God's Politics

The latest news on Burma, SCHIP, Iran, SCHIP, Jena, Republican presidential forum, Religious right, Darfur, US military, Blackwater, Climate change, and Faith-based schools-Canada
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Burma . Burma troops seal off monasteries “Burmese troops today broke up street gatherings, sealed off Buddhist monasteries and shut down internet connections, in an attempt to snuff out the most serious protests against the country’s military dictatorship in two decades.” Crowds taunt troops “Crowds taunted soldiers and police who barricaded central Yangon to prevent more mass protests against Myanmar’s 45 years of military rule and deepening economic hardship.” Deadly Crackdown Intensifies in Burma “Intensifying their crackdown despite pressures from abroad, Burmese security forces raided a half-dozen Buddhist monasteries and opened fire on pockets of demonstrators who continued to demand an end to military rule.” More Deaths in Myanmar, and DefianceThe violence began before dawn with raids on Buddhist monasteries and continued through the day with tear gas, beatings and volleys of gunfire in the streets of the country’s main city, Yangon,” ASEAN rebukes Burma “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, under increasing pressure from the West, ended its habitual silence on the situation in Burma yesterday, expressing “revulsion” at the ruling military junta”s killing of protesters and demanding an end to the violence.” Myanmar’s blogs of bloodshed “With the borders virtually sealed, foreign journalists barred and news censored, bloggers in Myanmar have become citizen journalists, detailing their first-hand experiences in words and pictures of chaos, gunfire and death and enabling the world to watch. But now, in an ominous development, even this outlet is being blocked by the junta.”

SCHIP. Showdown Looms as Child Health Bill Passes “The Senate, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, sent President Bush a $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, setting up the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency and launching a fight that will reverberate into the 2008 elections.” Allies push Bush to pass children’s insurance“The Senate, by a wide margin, approved a bill to expand health insurance for children of low-income working parents, sending it to President Bush as supporters mounted a last-ditch effort to persuade him not to cast a long-threatened veto.”

Jena . Teen in Jena case gets out of jail “Mychal Bell, the black teenager whose incarceration in a racially explosive case helped draw tens of thousands of civil rights protesters to the tiny Deep South town of Jena, La., last week, was released from jail on Thursday after more than nine months behind bars.”

Republican presidential forum. GOP Hopefuls Assailed for Debate Absence “Republican presidential candidates discussed the importance of reaching out to people of color during a minority issues debate Thursday night and criticized the leading four GOP contenders for skipping it.” Leading GOP Candidates Skip Debate on Black Issues “Fred D. Thompson was at a fundraiser in Franklin, Tenn. Mitt Romney was gathering checks in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Rudolph W. Giuliani was in California raking in some last-minute cash just north of Napa. John McCain spent the day in New York City, giving a speech and raising money.” Watch the All-Americn Presidential Forum or read the transcript.

Religious right. GOP’s crucial ’08 base divided “Many of the top leaders on the religious right privately say it’s impossible to name a top-tier, declared Republican hopeful who can pass the “straight face” test as someone social conservatives can honestly say they would trust if elected.”

Darfur . Attacks on Aid Groups Rising in Darfur “Humanitarian groups are facing a new escalation of violence in Darfur, with more than a dozen of their vehicles hijacked in recent days and several employees abducted or critically wounded. Several aid groups are questioning how much longer they can go on amid the spiraling chaos.”

US military. Army looks to accelerate expansion “The Army’s top official called for the acceleration of a multiyear expansion of the country’s biggest fighting force, a move that probably would require radical new approaches for keeping soldiers in uniform.” Gates Favors Faster Expansion of the ArmyDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that he was likely to approve a $3 billion plan by the Army to accelerate by a full year the expansion of its active-duty force.”

Iran . Iran sanctions “The world’s major powers tried to narrow their differences on tougher sanctions against Iran, seeking to keep up pressure on Tehran to curb its nuclear program.” Effort to Bolster Sanctions on Iran Faces U.N. Delay “The U.N. Security Council probably will delay a move to impose new sanctions against Iran until December, when U.N. weapons inspectors conclude a review of Iran’s past nuclear activities, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday.”

Blackwater. State Dept. Tallies 56 Shootings Involving Blackwater on Diplomatic Guard DutyThe State Department said that Blackwater USA security personnel had been involved in 56 shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq so far this year.” Report blames Blackwater for battle of Falluja “A US congressional investigation today said the private security firm Blackwater triggered one of the bloodiest battles in the Iraq war when it sent an unprepared team of security guards into the insurgent stronghold of Falluja.” Scene of Blackwater Shooting Was Chaotic “Participants in a contentious Baghdad security operation this month say that at least one guard continued firing on civilians while colleagues urgently called for a cease-fire.”

Climate change. Bush: Climate change progress must be measurable “U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday called for a “strong and transparent” way for nations to measure progress on fighting climate change but said each country should set its own approach.” Rice defends Bush’s UN climate talks “The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, yesterday defended President George Bush’s climate change conference in Washington against accusations that it was a spoiler intended to undermine UN efforts to secure a global compromise.”

Faith-based schools-Canada. ‘Immense hurdles’ seen for faith-based schools “When religious groups meet with the chairwoman of the Toronto District School Board to talk about the possibility of their schools joining the public education system, Sheila Ward’s response is always the same: I would love to have you, but I just don’t see how it could work.”

Op-Ed. Burma’s Revolt of The Spirit (Michael Gerson, Washington Post) “The sight of young, barefoot monks in cinnamon robes quietlymarching for democracy, amid crowds carrying banners reading “love and kindness,” is already a symbol of conscience for a young century. On closer examination, these protests have also shown that nonviolence need not be tame or toothless.”

Editorial. Should we come to terms with a nuclear Iran? (Harretz) “At least in public, everyone agrees that it is best to prevent Iran’s nuclear program through nonviolent measures such as sanctions. But the growing difficulty in rallying support for sanctions brings us closer to the most difficult decision of all: Should we come to terms with a nuclear Iran led by extremists like Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or try to stop it by force before it acquires the bomb?”

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