the latest news on Israel-Palestine, Presidential primaries, Supreme Court-voter ID, Iraq, Iran, Kenya, Darfur, Congo, Poverty-Ohio, Church-state, and selected Op-Eds.
Israel-Palestine. Bush: Outposts must be evacuated "United States President George W. Bush will meet today with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and tell him that the choice before him "is of a state or chaos." Bush's message for Israel stressed the need to remove illegal West Bank outposts." Bush backs 'contiguous Palestine' "On a landmark visit to the West Bank, George Bush, the US president, has said that any future Palestinian state must be a continuous territory without checkpoints." Bush calls for Israel to end West Bank rule "After making the first visit by a sitting U.S. leader to the de facto Palestinian White House, President Bush called on Israel on Thursday to "end . . . the occupation" and clear the way for creating an independent Palestinian state." Bush urges Israeli occupation end "He also urged a solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees that would involve paying them compensation." Bush urges Palestinian homeland "Speaking after a meeting with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Bush said: "There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. An agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people."
Presidential primaries. Clinton, Obama sharpen their rhetoric "On the way to her win in New Hampshire, Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband criticized Barack Obama for spouting "poetry" and "fairy tales." The day after, Obama said he was ready to use sharp words to counter attacks." McCain, Romney bank on Mich."With their rivals focused on other states and the race for the Republican nomination still unsettled, John McCain and Mitt Romney battled each other in Michigan," Pace Quickens in Wide-Open Races "Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain each left New Hampshire elated over their victories in Tuesday's primaries, but neither could look ahead with confidence at a compressed calendar that will culminate in the biggest primary day in history on Feb. 5." Michigan Next, G.O.P. Rivals Turn to the Economy"John McCain and Mitt Romney headed toward another showdown, while Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama readied for a nationwide battle." NY Mayor Bloomberg Weighs 2008 Run "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has quietly been polling and conducting a highly sophisticated voter analysis in all 50 states as he decides whether to launch an independent presidential bid, associates said Wednesday." 'Moral values' remain murky "A large majority of those who say moral values are very important in their voting choices are thinking about the characters of the candidates, not their positions on controversial issues," said a Harris poll released yesterday."
Supreme Court- voter ID. Justices May Iron Out Compromise On Voter ID "The Supreme Court appeared unmoved by arguments that an Indiana law requiring voters to present photo identification imposes an unconstitutional burden." Justices Indicate They May Uphold Voter ID Rules "There are many ways to lose a Supreme Court case, and by the end of an argument that was before the court on Wednesday, the Democrats who were challenging Indiana's voter-identification law appeared poised to lose theirs in a potentially sweeping way, with implications for many future election cases."
Iraq. 9 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Sunni Strongholds "In one of the deadliest stretches for American troops in months, militants killed nine soldiers in the volatile Sunni Arab heartlands north of Baghdad as the military began its third offensive in a year to dislodge Sunni guerrillas from sanctuaries deep within the lush farmlands and palm groves of Diyala Province." US launches massive Iraq air raid "US bombers and fighter jets have dropped 40,000lb (18,144kg) of bombs on suspected al-Qaeda targets on the edge of Baghdad in a 10-minute air strike." Study Puts Iraqi Death Toll at 151,000 "About 151,000 Iraqis died from violence in the three years after the United States invaded, concludes the best effort yet to count deaths -- one that still may not settle the fierce debate over the war's true toll on civilians and others." W.H.O. Says Iraq Civilian Death Toll Higher Than Cited "The study is the latest in a long series of attempts to come up with realistic numbers of civilian deaths. The numbers are politically fraught, and researchers' work has been further complicated by problems in collecting data while working in a war zone." For U.S., The Goal Is Now 'Iraqi Solutions' "In the year since President Bush announced he was changing course in Iraq with a troop "surge" and a new strategy, U.S. military and diplomatic officials have begun their own quiet policy shift."
Iran. Iran Accuses U.S. of Faking Persian Gulf Video "Iran's Revolutionary Guard accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating a video showing Iranian speedboats confronting United States Navy warships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend," Top Iranian General Hit With Sanctions "The United States yesterday slapped sanctions on a top Iranian general and three exiled Iraqis based in Iran and Syria for fomenting violence in Iraq, as President Bush lashed out again at Tehran for last weekend's showdown between U.S. and Iranian naval vessels."
Kenya. Annan to mediate in Kenya election dispute "The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has agreed to mediate between political leaders in Kenya in a bid to end the violence after the African Union failed to broker a deal." Talks held to curb Kenya's unrest "As the head of the African Union met with Kenya's political rivals here Wednesday to try to get them talking, opposition supporters waited tensely on the streets for news and warned of more violence if President Mwai Kibaki stays in power." By any means, Kenyans fleeing "Jan 10, 2008 As unrest persists among rival tribes in the wake of deeply contested elections, Kenya's ethnic map is violently redrawn, forcing thousands of Kikuyu inhabitants to flee their homes. The Tribune's Paul Salopek reports from Eldoret, Kenya."
Darfur. U.N. official fears for Darfur force "The U.N. peacekeeping chief told the Security Council that a Sudanese attack this week on U.N.-led troops reinforces concerns that the force may be unable to protect itself or civilians in Darfur." U.N. Official Warns of Darfur Failure "The United Nations top peacekeeping official told the Security Council that obstructionism by the Sudanese government, the failure of other countries to supply needed transportation equipment, and continued violence threatened to doom the mission of the freshly deployed peacekeeping force in Darfur."
Congo. Fighting in Congo Rekindles Ethnic Hatreds "The recent clashes in eastern Congo between the army and the troops of the dissident general have exacted a grievous toll on a region ravaged by a decade of war. Around 400,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, thousands of women have been raped and hundreds of children have been press-ganged into militias,"
Poverty-Ohio. Poverty tightens its grip on Ohio "Appalachian Ohio continues its pattern of economic struggles, according to the Small-Area Income and Poverty Estimates recently released by the U.S. Census."
Church-state. Fed court backs decision on prison faith group "A federal appeals court said Wednesday it will not reconsider the ruling of a panel of judges that said the state cannot put money toward an evangelical Christian prison ministry program because it violates the Constitution's separation of church and state."
Getting It Wrong (ANDREW KOHUT, New York Times) "Gender and age patterns tend not to be as confounding to pollsters as race, which to my mind was a key reason the polls got New Hampshire so wrong."
Polling the New Hampshire Primaries: What Happened? (John Zogby, Huffington Post) "There was no shortage of polls going into the New Hampshire primary in 2008 and it looks like we all missed the mark on the Democratic side. This will require a lot of scrutiny in the coming days and weeks, but here are some initial thoughts on what has been happening:"