Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 12-12-2007

the latest news on Iraq, Climate change, Immigration, Afghanistan, Iran, Senate, Churches & security, Pakistan, Drug use, Sentencing, Code Pink vs. Democrats, Christmas, and Selected Op-Eds.

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Iraq. U.S. military says Iraq is the priority "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged that the U.S. military's primary focus remained the war in Iraq, not Afghanistan, prompting criticism from Democratic lawmakers who want the Pentagon to devote more attention and resources to the Afghan conflict." Mullen: Afghanistan Isn't Top Priority "The U.S. military's top officer acknowledged that for all the importance of preventing Afghanistan from again harboring al-Qaida terrorists, Washington's first priority is Iraq." Iraq's Sadr Uses Lull To Rebuild Army "What is in the making, they say, is a better-trained and leaner force free of rogue elements accused of atrocities and crimes during the height of the sectarian war last year."

Climate change. Ominous Arctic Melt Worries Experts "An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years." Hard Choices on Climate Can Wait for Next President, Aides Indicate "U.S. officials at U.N. climate negotiations here said Tuesday that they would not embrace any overall binding goals for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions before President Bush leaves office,"

Immigration. Immigration Moves to Front and Center of G.O.P. Race "The latest New York Times/CBS News poll found that 8 percent of Republican primary voters named immigration or illegal immigrants as the most important problem facing the country - just behind the war, and tied with the economy." GOP rivals veer right on immigration "Top hopefuls don't want to be seen as coddling illegals. Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney all toughen their stances." 'Sanctuary cities' draw fire, no light "At a recent GOP presidential debate, "sanctuary city" surfaced as one of the most charged and confusing terms in the political lexicon. Some municipalities proudly flaunt the label. Some Republican presidential candidates gleefully toss it around like a verbal hand grenade."

Afghanistan . On Taliban Turf, Long Lines of Ailing Children"Afghanistanremains hobbled by underdevelopment, poverty and illiteracy, a legacy of decades of war. The population's health problems are acute. But the problems in areas like these villages, the residents said, have been aggravated by the continuing insurgency and the harsh edicts of the Taliban,"

Iran . White House Is Confident of Broad Support on Iran "A week after American intelligence agencies reported that Iran halted work on a covert nuclear weapons program in 2003, the Bush administration expressed confidence on Tuesday that it had rallied international support to intensify diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran's government."

Senate. Muscle Flexing in Senate: G.O.P. Defends Strategy "Mr. McConnell and his fellow Republicans are playing such tight defense, blocking nearly every bill proposed by the slim Democratic majority that they are increasingly able to dictate what they want,"

Churches & security. Attacks Force Churches to Boost Security "When a black-clad gunman walked into New Life Church on Sunday and started shooting, he was met with the church's first line of defense: a congregant with a concealed-weapons permit and a law enforcement background." Relying on More Than Prayer "After killing two young people at a missionary training center in a Denver suburb on Saturday night, but before taking the lives of two more at a megachurch on the outskirts of Colorado Springs the following afternoon, Matthew Murray posted a screed on an Internet forum."

Pakistan . Rigged Vote Is Widely Expected in Pakistan "With less than a month to go before parliamentary elections in Pakistan, independent experts say that there is little chance the polls will be either free or fair -- and that the result could be renewed tumult across the country."

Drug use. Teen drug use still falling, annual study shows "According to the survey, amphetamine use fell, along with methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine. Cocaine use also declined, as did crack, heroin, LSD and other hallucinogens, anabolic steroids and OxyContin."

Sentencing. Ruling could free 2,500 drug inmates "More than 2,500 federal inmates became eligible for early release from prison starting in March after the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Tuesday to retroactively reduce the penalties for using and selling crack cocaine."

Code Pink vs. Democrats. Code Pink to take aim at Democrats in 2008 "Leaders of the antiwar group Code Pink, frustrated by the ineffectiveness of Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, yesterday said they are mobilizing a campaign for regime change within the party in the 2008 elections."

Christmas. British Muslims say: Put Christ back in Christmas"Muslim leaders joined Britain's equality watchdog Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians."

Op-Eds. The faith factor (Cal Thomas, Washington Times) "What no one mentioned (so I will) is the curious practice by a substantial number of voters who require our presidential candidates to acknowledge faith in God. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a "religious test" for office, but that hasn't stopped many, especially in Iowa, from requiring statements of evangelical faith before deciding for whom to vote."

World briefing: Iraq's resumption of history (Simon Tisdall, The Guardian) "Improved security, an expanding economy and new understandings with Iran, Syria and Turkey are encouraging an almost forgotten emotion among leaders of Iraq's Shia-led government: optimism. But for Sunni Arab neighbours in the Gulf, Baghdad's returning confidence raises the ghosts of troubled times past. Saddam Hussein is no more; Iraqi nationalism never died."

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