God's Politics

the latest reports on White House subpoenas, immigration, Iraq policy, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, the Democratic forum, children’s health insurance, Republican polls, world polls, South African strikes, North Korea, and select commentaries
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White House subpoena. Senators Subpoena The White House “A Senate committee investigating the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program issued subpoenas ordering the White House to turn over documents related to the eavesdropping effort,” Panel pushes for files on spy program “The Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to the Bush administration for documents related to its warrantless surveillance program, elevating a long-simmering dispute between Congress and the White House over classified national-security information into a possible constitutional showdown.” White House Is Subpoenaed on WiretappingThe move put Senate Democrats squarely on a course they had until now avoided, setting the stage for a showdown with the Bush administration over one of the most contentious issues arising from the White House’s campaign against terrorism.”


Immigration. Immigration bill faces Thursday showdown, and both sides say it’ll be a close vote “The outlook for a White House-backed immigration bill was increasingly uncertain as several critics hardened their position against the bill and supporters led by President Bush scrambled to court votes from wavering senators.” Senate faces showdown on immigration “In a series of votes steadily interrupted by Republicans intent on stalling the proceedings, lawmakers rejected amendments aimed at gutting two key features of the bill: one that would allow illegal immigrants to seek legal status and another that would shift the basis for future immigration away from the current emphasis on family ties.” Proposals From Both Sides Fail in Immigration DebateThe Senate killed proposals from the left and the right for major changes in a comprehensive immigration bill, but the outlook for the bill remained in doubt as senators prepared for a crucial vote on whether to end debate and move to final passage.” Immigration Stance Is Costly for McCain“Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not wavering on immigration. This week, he continued to stand firm with President Bush in seeking a Senate compromise on the issue in the face of intense opposition from core activists in the Republican Party.”

Iraq policy. GOP support for Iraq fraying “Two key Republican senators have gone public this week with calls for a change of course in Iraq, including troop reductions, putting the Bush administration on the defensive and fueling questions over whether the president will have even until September to turn the war around.” Iraq strategy geared to U.S. pullout “Expecting a timeline soon, the military shifts main focus to Sunni-led Al Qaeda, a move it says will calm Shiite militias too. U.S. commanders plan a summer of stepped-up offensives against Al Qaeda in Iraq as they tailor strategy to their expectation that Congress soon will impose a timeline for drawing down U.S. forces here.”

Brown PM. After Decade as Premier, Blair Yields to BrownOn a day of poignant farewells and sober new promises, Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as prime minister, offering Britain a pledge to “try my utmost” and declaring, “Now, let the work of change begin.” Blair finishes decade at No. 10 “With a slight change of address and after a 55-minute chat with the queen, Gordon Brown became Britain’s new prime minister and Anthony Charles Lynton Blair became a former prime minister.” We’ve made it. We’re in “In a day of seismic shifts, stark contrasts and generous emotion, Gordon Brown finally entered Downing Street as prime minister, repeatedly promising change and immediately recasting his cabinet.” Miliband, 41, new British foreign minister “Britain’s new leader chose his senior circle of ministers on Thursday, picking David Miliband, the youngest foreign secretary in decades and a rising star who voiced doubts over the Iraq war.”

Tony Blair to Mideast. Blair is Mideast envoy for ‘quartet’ “Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was formally named special envoy for the Middle East in a bid backed by President Bush to apply the energies of a loyal ally to the region’s moribund peace efforts.” Scepticism over Blair’s envoy role “Tony Blair is to make his first working visit to Ramallah in the West Bank next month as envoy of the quartet of Middle East peacemakers, it emerged yesterday, after his job was confirmed amid scepticism about any chance of his success.”

Democratic forum. Democrats to debate at forum aimed at minorities “Democratic presidential candidates will battle for the black vote at a nationally televised forum aimed at minority voters. In a campaign season that has been dominated so far by Iraq, the 90-minute session at Howard University, a predominantly African-American college in the nation’s capital, will focus on domestic issues.”

Children’s health insurance. Bush criticizes children’s health plan “Laying down a marker on healthcare, President Bush on Wednesday strongly criticized a push by Democrats and some moderate Republicans to broaden a popular children’s insurance program. Bush called the plan a step toward a government takeover of medicine.”

Repubican poll. GOP centrists’ poll: Shun social issues “Fifty-three percent of Republicans say the party “has spent too much time focusing on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage and should instead be spending time focusing on economic issues such as taxes and government spending.”

World poll. U.S. Faces More Distrust From World, Poll Shows “Distrust of the United States has intensified across the world, but overall views of America remain very or somewhat favorable among majorities in 25 of 46 countries and the Palestinian territories surveyed in an international poll conducted by the Pew Research Center,” Bush is unpopular abroad, but other leaders catching up “The poll of 45,200 people by the Pew Global Attitudes Project paints humankind as increasingly worried about the environment, unsettled by Iran’s apparent quest for nuclear weapons and distrustful of the world’s major powers.” Environment and US policy top global fears “Growing numbers of people worldwide view environmental problems, pollution, infectious diseases, nuclear proliferation and the widening gap between rich and poor as the most menacing threats facing the planet,”

South African strike ends. S Africa unions call off strike “South Africa’s main trade unions have ended their four-week strike, which has closed most of the country’s schools and hospitals. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has decided to accept the government’s offer of a 7.5% pay rise – they had demanded 9%.”

North Korea. Inspectors visit North Korea nuclear plant “UN inspectors were today visiting a nuclear plant in North Korea for the first time since they were expelled from the country in 2002.”

Jim Webb and the Populist Pitch(By David Ignatius, Washington Post) “The Democrats need to embrace the fact that the greatest issue in America today is economic fairness,” he says. He argues that if the Democrats construct a “fairness agenda” that tilts toward workers and away from corporations and the rich, “they will win big.”

Parting of the ways? (The Tablet, UK) “Amnesty International is shifting its position on abortion, from its long-held neutral stance to one that regards abortion as a mother’s right in certain circumstances. An association with the Catholic Church that dates from the charity’s foundation is now under threat.”

The Cheney Vice-presidency. (The Washington Post) “Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This series examines Cheney’s largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment.”

Part 1 – Working in the Background “A master of bureaucracy and detail, Cheney exerts most of his influence out of public view.”

Part 2 – Wars and Interrogations “Convinced that the ‘war on terror’ required ‘robust interrogations’ of captured suspects, Dick Cheney pressed the Bush administration to carve out exceptions to the Geneva Conventions.”

Part 3 – Dominating Budget Decisions – “Working behind the scenes, Dick Cheney has made himself the dominant voice on tax and spending policy, outmaneuvering rivals for the president’s ear.”

Part 4 – Environmental Policy – “Dick Cheney steered some of the Bush administration’s most important environmental decisions — easing air pollution controls, opening public parks to snowmobiles and diverting river water from threatened salmon.”

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