God's Politics

The latest news on Children’s Health Insurance, Povert, Iraq, Iran Presidential politics, slavery, Church-state, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, and select Op-Eds.

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Childrens Health Insurance. Governors Worry Over Money for Child Health Program – “As the National Governors Association began its winter meeting, 13 governors expressed alarm on that they were about to run out of federal money for a popular program that provides health insurance to children. They appealed to Congress and the Bush administration for swift action to protect hundreds of thousands of children who could lose benefits.”

Poverty. U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty – “The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation’s “haves” and “have-nots” continues to widen.” Welfare State Growing Despite Overhauls – “The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid. The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees.”

Iraq-Congress. Murtha Stumbles on Iraq Funding Curbs – “The plan was bold: By tying President Bush’s $100 billion war request to strict standards of troop safety and readiness, Democrats believed they could grab hold of Iraq war policy while forcing Republicans to defend sending troops into battle without the necessary training or equipment.” War Critic Faces Test on Iraq Spending Bill– “Mr. Murtha faces an extraordinary political challenge over the next month, and some Democrats are already worried about his handling of it.” Congressional Democrats Wrestle Over How to Force Bush to Alter Iraq Policy– “Congressional Democrats, divided over how to press President Bush to alter his policy in Iraq, are wrestling over whether to use the power of the purse to wind down the war, and they seem headed for a confrontation among themselves, possibly as early as next week, over a proposal to revoke the 2002 resolution authorizing the war.” McConnell Threatens to Block Bid to Repeal War Resolution – “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that a new Democratic effort to repeal the 2002 Iraq war resolution would meet the same fate as two previous efforts to limit President Bush’s authority: blocked by procedural obstacles, unless Democrats relent to GOP terms.”

Iraq-military. Cleric predicts security failure – “Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr predicted that the U.S.-backed security plan for Baghdad would fail because of the involvement of U.S. forces, raising the possibility that the country’s biggest militia will return to the streets to challenge the new U.S. push to secure Baghdad.” Governors warn of troop buildup’s impact on Guard – “Republican and Democratic governors meeting Saturday warned that President Bush’s “surge” of additional troops to Iraq would put added pressure on National Guard units already stretched to their limits.”

Iran. U.S. Says Raid in Iraq Supports Claim on Iran– “A raid on a Shiite weapons cache in the southern city of Hilla one week ago is providing what American officials call the best evidence yet that the deadliest roadside bombs in Iraq are manufactured in Iran, but critics contend that the forensic case remains circumstantial and inferential.” U.N. calls U.S. data on Iran’s nuclear aims unreliable – “Although international concern is growing about Iran’s nuclear program and its regional ambitions, diplomats here say most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran.” Iran defiant on nuclear programme – “Iran will not go back on its controversial nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says. A day before leading UN members discuss further sanctions against Tehran, he compared Iran’s programme to a train with no brakes and no reverse gear.”

THE REDIRECTION – (by Seymour M. Hersh) – “In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.” US Generals ‘Will Quit’ If Bush Orders Iran Attack – “SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.”

Presidential politics. Vilsack Ends Bid for Presidency– “Former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa ended his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying the crowded field had made it impossible for him to raise enough money to remain competitive.” Vilsack, First Democrat In, Is Quickly Out “This process has become to a great extent about money — a lot of money,” Vilsack said. “And it is clear to me that we would not be able to continue to raise money in the amounts necessary to sustain not just a campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire but a campaign across this country. So it is money and only money that is the reason that we are leaving today.” Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate– “A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.”

Slavery.Sharpton’s Ancestor Was Owned by Thurmond’s – “The Rev. Al Sharpton, the prominent civil rights activist, is descended from a slave owned by relatives of the late senator and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond, a genealogical study released Sunday reported.” Virginia Apologizes for Role in Slavery – “Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery. Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery.”

Church-state. Ban on Prison Religious Program Challenged: U.S. Judge Ruled Evangelical Rehabilitation Effort in Iowa Is Unconstitutional – “Rooted in evangelical Christianity and supported by more than $1.5 million in public funds, the method of the rehabilitation program is clear enough. A key question is its constitutionality. A trio of appellate judges, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is reviewing a lower court’s decision that the program violates the separation of church and state.”

North Korea. North Korea invites U.N. nuclear monitor – “In a fresh sign of easing tensions, North Korean officials invited the chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to visit Pyongyang next month to develop plans aimed at dismantling the nation’s nuclear weapons program.”

Sudan. Sudan’s Extremes Symbolize Rifts – “The ruling party in Khartoum, they say, hoards power and wealth at the expense of the rest of the country, physically the largest in Africa. And in the past several years, the new oil wealth and investment pouring into the city of 6 million have sharpened the contrast between center and periphery.”

Venezuela. Venezuela Spending on Arms Soars to World’s Top Ranks– “Venezuela’s arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years, transforming the nation into Latin America’s largest weapons buyer and placing it ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran.”

Op-Ed. Diplomacy, Not War, With Iran – (Bill Richardson) – “Saber-rattling is not a good way to get the Iranians to cooperate. But it is a good way to start a new war — a war that would be a disaster for the Middle East, for the United States and for the world. A war that, furthermore, would destroy what little remains of U.S. credibility in the community of nations. Abetter approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons.”

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