Beliefnet
God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq, health insurance, Iran, Darfur, Harold Ford-DLC, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Libby trial, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

Iraq-in the streets. Antiwar protesters target Congress– “When thousands of Iraq war protesters gather in Washington Saturday, their chants and amplified speeches are likely to be heard inside the secure grounds of the White House … But the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue – the Capitol and the Democratic-led Congress – is where they most aim their message.” Groups Head to Capital to Step Up Antiwar Drive – “Tens of thousands of demonstrators are set to arrive in the capital this weekend for a major antiwar march, staging the first of several protests intended to persuade the new Democratic-controlled Congress to do more than simply speak against President Bush’s Iraq policy.” Big antiwar rallies set for L.A., D.C. and other cities Saturday– “Similar events are planned in dozens of cities around the country, with some of the largest expected in Los Angeles and San Francisco.” War protest set Saturday in D.C. – “Organizers said they hoped to focus attention on Iraq more intensely than ever, given the growing public opposition to the war and congressional efforts to repudiate it.”

Iraq-in the Senate. GOP senators may offer counter-resolutions on Iraq– “Scrambling to head off a potentially embarrassing congressional rebuke for President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, Senate Republicans are working on alternative legislation that would attach specific “benchmarks” to the White House plan.” US senators feel weight of Iraq vote – “As the resolution moves to the full Senate next week, it’s clear that deep disagreements exist within each party over how best to express doubts about the Iraq war. The result is a vivid – and very public – grappling over the terms of their disagreement.” GOP Senators Wrestle With Iraq War Resolution – “Senate Republicans, scrambling to head off GOP defections to a resolution opposing President Bush’s war policy, are considering their own resolution demanding benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq and possibly a new diplomatic effort to end the war,” Hagel Ponders White House Run As War Criticism Raises His Profile – “Hagel’s sharp criticism of the war has placed him squarely in the mainstream of public opinion on Iraq and revived long-dormant speculation about his presidential ambitions.”

Iran. Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq – “The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran’s influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program,” Tehran’s Influence Grows As Iraqis See Advantages – “changing the “behavior” of the Iranian government, as Khalilzad proposes, collides with Iran’s expanding influence in Iraq, which is built on deep cultural ties as well as personal and business relationships developed during the years…” Israel tries to cut off Tehran from world markets – “Israel is launching a campaign to isolate Iran economically and to soften up world opinion for the option of a military strike aimed at crippling or delaying Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme.”

Darfur. First test for new UN chief: Darfur – ‘Putting an end to the violence there, which the United States calls “genocide,” is also turning into the UN leader’s first major test – of his credibility as a global moral force and of his ability to cajole the international community, and in this case Sudan, beyond words to action.” Aid chief warns of Sudan catastrophe – “The forced withdrawal of aid organisations from Darfur could leave more than two million civilians facing catastrophe, vulnerable to militia attacks, starvation and disease, a leading human rights activist has warned.”

Health insurance. Health-care coverage gains political steam – “Leading Democratic presidential candidates are showing a passion for ambitious plans to provide health-care coverage to all Americans that the party has not shown since the Clinton administration’s health plan turned into a political debacle in 1994.”

Harold Ford-DLC. Democrats’ new leader embraces faith – “Harold Ford Jr. is back in national politics. The young former congressman from Tennessee, who came close last fall to becoming the first African- American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, was named chair of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).”

Israel-Palestine. Palestinian state ‘not an illusion’ – “Israel’s foreign minister reached out to the Palestinian president in an emotional speech as she sat next to him at the World Economic Forum, saying lasting peace is the dream of her government and her people, and promising that a future Palestinian state is “not an illusion. It’s there, it’s achievable.”

Lebanon. Beirut University Dispute Escalates Into Rioting, Killing 4 – “Violence erupted in Beirut for
the second time in three days, as an altercation in a university cafeteria escalated into rioting and gunfire.” Aid Conference Raises $7.6 Billion for Lebanon– “Led by Saudi Arabia and the United States, international donors from more than 30 countries pledged $7.6 billion in aid for Lebanon, in a bold effort to try to prop up the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.”

Libby trial. Aide: VP, Libby targeted Iraq critic – “Vice President Dick Cheney and his former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, were personally and actively involved in an effort to spin news coverage and discredit a critic of the Iraq war even before the fact that his wife was a CIA operative became public,” Ex-Aide Says Cheney Led Rebuttal Effort – “Vice President Cheney personally orchestrated his office’s 2003 efforts to rebut allegations that the administration used flawed intelligence to justify the war in Iraq and discredit a critic who Cheney believed was making him look foolish,” Ex-Cheney Aide Contradicts Libby’s Version of Events – “A former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney gave testimony in the trial of I. Lewis Libby, Jr. that directly contradicted Mr. Libby’s version of events during a crucial period that is at the center of the perjury case against him.”

Op-Ed. The costs to those who soldier on (Anthony Lake, Boston Globe) – “Among the many costs of this tragedy — in losses of our men, women, and resources, in providing a recruiting poster for terrorists, in diverting us from the Afghanistan war we should have prosecuted more fully, in increased Iranian influence — is the fact that we are asking my young friend and his comrades to soldier on in a conflict that more and more of them recognize as misguided.”

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