God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq-Congress, Iran, presidential politics, veterans and medical care, Afghanistan, health insurance, faith and politics, Latin America, nuclear weapons, mideast, religion, Darfur, and select Op-Eds.

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Iraq-Congress. Democrats Alter Plan To Restrict Iraq War – “Senior House Democrats, seeking to placate members of their party from Republican-leaning districts, are pushing a plan that would place restrictions on President Bush’s ability to wage the war in Iraq but would allow him to waive them if he publicly justifies his position.” Nine US soldiers die in Iraq blasts – “US forces yesterday suffered heavy casualties from roadside bombs as insurgents kept up attacks on American soldiers despite a three-week-old security crackdown in Baghdad.”

Veterans & medical care. Soldiers Testify Over Poor Care at Walter Reed– “Members of Congress heard wrenching testimony from wounded soldiers treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and contrite promises from top Army officials to correct the conditions there.” Apologies, Anger at Walter Reed Hearing – “Senior commanders of the Army offered profuse apologies for the poor treatment accorded many soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but lawmakers expressed skepticism that the generals had been unaware of the problems until they were spotlighted by the media two weeks ago.”

Iran. Momentum builds for more sanctions against Iran – “It once scoffed at the viability of international sanctions as a diplomatic tool. But the Bush administration, convinced that punitive financial measures played a role in moving North Korea to accept a deal designed to shut down its nuclear operations, is now spearheading a multilateral effort to use sanctions to turn the screws on Iran and its nuclear program.” Webb bill limits Iran fight – “Freshman Sen. James H. Webb Jr. yesterday introduced legislation to force President Bush to seek congressional authorization before using force against Iran.”

Iranian Women Are Arrested After Protests Outside Court – Iranian authorities arrested 33 women on Sunday after protests outside a court where five of them were being tried for leading a campaign to gain more legal rights for women,” 33 Activist Women Arrested in Tehran – “Amnesty International yesterday demanded the swift and unconditional release of 33 prominent Iranian female activists arrested last weekend and jailed in Tehran’s notorious high-security Evin prison. The women were arrested after peacefully protesting the trial of five other activists and grass-roots organizers against discrimination in the legal system.”

Afghanistan. US airstrike in Kabul kills nine members of same family – “Afghan confidence in western military forces was further frayed yesterday when an American airstrike on a house near Kabul killed nine people spanning four generations of the same family. American warplanes dropped two 2,000lb bombs on the house in Kapisa province, just north of Kabul, hours after an attack on a nearby US base.” U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan kills civilians – “For the second time in less than 24 hours, the U.S. military on Monday acknowledged involvement in an incident that caused multiple civilian deaths in Afghanistan – this time, an airstrike on a rural compound that killed nine people from the same family.”

Health insurance Health Care Already a Key Issue in 2008 Race – “no White House hopeful can be taken seriously in the rapidly evolving 2008 race without confronting what many Americans have long said is one of their biggest concerns: the availability and affordability of health care.”

Presidential politics. States may force megaprimary,winnow the 2008 field early – “States with more than half the nation’s population are zeroing in on Feb. 5 next year to stage their presidential primaries, creating a single day that could determine the major party nominees at a historically early point in the process.”

Faith & politics. To Romney strategist, questions on faith fair game – “It’s appropriate for the public to ask questions about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith as he pursues his presidential campaign, a top Romney campaign strategist said yesterday.”

Latin America. Bush to Set Out Shift in Agenda on Latin Trip– “President Bush arrives here on Thursday with an energy partnership plan to create jobs and decrease poverty and inequality, a marked shift in Washington’s priorities for Latin America aimed at countering the challenge posed by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.” Bush to visit Latin America, Chavez’s backyard – “The emphasis on addressing inequality marks a shift for the president, who has been assailed for stressing free trade and democracy south of the border and ignoring the social ills that continue to stymie the region.”

Nuclear weapons. Russia, U.S. to discuss START – “The Bush administration has rebuffed Russian overtures to negotiate a legally binding replacement of the 1991 START I treaty that reduced the two countries’ strategic nuclear force
s but is set to expire in 2009, U.S. and Russian officials said.”

Mideast. Israeli intelligence chief: Iran training Hamas – “A Hamas spokesman denied the assertion. The training, if confirmed, would mean that Iran is expanding its alliance with Hamas, which Israel and the United States list as a terrorist organization and which has controlled the Palestinian Authority government for nearly a year.” Israeli Says Iran Is Training Hamas Men – “The chief of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, said Monday that the Islamic movement Hamas had sent dozens of men from Gaza to Iran for military training.” Spy chief sees Hamas driven to Tehran – “The international community’s decision to cut off financial aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government has helped drive Hamas into the embrace of Iran, the chief of Israel’s domestic spy agency said yesterday.”

Religion. Layoffs Follow Scandal at Colorado Megachurch– “In the wake of a scandal involving its founding pastor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, the New Life Church in Colorado Springs has been forced to lay off 44 of its 350 workers to offset a sharp drop in donations.”

Darfur. Search for oil raises the stakes in Darfur – “The Sudanese government is quietly escalating oil exploration inside the Darfur region, a step that has led to protests from rebel leaders in a volatile area where more than 200,000 people have been killed during three years of fighting.”


A young king’s wise proposal – “I have been involved in North African affairs for 40 years, and for most of that time, the problem of Western Sahara has envenomed relations among its neighbors and immiserated the Saharan population. Morocco’s young king, Mohammed VI, has devised a proposal for granting autonomous status to this region, and it behooves all members of the United Nations Security Council to support it. Here is a rare instance, in the post-9/11 world, in which a little encouragement could pay large dividends, fostering not only a final resolution for the region’s refugees but also creating a stable North African peace for the first time in decades – a peace that would serve as a bulwark against Islamic extremism.” (Frederick Vreeland, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asia affairs and U.S. ambassador to Morocco, International Herald Tribune)

Testing Time for Democrats (EJ Dionne, Washington Post) – “one news story after another has highlighted differences among congressional Democrats over how to end the war. There is also the divide between the Washington party and activists at the grass roots and in the blogosphere. All of these problems are rooted in two unalterable facts: Democrats, on the basis of their thin majorities in Congress, lack the numbers to force an unwilling president to alter his course. And they are short of votes to cut off funds for the war altogether.”

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