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The Buzz

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Issue: "Giving thanks," Nov. 24, 2007

Thanksgiving

Just be glad you don't have to cook it. The 2007 National Thanksgiving Turkey at 21 weeks old is expected to weigh 45 pounds by the time it arrives in Washington and is presented to the president for "pardon"-a tradition that in its current form this year turns 60 years old. But in a modern American twist on tradition, this tom then will fly first-class to Disney World, where he will be the grand marshal of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade and later be on hand to welcome guests in the backyard of Mickey's house.

Turkey

Turkish helicopters fired on villages in northern Iran Nov. 13 to dislodge Turkish Kurd guerrillas from nearby bases used to stage cross-border raids into Turkey. It was the first major Turkish action against the rebels since Turkey massed tens of thousands of soldiers along the border with Iraq and demanded U.S. and Iraqi action to crack down on guerrilla activities.

Iraq

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Are Iraqi Sunnis having a change of heart or massing for rebellion, as Shiites fear? More than 80 percent of Iraqis volunteering across the country as "Concerned Local Citizens" in a new joint U.S.-Iraqi program are Sunnis. Now a political and demographic minority, Sunnis and key leaders in recent months have abandoned support for al-Qaeda in Iraq and other militants in favor of cooperation with government forces. Now, out of 67,000 people across 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces, 51,000 Sunnis have been screened to work with with local military personnel. Benefits of the program outweigh its risks, according to Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno: Over a recent 15-day period, volunteers in the program provided tips leading to confiscation of 37,000 pounds of explosives and other armaments.

Preliminary findings of an FBI investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting in Iraq by private U.S. diplomatic guards from Blackwater USA concluded that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules. Prosecutors will face a challenge in seeking indictments, given questions over federal law governing private security contractors and concern that much of the evidence was cold by the time FBI agents were called in-posing one of the first legal hurdles for U.S. Attorney General Robert Mukasey, who was sworn in Nov. 14.

Pakistan

Bowing to direct pressure from President Bush, Pakistan's president Gen. Pervez Musharraf announced Nov. 14 he will step down as army chief by the end of November and begin a new presidential term as a civilian. The president originally planned to leave his army post by Nov. 15, when his term of office also expired. Instead he decreed emergency rule this month amid political turmoil to battle Islamic extremism. Army officers under Musharraf kept former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, once a candidate for power-sharing with the military government, under house arrest.

Environment

The much-debated Kyoto Protocol won't expire until 2012, but already the debate to replace its flawed strategy to reduce global warming is heating up. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body that recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, convened in Spain last week to help nations determine post-Kyoto how to reduce pollution.

China, India, Australia, and the United States have never assented to Kyoto's caps on greenhouse-gas emissions, which can stifle economic growth and harm the poor. But that won't stop a largely green international community represented by IPCC from applying political pressure-no matter how much new science minimizes human ability to impact climate patterns.

House divided

For presidential candidates who thought just one strategy could woo the religious right, and for voters seeking a GOP candidate to embrace, a recent survey of the movement's political endorsements thus far shows just how fractured is the conservative religious vote:

Pat Robertson, televangelist: Rudy Giuliani

Paul Weyrich, Free Congress Foundation: Mitt Romney

National Right to Life Committee: Fred Thompson

Sen. Sam Brownback: John McCain

Don Wildmon, American Family Association: Mike Huckabee

Lou Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition: Mitt Romney

Rick Scarborough, Vision America: Mike Huckabee

Janet Folger, Faith to Action: Mike Huckabee

Bob Jones III, former chancellor, Bob Jones University: Mitt Romney

Wayne Grudem, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Mitt Romney

And finally, Chuck Norris, aka Walker, Texas Ranger, writes in a campaign email Nov. 13: "Fact: Mike Huckabee is my choice for President of the United States." With the combined forces therein of the Marines, the Wild West, the martial arts, and the Dallas Cowboys, there's room left in this crowded field for underdogs to take heart.

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