God's Politics

McCain campaign, Iran, pensions, Iraq-Congress, Pakistan, Al Qaeda, GI Bill for Guard/Reserves, Ugandan peacemaker, death penalty, Muslims and Evangelicals, Benedict on the Church and select commentaries.
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Iraq-Congress. Congress antsy, but Bush won’t budge “With his Iraq policies under attack from prominent members of his party, President Bush defiantly rejected calls to withdraw troops while Senate allies blocked the latest challenge to his strategy.” In GOP, Growing Friction On Iraq “Facing crumbling support for the war among their own members, Senate Republican leaders yesterday sought to block bipartisan efforts to force a change in the American military mission in Iraq.” Senate seeks to put imprint on Iraq policy “Despite a growing number of Republicans openly opposing the White House on the Iraq war, the Senate is not yet at the critical mass of votes needed to force a change in strategy. But discontent in GOP ranks is producing the most wide-open debate in the Senate since US forces entered Iraq in March 2003.” GOP senators feel squeeze on Iraq “Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is under fire. Facing a difficult re-election fight next year after eking out a slim victory in 2002, Coleman, a Republican, finds himself besieged by Democrats and anti-war groups for not supporting a firm deadline to withdraw American troops from Iraq.” U.S. troop buildup in Iraq falling short “President Bush defended his strategy, demanding Congress give his administration more time and insisting that America can “win this fight in Iraq.”

Iran. Iran will cross nuclear threshold by 2009 “Iran will cross the “technological threshold” enabling it to independently manufacture nuclear weapons within six months to a year and attain nuclear capability as early as mid-2009, according to Israel’s Military Intelligence.” U.S. targets Iranian aid to militants on all sides “U.S. Special Forces are intensifying their efforts to root out Iranian agents who are said to be working in Iraq to further destabilize the fractured nation, a leading U.S. analyst and a top Iraqi diplomat said.” U.S. rotates carrier to Persian Gulf amid rising Iran tensions “The Enterprise Strike Group will provide “Navy power to counter the assertive, disruptive and coercive behavior of some countries, as well as support our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Navy said in its announcement, in an apparent reference to Iran.” U.S., Iran do Persian Gulf squeeze “in the cramped sea routes of the Persian Gulf, U.S. and Iranian warship sailors and fighter pilots speak to each other daily. They have to. They’re practically jostling one another in courteous games of surveillance, counter-surveillance and geopolitical posturing.”

Pakistan. Siege of Pakistan’s Lal Masjid ends “Pakistani troops have cleared the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque compound in Islamabad of fighters after two days of fighting that left more than 60 people dead, the military said.” Scores Dead in Battle at Pakistani MosqueThe eight-day siege of the Red Mosque exploded into an all-day battle on Tuesday that left 8 members of the security forces and at least 50 militants dead, including the ringleader, and presented a test of Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s ability to root out religious radicals.”

Al Qaeda. Homeland Security chief warns of ‘increased risk’ “Fearing complacency among the American people over possible terror threats, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in Chicago that the nation faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer.” Al-Qaida’s deputy leader threatens retaliation for Rushdie’s knighthood “Osama bin Laden’s deputy warned Gordon Brown yesterday that Britain would be hit with “a very precise response” in retaliation for the knighthood given to the novelist Salman Rushdie.” Abbas Accuses Hamas of Aid to Al Qaeda “Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has accused his rivals in Hamas of having opened the door to Al Qaeda in Gaza. In an interview with Italy’s RAI TV, Mr. Abbas, of Fatah, said, “Thanks to the support of Hamas, Al Qaeda is entering Gaza.”

GI Bill for Guard/Reserves. They don’t always fit the GI Bill “As part-time troops, or so-called “Citizen Soldiers,” members of the National Guard or Reserves do not receive the same GI Bill benefits as full-time members of the military. … Congress addressed some inequities in the GI Bill in 2005, when it increased benefits for Guardsmen and Reservists who have been mobilized for more than 90 days since 9/11. Still, many say that’s not enough.” States all over the map on tuition aid “Today, every state offers some sort of tuition benefit for members of its National Guard units. But with more Guard members deployed to combat zones since 9/11, many state legislators are looking for ways to help them and other recent veterans.”

Ugandan peacemaker. The Woman Behind Uganda’s Peace Hopes “Betty Bigombe plowed her own path as a mediator between two men at war. Her bodyguards addressed her as “Sir,” but it was her womanly nurturing side, her wiles and selfless sacrifices that took her where no man had been. For the better part of two decades, the lonely peacemaker has traveled through war-lacerated northern Uganda in a bid to help end one of Africa’s longest-running insurgencies,”

Pensions. More employers doing away with pensions, study finds “Nearly two-thirds of employers that offer traditional pensions have closed their plans to new hires or frozen them for all employees, or plan to do so in the next two years … The latest numbers show an acceleration in the decline of pensions – retirement plans in which employers, instead of employees, are responsible for investing retirement money and providing benefits.”

Death penalty. 11th-hour plea for Georgia inmate’s life “Troy Anthony Davis, 38, convicted of the murder of a Savannah police officer, is scheduled to be executed next week. Yet a growing number of human rights activists are urging Georgia officials to consider new evidence that might prove his innocence.”

McCain campaign. Top Aides Leave McCain Camp “On Tuesday, McCain parted ways with his longtime aide and engineered a dramatic shake-up of his presidential campaign team as he sought to reverse a months-long downward spiral that has left him short of cash and struggling for support.” McCain Campaign Drops Top Aides; New Doubts RiseAfter months of mounting problems in his presidential campaign, Senator John McCain sat down with his two top political aides on Monday for what turned out to be a loud and acrimonious discussion in his Senate office. On Tuesday morning, as Mr. McCain stood on the Senate floor opposing a withdrawal from Iraq, his campaign announced that the two men were departing, a development that left his team gutted, transfixed both parties and raised new doubts about his ability to continue in the race.”

Muslims and Evangelicals. Evangelicals, Muslims meet “Muslims and evangelical Christians are talking – at least behind closed doors at the Egyptian Embassy – according to several guests at a top-secret lunch last week.”

Benedict on the Church. Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches “Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.”

Commentary. Partisanship vs. the Children (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “Extending health insurance to uninsured children is perhaps the least controversial public policy goal in Washington. So it sets up a test: If progress is not possible on this issue, progress in our divided, embittered political system is no longer possible at all.”

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