Beliefnet
God's Politics

The latest news on the U.S. Senate, U.N. General Secretary, diplomacy, U.S. Military, Iran, Children’s health insurance, politics, immigration, Darfur, death penalty, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

U.S. Senate. Democratic Sen. Johnson in Stable Condition After Brain Surgery – “Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) was in stable condition after emergency brain surgery, prompting optimism among family and friends and at least temporarily stanching speculation that the Democrats’ narrow control of the next Senate might be in jeopardy.” Ill Senator Is Called Responsive – “The attending physician of the Capitol, Adm. John F. Eisold, who examined Mr. Johnson before he was sent to the hospital, said the bleeding was caused by a rare tangling of the blood vessels in the brain.” Senate looks out for its own – “Never has the Senate forced a member out of office because of a physical or mental inability to serve. That hands-off protocol could be a boon to Democrats as they ponder the possibility that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) could be incapacitated for months or more after emergency surgery to treat bleeding in his brain.”

UN General Secretary. New U.N. Leader Is Sworn in and Promises to Rebuild Trust – “Ban Ki-moon of South Korea was sworn in Thursday as the next secretary general of the United Nations, and he pledged to rebuild faith in an organization that has been tarnished by scandal and riven by disputes between rich and poor nations.” Ban sworn in as U.N. secretary – “Before Ban took his oath in the vaulted General Assembly hall, representatives from 192 countries gave a thundering ovation to outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 68, who will step down after 10 years in office.”

Diplomacy. Rice Rejects Overture To Iran And Syria – “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected a bipartisan panel’s recommendation that the United States seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the “compensation” required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq.” White House Upset by Senator’s Trip to Syria – “The White House said that a Democratic senator’s meeting with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was inappropriate and undermined democracy in the region, while three more senators, including a Republican, made plans to visit Damascus in defiance of President Bush.”

U.S. Military. Military Considers Sending as Many as 35,000 More U.S. Troops to Iraq, McCain Says– “Senator John McCain said as many as 10 more combat brigades were being considered to “bring the situation under control.” Army is stretched too thin – “The Army’s top general said that the mission in Iraq “will break” the Army without an expansion of the size of the active-duty force or the remobilization of the National Guard and reserves.” General Says Army Will Need To Grow – “Warning that the active-duty Army “will break” under the strain of today’s war-zone rotations, the nation’s top Army general called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve.” Top Commanders Appear Set to Urge Larger U.S. Military – “The increase would sustain a long-term commitment in Iraq and leave the U.S. better positioned to deal with potential adversaries.”

Iran. Iran vote seen as referendum on Ahmadinejad – “Nineteen months after an upset election victory catapulted him to a controversial role on the world stage, firebrand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing criticism from both the left and right, much of it from Iranians who believe he hasn’t delivered on his populist economic promises.”

Children’s health insurance. Congress targets children’s health insurance – “Members of both parties in Congress have begun to discuss ways to dramatically expand the decade-old federal health insurance program for children, a debate that could move the nation closer to universal healthcare for children.”

Politics. Obama on Obama – “On the cusp of a historic decision over whether to run for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama said that he believed he would be a “viable candidate” for president who could move the nation beyond the generational politics that have defined the last 40 years.”

Immigration. Immigrant-rights groups put hope in new Congress – “After several stalled legislative attempts to overhaul the country’s immigration system, some immigrant-rights groups say they are hopeful the new Democratic-controlled Congress will be able to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.”

Darfur. Prosecutors move closer to Darfur trial – “A proposed war crimes tribunal for Darfur moved a step closer to reality today, after the chief prosecutor for the international criminal court (ICC) said he was ready to present evidence to judges.”

Death penalty.
Executions in the U.S. drop to a 10-year low – “Executions in the U.S. declined to their lowest level in a decade this year, according to a study released by the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.” Death Sentences Decline, and Experts Offer Reasons – “Groups that study the application of the death penalty say there are several reasons for the trend.” 34-minute execution stirs outrage in Florida – “Defense attorneys and death penalty opponents were outraged over an execution in which the condemned man took more than half an hour to die, needed a rare second dose of lethal chemicals and appeared to grimace in his final moments.”

Op-Eds.
A War Bush Wouldn’t Pay For (E.J. Dionne, Washington Post) – “Believe it or not, winning the war in Iraq was never the Bush administration’s highest priority. Saving its tax cuts was more important. That was once spoken of as a moral problem. Now it’s a practical barrier to a successful outcome.”

The System Is the Problem (Tamar Jacoby, Manhattan Institute, Washington Post) – “At dawn on Tuesday more than a thousand Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents descended on six plants owned by Swift & Co., one of the country’s largest meat processors. Some 1,300 workers were arrested, and operations at all six slaughterhouses were suspended. Seen in one light, the raids were perfectly justified. Both employer and employees were breaking the law. It’s a law that’s being violated on a massive scale from coast to coast, and the public is increasingly upset about it. The only catch: Swift has been trying for years to comply with our poorly conceived immigration laws, coping as best it could with an impossible situation. Like a driver who finally goes through a broken traffic light, the company and its workers aren’t the problem — the system is.”

Feature. Who Americans Are and What They Do – “Americans drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in 2004 – about 10 times as much as in 1980. We consumed more than twice as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980 and remained the fattest inhabitants of the planet, … At the same time, Americans spent more of their lives than ever – about eight-and-a-half hours a day – watching television, using computers, listening to the radio, going to the movies or reading. This eclectic portrait of the American people is drawn from the 1,376 tables in the Census Bureau’s 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the annual feast for number crunchers that is being served up by the federal government today.”

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