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IRS v. All Saints. “A liberal Pasadena church declared that it will refuse to comply with an IRS investigation into its tax-exemption status launched after a guest speaker was critical of President Bush in a sermon.”

Defense spending. “With national security looming as a major issue in approaching midterm elections, Republican congressional leaders agreed to a new defense spending bill that would push the price tag for the war on terrorism above $470 billion.”

400 billionaires. For the first time, all of the Forbes magazine’s list of America’s richest people are billionaires.

Progressive Evangelicals. Some Evangelicals Look To The Left – CBS News – “Author and preacher Jim Wallis calls himself a ‘progressive evangelical’ who says Christians should focus on injustice around the world.”

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Full news summary:

Darfur. Outnumbered African force to stay on in Darfur – “African Union troops are extending their stay for three months as the world looks for other solutions. … But Sudan’s acceptance of the three-month extension may turn out to be just a fig leaf as the government continues its fight against rebels, and pro-government militias pursue deadly harassment of civilian populations in the vast region.” U.S. envoy on Darfur knows time is short – “Natsios said in an interview that there are few levers left to pull. Virtually all ties, he said, already have been cut off. “The Sudanese government is not the easiest government in the world to deal with,” he said.” UN envoy calls for peace in Darfur during Ramadan – “Jan Pronk’s implicit appeal for a ceasefire in the western region of Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have already died, came after the Khartoum government withdrew its ultimatum for African Union peacekeepers to pull out.”

IRS v. All Saints. All Saints Episcopal Church Won’t Comply With IRS Probe – “A liberal Pasadena church declared that it will refuse to comply with an IRS investigation into its tax-exemption status launched after a guest speaker was critical of President Bush in a sermon.” I.R.S. Inquiry Into Sermon Is Challenged by Church – “The church said it regarded an I.R.S. investigation of an antiwar sermon delivered by the church’s former rector on the Sunday before the 2004 election as an attack on freedom of speech and religion.”

Interrogation. White House, Senators Near Pact on Interrogation Rules – “The White House and dissident Senate Republicans reached a tentative accord on legislation that President Bush said would provide for continued tough interrogations of terrorism suspects by the CIA at secret detention sites.” Deal resolves GOP battle on detainees – “The agreement ensures that detainees accused of terrorism are handled according to the mandates of the Geneva Conventions. It also requires that an unclassified summary of any classified evidence leading to a conviction be shown to defendants at the administration’s proposed military trials.” New York Times editorial: A Bad Bargain – “Here is a way to measure how seriously President Bush was willing to compromise on the military tribunals bill: Less than an hour after an agreement was announced yesterday with three leading Republican senators, the White House was already laying a path to wiggle out of its one real concession.”

Iraq. Antiwar Push Starts Near White House; 34 Arrested – ‘A group of ministers, veterans and peace activists attempted to deliver a “declaration of peace” to the White House yesterday, kicking off a week of vigils and other activities in 350 communities across the country calling for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.”

Defense spending. GOP Leaders Work Out Deal on Defense Spending – “With national security looming as a major issue in approaching midterm elections, Republican congressional leaders agreed to a new defense spending bill that would push the price tag for the war on terrorism above $470 billion.” Strained, Army Looks to Guard for More Relief – “Strains on the Army from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become so severe that Army officials say they may be forced to make greater use of the National Guard to provide enough troops for overseas deployments.”

Politics. Bush Leads New Offensive Featuring Economy and Linking Democrats to High Taxes – “President Bush began a blistering new political offensive on Thursday, asserting that if Democrats won control of Congress from Republicans it would mean higher taxes, less money in the pockets of working families and damage to the economy.”

Venezuela. Chavez to Double Energy Subsidies to Needy in U.S. – “A day after he called President Bush “the devil” from the podium at the United Nations, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stood at the altar of a Harlem church and presented himself as an angel, offering 100 million gallons of subsidized heating oil to needy Americans.”

Iran. Iran Open To a Break In Nuclear Program – “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that his government is prepared to consider suspending its controversial uranium-enrichment program if Western governments meet unspecified conditions.”

Palestine-Israel. Abbas: We will recognize Israel – “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the planned national unity government will recognize Israel and renounce violence, in his most direct such commitment yet amid intense diplomacy to resolve the Mideast conflict.” Hamas rejects Abbas unity pledge – “Palestinian militant group Hamas says it will not join a unity government if it means recognising Israel.

Pakistan. US threatened to bomb Pakistan – “The Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the stone age” after the September 11 attacks if the country did not cooperate with America’s war on Afghanistan.” US ‘threatened to bomb’ Pakistan – “General Musharraf said the warning was delivered by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Pakistan’s intelligence director.”

400 billionaires. The Super-Rich Get Richer: Forbes 400 Are All Billionaires – “It’s not news that Bill Gates is the richest person in America, according to Forbes magazine’s annual list of the nation’s 400 richest people, released yesterday. He has been for 13 years. … The news is: On this list, $999 million is chump change. For the first time, all 400 Gotbucks on the Forbes tally are billionaires.”

Quote of the Day.

The Episcopal faith “calls us to speak to the issues of war and poverty, bigotry, torture, and all forms of terrorism … always stopping short of supporting or opposing political parties or candidates for public office.” Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, announcing that the church would challenge an IRS demand for documents. (Los Angeles Times)

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