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the latest news on Iraq, election politics, faith and politics, the Tennessee Senate race, voting rights, and Darfur

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Appeal for Redress. War critics try to mobilize troops against the war – “Anti-war groups are trying to rally active troops to speak out against the war in Iraq … a political tactic they hope will sway voters Nov. 7. A small group of active-duty members opposed to the war created a Web site last month intended to collect thousands of signatures of other service members.” Grass-Roots Group of Troops Petitions Congress for Pullout From Iraq – “More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the “prompt withdrawal” of all American troops and bases from Iraq, organizers said yesterday.”

Iraq. More U.S. Troops May Be Iraq-Bound – “The top American commander in Iraq said Tuesday that he may call for more troops to be sent to Baghdad, possibly by increasing the overall U.S. presence in Iraq, as rising bloodshed pushes Iraqi and American deaths to some of their highest levels of the war.” General Weighs 2nd Troop Shift to Calm Baghdad – “In a news conference held after a week of largely bad news from Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad sought to reassure an increasingly restive American public that the war was still winnable. … General Casey predicted that Iraqi troops would be able to take over the main burden of the war in 12 to 18 months, allowing American troops to move to a support role.” Iraqi Realities Undermine the Pentagon’s Predictions – “But that laudable goal seems far removed from the violence-plagued streets of Iraq’s capital, where American forces have taken the lead in trying to protect the city and American soldiers substantially outnumber Iraqi ones.”

Politics. Rural vote is key to Democrats’ Senate gains – “Capturing a Senate majority is within the Democrats’ reach, but the party is facing potentially decisive resistance from rural voters in three critical Republican-leaning states,” The GOP Leans on A Proven Strategy – “Beset by discouraging polls and division within ideological ranks, the White House is accelerating efforts to woo back disaffected conservatives and energize the Republican base in a reprise of a strategy that succeeded in the last two campaign cycles. … The message that Bush and others are sending to alienated supporters is that, no matter how upset they have been about various policies or political missteps over the past couple of years, life would be far worse under the Democrats.” FEATURE-War on poverty slips from US election agenda – “Hurricane Katrina exposed an underclass of poor Americans to the rest of the world, but poverty has slipped off the agenda in the runup to midterm congressional elections next month.”

Faith and Politics. Republican base loses faith – “With the Congressional election less than two weeks away, recent surveys show signs of a shift among religious voters that could give Democrats a boost. … it appears that Democratic candidates’ efforts to articulate their faith and values – and tie them to a broader range of issues – are also resonating with voters.” U.S. Muslims mostly Democrats – “America’s Muslim voters are a young, highly educated and prosperous voting bloc that will overwhelmingly back Democrats in November, according to a survey released yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.”

Tennessee. All eyes on South’s big race – “History could be in the making. If he wins, Mr. Ford would be the first African-American from the South to take a Senate seat since Reconstruction … As a Democrat comfortable talking about his faith, Ford could show Democrats of all colors how it’s done. A Ford victory could also provide the final seat the Democrats need to win control of the Senate, in a quest that seemed nearly impossible just a few months ago.” A Contentious Campaign in a Battleground State – “Tennessee is one of the four remaining Senate battlegrounds, along with Virginia, Missouri and Rhode Island, that operatives in both parties believe are most likely to determine whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate in January. But this race is in a different category because of Ford’s profile.”

Voting rights. Report Warns of Potential Voting Problems in 10 States – “Two weeks before the midterm elections, at least 10 states, including Maryland, remain ripe for voting problems, … The report by Electionline.org says those states, and possibly others, could encounter trouble on Election Day because they have a combustible mix of fledgling voting-machine technology, confusion over voting procedures or recent litigation over election rules — and close races.” Suit calls Ohio’s voter ID law a mess, asks court to void it – “A union and a group that helped hundreds of homeless people register to vote say Ohio’s new voter-identification law created a confusing mess that will lead to an unfair Nov. 7 election. The two groups — the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland and the Columbus-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199 — asked a federal judge to strike down the rules,”

Darfur. Sudan allows more peacekeepers – “Sudan is willing to accept a large increase in the number of foreign peacekeepers in Darfur with a stronger mandate to protect civilians, as long as they remain under African Union control, President Omar al-Bashir has told the Guardian.” Read Jonathan Steele’s interview with the Sudanese president here

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