the latest news on Iraq-US presence, Mideast peace talks Iran, Funding diplomacy, WIC funding, Home searches, Foreclosures, Recruiting, Lott resigns, Faith bloggers, and selected Op-Eds.
Iraq-US presence. Iraq deal eyes long US presence "A deal setting the foundations for what could be a long-term presence of US troops in Iraq has been signed by the US president and Iraq's prime minister." Bush commits troops to Iraq for the long term "The Bush administration formally committed America yesterday to a long-term military presence in Iraq, pledging to protect the government in Baghdad from internal coup plots and foreign enemies." U.S., Iraq set agenda for talks on long-term relations "President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki signed a joint declaration outlining the course negotiators will follow as they try to complete a broad agreement intended to govern relations between the United States and Iraq in coming years." Bush, Maliki Sign Pact on Iraq's Future "President Bush reached a deal yesterday that is intended to lead to a more normalized, long-term relationship between the United States and Iraq by the time he leaves office, but it left unsettled the question of how many and how long U.S. forces would remain." The full text of the agreement and a White House fact sheet on the agreement
Mideast peace talks. Bush to call for two nation states "In his address at the opening of the multi-national meeting at Annapolis today, President George Bush will call for a settlement on the basis of two nation states," Bush issues rally call for summit "US President George W Bush has said "a battle is underway" for the future of the Middle East as regional leaders gathered for a key peace summit." Bid to bridge Middle East divide "President George Bush held separate meetings with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, at the White House in an 11th-hour effort to agree a joint declaration of principles before today's Annapolis summit" Israelis and Palestinians Try to Set Pace for Peace Talks as Bush Plans Speech"The two sides were still wrangling late Monday over specifics of the timetable, with the Palestinians pressing for negotiations to be completed within the next eight months, a demand the Israelis have rejected." Pessimism overhangs Annapolis talks "But many Middle East politicians and demonstrators have said the talks have little chance of success."
Iran. Tehran feels alone in region "Iran has embarked on a diplomatic offensive in the Arab world in an effort to alleviate its growing concerns that it is being isolated internationally, as a result of the Annapolis summit, and that it may be attacked for its recalcitrance on its nuclear program." Iran unveils long-range missile "Iranhas built a new long-range missile that can reach Israel and US bases in the Middle East, its defence minister said today."
Funding diplomacy. Gates Urges Increased Funding for Diplomacy "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called yesterday for a "dramatic increase" in the U.S. budget for diplomacy and foreign aid, arguing that al-Qaeda does a better job than Washington of communicating its message overseas and that U.S. deployment of civilians abroad has been "ad hoc and on the fly." Defense Secretary Urges More Spending for U.S. Diplomacy "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Monday for the United States government to commit more money and effort to "soft power" tools, including diplomacy, economic assistance and communications, because the military alone cannot defend America's interests around the world."
WIC funding. Budget chokehold threatens WIC funding "Half a million people could be cut from a nutrition program for low-income young children, pregnant women and recent mothers next year because prices and caseloads have risen since President Bush proposed his 2008 budget in February."
Home searches. Justices uphold welfare home searches "County welfare officers may conduct routine searches of the homes of welfare recipients to combat fraud under a ruling in a California case that the Supreme Court let stand Monday."
Foreclosures. Foreclosures will hurt metro economies, mayors warn "The deepening housing crisis will cut economic growth by more than 25 percent in 143 U.S. metropolitan areas next year and by more than a third in 65 metro communities, according to a new forecast for the U.S. Conference of Mayors."
Recruiting. Stepped-up Army recruiting enlists many with problems "Two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced the "good news" that the Army had met its recruiting goal for October. But Pentagon statistics show the Army met that goal by accepting a higher percentage of enlistees with criminal records, drug or alcohol problems, or health conditions that would have ordinarily disqualified them from service."
Lott resigns. Lott Will Quit Senate Next Month "Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) surprised the Capitol yesterday by announcing that he will resign next month, taking the unusual path of abandoning the chamber and his leadership post midterm to pursue a private-sector career." Lott to retire, ending 35 years on Hill "Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott yesterday announced he will resign from the Senate at year's end, closing a 35-year career in Congress and spurring prominent Republicans in the chamber to jockey for a sudden shift in leadership."
Faith bloggers. Faith bloggers go to heart of the matter "These are faith bloggers - uncountable voices who contest, confess and consider religious beliefs, doctrines and denominational politics in their posts. Although every faith has its bloggers, U.S. Christians may be among the most vociferous of the watchdogs, philosophers and ecclesiastical groupies."
Bad for Huckabee, good for America (Dan Gilgoff, Los Angeles Times) "At the Values Voter Summit in Washington in October, Southern Baptist ex-preacher Mike Huckabee made headlines by imploring evangelical voters to stay true to their Bible-believing faith rather than sell their souls for the good of the Republican Party. What he meant, of course, was that they should back true-believer Huckabee, despite his long odds in the race for the White House, over impure candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson."
Liberals' Lesson Down Under (By E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post) "Kevin Rudd, Australia's incoming prime minister, combines iron discipline with a puckish sense of humor, political toughness with a reflective spiritual side, and a youthful disposition with an old pro's skill at divining where a majority lies."
Evidence on Iran doesn't seem to matter (Gwynne Dyer, Japan Times) "ElBaradei said Iran is complying with a work plan agreed with the IAEA last August to clear up the remaining questions about a project that the Iranians insist was only ever about making fuel for civilian nuclear power stations. How can you bomb a country, or even impose serious sanctions on it, if the head of the IAEA won't accuse it of seeking nuclear weapons?"