God's Politics

the latest reports on Iraq, income, children’s health insurance, CIA, Pakistan, protest, Iran, nuclear weapons, Darfur, North America summit, homelessness, farming, military and religion, and select op-eds

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Iraq-US Deaths. 14 U.S. Soldiers Die in Iraq Helicopter Crash “A Black Hawk helicopter went down Wednesday in northern Iraq, killing all 14 U.S. soldiers aboard, the military said, the deadliest crash since January 2005.”

Income. 2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 PeakAmericans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows.” Latino Immigrants’ Income Is Rising “Latino immigrants have steadily moved out of jobs paying the lowest wages and into middle-income employment in the past decade, helped by the boom in the construction industry, which hires millions of foreign-born workers, according to a study released by the Pew Hispanic Center.”

Children’s health insurance. Fight planned against new child health care rules “Congressional Democrats and state officials are mulling their options on how to counter sweeping new policy changes by the Bush administration that will make it nearly impossible for states to expand a popular health care program for children.” Many Qualified for Child Health Plan Don’t EnrollDespite a decade of marketing efforts by governments and private foundations, nearly 30 percent of children who are eligible for the health insurance program and are not covered by private plans have yet to enroll, according to a new government study.”

Iraq-policy. Bush warns of new Vietnam in Iraq “President George W Bush has warned a US withdrawal from Iraq could trigger the kind of upheaval seen in South East Asia after US forces quit Vietnam.” Bush to cite Vietnam in defense of Iraq “In what the White House is billing as a major foreign policy address, the president will say that the lessons of Vietnam teach that the U.S. should stay in Iraq, not withdraw.” Bush’s Iraq speech to hit on VietnamPresident Bush plans to argue that a hasty “retreat” from Iraq would lead to the kinds of bloodbaths that followed U.S. withdrawals from Vietnam and Cambodia.”

Iraq-politics. Iraq’s PM hits back at US criticism “Iraq’s PM Nouri Maliki has rejected US criticism of his administration, saying “no-one has the right to place timetables” on its performance. Mr Maliki blamed the US presidential election campaign for many of the “discourteous” comments.” France shifts its stance on Iraq “After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now says it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an “honest broker” between the Sunni, Shi’ite, and Kurdish factions.”

Iraq-military. Iraq War Brings Drop in Black EnlisteesJoining the Reserve Officer Training Corps was once an attractive choice for people with few options growing up in impoverished, predominantly black East Baltimore. That has all changed, largely because of the war in Iraq. Now, it is like, no way,” said Cornelius McMurray, who does outreach with a local church and says the young black people he works with view life in Baltimore as enough of a war.”

CIA. Tenet’s Pre-9/11 Efforts Faulted “Former central intelligence director George J. Tenet and his top lieutenants failed to marshal sufficient resources and provide the strategic planning needed to counter the threat of terrorism in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a long-secret CIA report.” C.I.A. Details Errors It Made Before Sept. 11George Tenet, the former head of the C.I.A., failed to adequately prepare the agency to meet the threat of Al Qaeda, an internal agency report said.” Report: CIA failed to respond to al Qaida threat “The CIA had no comprehensive strategy for dealing with al Qaida before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and failed to act on information indicating that suspected terrorists had been dispatched to the United States, the CIA’s inspector general concluded…”

Pakistan . Pakistani crisis coming to a head “This country’s long-running political crisis has entered a decisive phase, with developments in coming weeks likely to determine whether President Pervez Musharraf is able to hang on to power or is pushed aside.”

Protesting the administration. White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters “Not that they’re worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn’t want any.”

Iran . Iran Frees U.S. Scholar From Prison “Washington scholar Haleh Esfandiari was released after more than 100 days in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, but Tehran did not indicate whether the 67-year-old grandmother still faces a trial on charges of “crimes against national security” or will be allowed to leave the country.” Iran frees US ‘spy’ on bail after three months “Haleh Esfandiari, Middle East director of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Centre, was freed after an ordeal that included intensive interrogations, solitary confinement and a televised “confession” of involvement in an alleged US-backed conspiracy to incite a “soft revolution”.

Nuclear weapons. U.S. sees limits, “manipulation” in Iran deal with IAEA “A nuclear cooperation pact Iran struck with the International Atomic Energy Agency has “real limitations” and Tehran should stop trying to manipulate the IAEA to dodge harsher U.N. sanctions, a senior U.S. envoy said.” Mideast speeds up nuclear projects “Several Arab countries in recent months have boosted their nuclear programs, in what experts believe is a response to Iran’s aggressive drive to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Darfur . Arabs Seek Role With Darfur Rebels “To the dozen or so Darfur rebel groups attempting to unite ahead of possible negotiations with the Sudanese government, add one more: the United Revolutionary Force Front, a nascent movement that says it represents nomadic Arab tribes that have been unfairly associated with the conflict’s notorious government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed.” Sudan police raid on Darfur camp raises tensions “Sudanese forces surrounded and attacked Darfur’s most volatile camp on Tuesday to flush out rebels they say are behind recent attacks on police, an army source and camp residents said.” Rapes detailed in UN report on Darfur “A UN report describes gruesome new details about the rapes of dozens of Darfur women last year, saying they were sexually assaulted in front of each other, beaten with sticks, and forced to cook and serve food to their attackers.” Eager to quell its own conflicts, African Union feels overstretched “…a growing chorus of dissent, both among ordinary Ugandans and among political analysts across the continent, suggests that African peacekeeping may be stretched to its limits.”

US-Canada-Mexico summit. Bush dismisses talk of an EU-like bloc “Two years ago, President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico agreed to establish what they called the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a framework for cooperation on economic matters and shared security concerns. It has drawn increasing concern from critics, fueled by speculation on the Internet that it is masking plans to open U.S. borders and create an entity similar to the European Union at the cost of U.S. sovereignty.” Business slams U.S. border delays “The American preoccupation with security at the border threatens to drive up the cost of trade and cause unacceptable delays for travellers, North American business executives have warned the three leaders at the Montebello summit.”

Homelessness. Events link homeless, service providers “Some come for the haircuts and massages. Several want the free breakfast. Most need help finding housing. But thousands of homeless people across the country are showing up at events designed like career fairs to help them tap into drug treatment, mental health and welfare programs, and navigate through the often confusing landscape of social services.”

Humane farming. Of Church and Steak: Farming for the Soul “Humane, sustainable practices … are articles of faith for many Americans concerned with the way food gets from farm to plate. But they are even more deeply held matters of faith for a growing number of farmers and religious groups.”

Military and religion. Not so fast, Christian soldiers “Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended. What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.”


‘Sanctuary’ as battleground (Ronald Brownstein, LA Times) “Some cities, by condemning federal immigration raids, have carried the “don’t ask, don’t tell” impulse to excess. But Romney has overreached too with his threats against “sanctuary cities” like New York (and presumably Los Angeles). Romney’s aides won’t say what New York should have done differently in its policy toward illegal immigrants. Maybe that’s because the city, like many others, chose the most practical response available.”

At stake in Sudan (Václav Havel, The Guardian) “The Sudanese government’s consent to the deployment of the UN/African Union mission, which aims to keep peace in the region, is a welcome development. But the mandate of this mission must be strong enough to allow for full protection of civilians.”

Another Test in Iraq: Our Aid to Refugees (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “The Bush administration correctly asserts that the entire Middle East, from royal palaces to terrorist camps, is watching the eventual outcome in Iraq to determine the state of American resolve. But the region is also taking a more immediate measure of America’s commitment to its friends: our response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. And this, too, is a matter of national credibility and honor.”

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