God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq, gun control, DC voting rights, Virginia Tech, the attorney general, abortion, Congress, Iran, Columbia, religious worker visas, and selct op-eds.

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Iraq. Leading Democrat in Senate Tells Reporters, ‘This War Is Lost’ -“As Congressional Democrats sought to reconcile their differences and send an Iraq spending bill to the White House, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said that “this war is lost,” U.S. signals impatience with Iraq’s pace – “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived in Iraq with a message that American patience with the slow pace of political reconciliation measures is limited.” Gates Warns Iraq Leaders That ‘Clock Is Ticking’ on U.S. Presence – “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived in Baghdad to convey a blunt message to Iraq’s leadership three months after the United States began an increase of more than 28,000 troops in the country. “The clock is ticking,” he said.” Gates Presses Iraq Premier on Healing Sectarian Divide – “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here intending to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a moment when Mr. Maliki’s ability to deliver appears limited,” GOP Sen. Snowe sponsoring Iraq withdrawal bill – “In another sign of Republican unease with the president’s Iraq policies, a third GOP senator expressed support for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq under certain conditions.” Baghdad troop deaths up; Anbar down – “U.S. combat deaths in Baghdad have risen steadily since February, when the U.S. military launched an initiative to secure the capital, Pentagon records show. Meanwhile, a hotbed of the Iraqi insurgency has become significantly safer for U.S. troops.”

Virginia Tech.In Shadow of a Tragedy, Longing for Normalcy but Enveloped by Grief – “In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, there were vigils and crowds. Now many of the students have gone home, and some may not be back this semester.” NBC bashed for airing Virginia Tech killer’s rants – “NBC’s decision to broadcast portions of Seung-hui Cho’s angry rants triggered a storm of condemnation from viewers and victims’ relatives, illuminating the treacherous middle ground between exposure and exploitation in a fast-moving news cycle.” NBC News Defends Its Use of Material Sent by the Killer – “NBC News fought back against a growing backlash over the way it handled the pictures and writings of the student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.” Kaine Gives Panel Latitude to Probe Campus Killings – “Gov. Timothy M. Kaine created an eight-member independent panel, including former U.S. homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, to review all aspects of the Virginia Tech massacre,” Appointees to Virginia Tech Review Panel – the panel members appointed by Gov. Kaine. Anger of Killer Was on Exhibit in His Writings– “Professors and students in the English department at Virginia Tech knew of the mental turmoil of Cho Seung-Hui through his writings and images.”

Gun control. Killings spur delicate gun debate – “In the wake of the massacre at Virginia Tech, gun-rights advocates and proponents of tougher weapons laws are wading into the debate about American gun culture. But what seems uncertain is whether there is the will to make a significant push to change gun laws.” Democrats shy away from stricter gun laws – “The muted response on Capitol Hill to the Virginia Tech massacre underscores an evolving willingness among some Democrats from the party’s urban and coastal strongholds to recognize the political realities that face colleagues who need rural votes to win office.” US support for gun control rises – “quietly, American attitudes toward firearms have shifted. Gun ownership is at the lowest level in three decades, and support for the regulation of firearms, which is always been high, has reached a new peak,”

Attorney General. Gonzales hit from both sides – “Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales lost ground in his battle to boost political support to keep his job as Republicans on a Senate panel harshly criticized his handling of the firings of eight federal prosecutors last year, and an additional GOP lawmaker called on him to quit.” Gonzalez defends firings before tough GOP critics – “Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales defended the firings of eight federal prosecutors last year, but was harshly criticized by several conservative Republican senators during a daylong hearing.” Senators Chastise Gonzales at Hearing – “Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales came under withering attack from members of his own party over the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys,” On a Very Hot Seat With Little Cover and Less Support– “Not a single Republican, with the possible exception of Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, came to Mr. Gonzales’s defense – not even his old Texas friend Senator John Cornyn.”

Abortion . New Push Likely for Restrictions Over Abortions– “Both sides of the abortion debate expect a new push for restrictions as state lawmakers around the country digest the implications of the Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a type of abortion.” Analysis: Roberts Court Moves Right, But With a Measured Step – “The Supreme Court’s decision signaling a significant reversal in the way it views government restrictions on abortion may also offer a glimpse of how the court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will proceed on other controversial issues.” News Analysis: Adjudging a Moral Harm to Women From Abortions – “That abortion is bad for fetuses is a statement of the obvious. That it is bad for women, too, is a contested premise that nonetheless got five votes at the Supreme Court.”

DC Voting Rights. House Approves A Full D.C. Seat – “A bill giving the District its first full seat in Congress cleared the House, marking the city’s biggest legislative victory in its quest for voting rights in nearly three decades.” House votes to give D.C. a seat – “The House approved congressional voting rights for the District of Columbia, granting the D.C. delegate a vote for the first time in the nation’s history and adding a seat in Utah to increase the size of the chamber to 437 members.”

Congress. Allowed to Break Ranks This Year, Some in GOP Vote Like Democrats – “The GOP is not about to concede long-term minority status, but … Democratic control has offered an unexpected sort of freedom, an avenue for junior conservatives to build up their profiles and for endangered swing-state lawmakers to dust off their independent credentials.”

Iran . EU to hold nuclear talks with Iran – “The EU foreign policy chief and Iran’s top negotiator are to meet for the first time since February in a fresh attempt to break the deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment.”

Colombia . Leahy puts Colombia aid on hold– “A U.S. senator has frozen $55.2 million in military aid to Colombia while he discusses with the State Department accusations that Colombia’s army chief colluded with illegal paramilitary groups.”

Religious worker visas. New rules proposed for religious workers – “Federal immigration officials, trying to get a handle on a years-old problem of rampant fraud among religious worker visa applications, proposed new rules that would require the government to visit churches or other religious groups to make sure they really exist.” US eyes fraud in religious visa programs – “The visits are part of an effort by Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to tighten rules for the religious worker visas after finding fraud in about a third of applications.”

Op-Ed. Rice on The Right Tracks(David Ignatius, Washington Post) – “For the past few years, the United States has been in self-imposed diplomatic isolation in the Middle East. But two paths out of that wilderness are becoming visible, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is moving cautiously down each one.”

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