God's Politics

The latest news on Congress, Iraq, immigration, the presidential campaigns, the Asia-Pacific summit, Israel-Palestine, North Korea, Darfur, Iran, and the Craig resignation.
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Congress returns. Congress returns, ready for confrontation “After failing to push through their most important priorities in the last congressional session, Democratic leaders return to the capital today feeling increasing pressure to confront President Bush on the war in Iraq, terrorism, and domestic policy.” Bush, Congress signal great budget battle “With lawmakers returning from their summer recess, the Democratic-controlled Congress and the White House are headed for what could be the biggest budget fight in more than a decade — and both sides are relishing it.” As Congress Reconvenes, Democrats Are Split Over Iraq, Surveillance Strategies “Divided by their liberal and moderate wings, congressional Democrats return from a monthlong recess without consensus on how to tackle several pressing issues, including Iraq and warrantless wiretaps.” Iraq Tops Agenda As Congress Returns “Like many schoolchildren, members of Congress were due back at their desks after a summer break. Unlike the students, lawmakers will immediately face major tests: on Iraq, children’s health care, a home mortgage crisis and the budget.”

Presidential campaigns. Within G.O.P., Stumping Fails to ImpressInterviews with dozens of Republicans across the country this Labor Day weekend found that despite the already lengthy campaign, which started almost a year ago, many candidates have made either no impression or a negative one, and many voters are still chewing over their options.” For Democrats, Primary Field Gives ConfidenceForget the “lesser-of-the-evils” talk typically heard from Democratic primary voters around this time of a presidential campaign. Interviews with dozens of Democrats across the country this Labor Day weekend found them enthusiastic about their presidential choices and, if slightly nervous about potential weaknesses in their candidates, confident of victory in 2008.” The voters no one can take for granted “Unaffiliated voters, who split evenly between Bush and Democrat John F. Kerry in 2004, are now looking more favorably at the Democratic Party, a reaction to Bush’s slide in the polls, the U.S. struggle in Iraq and other disappointments with GOP leadership.”

Iraq. In Iraq, Bush Cites Gains “President Bush, making an unannounced visit to this isolated and well-fortified air base in Anbar province, said that continued gains in security in Iraq could allow for a reduction in U.S. troops and called on the Iraqi government to follow up with progress toward rebuilding and political reconciliation.” In Iraq, Bush hints at troop reduction “However, the president offered no timetable on a withdrawal and did not suggest how many troops might be involved.” Bush: ‘Success’ may bring troop cut “US military tactics in Iraq’s al-Anbar province are working and troop levels could be cut if similar “successes” are repeated across the country, the US president has insisted.” Weighing the ‘Surge’ “If there is one indisputable truth regarding the current offensive, it is this: When large numbers of U.S. troops are funneled into areas, security improves. But the numbers only partly describe the reality on the ground. Visits to key U.S. bases and neighborhoods in and around Baghdad show that recent improvements are sometimes tenuous, temporary, even illusory.”

Immigration. Immigrant Crackdown Halted “A federal judge barred the Bush administration from launching a crackdown on U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants while she considers a lawsuit by the AFL-CIO that charges that the plan will harm citizens and other legal workers.” A sanctuary for immigrants “Arellano’s case has served as a new rallying cry for immigration reform and has brought the New Sanctuary Movement into the forefront of the immigration debate. ” Mexican President Assails U.S. Measures on Migrants “President Felipe Calderon harshly criticized the United States government on Sunday for the recent crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it has led to the persecution of immigrant workers without visas.”

Asia-Pacific summit. APEC summit “After a lightning visit to Iraq where he hinted at possible U.S. troop cuts, President George W. Bush arrived in Australia on Tuesday for an Asia-Pacific leaders’ meeting amid heavy security and anti-war protests. Trade and climate change will top the agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit,”

Israel-Palestine. Court orders West Bank fence re-routed at Bili’in “The High Court of Justice Tuesday ordered the state to redraw, partially dismantle and rebuild the route of a 1.7 kilometer section of the West Bank separation fence, which was built on land belonging to Bili’in, a Palestinian village which has become a focus o
f opposition to the barrier.” Israeli court orders West Bank barrier diversion “Israel’s supreme court ordered the government to change the route of its controversial security barrier after a challenge by a Palestinian village, backed by Israeli and foreign activists.”

North Korea. North Korea Says U.S. Will Lift Sanctions” North Korea announced Monday that the United States had agreed to lift economic sanctions and remove it from a list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism, a move that would satisfy one of the North Korean government’s principal conditions for giving up nuclear weapons.” U.S. denies N. Korea off terror list “North Korea remains on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, a senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday, dismissing North Korean claims that Washington decided to remove the designation.” Nuclear Pact Broadening, North Korea and U.S. SayThe top American negotiator with North Korea said [Sunday] that the country had agreed to disable its main nuclear fuel production plant by the end of the year and to account to international monitors for all of its nuclear programs,”

Darfur. In Sudan, U.N. Secretary General Renews Peace Effort “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began a weeklong Africa trip devoted to Darfur by pleading with Sudan on Monday to ensure the human rights of its citizens.” New Sudan peace talks may start next month “Peace talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur’s rebel groups could begin next month, according to senior UN officials.” Chaos in Darfur on Rise as Arabs Fight With ArabsSome of the same Arab tribes accused of massacring civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan are now unleashing their considerable firepower against one another in a battle over the spoils of war that is killing hundreds of people and displacing tens of thousands.”

Iran. On Two Fronts, One Nuclear, Iran Is DefiantIran’s leaders issued dual, defiant statements on Sunday, with the president announcing that the nation had 3,000 active centrifuges to enrich uranium and the top ayatollah appointing a new Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander who once advocated military force against students.” Detained Scholar Allowed to Leave Iran “In her first interview since leaving Iran, Esfandiari described her time in one of the Middle East’s most notorious prisons and how she coped with her confinement.”

Craig resignation. Rising Pressure From G.O.P. Led Senator to Quit “Within hours of the disclosure of Senator Larry E. Craig’s arrest and conviction after an undercover sex sting, Republican Senate leaders concluded that the exploding political scandal needed a fast resolution, one that necessitated the Idaho Republican’s prompt resignation.”

Opinion. Fighting for Our Handgun Ban (Adrian M. Fenty and Linda Singer, Washington Post) “As mayor and attorney general of the District of Columbia, we were deeply disappointed this year when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared that the District’s longstanding handgun ban violates the Second Amendment. Today we are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision in that case, which we think threatens public safety and is wrong on the law.”

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