Daily News Digest

By Duane Shank 03-04-2008

the latest news on Presidential primaries, Federal budget, Veterans, Sentence reductions, Education, NAFTA, Evangelicals in Canada, Iran, Iraq, Gaza, Somalia and Andean crisis.

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P>Presidential primaries. Obama, Clinton In Key Face-Off "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed to press on in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after critical primary tests in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday, even as advisers to Sen. Barack Obama said the latest round of voting would do little to improve her standing." Texas and Ohio: the end of the campaign trail? "Heading into a potentially decisive round of contests today, Hillary Rodham Clinton stayed on the attack against rival Barack Obama, trying to turn around a campaign that has been battered by 11 straight defeats." Will lousy weather affect the vote? "After more than two dozen campaign stops, millions of dollars in ads, innumerable mailings and pesky "robo-calls" across the state, the outcome of the unprecedented battle in the Ohio primary may come down to this: Crummy weather." For Democrats, a Pivotal Night, but in Which Direction? "with so much at stake, especially in Ohio and Texas, and with the proceedings in Texas more complicated than a simple primary, there will be no shortage of facts and analysis as the evening unfolds. There are some factors to watch."

Federal budget. Another battle building as Dems prepare budgets "Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate plan to unveil their proposed fiscal 2009 budgets, and the differences with the White House are the same as last year. They want more domestic spending. They want fewer tax cuts." U.S. Told to Reconsider Cuts to Housing Aid "A federal court in Sacramento ruled Monday that the Bush administration must reassess its plan to eliminate a down payment assistance program used by more than 100,000 low- and middle-income home buyers."

Veterans. A new push to help families of veterans "The controversy last year surrounding Walter Reed military hospital called attention to the problems of ailing veterans, and the Pentagon moved to improve care and shore up lagging programs. Now the focus is broadening, as advocates and military officials recognize that family members of injured veterans endure extra hardships and need help caring for their loved ones."

Sentence reductions. Inmate releases begin under new guidelines "The federal government yesterday freed the first of what could be thousands of federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges to benefit from amended U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines that retroactively reduced their sentences." Drug sentencing guidelines take effect "up to 20,000 inmates convicted of crack offenses who may see their prison terms reduced under new federal guidelines intended to bring retroactive fairness to drug sentencing."

Education. Catholic leaders assured of help on schools "A Department of Education official yesterday said the Bush administration is working to help Catholic schools by pushing for renewal of the D.C. voucher program and holding a summit to discuss ways to retain religiously affiliated schools in inner cities."

NAFTA. Texans ponder where superhighway might take them "Local residents came together last week for one in a series of public hearings on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive public works project that in this area would take the form of a superhighway from the Mexican border to the Arkansas border, with special trucking lanes and rail lines, along with communication and utility cables." Will changing NAFTA force Mexicans to move to U.S.? "Jesus Velasquez doesn't want to move to the United States. He fears, however, that he may have to if he loses his job selling avocados. Velasquez, 36, says he and his family have benefited from the North American Free Trade Agreement. For him, the alternative is to emigrate to the United States."

Evangelicals in Canada. Tax-credit crackdown on films puts spotlight on evangelical community "The role a prominent evangelical leader may have played in Ottawa's move to deny tax credits to TV and film productions deemed offensive has put Canada's large and varied evangelical community in the spotlight."

Iran. Iranian leader lends Iraq $1 billion, tells U.S. to leave "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lent $1 billion and told America to go home, as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Baghdad aimed at cementing Iran's blossoming relationship with its one-time enemy." U.N. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran "The United Nations imposed new sanctions on Iran yesterday, capping a year of difficult diplomacy that may represent the Bush administration's final bid to mobilize international action against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program." U.N. imposes new sanctions on Iran "The U.N. Security Council imposed a third round of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, even though some members acknowledged that more penalties were unlikely to change Tehran's mind." Russia urges Iran to comply on nuclear program Russia urged Iran to comply with demands by the United Nations Security Council to curb its nuclear program, but Tehran remained defiant."

Iraq. Military worried violence will return as troops leave Iraq "Despite optimistic assessments that the buildup of U.S. troops has turned around the situation in Iraq, some American commanders and the soldiers who report to them fear that continuing to withdraw U.S. troops could create more instability." Top Commander: Iraq Assessment Needed "The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said Tuesday that officials will probably need some time this summer to reassess the situation in Iraq before drawing down more troops."

Gaza. Leaving over 100 dead, IDF withdraws from Gaza "The IDF pulled its ground troops out of the Gaza Strip yesterday, and Hamas seized the opportunity to declare "victory" in the intensive fighting that has killed more than 100 people in recent days." Rice tries to save Mid-East talks "US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has held talks with Egyptian officials, the first stage of a trip aimed at saving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks." Bush upbeat on peace despite Gaza turmoil "George Bush today clung to his belief that Israel and the Palestinians will reach a deal before he leaves office, despite a surge of violence in the region." Olmert warns more Gaza fighting is imminent "The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, warned that more fighting in Gaza was imminent and admitted that one of his goals was now to "weaken" the Islamist movement Hamas." Residents of Israeli city prepare for war with Hamas "Ashkelon's director of strategic planning is spending his time in an underground command center, using computer mapping programs to chart the growing number of Palestinian rocket strikes on his city."

Somalia. U.S. missile strike in Somalia kills 6 "A U.S. missile strike Monday against suspected terrorists in a remote village of southern Somalia killed at least six people and wounded 10, witnesses and local leaders said." U.S. Forces Fire Missiles Into Somalia at a Kenyan "The missile strike was aimed at Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan born in 1979 who is wanted by the F.B.I. for questioning in the nearly simultaneous attacks in 2002 on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and on an Israeli airliner taking off from there," Somalis protest over US bombing "Hundreds of women and children have marched through the Somali town bombed by the US on Monday, chanting anti-American slogans."

Andean crisis. Border incursion was Colombian gamble "President Alvaro Uribe appears to have taken a calculated risk in ordering his armed forces to invade Ecuador to kill a top rebel leader, deciding to risk the ire of his southern neighbor to inflict a major loss in a decades-long war." Documents show Chavez gave FARC $300 million, Colombia claims "The Organization of American States scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss rising military tensions in South America as a Colombian official charged that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Colombian rebels $300 million." Venezuelan troops mobilise as Farc dispute nears boiling point "Hundreds of Venezuelan troops today began leaving for the country's border with Colombia ahead of emergency talks aimed at preventing an increasingly tense regional standoff from descending into armed conflict."

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