Did I mention that Python is my favorite scripting language? :)|
WRT to the updates, I don't see that much to get excited about. Version 1.6 is just a clean up version that will probably be the last to come out of CNRI. (though 1.6 does bring in Unicode support - which is a make or break proposition with a lot of people). Version 2.0 has some new features, but the only one I see worth mentioning is List Comprehension.
From the interview with Guido, I gather that the split with CNRI kind of got things sidetracked. I think he originally planned to make much more sweeping changes in version 2.x, but has delayed it till Python 3000 comes out. Probably appropriate that Guido is considering far reaching changes for that version, considering Larry Wall is considering making Perl 6 be radically different.
As for what Python needs, I think the best critique can be found in Real Problems with Python.