Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 12-04-2007

the latest news on Iran, Australia-climate change, Church-state, Congress-White House, Faith & politics, Venezuela, Mandela and selected Editorials.

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Iran. U.S. Finds Iran Halted Its Nuclear Arms Effort in 2003"A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen," U.S. report: Iran halted nuclear weapons drive in 2003 "Iran was attempting to build a nuclear weapon but halted the effort in the fall of 2003 and doesn't appear to have restarted it, the declassified key judgments of a comprehensive new U.S. intelligence report said Monday." A Blow to Bush's Tehran Policy "President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program." Iran Welcomes New US Intelligence Report "Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday welcomed the U.S. decision to "correct" its claim that Tehran has an active nuclear weapons program, state-run radio reported." An Assessment Jars a Foreign Policy Debate About Iran"Rarely, if ever, has a single intelligence report so completely, so suddenly, and so surprisingly altered a foreign policy debate here." Iran welcomes US nuclear report "Iran has welcomed a US intelligence report, saying it was becoming clear the Islamic republic's plans for its nuclear programme are peaceful."

New U.S. report on Iran nukes proves need for sanctions "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that a new U.S. intelligence report on Iran's nuclear program demonstrate the need for tighter international sanctions in order to ensure the Islamic republic can never acquire nuclear weapons." Israel challenges findings on Iran "Israel today publicly challenged the US intelligence consensus that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons programme, even as Tehran welcomed the US findings."

Australia-climate change. Australia signs up to Kyoto deal to end 10-year exile "Australiayesterday joined the fold of rich countries committed to tackling climate change by signing the Kyoto agreement to limit CO2 emissions, at once distancing itself from the US and ending a 10-year diplomatic exile on the issue." I can unite the world on climate, says Rudd "AUSTRALIA will take on a highly ambitious and activist role on the international stage under the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who has unveiled a grand plan for uniting the world on climate change." US Wants to Negotiate New Climate Pact "American delegates at the U.N. climate conference insisted Monday they would not be a "roadblock" to a new international agreement aimed at reducing potentially catastrophic greenhouse gases."

Church-state. Court says public cannot pay for Christian prison program "Spending the public's money on a faith-based rehabilitation program in which Iowa prisoners immerse themselves in evangelical Christianity is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Monday." Court Bars State Effort Using Faith in Prisons"A federal appeals panel ruled yesterday that a state-financed evangelical Christian program to help prisoners re-enter civilian life fostered religious indoctrination and violated the constitutional separation of church and state."

Congress-White House. As Clock Ticks, Congress and White House Stand Firm "President Bush and Congressional Democrats were at a stalemate Monday over federal spending, taxes, domestic surveillance and the war in Iraq, and neither side made a move to negotiate, even though lawmakers have just a few weeks left to wrap up work for the year." Bush Steps Up Attacks on Congress "With his approval ratings stubbornly low, President Bush is trying to gain political traction by spoiling for fights with an institution the public appears to hold in even lower esteem: Congress." For Congress, election imperils balanced budget "Facing an out-of-whack federal budget and a ballooning debt, congressional Democrats made a simple pledge when they took power in January: If lawmakers increased spending or cut the taxes needed to pay bills, they would find money elsewhere to balance the national checkbook."

Faith & politics. Romney Hopes to Ease Qualms on His Faith "Fighting to save his faltering presidential campaign, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said Monday that he will reassure Republican voters that his religious values are the same as theirs and that he believes faith has a place in political life and governing." Mormonism not focus of Romney speech "Romney said Monday that he would not focus on his Mormon beliefs in a major speech on religion this week and instead would discuss his concern that "faith has disappeared from the public square." Romney's Thursday speech on his Mormon faith is risky "Mitt Romney's address Thursday on his Mormon faith could be the most politically risky speech on religion by a presidential candidate since John F. Kennedy defended his Catholic faith in 1960."

Venezuela. Voters stall the Chávez revolution "This was supposed to be the night Chávez won a sweeping endorsement to change the constitution so he could run for continuous re-election and lead South America's oil giant towards what he termed "21st-century socialism". Instead, it shattered his invincibility and slammed the brakes on his revolution." Chavez revolution takes hit in election President Hugo Chavez's revolution seemed to age overnight, its dynamic and aura of invincibility shattered by voters' narrow rejection Sunday of his constitutional reform package." Sunday's defeat likely to hurt Chavez's international standing "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's stunning loss in a constitutional referendum has dealt a severe and possibly fatal blow to his ambitions to spread his political ideology and succeed Fidel Castro as the leader of Latin America's anti-American left,"

Mandela. Mandela shines brightly at all-star AIDS concert "The 89-year-old man walked slowly onto a stage crowded with rock stars, looked out at the audience of nearly 50,000 concertgoers, and broke into a smile. He still has it, the charisma that held his people together on the Long Walk to Freedom."

Editorial. A Muslim-Christian handshake (Christian Science Monitor) "An unprecedented outreach from top Islamic leaders to Christians is meeting a positive response. This budding dialogue has the potential to correct misunderstandings and foster trust among each faith's followers - which the world sorely needs."

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