Beliefnet
God's Politics

the latest news on Iraq, the election, same-sex legal rights, the IRS and churches, Africa, charter schools, Salvadoran death squads, the “U2charist,” and select op-eds

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Full news summary:

Iraq. Bush Is Reassuring on Iraq But Says He’s ‘Not Satisfied’ – “President Bush declared that the United States is winning the war in Iraq despite the deadliest month for U.S. troops in a year, but he added that he is not satisfied with the situation and vowed to press Iraqi leaders to do more to stabilize their country on their own.” Conceding Missteps, Bush Urges Patience on Iraq – “Facing public dismay over the war in Iraq, President Bush somberly acknowledged the broad scope of American setbacks and missteps there.” Maliki Denies Assertion He Agreed to Timelines – “Iraqi premier lashes out at the U.S., saying his popularly elected government will not bend to American-backed benchmarks.” Iraq’s Leader Jabs at Timetables – “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki put himself at odds with the American government that backs him, distancing himself from the American notion of a timetable for stabilizing Iraq.”

Iraq and election. Bush Focuses on Iraq as G.O.P. Tries to Change Subject – – “With a shift in tone and the suggestion of flexibility on tactics in Iraq, President Bush gambled that he could rescue Republican candidates who are having a hard time defending the war and an even harder time running away from it.” War Now Works Against GOP – “Just three months ago, Republican strategists believed that doubts about Iraq could be contained — or even turned into an electoral advantage — if the battle was framed as a vital front in the war against terrorism. … But the issue is not playing out that way. In both parties, a consensus now exists — buttressed by polls — that disaffection with a war grown costly and difficult to manage is the gravest threat to continued Republican rule.” War Effect Chills the Hearts of Republican Middle America – “the November 7 mid-term elections will test the ability of the Bush administration to drive its supporters to the polls amid the energy-sapping news emerging daily from the Middle East. The challenge is plain in Ohio, the ultimate swing state which George Bush took in 2004 to secure his second term by just 118,601 votes.” Giving cover as election nears – “Mixing contrition with defiant optimism, President Bush sought to dispel questions from anxious voters and Republican candidates about the GOP’s wartime leadership in Iraq.”

Election. A right kind of Democrat – “He is pro-business and antiabortion. He is an evangelical Christian and an avid hunter. But, unexpectedly, Heath Shuler is a Democrat, and he is running for Congress in North Carolina. Shuler is part of a phalanx of unusually conservative Democratic candidates who may deliver crucial victories over GOP incumbents and help their party win control of the House.” Democrat chameleons target bible belt – “Democrats are vying for the ‘values voter’ to take back the House – Disillusion with the war in Iraq, and disgust with the ethics of the party in power only partially explain why the Democrats may be poised to take back the House in November. A more fundamental shift is colouring the dynamic of a dozen key races, where reconstructed Democrats are reconnecting with Christian voters.” A hard year to be an Ohio Republican – “Any other year, Rep. Deborah Pryce would have wrapped up her race for re-election months ago. … But this year, with Mr. Bush sliding into disastrous levels in the polls and Republicans in Ohio imploding amid corruption charges and unpopular policies, she is struggling against a boilerplate Democratic candidate…” GOP has warnings about shift – “Seeking to boost turnout and sway voters, Republicans are issuing dire warnings about a Democratic victory that would make Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House and put key Democrats in charge of committees with power to raise taxes, launch investigations and impeach the president.”

Same-sex legal rights. New Jersey Court Backs Full Rights for Gay Couples – “New Jersey’s highest court ruled that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, but ordered the Legislature to decide whether their unions must be called marriage or could be known by another name.” Justices rule for gays in N.J. case – “In a ruling that could make New Jersey the second state to legalize same-sex marriage, the state Supreme Court said that gay couples have the same right to the benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples.” New Jersey’s Justices Agree on All but the ‘M’ Word – “All seven justices were in vehement agreement that gay and lesbian unions must be guaranteed all of the rights and benefits that come with heterosexual marriages. … But the vocabulary, the majority continued, must be committed to politics. “If the age-old definition of marriage is to be discarded,” Justice Albin wrote in the decision, “such change must come from the crucible of the democratic process.”

IRS and churches. Watchdog Group Accuses Churches of Political Action – “A nonprofit group has filed a complaint asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the role that two churches may have played in the re-election campaign of Kansas’s attorney general.”

Global Fund in Africa. Global Fund’s fight against diseases stumbles in Africa – “As the fund’s board prepares to elect a new executive director of the organization next week in Guatemala, a report issued yesterday said the Global Fund needs much better oversight of programs on the ground and must find ways to help countries make the initiatives work.”

Charter schools. Ohio justices tilt to charter schools – “The state’s network of publicly funded, privately operated charter schools is constitutional, a sharply split Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.”

Death squad arrest. Immigration officials arrest former Salvadoran army officer – “Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos, convicted of the 1989 death squad murders of six Jesuit priests, is arrested in L.A. as a human rights violator. Federal authorities said a tip from the public put them on Guevara Cerritos’ trail.”

The next war? World Briefings: Jihad targets Ethiopia in Horn of Africa – “Somali Islamists have begun recruiting thousands of young fighters to wage a “jihad” against Ethiopia, officials said yesterday amid fears of imminent all-out war across the lawless Horn of Africa nation.”

U2charist. Rocking the church: Episcopal ‘U2-charist’ uses songs in service – “When Anglican Archbishop Thomas Cranmer compiled the Book of Common Prayer during the 16th century, he wanted to make the prayers accessible, so he wrote in English, not Latin, and made sure it was distributed to every church. About 450 years later, there is another attempt to make prayers more accessible — by an Irish bard who wears wrap-around shades instead of a clerical collar. It may not qualify as a mini-Reformation, but a Communion service driven by the music of singer Bono and his U2 bandmates is catching on at Episcopal churches across the country.”

Op-Ed. Why Democrats are losing the culture war (Amy Sullivan, USA Today) – “Most voters worry about escalating challenges to family stability and the losing battle to instill good values in their children instead of the materialism and coarseness peddled by popular culture. They fear that our society has developed a casualness about life, especially as science has made it easier to manipulate and create beings. Banning gay marriage and outlawing abortion don’t directly address those anxieties. But proposals like these at least acknowledge that the concerns exist and are valid. So while Republicans offer the wrong prescriptions, they get the diagnosis right. And they win because most of the time, Democrats won’t admit that anything is wrong. In politics, as in most areas of life, something always beats nothing.”

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