God's Politics

The latest news on the Mideast, New Orleans, energy, CIA, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, North Korea, Canadian financer to fight global poverty, and select Op-Eds.
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Mideast. Israeli, Palestinian leaders to meet “At Egypt’s initiative, Israel and the moderate Palestinian leadership agreed to join a regional summit aimed at reviving peace talks and isolating Hamas.” Egypt to host Mideast summit “Egypt, saying it will not tolerate the birth of a “religious state” on its borders, has invited the leaders of Jordan, Israel and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority to a summit next week to plot ways of ending Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip.” Egypt Organizes Summit Meeting for Abbas “In a gesture of support for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, Egypt has organized a summit meeting in which he will meet with President Hosni Mubarak and the Jordanian and Israeli leaders.” ‘The dream is destroyed’ “The brief, brutal civil war that led to the Hamas takeover of Gaza has left Palestinians contemplating a political divide that threatens their long-cherished goal of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The two territories now resemble hostile states,”

CIA. CIA to Air Decades of Its Dirty Laundry “The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency’s worst illegal abuses — the so-called “family jewels” documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups from the 1950s to the 1970s.”

Iraq. Troops Pushing South Through Insurgent Area “More than 1,200 American soldiers are pushing south along the Tigris River through a Sunni insurgent haven known as Arab Jubour, a formidable operation that is part of an overall U.S. strategy to take control of the terrain encircling the capital.” Sectarian Fears Percolate in an Iraqi TownFor the first time since the assault began, Iraqi soldiers joined the operation in significant numbers. What made the task especially complex was that many of the Sunni residents had little trust for the Shiite-dominated army, a message that became clear during Company A’s sweep through the northwestern part of the city.” House Votes to Revive Iraq Study Group “In a sign of the growing public pressure on Congress, the House voted 355 to 69 to revive the 10-member panel chaired by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) to again review U.S. policy and offer new recommendations.”

Afghanistan. ‘Afghans killed’ in air strikes “Some 25 civilians have died during aerial bombing by foreign forces in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, local residents and senior police say.” NATO airstrikes, clashes kill 25 Afghans “Taliban militants attacked police posts in southern Afghanistan, triggering NATO airstrikes that left 25 civilians dead, including three infants and the local mullah, a senior police officer said Friday.”

New Orleans. New Orleans deaths up 47% “Hurricane Katrina’s tragic aftermath lingered for at least a year after the storm abated, boosting New Orleans’ death rate last year by 47% compared with two years before the levees broke, researchers reported Thursday. Doctors say the dramatic surge in deaths comes as no surprise in a city of 250,000 mostly poor and middle-class people who lost seven of 22 hospitals and half of the city’s hospital beds.”

Energy. Senate OKs big fuel-efficiency increase “Driven by anxiety over global warming and dependence on foreign oil, the Senate passed a major increase in the average fuel efficiency requirement for vehicles on U.S. roads – to 35 miles per gallon from the current 25.” Senate passes pro-renewables energy bill “Democrats celebrated a step toward reducing U.S. dependence on oil as the Senate approved a bill calling for more ethanol and the first boost in gas mileage in decades.”

Darfur. China weighs whether to send troops into Darfur “China’s special envoy on Darfur said yester day that his country will seriously consider whether to send troops on a peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Sudanese region and insisted Beijing is doing its best to help solve the conflict.” China envoy defends Darfur record”China’s special envoy to Darfur has rejected accusations that Beijing was not doing enough to end the violence in the region because of its investments in Sudan’s oil industry.”

North Korea. Hill upbeat after N Korea talks “North Korea has promised to “promptly” shut down its main nuclear facility, the most senior US envoy to visit the country in five years said today. Two days of talks with officials in the reclusive communist nation had been “useful and positive”, the assistant US secretary of state, Christopher Hill, told reporters.”

Canadian financier to fight global poverty. Tycoon rallies industry to help the poor “Over the course of more than two decades, Frank Giustra earned a reputation as the consummate dealmaker, a man who used artful suasion and tenacity to amass a fortune rumoured to be worth more than $1-billion. Yesterday, the reclusive Vancouver mining financier pulled off what might be his most skillful deal yet: finding a way to give some of this money back. Mr. Giustra, together with former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, has unveiled a massive philanthropic effort, one that will enlist some of the biggest names in Canada’s resources sector to combat poverty in the developing world.” The pursuit of wealth for the greater good “Mr. Giustra decided he could keep spinning billion-dollar deals, but not to pad out his already considerable personal fortune. Instead, he would put his deal-making finesse to work for charity. “I could do what I love to do, which is to create the wealth, but to do it for a different reason – to give it away,” Mr. Giustra said.”

Why Pro-Choice Is a Bad Choice for Democrats(Melinda Henneberger,Washington Post) “The standard response from Democratic leaders has been that anyone lost to them over this issue is not coming back – and that regrettable as that might be, there is nothing to be done. But that is not what I heard from these voters. Many of them, Catholic women in particular, are liberal, deep-in-their-heart Democrats who support social spending, who opposed the war from the start and who cross their arms over their chests reflexively when they say the word “Republican.” Some could fairly be described as desperate to find a way home. And if the party they’d prefer doesn’t send a car for them, with a really polite driver, it will have only itself to blame.”

Courage at a Cost (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “On occasion, Sen. John McCain seems like a martyr anxious for the stake, offering his own lighter to get the proceedings started. His flamboyant heresies on campaign finance reform, global warming and immigration have left conservatives suspicious that he has a mild form of Chuck Hagel’s disease:”

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