God's Politics

The latest news on children’s health insurance, Pakistan, Nuclear reactor-Japan, Aid for workers, Prosecuted GIs, diplomacy on hold, Iran, Nuclear weapons-Korea, Canada-Afghanistan, Darfur, Colombia, immigration, Evangelical-Muslim dialogue, house churches, special feature on reporting faith. and select commentaries and editorials.
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Children’s health insurance. Governors Call On Congress to Widen Insurance for Poor “The nation’s governors, defying threats of a veto from President Bush, called on Congress to extend and increase a program to provide health insurance for poor children.” Democrats Press House to Expand Health Care BillAfter a rare bipartisan agreement in the Senate to expand insurance coverage for low-income children, House Democrats have drafted an even broader plan that also calls for major changes in Medicare and promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care.”

Aid for workers. Aid May Grow for Laid-Off Workers “As part of their campaign to soothe an anxious middle class, congressional Democrats are preparing legislation that would significantly expand federal aid to the most obvious victims of the global economy: workers whose jobs move offshore or are lost to foreign imports.”

Prosecuted GIs. Web Sites Rally Support for G.I.’s in Legal TroubleConservative Christians and military veterans are part an emerging group of Americans who say they are upset by the recent prosecutions of soldiers and marines based in Iraq on war crimes charges, and are coming to their defense with words, Web sites and money.”

Pakistan. US won’t rule out force in Pakistan “President Bush’s homeland security adviser said yesterday that the United States was prepared to take additional measures, including military force, to curb Al Qaeda’s operations in remote regions of Pakistan.” Strikes on al Qaeda forces eyed “The White House’s homeland security adviser said the administration is considering tactical strikes against al Qaeda forces in the autonomous tribal regions of Pakistan after a new national intelligence report says al Qaeda reconstituted its forces there.”

Diplomacy on hold. U.S. Pares Other Diplomacy to Focus on Iraq, Rest of Mideast “As the White House struggles to show progress in the 52-month-old war, other important global issues increasingly are getting pushed to the side, according to U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts.” With Iraq on fire, rest of world on hold “As the White House struggles to show progress in the 52-month-old war, other important global issues increasingly are getting pushed to the side, according to U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts.”

Iran. Iran denies arms deal with Syria “Iran dismissed a widely circulated report alleging a $1-billion arms pact with Syria, terming it a “media ploy” meant to poison relations between Tehran and Damascus.”

Nuclear reactor-Japan. IAEA to visit Japan’s damaged nuclear plant “Japan has decided to allow international inspectors to visit the nuclear power plant damaged in last week’s earthquake, as fears grow for the safety of the country’s nuclear power industry. The government had initially turned down an offer of help from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but changed its mind a day later amid pressure from local officials and rising anxiety among residents living near the plant”

Nuclear weapons-Korea. Contrasting fates along Axis of Evil “A team of UN inspectors walked into a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, one of the most secret and well-guarded sites in Asia, last week and placed specialised fibre-optic seals on the machinery. It was a rare moment of triumph for nuclear diplomacy in a dangerous world: North Korea had come back into the fold after five years of rampant bomb-building.”

Canada-Afghanistan. Canada could step back as Afghan army expands, O’Connor says “Canadian troops may be able to scale back combat operations in Kandahar by year’s end as Afghanistan’s own army continues to expand, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor said”

Darfur. Sudan’s president takes a new tack on Darfur ” On the second day of a rare visit to Darfur, President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir unveiled several development projects meant to bolster the war-torn region, but he did not visit any of the camps filled with people displaced by years of systematic violence blamed on militias linked to his government.” Darfur crisis devolves into ‘anarchy’ “As far as Osman Ahmed could tell, the clashes that forced his family from their home were no different from the attacks that have devastated Darfur for four years.” Europe plans Darfur border force “The European Union has taken the first step towards sending a force to countries neighbouring the Sudanese conflict in Darfur. European foreign ministers in Brussels authorised their military staff to draw up plans for an operation to deploy in Chad and the Central African Republic.”

Colombia. U.S. bending rules on Colombia terror? “a showdown is looming that pits some members of Congress against the Justice Department and the multinationals – including an American coal-mining company and Coca-Cola bottlers. The lawmakers say that, in the cases of U.S. corporations in Colombia, the Justice Department has failed to adequately enforce U.S. laws that make it a crime to knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization – and they have opened their own investigation.”

Immigration. Illegal aliens poised for new haven in Connecticut “As many U.S. cities and states arrest illegal aliens in raids and toughen laws against them, a Connecticut city is offering to validate them under a new, first-in-the-nation ID-card program. Starting tomorrow, New Haven will offer illegal aliens municipal identification cards that allow access to city services.” Immigrant parents struggle to keep their children bilingual “Rubén G. Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California at Irvine, and his team of researchers looked at 5,700 adults in their 20s and 30s in Southern California from different generations to see how long their language survived. A key finding centered on 1,900 American-born children of immigrants. The shift toward English among them was swift: While 87 percent grew up speaking another language at home, only 34 percent said they spoke it well by adulthood.”

Evangelical-Muslim dialogue. Evangelicals, Muslims start rare dialogue “They sat facing each other, 14 evangelical preachers on one side, 12 U.S-based Arab diplomats on the other. Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian ambassador to the U.S., listened as introductions began, and he found himself amazed.”

House churches. There’s no place like home, these Christians say “Small gatherings in believers’ houses are attended by 1 in 11 U.S. adults, a survey finds. Compared with huge church services, it’s ‘like a conversation. It’s somebody talking to you,’ one devotee say.”

Feature-reporting faith. Religion beat became a test of faith (William Lobdell, Los Angeles Times) “A reporter looks at how the stories he covered affected him and his spiritual journey.”

Commentary. Does the religious majority rule? (Peter Irons, USA Today) “Every town and city has “insiders” and “outsiders.” Insiders tend to have deep family roots in the community, belong to its dominant religious group and political party, and play active roles in civic affairs. Particularly in small towns, insiders get upset when outsiders challenge the symbols that reflect the majority’s beliefs and values.”

A Destination, Not a Road Map (Daoud Kuttab, Washington Post) “What we need, as suggested in the Arab peace initiative and a number of Palestinian-Israeli peace initiatives, is an agreed-upon final status — something like the 1967 borders — and the process to implement terms that will be agreed to by all parties. Otherwise, future summits will continue to fail.”


The Iraq War Debate: A Reality Check on Military Spending(New York Times) “Defending Americans from today’s terrorists and other threats will require fewer air-to-air combat jets, big stealthy ships and submarines. It will require better-protected ground troops and larger investments in diplomacy, peacemaking and eliminating dangerous nuclear materials. When the Senate resumes debate on the defense authorization bill in the coming weeks, it needs to make a more ambitious start on that long overdue transformation.”

The world after George W. Bush (Boston Globe) “PRESIDENT BUSH has hinted more than once that he expects to leave to his successor the task of ending America’s military occupation of Iraq. His reasons for doing so may go beyond calculations about the time needed to establish security and a functioning government in Iraq, beyond a reluctance to enter history as a president who presided over the retreat from a lost war. Perhaps Bush senses that the change of direction required to cut the nation’s losses in Iraq would expose the flagrant misconceptions on which his conduct of the Iraq war was based.”

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