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God's Politics

the latest reports on the bridge collapse, South Asian flooding, spying, the election, politics, immigration, Iraq, the Mideast, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and commentary on Darfur
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Bridge collapse. Minneapolis Bridge, Like Many In U.S., Was ‘Structurally Deficient’ “Bridge No. 9340, Minnesota’s busiest, had been classified as “structurally deficient” by state bridge inspectors for at least 17 years, state and federal transportation officials said. But the eight-lane span carrying Interstate 35W across the Mississippi shared that designation with about 77,000 aging bridges nationwide.” Collapse Spotlights Weaknesses in U.S. Infrastructure “The bridge that lies crumpled in the Mississippi River is the latest link to fail in a national highway system rapidly deteriorating under the strain of ever-increasing traffic volume and inadequate upkeep, transportation experts said yesterday.” US bridge safety review ordered
“US officials order a nationwide bridge review two days after a Minnesota bridge collapsed, killing at least five people.”

South Asia Floods. Floods displace millions in S Asia “Heavy monsoon rains and floods have killed at least 200 people in South Asia, leaving up to 10 million marooned in their villages or homeless, officials say.” Devastating floods hit South Asia “Hundreds of thousands of people across the affected area are at risk from hunger and disease.

Spying. Ruling Limited Spying Efforts “A federal intelligence court judge earlier this year secretly declared a key element of the Bush administration’s wiretapping efforts illegal, according to a lawmaker and government sources, providing a previously unstated rationale for fevered efforts by congressional lawmakers this week to expand the president’s spying powers.”

Election. Nuclear Weapons Comment Puts Obama on the Defensive “Senator Barack Obama found himself on the defensive again yesterday about his views on foreign policy, this time over a comment he made about the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan or Pakistan.” Clinton Demurs On Obama’s Nuclear Stance “Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew another distinction between herself and Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden or other terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Nuclear reaction to Obama’s remarks “The feud between the top Democratic presidential candidates went nuclear Thursday, with Sen. Barack Obama ruling out atomic strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan — and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton chiding him for foreclosing the doomsday option.”

Three Top Democrats Share Lead In Iowa Poll “Less than six months before Iowa voters open the 2008 presidential nomination battles, the Democratic contest in the Hawkeye State is a deadlock, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards in a virtual tie for first place, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.” ‘Net Roots’ Event Becomes Democrats’ Other National Convention “[A]s the who’s who of the progressive blogosphere — the “Net roots” — gather in Chicago for the YearlyKos convention, which started yesterday, Clinton will be there. Her attendance underscores two seemingly contradictory realities: blogs’ growing influence as powerful backroom players in Democratic circles and the fact that they don’t reflect the views of most Democrats, much less the general public.”

Politics. Hill, White House Draw Battle Lines “As lawmakers head for a month-long recess tomorrow, Congress and the White House are embroiled in confrontations on multiple fronts, signaling the potential for widespread gridlock when they return in September on the war, the budget and issues such as health care and education.” Congress Backs Tighter Rules on Lobbying “The Senate voted Thursday to improve policing of the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists.”

Immigration. Illegal-immigration battle coming to the workplace “With the failure of immigration legislation in Congress this year, federal officials are planning a new crackdown on illegal immigrants that would force businesses to fire them or face stiff penalties. But the effort also could cause serious headaches for millions of U.S. citizens.” In Increments, Senate Revisits Immigration Bill “Some of the less contentious pieces of an immigration bill that failed earlier this year are returning to life.”

Iraq. Gates Offers Blunt Review of Progress in Iraq “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that he was discouraged by the resignation of the Sunnis from Iraq’s cabinet and that the Bush administration might have misjudged the difficulty of achieving reconciliation between Iraq’s sectarian factions.” In Iraq, death tolls often in dispute “Disparities between official and eyewitness tallies lead some Iraqis to charge the government with downplaying attacks.” Marine sentenced over Iraq murder “A US marine is sentenced to time served – 448 days – and demoted for conspiring to murder an Iraqi civilian.”

Mideast. Shifting politics bring Arabs and Israelis closer “The possibility that Israel and Saudi Arabia may sit at the negotiating table together distinguishes this new chapter in peacemaking efforts from the failures of the past.” Another Tour Ends Without Solid Plans On Mideast Peace “After years of setbacks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set out this week to make one more push toward Middle East peace on behalf of an administration that has less than 18 months left in office.” The mission to save Jerusalem “The [ultra-Orthodox] community believes Judaism is different from Zionism and that Jews should not have a state on earth until the Messiah returns. It believes it is sinful to establish a Jewish state in Israel before that time.” Settlers attack UN workers in Hebron Hills “Two residents of an illegal settlement outpost near Hebron attacked United Nations workers yesterday. The UN personnel were driving in the South Hebron Hills area when one of the settlers jumped on the car and smashed the windshield, sending shards of glass into the driver’s eye.”

Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s Chaos: The Powerful Thrive “There is a flip side to Zimbabwe’s economic decline, critics and analysts contend, and this is it: As 11 million or more people descend into destitution, a tiny slice of the population is becoming ever more powerful and wealthy at their expense.”

Afghanistan. Anger Is Tempering Sympathy for South Korean Hostages “As the South Korean hostage crisis entered its third week, sympathy here for the 21 people remaining in Taliban captivity in Afghanistan has been tempered by anger over their decision to travel to such a dangerous region.”

Commentary:

The UN blinks on Darfur “Rather than plan for an invasion of Darfur to end a genocide, the UN Security Council decided Tuesday to send in 20,000 peacekeepers – not peacemakers. And the Blue Helmets will operate only without usurping Sudanese authority. Why the compromises? Two reasons: China and Iraq.”


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