Friday, August 03, 2007


McCain changes course on immigration

By JENNIFER TALHELM, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 2, 7:08 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Thursday backed a scaled-down proposal that imposes strict rules to end illegal immigration but doesn't include a path to citizenship.


The move away from a comprehensive measure is an about-face for the Arizona senator, who had been a leading GOP champion of a bill that included a guest worker program and would have legalized many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. It failed earlier this year.

"We can still show the American people that we are serious about securing our nation's border," McCain said in a statement, adding that the new bill would "provide an essential step toward achieving comprehensive reform in the future."

McCain's immigration position has been a campaign liability among Republican voters and hurt his efforts to raise money. Other GOP presidential candidates, fellow Arizona Republicans and immigration opponents throughout the country have loudly decried his position.

Observers said McCain's switch was political. "He recognizes his position on the issue is killing him," said Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors vigorous immigration enforcement.

McCain's co-sponsors include Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona. All three were leading advocates for the unsuccessful comprehensive immigration measure and were bombarded with criticism for their support.

Immigrants' rights advocates jumped to condemn their decision. "It is fairly stunning they have gone from leaders on comprehensive reform legislation to lemmings running over the cliff" with the Republican opponents of the bill, said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum.

Among other things, the bill makes being in the country illegally a criminal misdemeanor and toughens penalties for re-entering after being deported. It mandates an electronic system for employers to check workers' citizenship status and requires illegal immigrants who commit a crime to be held in jail until they are deported.



« Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet has lost 12 of its 37 members. (Getty Images)

Iraq Unity Government Crumbles

The Iraq unity government suffered another blow on Wednesday when the largest Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, withdrew from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet.

Thirty-seven ministers work full time in the cabinet; a total of 12 have now resigned. In addition to the six Sunnis who resigned yesterday, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr withdrew his followers from the cabinet in April, then withdrew his 30 members from the parliament immediately following the attack on the al Askari Mosque in June.

The Sunnis who resigned claim that al-Maliki’s government has not done enough to address sectarian issues. As if on cue, more than 75 people were killed in bombings on Wednesday. A suicide bomber destroyed a fuel tanker at a gas station, killing about 50 people and shooting flames and smoke 50 feet into the air. A favorite ice cream shop in Freedom Square became another target; 20 were killed and 40 wounded there.

The Sunnis have demanded that detainees be released and that they be granted more representation in the government. The Sunni vice president has said his followers will return to the unity government if their list of 11 demands is met. But Shiites have remained firmly against
many of the Sunni demands, calling the list “political blackmail.”

Al-Maliki faces the unenviable task of answering the demands from the Sunni
, who are evidently behind the flare-up in violence. Joost Hilterman, an analyst from the International Crisis Group, said, “The parties that are in power now consider that the present attacks, the insurgency, is based in the Sunni Arab community, and they see this as an attempt by the former regime to come back, and they are going to resist that.”

Last Friday, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh accused the Iraqi Accordance Front
of “deliberately obstructing the work of the government and of ignoring the victims of terrorism during Saddam Hussein’s era, while ‘demanding pardon for the perpetrators of mass graves and poison gas.’” Then a letter from the Accordance Front, insisting on an answer to its demands, went totally unanswered. Accordance Front senior leader Rafaa al-Issawi said the government has “slammed shut the door to any meaningful reforms necessary for saving Iraq.”

The Shiites still hold a majority in parliament, but analysts say that any laws passed regarding reconciliation without Sunni support are meaningless, and that the unity government has deteriorated into a Shiite government without popular support.

Meanwhile, bombs continue to explode almost daily.

The U.S. attempt to impose a political solution on a religious problem has essentially failed. The only power—foreign or domestic—with any real ability to exert control over the religious strife in Iraq is its dangerous neighbor, Iran. Watch for Iran to consolidate its power over the region and, ultimately, to take over the reins in Iraq. For more information, please read “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?



Vanunu Said Sharon
Is Dead - A Week Ago


Sometimes...make that usually...the most accurate news comes closest on the heels of major events. In the case of Sharon's health breakdown, there were several news reports he had of which came from no less a person than Mordechai Vanunu.

With Sharon's succession clouded, to cover up and delay the announcement of his death would not be politically out of the question.

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