God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq-Senate, working mothers, Katrina, Iraq benchmark report, Al Qaeda, Iraq Study Group, Lebanon, Darfur, student loans, and GOP candidates.
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Iraq benchmark report. White House Gives Iraq Mixed Marks in Report “A widely anticipated White House report on Iraq, set for release today, argues that the Baghdad government has made “satisfactory” progress toward nearly half of the political and military goals sought by Congress, while acknowledging that an equal number remain “not satisfactory,” Bush to Declare Progress in Iraq on Some Benchmarks “it will qualify some verdicts by saying that even when the political performance of the Iraqi government has been unsatisfactory, it is too early to make final judgments….The administration’s decision to qualify many of the political benchmarks will enable it to present a more optimistic assessment than if it had provided the pass-fail judgment sought by Congress when it approved funding for the war this spring.”

Iraq-Senate. Opposition to War Grows in the Senate “A bipartisan consensus to dramatically alter the U.S. military mission in Iraq began to emerge in the Senate yesterday, but no specific approach has yet attracted the broad support necessary for a veto-proof majority.” Bill to get troops more time between tours fails in Senate “Senate Republicans defeated an amendment offered by two Vietnam veterans that would have increased troops’ time stateside before they return to war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican.” GOP senators seek middle ground on Iraq “Senate Republicans fed up with the war but not ready to abandon Iraq are seeking shelter in legislation that calls for a new war strategy without ordering a troop withdrawal.”

Al Queda. Intelligence report: Al Qaida at renewed strength in Pakistan “The al Qaida terrorist network has rebounded and is at its greatest strength since it was expelled from Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a new top-level U.S. intelligence assessment concludes.” U.S. Warns Of Stronger Al-Qaeda “Six years after the Bush administration declared war on al-Qaeda, the terrorist network is gaining strength and has established a safe haven in remote tribal areas of western Pakistan for training and planning attacks,” Terror threat downplayed “A White House spokesman said there is “no credible intelligence” of a specific terrorist attack in the U.S. in the near future, despite Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s comment that he has a “gut feeling” the nation faces an increased terrorist danger this summer.” ‘Spectacular attacks’ in Iraq expected “U.S. military leaders said that they expect the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq to respond to the American troop buildup by lashing out with “spectacular attacks” designed to aggravate sectarian tensions.”

Katrina. Road to New Life After Katrina Is Closed to ManyFor thousands of evacuees like Ms. Cole, going home to New Orleans has become a vague and receding dream. Living in bleak circumstances, they cannot afford to go back, or have nothing to go back to. Over the two years since Hurricane Katrina hit, the shock of evacuation has hardened into the grim limbo of exile.”

Working mothers. Part-Time Looks Fine To Working Mothers “In a notable shift during the past decade, working mothers overwhelmingly view fewer work hours as the best option for their busy lives with young children. The proportion of mothers who feel that way jumped 12 percentage points since 1997.” Most Working Moms Prefer Part-Time Jobs “A sharply increasing portion of America’s working mothers say their ideal situation would include a part-time job, rather than working full time or staying at home, a new national survey finds.”

Iraq Study Group.CIA Said Instability Seemed ‘Irreversible’ (By Bob Woodward, The Washington Post) “CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said “the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible,” adding that he could not “point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around,”

Lebanon. Year later, Lebanon paralyzed by crises “In the year since the war erupted on July 13, Lebanon has lurched from one unresolved crisis to another, to the point where the entire country now is in the grip of a series of overlapping crises, some of them seemingly unrelated yet all tied to the broader struggle for influence that is unfolding across the Middle East.” Lebanon prepares for a new war “there is a deepening dread of a new war to come. There is no shortage of likely pretexts for a confrontation: a string of high-profile assassinations and bombings, and deepening political divisions in Beirut. In the north, there have been fierce clashes with al-Qaida affiliates at the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, outside Tripoli. In the south, there are suggestions of a plot to drive out the UN peacekeepers and provoke a new war with Israel.”

Darfur. Darfur conflict takes unexpected turn “an increasingly upside-down security picture in Darfur. With some janjaweed now fighting alongside rebels they once tried to kill – and with the rebels riven by disputes and attacking peacekeepers and aid workers – this is hardly the same conflict of four years ago.” Flooded with refugees, a farmer shares land “When Darfuri refugees started streaming across the border into Chadfour years ago, fleeing a civil war that has killed 200,000 and displaced 2.5 million, many Chadians opened their arms in welcome. Al-Hajj Saboor Arta Bakit took one step further. He gave the refugees some of his land to raise their own crops.”

Student loans. House Backs Increasing Student Loans “House Democrats pushed through legislation that would boost government-subsidized student loans and other college financial aid by $18 billion over the next five years, despite strong opposition from Republican lawmakers and a White House veto threat.” House Passes Overhaul Plan on Student AidThe House approved far-reaching changes in student aid programs, voting to cut $19 billion in federal subsidies to student lenders over five years, while increasing grants for needy students and halving interest rates on federally backed loans with the savings.”

GOP candidates. GOP hopefuls skip chance to woo liberal groups “Republican nominees have overwhelmingly skipped national conferences and conventions of groups some believe, often wrongly, as being singularly liberal in mission and membership. The candidates’ campaign cited “scheduling conflicts” as a reason for passing on the events, but organizers of the conferences see a pattern of rejection.”

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