God's Politics

The latest news on the election, voting rights, abortion, the Middle East, Iraq, Darfur, North Korea, religion, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

Election. Campaign fireworks fly as polls put Senate in play – “On a day of heated coast-to-coast campaign confrontations, a flurry of surveys showed the battle for a Senate majority heading for a photo finish that could focus on Missouri.” Kerry’s ‘stuck in Iraq’ remark ignites firefight with Bush, GOP – “President Bush joined prominent Republicans yesterday in blasting Senator John F. Kerry for comments they said demeaned the intelligence of US troops, after Kerry gave a speech at a political rally where he said that students who don’t perform well “get stuck in Iraq.” Election tests how much race matters – “ a new generation of African-American politicians who are changing old assumptions about what offices black candidates can win. Unlike senior black members of Congress, they are too young to have joined the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. They often haven’t gone to historically black colleges or launched careers at black churches.”

Voting rights. Many eyes will watch the polls – “Thousands of lawyers, election monitors and volunteers with video cameras will be mobilized on Election Day in an effort to guard against problems at the polls. The Justice Department will dispatch more than 800 observers, a record for a non-presidential election year,” Flip-flop in rules flusters officials – “Depending on where you live in Ohio, you may or may not have been asked to show proof of identification before casting an absentee ballot yesterday as county elections boards continue to deal with on-again, offagain voter ID rules.”

Abortion. Battle Over Abortion Focuses on South Dakota Vote – “The battle here over a statewide ballot measure to install one of the country’s strictest anti-abortion laws is playing out in television commercials, yard signs and Sunday sermons. It is also drawing the attention of national advocates on both sides of the abortion debate,”

Mideast. Israelis protect Palestinian olives from settlers – “Fearful that radical Jewish settlers will steal their olives, Palestinians are turning to an unlikely source of protection to secure this year’s harvest. Several hundred Israelis, from left-wing activists to moderates, regularly volunteer to help Palestinians pick olives,” Israel launches major Gaza raid – “Six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed in heavy clashes in the northern Gaza Strip. In one of Israel’s biggest raids into Gaza in recent months, troops carried out three air strikes and moved to encircle the town of Beit Hanoun.”

Iraq. U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Still Mostly Outside Capital – “About two-thirds of the deaths among American troops in Iraq in October occurred outside Baghdad, even with a sharp increase in combat deaths in the capital that made it the fourth deadliest month of the war for the United States, … The October death toll, which stood at 103 by late Tuesday, was the highest since January 2005, when 107 American troops were killed.” Many of October’s war dead on extended, multiple tours – “Almost a third of the 102 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in October–the fourth deadliest month of the war–were on extended, second or third tours.” Blair survives call for Iraq inquiry – “The government indicated last night that it would concede a high-level inquiry into the war in Iraq once British troops had been withdrawn. The move came as Tony Blair narrowly survived a Commons push to force him to set up an immediate parliamentary inquiry…”

Iraqi Demands Pullback; U.S. Lifts Baghdad Cordon – “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki demanded the removal of American checkpoints from the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday, in what appeared to be his latest and boldest gambit in an increasingly tense struggle for more independence from his American protectors.” Iraq Tells U.S. to Quit Sadr City Checkpoints – “The order by Prime Minister al-Maliki to lift the week-old blockade of Sadr City was one of the most overt expressions of self-determination by Iraqi leaders in the 3 1/2 -year-old U.S. occupation.”

Darfur. Darfur relief endangered, UN aide says – “UN officials on Tuesday warned that aid workers’ precarious access to needy people in Darfur could worsen, while the U.S. and British leaders kept up pressure on Sudan’s government to quickly end violence in the region.” U.S. Readying Plan for Darfur, President Says – “President Bush vowed Tuesday to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, where the government has resisted a United Nations proposal to deploy a 21,000-person peace-keeping force to end the violence. Speaking to reporters at the White House after meeting with his special envoy to Sudan, Andrew S. Natsios, Bush said his administration is working on a proposal that he hopes will stop the bloodshed in the region.” Bush Discusses Sudan with Special Envoy and Makes Remarks on North Korea – “President Bush on Tuesday said, “One element of the plan is something that I strongly supported all along, and that there needs to be a credible and effective international force to go into Darfur to save lives, to make it clear that the international community respects human life, and the international community will work in concert to save human life.”

North Korea. North Korea Will Resume Nuclear Talks – “North Korea agreed Tuesday to resume nuclear disarmament talks, a first sign of easing tensions since the country’s nuclear test this month.” N. Korea Agrees to Return To Talks – “The country’s unexpected decision, which was announced by Chinese and U.S. officials in Beijing, will end Pyongyang’s year-long boycott of the talks, which have dragged on intermittently for more than three years.”

Religion. Mainline pulls in Protestants – “In her new book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, [church historian Diana Butler] Bass visits churches coast to coast to bolster her claim that the mainline is not dead — yet. … Bass set out on a Lilly Foundation grant to find 50 mainline churches rooted in the Gospel, rich in worship, strong in social justice, creative in spirituality and radiating hospitality. Instead, she found 1,000 thriving congregations from California to Virginia.”

OP-ED Pause for Peace (By Ahmed Yousef, New York Times) – “We Palestinians are prepared to enter into a truce – a “hudna” – to bring about an immediate end to the occupation and to initiate a period of peaceful coexistence during which both sides would refrain from any form of military aggression or provocation.”

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