God's Politics

The latest news on the North Korean nuclear test, Darfur, religion and law, congressional scandal, evangelicals and Rep. Foley, women in politics, Iraq, faith-based foreign aid, and more.

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North Korea nuclear test. N. Korea Reports 1st Nuclear Arms Test – “North Korea said Sunday night that it had set off its first nuclear test, becoming the eighth country in history, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to proclaim that it has joined the club of nuclear weapons states.” N Korea claims nuclear test – “The controlled explosion, carried out at Hwaderi, near the north-eastern city of Kilju, sent shockwaves across the world and escalated tensions in north-east Asia.” Nuclear trial a test for UN – “The United Nations security council will almost certainly go into emergency session to discuss a resolution imposing severe sanctions against North Korea,” Outcry at N Korea ‘nuclear test’ – “Japan and South Korea also condemned the test and even Pyongyang’s closest ally China expressed its “resolute opposition”, calling the move “brazen”. N Korea test a blow to diplomacy – “North Korea’s nuclear test has thrown efforts to restrain it into further confusion, presenting particular problems for not just the United States but China as well.”

Darfur. Arab League offers soldiers for Darfur – “Arab countries have launched a new effort to push Sudan toward a compromise over UN peacekeepers for Darfur, offering to dispatch a force of Arab and Muslim troops to the troubled region,” Darfur campaign cuts Sudan money – “A campaign in the United States to put pressure on Sudan over its policies in Darfur received a boost this week when California passed laws limiting business links with Sudan’s government.” Sudan Divestment Effort Gains Momentum at State Level – “House members are scattering to their home states this week with inconclusive results on the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan, but momentum is growing at the state level for governments to divest public funds from companies, mostly foreign-based, doing business with Khartoum.”

Religion and law. Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights – “Legislators and regulators are not the only people in government who have drafted special rules for religious organizations. Judges, too, have carved out or preserved safe havens that shield religious employers of all faiths from most employee lawsuits, from laws protecting pensions and providing unemployment benefits, and from laws that give employees the right to form unions to negotiate with their employers.” Secular Laws Cede to Religious Exemptions – “In recent years, many politicians and commentators have cited what they consider a nationwide “war on religion” that exposes religious organizations to hostility and discrimination. But such organizations — from mainline Presbyterian and Methodist churches to mosques to synagogues to Hindu temples — enjoy an abundance of exemptions from regulations and taxes.”

Politics – Congressional scandal. In House Races, More G.O.P. Seats Are Seen at Risk – “At least five more Republican Congressional seats are now in serious contention, analysts said Friday, an unwelcome development for Republicans as they begin to confront a political environment further darkened for them by the Congressional page scandal.” GOP Struggles to Shift Focus From Scandal – “More than a week after Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned from the House over his messages to teenage boys who had served as congressional pages, other Republicans are struggling to get off the defensive and back onto the campaign themes they hoped would help preserve their House and Senate majorities after the midterm elections Nov. 7.”

Politics. A Balancing Act in the Upper South – “Across the upper South, from the Ozark hills to the Virginia Beach suburbs, Democratic candidates in House and Senate races are betting that they can overcome the unpopularity of their party affiliation by shrewdly combining biography, personal style and artful positioning on divisive social issues.” A Political Opportunity for Women – “this year may prove to be a major breakthrough for women in Congress … Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a Web page that provides analysis of House and Senate races around the country, is predicting that 2006 could be the best year for women in 14 years.”

Faith and politics. Evangelicals Blame Foley, Not Republican Party – “Most of the evangelical Christians interviewed said that so far they saw Mr. Foley’s behavior as a matter of personal morality, not institutional dysfunction. All said the question of broader responsibility had quickly devolved into a storm of partisan charges and countercharges. And all insisted the episode would have little impact on their intentions to vote.”Enough was enough – “Conservative Christians, the vast majority of whom are Republicans, offer multiple reasons for how they coale
sced into a political powerhouse in Ohio and nationally during recent years.”

Iraq. U.S. Casualties in Iraq Rise Sharply – “The number of U.S troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly level in nearly two years as American GIs fight block-by-block in Baghdad to try to check a spiral of sectarian violence … Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq,”

Exporting faith-Boston Globe begins a series on faith-based groups and foreign aid. Part 1. Bush brings faith to foreign aid – “ President Bush has almost doubled the percentage of US foreign-aid dollars going to faith-based groups such as Food for the Hungry, according to a Globe survey of government data. And in seeking to help such groups obtain more contracts, Bush has systematically eliminated or weakened rules designed to enforce the separation of church and state.” Part 2. Religious right wields clout – “The pattern of outcry by religious conservatives, followed by accommodation by the administration, has been replicated on numerous occasions at USAID, from personnel decisions to choices of who runs humanitarian programs overseas. In the process, secular groups have seen an overall drop in funding.” CHART: USAID contracts with faith-based organizations – “A yearlong Globe survey identified 159 faith-based organizations that received more than $1.7 billion in USAID prime contracts, grants and agreements from fiscal 2001 to fiscal 2005.”

Op-Ed. ‘Family Values’ for All of Us – (By E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post) – “Family values” is more than a political slogan to be pulled off the shelf at election time. Republicans and conservatives do not have a monopoly on the commitments behind the phrase. For too long liberals have reacted against the idea of family values because they wrongly accepted it as a conservatives-only slogan. And many liberals who lead thoroughly old-fashioned, child-centered, family-oriented lives have not been willing to integrate that fact into the way they talk about policy.”

Obituary. Buck O’Neil, Negro Leagues Pioneer, Is Dead at 94 – “Buck O’Neil, a star first baseman and manager in the Negro leagues and a pioneering scout and coach in the major leagues who devoted the final decade of his life to chronicling the lost world of black baseball, died Friday night in Kansas City, Mo. He was 94.”

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