Abortion Rate Drops, Use of RU-486 Is on Rise "Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a pill that has largely faded from the rancorous public debate over abortion has slowly and quietly begun to transform the experience of ending a pregnancy in the United States."
Democratic debate. Voices Are Raised in Democratic Debate "The Democratic presidential front-runners clashed angrily in a debate Monday night, with Sen. Barack Obama accusing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband of repeatedly distorting his positions and Clinton asserting that Obama is trying to run away from his record." Debate gets fiercely personal "The debate was the most fiercely personal of the election season as the candidates showed the strains of a long and bitter campaign. At one point, Obama and Clinton raised their voices over each other to be heard." Clinton, Obama reach new level of rancor "Their debate truce obliterated in a blizzard of recriminations, Democratic candidates for president questioned one another's honesty and fitness for the White House in a televised confrontation notable for its nasty tone."
Economy. Fed cuts key rate after global markets dive "Hoping to reverse a global stock sell-off and prevent a Black Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Board early Tuesday morning cut its benchmark lending rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, to 3.5 percent, the largest such reduction in memory" Global Stocks Plunge as U.S. Crisis Spreads "Stock markets around the world plummeted yesterday as a financial crisis that began in the market for U.S. home mortgages spread to almost all corners of the globe." Candidates try to top one another with economic plans"Presidential candidates are engaging in a virtual bidding war these days over who can stimulate the weakening economy most effectively."
Immigration. Rising health care costs put focus on migrants "As the debate over the residency status of the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants boils, another battle is simmering over what - if any -benefits they deserve while they're here. Some of the most heated arguments on the issue focus on health care. So far, immigrants are losing:" ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, NO INSURANCE "So far, no candidate - Democrat or Republican - has proposed a plan that would cover illegal immigrants."
Gaza . Gazans Fear Crisis After Four Days of Blockade "Four days into an Israeli blockade that has cut off food and fuel to the Gaza Strip, residents of the strip contemplated how long it would be until disaster hit. One family of 13, shivering in the cold, counted its eight remaining candles." Israel Allows Some Supplies Into Gaza "As aid officials warned that Gaza, gripped by fuel and electricity shortages, was two or three days from a health and food crisis, international alarm mounted and criticism of Israel intensified." Gaza blockade sparks protests "Guns were fired today at the Gaza-Egypt border during protests against Israel's blockade of the coastal strip." Angry Gazans storm Rafah crossing "Dozens of Palestinian protesters have stormed the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, demanding that the frontier be opened to ease the blockade imposed on the territory by Israel."
Iran . Budgetary spat in Iran "Iranwatchers sought to make sense of a spat between the conservative speaker of parliament and the country's hard-line president over a budgetary issue that found supreme leader Ali Khamenei issuing a rare but opaque opinion." Iran Leader Backs Parliament in a Dispute With Ahmadinejad "The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, intervened after Mr. Ahmadinejad had refused to carry out a measure that required his government to supply gas to remote villages during this year's exceptionally cold winter." Western Powers Pledge Resolve on Iran "Six world powers may not agree to new measures against Iran's nuclear program after a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday, but the talks themselves show Tehran that the group still wants it to halt uranium enrichment,"
Nuclear weapons. Nuclear strike an option, Nato told "The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists."
Sudan. Sudan's president appoints Janjaweed leader as adviser "A tribal sheikh described as "the poster child for Janjaweed atrocities in Darfur" has been given a senior government position by the Sudanese authorities. Musa Hilal, who is accused of leading militias on a state-sponsored campaign to cleanse parts of Darfur of non-Arab farmers, will act as special adviser to the minister of federal government." Sudan promotes militia leader "Musa Hilal is under a Security Council travel ban for his alleged role in the two-year targeted attacks on civilians in Darfur, and his assets have been ordered frozen. Hilal was also named by the State Department as one of six militia leaders alleged to be responsible for serious crimes in the conflict-riddled region."
Pakistan . Musharraf Trip Shadowed by Troubles at Home "President Pervez Musharraf is touring European capitals and plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a bid to show that he remains in charge of his troubled country, where his popular support has never been at such a low ebb." Pakistan military retreats from Musharraf's influence "As President Pervez Musharraf grows more unpopular in Pakistan, his newly named successor as army chief is seeking to distance the institution from the Musharraf regime and pull back its virtual occupation of the top senior ranks of civilian ministries and state corporations."
Political Orphans In 2008 (Liz McCloskey and Peter Leibold, Washington Post) "During many elections we find ourselves facing the same dilemma: Which of our values must take a back seat when we go to the voting booth? Do we let our moral concern for peaceful resolutions of conflict, the environment, addressing poverty and aggressive enforcement of civil rights guide our choices? Or do we stand firm on another important issue of conscience and signal our hope for an end to abortion? Often, both choices leave a bad taste in our mouths."
The Voters Revolt(By David Brooks, New York Times) "Yet a funny thing has happened this primary season. Conservative voters have not followed their conservative leaders. Conservative voters are much more diverse than the image you'd get from conservative officialdom."
Crunch Time for McCain (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) "John McCain is feared by Democrats and liked by independents. That, paradoxically, is why he may yet be rejected by Republicans, even though he has bent over backward to satisfy conservative demands."
Why Christians should seek MLK's dream (Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today) "Apart from notable success stories such as these, you'll find overwhelming evidence that we have a long way to go to carry out the agenda, and honor the legacy, of the civil rights prophet we remember today and of those who stood with him in the struggle for racial justice. Let Christians - the followers of the faith that fueled the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and helped change a nation's heart - lead the way."