Daily News Digest | Sojourners

Daily News Digest

The latest news on the Environment, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, the Georgia-Russia conflict, the Elections, Pakistan, North Korea, the Philippines, New Orleans, Privacy, Cuba and Zimbawbwe.

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Georgia-Russia conflict. Russia Pushes Into Georgia "Russia escalated its war in Georgia again Monday, sending troops and tanks out of friendly separatist enclaves to stage the first major invasion of undisputed Georgian territory." Russia Steps Up Its Push; West Faces Tough Choices "The U.S. and its European allies seemed uncertain how to adjust to Russian actions in Georgia that could undermine democratic gains in the region." Roots of Georgia-Russia clash run deep "The war broadened Monday as Russian troops moved beyond rebel provinces into Georgia proper." Russia 'ends Georgia operation' "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev orders an end to military operations against Georgia after five days of fighting." Attacks on Georgia continue despite Moscow vow to halt "Five dead as Russian forces continue to attack Gori despite Moscow's vow to end fighting."

Environment. Endangered Species Act Changes Give Agencies More Say "The Bush administration yesterday proposed a regulatory overhaul of the Endangered Species Act to allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required for more than three decades." Changes in Environmental Reviews Are Sought "If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of endangered species regulations since 1986. They would accomplish through rules what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects." Endangered Species Act -- parts of it could become extinct "Bush wants to let federal agencies decide whether projects might harm endangered animals. New rules would cut scientific reviews."

Elections. Longtime Republican voters are airing new views "Many struggling families in the normally comfortable cul-de-sacs outside U.S. cities are thinking of switching parties." Sheehan Qualifies To Challenge Pelosi "Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan has qualified to run as an independent against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in November's general election."

Pakistan. Pakistan's Punjab Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly for Musharraf to Quit "Members of Punjab province's local assembly voted 321 to 25 Monday that President Pervez Musharraf should leave office, a move that analysts say is likely to be followed by the country's three other provincial assemblies in coming days."

North Korea. Doubts About Nuclear Verification Keep N. Korea on List of Terrorist States "North Korea missed its first chance yesterday to be removed from the State Department's list of terrorist states, U.S. officials said, because it has not provided a way for international inspectors to verify claims about its nuclear program."

Iraq. Use of Contractors in Iraq Costs Billions, Report Says "The Pentagon's reliance on outside contractors in Iraq is proportionately far larger than in any previous conflict, and it has fueled charges that this outsourcing has led to overbilling, fraud and shoddy and unsafe work that has endangered and even killed American troops."

Philippines. Refugee Exodus Grows in Southern Philippines "The number of Filipinos displaced from their homes since fighting began late last week between government forces and Islamic separatists in the southern Philippines reached 130,000 on Monday, officials said. The military and the police sent more troops to fight the rebels." Philippine Muslim group 'withdraws' "Move comes after clashes between troops and separatists displaced 160,000 people."

New Orleans. U.S. Raids New Orleans Agency in Scandal Over a Housing Cleanup Program "The program was intended to help elderly and poor New Orleans residents gut and board up their storm-damaged houses, and to mow their lawns. Instead ... money appears to have gone to politically connected contractors who did little or no work on the houses. In some instances, the contractors were paid even when it was volunteers who did the gutting work, according to the reports."

Privacy. F.B.I.'s Use of Phone Records Shows Need to Protect the Press, Senators Say "Two leading senators said Monday that they were troubled by the F.B.I.'s collection of the phone records of four reporters at The New York Times and The Washington Post and that the episode showed a "pressing need" for legislation pending in the Senate that would provide greater legal protection for journalists."

Israel and Palestine. Israel 'proposes West Bank deal' "Israel wants a new border similar to the route of the barrier it is currently building in and around the West Bank." PA rejects Olmert's offer to withdraw from 93% of West Bank "In exchange for West Bank land that Israel would keep, Olmert proposed a 5.5 percent land swap giving the Palestinians a desert territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip. ... The land to be annexed to Israel would include the large settlement blocs, and the border would be similar to the present route of the separation fence."

Cuba. Cuba 'jailing fewer dissidents' "The number of political prisoners in Cuba has fallen in the past six months, according to a new report by the island's main human rights group."

Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai says no to Mugabe led cabinet "Talks in Zimbabwe falter as opposition leader refuses proposals designed to concede power to Mugabe."

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