Beliefnet
God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq, Immigration, Iran, minimum wage, education, 2006 election in Ohio, poverty, Senator Kerry, Darfur, Summer of 1964-good and evil, Pelosi film, and select op-eds and editorials.

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Full news summary:

Iraq-Senate. Panel rejects war `surge’ – “In the first congressional vote over President Bush’s deployment of additional troops to Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution declaring that the president’s new war strategy is “not in the national interest.” Senators Rebuff Bush on Troop Plan – “The committee voted 12 to 9 to send a resolution of disapproval of the president’s Iraq policy to the Senate floor next week, setting up what could be the most dramatic confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration since the war was launched four years ago.” Bush Iraq Plan Is Condemned by Senate Panel– “The full Senate is poised to consider the nonbinding, yet strongly symbolic, repudiation of Mr. Bush as early as Wednesday.”

Iraq-war. Troops Battle Insurgents in Central Baghdad – “With attack helicopters circling overhead, U.S. and Iraqi forces waged an intense battle to clear armed men from high-rise buildings in a strategic Baghdad neighborhood that had been the scene of a similar day of combat two weeks ago.” U.S.-Iraqi forces strike ‘Sniper Alley’ – “The U.S. military said the fighting on and around Haifa Street was part of a new offensive launched before dawn to disrupt illegal militias and bring the volatile area under the control of Iraqi security forces.”

Iraq-Cheney. Cheney says war critics are ‘dead wrong’ – “A day after President Bush struck a conciliatory tone toward critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney did the opposite, denouncing as “hogwash” the assertion that the administration had lost credibility because of blunders in Iraq.” Defending Iraq War, Defiant Cheney Cites ‘Enormous Successes’ – “Vice President Cheney said that the administration has achieved “enormous successes” in Iraq but complained that critics and the media “are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure” that they are undermining U.S. troops in a war zone.”

Iraq-Blair. Blair skips heated debate on Iraq war – “Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected calls to withdraw British forces from Iraq by October, then dodged a blistering debate in Parliament in which there was almost unanimous condemnation of the war and little optimism for a U.S. plan to boost its troop presence in Baghdad.”

Minimum wage. Bill to increase minimum wage hits snag in Senate when lawmakers press for tax breaks – “Democrats’ promise of a quick increase in the minimum wage ran aground yesterday in the Senate, where lawmakers are insisting it include new tax breaks for restaurants and other businesses that rely on low-pay workers.”

Immigration. GOP renews ‘amnesty’ defiance – “House Republicans opposed to amnesty vowed to fight President Bush’s proposal to legalize millions of illegal aliens as outlined in his State of the Union address.” Children of illegal immigrants are caught in a web of conflicting public policies – “Such children often face a confusing thicket of public policies reflecting sympathy for their vulnerability and disapproval of their parents’ illegal behavior.”

Education. Bush Proposes Adding Private School Vouchers to ‘No Child’ Law – “The Bush administration unveiled an education plan that would allow poor students at chronically failing public schools to use federal vouchers to attend private and religious schools, angering Democrats who vowed to fight the measure.”

2004 election in Ohio. 2 election workers convicted in ’04 tally – “A jury found two Cuyahoga County elections workers guilty Wednesday of charges that they skirted Board of Elections procedures to thwart a countywide ballot recount after the divisive 2004 presidential election.”

Poverty. Childhood Poverty Is Found to Portend High Adult Costs – “Children who grow up poor cost the economy $500 billion a year because they are less productive, earn less money, commit more crimes and have more health-related expenses.” With Health Care Topic A, Some Sketches for a Solution– “Start with the children and work up from there. For corporate America and Washington policy experts, that seems to be the emerging consensus about how to begin tackling the problem of the 47 million people in this country without health insurance: Start with the more than 8 million uninsured children.”

Iran. Israel raises nuclear stakes with Iran– “The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, dramatically raised the stakes in the international showdown with Iran last night, with a clear warning that his country was prepared to use military force to prevent Tehran from obtaining a
nuclear weapon.” Olmert vows use of every means to meet Iran threat – “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert devoted one of his most important policy speeches of the year to a single topic–Iran–saying Israel will respond to a nuclear threat “with all the means at our disposal.” The complete text of the speech is on the Prime Minister’s website. Iran obtains defense system for nuclear sites – “Iranian officials said that they have taken delivery of advanced Russian air defense missile systems–weapons intended, according to one Russian news agency, to defend Tehran’s major nuclear facilities.”

Politics. Charting his future as senator,Kerry rejects second run for White House,seeks to end war – “A tearful Senator John F. Kerry launched the next phase of his Senate career yesterday with a vow to hasten an end to the Iraq war, as the man who spent the past four years gunning for the presidency turned his attention to building a statesmanlike legacy in the Senate.”

Darfur. Chinese Leader to Visit Sudan for Talks on Darfur Conflict – “Chinese officials announced that President Hu Jintao would visit Sudan in early February and would seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the country’s western Darfur region,” Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival – “Three filmmakers chronicle their journey to document the tragedy in Darfur where 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million forced from their homes.”

Summer of 1964-good and evil. Mendy Samstein, 68, Dies; Championed Civil Rights – “Mendy Samstein, who left graduate school to put himself in the forefront of the fight for black voting rights in Mississippi, enduring bombings and beatings in the crucial summer of 1964, died yesterday … Mr. Samstein abandoned his pursuit of a doctorate in history to join the historic turmoil in the South and became known as an adept organizer and pull-no-punches speaker. He helped recruit and deploy the more than 800 college students, mainly white, who traveled from many states to rural Mississippi towns, mainly black, as part of the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964. He became a full-time organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Stokely Carmichael, who later became the group’s chairman, called him “one in a million.” Mississippi Man Arrested in Killing of 2 Blacks in ’64– “A 71-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in Mississippi on federal kidnapping charges stemming from the 1964 killing of two black teenagers who were tied to trees, whipped and drowned.”

Film. Soldiers of the Cross – “”Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi,” a new HBO documentary about America’s army of impassioned evangelicals, doesn’t address the question “Why are we in Iraq?” — but the film’s parade of believers has a fervent certainty that echoes President Bush’s unwavering belief in the war.” A Culture of Faith, Devoted Yet Complex– “The documentary is a good-natured travelogue: it glances on the more intolerant and grotesque manifestations of Christian fundamentalism and also the faith’s vast following and political clout.” (FRIENDS OF GOD: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi. HBO, tonight at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.)

Op-Eds.

Jim Webb: Reagan Democrat(E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) – “Like him or not, Ronald Reagan spoke in a clean, clear prose that almost always left listeners with a sense that he stood for something. Jim Webb did the same when he offered the Democrat’s response to the president’s State of the Union speech.”

Senate Firefighters(By David S. Broder, Washington Post) – “Despite the raging controversy over Iraq military policy, President Bush’s plea for bipartisan cooperation on the domestic agenda has a chance of success in the Senate. The reason has less to do with sympathy for the politically weakened chief executive than a dynamic that has gone largely unnoticed among the senators themselves. Since the midterm election created a near-even balance in the Senate — 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans — serious efforts at cross-party communication have developed momentum.”

Editorial. Chicago Tribune. The anti-surge surge – “A restrained President Bush pleaded with Congress Tuesday night for time to let his new “surge” strategy in Iraq work. He clearly hopes to head off anti-surge resolutions now simmering in the U.S. Senate, and other potential congressional moves to limit his already-narrowed options in Iraq.”

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