Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 02-25-2008

the latest news on Presidential campaign, Economy, Medicaid, Wind power, Education, Abortion, Gang violence, Cuba, Turkey-Iraq, Darfur, Kenya, Iran, Gaza, Food aid shortage, Canada-Afghanistan, and selected Op-Eds.

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Presidential campaign. NAFTA at center of Ohio campaign "Trade and the debate over NAFTA has emerged as a major issue in the Buckeye State's March 4 Democratic primary, which could help decide the presidential nomination." Conservative Distrust of McCain Lingers Over '05 Deal on Judges "Mr. McCain's central role in that effort, which cleared the way for confirmation of some conservative jurists, is cited as one reason for lingering distrust of him among many conservatives." Nader's 3rd presidential bid mostly draws shrugs "This would be his third consecutive run for president, and most analysts believe that his returns will continue to diminish from his showing in 2000, when he won millions of votes that might have altered the outcome."

Economy. Top Economists See Signs of Recession "Job growth is faltering, consumer confidence plunging. The fallout from the worst housing slump in a quarter-century grows. Wherever you look, the signs are unmistakable that the economy is in trouble." Governors hope for federal cash "Governors are debating priorities if Congress takes up a second stimulus package, with some state leaders pushing for federal money to repair roads, water systems and bridges." Spending habits: Americans at all income levels tighten their belts "Looking at things differently is a theme running through conversations of Americans at all income levels these days as they review their spending habits."

Medicaid. Governors of Both Parties Oppose Medicaid Rules"Governors of both parties strongly objected to a half-dozen new federal Medicaid regulations that they said would shift billions of dollars in costs to the states, forcing them to consider cutbacks in services."

Wind power. Move Over, Oil, There's Money in Texas Wind "Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3 percent of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines."

Education. March 4 vote could give religious right sway over Texas schools "Although little noticed by the public, the race for a local seat on the State Board of Education could lead to a dramatic ideological shift on the panel and -- by extension -- in Texas school policy."

Abortion. Kansas, Missouri lawmakers consider similar abortion limits "Abortion opponents in Missouri and Kansas are pushing similar legislation that would require women and their doctors to clear a range of new hurdles before terminating a pregnancy."

Gang violence. Small towns, big gang issues "Along the 450 miles of the Central Valley, an explosion of gang violence in recent years has transformed life on the wide, tree-lined streets of California's agricultural heartland."

Cuba. Raul Castro named Cuban president Raul Castro has been unanimously selected to succeed his brother Fidel as leader by Cuba's National Assembly. Old guard in Cuba keeps reins "Cuba's parliament signaled that the status quo of a stunted state-run economy and strained relations with the United States will persist for now as it named Raul Castro to replace his ailing brother, Fidel, as president" New Cuban leader adds military loyalists to his team "Cuba's new leader has placed two top army generals in key positions in his new government, giving the armed forces an even bigger grip on the civilian power structure."

Turkey-Iraq. Turkey ignores Iraq pull-out plea "Heavy fighting between the Turkish military and PKK fighters in northern Iraq has continued despite pleas by the Iraqi government for Turkey to withdraw." Fighting in northern Iraq enters fifth day" Last night the Turkish army said it had sent another 25 tanks across the border to help the hunt for PKK fighters," US urges short Turkish campaign "US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has urged Turkey to keep its military campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq as short as possible." Turkish raid strains U.S.-Kurd ties "Kurdish anger toward US for providing assistance to Turkey, its NATO ally, in its bombardment of suspected PKK targets has been simmering since last fall. It has led to public outbursts and now it appears to have become more serious,"

Darfur. Sudan 'renews Darfur air strikes' "The Sudanese military is said to have renewed its aerial bombing campaign in the west of the Darfur region." Thousands of Darfuris 'desperate' "More than 50,000 people are suffering in the latest cycle of violence in Sudan's West Darfur region, says the UN humanitarian affairs agency, Ocha." China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur "China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world's largest peacekeeping force," China speaks out on Darfur crisis "China sent its special envoy on Darfur, Liu Guijin, to Khartoum Sunday, both to deliver a stern warning to the Sudanese government, and to remind its Western critics that they, too, could be doing more to stop the fighting."

Kenya. Fear may change ethnic map of Kenya "Tens of thousands of people like Kamau are making cross-country treks to resettle in their ancestral homelands. The nationwide population reshuffle is threatening to spur a permanent ethnic remapping of Kenya, worsening the East African nation's political divisions and creating regional fiefdoms."

Iran. Iran Confirms New Nuclear Centrifuges "Iran said Sunday that it has started using new centrifuges that can churn out enriched uranium at more than double the rate of the machines that now form the backbone of the Islamic nation's nuclear program."

Gaza. Gaza protesters form human chain "Thousands of Palestinians have formed a "human chain" in Gaza in protest at Israel's blockade of the territory." Gazans protest blockade with human chain on Israeli border "Israel took no chances and deployed troops and police to prevent any repeat of scenes that occurred recently at the Gaza-Egypt border." Mass March / Hamas' win-win situation "Israel's concern about a possible scenario involving Hamas marching masses of civilians to the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the western Negev is not based on a vague hunch. It is founded on intimate knowledge of the intentions of the Islamist organization's Gaza leadership," In Israel, Some See No Option but War "That sentiment is gaining currency across Israel, and the political rhetoric is growing more bellicose. With each new barrage of rockets, the government comes under greater pressure to conduct a massive military operation that might improve conditions in Sderot, but could also entail heavy casualties on both sides and further undermine the already anemic U.S.-backed peace process."

Food aid shortage. UN warns over food aid rationing "The director of the UN's World Food Programme has said it is considering plans to ration food aid because of rising prices and a shortage of funds."

Canada-Afghanistan. U.S. military urges Canada to maintain combat role "A top U.S. military official cautioned yesterday, on the eve of a parliamentary debate on Canada's military mission to Afghanistan, that soldiers cannot separate the jobs of fighting Taliban insurgents, training Afghan soldiers and reconstructing the country."

Op-Ed. The ghost story (James Carroll, Boston Globe) "In this era, humans have been cut loose from ancient moorings of meaning and purpose. The context within which this condition is most manifest in the United States is the debate - or, more precisely, the lack thereof - over what is called "national security." The phrase is potent because it promises something that is impossible, since the human condition is by definition insecure.

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