First brigade to leave Iraq will come from Diyala

Commanders in Iraq have decided to begin the drawdown of U.S. forces in volatile Diyala province, marking a turning point in the U.S. military mission, The Associated Press has learned.

Instead of replacing the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, which is returning to its home base at Fort Hood, Texas, in December, soldiers from another brigade in Salahuddin province next door will expand into Diyala, thereby broadening its area of responsibility, several officials said yesterday.

In this way, the number of Army ground combat brigades in Iraq will fall from 20 to 19. This reflects President Bush’s bid to begin reducing the American military force and shifting its role away from fighting the insurgency toward more support functions like training and advising Iraqi security forces.


Iowa GOP moves caucus to Jan. 3

Iowa Republicans yesterday rescheduled their presidential nominating caucuses to Jan. 3 in response to other states scheduling early contests.

“With under 80 days to go, this is a huge help to our counties and county chairs to get the ball rolling and start organizing,” Chuck Laudner, executive director of the Iowa GOP, said in a statement.

The announcement came late yesterday after the state central committee, two national committee members and the party chairman approved the date on a conference call.


GM announces slate of permanent cuts

General Motors Corp. said yesterday it will permanently lay off 767 workers later this year at a plant near Detroit because of lagging sales of its products.

GM’s Hamtramck assembly plant will go from two shifts to one shift on Dec. 14, company spokesman Tom Wickham said. The plant will be closed from Dec. 14 to Jan. 2 for a planned shutdown and for a holiday recess, Wickham added.

The plant currently employs 1,847 hourly workers and makes the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS sedans. Lucerne sales fell 15 percent in the first nine months of this year, while DTS sales were down 14 percent, according to Autodata Corp.


Dalai Lama brushes off Chinese anger at U.S. celebrations

The Dalai Lama, after meeting privately yesterday with President Bush, brushed off China’s furious reaction to U.S. celebrations this week in his honor.

“That always happens,” the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists said with a laugh, speaking to reporters gathered outside his downtown Washington hotel.

The White House defended the meeting in the president’s residence and dismissed Beijing’s warning that the talks and the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to him on Wednesday would damage relations between the United States and China.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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