God's Politics

The latest news on the Mideast, arms control, war and rural America, Anglicans, Iraq, Iran, VP Cheney, immigration and select Op-Eds.

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Anglicans. Anglicans Rebuke U.S. Branch on Same-Sex Unions– “Facing a possible churchwide schism, the Anglican Communion gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination.” Anglicans seek a middle way – “Leaders of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion – deeply divided over the biblical view of homosexuality and other issues – ended a contentious six-day meeting in Tanzania with the first steps toward a set of core principles spelling out who is truly Anglican and who is not.” Anglicans tense but not split after talks – “The five-day meeting ended with a joint communique and without evidence of an immediate schism in the 77-million-member global church, which many had feared.”

Arms control. East Europeans welcome US missile shield – “The worst arms control dispute of the post-cold war era was taking shape yesterday when Poland and the Czech Republic displayed their keenness to host facilities for the Pentagon’s missile defence shield, Russia threatened to target the central Europeans, and Germany denounced the US moves as potentially destabilising.” Russian general warns against US missile bases – “In a statement reflecting the growing distrust between Moscow and the West, a top Russian general warned that Poland and the Czech Republic risk being targeted by Russian missiles if they agree to host US missile defense bases.”

Mideast. Mideast Talks Conclude With Little Result– “An American-sponsored meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders meant to start a new peace initiative after six years ended with little more concrete than a promise to meet again.” Rice’s Mideast Talks Yield Little Except a Promise to Meet Again – “Rice’s role was intended to signal her deepening commitment to helping resolve the conflict, but the talks demonstrated the difficulties ahead. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert nor Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accompanied Rice when she met with reporters after more than two hours of talks.” Rice calls Mideast meeting ‘productive’ – “Olmert and Abbas reaffirmed their support of the U.S.-backed diplomatic blueprint known as the “road map” and discussed how to begin reviving it, Rice said. The plan, which lays out a step-by-step path to an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, has languished since it was unveiled in 2003 because neither side has fulfilled even initial commitments.”

Iraq. Brazen Pre-Dawn Attack on U.S. Outpost in Iraq Kills 3, Injures 17 – “A U.S. military facility north of Baghdad was targeted Monday by suicide bombers and other armed men who killed three American soldiers and wounded 17 in an unusually brazen attack.” Iraqi Militants Launch Attack on U.S. Outpost– “In a rare coordinated assault on an American combat outpost north of Baghdad, suicide bombers drove one or more cars laden with explosives into the compound, while other insurgents opened fire in the ensuing chaos,”

Iran. Russia Will Slow Work on Iran’s Nuclear Plant – “Russia contended that Iran had not made the last two $25 million monthly payments, in a dispute about whether it could pay in euros instead of dollars.” Iran ‘six months from mass uranium enrichment’ – “Iran could be as little as six months away from being able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, having mastered the technology since last August, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned in an interview published today. However, Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general, stressed that Iran was still years away from developing a nuclear weapon.” Tehran seeks unconditional talks – “Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he wants talks on his nation’s nuclear programme, but only if no pre-conditions are imposed.”

VP Cheney. Cheney’s Influence Lessens in Second Term: Administration More Pragmatic in Foreign Policy, Dealing With Congress– “There is no evidence that Cheney’s close relationship with Bush has been lessened. But there is also little doubt that the causes he has championed — a tough skepticism of negotiations with dictatorships such as North Korea and the forceful exercise of presidential authority — are being rethought within the Bush administration,”

Immigrants. Debit cards for immigrants – “Aparicio applied for a special debit card created for immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers, which are required to open savings or checking accounts. They’re also for people who just don’t trust banks. A nonprofit worker center here called New Labor, which helps immigrants learn English and find jobs, in November became the first in the nation to offer the Sigo card – combining “go” with Spanish for “yes.” The center has distributed 300 cards. The program – affiliated with MasterCard – is underway at eight other worker centers across the country,”

War and rural America. Rural America hit hard by war – “Nearly half of the more than 3,000 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have come from towns like McKeesport, where fewer than 25,000 people live, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. One in five hailed from hometowns of less than 5,000. … Many of the hometowns of the war dead aren’t just small, they’re poor. The AP analysis found that nearly three-fourths of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average.”

Op-Ed. The Antiwar Rallying Point (E.J. Dionne, Washington Post) – “Two things are now abundantly clear about the future of U.S. policy toward Iraq. First, majorities in both houses of Congress have lost faith in President Bush’s approach to the war. Second, the president will do all he can to resist changing his strategy by trying to split his critics into ineffectual factions.”

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