God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq-war, stem cells, immigration, veterans, Blair and the Mideast, Palestine, Los Angeles anti-gang head, North Korea, Bloomberg, student loans, and select op-eds.
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Iraq-war. U.S. military says 14 American troops killed in last 48 hours “The U.S. military said 14 American troops have died in several attacks in the past 48 hours, including five slain today in a single roadside bombing that also killed four Iraqis in Baghdad.” Heavy Fighting as U.S. Troops Squeeze Insurgents in Iraq City “Fighting was heavy in parts of Baquba on Wednesday as American troops continued to squeeze a large section of the city in an effort to rid it of insurgents believed to be part of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.” Top Iraqi Officials Growing Restless “Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior Shiite politician often mentioned as a potential prime minister, tendered his resignation last week in a move that reflects deepening frustration inside the Iraqi government with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.” US military’s new Iraq strategy: religious conciliation “A fledgling group of Sunni and Shiite religious leaders met for the first time in Baghdad last week to condemn sectarian violence in their country, a move US military officials framed as a first of its kind and a small step toward broader political reconciliation.”

Veterans. Mental stress of troops no bar to longer duty, US says “The Pentagon could extend combat tours in Iraq despite an official report showing that hundreds of thousands of US troops who have been involved in at least one war zone in Iraq or Afghanistan are experiencing serious psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.” Study Finds 1.8 Million Veterans Are Uninsured “As the nation struggles to improve medical and mental health care for military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, about 1.8 million U.S. veterans under age 65 lack even basic health insurance or access to care at Veterans Affairs hospitals, a new study has found.”

Blair to Mideast? Blair May Become Special Mideast Envoy “The Bush administration is laying the groundwork for an announcement of Tony Blair’s appointment as a special Middle East envoy for Palestinian governance and economic issues after he steps down as Britain’s prime minister, following two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations,” U.S. Is Urging Blair to Be Lead Mideast EnvoyThe United States is pressing Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to become a special envoy to the Middle East, representing the diplomatic “quartet” of world powers,”

Palestine. Gunmen on rampage in West Bank “For much of the last week, Fatah gunmen in black masks have ruled the streets here, abducting rivals, looting or burning their property, and intimidating elected officials inside the Hamas-run City Hall.” A Leader of Hamas Warns of West Bank Peril for FatahMahmoud Zahar, perhaps the most influential Hamas leader in Gaza, warned Wednesday that Fatah’s effort to repress Hamas in the West Bank could lead to Fatah’s downfall there as well.” Abbas accuses Hamas of coup plot “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of trying to establish its own state in Gaza. Mr Abbas condemned Hamas as “murderous terrorists” and “coup plotters”, over the group’s takeover of Gaza last week.”

Los Angeles anti-gang head. Anti-gang czar for L.A. is chosen“An ordained minister who has spent much of his career developing social service and youth programs in some of Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods [was] named as the city’s new gang czar. Jeff Carr, chief operating officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a liberal evangelical group based in Washington, D.C., will work directly for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as director of gang reduction and youth development programs.” Carr: No magic fix for gangs “But even as he was named deputy mayor for gang prevention and youth development, Carr warned that there is no quick fix. “These problems didn’t develop overnight and they’re not going to be solved overnight,” Carr said. “There are no silver bullets, no magic solutions.”

Stem cells. Bush Vetoes Bill Removing Stem Cell LimitsPresident Bush issued his second veto of a measure lifting his restrictions on human embryonic stem cell experiments. The move effectively pushed the contentious scientific and ethical debate surrounding the research into the 2008 presidential campaign.” Bush vetoes stem-cell funding “President Bush vetoed his third bill in nearly seven years, rejecting legislation that would have allowed federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, which requires the destruction of human lives at their earliest stage.”

Immigration. Labor group, Hispanics hit Senate bill “Labor and Hispanic groups yesterday told senators to scrap their immigration bill and go back to the drawing board, saying that the proposal now before the Senate has become too harsh on illegal aliens and a poor deal for U.S. workers.” Poll says immigrants would heed bill “In the first-ever public opinion poll of illegal immigrants, an overwhelming majority said they are intently following the Senate immigration debate and would comply with a proposed bill that would require them to pay fees and fines, undergo background checks and pass English exams to gain legal status.”

North Korea. U.S. Holds Direct Talks in North Korea “The United States’ chief nuclear negotiator began a surprise two-day visit to North Korea, saying he wanted to speed up six-nation talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.” US envoy visits North Korea on nuclear mission “The assistant US secretary of state, Christopher Hill, arrived in the capital, Pyongyang, ahead of next month’s expected resumption of talks aimed at halting the country’s nuclear strategy.”

Bloomberg. For 2 Years, Bloomberg Aides Prepared for Bid“The announcement by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent was made after nearly two years in which his aides had laid the groundwork for a potential independent run for president.”

Student loans. Student Loan Overhaul Advances “Democrats in Congress are pushing to overhaul the nation’s student loan system with legislation that would cut federal subsidies to lending companies by as much as $19 billion, channel most of those savings to student aid and ease repayment rules for borrowers.”

Op-Ed. Working together to save Darfur (Desmond Tutu and Jody Williams, Christian Science Monitor) “Earlier this month, we participated in a discussion on Darfur in the European Parliament, having been invited to offer suggestions of concrete actions that the European Council and European Union could take to alleviate the misery endured by the people of Darfur. We very much appreciated the passionate concern expressed in the room and believe that that passion can and must result in stronger action to end the conflict.”

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