The latest news on Darfur, Iran, Immigration, Iraq, Africa-US military, Colombia, US-India nuclear deal, Episcopal church, faith-Barak Obama, faith- Rev James Forbes, Tenet book, and select commentaries.

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Darfur. World rallies for Darfur action – “Organisers of the Global Day for Darfur said events were taking place in 35 capitals to mark the fourth anniversary of the conflict.” Britain gives Sudan days to meet demands – “As public consciousness of the grim situation in Darfur grows, the difficulty of prosecuting what is often popularly called genocide is becoming clearer.” Why genocide is difficult to prosecute – “As public consciousness of the grim situation in Darfur grows, the difficulty of prosecuting what is often popularly called genocide is becoming clearer.”

Iraq. Maliki’s Office Is Seen Behind Purge in Forces – “A department of the Iraqi prime minister’s office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias,” U.S. Clashes With Militia in Baghdad – “Militiamen loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr clashed with American forces in northern Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said, the latest in a series of indications that the militia might be emerging from two months of self-imposed dormancy.”

Iraq-military. They also serve their conscience – “Although their numbers are still small compared with the draft-fueled Vietnam veterans’ movement four decades ago, California’s Iraq veterans are gaining a voice in opposition to America’s continued military presence in Iraq. Recent antiwar demonstrations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities have seen the first sizable contingents of veterans from the conflict.”War Called Riskier Than Vietnam – “President Bush recently said that “there’s a lot of differences” between the current war in Iraq and the Vietnam War. As fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year, an increasing number of experts in foreign policy and national strategy are arguing that the biggest difference may be that the Iraq war will inflict greater damage to U.S. interests than Vietnam did.”

Iraq-Congress. Congress’ vote on Iraq war is only a prelude – “To buy time for his buildup of more than 28,000 troops to show results, Bush asked his commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, to deliver a progress report to the nation in early September. That helped stave off Republican defections as Congress debated whether to impose a timetable for troop withdrawals.” GOP’s Base Helps Keep Unity on Iraq – “The experiences of the few Republicans to vote against the war help explain the remarkable unity that the party has maintained in Washington behind an unpopular president. … That cohesion reflects the views of the GOP’s core voters, who see the war in Iraq in fundamentally different terms than Democrats and political independents do,” The White House Scales Back Talk of Iraq Progress– “The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited,”

Iran. Iran to Attend Regional Talks on Iraq Violence– “The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran announced that it would attend a regional conference on Iraq later this week, setting the stage for the first cabinet-level meeting between Iran and the United States since the end of 2004.” Inside the struggle for Iran– “A grand coalition of anti-government forces is planning a second Iranian revolution via the ballot box to deny President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office and break the grip of what they call the “militia state” on public life and personal freedom.”

Africa-US military. U.S. force aims to secure Africa – “The United States hopes by year’s end to establish an Africa Command that will anchor military operations across a continent seen to be of increasing strategic importance and threatened by transnational terrorists.”

Colombia. Colombian Seeks to Persuade Congress to Continue Aid – “Faced with allegations of government ties to paramilitary death squads and criticism from prominent Democrats, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia is heading to Washington this week to try to unlock frozen American aid and salvage a trade agreement with the United States.” Colombian Prosecutor Probes U.S. Firms – “[Colombia’s chief prosecutor] spoke ahead of a trip to Washington this week to seek aid for his overburdened office and help obtaining evidence against U.S.-based multinationals he’s investigating for allegedly financing the paramilitaries.”

Immigration. Senators grasp at a chance for reform – “Lawmakers who back immigration reform, recognizing that their chances are dwindling rapidly, are girding for a last-ditch attempt to pass a sweeping bill before their efforts are swallowed up by an early campaign season and an acrimonious political mood.”

US-India nuclear deal. India-U.S. nuclear pact remains stalled – “The high-profile nuclear cooperation deal that lies at the heart of warming ties between India and the U.S. has run into serious trouble over the fine print. Officials on both sides are expressing growing frustration over each other’s seeming intransigence in overcoming the final obstacles to sealing the agreement,”

Episcopal church. Visit by Anglican Bishop Draws Episcopal AngerThe Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, a fierce critic of the Episcopal Church for its acceptance of homosexuality, is arriving next week to install a bishop to lead congregations around the country that want to break from it.

Faith-Barack Obama. A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith– “Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.”

Faith-Rev. James Forbes. Forbes leaves Riverside pulpit pulling no punches as Forbes reflected on his 18 years in one the country’s most prestigious and visible pulpits, he hardly sounded wistful. In fact, Forbes, 71, who will officially retire in June, seems fully ready for what he calls a next great chapter – setting his sights on nothing less than the spiritual renewal of the nation.”

Tenet book. Tenet Details Efforts to Justify Invading Iraq – “White House and Pentagon officials, and particularly Vice President Cheney, were determined to attack Iraq from the first days of the Bush administration, long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and repeatedly stretched available intelligence to build support for the war, according to a new book by former CIA director George J. Tenet.”


BELIEFS; Moral Plots and Subplots in the Latest Ruling on Abortion (Peter Steinfels, NY Times) – “Life today is lived on slippery slopes. Which ones seize our attention and crystallize our fears? What moral outrages or absurdities, lurking at the bottom, stir our energies? How steep is the incline? Where can we throw up a railing, dig a trench, clear a landing, keep our footing? Questions like these determine a great deal of public moral debate.”

Hagel’s Stand (Robert D. Novak, Washington Post) – “Sen. Chuck Hagel returned from his fifth visit to Iraq to become one of two Republicans to join Senate Democrats in voting Thursday to begin withedrawal of U.S. troops. It was not an easy vote for a conservative GOP regular and faithful supporter of President George W. Bush’s other policies. A few days earlier, Hagel sat down with me and painted a bleak picture of the war and U.S. policy.”

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