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God's Politics

The latest news on Gordon Brown, immigration, the CIA “family jewels,” Tony Blair, Gaza, Iraq and the GOP, Al Qaeda, Christians in Gaza and Iraq, Iran, union organizing, slums, polls, and select commentaries
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Brown becomes PM. Brown takes over as UK prime minister “Gordon Brown is confirmed as Britain’s new prime minister following Tony Blair’s resignation after ten years in power.” Brown becomes British prime minister “Brown, the former Treasury chief, smiled broadly following a meeting at Buckingham Palace during which Queen Elizabeth II asked him to form a new government in the traditional transfer of power.” Brown ready to take reins in Britain “As Blair submits his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II and Brown makes the long journey from No. 11 Downing St. to No. 10, the two political leaders not only pass the torch of government, but conclude a dramatic saga of intense friendship and rancorous rivalry that has afflicted both men and transformed the politics and economy of modern Britain.”


Immigration. Senate Revisits Immigration Bill “Legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws cleared a key hurdle yesterday when the Senate voted 64 to 35 to take up the measure again after a nearly three-week break.” Senate agrees to resume immigration debate “A controversial immigration bill survived a key Senate vote but still could be derailed by dozens of thorny amendments that threaten to upset the fragile compromise.” Immigration bill’s support slipping “Even as the Senate voted to restart the stalled debate on immigration legislation, Democratic support for the bill appeared to be slipping, and could jeopardize it as much as fierce Republican opposition does.” Immigration push seen as Bush’s shot at legacy “President Bush has invested the bulk of his dwindling political capital to push through an unpopular immigration-reform bill, which is being seen as a last-ditch effort during his remaining 19 months in office to leave behind a domestic achievement.”


CIA “family jewels” CIA Releases Files On Past Misdeeds “Hundreds of pages of decades-old documents declassified and released by the CIA revealed a 1970s-era agency in the throes of unaccustomed self-examination, caught between its traditional secrecy and demands that it come clean on a history of unsavory activities.” Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold WarKnown inside the agency as the “family jewels,” the documents catalog domestic wiretapping operations, failed assassination plots, mind-control experiments and spying on journalists from the early years of the C.I.A.” Bungled plots, wiretaps, leaks “The Central Intelligence Agency shined an unaccustomed light on its dark side Tuesday, making public a report that documents some of its worst historical abuses,” The bone-headed, bizarre and botched ops of the CIA “Sordid details of the Central Intelligence Agency’s long, secret and illegal efforts to kill foreign leaders, tap reporters’ phones and dose unsuspecting civilians with illegal hallucinogens were revealed when hundreds of typewritten documents dating back to the Cold War were released.” CIA hired mafia to kill Castro “The dossier covers operations including domestic surveillance, kidnapping, infiltration of anti-war movements, and the bugging of leading journalists. But its detailed information on assassination attempts against foreign leaders is likely to attract most attention.”


Blair to Mideast. Ahern confirms Blair is taking Middle East role “As Mr Blair made his final appearance as prime minister in the House of Commons at lunchtime, it emerged that the outgoing Labour leader may have cleared the final hurdle to his appointment as a Middle East envoy after a “positive” telephone discussion yesterday with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.” Blair set to tackle Mideast peace “The Bush administration and its partners in the foundering Middle East peace process will take a chance that the earnestness, eloquence, energy and international prestige of British Prime Minister Tony Blair can bridge the widening gap between Israel and the Palestinians.”


Gaza. 12 Palestinians killed, two IDF soldiers hurt in Gaza “At least 12 Palestinians were killed and two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were lightly wounded on Wednesday in two separate IDF operations in the Gaza Strip. Roughly 40 Palestinians were wounded in the fighting.” Renewed Israeli attacks strike Gaza “The army’s incursion into Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Yunis, the biggest raid on the strip since the Hamas takeover two weeks ago, is ongoing,”


Iraq-GOP dissent. G.O.P. Senator Splits With Bush Over Iraq PolicyHis remarks reverberated through Capitol Hill, picking up support from other Republican senators, even as the White House, which was not alerted about Mr. Lugar’s speech in advance, tried to minimize their significance.” Lugar calls for withdrawal, opens door for other Republicans “A day after Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, bluntly declared that President Bush’s Iraq plan isn’t working and called for withdrawing most American forces, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said he was writing Bush on Tuesday to urge him to embrace a Plan E (for exit).” GOP Skepticism On Iraq Growing “Key Republican senators, signaling increasing GOP skepticism about President Bush’s strategy in Iraq, have called for a reduction in U.S. forces and launched preemptive efforts to counter a much-awaited administration progress report due in September.”


Al Qaeda. US:Al Qaida regroups in new sanctuary on Pakistan border“While the U.S. presses its war against insurgents linked to al Qaida in Iraq, Osama bin Laden’s group is recruiting, regrouping and rebuilding in a new sanctuary along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, senior U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement officials said.”


Christians-Gaza and Iraq. Gaza Christians in peril after takeover by Hamas “Recent attacks and threats against churches and institutions affiliated with the Christian community of about 2,000 have raised questions about the fate of minorities in the densely populated coastal strip of 1.5 million people now under Islamist control.” Christians forced out of Baghdad district “Displaced Christians described in interviews a civilian population too terrified of Al Qaeda to ask Americans for help.” Baghdad Christians Find New Life in Kurdish North “In a tiny village at the northern tip of Iraqi Kurdistan, some Christian refugees who fled Baghdad’s violence are experiencing a kind of homecoming.”


Iran. Fuel rationing sparks Tehran riots “Motorists set fire to petrol stations in Tehran today in an angry backlash against the Iranian government’s decision to impose rationing.” Iran fuel rations spark violence “Iranians were given only two hours’ notice of the move that limits private drivers to 100 litres of fuel a month. Despite its huge energy reserves, Iran lacks refining capacity and it imports about 40% of its petrol.”


Union organizing. Senate Republicans block union bill “Senate Republicans blocked organized labor’s top legislative priority this year – a bill designed to make it easier for unions to organize workers at nonunion workplaces.”


A planet of slums. Planet of the slums: UN warns urban populations set to double “The combined forces of population growth and urbanisation are creating a planet of slums, where the urban population will have doubled by 2030, according to a report released by the United Nations today.”


Poll-young Americans lean left. New Poll Finds That Young Americans Are Leaning LeftYoung Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll.”


Poll-Canada Muslim-Christian tensions. Canadians fear Muslim, Christian tensions: survey“Canadians believe that the country’s traditional French-English tensions will be overshadowed by friction between Christians and Muslims when Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary a decade from now, according to a survey of attitudes on intercultural and interfaith relations by the Association for Canadian Studies.”


Commentary


Opportunity knocks for Democrats (Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times) “At the state and national levels, the party has a rare chance to work with GOP executives on healthcare and immigration reform … President Bush on legalization for illegal immigrants, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on universal healthcare. That convergence represents a unique but fragile asset in today’s polarized political culture. Both sides may regret it for years if they fumble these opportunities.”


Darfur is closer than ever (Dan Rabinowitz, Haaretz) “The United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) report on Darfur issued last week is an important document. First, because of its accurate detailing of the processes that Sudan and East Africa have undergone since the 1980s, which brought about the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Crops that failed to prosper for years, chronic hunger, the disappearance of the state’s already meager ability to ease those plights, the collapse of social support networks, the arms race, and terrorism by gangs that fought over what little food remained and control of whatever foreign aid arrived.”

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