God's Politics

The latest news on the Episcopal church, Iraq, Gaza, Somalia, health insurance, Congress, faith, politics, nuclear weapons, and select op-eds.

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Episcopal church. Episcopal Parishes in Virginia Vote to Secede Two large and influential Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria,” 7 Va. Episcopal Parishes Vote to Sever Ties – “At least seven Virginia Episcopal parishes, opposed to the consecration of a gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions, have voted overwhelmingly to break from the U.S. church in a dramatic demonstration of widening rifts within the denomination.” 8 Virginia flocks break away – “Eight Northern Virginia churches announced they will leave the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia after their congregations voted overwhelmingly to depart because of liberal trends in the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church.”

Iraq. Powell Says U.S. Losing in Iraq, Calls for Drawdown by Mid-2007 – “Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that the United States is losing what he described as a “civil war” in Iraq and that he is not persuaded that an increase in U.S. troops there would reverse the situation.” Powell Doubts Need to Raise Troop Levels“Powell said that the Army was “about broken” and that he saw nothing to justify an increase in troops in Iraq. The former secretary of state said the Army was “about broken” and that he saw nothing to justify an increase in troops in Iraq.” US troop increase unwise, Powell says – “Powell … cast doubt yesterday on the feasibility of a plan to send tens of thousands more US troops to Iraq, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy and other Democrats vowed to oppose the idea. … Senator Harry Reid, who will become majority leader next month, said yesterday that he would support a surge in troops, as long as it were a temporary measure designed to bring US forces home by early 2008.” Saudis report Shi’ite ‘state’ inside of Iraq – “Iran has effectively created a Shi’ite “state within a state” in neighboring Iraq, defying both Iraqi Sunnis and neighboring Sunni nations, according to a Saudi security report.”

Gaza. Fighting worsens in Gaza; 3 killed – “Fighting escalated between Hamas and Fatah as the foreign minister’s convoy and the president’s residence came under fire in Gaza City a day after President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would call early elections to try to end a political stalemate.” After Deadly Clashes in Gaza, Leaders Appeal for Calm The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the acting speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Baher of Hamas, appealed separately to militants of all stripes to lay down their weapons after a day of rallies and violent clashes in the Gaza Strip.”

Somalia. U.S. Sees Growing Threats In Somalia – “Six months ago, the Bush administration launched a new policy in war-torn Somalia, putting the State Department in charge after secret CIA efforts failed to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from seizing power in Mogadishu. It hoped that diplomacy would draw the Islamists into partnership with more palatable, U.S.-backed Somali leaders.”

Health insurance. Mass. health plan drawing interest as model for US Universal care issue reemerges – “Universal healthcare, an issue the White House and Congress have largely abandoned since the early 1990s, has reemerged as an issue on Capitol Hill and around the country, with lawmakers looking to Massachusetts’ landmark plan as a political and structural model for the nation’s 46 million uninsured.”

Congress. Congress’s Inaction Threatens Funding – “The Republican-controlled Congress’s decision to adjourn a week ago before completing many of the spending bills that finance the federal government will reverberate in ways large and small,”

Faith. A new agenda for US Evangelicals – “Although embryonic, a remarkable trend is emerging among Evangelicals today: the embrace of a social agenda that includes not only abortion and marriage, but poverty, AIDS, the environment, and human rights.” A witness to what faith can be – “These days, religion often gets a bad rap. It’s an arrogant face of war, division and blame. But that’s certainly not the only face of faith. For the beauty of what it can be, see what is happening Friday nights in Portland, Ore. Car- and vanloads of Christian volunteers swoop in with sleeping bags and coats to protect their dispossessed friends against the raw, wet weather that has moved in. They dispense hot meals and set up stations for shaves and haircuts. While a few pull out guitars and strike up their Jesus-themed songs, a small number of the volunteers commit one of the more audacious acts of compassion and humility I have ever witnessed: They wash the homeless people’s feet.”

Politics. Indiana Democrat Bayh Won’t Seek Nomination – “Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will not run for president in 2008, a stunning reversal that comes just 13 days after he opened an exploratory committee to consider the race. … Even as Bayh was announcing that he was getting out of the race, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards was preparing for a second bid for the White House.” Romney’s journey to the right Social issue stands hardened since ’02 – “with less than three weeks left in office, the governor will leave Beacon Hill a far more socially conservative voice than when he arrived in 2002, and when he ran for Senate in 1994. On stem cell research, abortion, emergency contraception, abstinence education, and gay rights, Romney’s shifts to more conservative positions have estranged him from a state that elected him as a moderate.” A clear winner in ’08: Iowa – “But it’s clear that Iowa – which will again cast the first votes of 2008 – has lost none of its import. Indeed, it may be more important than ever.”

Gingrich, on a Mission, Has No Time to Campaign for ’08 Mr. Gingrich’s mission, as he sees it, is to save American civilization from the gravest crisis it has confronted since the Civil War. He has also set as a goal what he calls the restoration of God to a central place in American government and culture.”

Nuclear weapons. Panel Seeks Consensus On U.S. Nuclear Arsenal – “A prestigious Defense Department advisory panel has determined there is no national agreement on what the nation needs in the way of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War period. In a recently released declassified version of a report on U.S. nuclear capabilities completed earlier this year, the Defense Science Board reported that its task force on the subject concluded “there is a need for a national consensus on the nature and role of nuclear weapons, as well as a new approach to sustaining a reliable, safe, secure and credible nuclear stockpile.”

Editorial. Kofi Annan’s tough love (Los Angeles Times) – “Conservatives aren’t exactly sending warm retirement wishes to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who leaves office at the end of the month. But his focus on human rights and reform has left the United Nations a stronger institution.”

Op-Ed. Reject the war James Carroll, Boston Globe) – “Bush must not be allowed to further the chaos. Having led the world into this moral wilderness, America has a grave responsibility to lead the way out. We have to cease killing other people’s children, which is the way to stop them from killing ours. Stop the war by stopping.”

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