04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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Portland will become a national epicenter for progressive Christians this week when it plays host to the United Church of Christ's national Convocation on Racial Justice, titled "God is Still Seeking Racial Justice." The Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, whose columns on racial and social justice are often printed in The Skanner, will be among the convocation's featured speakers.

The gathering takes place from Nov. 10 through 13 at the Ambridge Event Center, 300 N.E. Multnomah St. It evolved out of plans to celebrate the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Hector E. Lopez, co-conference minister of the church's Central Pacific Conference. Lopez wasn't interested in a banquet or a party in his honor, said Andrea Cano, western regional organizer of UCC's Justice and Peace Action Network. Instead, she said, he wanted to go out the way he came in — focusing on pressing issues of racial, social and economic justice.

"Instead of having a big retirement party," said Cano, "(the Rev. Lopez) said, 'Let's have a convocation on racial justice and see where we are.' "

The convocation's four days will encompass a busy schedule of seminars, speeches, panel discussions, worship services, performances, breakout groups and workshops. Some of the topics to be discussed include "The Journey," with historical retrospectives on the nation's African American, Pacific Islander, Asian and Native American communities; "The Present," with presentations on modern multicultural ministries; and "The Future," with breakout discussions on the progress yet to be made in racial, social and economic justice.

The journey ahead will very much be a focus of the convocation. The United Church of Christ, which traces its roots back to the Mayflower pilgrims, has always made equality and justice a priority in its ministries, Cano said.

"We were part of the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement in the 1860s, and we are continuing our legacy in moving in a progressive direction," Cano said. "We helped to establish many of the major Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the South, and we have journeyed into being more inclusive as the demographics have changed in this country."

Although the UCC has long been a diverse denomination, Cano said, for many years it remained largely segregated into individual African American, European American, Latino American and other churches. About 20 years ago, she said, the Rev. Lopez advanced the policy that each congregation should strive to be culturally inclusive. She cited the Ainsworth United Church of Christ, Portland's most diverse and inclusive congregation, as an example of what the denomination is striving for.

But the church also has exerted itself toward the larger goal of equal justice outside its congregational walls. While the United States is certainly a more equitable place than it once was, Cano said, much progress remains to be made.

"The nature of racism changes as systematically as do the attempts to eradicate it," she said. "The expression of racism in one decade changes and shifts, so that it emerges as something else later on. When you think you've taken care of it, you haven't."

Readers of the Rev. Jackson's columns in The Skanner will recall that incidences of injustice in this country and around the world have been recurring themes for her.

"We're in the aftermath of two hurricanes, one of which devastated a whole region and forced the evacuation of a million people," the Rev. Jackson wrote in the Oct. 5 edition of The Skanner. "But while Americans were forced to look at the fault lines of race and poverty revealed by the disaster, we seem already to be denying what we saw with our own eyes.

We seem to be moving on to the next news item without dealing with the twin evils of racism and classism found not only in New Orleans, but across the nation."

The Rev. Jackson is slated to address the convocation at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.

Ultimately, Cano said, the convocation is intended not only to develop a general assessment of the state of racial and social justice today, but to formulate practical solutions that people can put into effect in their everyday lives.

"One of the last plenary sessions is when people will offer some, hopefully, inspired solutions," she said. " … We've come together, we've listened, we've deliberated, we've decided, and now we're going to go back to our respective places and hopefully effect some change."

For a complete schedule of events and speakers, or to register for the convocation, visit cpcucc.org, e-mail centralpacific@cpcucc.org or call 503-228-3178. Registration cost is $75, and includes a Saturday evening banquet.

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