God's Politics

the latest reports on the Hussein execution, the Ford funeral, the death penalty in America, congress, Mitt Romney, the new UN Secretary General, Darfur, Somalia, and U.S. church growth

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Gerald Ford. ‘Sincere’ Ford honored – “The humble yet extraordinary life of Gerald R. Ford was heralded in a solemn and sometimes humorous service at the National Cathedral that brought together four presidents, dozens of Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers.” `Thank you, citizen Ford’ – “The last hurrahs of the nation’s capital rang out for Gerald Ford, honoring a common man with uncommon decency and humility who ran a brief but consequential presidency at a time of great political turmoil.” Ford services muffle usual cacophony – “There are few sounds one associates with the capital as seldom as silence. On Tuesday, the funeral of former President Gerald Ford brought one of those refreshing, if fleeting, moments. In State Funeral, a Farewell to Ford – “Gerald Rudolph Ford, the Boy Scout, football star and congressman thrust by history rather than ambition into the presidency at a fateful moment for his nation, was bidden farewell by Washington in a regal state funeral and taken home to Michigan for burial.” A Final Farewell to President Ford– “In a soaring tribute to a modest man, Gerald R. Ford was remembered as bringing the ordinary virtues of decency, integrity and humility to mend a broken government after the pain of war and scandal.” Remembering a Leader And the Party That Was – “The Republican Party has turned away from Ford’s conservatism, moving sharply to the right ideologically and to the South and West geographically. … His passing served not only to highlight how the party has changed, but how he felt increasingly estranged from some elements of the party’s new doctrine.”

Congress. Democrats Plan First 100 Hours, Give or Take a Speech – “…as Democrats filtered back to Capitol Hill in anticipation of the opening of the 110th Congress on Thursday, there was a bit of confusion about just when the 100 hours would officially begin. Would it be as soon as the new Congress was sworn in and began voting on internal rules changes? Or when the House takes up its first actual legislation next Tuesday?” Democrats to go on offensive – “President George Bush, who for nearly four years had a free hand in decision-making over the war in Iraq, faces a series of concerted challenges starting from tomorrow from a newly installed and assertive Democratic Congress.” Activists on the Left Applying Pressure to Democratic Leaders – “Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress are facing mounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontational course on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with some even calling for the impeachment of President Bush.” Will Dems deliver? (Mario M. Cuomo, USA Today) – “Americans are looking for dramatic ideas and courageous leadership. The party’s congressional agenda doesn’t seem to rise to the challenge. As JFK did, its leaders need to boldly step forward.”

Mitt Romney. Romney eyes 2008 bid, sets sights on conservative base – “Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who today will file papers forming a committee to explore a run for president in 2008, has spent recent months moving steadily to try to occupy the conservative ground in the Republican presidential field.”

Saddam Hussein. Iraq Probes Disorder At Hussein Execution – “As thousands of Saddam Hussein’s supporters protested in Sunni Arab enclaves across Iraq, the Shiite-led government said it had launched an investigation into the chaotic scene at his execution, captured on video, which has deepened the nation’s sectarian rift and sparked condemnation around the world.” Iraq Orders Investigation Into Hussein Execution – “Iraq’sShiite-led government said that it had ordered an investigation into the abusive behavior at the execution of Saddam Hussein, who was subjected to a battery of taunts by official Shiite witnesses and guards as he awaited his hanging.”

UN Secretary-General. New U.N. chief creates a stir on his first day– “On his first official day on the job, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stepped back from the United Nations’ long-standing opposition to the death penalty, saying capital punishment was an issue for each country to decide.” New U.N. Chief Invites Controversy by Declining to Oppose Hussein Execution – “On his first day of work as secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, the mild-spoken South Korean diplomat who had suggested he would bring new caution to the post, invited controversy by declining to criticize the death penalty applied to Saddam Hussein.” New UN chief pledges attention to Darfur, N. Korea – “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon started his first day on the job by promi
sing immediate attention to the crisis in Darfur while backing off traditional UN opposition to capital punishment.”

Darfur. Darfur diplomacy: sidelined by Somalia? – “Ethiopia’s recent incursion into Somalia may have returned a stable government to the conflict-torn country for the first time in more than 15 years. But by routing Islamist rebels, Ethiopia’s action also holds geopolitical implications for the war on terror. And in the midst of these developments, the government of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir could find the pressure off for accepting a robust United Nations-mandated security force for Darfur.”

Death Penalty. Panel Seeks End to Death Penalty for New Jersey– “A legislative commission recommended that New Jersey become the first state to abolish the death penalty since states began reinstating their capital punishment laws 35 years ago. Its report found “no compelling evidence” that capital punishment serves a legitimate purpose, and increasing evidence that it “is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.” End to death penalty is urged– “A blue-ribbon commission recommended that New Jersey abolish the death penalty and urged legislators to replace it with the sentence of life without parole.”

Somalia. Ethiopian troops to leave Somalia ‘within weeks’ – “The Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, said the cost of his military campaign against the Islamists in Somalia had been “huge” and promised his troops would be home within weeks.” Ethiopian Premier Says His Troops Won’t Stay in Somalia – “Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia said that his country, one of the poorest in the world, could not afford to keep troops in Somalia much longer and that it was ill equipped to play the role of peacekeeper there.” Meeting to Tackle Somalia’s Need For Peacekeepers – “Rapidly unfolding events in Somalia have opened a window of opportunity to establish a viable government there, according to the Bush administration and its European and African allies. But there is little optimism that the international political will and resources needed to exploit it will emerge before the window slams shut.”

Religion. From US churches that are growing, a sound of drums – “Churches with rising attendance numbers have a lot in common with one another – a lot more than denomination, location, or even theological approach. According to a new study, success stories often involve men, drums, a joyful environment, and a concerted effort not to be too “reverent.”

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