Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 12-14-2007

the latest news on Torture, Energy bill, Budget, Climate Change, Immigration, Death penalty, Farm Bill, Healthcare, New Orleans, Iran, India, Gaza, Terrorism and poverty, Baseball & steroids, and selected Op-Eds.

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Torture. House Passes Bill to Ban CIA's Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics "The House approved legislation that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, drawing an immediate veto threat from the White House and setting up another political showdown over what constitutes torture." House Passes Restrictions on Interrogation Methods "Defying a veto threat from President Bush, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to prohibit waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency against high-level prisoners from Al Qaeda."

Energy bill. Industry Flexes Muscle, Weaker Energy Bill Passes "Pared-down energy legislation cleared the Senate by a wide margin after the oil industry and utilities succeeded in stripping out provisions that would have cost them billions of dollars." Tighter fuel standards clear Senate "The Senate overwhelmingly passed a broad energy bill that would impose the most significant increase in vehicle fuel-economy standards in three decades, and the White House said President Bush would sign it."

Budget. Congress Turns to Stopgap Funds Measure "But while agreement with the White House remained elusive, negotiations went ahead on the assumption that Democrats would largely accept President Bush's strict budget for domestic programs and that he would ease up a bit if additional funding for Iraq is approved." A President Gets His Way, but There May Be a Cost "Unlike presidents before him, Mr. Bush has not used the power of the Oval Office to hammer out a compromise with his legislative foes. Instead, he has vetoed bills he does not like, refused to budge on spending limits and let his subordinates do the negotiating,"

Climate change. Climate talks stalled amid rows "The EU has been pressing for the final text to include a specific commitment that industrialised nations should cut their emissions by 25-40% by 2020. The US and Canada oppose firm cuts and neither side shows signs of giving way." U.S. frustrating Bali talks "With the Bush administration refusing to commit to emissions reduction targets, negotiators trying to build a global action plan to stem climate change appeared to face a tough choice at key talks set to end Friday: Agree to a plan weak enough to win United States backing, try to embarrass the U.S. into compromising or simply move on," Gore Joins Chorus Chiding U.S. at Climate Talks "The escalating bitterness between the European Union and the United States came as former Vice President Al Gore told delegates in a speech that "My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali."

Immigration. Hispanics feeling hurt by immigration debate "More than half of Hispanic adults in the U.S. worry they or someone close to them could face deportation, reflecting a growing anxiety over expanded enforcement efforts, according to a new nationwide survey by the Pew Hispanic Center." Lives Are Growing Harder, Hispanics Say in Survey "About two-thirds of Hispanics said their lives had been made more difficult by the political fight over immigration and the failure of Congress to address the situation of illegal immigrants," Most Hispanics: Immigration Debate Hurt "There are about 47 million Hispanics in the U.S., about 16 percent of the country's population. President Bush and Congress have flopped in their efforts to enact legislation dealing with the country's 12 million illegal immigrants - which include many Hispanics - but increased deportations and tighter limits on government benefits have put pressure on the Hispanic community." Read the full Pew report: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel a Chill

Death penalty. N.J. Approves Abolition of Death Penalty; Corzine to Sign "New Jersey lawmakers became the first in the nation to abolish the death penalty since the Supreme Court restored it in 1976." New Jersey lawmakers vote to end death penalty "The state Senate already passed the measure, and Gov. Jon Corzine, a death penalty foe, pledged to sign the bill, probably early next week. Those on death row will have their sentences commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole."

Farm bill. Senate farm bill nears passage "The Senate was on the verge of approving a $286 billion farm bill Thursday night after repeatedly shrugging off self-styled overhaul efforts."

Healthcare. Defining government's role in healthcare "The debate over expanding the children's program uncovered the main fault line in the discussion of broader reforms: how far government should go to help middle-class families struggling to afford healthcare."

New Orleans. Katrina's wrath lingers for New Orleans' poor "There is little question that Hurricane Katrina hammered the poor when it inundated the Gulf Coast in August 2005, obliterating some of the poorest parts of the USA's poorest states. The question is whether thousands of low-income residents who were displaced by the storm will ever be able to come back." Demolition begins on first housing projects "Federal officials began demolishing a local housing project despite protesters who angrily decried the destruction, saying the hurricane-ravaged city needs to preserve its affordable housing." In New Orleans, Plan to Raze Low-Income Housing Draws Protest "At a moment when the shortage of low-income housing in the city is causing significant hardship, the federal government is beginning this week to tear down thousands of apartments in the city's four biggest public housing projects."

Iran. China Urges 2-Track Approach on Iran "China wants a two-track approach in trying to resolve the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program -- a revitalized diplomatic initiative along with a new U.N. resolution on sanctions,"

India. India 'Star Wars' plan risks new arms race "India aims to have a missile defence system able to track and shoot down incoming warheads by 2010, scientists in the capital announced yesterday, in a move that analysts say could spark a new arms race in the region."

Gaza. Abbas's Premier Tells Israel to Reopen Gaza "The moderate Palestinian Authority government based in the West Bank, in a departure from past policy, publicly called on Israel to lift economic restrictions on the Gaza Strip."

Terrorism and poverty. Privation and Despair Colored an Algiers Bomber's Life "Charef was born in poverty in the eastern part of the capital, had made two pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, spent time in prison and unemployed and eventually made his way to an insurgent camp in the eastern mountains of Algeria,

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