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God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq build-up and GI resistance, King holiday, Congress-domestic issues and Republicans, Iran, Middle East, marriage, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

King holiday. Nation pays homage to King’s vision, service – “The first Martin Luther King Jr. Day since the death of King’s widow and chief keeper of his civil rights dream was marked yesterday with speeches, visits to the couple’s tomb, and the opening of a collection of his papers, including a draft of his “I Have a Dream” speech.” King Day in Atlanta, ‘the One Without Mrs. King’– “Martin Luther King Jr.’s sister, Christine King Farris, conducted the service in the place of his widow, Coretta Scott King, who died last year at 78.”

Iraq buildup. Bush insists Congress can’t halt Iraq buildup – “As Congress and the administration gird for conflict over troop levels in Iraq, President Bush is asserting that he has the power to send more U.S. forces, regardless of what lawmakers want.” Democrats Split on How to Oppose Troop Increase– “The White House defended the president’s proposal to increase the U.S. presence in Iraq as Democrats showed splits over how strongly to oppose the plan.” Opposition to Iraq Plan Leaves Bush Isolated – “The bipartisan opposition to President Bush’s troop-increase plan has proved more intense than his advisers hoped and has left them scrambling to find support, but the White House is banking on the assumption that it can execute its “new way forward” in Iraq before Congress can derail it.”

Iraq-GI resistance. Why They Fight — From Within – “For Jonathan Hutto and David Rogers, life has become something of a surreality show. The two Navy men, comrades in arms, are waging a war against a war. Working from within, Hutto, Rogers and others have established AppealforRedress.org, a Web site that enables active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops to appeal directly to Congress to withdraw military personnel from Iraq.”

Congress-domestic issues. Democrats Seek the Middle on Social Issues– “Democrats in Congress say they are committed to governing from the center, even on divisive social issues.” Burden Set to Shift On Balanced Budget – “When he takes the House rostrum next week for the State of the Union address, President Bush will list among his goals a balanced federal budget, a shift for a president who has presided over record deficits while aggressively cutting taxes.”

Congress- Republicans. Pit bulls vs. stalwarts in House GOP – “The younger pit bulls want to go after the Democrats quickly and without remorse. Some of the older Republican stalwarts prefer sitting back and allowing new Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her party members to have their moment in the sun and govern accordingly.” House GOP Shows Its Fractiousness In the Minority – “House Republican leaders, who confidently predicted they would drive a wedge through the new Democratic majority, have found their own party splintering, with Republican lawmakers siding with Democrats in droves on the House’s opening legislative blitz.” Choice of Martinez sparks GOP rebellion – “Rebellion is brewing among conservatives on the Republican National Committee over President’s Bush’s attempt to “impose” Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida as “general chairman” of the party, who favors “amnesty” for illegal aliens.”

In the states. Unlikely allies advocate healthcare overhaul – “In a sign of how the political climate is shifting, powerful business interests that once teamed up to defeat Democratic healthcare plans are joining with labor unions and other unlikely allies to advocate extending medical insurance to millions of Americans.” Job program for welfare recipients falls flat – “A central piece of the state’s sweeping welfare reform, which sought to enlist Massachusetts companies to hire and train welfare recipients, has failed to attract employers and is virtually defunct, records show.”

Iran. Iraq edges closer to Iran, with or without the U.S. – “The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran’s influence in Iraq.” Israel buzzes over notion of attacking Iran – “When a US secretary of State comes to town, all eyes are on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as Condoleezza Rice’s weekend visit here demonstrated, there is no issue dominating the agenda like the international standoff surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Middle east. Rice Announces 3-Way Talks on Palestinian State – “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would meet with her for a three-way informal discussion of issues that must be cleared away to establish a Palestinian state.” Rice plans Mideast summit `soon’ – “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that she will hold a trilateral summit meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the next few weeks in an effort to restart Mideast peace talks.” Rice Speaks Softly in Egypt, Avoiding Democracy Push– “It was clear that the United States – facing chaos in Iraq, rising Iranian influence and the destabilizing Israeli-Palestinian conflict – had decided that stability, not democracy, was its priority.’

Marriage. 51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse– “For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, … In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.”

Op-Eds.

An Unrealized Dream of Justice (James Carroll, Boston Globe) – “THE MEMORY of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has never had more urgent relevance than it does today. America is at a crossroads moment, much as it was when he was murdered. … We honor King today not as a way of recalling the past, but as a way of resuming his campaign in the present. A dream, yes. But equally a three-sided political movement. No racial justice without economic justice! No justice, period, without peace!”

King’s voice of peace resounds amid Iraq woes (Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) – “In an odd coincidence of timing, President Bush launched his plan to escalate U.S. military involvement in Iraq on the cusp of the national celebration of the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose courageous denunciation of the American strategy in Vietnam is better appreciated now than it was then. When King came out against the war in 1967, he was harshly criticized.”

Ban’s first U.N. test — Darfur (Lee Feinstein, Los Angeles Times) – “BAN KI-MOON has assumed the impossible job of secretary-general of the United Nations with a “problem from hell” at the top of his agenda. In office just since Jan. 1, Ban is already being tested by how to respond to the slow-motion ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the 3-year-old conflict that has landed squarely in his lap.”

Religion feature. House Afire – “By the end of this year, their membership will include about one in every 10 New Yorkers. They are the Pentecostals, and they are taking in some of the city’s most troubled and needy and pointing them — and their neighborhoods — in whole new directions. David Gonzalez spent a year with members of a small storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem. His fascinating report takes you into the homes, and the lives, of church leaders and followers, giving you a rare behind-the-scenes look at the issues, the challenges and the faith of the world’s fastest-growing form of Christianity.” A three-part series.

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