God's Politics

The latest news on the Iraq-Senate, war, rebuilding-, income inequality, farm bill, Iran, Libby trial, Biden, Immigration, EITC, and passing of Molly Ivins.

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Iraq-Senate. Senators Unite On Challenge to Bush’s Troop Plan– “Democratic and Republican opponents of President Bush’s troop-buildup plan joined forces last night behind the nonbinding resolution with the broadest bipartisan backing: a Republican measure from Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia.” Senate closer to Iraq rebuke– “Senate opponents of President Bush’s decision to deploy additional troops in Iraq were unifying behind a single resolution criticizing the plan,” In Fighting Troop Increase, Senator Finds Few Old Allies while Mr. Warner has won some support from within his party, he has also attracted unusually tough criticism from fellow Republicans who have suggested that he – a World War II veteran and former Navy secretary – is undercutting Mr. Bush, the new military command being installed in Iraq and the troops themselves.”

Iraq-war. Lie Low, Fighters Are Told: ‘Try at All Costs’ To Avoid Conflict With Americans– “Sadr’s followers waged fierce battles against the U.S. military in 2004, but militiamen and Iraqi politicians close to Sadr say this time he wants to avoid violent clashes and maintain a lower profile.” General: Shiite Militia Leaders Leaving Baghdad Strongholds– “Shiite militia leaders already appear to be leaving their strongholds in Baghdad in anticipation of the U.S. and Iraqi plan to increase the troop presence in the Iraqi capital,” Northern Iraq seen as next front in war “American officials, regional leaders and residents are increasingly worried that this northern oil-rich city could develop into a third front in the country’s civil war just as additional U.S. troops arrive in Baghdad and Al Anbar province as reinforcements for battles there.” Iraq halts Syria flights, closes Iran border– “Iraq indefinitely halted all flights to and from Syria and closed a border crossing with Iran as the government prepares for a new security crackdown aimed at crushing violence in the capital and surrounding regions.”

Iraq-rebuilding. U.S. Agency Finds New Waste and Fraud in Iraqi Rebuilding Projects A federal oversight agency reported that despite nearly $108 billion that had been budgeted for the reconstruction of Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the country’s electrical output and oil production were still below prewar levels and stocks of gasoline and kerosene had plummeted to their lowest levels in at least two years.” Iraqi agencies can’t perform basic functions, report says– “The effort to resurrect vital government services in Iraq has been hampered by ethnic and sectarian purges among the ranks of civil servants, a high turnover rate for senior administrative officials, and a lack of comprehensive planning on the part of both Iraqis and the United States,”

Iran. U.S. delays report on Iranian role in Iraq– “The Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence,” US warns Iran on Iraq insurgents – “The US has issued the latest in a series of warnings to Iran, telling Tehran to stop helping Iraqi militants make lethal bombs to attack US troops” The US hostility towards Iran– “American accusations against Iran are becoming more specific by the day, raising a question about how far this confrontation will go.” Sanctions rattle Iran, spur talk of shake-up – “The unanimous passage of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran in December has shaken the nation’s public and ruling elite, prompting talk of a shake-up of top officials and fears of a U.S. attack.” Chirac Unfazed by Nuclear Iran, Then Backtracks President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran. … On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks.”

Libby trial. Former Times Reporter Testimony Is Challenged – “A former reporter for The New York Times jousted for nearly two hours on with a lawyer for I. Lewis Libby over her credibility and memory.” Ex-Time Reporter Testifies in Libby Trial – “A former Time magazine reporter said in court that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby confided that the wife of an Iraq war critic worked at the CIA, becoming the second journalist to testify that the vice president’s then-chief of staff disclosed the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.” Rove revealed agent’s name, reporter says – “A former Time magazine reporter said that it was President Bush’s political advisor, Karl Rove, who first revealed to him that the wife of an administration critic worked for the CIA.” Libby trial shows an insular, backbiting Washington– “With the Bush administration taking a pounding over erroneous prewar claims about Iraq in the summer of 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff consulted his office’s top communications advisor on how to strike back.”

Biden announces. Biden Stumbles at the Starting Gate– “Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) joined the 2008 race for the White House, declaring that he has the right skills and experience to extricate the United States from Iraq without destabilizing the Middle East. But he spent much of the day extricating himself from a controversy over his comments about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.),” Biden Unwraps His Bid for ’08 With an Oops! In an era of meticulous political choreography, the staging of the kickoff for this presidential candidacy could hardly have gone worse.”

Farm bill. Agriculture Dept. Urges Big Overhaul in Farm Policy – “The measure, which would succeed a five-year agricultural authorization expiring at the end of this year, was described by some critics of current policy as perhaps the most reform-minded farm bill in decades.” USDA Outlines a Plan To Cut Farm Subsidies – “he Bush administration proposed ending farm subsidies for an estimated 80,000 wealthy individuals as part of a broad plan that would close loopholes and cut traditional farm programs by $4.5 billion over the next 10 years.”

Immigration. Immigrants Are Facing Big Increases in U.S. Fees– “Federal immigration authorities proposed to raise fees for visas and citizenship documents by an average of 66 percent, promising to use the added money to modernize and speed up an antiquated, overburdened bureaucracy.” Cost of U.S. citizenship likely to rise “But the proposal, which would hike citizenship application fees from $330 to $595, drew immediate criticism that it would put citizenship out of reach for many poor immigrants.”

Income inequality. Bush assails ‘income inequality’ – “President Bush said there is a growing “income inequality” gap between rich and poor Americans, and told companies they should rethink the giant compensation packages they offer top executives.” Bush Addresses Income Inequality– “President Bush acknowledged that there is growing income inequality in the United States, addressing for the first time a subject that has long concerned Democrats and liberal economists.”

EITC. Earned income tax credit to get a push– “The IRS, the U.S. Treasurer and a coalition of consumer groups plan to launch a nationwide initiative today to encourage more low-income families to claim the earned income tax credit, an often-overlooked benefit that’s worth up to $4,536 this year.”

Passing-Molly Ivins. Molly Ivins, Columnist, Dies at 62 – “Molly Ivins, the liberal newspaper columnist who delighted in skewering politicians and interpreting, and mocking, her Texas culture, died yesterday in Austin.” Columnist Molly Ivins, 62; Poked Fun at the Powerful – “Ivins, an unabashedly liberal columnist and best-selling author whose wicked wit and good ol’ girl-style Texas humor regularly skewered conservative politicians and targeted the pomposities of elected officials regardless of political stripe, died Jan. 31.” Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 – “For six years, the trenchant columns of Molly Ivins have raised Cain on the Commentary page of this newspaper. In that too-brief span of time, not one of the many fine writers who share that real estate infuriated so many Tribune readers–or won the adoration of so many others.”

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