Thursday, November 30, 2006

Too Little, Too Late?

Bush Vows To Speed Iraq Security Handover - 30 Nov 2006 at 8:21am - President Bush has told Iraq's leader that the U.S. will work to quicken its turnover of security in the war-torn country to domestic forces, and will increase support for those forces to make it happen.
Bush has been saying for a long time now that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is contingent upon Iraqi forces' ability to stand on their own. So why wait until now to concentrate on training and equipping the Iraqi security system? What percentage of U.S. military forces currently deployed in Iraq are devoted to training Iraq's military?

Bush backs Iraq PM, says no U.S. "graceful exit" - 30 Nov 2006 at 11:06am - AMMAN (Reuters) - President Bush strongly backed Iraq's prime minister on Thursday, saying Iraqi forces would be prepared more quickly to take over security and that Washington was not looking for a "graceful exit".
What he may actually be after is a "face-saving exit" -- probably something more like "machismo-preserving exit".

Iraq Panel To Call For Gradual Pullback - 30 Nov 2006 at 8:11am - A bipartisan commission next week will unveil long-awaited recommendations for a new U.S. policy in Iraq that reports said would call for a gradual pullback of U.S. troops there " without a timetable " and direct diplomacy with Iran and Syria.
No timetable -- but...

Iraqi forces can take over by June 2007, says PM - 30 Nov 2006 at 2:25pm - AMMAN (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Thursday his government's forces would be able to take over security command from U.S. troops by June 2007 -- a move which could allow the United States to start withdrawing.

U.S. repudiates analyst's jab at Britain - 30 Nov 2006 at 2:46pm - WASHINGTON -- The State Department repudiated on Thursday comments by a veteran department analyst who said that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's relationship with the United States was "totally one-sided" in Washington's favor.

Humans must colonize other planets: Hawking - 30 Nov 2006 at 8:39am - LONDON (Reuters) - Humans must colonize planets in other solar systems traveling there using "Star Trek"-style propulsion or face extinction, renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking said on Thursday.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So, What's the Plan?

Judge Strikes Down Bush on Terror Groups - 29 Nov 2006 at 8:54am - A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutional and vague.
This judge seems to be interfering with the Bush administration's unconstitutional right to arbitrariness.

White House Losing Faith In Iraqi Leader? - 29 Nov 2006 at 8:21am - As President Bush leaves for his summit in Jordan with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a newspaper released a classified memo by a top White House adviser that expresses doubts about whether al-Maliki has the capacity to control the violence.

Bush Talks With Iraqi Leader Delayed - 29 Nov 2006 at 1:27pm - President Bush's high-stakes summit with Iraq's prime minister has been delayed for a day after public disclosure of U.S. doubts about Nouri al-Maliki's capacity to control sectarian warfare.
Bush, who had insisted all along he had an adequate plan for "post-war" Iraq, is now suddenly, inexplicably without one, and now plans to ask al-Maliki what his plan is, and how the U.S. can assist in its implementation.

Defense nominee criticizes Iraq planning - 29 Nov 2006 at 11:42am - WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director Robert Gates, President Bush's nominee for defense Secretary, criticized the handling of the war in Iraq and said he will improve Pentagon postwar planning if he is confirmed.
Gates: "you need a plan for Iraq" Bush: "got one" Gates: "no, you haven't" Bush: "I don't?" Gates: "no" Bush: "damn"

Saudi will intervene in Iraq if U.S. withdraws: aide - 29 Nov 2006 at 8:35am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Using money, weapons or its oil power, Saudi Arabia will intervene to prevent Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias from massacring Iraqi Sunni Muslims once the United States begins pulling out of Iraq, a security adviser to the Saudi government said on Wednesday.

France, U.S. agree useless to talk to Syria: Chirac - 29 Nov 2006 at 8:25am - RIGA (Reuters) - France and the United States agree there is no point in talking to Syria because the conditions for an honest dialogue do not exist, President Jacques Chirac said on Wednesday.

We don't believe it, either (at least not without seeing the video).

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In the News - Nov. 28

Bush: Iraq Not In Civil War - 28 Nov 2006 at 9:30am - President Bush says the situation in Iraq cannot be called civil war, but rather a rash of violence prompted by an al Qaeda plot to fan the flames of sectarian hatred among the nation's different ethnicities.
Can Bush really not see that it is he himself who has set all this in motion?

Report: EU hindered CIA prison probe - 28 Nov 2006 at 10:34am - European countries knew about U.S. secret jails for terrorism suspects and have obstructed an investigation into the transport and illegal detention of prisoners, a draft European Parliament report said on Tuesday.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

In the News - Nov. 27

UK to cut Iraq troops by "thousands" by end-2007 - 27 Nov 2006 at 8:50am - LONDON (Reuters) - Britain expects to be able to withdraw "thousands" of its troops from Iraq by the end of 2007, Britain's Defense Minister Des Browne said on Monday.

Bush Embarks On Diplomatic Offensive - 27 Nov 2006 at 9:00am - As pressure increases to change the course in Iraq, President Bush heads overseas for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan. King Abdullah of Jordan is warning of an outbreak of civil wars in the Middle East.

Watchdog to review domestic spying - 27 Nov 2006 at 1:30pm - The Justice Department?s internal watchdog said Monday it has opened an investigation into the agency?s use of information gathered in the government?s warrantless surveillance program.

Zelikow to resign from State Department - 27 Nov 2006 at 2:03pm - WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's most senior adviser on Iraq is leaving the State Department to return to his teaching job.

Court rejects N.Y. Times on leak probe - 27 Nov 2006 at 2:36pm - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled against The New York Times on Monday, refusing to block the government from reviewing the phone records of two Times reporters in a leak investigation of a terrorism-funding probe.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In The News - Nov. 22

More Marines may be needed in terror war - 22 Nov 2006 at 9:52am - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Marine Corps may need to increase in size in order to sustain continued deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan without sacrificing needed training or putting undue stress on the corps, the Marine commandant said Wednesday.
Is the U.S. military being stretched too thin due to continued involvement in Iraq, or isn't it? What's the real story?

Iraq civilian death toll reaches new high, says UN - 22 Nov 2006 at 8:24am - As many as 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, exceeding the previous monthly high set in July, the United Nations said Wednesday.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

It's a Sign Of a Healthy Society

Bush shows support for Indonesia amid protests - 20 Nov 2006 at 8:25am - BOGOR (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush showed support for a U.S. ally in the war against Islamic militants on Monday with a visit to Indonesia which generated angry protests in the world's most populous Muslim nation.
There's some new terminology: "War against Islamic militants". That's a little more specific than "war on terror", I guess, but still not much more specific than "war on evildoers".

In a news conference, Bush said of the protests, "People protest -- that's a good sign. It's a sign of a healthy society". Does that mean we no longer need designated "free speech zones" in the U.S.?

Pentagon panels sees three options in Iraq: report - 20 Nov 2006 at 10:07am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon panel has outlined three basic options for improving the situation in Iraq -- pull out, send more U.S. troops or reduce the size of the force but stay longer, The Washington Post reported on Monday.... The options have been dubbed "Go Home," "Go Big" and "Go Longer" by insiders.
I'm guessing Bush would have preferred a "go fish" option

White House brushes off CIA report on Iran: report - 20 Nov 2006 at 9:23am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House dismissed a classified CIA draft assessment that found no conclusive evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program, the New Yorker reported.
"No conclusive evidence" is the kind of evidence the Bush administration prefers; if the evidence itself is inconclusive, it frees one up to jump to one's own conclusions.

Pentagon wants to build mini-city for terror trials - Fri, Nov. 17, 2006 - The Pentagon plans to build a military commissions compound at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, costing up to $125 million, a major undertaking meant to accommodate up to 1,200 people for the first U.S. war crimes trials since World War II, The Miami Herald learned Thursday.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Global Warming - Iraq Policy - Electronic Voting

Annan warns of "frightening lack of leadership" over climate change - 15 Nov 2006 at 10:16am - NAIROBI (AFP) - Citing "a frightening lack of leadership" to tackle climate change, UN chief Kofi Annan has demanded world leaders give global warming the same priority as they did to wars and to curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

White House Sued Over Global Warming - 15 Nov 2006 at 9:43am - (AP)— Environmentalists sued the Bush administration Tuesday for failing to produce a report on global warming's impact on the country's environment, economy and public health. The plaintiffs claim the government must complete such a report every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The plaintiffs say the last report was due in November 2004.

Emboldened Democrats to urge Iraq exit - 15 Nov 2006 at 11:55am - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration must tell Iraq that U.S. troops will begin withdrawing in four to six months, the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday, as Congress began re-examining U.S. policy in the wake of last week's Democratic election victory.

U.S. commander warns against Iraq cutoff - 15 Nov 2006 at 12:16pm - WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. commander in the Middle East warned Congress Wednesday against setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, saying it would impede commanders in managing U.S. and Iraqi forces.

More U.S. troops in Iraq not needed: U.S. general - 15 Nov 2006 at 12:42pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. general in the Middle East on Wednesday said he did not believe more U.S. troops were needed in Iraq, where violence rages and has frustrated Pentagon efforts to start withdrawing its force.
What are the troops we already have there needed for, again?

House member wants e-voting paper trail - 15 Nov 2006 at 2:28pm - WASHINGTON -- Citing the disputed vote in a Florida congressional district, a Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday urged Congress to approve his measure requiring a paper trail for electronic voting.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

They Want Us To Succeed

President Bush met with the Iraq Study Group today, but not to hear their recommendations, so I'm not sure what the purpose of the meeting was, unless it was like all of Dick Cheney's meetings with the CIA prior to the Iraq invasion: to make sure that whatever the recommendations are, they will be in line with the White House belief system.

Afterward, Bush had this to say about the meeting: "I was impressed by the questions they asked. They want us to succeed in Iraq, just like I want us to succeed. So we had a really good discussion".

Who does he think would be willing to serve as a member of such a study group who wouldn't want the U.S. to succeed?

The more interesting question will be how the group defines "success" (if they bother to define it at all). How does Bush define it? Does "success" mean simply keeping troops in Iraq until, by some miracle, Iraq becomes "free and democratic"? And what is the definition of "free and democratic"?

The Good News Is:

Senior al-Qaeda member caught in Afghanistan - 13 Nov 2006 at 6:25am - A senior member of al-Qaeda has been arrested in southeastern Afghanistan by U.S. and Afghan forces, according to a Afghan provincial police chief.
The bad news is:

Insurgent activity rising in Afghanistan - 13 Nov 2006 at 6:37am - Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year, and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006, a bleak new report released Sunday found.

Bush meets members of group on Iraq - 13 Nov 2006 at 1:22pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush cautioned Democrats wanting to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to consider conditions on the ground as he met on Monday with a bipartisan group expected to offer a plan for changing course in Iraq.
I think conditions on the ground may be part of what makes people want to reduce the U.S. troop presence.

Iraq allies urge Bush to turn to Iran, Syria - 13 Nov 2006 at 2:54pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, searching for a new approach in Iraq, expressed little enthusiasm on Monday for seeking Syrian and Iranian help to calm Iraq as he also cautioned Democrats against quick U.S. troop reductions.
Engaging Syria and Iran would probably make sense. This probably wouldn't:

Bush calls for global isolation of Iran - 13 Nov 2006 at 1:08pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush, responding to concerns Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brought to the White House, called on Monday for worldwide isolation of Iran until it "gives up its nuclear ambitions."

Rumsfeld drops plan to go to NATO summit - 13 Nov 2006 at 1:00pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has dropped plans to join President Bush at a NATO summit this month in Latvia, in light of his announced resignation, a Rumsfeld spokesman said Monday.

Pentagon lacks independent watchdog - 13 Nov 2006 at 3:06pm - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has been without its chief watchdog for more than a year, even as the military spends billions of dollars a month in Iraq and controversy simmers over warrantless surveillance, missing weapons and friendly fire deaths.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Well Said, Henry

Waxman set to probe areas of Bush gov't - 10 Nov 2006 at 3:54pm - LOS ANGELES -- The Democratic congressman who will investigate the Bush administration's running of the government says there are so many areas of possible wrongdoing, his biggest problem will be deciding which ones to pursue.

Lame Duck Senate Won't Approve Bolton - 10 Nov 2006 at 7:42am - President Bush resubmitted John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., hoping a GOP-led Senate would move ahead on the stalled process. But Democrats and a key Republican quickly said they continue to oppose the controversial nominee.

US was warned of Iraq chaos, says ex-diplomat - 10 November 2006 10:41 - A former diplomat has revealed that the British mission to the United Nations opposed the policy of regime change in Iraq but was ordered by London to change its position in the lead-up to war. The disclosure was made to MPs yesterday by Carne Ross, a member of the mission who resigned in protest at the Iraq war. He told the Foreign Affairs Committee that the US government was repeatedly warned by British diplomats that Iraq would fall apart if Saddam Hussein was toppled. But from mid-2002 instructions were received to change that view to fall in with the Bush administration.

Up to 150,000 dead in Iraq bloodletting - November 10, 2006 10:47:19 AM - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's health ministry has said up to 150,000 people have died since the 2003 US-led invasion, as outgoing US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged the problems in fighting insurgents.

Sweden Violated Torture Ban in CIA Rendition - 10 Nov 2006 at 10:58am - The United Nations' ruling that Sweden violated the global torture ban in its involvement in the CIA transfer of an asylum seeker to Egypt is an important step toward establishing accountability for European governments complicit in illegal US renditions, Human Rights Watch said today. In a decision made public today, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that diplomatic assurances against torture did not provide an effective safeguard against ill-treatment in the case of an asylum seeker transferred from Sweden to Egypt by CIA operatives in December 2001. The committee decided that Sweden's involvement in the US transfer of Mohammed al-Zari to Egypt breached the absolute ban on torture, despite assurances of humane treatment provided by Egyptian authorities prior to the rendition.

Lieberman: Call me a Democrat - 10 Nov 2006 at 11:13am - WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Lieberman, who won re-election as an independent, has a message for his Senate colleagues in the next Congress: Call me a Democrat.
He's undoubtedly been called worse.

Gates' views have differed from Bush - 10 Nov 2006 at 2:37pm - WASHINGTON -- Robert Gates, President Bush's choice to lead the Pentagon, argues that the United States should be talking with Iran instead of shunning it. He says America's spy agencies misled the president on whether Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction - but also believes the nation should never launch another pre-emptive military strike without "unambiguous" intelligence.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rummy Feels the Heat

Rumsfeld quitting as U.S. defence secretary: report - 8 Nov 2006 at 12:58pm - U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down after Democrats made major gains in mid-term elections, Republican officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday. President George W. Bush had said he would keep Rumsfeld, who has overseen the execution of the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq, for the next two years.
Bush flip-flopping on Rummy?

Ex-CIA staffer: Iraq posed no threat to U.S. - 11-2-2006 - ONEONTA _ A former CIA employee and Army veteran asked his audience to ponder a math question Wednesday night. "How many Oneontas would there be to make up 650,000 Iraqi civilians?" Ray McGovern asked the audience at a lecture at Hartwick College, referring to a recent report estimating the civilian death toll in the U.S.-led war. "This is not an academic exercise. This is real life, folks."

AP: Hastert won't seek House leader post - 8 Nov 2006 at 2:42pm - WASHINGTON -- Triggering a post-election shake-up, Dennis Hastert announced Wednesday he will not run for leader of House Republicans when Democrats take control in January.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Khalilzad – Cluster Bombs – Voter Resources

U.S. envoy to Iraq likely quitting post - 6 Nov 2006 at 11:18am - WASHINGTON -- Zalmay Khalilzad, the plainspoken dealmaker and Republican insider who has won praise and criticism for attempts to broker Sunni political participation in Iraq's fragile government, is likely to quit his post as U.S. ambassador in Baghdad in the coming months, a senior Bush administration official said Monday.

Red Cross demands action on cluster bombs - 6 Nov 2006 at 1:34pm - GENEVA (AFP) - The International Committee of the Red Cross called on all states to ban immediately the use of "inaccurate and unreliable" cluster bombs, responsible for killing and maiming countless civilians.

Cabinet minister calls for ban on cluster bombs - Monday November 6, 2006 - Hilary Benn, the international development secretary, is calling for a ban on cluster bombs, a move opposed by the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.

Court hears of American's Iraq sentence - 6 Nov 2006 at 1:45pm - WASHINGTON -- An American facing a death sentence in Iraq turned to the Supreme Court Monday in a late effort to keep the military from handing him over to Iraqi authorities.

News You Can Use: How to Make Your Vote Count - 6 Nov 2006 - Tuesday is Election Day and the stakes could not be higher for a midterm contest: Control of both the House and Senate is up for grabs and could come down to a handful of close elections in a number of key states. New laws and new voting machines are in place, designed to make the voting process more efficient. But adjusting to so much change in such a competitive political season could also make this one of the most confusing and chaotic Election Days on record.
Another good source of info is

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Winning Ways

Bush challenges Democrats to offer plan for Iraq - 3 Nov 2006 at 11:57am - SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (Reuters) - President George W. Bush challenged Democrats on Friday to offer their plan for winning in Iraq as he swept across Republican strongholds in the U.S. heartland to try to help his party's candidates survive on Election Day.
Since GWB's Iraq adventure was doomed from the outset, and there is therefore no "victory" to be had there, it should be no easier for Democrats to plan for one than it has been for the Bush administration. What's needed is not a plan for winning, but a plan to cut our losses.

U.S. shutters site with Saddam-era files - 3 Nov 2006 at 8:45am - WASHINGTON -- The nation's top intelligence official took down a government Web site with captured Saddam Hussein-era Iraqi documents, after questions were raised about whether it provided too much information about making atomic bombs.

Deployment of convicted soldier stopped - 3 Nov 2006 at 11:30am - WASHINGTON -- A soldier convicted in connection with prisoner abuse in Iraq was sent this week with his military police unit for another tour in Iraq, but the Army on Friday stopped him before he got there, a spokesman said.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Come For the Car Bombs, Stay For the Oil

Via Whatever It Is,I'm Against It, Iraq President Jalal Talabani's Bush-worthily upbeat assessment of conditions in Iraq: "There is no civil war. The media is focusing only on the negative side of Iraq.... We need to give the real picture. It's not just car bombs. Visit Iraq from the north to the south. Never mind Baghdad."

U.S. troops should stay longer in Iraq: Talabani - 2 Nov 2006 at 9:26am - PARIS (Reuters) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Thursday U.S. troops should remain in Iraq for up to three more years to help bring peace to the country, envisaging a slower withdrawal programme than that suggested by Washington.

General likens Iraq to "work of art" in progress - 2 Nov 2006 at 10:26am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior U.S. general compared Iraq on Thursday to a "work of art" in progress, saying it was too soon to judge the outcome and playing down violence and friction with Iraqi leaders as "speed bumps" on the road.

Democrats say hunger report stalled - 2 Nov 2006 at 11:09am - WASHINGTON -- Democrats are blaming politics for the Bush administration's decision to wait until after the election to issue a report on hunger in the United States.

Canada near top, U.K. at low end in protecting privacy rights: survey - 2 Nov 2006 at 2:09pm - When it comes to privacy rights, Canada ranks among the top defenders while Britain is considered one of the worst protectors, according to a new survey.

U.S. Commander Retires Over Abu Ghraib - 2 Nov 2006 at 2:47pm - The U.S. Army commander who was in charge of all U.S. forces in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal has retired, saying senior officers refused to let him advance his careers after the scandal.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Regime Change": Good; "Destabilization": Bad

U.S. faults Syria, Iran, Hezbollah on Lebanon - 1 Nov 2006 at 12:47pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday said it believed Syria, Lebanon and Hezbollah militants were trying to destabilize the Lebanese government.
Of course, the United States would never think of trying to destabilize a government.

Bush: Rumsfeld, Cheney must stay til end - 1 Nov 2006 at 2:41pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most criticized members of his team.

Iraqi data suggests civilian deaths still rising - 1 Nov 2006 at 9:59am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The number of Iraqi civilians killed in violence may have jumped to another record high in October, data from the Iraqi government indicated on Wednesday.

Iraqis divided over checkpoints order - 1 Nov 2006 at 11:16am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Shi'ite and Sunni leaders sparred on Wednesday over a government order to lift U.S. checkpoints around a Baghdad militia stronghold as data showed the number of Iraqis killed in October may have hit a record high.

Kerry says he is sorry for "botched" Iraq joke - 1 Nov 2006 at 10:20am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. John Kerry said on Wednesday he was sorry about a "botched joke" that drew election-year fire from President George W. Bush and other Republicans who accused him of insulting U.S. troops in Iraq.

Federal Judge Blocks Pa. Town Crackdown - 1 Nov 2006 at 12:40pm - A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the city of Hazleton from enforcing a pair of ordinances targeting illegal immigrants, just hours before the measures were to go into effect.

Harper agrees to send Clean Air Act to committee - 1 Nov 2006 at 12:14pm - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to send the government's Clean Air Act to a special committee for review following a threat by Jack Layton to topple the government over the issue.

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