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God's Politics

The latest news on Iraqi civilian casualties, Jimmy Carter on North Korea, Iran, Darfur, exporting the faith, religious tax-exemptions, partisan politics, and homelessness.

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Iraq. Study Puts War’s Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000 – “More than 600,000 Iraqis have died violently since the U.S.-led invasion, according to a new estimate that is far higher than any other to date.” Study Says Iraq Killings Skyrocketed After Invasion – “The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups.” 655,000 Iraqis killed since 2003 – “Of the deaths, 31% were ascribed to the US-led forces. Most deaths were from gunshot wounds (56%), with a further 13% from car bomb injuries and 14% the result of other explosions.” Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says – “The figure breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month, a number that is quadruple the one for July given by Iraqi government hospitals and the morgue in Baghdad and published last month in a United Nations report in Iraq.”

North Korea. North Korea test stirs fear of arms race – “US officials and arms control specialists warned yesterday that North Korea’s test of a small nuclear device could ignite an arms race in the region and bring about the demise of the landmark global treaty designed nearly four decades ago to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.” Pyongyang’s atomic `security blanket’ – “Although other diplomats and analysts argue that Kim Jong Il’s goal is diplomatic leverage with the United States and Japan over sanctions and trade … these analysts said it was instead a sense of deep insecurity that influenced Kim’s decision to defy international warnings this week and declare that the North had tested a nuclear weapon.” Rice Asserts U.S. Plans No Attack on North Korea – “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that the United States did not intend to invade or attack North Korea, but she warned the North’s leaders that they now risked sanctions “unlike anything that they have faced before.” US pressure ‘would mean war’ – “North Korea will view US pressure to rein in its nuclear programme as “a declaration of war”, the isolated communist regime said today in its first official statement since announcing it had carried out a nuclear test.”

Iran. Iran doesn’t criticize North Korea, vows to continue its own nuclear program –“Iran took a tough line on its nuclear program yesterday, blaming Washington for North Korea’s reported test blast and vowing to keep developing its own suspect atomic program.” Iran Unfazed by Outrage Over North Korea’s Test – “Iranian officials made clear Tuesday that international outrage at North Korea’s declared test of a nuclear bomb would not deter them from moving ahead with their own nuclear program. Indeed, the North Korean test comes as a relief to Iran because it takes the focus off its program.”

Darfur. Large clashes reported between rebel and government forces in north Darfur – “Intense fighting has erupted in the northern part of Darfur with hundreds of rebels and Sudanese government troops wounded or captured in clashes this week near the border with Chad … The Sudanese Air Force is bombing villages in rebel-controlled areas north of the regional capital of El Fasher, the international groups said. The number of civilian casualties is not known, Nigeria Leader Warns Africa About Strife in Darfur – “President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria warned Tuesday of a possible genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan , as escalating attacks on aid workers further hindered access to an estimated 2.5 million refugees in need.” Khartoum struggles to defeat new alliance – “The current fighting, which has prompted thousands of people to flee south, is spread across vast swaths of semi-desert land in the northern strip of Darfur…”

Exporting the faith. Part 4. Healing the body to reach the soul – “Pressure from medical missionaries helped focus the Bush administration on AIDS in Africa and on genocide in Sudan. It is also one of the forces behind President Bush’s faith-based initiative — his effort to give religiously inspired groups more federal funds to provide services such as healthcare, education, and food to people in the Third World.” A piece of Hollywood is converted into a call to Christianity – “The Jesus Film” has enjoyed unparalleled success in the y
ears since. Propelled by missionaries who have made it a central part of their conversion efforts, the film has become the most-watched movie of all time,” GLOBE EDITORIAL: Is foreign aid Christian? – “Foreign aid from the United States should be used for humanitarian purposes and to advance the foreign policy goals of the nation. But as the Globe reported this week in an eye-opening series, the Bush administration is shortchanging both objectives by channeling much of its aid money through Christian groups.”

Religion. Religion-Based Tax Breaks: Housing to Paychecks to Books – “Churches and ordained clergy of all faiths get a series of tax exemptions that secular organizations and workers do not.”

Politics. Democrats Aim at the Red – “From disenchantment over the Iraq war to the sex scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), a national tide may be gathering behind Democrats. … Election day will decide whether discontent over the nation’s direction overrides entrenched GOP advantages, especially among rural voters, in these culturally conservative states.” Democrats veer to the right in fight for House – “It’s happening across the South and Midwest, as Democratic congressional candidates from Illinois to Georgia are casting aside liberal loyalties to compete in conservative districts where they hope to gain the 15 seats needed for Democrats to take control of the House.” In Ohio, ‘Values’ Issue Fades – “As the Republican candidate for governor, Blackwell has been counting on values voters to do for him this year what they did for the party in 2004. But the culture wars are being eclipsed as a voting issue by economic worries and Republican scandals that have altered the political dynamic here in striking ways.”

Homelessness. Far From Big City, Hidden Toll of Homelessness – “As the Bush administration promotes a widely praised multibillion-dollar effort to end chronic homelessness in cities like Washington and San Francisco, a growing outcry is rising from rural areas that worsening problems far away from urban centers are being overlooked. Rural homelessness has always taken a back seat to the more glaring problems in cities.”

Commentary. Solving the Korean Stalemate, One Step at a Time – (Jimmy Carter, New York Times.) “What must be avoided is to leave a beleaguered nuclear nation convinced that it is permanently excluded from the international community, its existence threatened, its people suffering horrible deprivation and its hard-liners in total control of military and political policy.”

Let’s Restart the Political Discussion – (Tamar Jacoby, Los Angeles Times) “A Republican appeals to a Democratic friend to end the polarizing gridlock between the two parties. – As a Democrat and a Republican, we used to disagree all the time. Americans hold strong opinions and argue them vigorously, and this is all to the good; it’s how we decide what we think and how to move ahead. But in recent years, healthy differences of opinion have been giving way to unhealthy polarization — unnecessary, overly emotional or unbridgeable disagreement that’s deadlocking our politics and making it impossible to reach the kind of consensus we need to solve the problems before us.”

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