Lutherans condemn Israeli security barrier

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denounced the security barrier Israel is building along the West Bank, saying Saturday that Israeli policy throughout the territories has brought “extreme hardship” to Palestinians.

The statement, called “Peace Not Walls: Stand for Justice in the Holy Land,” is part of an advocacy plan for Mideast peace that delegates to a churchwide assembly adopted on a 668-269 vote.

It was approved at a time of heightened tension between Protestants and Jews.

Several protestant groups have angered Jews by protesting construction of the barrier, and some Christian denominations have considered divestment from companies that profit from Israeli control of the Palestinian territories.

Talks between Qwest, union nearing deadline

DENVER (AP) – Citing disappointing progress in contract negotiations, a union representing 25,000 Qwest Communications workers in 13 states moved a step closer to striking Saturday.

The Communications Workers of America’s executive board on Saturday authorized the president to call a strike if a midnight deadline passed without a new contact, spokeswoman Candice Johnson said. The union’s president would still have to set a strike date before a walkout could begin, but that could happen at any time, she said.

Judge blocks new labor rules

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge has blocked the Bush administration’s plans to overhaul personnel and pay rules at the Department of Homeland Security, saying the government-wide change of labor rules fails to protect workers’ right to bargain collectively.

The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer is a victory for the National Treasury Employees Union and other labor groups. They argued the proposal, which was set to be implemented Monday, would have taken away their bargaining rights on issues such as assigning employees and technology use.

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