The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 48 weeks ago
Food stamps. The recession introduced millions of Americans to food stamps. Now, more than a year after the recession is officially said to have ended, more Americans than ever are on food stamps, and the trend is higher still. Indonesia tsunami. Deaths caused by a tsunami in western Indonesia reach 272, officials say, as doubts emerge over whether an early warning system was working properly. Afghanistan. An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan.
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 48 weeks ago
Campaign fundraising and spending. House and Senate candidates have already shattered fundraising records for a midterm election and are on their way to surpassing $2 billion in spending for the first time. Haiti cholera epidemic. Tens of thousands of people in Haiti are still threatened by an outbreak of cholera despite some signs that the epidemic is stabilising. Campaign politics. Two years after Republicans lost 21 seats in the House, the GOP is riding a wave of voter dissatisfaction — fueled by a down economy, unpopular Democratic policies and rising anger directed at Washington — that has put control of the chamber within the party's reach for the first time in four years.
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 48 weeks ago
Wikileaks-Iraq. A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran. Tea Party. In an unruly, unpredictable and chaotic election year, no group has asserted its presence and demanded to be heard more forcefully than the tea party. The grass-roots movement that was spawned with a rant has gone on to upend the existing political order, reshaping the debate in Washington. Haiti. Since the earthquake, more than 7,300 boys and girls have been smuggled out of their homeland to the Dominican Republic by traffickers profiting on the hunger and desperation of Haitian children, and their families. In 2009, the figure was 950, according to one human rights group that monitors child trafficking at 10 border points. Quote of the Day. "My generation thought that we were on easy street. All of a sudden, we have been hit hard. I was backed into a corner, and I couldn't pay the bills anymore. It was not the way that I was raised. I felt that I was a terrible person. But the economy has caused this, and we're paying the price." Irene Froehlich, 61, from the Chicago area, on the effect of the economic crisis on Americans 55 and older. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 49 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 49 weeks ago
Troops Discharged Over Combat Stress. The military has been discharging troops who are suffering from combat stress, instead of providing treatment, according to Missouri Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond and several veterans advocates. British Public Funding Cuts. Britain unveiled its most radical shake-up of public finances in decades, outlining a deficit-reduction program Wednesday that will scale back the size of government, cut welfare benefits, shrink the armed forces, tax banks and raise the legal retirement age. U.S. Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia. The Defense Department has notified Congress that it wants to sell $60 billion worth of advanced aircraft and weapons to Saudi Arabia. The proposed sale, which includes helicopters, fighter jets, radar equipment and satellite-guided bombs, would be the largest arms deal to another country in U.S. history.” Quote of the Day. “If I didn’t have those people back there, I would never have had anything to write about. That’s where I got all my stories from. My life is from them. … I’m going to do everything to keep up for them, in memory. That is my duty from now until I die.” Author Ernest J. Gaines explaining why he takes care of an old cemetery on the former plantation where five generations of his ancestors, going back to slavery, are buried. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 49 weeks ago
Tea Party. Three months ago in Kansas City, the NAACP first raised charges of racism within the tea party movement. Today a report is being released accusing tea party groups of providing platforms to anti-Semites and other bigots. World Economics. The world has vastly underestimated the economic value of nature in developing nations, according to a report the United Nations is releasing Wednesday. Gay Military Recruits. Military officials said Tuesday they have begun accepting applications from openly gay and lesbian recruits, creating a dilemma for many homosexuals who long have wanted to join the armed forces but worry their status will be jeopardized if the controversial "don't ask, don't tell'' policy is reimposed. Quote of the Day “The screen won’t go blank. There can’t be a virus. It wouldn’t be the same without books. They’ve defined ‘academia’ for a thousand years.” Faton Begolli, a student at Hamilton College in New York, explaining why many college students still prefer printed textbooks to e-books. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 49 weeks ago
Chechen Militant Resistance. At least six people are dead and 10 injured after militants attack parliament in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Education. D.C. public schools have started serving an early dinner to an estimated 10,000 students, many of whom are now receiving three meals a day from the system as it expands efforts to curb childhood hunger and poor nutrition. French Pension Protests. Masked youths clashed with police officers and set fires in cities across France on Tuesday as protests against a proposed hike in the retirement took an increasingly radical turn. Quote of the Day "There are a few of them who come in so broken and so sick that you're amazed that they're alive. They come to realize that it wasn't their fault that they were hurt. As that shame starts to come off, the confidence comes out." Nancy Chand, a deputy public defender who acts as the attorney for women in California’s Second Chance Women's Re-entry Court program, one of the first in the nation to focus on women facing a return to state prison for nonviolent felonies, who plead guilty to their crimes and enter treatment instead. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 49 weeks ago
Campaign finance. In the process, however, the groups are, as never before, pushing the legal limits that enable them to preserve the anonymity of their donors. They are doing so just as Democratic officials and campaign finance watchdogs — alarmed by the gushers of secret money pouring into races, largely in favor of Republicans — have stepped up their calls for investigations by regulators. Afghanistan. With a year-end report card coming due, top U.S. military and civilian officials in Afghanistan have begun to assert that they see concrete progress in the war against the Taliban, a sharp departure from earlier assessments that the insurgency had the momentum. Iraq-Iran. In a move unlikely to allay fears about Iran's rising political influence, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, has arrived in Tehran for talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, among other officials. Quote of the Day. "She told me she wants to use Twitter to get in touch with the younger generation inside and outside the country. She wishes to be able to tweet every day and keep in touch." Nyan Win, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s attorney, explaining why Suu Kyi intends to start tweeting. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Afghanistan. Three NATO troops were killed Friday in Afghanistan in a surge of attacks that raised the death toll to 17 over the past three days for international troops in the country. Education. Low-income students in Montgomery County performed better when they attended affluent elementary schools instead of ones with higher concentrations of poverty, according to a new study that suggests economic integration is a powerful but neglected school-reform tool. Tea Party. The movement stands a good chance of establishing a sizeable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis. Quote of the Day. "Our goal was to prove to the world that blind people can do anything. Our climbers proved they could." Marc Ashton of the Foundation for Blind Children, which sponsored a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon of 13 blind adults and children, including his 14-year-old son. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Foreclosure Scandal. Interviews with bank employees, executives and federal regulators suggest that this mess was years in the making and came as little surprise to industry insiders and government officials. Chilean Miners Safe. The quick and flawlessly executed rescue operation exceeded expectations at every step. Officials first said it might be four months before they could get the men out; it turned out to be 69 days and about eight hours.” Talks With Taliban. The U.S. military is reportedly allowing the free movement of senior Taliban leaders to attend peace talks in the Afghan capital, in what is probably the clearest indication that the Obama administration will publicly support negotiations aimed at ending the nine-year conflict. Quote of the Day. "There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here." Jimmy Sanchez, 19, the youngest trapped Chilean miner, in a letter sent up the day before the rescue operation began. (Time)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Chilean Miners Rescued. The first 12 of 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months in northern Chile have been winched to the surface amid scenes of jubilation. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A federal judge ordered an immediate end Tuesday to the Pentagon's enforcement of its ban on openly gay service members, rejecting the Obama administration's argument that an injunction to stop the "don't ask, don't tell" policy might harm military readiness.” Afghanistan. Six NATO troops were killed Wednesday, at least one in eastern Afghanistan in an insurgent attack and four others in a roadside bombing in the south. Quote of the Day. “We ship large things, but I’ll say this is the first time that we have shipped cows.” Ronna Branch, a spokeswoman for UPS, on airlifting 162 cows from North Dakota to Kazakhstan, as that country tries to rebuild its livestock industry. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Quote of the Day. "For hatred is corrosive of a person's wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation's spirit, instigate brutal life-and-death struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity. I hope therefore … to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love." Liu Xiaobo, a literature professor, essayist, and dissident, awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. (Los Angeles Times) Campaign Politics. The tea party movement has evolved from a scattered insurgency into a sophisticated, organized effort. Its energy and enthusiasm about the midterm elections is helping Republicans. Afghanistan Aid Worker Death. An examination of video footage documenting a failed attempt to rescue a kidnapped British aid worker shows that she may have been accidentally killed by a grenade thrown by U.S. Special Operations troops involved in the raid, according to U.S. and British officials. Sudan. Shooting overnight by northern Sudan soldiers was an attempt to start clashes in the oil-rich region of Abyei, southern former rebels say.
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Immigration. As the prospect of Congress passing an overhaul of immigration law wanes, immigration advocacy groups are shifting their sights from the U.S. Capitol and focusing on their local communities. Cable “news.” The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape. What has emerged is a form of narrowcasting, allowing candidates a welcoming platform that helps them avoid hostile press questioning and, in some cases, minimize the slog and the slip-ups of retail campaigning. Nobel Peace Prize. Liu Xiaobo, an impassioned literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate repeatedly jailed by the Chinese government for his activism, has won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Quote of the Day. "It's not much fun to live through. It's about 95%, if not 100%, negative." Political scientist David Damore of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on the Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Guantanamo Witness. A federal judge barred prosecutors on Wednesday from using a crucial witness in the first trial of a former Guantánamo detainee, adding to the fierce debate over whether the government can successfully prosecute terrorist detainees in civilian court. Deportations. The Obama administration announced Wednesday that in the past year it has deported a record number of unauthorized immigrants - more than 392,000, about half of whom were convicted criminals. Global Hunger. UN food agencies said yesterday that 166 million people in 22 countries suffer chronic hunger or difficulty finding enough to eat as a result of what they called protracted food crises. Quote of the Day. “This is something that can unite us. We have 11 different official languages but only one word for the wonderful institution of braai (barbecue): in Xhosa, English, Afrikaans, whatever." Desmond Tutu, September 2007 (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Tea Parties. Around the country, tea-party groups are building increasingly sophisticated political organizations and overcoming early bickering to push legislative platforms, elect their own delegates, shake up statehouses and even form alliances with the Republican Party establishment they profess to dislike. Solar Energy. The Interior Department approved the first solar projects on public lands Tuesday, a move aimed at shifting the type of energy development on federal property in the years to come. Global AIDS Fund. The $4 billion US pledge is almost one-third of total world donations to the Global Fund, which has helped reduce mortality rates associated with AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Quote of the Day. "Our goal is to share our horror at the attack of the mosque and to clearly state that this is not the way of the Torah or the Jewish way. This act does nothing for the settlements; it is morally and religiously wrong and is offensive to its core. This is not how we educated our children; Islam is not a hostile religion even if we have a dispute with some of its followers." Rabbi Shlomo Brin, one of a group of rabbis from Jewish settlements who gave a box of Qurans to a West Bank mosque as a gesture of solidarity after an arson attack blamed on settlers. They were welcomed by the local imam. [BBC]
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Drones Kill Germans. A suspected US drone strike has killed eight fighters in northwest Pakistan, with Pakistani intelligence officials saying that at least five of them were Germans. Transportation System Failing. The United States is saddled with a rapidly decaying and woefully underfunded transportation system that will undermine its status in the global economy unless Congress and the public embrace innovative reforms, a bipartisan panel of experts concludes in a report released Monday. Haiti. Increasingly, property owners here are seeking to dislodge tent camps, saying they are tired of waiting for the government to resettle the people or for the people to resettle themselves. Quote of the day. "When you're in Taybeh, you understand God's sense of humor." Maria Khoury, organizer of an Oktoberfest celebration in Taybeh, West Bank, to promote Palestinian culture and commerce amid the Israeli occupation and to draw attention to the Palestinian Christian minority (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
One Nation Rally. Tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and peace activists rallied at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, seeking to carry on the message of jobs and justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trumpeted at a rally at the same site 47 years ago. Civility in Congress. In an unprecedented letter to all congressional candidates in both parties, more than 130 former members of Congress said it’s time to halt “this sorry state of affairs” and start to “focus on problem solving. Congo. Despite more than 10 years of experience and billions of dollars, the United Nations peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most basic task: protecting civilians. Quote of the Day. “This is a moment where every one of us — parents, teachers, students, elected officials and all people of conscience — needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms.” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the several suicides in recent weeks by young gay teenagers. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 day ago
Burma to Free Suu Kyi. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, is set to be released just days after Myanmar's upcoming election, government officials have said. Congress Goes Home. It was a wild finish on Capitol Hill just after midnight Thursday as lawmakers approved a stopgap spending measure, authorized NASA space programs and, for the first time in several years, managed to adopt the annual intelligence policy bill. Then, they raced home to preserve their own jobs. Ecuador. Ecuador's military staged a spectacular rescue Thursday night to free President Rafael Correa, who'd been holed up in a hospital for more than 12 hours by a police uprising that threatened the nation's stability. Quote of the day. "I don't think there's any question that we're going to have a greater number of these cases and that these cases are going to reach (suspects from) more parts of the world. It's something we have to do. We owe it to our citizens and we owe it to the world." U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, of the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions unit on why tracking down war criminals and human rights abusers is important. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 days ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 days ago
One nation rally. Liberal groups hoping to revive enthusiasm before November's midterm elections are encouraging their members to come to the Mall on Saturday for a rally that they expect to draw tens of thousands of people. Pakistan. Authorities in Pakistan claimed that NATO helicopters fired on a Pakistani security post near the Afghan border Thursday and killed three of its soldiers, an accusation that is likely to inflame tensions between Washington and Islamabad following other NATO aircraft incursions in recent days. Biodiversity. Despite about two decades of conferences, conventions and commitments, the earth’s biological diversity — or biodiversity for short — steadily erodes as ecosystems suffer and species die out. Quote of the day. "This is completely unacceptable. Sacrilege would not be too strong a word. It's loot, taken violently and inappropriately in the first place. A tabot is a very holy object; no one can see it apart from priests. Westminster Abbey is one of the most visited sites in London. To have it on public display there is an offence to Orthodox Ethiopian Christians. For one Christian church to refuse to return it to another seems profoundly wrong.” Rev John McLuckie, a British priest, on Westminster Abbey’s refusal to return a tabot, a small tablet that symbolises the Ark of the Covenant, taken by British troops in the 19th century, to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. (Guardian/Observer)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 days ago
Quote of the day. "I do believe that we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that. Wrong because that war was not a last resort, because we did not build sufficient alliances and because we undermined the United Nations.” Ed Miliband, new leader of the British Labor Party. (Guardian) Census details. Americans will be barraged in the coming weeks with different statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau, an ongoing data dump likely to confuse some waiting for decennial population numbers that help redraw Congressional districts. Haiti. Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble. One reason: Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the United States promised for rebuilding has arrived. Europe austerity protests. Thousands of protesters from across Europe are taking part in a mass demonstration in Brussels against spending cuts by some EU governments. Other protests against austerity measures are being held in Greece, Italy, Ireland and Latvia.
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 4 days ago
Campaign finance.A new political weapon known as the "super PAC" has emerged in recent weeks, allowing independent groups to both raise and spend money at a pace that threatens to eclipse the efforts of political parties. Israel-Palestine. Israel’s decision this weekend to end its freeze on West Bank Jewish settlement construction sent diplomats on three continents scurrying on Monday to keep the Middle East peace talks alive. Pakistan. The C.I.A has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan in recent weeks, American officials said. The strikes are part of an effort by military and intelligence operatives to try to cripple the Taliban in a stronghold being used to plan attacks against American troops in Afghanistan. Quote of the day. "You can look at the latest forms of life and the first evidence of life and all the way through the dinosaurs, all the way through the first emergence of hominids and our ancestors, right through to today. There's nowhere else in the world where you can find that," Andrea Leenen, head of the Paleontological Scientific Trust, a South Africa not-for-profit organization that sponsors paleontological research, on why South Africa is a “mecca for archaeologists.” (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 5 days ago
Congress. Congress is deadlocked over virtually every major issue still pending this year, including key economic matters such as a detailed federal spending plan and extending Bush-era tax cuts, yet lawmakers still hope to leave Washington by Friday and not return until mid-November. Immigration. Immigrants suspected of being in the United States illegally are being held in a detention center in southwest Georgia for months at taxpayer expense, and others remain free on bond for years here amid a severe backlog in the nation’s immigration courts. Isarael-Palestine. A 10-month moratorium on new housing construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank expired at midnight Sunday, adding strain to already fragile Middle East peace talks. Quote of the day. “A library is the heart of the community. I’m in favor of private enterprise, but I can’t feel comfortable with what the city is doing here.” Jane Hanson, an opponent of Santa Clarita CA’s move to privatize public libraries, one of a growing number of libraries to do so. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Afghanistan. All nine troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week – the worst for the coalition forces in four years – were American, the Pentagon confirmed today. Global development. President Obama urged wealthy countries Wednesday to maintain development assistance to poor nations out of self-interest, even as he argued that aid should be delivered in smarter ways. “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Stewart's event — for people "who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive and terrible for your throat," according to the rally website — is the comedian's latest gambit to send up today's overwrought political discourse. Quote of the day. “All of the animals, plants, and microbes we use in our food system, our agricultural system, are genetically modified in one way or another. That or they’re wild.’’ Bruce Chassy, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on genetic changes in food due to selective breeding and hybridization. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Afghanistan. The worst helicopter crash in four years killed nine people, bringing NATO fatalities in Afghanistan in 2010 to 529 and making it the most deadly year of the war that began in 2001. Gays in military. In a pre-election showdown, Senate Democrats failed to overcome Republican opposition to a Pentagon bill that would repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military, delaying efforts to end the 17-year ban at least until later this year. DREAM Act. The chance for hundreds of thousands of young people to legally remain in the U.S. evaporated Tuesday when Republicans blocked a defense spending bill in the Senate. Quote of the day. "In recent days and weeks, we've seen news stories about carmakers adding technology in vehicles that lets drivers update Facebook, surf the Web or do any number of other things instead of driving safely. Features that pull drivers' hands, eyes and attention away from the road are distractions." Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at a conference he convened in Washington to address the issue of distracted driving. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Recession over? On the day that the Great Recession was officially declared to be part of history, President Obama confronted deepening angst from business leaders and ordinary Americans who have little faith that the recovery is for real. Iran. Officially, Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak about development, as world leaders are discussing progress on poverty alleviation, but Iran's human rights record and controversial nuclear programme are likely lead the unofficial agenda surrounding his visit. DREAM Act. The Senate will consider Tuesday whether hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children should be placed on a path to citizenship. Quote of the day. "We want to appeal to our governments not to step back from the commitments they have made, to make the best use of their own resources and to build up the resources of others for work together towards a world that we can be proud to live in - a world in which our responsibility for each other is truly and fully exercised, where we can really celebrate the life and welfare of all." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a message to the U.N. on the Millennium Development Goals. (Ekklesia)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Dream ACT. In a maneuver that combines election-year posturing with legislative hardball, Senate Democrats will try to add a long-stalled immigration provision that would put hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants on a path toward U.S. Oil Spill. The federal government declared BP’s Macondo oil well dead on Sunday, nearly five months after it blew out of control, unleashing an environmental calamity in the Gulf of Mexico. Millenium Development Goals. Sub-Saharan Africa will not reduce poverty and hunger and improve child and maternal healthcare to meet the goals set a decade ago by the United Nations unless African and Western leaders do much more, several recent reports suggest. Quote of the day. “There are these fears in the background, and they are suppressed. I have had nightmares about becoming a bag lady. It could happen to anyone. So many people are so close to it, and they don’t even realize it.” Patricia Reid, one of 2.2 million unemployed people over 55 years old, who worry that they may never find a job again. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Warren -- Consumer Protection Agency. President Barack Obama on Friday will appoint Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren to oversee the creation of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a decision that cheered consumer advocates and Democrats, while dismaying Republicans and business groups. Poverty soars. In the second year of a brutal recession, the ranks of the American poor soared to their highest level in half a century and millions more are barely avoiding falling below the poverty line, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. START. President Obama’s arms control treaty with Russia advanced to the Senate floor with bipartisan support on Thursday, giving it a major boost toward ratification despite the election-year polarization that has divided the parties over so many other issues. Quote of the day. "We're going from a world that was heavily dominated by male educational attainment to one where women are becoming more educated than men. The long-term social implications of that are pretty intriguing." Christopher J.L. Murray, a co-author of a new study showing that increased education of women around the world has resulted in a drop in child mortality. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Primary elections. Tea Party movement scored another victory on Tuesday, helping to propel a dissident Republican, Christine O’Donnell, to an upset win over Representative Michael N. Castle in the race for the United States Senate nomination in Delaware”. Military budget cuts. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Tuesday laid out details of his plans to save $100 billion in five years as he tries to run the Pentagon more efficiently.” Somalia. The United Nations has warned that Somalia insurgents are posing a serious international security threat and made a renewed appeal to the transitional government to end the civil conflict.” Quote of the day. "They'd never been this far west, and, to see them come rolling in with their buggies and everything, they're kind of like pioneers rediscovering the Old West," Bill Werner, a Realtor in Alamosa, Colo., on Amish farmers moving into Colorado as part of a growing western migration in search of affordable land. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Campaign. Driving the disparity in the ad wars has been an array of Republican-oriented organizations that are set up so they can accept donations of unlimited size from individuals and corporations without having to disclose them. Gender Gap. The earnings gap between men and women has shrunk to a record low, partly because many women are prospering in the new economy and partly because men have been hit hard by the recession. Mideast Peace Talks. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, are reported to have begun a "serious discussion" on core issues. Quote of the day. "I cannot accept, tolerate this fraud election. The situation got worse because... my people are being killed still. I won't go back to Iran because I could face capital punishment. I will stay abroad as a political activist." Hossein Alizadeh, a senior Iranian diplomat who defected after resigning from his position at the country's embassy in Finland. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Tax cuts. Congress is returning for a final pre-legislative session on Monday to confront the thorny issue of potentially raising taxes during an economic downturn, with neither party showing clear consensus on a solution. Poverty. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty. Immigration. Many contributions made online or sent by mail are $20, $50, or $100 – for a total of $3.6 million. As long as donations keep coming, state taxpayers are off the hook as Gov. Jan Brewer defends the Arizona immigration law. Quote of the day. “People my age have been lulled into the idea that they shouldn’t take risks, that they should stay comfortable and take the easy way. But we’ve lived our lives, and we have nothing to lose -- no kids or jobs to worry about. I say to them, 'Have some fun. Get out there and join the community of people acting on their beliefs!'" Frances Crowe, 91, of Northampton, MA, on why she continues protest acts of civil disobedience. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 weeks ago
Torture case dismissed. A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information. Oil spill. BP set the scene for a vicious multibillion-dollar legal showdown with its contractors in the doomed Deepwater Horizon oil rig, pinning them with much of the blame for the explosion which led to the largest oil spill in living memory.” Chicago mayor. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's decision to leave City Hall, announced Tuesday, set in motion a chain of events that could ultimately lead to a leadership shuffle at the White House. Quote of the day. "We came to have a peaceful conversation with the pastor, to hear his grievance, to ask him to follow his own Scripture about his enemies. His Scripture teaches him to love his enemies." Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida after meeting with preacher Terry Jones, whose church is planning to burn Korans on Saturday. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 weeks ago
Quran Burning. Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state called on Tuesday a Florida church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks a "disrespectful, disgraceful act." Tax cuts. President Obama will argue personally Wednesday against extending the Bush-era income tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest families even for a year or two, White House officials said Tuesday -- a message aimed at wavering Democrats who have been swayed by arguments that the economy is too weak to raise anyone's taxes. Congo. Approximately 500 women were raped in eastern Congo in July and August, demonstrating that both rebel militias and government troops used sexual violence as a weapon, two senior United Nations officials said Tuesday. Quote of the day. "It's time, everybody is replaceable in life, no one is here forever. I knew it was my time.” Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, announcing he would not run for reelection. (Chicago Tribune)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 weeks ago
Politics. Two years into the age of Obama, America may be about to change course. They give poor grades to Obama, and even worse ratings to Congress. Transit plan & business tax breaks. President Obama, looking to stimulate a sluggish economy and create jobs, called Monday for Congress to approve major upgrades to the nation’s roads, rail lines and runways -- part of a six-year plan that would cost tens of billions of dollars and create a government-run bank to finance innovative transportation projects. Poverty and child deaths. Save the Children says there have been four million preventable child deaths over the past 10 years because states have failed to help the poorest. Quote of the day. “I won’t hire clerks who have profound disagreements with me. It’s like trying to train a pig. It wastes your time, and it aggravates the pig.” Justice Clarence Thomas at a luncheon in Dallas a decade ago. The trend of Supreme Court justices hiring like-minded clerks has continued. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 4 weeks ago
Chaplain Death in Afghanistan. A Baptist minister from Oregon who was killed in Afghanistan is the first Army chaplain to die in combat since Vietnam. Unemployment. Still, the economy lost another 54,000 jobs overall last month, mostly because of the loss of temporary Census Bureau jobs, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent. Oil rig fire. An oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire Thursday morning, adding to the political debate over the safety of offshore wells. Quote of the day. “[D]espite the evidence supporting his guilt and the substantial legal review of Mr. Keith's conviction, many legitimate questions have been raised regarding the evidence in support of the conviction and the investigation which led to it. Under these circumstances, I cannot allow Mr. Keith to be executed." Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio explaining his commuting the death sentence to life without parole for Kevin Keith. The case had attracted national support from individuals and organizations concerned about controversial evidence. (Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 4 weeks ago
Mideast peace talks. On the eve of the first direct Middle East peace negotiations since he took office, President Obama urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders Wednesday to seize 'this moment of opportunity' and to end their decades-long conflict, pledging to throw his administration's 'full weight' behind their effort to do so. Immigration. The number of illegal immigrants in the United States, after peaking at 12 million in 2007, fell to about 11.1 million in 2009, the first clear decline in two decades, according to a report published Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center. Oil spill. As BP oil spread across the Gulf of Mexico this summer, the company spent more than $93 million on advertisements to counter images of the mounting disaster. That was more than triple the amount the company spent on ads during the same period last year. Quote of the day. “These chimpanzees have given up their freedom, if not their natural environment, their bodies, their health, their children to research. And at the end of their lives, we can give them something back.” Laura Bonar, program director for Animal Protection of New Mexico, on why chimps that were once used for medical research, many of them now middle-aged and elderly, should live out the rest of their lives in peace rather than being used for further research. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 4 weeks ago
Cordoba House. The imam leading plans for an Islamic center near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York said the fight is over more than "a piece of real estate" and could shape the future of Muslim relations in America. Iraq-combat mission declared over. President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home. Immigration. In the new suit, filed Monday, the Justice Department says Phoenix-area Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC) discriminated against almost 250 noncitizen job applicants by requiring them to fill out more documents than the law requires to prove their eligibility to work. Quote of the day. "It's a low-cost way to get into the renewable energy game. Who would ever have thought we'd capture energy from a workout?" Beth Bennion, marketing director of ReRev, a company that retrofits exercise bikes with a device to turn the pedaling energy into usable electricity. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 4 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 5 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: The New York Times The Washington Post The Washington Times The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy The Christian Science Monitor The Wall Street Journal USA Today The Globe & Mail Toronto Star BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 weeks ago
Homeless people being killed. Killings of homeless people have risen to their highest level in a decade, with 43 people killed last year and many more injured in often brutal attacks that are raising concerns among law enforcement officials, rights advocates and politicians. President in Ohio. Two years after scoring a decisive win in the seesawing political environment for which Ohio is famous, President Obama returned Wednesday to an altered landscape, where Democratic fortunes are seemingly tipping back the other way. Iraq-U.S. combat troops leave. The last American combat brigade in Iraq leaves the country, two weeks ahead of a deadline for an end to the US combat mission. Quote of the day. “I feel people forget that racism is still a problem in our country. This is my way of saying that what happened here is not OK and that no matter how many times people tear things down, people like us will be here to build it right back up again.’’ Charli Lighty, 24, who flew from California to Springfield, MA, to help rebuild the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, a predominantly black church burned on Election night 2008. Two young white men have pled guilty and a third is awaiting trial on charges that they burned the church to protest the election of the nation’s first black president. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 weeks ago
Immigration. A federal investigation of a controversial Arizona sheriff known for tough immigration enforcement has intensified in recent days, escalating the conflict between the Obama administration and officials in the border state. Consumer protection. Elizabeth Warren, a top candidate to lead the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, met quietly last week with some of her sharpest critics: big bank lobbyists. National debt. The national debt is rising to levels that have never been seen in the United States during peacetime. Everyone agrees that it must come down. The question is how fast. Too fast could weaken the already weak economy. Too slow could do the same thing. Quote of the day. “When we started here, some of my peers thought this golf course would be a dust bowl. I admit I wasn’t so sure it could be done myself. People said we were crazy. Nobody had tried what we were trying.” Jeff Carlson, superintendent of the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, MA, the only completely organic golf course in the U.S., does not use any synthetic pesticide, fertilizer, herbicide or other artificial chemical treatment. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 weeks ago
Oil spill. The day the BP oil well can be permanently declared dead has been pushed back to late August so experts can devise plans to reduce risks during the final well-killing procedure. Same-sex marriage California. A federal appeals court decided Monday to put same-sex marriage in California on hold at least until December, interrupting the wedding plans of scores of gay couples who were hoping to exchange vows later this week. Health care and the economy. The economic crisis in the United States has reduced the use of routine medical care, and the cutbacks here are much deeper than in countries with universal health care systems, researchers say in a new report. Quote of the day. "The fishermen don't want to make people sick. I wouldn't feed that to my children without it being tested -- properly tested, not these 'Everything's okay' tests’." Tracy Kuhns, a shrimp-boat owner from Barataria, La., explaining why she and her husband had not gone shrimping Monday despite assurances by federal officials that it was safe. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 weeks ago
Immigration. Hundreds of Tea Party activists converged on the border fence here in what is typically a desolate area popular with traffickers to rally for conservative political candidates and to denounce what they called lax federal enforcement of immigration laws. Oil spill. The pile of soiled boom sitting more than four feet high and cooking under the summer sun at an abandoned shipyard here will be a part of the oil spill that endures. Campaign finance. A conservative advocacy group Monday will kick off a huge ad campaign in 11 states and two dozen of the most competitive congressional races, slamming "wasteful federal spending." Quote of the day. "We caused great damage and suffering to many nations during the war, especially to the people of Asia. We feel a deep regret, and we offer our sincere feelings of condolence to those who suffered and their families." Prime Minister Naoto Kan Kan of Japan, at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the end of World War 2. (USA Today)