God's Politics

the latest reports on Darfur, Iraq, Iran, private prisons, young Americans and God, Justice Deptartment resignations, health insurance, and select op-eds and book reviews

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Darfur. Canada’s envoy expelled from Sudan “Sudan expelled Canada’s top diplomat and her European Union counterpart Thursday, accusing them of interfering in the internal affairs of the African country.” Sudan expels Western diplomats “Sudan has expelled the European Commission envoy and the Canadian charge d’affaires, saying they interfered in the country’s affairs and had been too closely in contact with opposition leaders.” New Photos Indicate Arms Flow to Darfur “Recent photographs purportedly showing Sudanese soldiers in the Darfur region moving containers from a Russian-made Antonov cargo plane onto military trucks reinforce suspicions that Sudan continues to violate a U.N.-imposed arms embargo,”

Iraq-Intelligence estimate. A new intelligence report paints a bleak picture of Iraq A new assessment of Iraq by U.S. intelligence agencies provides little evidence that the American troop “surge” has accomplished its goals and predicts that the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will become “more precarious” in the months ahead.” Report Offers Grim View of Iraqi LeadersA stark assessment released by the nation’s intelligence agencies depicts a paralyzed Iraqi government unable to take advantage of the security gains achieved by the thousands of extra American troops dispatched to the country this year.” Text of the Report (pdf)

Iraq-US troops. Warner Calls for Pullouts By Winter “Sen. John W. Warner, one of the most influential Republican voices in Congress on national security, called on President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in time for Christmas as a new intelligence report concluded that political leaders in Baghdad are “unable to govern effectively.” Sen. Warner advises Bush to start withdrawing troops “Warner … said that withdrawing a small number of troops – perhaps as few as 5,000 – would send a “sharp, clear message” to Iraq, America and the world that the U.S. commitment in Iraq isn’t open-ended.” Republicans urge Iraq exit by Christmas “Mr Warner, who has recently returned from Iraq and is widely respected by his Republican colleagues, went much further than in June when he first broke ranks with Mr Bush over the war.” Top general to urge Iraq troop cut “The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.”

Iran . An intensifying US campaign against Iran “US charges against Iran’s role in Iraq are mounting. But analysts say that a history of unsubstantiated US claims against Iran should serve as a cautionary tale. The lesson to be drawn is not that Iran is guiltless in Iraq, they say, but one of restraint as a familiar drumbeat sounds.”

Private prisons. Increase in inmates opens door to private prisons “California is one of at least 30 states that have turned to the private prison industry for help after realizing that they couldn’t build enough prisons to keep pace with a flood of new inmates as lawmakers passed ever-tougher sentencing laws.”

Young Americans and God. AP Poll: God vital to young Amercians “An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don’t.”

Justice Dept. resignation. Top civil rights official resigns from Justice Department “The Justice Department’s top civil rights enforcer resigned after more than a year of criticism that his office had filled its ranks with conservative loyalists instead of experienced attorneys.” Civil Rights Division Head Resigning at Justice Dept.The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced that he was resigning, the latest in a long string of departures from the department in the midst of a furor over the leadership of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.”

Health insurance. Romney to Pitch a State-by-State Health Insurance Plan “Mitt Romney, an architect of Massachusetts’ universal health coverage plan, is unveiling his proposal for overhauling the nation’s health care system, calling for a state-by-state approach that he says will help millions of uninsured in this country gain access to affordable medical coverage.”


No More Pedophile Tourists (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “About 25 percent of sex tourists targeting children are from the United States, traveling to Latin America, Asia and Africa in search of abomination on the modified American plan.

Bush’s Vietnam Blunder (Jim Hoagland, Washington Post) “Desperate presidents resort to desperate rhetoric — which then calls new attention to their desperation. President Bush joined the club this week by citing the U.S. failure in Vietnam to justify staying on in Iraq.”

For Now, the Maliki Primary (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “Maybe Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should just enter our primaries next year and Americans could vote up or down on whether he should remain in office. The surest sign of how bad our choices in Iraq have become is the eagerness of both of our political parties to blame the entire mess on the man American officials helped install in his job.”

Putting the ‘Crowd’ in ‘Overcrowded’: California’s Prison Crisis (Mark Earley, Prison Fellowship) “Last month, federal judges “ordered the creation of a three-judge panel” to address the overcrowding crisis in California’s prisons. … In the early 1990s, Justice Fellowship predicted the disastrous effects of “three strike” laws and urged California to rethink the way it dealt with parole violations and non-violent offenders. The warnings were drowned out by a cacophony of “get tough on crime” rhetoric. Now, the bill for shortsightedness has come due.”

Suddenly, greed doesn’t look good (Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun-Times) “In the 1980s, the Reagan Era, an attitude slipped into the corporate world, especially with the young people who were pouring into the financial services sector: Greed is good! The purpose of a corporation is to promote the net wealth of the stockholder. CEOs should be rewarded for producing stockholder wealth by huge salaries — more in a day or even an hour — than their workers earned all year. Anything that was not against the law was virtuous so long as it made money. … Now the chickens are coming home to roost and, to mix the metaphors, there are a lot of ironies in the fire.”

No thanks, and keep your farm aid (Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times) “If a charity stops taking your money, you’ve got to be doing something pretty shady. Historically, you could invent dynamite, beat up striking workers, build defective Xboxes, write a column about hating dogs — and your check would still get cashed. So when CARE, the giant poverty-relief organization, stops taking $45 million a year in indirect food aid from the U.S. government, it is a strong indicator of some impressive sleaziness going down in D.C.”

Book review. Presidential preacher (Grant Wacker, Chicago Tribune) “Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy’s smartly written, thoroughly researched book, “The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House,” represents a major advance in our understanding of Graham and, more broadly, religion in modern American political life. The authors, both prize-winning journalists for Time magazine, not only know how to tell a fast-paced story but also know how to ask the right questions of the many people — including Graham and former presidents — they interviewed.” (The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House, By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.)

Book excerpt. God’s Harvard: The New Grooming Ground of the Evangelical Movement “A small Christian school outside the nation’s capital is dispatching the next round of evangelicals to the front lines of science and politics, where they will battle for control of the nation.” Copyright © 2007 Hanna Rosin from the book God’s Harvard, Published by Harcourt.

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