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God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq, Congress, Nuclear Weapons, Darfur, health insurance, California welfare, education, immigration, religion, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

Iraq-Congress. Democrats to Deal With Iraq War – “Democratic leaders who had hoped to emphasize their domestic agenda in the opening weeks of Congress have concluded that Iraq will share top billing, and they plan on aggressively confronting administration officials this week in a series of hearings.” Democrats Vow to Resist Buildup – “Democratic congressional leaders vowed to use their powers of spending and policy oversight to challenge President Bush’s expected proposal this week, as part of a broad revision of Iraq strategy, for boosting U.S. military forces in the country by as many as 20,000 troops.” Pelosi, Reid Urge Bush To Begin Iraq Pullout – “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared that “it is time to bring the war to a close” and warned President Bush that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq would be unacceptable to the Democratic majorities that have just taken over Congress.” Pelosi: No Iraq `blank check’ – “As President Bush prepares to unveil his new Iraq strategy to the American people, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that newly empowered Democrats will not give him a “blank check” to wage war.” Activists demand an end to war funds – “With President Bush poised to announce a surge in US troops in Iraq this week, antiwar activists in the Democratic Party are stepping up demands that their party’s leaders cut off funding for the war — a dramatic step that would force the president to quickly end American involvement in the war.”

Iraq-Military. A New Commander, in Step With the White House on Iraq– “As a supporter of increased forces in Iraq, General Petraeus is expected to back a rapid five-brigade expansion, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has been openly skeptical that additional troops would help stabilize the country.” War Could Last Years, Commander Says– “The new American operational commander in Iraq said that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush’s new war strategy it might take another “two or three years” for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.” U.S. launches air assault on Sunni haven – “Bombers, fighter jets and attack helicopters unleashed a thundering attack today as U.S. and Iraqi troops closed in on a web of irrigation canals east of Baghdad where they thought Sunni Arab insurgents were massing.”

Iraq. In Days Before Hanging, a Push for Revenge and a Push Back From the U.S. – “The taunts Mr. Hussein endured from Shiite guards as he stood with the noose around his neck have made headlines around the world, and stirred angry protests among his fellow Iraqi Sunnis. But the story of how American commanders and diplomats fought to halt the execution until midnight on Friday, only six hours before Mr. Hussein was hanged, is only now coming into focus, as Iraqi and American officials, in the glare of international outrage over the hanging, compete with their versions of what happened.” War’s Toll on Iraqis Put at 22,950 in 2006 – “More than 17,000 Iraqi civilians and police officers died violently in the latter half of 2006, according to Iraqi Health Ministry statistics, a sharp increase that coincided with rising sectarian strife since the February bombing of a landmark Shiite shrine.”

Congress. GOP willing to back Democrats’ key bills – “Leaders of both parties say Democrats in Congress are likely to win bipartisan support for many of their signature issues, including passage of an immigration reform package that critics have derided as amnesty. Republican lawmakers also offered cooperation for a raise in the federal minimum wage and changes to Social Security that do not include privatization.”

Nuclear weapons. U.S. Selecting Hybrid Design for Warheads– “The Bush administration is expected to announce a major step forward in the building of the country’s first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades. It will propose combining elements of competing designs from two weapons laboratories in an approach that some experts argue is untested and risky.”

Darfur. US envoy in new Darfur peace push – “Senior US politician Bill Richardson has held talks with Sudan’s president to try and persuade him to accept more UN troops in war-torn Darfur. Mr Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, is seen as enjoying better relations with President Omar el-Bashir than most US politicians. UN in new peace drive for Darfur – “The United Nations and African Union have announced a new drive for peace in Sudan’s troubled region of Darfur. Jan Eliasson, the UN special envoy to Darfur, is to travel to the region to try to stop fighting between rebel groups and the Sudanese government.”

Health insurance. States to expand health coverage – “States are planning large expansions in health care coverage this year in an aggressive and potentially expensive attempt to reduce the ranks of the 42.4 mi
llion Americans who are uninsured.”

California welfare. Gov. to seek cuts in aid to families on welfare – “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose a major rollback of the state’s welfare system this week, including a cutoff of aid to tens of thousands of children whose parents do not meet minimum work requirements or are in the country illegally, administration officials said.”

Education. How Bush education law has changed our schools – “No Child Left Behind has had a major influence on the daily experience of school for millions of kids. Here are five big ways it’s changing schools:”

It’s driving teachers crazy
It’s narrowing what many schools teach
‘Invisible’ students get attention
It’s making the school day longer
It’s changing how reading is taught
P.S. Some things didn’t change

Immigration. Immigration debate gets religious – “A number of leading Christian conservative groups have formed a coalition on immigration and illegal aliens that will push religiously grounded positions that both sides of the current immigration debate will both love and hate.”

Religion. New Warsaw Archbishop Quits Over Communist Collaboration– “The newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, abruptly resigned on Sunday at a Mass meant to celebrate his new position after having admitted two days earlier that he had worked with the Polish Communist-era secret police.”

Op-Eds.

Send More Troops(By John McCain, Washington Post) – “Only when the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force will its authority have meaning, and only when its authority has meaning can political activity have the results we seek. The presence of additional coalition forces would allow the Iraqi government to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own — impose its rule throughout the country. In bringing greater security to Iraq, and chiefly to Baghdad, our forces would give the government a fighting chance to pursue reconciliation.”

The Smart Surge: Diplomacy(By Wesley K. Clark, Washington Post) – “The odds are that this week President Bush will announce a “surge” of up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq. Will this deliver a “win”? Probably not. But it will distract us from facing the deep-seated regional issues that must be resolved.”

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