the latest news on Budget, Sentencing, Iran, Iraq, Gaza, Russia, Climate change, Presidential election, Canada, Church shooting and Selected Op-Eds.
Budget. House Democrats Pull Budget Offer "A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith." 'No deal' on spending on Hill "Capitol Hill Democrats' plan to pass long-stalled spending bills before the Christmas break by coupling it with emergency war funds unraveled as the White House and congressional Republicans held firm on budget limits." Democrat May Scuttle Spending Bill "Efforts to pass a massive compromise federal spending bill stalled as a top House Democrat threatened to abandon the measure, accusing the White House and congressional Republicans of failing to bargain in good faith." Democrats Postpone Vote on Domestic Spending"A Congressional plan to head off a potential federal government shutdown stalled and threatened to fall apart because of Republican opposition and Democratic frustration over a persistent spending impasse."
Sentencing. Justices Reinforce Leeway on Sentences "The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that federal judges are not bound by federal guidelines calling for tougher penalties for those who sell crack rather than powder cocaine," Supreme Court permits flexible drug sentencing "In a closely watched 7-2 ruling that temporarily united conservatives, centrists and liberals on the bench, the court ruled that trial judges can impose less severe punishment than federal sentencing guidelines call for." Justices Restore Judges' Control Over Sentencing "One decision was particularly emphatic in saying judges are free to disagree with guidelines that call for much longer sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for crimes involving an equivalent amount of cocaine in powdered form."
Iran. New U.N. Iran Resolution Considered "A draft U.N. resolution on Iran circulating among the world's major powers calls for new sanctions against the elite Quds Force and a top Iranian bank as well as "restraint" and "vigilance" on the supply, sale or transfer of arms to Iran," Draft U.N. Sanctions Aimed at Iran "Adraft plan for new United Nations sanctions against Iran would punish a branch of the Iranian armed forces and one of the nation's largest banks, despite last week's U.S. re-evaluation of Iran's nuclear weapons intentions," Israelis Brief Top U.S. Official on Iran Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made an unusual visit to Israel and got a polite earful about Israel's gloomy assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Iraq. Security Pact on Iraq Would Set U.S. Exit "Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that a new security agreement with the United States would set a time limit on the presence of American troops, adding that the government's eventual goal is to do without any foreign forces on its soil."
Gaza. Israeli tanks push deep into Gaza "Israeli tanks and bulldozers have moved deep into the southern Gaza Strip in the biggest incursion into the territory in months." Israeli Tanks, Bulldozers Move Into Gaza "Israeli tanks and bulldozers backed by attack aircraft moved into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing four militants in the widest operation in the territory since Islamic Hamas forces wrested control in June."
Russia. Putin anoints deputy PM as heir "President Vladimir Putin ended months of speculation yesterday by naming Dmitry Medvedev, a 42-year-old economic liberal, as his preferred candidate to win Russia's presidential election next year." Putin Backs Deputy Prime Minister as Successor "Mr. Putin's selection of Mr. Medvedev, 42, makes him the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency in March and suggests that Mr. Putin is seeking to retain influence by turning his office over to someone he can readily steer from behind the scenes."
Climate change. Gore Accepts Nobel Prize With Call for Bold Action "Former vice president Al Gore, accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, called on the United States and China, the world's two largest polluters, "to make the boldest moves" on climate change "or stand accountable before history for their failure to act." 'Make peace with the planet,' Al Gore urges "The earth has a fever," he said, adding that the world every day pumps 70 million tonnes of global-warming pollution - above all, carbon dioxide - into the atmosphere. Instead of a "nuclear winter" warned of by scientists a few decades ago, the planet now faces a "carbon summer", he said." Greenland ice melts at record rate, scientists find "Rising temperatures caused ice to melt in Greenland at a record rate this year, climate scientists reported Monday."
Presidential election. Independent groups poised to play big role in presidential race"With wide-open nomination contests in both parties, 2008 is shaping up to be the most expensive White House race in history. But a constellation of new and existing independent political action committees, nonprofits, and so-called 527 organizations - many of which are unencumbered by the contribution limits that candidates must follow - are poised to play a greater role than ever before."
Canada. Poll highlights unease over U.S. foreign policy "A typical Canadian feels that the country's proudest moment was a decision not to go to war in Iraq, that its foreign policy is too heavily influenced by the United States, that we are fighting in Afghanistan mainly at the behest of Washington and that climate change and the rich-poor gap are a bigger threat to world security than terrorism or weapons of mass destruction."
Church shooting. Gunman Planned to Kill More, Officials Say "A heavily armed man who killed four young people at a missionary training center and a church Sunday apparently intended to gun down many more victims before he was shot by a church security guard," Guard saved untold lives, Colorado authorities say "The security officer stopped gunman Matthew Murray, who killed four in a 12-hour rampage at two religious facilities."
The Split-Level Politics of Immigration (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) "This contest points to an important but little-noticed disconnect between how immigration is likely to play in the 2008 congressional elections and how it will affect the presidential campaign. A Latino backlash against the Republicans could hurt their nominee for president, even as a backlash against illegal immigration could help some Republicans running for Congress."
The Postwar Election(David Brooks, New York Times) "The world still has its problems, but it no longer seems to be building toward some larger crisis. The atmosphere of fear and conflict has at least temporarily abated. With the change in conditions, the election of 2008 is beginning to feel like a postwar election. American voters are coming out of the shells constructed after Sept. 11th and are looking for a new normalcy. They're looking for something entirely different."