the latest news on the budget, Iran, Iraq funding, Katrina aid, Pakistan, Darfur, Somalia, the Democrats' debate, Barry Bonds, and select op-eds
Budget. House Falls Short in Vote to Override Veto "House Democrats were unable to override President Bush's veto of a key domestic spending bill yesterday, forcing the party back to the drawing board on some of its most important domestic initiatives, including early-childhood education and heating-bill payments for the elderly." House Sustains Veto of Health, Ed Bill "The 277-141 vote was uncomfortably close for Republicans, falling just two votes short of the two-thirds tally required to overturn Bush's veto." White House Rejects Overture to Break Budget Impasse "Trying to break a fiscal impasse with the White House, Congressional Democrats made a new overture to reduce the spending sought by Congress, but the administration quickly dismissed the move."
Farm bill. Farm bill may stay fallow until '09 "Prospects for passage of a farm bill in 2007 dimmed considerably when the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee predicted that failure to reach a compromise could mean waiting until after next year's elections before considering the legislation again in 2009." Farm reform fizzles in Congress "Conservatives, liberals, budget hawks, environmentalists, two senior senators, and the Bush administration all pushed to restructure federal agriculture policy. But despite unprecedented calls for reform, the farm bill now before the Senate looks likely to be virtually an extension of the current law."
Iraq funding. Congress to Hold Off on Iraq War Money "Congress likely will hold off on sending President Bush money for Iraq until early next year, pushing the Pentagon to the brink of an accounting nightmare and deepening Democrats' conflict with the White House on the war." Gates warns of layoffs without war funding "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that he will have to lay off 200,000 civilian employees and contractors, terminate military contracts and partially shut down U.S. military bases unless Congress acts quickly to approve additional funding for the Iraq war."
Katrina aid. Poor Are Lagging in Hurricane Aid From Mississippi"But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses. The money has gone to compensate many middle- and upper-income homeowners, to aid utility companies whose equipment was damaged and to prop up the state's insurance system."
Iran . Iran answers some, but not all, questions about its nuclear program"Iran has answered more questions about the history of its nuclear program, but is still restricting access to its current nuclear work and expanding its enrichment of uranium in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, a U.N. watchdog agency reported Thursday." Report Raises New Doubts on Iran Nuclear Program "The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran had made new but incomplete disclosures about its past nuclear activities, missing a critical deadline under an agreement with the agency and virtually assuring a new push by the United States to impose stricter international sanctions." U.N. debate looms over Iran sanctions "The United States, France and Britain said the report shows that Iran's nuclear technology was advancing while the agency's knowledge and oversight of it was diminishing. And the three pushed for more penalties against Tehran." Decision time for US over Iran "The IAEA says the uranium being produced is only fuel grade (enriched to 4%) but the confirmation that Iran has reached the 3,000 centrifuge benchmark brings closer a moment of truth for the Bush administration, when it will have to choose between taking military action or abandoning its red line, and accepting Iran's technical mastery of uranium enrichment."
Pakistan . Musharraf faces US pressure to end emergency "Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan opposition leader, was last night freed from house arrest hours after President Pervez Musharraf's appointed a new prime minister in a step towards national elections." Militants Gain Despite Decree by Musharraf "Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, says he instituted emergency rule for the extra powers it would give him to push back the militants who have carved out a mini-state in Pakistan's tribal areas. But in the last several days, the militants have extended their reach, capturing more territory in Pakistan's settled areas and chasing away frightened policemen,"
Darfur . New Threat to Darfur Displaced, Says Activist "Sudan's government is seeking to dismantle displaced person camps in Darfur that house thousands of people ahead of the arrival of a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force," Physician Honored For Work In Darfur "Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, a Sudanese physician, will receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award today for his assiduous work in Darfur, where he provides medical care and assists survivors of torture and violence."
Somalia . UN: Somalia crisis worst in Africa "John Holmes, the UN humanitarian affairs chief, said civilians were increasingly bearing the brunt of the fighting between government forces backed by Ethiopia and fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts group."
Dem debate. Clinton holds her own against Edwards, Obama attacks"This time, Hillary Clinton was waiting for them when rivals John Edwards and Barack Obama went after her in a Democratic presidential debate. The New York senator eagerly swung back at both in a raucous, two-hour debate" Democrats' debate turns to mud "The Democratic candidates for president had hardly stepped on stage for their debate here Thursday night when the political insults started dropping faster than Flying Elvises. Democratic Contenders Step Up Attacks in Debate "Sen. Barack Obama, stepping up his criticism of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, directly accused her of being duplicitous in one of several testy exchanges that marked the Democratic debate here Thursday night as one of the most heated of the presidential campaign."
Barry Bonds. Home Run King Bonds Charged With Perjury "Barry Bonds, the most prolific slugger in baseball history and holder of the most cherished record in American sports, was indicted yesterday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, stemming from his testimony to a federal grand jury four years ago that he had not knowingly used steroids." Baseball's home run king faces possibility of prison "The indictment in San Francisco probably ends the 43-year-old slugger's career three months after he broke Hank Aaron's home run record under a cloud of suspicion about whether Bonds had taken performance-enhancing drugs."
Turning Back From Gomorrah (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) "Crime, Drugs, Welfare -- and Other Good News," a groundbreaking essay by Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin in Commentary magazine. "Over the past fifteen years, on balance, the American family has indeed grown weaker," the authors argue, "but almost every other social indicator has improved." Crime rates have plunged, teen drug use and pregnancy have declined, educational scores are improving, welfare caseloads have fallen 60 percent, and the number of abortions has dropped."
Billions for Guns, Vetoes for Butter (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) "It's time that we subject the Iraq war to the same cost-benefit analysis that we are called upon to impose on other government endeavors. We are supposed to repeal or revise domestic programs that don't work. Shouldn't a troubled war policy be treated the same way?"
Common ground on abortion (David O'Brien, Boston Globe)"BOSTON ARCHBISHOP Sean P. O'Malley's attack on Catholic politicians and citizenswho support abortion rights raises the moral stakes of politics. O'Malley does not stand alone - the American Catholic bishops have chosen this election cycle to give priority to opposing "intrinsically evil actions" that involve "the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia." The bishops offer moral commentary on many issues, but the cardinal's remarks make it clear that the traditional antiabortion agenda now provides the measure of Catholic political morality."