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God's Politics

Duane Shank: Daily News Digest

The latest news on Israel-Palestinian authority, farm subsidies, AIDS, Iraq, Gaza, Congress-nuclear weapons,unions,and the budget,- Vatican-commandments for the road, domestic partnership, politics-Bloomberg leaves GOP, politics-progressive conference, refugees, inequalities, Canada-green cars, and select op-eds.
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Iraq. Offensive Targets Al-Qaeda In Iraq “Thousands of U.S. troops waged a new offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq north of the capital, focusing in particular on the extremist group’s bombmaking facilities, while at least 60 people were killed and more than 85 wounded in a massive suicide truck blast at a Baghdad mosque,” U.S. shifts offensive to north Iraq “American commanders say the offensive, which involves about 10,000 U.S. troops in Baqubah and other parts of Diyala province, is designed to stop the flow of bombs into Baghdad.” U.S. Seeks to Block Exits for Iraq Insurgentsthe planners of this latest operation are attempting to plug the holes that have allowed the insurgents to escape in the past. The goal is not merely to reclaim western Baquba from insurgent control, but to capture or kill the estimated 300 fighters to 500 fighters who are believed to be based in that part of the city.”

Israel-Palestinian Authority. PM willing to take ‘far-reaching’ measures with new PA government “The new Palestinian government should be given assistance and a chance to succeed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in Washington.” Egypt and Jordan quietly back Abbas “The creation of separate Palestinian micro-states last week left two of America’s closest Arab allies – Jordan and Egypt, which share borders with the West Bank and Gaza respectively – groping for a new policy toward a conflict that has spilled over their borders and contributes to their own instability.” Second chance for Abbas and Olmert? “The violent divorce between the main Palestinian factions has provided a second wind for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, two weak leaders whose earlier attempts at peacemaking went nowhere.” After Meeting Israeli Leader, Bush Gives Support to AbbasPresident Bush threw his weight behind President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, using an Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel to declare Mr. Abbas “the president of all the Palestinians” Blair may become Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair could soon be appointed the Middle East Quartet’s envoy,…The British prime minister will step down on June 27 and officials from the Bush administration are understood to be in talks with him over the role.”

Gaza. Israel Lets Food and Medicine Enter Gaza to Avert Crisis“Israel allowed 12 trucks of food and medical supplies to enter the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials and international aid representatives said, in an effort to avert a looming humanitarian crisis.” Gazans Adjust to Power Shift as New Rulers Revel “In post-revolutionary Gaza, trashed and looted, Hamas’s victory has left many feeling vulnerable and afraid.” Inside Gaza, a Landscape Marked by Violent Change “At the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a man with a three-day growth of beard and bluejeans raised his fist and let out a hoarse scream amid the stench and desperation of the dozens of men, women and children who have been gathered here for days,”

Congress-nuclear weapons. House Vote Stops Appropriation for New Generation of Nuclear Weapons “The House approved plans to halt funding for the development of a new generation of nuclear warheads as House leaders called on the Bush administration to provide a post-Cold War nuclear strategy that would detail the future size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.”

Congress-unions. Clash Nears in the Senate on Legislation Helping Unions OrganizeSenate Democratic leaders moved to force a vote on organized labor’s top legislative priority, a bill that would make it far easier to organize workers. But Republican leaders vowed to kill the measure,”

Congress-budget. Democrats Push Health Care, Environment “Senate Democrats pressed for budget increases for party priorities such as health, special education and medical research as an appropriations panel approved a $152 billion spending bill. Earlier, a Senate panel responsible for environmental and public lands programs approved a $27.2 billion measure.”

Farm subsidies. House Panel Votes to Extend Controversial Farm Subsidies “Setting the stage for a contentious congressional debate over farm subsidies, a House panel voted unanimously to extend for five years the current system of payments to farmers and rejected a series of proposed changes.” A Slow Demise in the Delta “From 2001 to 2005, the federal government spent nearly $1.2 billion in agricultural subsidies to boost farmers’ incomes and invigorate local economies in this poverty-stricken region of the Mississippi Delta. Most residents are black, but less than 5 percent of the money went to black farmers. They own relatively little land, and so they generally do not qualify for the payments. Ninety-five percent of the money went to large, commercial farms, virtually all of which have white owners.”

AIDS. Spread of AIDS in Africa Is Outpacing Treatment “doctors are not winning — and probably cannot win — the war against the epidemic, because it is spreading far more quickly than doctors are treating its victims. Even as billions of dollars are spent expanding access to antiretroviral drugs, the goal of controlling AIDS in Africa remains remote.”

Vatican-commandments for the road. Drive safely and sin no more “The Vatican on Tuesday issued a 10 commandments for motorists to keep them on the road to salvation, warning drivers against the sins of road rage, abuse of alcohol or even simple rudeness.”

Domestic partnerships. Unmarried couples lose legal benefitsStates that have banned gay marriage are beginning to revoke the benefits of domestic partners of public employees.” Domestic partners in Mich. face tough choices “A Michigan court ruled in February that public employers may not offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees because the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage recognized only a marriage between a man and a woman.”

Politics-Bloomberg leaves GOP. Bloomberg Severs G.O.P. Ties, Fueling Talk of ’08 BidMayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that he was dropping his Republican affiliation, a step that could clear the way for him to make an independent bid for the presidency.”

Politics-progressive conference. Liberals get their groove back-at least at conference “Six years ago, the Take Back America conference was just a meeting of a few dozen progressive activists held in a local office building, where they talked about how to voice their liberal views at a time of Republican domination in U.S. politics.” Candidates fuel hopes of party liberals “Two powerful blocs among Democrats – organized labor and liberal activists – heard several of the party’s presidential contenders pledge allegiance Thursday to a progressive agenda more sweeping than would have seemed politically palatable not long ago.”

Refugees. Number fleeing homeland starts to rise “The number of refugees in the world has risen for the first time since 2002, says the UN refugee agency. The crisis in Iraq is a major factor, with 1.5 million Iraqis fleeing to neighbouring states,”

Inequality. Gap between rich and poor widens “Globalisation has reduced the bargaining power of unskilled workers and pushed up inequality in many western countries, the OECD said yesterday, urging governments to improve their social safety nets.”

Canada-green cars. Green fund expected to rev up parts sector “A new, $650-million Ontario fund to encourage environmentally friendly technologies and manufacturing could be a major shot in the arm for the province’s battered auto parts sector.” GREEN ACTIVISTS SKEPTICAL ABOUT $650M AUTO FUND “Ontario industries will get $650-million in provincial government funding to develop “green” cars and other technologies, but environmental activists said yesterday it is not clear what taxpayers will get for their money in terms of actual reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Op-Ed. Unchained by Idealism (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “In many quarters, the role of religion in public life and foreign policy is under question as a source of hatred and extremism. But this year marks the 200th anniversary of history’s strongest counterexample — the strange, irrational end of the British slave trade.”

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eileen fleming

posted June 20, 2007 at 12:50 pm

If only President Bush had fully supported Abbas BEFORE the open and transparent democratically elected members of Hamas gained power, we would not be in the mess we are now in.
This reporter has been to OPT four times and am returning for a 5th July 14, 2007.
EVERY Palestinian-and Israeli’s I asked:
“Why did Hamas win?”
Essentially all agreed: “The people voted for Hamas, because of the corruption of Fatah.”
This reporter interviewed Dr. Mona El-Farra, the evening before the End The Occupation of Palestine March in D.C. on June 10, 2007.
Dr. El-Farra is a physician in Gaza and the Director of Gaza Projects with Middle East Children’s Alliance.
On June 20, 2007 she wrote:
Palestinians Must Have Hope to Move Forward
As a physician from Gaza, I have treated far too many Palestinians wounded by Israeli troops. Now a day has come that I thought I would never see.
Throughout our 59-year struggle to obtain our freedom, we Palestinians debated strategy and tactics. Political factions competed for popular support. But never would I have believed that we would turn guns against each other. What brought us to this point?
In 2006, Hamas won free and fair elections on a platform that promised clean and efficient government. But Israel and the West meddled with our democratically elected choice by imposing devastating economic sanctions. How would Americans feel if a foreign power expressed its dissatisfaction with your elected government in this way? Our economy and our livelihoods have been destroyed, reducing many of us to poverty.
At last, we exploded with a desperation born of decades of oppression, lack of opportunity and loss of hope. We brutalized each other over the crumbs of power. The shame is ours — but the responsibility is shared between reckless Palestinians and external powers that turned the screws on our people.
Israel might have removed its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in September 2005, but it still controls Gaza from the sea, air and land. The borders are mostly closed according to the whim of Israel, transforming Gaza into an enormous open-air prison for its 1.4 million people, half of whom are children. Too many of these youngsters suffer from the stifling effects of violence and hunger. Their future is dangerously circumscribed by the chaos and uncertainty that envelops us.
To thrive, Palestinians need access to the sea and to commerce. Most importantly, our people must be imbued with a sense of hope.
Sanctions imposed after the election of Hamas made hard lives harder, but we must not forget that even under the “moderate” leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas we did not control trade in and out of Gaza.
“There is a seeming reflex,” United Nations peace envoy Alvaro de Soto said in a report, “in any given situation where the UN is to take a position, to ask first how Israel or Washington will react rather than what is the right position to take.”
Washington’s bias toward Israel is significantly responsible for the appalling situation in which we find ourselves.
Yes, we Palestinians must accept blame for our perilous situation. However, Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr has correctly declared, “If you have two brothers, put them in a cage and deprive them of basic and essential needs for life, they will fight.” The fact that we would sink to this level is perhaps the surest sign of the terrible damage meted out to us over the years by dispossession and occupation.
When one is in a hole, it is imperative to stop digging. If we are to win our freedom, surely it will not be done with one brother digging the grave of another. The violence, therefore, must stop. That is our first responsibility as Palestinians and we must meet it immediately. And the United States and the international community must end the sanctions that deprive us of our basic needs and our hope for a better future.
The Israeli leadership brandishes our plight as evidence that we cannot govern ourselves nor be trusted as “peace partners.” White South Africans similarly claimed that black South Africans were incapable of self-governance. In the last years of apartheid, more than 250 blacks were killed in black-on-black violence each month. Yet decency and equality eventually prevailed in South Africa. Apartheid was vanquished and the world learned that black-on-black violence was an outgrowth of apartheid — not an indication that black South Africans were incapable of self-rule and undeserving of rights.
We, too, have the right to be free. But we must first free ourselves from fighting over the scraps of power.
Like oppressed people everywhere, we yearn for our rights. Out of this ugly period, we must promote a new vision of equality for all peoples living on this land, regardless of race or religion.

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eileen fleming

posted June 20, 2007 at 1:01 pm

“On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.” – May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the establishment of Israel
The prophet Micah said:
“What does God require? He has told you o’man!
Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord.” -Micah 6:8
JUSTICE and only justice can bring security and peace.
JUSTICE requires that ALL people do indeed have inalienable human rights as defined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel not only agreed to uphold in 1948, it was contingent upon their statehood.
Since 1948, the exodus of indigenous Christians [who are the descendants of first century Christians] has reduced their numbers from 20% of the total population of the Holy Land, to less than 1.3% since 1948. The reasons for the exodus of the most well educated and consistently nonviolent citizens, is due to the now 40 years of occupation, the lack of economic opportunities, The Wall which divides them from their land, resources, families and holy sites and the increasing sense of hopelessness that fuels militancy and the growth of fundamentalism within all three branches of Father Abraham’s offspring’s.
On June 16, 2007, over 40 representatives and heads of organizations, public committees, and local councils, serving and representing the civil society in the Bethlehem area, met and issued a Statement of 11 points regarding the Gaza crisis
These representatives have boldly condemned what happened in Gaza and are seeking dialogue, unity between Gaza and the West Bank, an end to the 40 years of occupation of Palestine and compassion and assistance to ease the suffering of innocent civilians, especially the ill, the weak, the poor, the children and the least in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On June 7, 2007, Congress began the debate on S. Res. 224, which supports a two-state solution and the critical need for robust diplomacy and peace negotiations.
NOW is the time for every American Christian to connect with their sisters and brothers in the Holy Land, who are known as the “Forgotten Faithful” and for ALL thoughtful, concerned Americans to become an active participant in seeking Justice which is the only way to security and peace in the Middle East.
Please phone and faxing your Senators to support S.Res. 224 as Churches for Middle East Peace has done.
FIND YOUR SENATOR’S PHONE NUMBER and please ask them to co-sponsor Senate Res. 224
on Israeli-Palestinian Peace:
And THANKS for doing something,
eileen fleming

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