God's Politics

The latest news on Jackie Robinson, Iraqi children, health insurance, Iraq-war, Iraq-US politics, Israel-Palestine, Iran, Darfur, World Bank, global warming, health insurance, immigration, Imus, COGIC presiding bishop, religion, and select op-eds.

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Jackie Robinson. For Robinson anniversary, a big-league day for celebration – “Major leaguers across the country wore his No. 42. The Padres-Dodgers game was nationally televised. Throughout the day, television and radio outlets gave Jackie Robinson Day lengthy treatment.” Robinson’s legacy is colorblind – “All players are better off for his breakthrough 60 years ago, regardless of the changing racial composition of baseball.” Taking a Bat to Prejudice (George Will, Washington Post) – “Like many New Yorkers leaving home for work on April 15, 1947, he wore a suit, tie and camel-hair overcoat as he headed for the subway. To his wife he said, “Just in case you have trouble picking me out, I’ll be wearing number 42.” Jackie Robinson cleared a path for minority athletes by becoming the first African American to play Major League Baseball in 1947. A Washington Post slideshow.

USA TODAY PHOTO GALLERY: Teams honor Jackie Robinson

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Rare footage of Robinson’s debut

Income tax. Tax Returns Rise for Immigrants in U.S. Illegally– “The increase in filings comes amid talk of an immigration overhaul, with some proposals introduced in Congress linking amnesty to the payment of taxes.” I.R.S. Audits Middle Class More Often, More Quickly– “Since 2000, authorities at the Internal Revenue Service have nearly tripled audits of tax returns filed by people making $25,000 to $100,000 as part of a broad change in audit strategy.” Fewer keeping the nation afloat – “An estimated 50 million Americans won’t pay any federal income tax this year. That’s nearly a third of all adults, up from 18% in 1980.” As US tax rates drop, government’s reach grows – “Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That’s up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950.” Among Taxpayers, Inequality May Equal Cheating – “Essentially, said Kim Bloomquist, a senior economist at the IRS in Washington, the more people you have at the upper and lower ends of the income spectrum … the more tax evasion you are likely to see. A central cause of cheating, in other words, might be inequality.”

Iraq-war. U.S. Bolstering Force in Deadly Diyala – “As thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers descend on Baghdad, U.S. commanders say, insurgents are moving north into Diyala, a province smaller than Maryland where the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has waged a brutal campaign of terror.” Attacks Surge as Iraq Militants Overshadow City– “The Sunni guerrillas and extremists who now overshadow this city demonstrate a sophistication and lethality born of years of confronting American military tactics.” McCain Sees ‘No Plan B’ for Iraq War– “Senator John McCain said that the buildup of American forces in Iraq represented the only viable option to avoid failure in Iraq and that he had yet to identify an effective fallback if the current strategy failed.”

Iraqi children. Trauma severe for Iraqi children – “About 70% of primary school students in a Baghdad neighborhood suffer symptoms of trauma-related stress such as bed-wetting or stuttering, according to a survey by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.” Iraqis fear war’s long-term cost to kids – “Iraqi psychiatrists worry about the long-term consequences of a generation that has been constantly exposed to explosions, gunfights, kidnappings and sectarian murders.”

Iraq-US politics. Political winds shift on prairie – “Nebraska’s two U.S. senators cast the critical votes last month to pass a bill that would force President Bush to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. And one – Republican Chuck Hagel – has become one of the war’s most fiery critics. Hagel, who was an infantryman in Vietnam, recently suggested Bush could be impeached for defying the will of the American people.”

Israel-Palestine. Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Open Regular Peace Talks – “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, met on Sunday, resulting in some mixed messages regarding a resumption of their long-dormant peace efforts.” Israel, Palestinian talks avoid key issues – “Saeb Erekat, an aide to Abbas, called the meeting a breakthrough, the first time since the collapse of peace talks in 2000 that the two sides had discussed a scenario for Palestinian independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. … Israeli officials said Olmert avoided “final status” issues at the heart of the conflict, including the borders of a future Palestinian state, a possible division of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees who want to return to homes in what is now Israel.”

Iran. Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power– “Two years ago, the leaders of Saudi Arabia told international atomic regulators that they could foresee no need for the kingdom to develop nuclear power. Today, they are scrambling to hire atomic contractors, buy nuclear hardware and build support for a regional system of reactors. So, too, Turkey is preparing for its first atomic plant. And Egypt has announced plans to build one on its Mediterranean coast.”

Darfur. Crisis creeps towards catastrophe – “The massacres in Tiero … and the neighbouring village of Marena, near the Sudanese border, killed about 400 people. The numbers are unclear because many of the bodies are still lying in the bush. The killings are a blood-red signal that the culture of mass murder as a weapon of war has found its way to Chad, after four years in Darfur uninterrupted by the global community.” Militia Talks Could Reshape Darfur Conflict– “talks on a military alliance of Arab and non-Arab tribes in Darfur could radically reshape the conflict, giving new life to rebel groups that have fought Khartoum for more than four years and undermining the government’s use of Arab militias to quell the rebellion.” Darfur Collides With Olympics, and China Yields– “Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur,”

World Bank. Public Rebuke for Wolfowitz, but He Digs In– “Paul D. Wolfowitz‘s struggle to remain as president of the World Bank was dealt a crippling setback on Sunday when its most powerful oversight committee delivered an unusually public rebuke of his leadership,” Bank ‘in crisis’ over Wolfowitz – “The World Bank’s future is in “crisis” over the pay scandal involving Paul Wolfowitz and his girlfriend, according to an influential European minister, as the embattled bank president accused critics of spreading “misleading information.”

Global warming. Way of life is on thin ice along fading Arctic polar cap – “Inuit hunters are falling through thinning ice and dying. Dolphins are being spotted for the first time. There’s not enough snow to build igloos for shelter during hunts. As scientists work to establish the effects of global warming, explorers and hunters slogging across northern Canada and the Arctic ice cap on sled and foot are describing the realities they see.”

Health insurance. Pick: Health care or marriage – “Many low-income couples are sacrificing their marriages to pay their medical bills. Although they are poor by most standards, they are discovering that they are not quite poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.”

Immigration. Raid bares deep divide In New Bedford, hard lines over illegal immigration – “For years, illegal immigrants and native-born residents have been living side by side in this city of 94,000. Tensions flared occasionally, but mostly the communities coexisted without incident. But when federal immigration officials threw open the doors to the Michael Bianco plant, they also brought resentments into the open that had been long simmering in this struggling city.”

Imus. With Imus ousted, will other shows clean up their acts? – “most media analysts believe that at least in the short term, Imus’s ouster will cause the nation’s radio and cable talkers to be a bit more careful in some of their characterizations of fellow human beings.”

COGIC presiding bishop. Presiding over a congregation filled with pride – “West Angeles Bishop Charles E. Blake has been named to national office, to the delight of those in his church. Blake was formally appointed as the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ at the church’s annual meeting last week in Memphis, Tenn.”

Religion. More Hispanics in U.S. Abandon Religion– “A wave of research shows that increasing percentages of Hispanics are abandoning church, suggesting to researchers that along with assimilation comes a measure of secularization.”

Christian school to host gay activists – “Breaking with many fellow conservative Christian schools, Gordon College in Wenham will welcome to campus this week a busload of young adults who are sharply critical of the school’s policies on homosexuality.”

Republican ’08 options disappoint evangelicals “Evangelical Christians have long been a key constituency for the Republican Party, but leading religious conservatives are expressing dissatisfaction with the party’s current crop of presidential candidates.”


BELIEFS; A Catholic Debate Mounts on the Meaning of ‘Just War’ (Peter Steinfels, New York Times) – “For over fou
r years, George Weigel, staunch supporter of President Bush and biographer of Pope John Paul II, has never ceased to insist that the war in Iraq meets all the traditional moral criteria for a just war. And most leaders and thinkers among Mr. Weigel’s fellow Roman Catholics, along with many non-Catholic proponents of just-war thinking, have never ceased to disagree. Now there is a fresh surge in this debate,”

D.C. voting rights: a moral imperative (Rob Getzschman, Christian Science Monitor) – “For the citizens of Washington, every April 16 brings a bittersweet, ironic commemoration. Emancipation Day celebrates the date President Lincoln abolished slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862. Certainly the transformation of America’s capital from bond to free deserves a nod, but the date nags at another historical injustice that persists today. District citizens are still deprived of the essential right of representation in Congress.”

What your taxes go for (Brian Riedl, Heritage Foundation, Washington Times) – “Washington will spend $24,106 per household in 2007 the highest total since World War II, and an inflation-adjusted $4,000 more than in 2001. The federal government will collect $21,992 per household in taxes. The remaining $2,114 represents this year’s budget deficit per household,”

New thinking to save the earth (James Carroll, Boston Globe) – “Global warming can prompt a terrible fatalism, as if forecast catastrophes are certain to befall the planet. But the future is not an extension through time of what is already perceived. That’s the point of revised thinking about everything from nature to power, since history shows that thought is the soul of creativity, and therefore of creation. Human choices brought the earth to this brink of ultimate harm, and human choices, informed by changed ideas, can rescue it.”

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