Congress

Violence, Women, Congress and the Bible

via Getty Images
via Getty Images

We’ve been hearing a lot in the news media lately about women’s bodies. Just when we thought the messy fight over contraception was over, Democrats and Republicans are butting heads again over renewal of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, a once widely supported bill that is now being met with opposition from Republicans due to new provisions that “would allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence,” according to the New York Times.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 29, 2012

GDP Revised Up To 3 Percent In Fourth-Quarter; Why Foreign Assistance Is Still Important; Syrian Army Assaults Rebel Districts; Public Views Of The Divide Between Religion And Politics; What Did Congress Do To Combat Poverty In 2011? Virtually Nothing (OPINION); Environmental Justice A Form Of Social Justice (OPINION); Occupy LSX May Be Gone, But The Movement Won't Be Forgotten; World’s Extreme Poverty Cut In Half Since 1990; Poverty Resolutions, Microloan Nonprofit, Shows How Far $1 Can Go To Provide Jobs For Poor; Alabama Lawmakers Calls For Immigration Law Repeal.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 13, 2012

Obama Budget: National Debt Will Be $1 Trillion Higher In A Decade Than First Forecast; Why Evangelicals Must Defend Muslims; Obama's Election-Year Budget To Target Rich; GE To Hire 5,000 U.S. Veterans, Investing In Plants; Is Class War Unfolding In GOP Primaries?; It's The Wealth Gap, Stupid; From The Pulpit And In The Pew, The Knicks’ Lin Is A Welcome Inspiration; Ethics Issues Tarnish Congressional Image; Senate GOP Push For Keystone Vote On Highway Measure; Obama Administration Slows Environmental Rules As It Weighs Political Cost.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 9, 2012

Color The 1 Percent 99 Percent Conflicted; Congress Looks To Ethics Bill To Boost Public Image; Rick Santorum: The 'Church' Candidate; States Negotiate $26 Billion Deal For Homeowners; Religious Right Bashes Green Evangelicals For Supporting EPA Rules; Obama, Explained; Four Ways The U.S. Could End Up At War With Iran Before The Election; Employment Rate For Young Adults Lowest In 60 Years, Study Says; Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline: The Facts Deserve Repeating (OPINION); Study: GOP Votes Drive Public Opinion On Climate Change.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 3, 2012

Politics And Prayers; Senate Passes Insider-Trading Bill; What Childhood Poverty Means (OPINION); Nation-Building Vs. Al-Qaeda-Crushing In Afghanistan; Should All Americans Have To Earn Their Citizenship?; That Former Slave Who Wrote His Ex-Master Never Went Back To Him; NC's Heath Shuler Won't Seek Re-Election To House; Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom (OPINION); Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate For Returning Veterans Fell 6 Percentage Points.

H.R. 1956…Shameless (Period)

“You don’t know what you have here in America, you know?” said the cabby who drove me home from the airport. When his father died in Ethiopia, he had to drop out of his American university where he was studying computer engineering to start driving cabs to support his family back in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has no social safety net.

“In America,” said my cab driver, “you have services and programs that help keep families together in hard times.” He hasn’t seen his family in nine years. His cab-drivers’ salary is hardly enough to pay for a plane ticket to Ethiopia. Besides, if he takes time off, that would be less food, education, and possible eviction for his mother, brothers and sisters.

While it is true that America has a social safety net, it is weaker than it was just forty years ago and it’s come under more intense attack in recent years. The deficit is the justification for shredding the net now. And extremists are pushing the party that claims a lock on “family values” to nullify the programs that protect at-risk American families from slipping into poverty.

In the name of “fiscal responsibility,” the Tea Party-led House GOP passed H.R. 1956, a bill that takes cash from the hands of America’s poorest working families in order to protect the richest of the rich. H.R. 1956 requires workers to present a Social Security Number rather than an IRS issued Individual Tax Identification Number to claim the child tax credit. Seems simple enough, but the bill is crafted to target working immigrant families the hardest, even if they are legal residents or have children that are American citizens. The GOP called this a compromise. H.R. 1956 is what they offered in return for the extension of the Payroll Tax cut. Congress could have paid for that extension by ending the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which were set to expire on January 1, 2012. But the GOP said absolutely not. Instead, they crafted H.R. 1956.

Fighting Fire with Water

ON OCt. 14, 2011, President Obama sent a letter to Congress saying he was sending two teams of “U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment,” plus communications and logistics staff, to Uganda. The total of about 100 troops are there “as advisers to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony” and other leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The importance of international attention to the LRA cannot be overestimated. Kony and the LRA have abducted more than 25,000 children, many of them from Northern Uganda, using them as soldiers and sexual slaves. The LRA has been marauding there—and more recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central Africa Republic, and South Sudan—for more than 20 years.

After years of urging U.S. attention to the violence perpetrated by the LRA—and hearing some voices in the region that supported the U.S. action—many human rights groups, including Resolve, the Enough Project, and Invisible Children, welcomed Obama’s decision.

But careful listening to important local religious leaders should raise some serious questions. On Oct. 24, the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a northern Ugandan group that includes leading Catholic, Anglican, and Muslim clergy from the area, issued a statement thanking the U.S. president and Congress for their “attention to the plight of our people,” including “efforts to achieve reconciliation and meet humanitarian needs in LRA-affected regions,” but expressing concern about “the military nature of the current strategy.” They wrote, “As history has taught us, military intervention is not the way to resolve the LRA conflict and achieve a sustainable peace. In the past, such approaches have directly resulted in the intensification of LRA violence and the increased endangerment of civilians.”

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Afternoon News Bytes: Jan. 27, 2012

Marco Rubio Calls For A Shift In Rhetoric On Immigration; Davos Head Offers To Meet With Occupy Protesters; UN Rights Chief Calls For Them To Be Heard; Global Evangelical Body Plans Egyptian Summit, Calls For Worldwide Prayer; For GOP, Dislike For Obama Trumps All; Who Are Evangelicals?;congre A Scalpel, Not A Hatchet; Climate Change Goes Back To Square Zero; Rick Santorum: Gingrich And Romney ‘Bought Into The Global Warming Hoax’.

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