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God's Politics

The latest news on wiretapping, student loans, Iraq, public opinion, GI opposition, ethics legislation, climate change, death penalty, Colombia, globalization, and select Op-Eds.

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Full news summary:

Wiretapping. Court to Oversee U.S. Wiretapping in Terror Cases– “The Bush administration, in a surprise reversal, said that it had agreed to give a secret court jurisdiction over the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and would end its practice of eavesdropping without warrants on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.” Court Will Oversee Wiretap Program – “The Bush administration said that it has agreed to disband a controversial warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, replacing it with a new effort that will be overseen by the secret court that governs clandestine spying in the United States.” News Analysis: White House Retreats Under Pressure – “But facing no new attack to justify emergency measures, as well as a series of losses in the courts and finally the Democratic sweep of the November election, Mr. Bush has had to retreat across the board.”


Student loans. House Votes to Reduce Rates on Student Loans – “The House overwhelmingly approved a bill that is designed to cut interest rates on college loans, creating a plan that potentially could save students $2,300 over the course of a loan.” House passes student-loan interest bill – “the House measure, passed 356 to 71, applies to the 5.5 million subsidized Stafford loans given each year to students whose families earn $26,000 to $68,000 annually, but would not increase Pell Grants or student tax credits.”


Iraq. Shiite Fighters Arrested in Crackdown, Iraq Says– “Facing intense pressure from the Bush administration to show progress in securing Iraq, senior Iraqi officials announced that they had moved against the country’s most powerful Shiite militia, arresting several dozen senior members in the past few weeks.” Maliki Stresses Urgency In Arming Iraqi Forces – “The Iraqi government’s need for American troops would “dramatically go down” in three to six months if the United States accelerated the process of equipping and arming Iraq’s security forces.”


Iraq-Senate. Measure in Senate Urges No Troop Rise in Iraq– “The Senate set the stage for a direct clash with President Bush over the war, with two senior Democrats and a prominent Republican introducing a symbolic measure to declare that the administration’s plan to send additional troops to Iraq runs counter to the national interest.” Bipartisan Senate Measure Confronts Bush Over Iraq – “A bipartisan group of senators announced a formal resolution of opposition yesterday to President Bush’s buildup of troops in Iraq,” Iraq resolution may expose Republican divide – “A Democratic resolution on Iraq has attracted the support of at least two Republicans and is exposing fissures within the GOP over the unpopular war.” Congress unleashes antiwar proposals – “it marks the leading edge of a rapidly expanding legislative front that will confront Bush as he tries to chart a new Iraq policy.” After Iraq Trip, Clinton Proposes War LimitsSenator Hillary Rodham Clinton called President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq “a losing strategy” and proposed placing new limits on the White House’s conduct of the war. Sen. Clinton takes offensive on war For Clinton, widely considered to be at the top of the list of potential Democratic presidential nominees in 2008, the conflict in Iraq is proving to be a tightrope walk of the highest order.


Public opinion. Poll: Most oppose troop buildup – “A strong majority of Americans opposes President Bush’s decision to send more troops to Iraq, and about half of the country wants Congress to block the deployment,” McCain’s war stance alienates many – “Sen. John McCain’s vocal support for sending more U.S. troops to Iraq has set him apart from most of the emerging crop of major presidential contenders. And that position could harm his political prospects.”


GI opposition. Officer facing court-martial denounces war – “The nation’s first Army officer to refuse deployment to Iraq urged the public in a statement to “stop the war so that the death and sacrifices of American soldiers will not be in vain” after a major legal setback in his court-martial proceedings.”


Ethics legislation. Republicans Halt Ethics Legislation – “Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists’ influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated m
easure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.” Quarrel Stalls Movement of Ethics Bill in Senate– “A proposed ethics overhaul collapsed when a procedural question turned into a feud between the Democratic and Republican leaders.”


Climate change. Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress – “Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate but quixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats are increasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White House and impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that most smokestack industries have long opposed.”


Death penalty. High Court Hears 3 Death Penalty Cases – “It was death penalty day yesterday at the Supreme Court … The court heard three death penalty cases from Texas even as executions are on hold in an increasing number of states, from Maryland to California, and as the number of new death sentences continues to fall.” Justices Scrutinize Death Penalty in Texas – “The Supreme Court resumed its long-running effort to monitor the use of the death penalty in Texas, hearing arguments in three cases that put the strains and internal contradictions of the court’s capital punishment jurisprudence fully on display.”


Colombia. Colombian militia leader confesses to massacres – “A senior commander of Colombia’s rightwing militias has admitted taking part in some of the country’s most grisly crimes in the first of what could become a flood of confessions from demobilised paramilitary leaders.” Testimony details death squad acts in Colombia – “The testimony by Salvatore Mancuso in the northwestern city of Medellín is a key step toward clarifying and assigning blame for atrocities committed in the last two decades of Colombia’s ongoing civil war between insurgents and the state.”


Globalization. Brown calls for overhaul of UN, World Bank and IMF – “Urgent and far-reaching reform of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G7 is needed to make old-fashioned international institutions fit to cope with the “seismic shifts” of globalisation, Gordon Brown said yesterday.”


Op-Eds.


A New Chance for Peace? (By Jimmy Carter, The Washington Post) – “I am concerned that public discussion of my book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” has been diverted from the book’s basic proposals: that peace talks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution of Palestinians be ended. Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book’s title, combined with allegations that I am anti-Israel.”


Suffering binds Iraq and Darfur (David Bosco, contributing writer at Foreign Policy magazine, Los Angeles Times) – “POLLS TELL US that Americans want to be less involved in Iraq and more involved in Darfur. It’s not hard to understand why. For the American public, and many of its leaders, Iraq is a tainted war without good guys. Darfur, by contrast, is a chance to save the helpless. In our minds, Iraq and Darfur seem to fit into neat categories: One is a botched war, the other is a humanitarian crisis. But the ghastly facts on the ground support no such clear distinction.”

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