God's Politics

Reports on cost of war, detainees, Iraq, the intelligence estimate, Iran, Darfur, the “White House referee,” Israel-Syria, the “suburban agenda,” faith and politics, and organizing.

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Cost of war. Cost of Iraq war nearly $2b a week –”A new congressional analysis shows the Iraq war is now costing taxpayers almost $2 billion a week — nearly twice as much as in the first year of the conflict three years ago and 20 percent more than last year — as the Pentagon spends more on establishing regional bases to support the extended deployment and scrambles to fix or replace equipment damaged in combat.”

Detainees. House passes detainee rules – “The House approved administration-backed rules for interrogating and trying terrorism suspects, a key component of the national security agenda that Republicans aim to showcase in their fight to hold onto Congress. Torture is barred but not tough interrogation tactics.” House Approves Bill on Detainees – “The House approved an administration-backed system of questioning and prosecuting terrorism suspects yesterday, setting clearer limits on CIA interrogation techniques but denying access to courts for detainees seeking to challenge their imprisonment.”

Iraq. Poll Finds Iraqis Back Attacks on U.S. Troops – “About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask American troops to leave within a year, a poll released Wednesday found.” A way out of the Iraq mess? – “Democrats and Republicans have come together with the goal of figuring out a plan of action. The real test, though, will be whether anyone in Washington will listen.” (By Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist and Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic strategist. But as longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot.) The Iraq Study Group and its mission.

Intelligence Estimate. Dispute on Intelligence Report Disrupts Republicans’ Game Plan “The dispute over a newly disclosed National Intelligence Estimate has threatened a pre-election script in which the White House had sought to put Democrats on the defensive on national security.”

Iran. U.S. to wait ‘a few weeks’ on Iran move – “The Bush administration postponed its pursuit of U.N. sanctions against Iran for “a few weeks” to allow its European allies time to try to negotiate a suspension of Iran’s nuclear fuel production.” Negotiators discuss Iran’s nuclear program in Berlin – “Senior Iranian and European Union negotiators held five hours of talks on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program amid suggestions the United States might be willing to defer seeking sanctions for a few weeks if a diplomatic resolution was in sight.” Iran dissident’s message to U.S.: Don’t turn us into Iraq – “Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji rose to star status by stubbornly refusing to be silenced during 6 long years in prison. … Now in America on a speaking tour … Ganji has shunned White House photo ops in favor of a singular message he hopes the Bush administration will hear: Don’t bomb, don’t sanction, don’t turn Iran into Iraq.”

Darfur. U.S. threatens more sanctions – “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised the threat of more international sanctions against Sudan if the government did not stop military operations in the Darfur region and accept a UN peacekeeping force.” U.S. Weighs Moves Against Sudan Over U.N. Force – “The United States is considering a series of punitive steps if the Sudanese government fails to agree to a U.N. peacekeeping force to end the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region … Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled the new approach in a speech in which she demanded an immediate cease-fire and warned that Khartoum faces “a choice between cooperation and confrontation.” The responsibility to protect Darfur – “The UN should send a peacekeeping force to Darfur – even without Sudan’s consent.”

White House referee. Bush Plays Chaperon for Awkward Encounter – “For the past week, the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been in the United States, circling one another like wary cats as they lobbed insults across the airwaves from a distance. On Wednesday night, they stood glumly — more like caged cats — in the Rose Garden with President Bush, who had invited them to the White House for dinner and a little talking-to.” Bush referees as Karzai and Musharraf meet for dinner – “President George Bush said that he would act as referee at a working dinner at the White House between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as public bickering between the two men threatens to destabilise the US “war on terror”.

Israel-Syria. Olmert not warming to Syria’s moves – “The message from Syrian President Bashar Assad this week seemed conciliatory, an a
ttempt to set himself apart from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. … It was the latest in a series of signals from Damascus after the recent war in Lebanon, suggesting its readiness for negotiations with Israel and fueling debate here on whether to pursue talks with Syria.”

“Suburban agenda.” House GOP pushes its ‘suburban agenda’ – “While House Republicans trumpeted elements of their suburban agenda, Democrats yesterday said Congress will have failed the American people if it adjourns without increasing the minimum wage.”

Faith and politics. Danforth Warns of Christian Right but Says Tide Will Turn – “The potency of the Christian right in the Republican Party is limited, former senator John C. Danforth of Missouri is telling audiences this month. A lifelong Republican moderate disturbed by his party’s direction, he contends that the political center has a future.” John Danforth – “John Danforth looks like a quintessential Republican insider but he is calling for a radical change in how his party operates.”

Organize. A plan for very civil disobedience – Four hundred people will be arrested early this evening for blocking Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, in what could prove to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the city’s history. Police will follow a script, which even specifies who will be arrested, in a march to organize hotel workers.

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