God's Politics

the latest reports on France, Zimbabwe, Iraq, immigration, Israel, Virgina Tech shootings, Catholicism, poverty, faith and politics, and eco-chic

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Iraq. Iraq War Strain Leads Troops to Abuse civilians, Survey Shows “One in 10 of the US soldiers in Iraq mistreats civilians or damages their property, according to a survey published by the Pentagon last night. The report said the mental health of soldiers and marines deteriorated significantly as a result of extended or multiple deployments.” Middle East fears broken Iraq “When you travel around the Middle East and ask people about how the war in Iraq has affected them you get a combination of regret, anger and trepidation.” U.S. expects rise in troop casualties “Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said casualties would climb as American troops went deeper into enemy territory as part of a stepped-up military operation ordered by President Bush in January. Lynch, who oversees a swath of territory to the south and east of Baghdad, gave his bleak prediction on the heels of the deadliest month so far this year for American forces in Iraq.”

Catholicism. As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists “Over the past 25 years, even as the Vatican moved to silence the clerical theorists of liberation theology and the church fortified its conservative hierarchy, the social and economic ills the movement highlighted have worsened. In recent years, the politics of the region have also drifted leftward, giving the movement’s demand that the church embrace ‘a preferential option for the poor’ new impetus and credibility.” In U.S., Hispanics Bring Catholicism to Its Feet “[A]s waves of Latin American immigrants alter the fabric of life in much of the United States, they are leaving one of their biggest imprints on the Roman Catholic Church. … American Catholic leaders say the church here has not made a conscious effort to promote charismatic practices. Rather, it has embraced them as a pragmatic response to the growing number of Hispanic Catholics.”

Immigration. Border crackdown jams US federal courts “The US government’s crackdown on illegal immigration is resulting in so many more felony charges against foreigners that the federal courts serving the Southwest border are overwhelmed and reaching for the panic button.”

France. A brief retreat, then a rapid advance “The self-styled man of action believes that if he is to deliver his promised economic revolution and soothe French malaise he must push through his most important reforms in his first months: loosening the 35-hour week, limiting strike powers, tightening immigration laws, bringing in increased penalties for young re-offenders …'” Sarkozy Wins, Vows to Restore Pride in France “His election signals a shift to the right in French politics and could herald a major transition for French society. Sarkozy has promised to boost economic growth and employment by cutting taxes, reducing deficits, shrinking government and loosening labor laws — the kind of free-market policies embraced by the United States and Britain, but long eschewed by French leaders.”

Israel. Human rights groups: Shin Bet still uses torture “Human rights groups accuse the Shin Bet security forces of continuing to use ‘irregular’ interrogation techniques involving physical measures and torture against Palestinian prisoners …” Palestinians ‘routinely tortured’ in Israeli jails “The ill-treatment, which includes beatings, sensory deprivation, back-bending, back-stretching and other forms of physical abuse, contravenes international law and Israeli law, the report says.” Israel accused of prisoner abuse “[T]he human rights groups point to a more ambiguous ruling from the Israeli High Court. It decreed that members of the security service who abused detainees may be exempted from criminal liability, if they believed that the people they were interrogating had information about an imminent terrorist act. “

Virginia Tech shootings. Cho Didn’t Get Court-Ordered Treatment “Seung Hui Cho never received the treatment ordered by a judge who declared him dangerously mentally ill less than two years before his rampage at Virginia Tech, law enforcement officials said, exposing flaws in Virginia’s labyrinthine mental health system, including confusion about the law, spotty enforcement and inadequate funding.”

Zimbabwe. Cleric calls for Mugabe to resign “The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube also urged Zimbabweans not to be intimidated by President Mugabe. … ‘You can’t negotiate with him. It’s useless. African presidents have tried to negotiate with that man to no avail.'” Church leaders confront President Mugabe “Tired of watching their once-prosperous country deteriorate, Zimbabwe’s church leaders have banded together and called on fellow citizens to denounce President Robert Mugabe’s actions.”

Poverty and Politics. On Poverty, Edwards Faces Old Hurdles “Advocates and researchers praise Edwards for focusing on an issue they say too many have shied from over the years. … But Edwards’s plan to “end poverty in 30 years” also underscores the challenges of tackling poverty in the political arena, of the intractability of the problem and of the seeming timelessness of the debates over solving it.”

Faith and Politics. Romney Reaches to the Christian Right “Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) did not discuss his Mormon faith as he continued his outreach Saturday to conservative Christians in a graduation speech at Regent University, the school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. … It was Romney’s second appearance at Regent University in the past four months. His visits underscore the competition for support from top Christian conservative leaders such as Robertson, whose television programs have millions of viewers. Romney, along with several other GOP hopefuls, attended a convention of religious broadcasters in February. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will appear at Regent next month.”

Eco-chic. Totes goods, saves the planet, costs a bunch “There’s paper. There’s plastic. Then there’s the $960 reusable Herm
es shopping bag. … In a confluence of politics, eco-consciousness, fashion and global commerce, yet another great, green notion appears poised for mainstream consideration: the bring-your-own shopping bag. Until recently, those sturdy cloth totes that are common in Europe were mostly confined in this country to farmers markets and health food co-ops (and even there, only in the sternest, oat-iest styles and colors). Now, whether they are chic and pricey or cheap and cheerful, they are vehicles for a range of self-expression.”

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