The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Portugal. Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects -- primarily harnessing the country’s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves. Pakistan Floods. Pakistani authorities believe fresh rainfall has triggered two more waves of flooding already surging through remote areas, inundating more land and swallowing yet more villages. Tax Cuts. A Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year -- and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation's millionaires, according to a congressional analysis released Wednesday. Quote of the Day. “I got to the point where I was almost traumatized by how hard I was working and how much stress I was feeling all the time. I felt like a real burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was really surprised how exhausted I was when I left.” Linda Douglass, former communications aide at the White House, on her feelings when she resigned. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
China Landslide. Heavy rain has hit the county in north-western China that was devastated by landslides, as the death toll from Saturday's disaster continues to rise. Passing-Former Sen. Ted Stevens. Former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, 86, who funneled billions of dollars to his home state over six terms in office and became one of the most powerful and combative federal legislators of his generation, died of injuries suffered in a plane crash Monday in southwest Alaska. Jobs Bill Passed. President Obama approved a final spurt of spending Tuesday to shore up the sluggish recovery, signing into law a $26 billion plan to save the jobs of thousands of teachers and other government workers. Quote of the Day. "One was rubbing a peach along his face, and I said, 'It's supposed to feel like that.' Another was breathing into the peach, and I said, 'It's supposed to smell like that.' Another was biting into the peach, and the juice was running down his face and arms, and I said, 'It's supposed to taste like that.' In a country of plenty, everybody should have the experience of tasting the bounty." Chef Tony Geraci, director of food and nutrition for Baltimore City Schools, on the reaction of second-graders eating fresh peaches for the first time in their lives after he brought in 40,000 pounds of tree-ripened, Maryland-grown peaches for school lunches. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
China Landslide. Heavy rain has hit the county in north-western China that was devastated by landslides, as the death toll from Saturday's disaster continues to rise. Passing-Former Sen. Ted Stevens. Former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, 86, who funneled billions of dollars to his home state over six terms in office and became one of the most powerful and combative federal legislators of his generation, died of injuries suffered in a plane crash Monday in southwest Alaska. Jobs Bill Passed. President Obama approved a final spurt of spending Tuesday to shore up the sluggish recovery, signing into law a $26 billion plan to save the jobs of thousands of teachers and other government workers. Quote of the Day. "One was rubbing a peach along his face, and I said, 'It's supposed to feel like that.' Another was breathing into the peach, and I said, 'It's supposed to smell like that.' Another was biting into the peach, and the juice was running down his face and arms, and I said, 'It's supposed to taste like that.' In a country of plenty, everybody should have the experience of tasting the bounty." Chef Tony Geraci, director of food and nutrition for Baltimore City Schools, on the reaction of second-graders eating fresh peaches for the first time in their lives after he brought in 40,000 pounds of tree-ripened, Maryland-grown peaches for school lunches. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Pakistan Floods. The United Nations is launching an urgent appeal for millions of dollars to aid the 13.8 million Pakistanis impacted by the country's worst flooding in 80 years. Britain Budget Cuts. Like a shipwrecked sailor on a starvation diet, the new British coalition government is preparing to shrink down to its bare bones as it cuts expenditures by $130 billion over the next five years and drastically scales back its responsibilities. Climate Change. Global climate change is partly to blame for the abnormally hot and dry weather in Moscow, cloaked in a haze of smoke from wildfires, say researchers. Quote of the Day. "This is not about being sneaky. This is about trying to change people's habits and having them pay attention to their driving even when they don't think a police officer is watching." Fargo, N.D., Police Chief Keith Ternes, on why he has joined other police agencies in using unmarked patrol cars, sports cars, and even "ghost" cruisers with obscured markings in their effort to reduce speeding, a factor in nearly one-third of all highway deaths. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 50 weeks ago
Aid Workers Killed in Afghanistan. Gunmen killed 10 members of a medical team, including six Americans, traveling in the rugged mountains of northern Afghanistan, demonstrating the reach of insurgents far from their traditional havens and shocking the expatriate community here. Pakistan Floods. Landslides have cut off large portions of Pakistan's Swat Valley and hampered efforts to help the 15 million people affected by Pakistan's worst flooding in decades. Southeast Asia Militaries. The nations of Southeast Asia are building up their militaries, buying submarines and jet fighters at a record pace and edging closer strategically to the United States as a hedge against China's rise and its claims to all of the South China Sea. Quote of the Day. “We want to pay tribute to each of our colleagues who died, to their commitment to serve the Afghan people. Those who have known them and seen them at work can do nothing put pay the highest tribute to them ... In some news articles, the people on this team have been described as ‘saints.’ This is not how they saw themselves. They were basically selfless professionals willing to spend their lives and energy in a meaningful way.” (Statement from the International Assistance Mission on the 10 members of their team killed Friday in Afghanistan.)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Justice Kagan. The Senate confirmed U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Thursday as the 112th justice to the Supreme Court, making her the fourth woman to sit on the court. Pakistan. The worst monsoon rains in 80 years are continuing to sweep from the north-west to south and central Pakistan. Rivers in Sindh province, home to Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city and business hub, are bursting their banks. Afghan Civilians Killed. As many as “a dozen or more” Afghan civilians died during a nighttime raid by U.S. troops hunting for Taliban commanders in eastern Afghanistan, military officials acknowledged Thursday. Quote of the Day. “Together, we are on a journey from ground zero to Global Zero -- a world free of weapons of mass destruction ... Let us realize our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons so that our children and all succeeding generations can live in freedom, security, and peace.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of that city.(UN News Centre)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Proposition 8 Decision. Saying that it discriminates against gay men and women, a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, handing supporters of such unions at least a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court. Oil Spill. Many scientists say they're skeptical of a widely publicized government report Wednesday that concludes much of the oil that gushed from BP's leaking well is gone and poses little threat to the Gulf of Mexico. Vietnam. The Obama administration is in advanced negotiations to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam in a deal that would allow Hanoi to enrich its own uranium -- terms that critics on Capitol Hill say would undercut the more stringent demands the U.S. has been making of its partners in the Middle East. Quote of the Day. “During even the Depression’s worst years, my parents gave money -- about 8 percent of their annual income of $2,200. I remember saying to my mother that we can’t afford that. But she said we have to share with others. I learned from that to share.” Lorry I. Lokey, founder of Business Wire, on why he joined with more than three dozen other billionaires in promising at least half of their fortunes to charity, joining The Giving Pledge at the invitation of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Hiroshima. Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are welcoming a decision by the United States to send its first ever delegation to a ceremony marking the anniversary of the attacks, but are asking for something they aren't likely to get -- an apology. Immigration. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday added their voices to GOP calls for congressional hearings into altering the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Kagan Nomination. The Senate on Tuesday opened debate on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with Democrats praising her as a sagacious legal mind and a refreshing choice from outside the usual ranks of federal judges and Republicans denouncing her as a liberal partisan who would bend the law to her political views. Quote of the Day. "In the deepest recession of our lifetimes, Congress proposes to take food off the plates of hungry children to give more money to doctors, hospitals, and profitable corporations. Last time I checked, you can't eat a Medicaid card." Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, on a bill being voted on by the U.S. Senate to provide aid to states for Medicaid by cutting funding from food stamps. (Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Oil Spill. The BP spill is by far the world’s largest accidental release of oil into marine waters, according to the most precise estimates yet of the well’s flow rate, announced by federal scientists on Monday. Gaza Flotilla Inquiry. Israel has announced it will cooperate with a UN investigation into its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May. Violence Against Women. Bipartisan legislation that would mandate a comprehensive plan to combat violence against women worldwide is poised for a potential congressional vote, marking tough new action by the United States on a problem that's commonplace across the globe. Quote of the Day. "What they find there helps me understand who we were then. How can you know who you really are if you don't know from whence you came?" Mary Weston, 74, who lives near the remains of Timbuctoo, NJ, a town founded in the 1820s when Quaker abolitionists sold land to free black men, including her great-great-great-grandfather, who bought a lot in 1829.The abandoned site is now being excavated by archeologists. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 3 years 51 weeks ago
Foreclosures. Millions of houses on the verge of foreclosure threaten to send homeownership to its lowest level in 50 years, according to new industry estimates. Pakistan. Anger against the government grew in the strategically important northwestern region of Pakistan on Sunday as authorities appeared overwhelmed by the devastation caused by torrential monsoon rains. Immigration. Regardless of how Arizona's new immigration law eventually fares in court, many Arizonans say the heated debate it has generated exposes a deeper problem with racial discrimination, an Arizona Republic poll indicates. Quote of the Day. “These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.” Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, an assistant professor of health research at Duke University who directs a study of clergy burnout. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 23 hours ago
Arizona Immigration Law. A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect, a ruling that at least temporarily squashed a state policy that had inflamed the national debate over immigration. Drug Disparity. Congress on Wednesday changed a 25-year-old law that has subjected tens of thousands of African Americans to long prison terms for crack cocaine convictions while giving far more lenient treatment to those, mainly whites, caught with the powder form of the drug. Racial Job Gap. A new report from the National Urban League found that economic conditions have worsened for black Americans. Blacks now have a jobless rate 6.8 percent higher than whites. Quote of the Day. “This is a different business now. Farming at any level is a labor of love, but now the future is so uncertain. Looking forward, I don’t see much opportunity for small farms to thrive. It’s a tough grind.’’ Will Tuttle, Dover, N.H., on why his landmark property -- passed from father to son since 1632 and billed as the country’s oldest continually operating family farm -- is up for sale. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 day ago
Oil Spill. BP gave investors a glimpse of its future Tuesday, one that will feature a new American chief executive, slimmed-down operations, and $32.2 billion or more in payments to clean up and compensate people affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Afghanistan War Funding. Members of Congress on Tuesday ended a months-long standoff and agreed to fund President Obama's Afghanistan troop buildup, but not without debating withdrawal of U.S. troops from neighboring Pakistan. Iraq Funds Missing. The U.S. Defense Department is unable to properly account for $8.7 billion in Iraqi oil money tapped by the U.S. for rebuilding the war-ravaged nation, according to an audit. Quote of the Day. “When you’re poor and black and this is all you know, what else are you going to do? Was a time if a man lost his job he could always come down to the bayou and feed his family. But this here, what you got happening now, this here might finish us off.” Roger Moliere Sr., 71, Pointe a la Hache, La., speaking of black fishermen who have worked the Gulf for generations. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 days ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 days ago
Immigration. Climbing temperatures are expected to raise sea levels and increase droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires. Now, scientists are predicting another consequence of climate change: mass migration to the United States. Gaza. David Cameron used a visit to Turkey to make his strongest intervention yet in the intractable Middle East conflict today when he likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza strip to that of a “prison camp.” Cambodia. On Monday, Cambodia took a significant step toward addressing its harsh past with the first conviction of a major Khmer Rouge figure in connection with the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979. But some survivors were distraught over what they saw as a lenient sentence. Quote of the Day. “I wanted to play the game the right way. Play the game the way it's meant to be played. If you love the game, the game will love you back." Andre Dawson on his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame after a 21-year career with the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 3 days ago
Afghanistan Intelligence Leak. U.S. authorities have known for weeks that they have suffered a hemorrhage of secret information on a scale which makes even the leaking of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war look limited by comparison. START. The Obama administration's arms reduction treaty with Russia, which for months seemed headed for swift approval in the Senate, is suddenly facing delays that some supporters fear could threaten its survival. Sudan. The African Union president has criticised International Criminal Court indictments against Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, saying they were "undermining African solidarity and African peace and security." Quote of the Day. "Future growth in the world economy, and future jobs in the developing world, will depend on harnessing both the productive potential and the pent-up consumer demand of this continent ... To me the answer is obvious -- as we struggle to find new sources of growth we must turn here, to Africa, to this continent of huge potential and talent." Former British prime minister Gordon Brown in his first major speech since leaving office. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 6 days ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Desmond Tutu. Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has announced he is to withdraw from public life. Iraq. Can diplomats field their own army? The State Department is laying plans to do precisely that in Iraq, in an unprecedented experiment that U.S. officials and some nervous lawmakers say could be risky. Facebook Hits 500 Million. Scarcely two years ago, Facebook had 100 million users. Today, that number is dwarfed by the number of friendships confirmed on an average day -- 115 million. Quote of the Day. "We don't think it is appropriate to have guns in churches. The bishops decided that, if the bill became law, the bishops would let their pastors know that this would not be permissible in Catholic churches. Danny Loar, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, responding to a new Louisiana law permitting concealed handguns in churches. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Unemployment Aid Extension Passes. The Senate cleared the way Tuesday for more unemployment pay to reach millions of Americans who have been out of work for six months or more as the Democratic-led Congress pruned one more item off the list of issues it hopes to tackle in an intensely polarized election year. Immigration. On a patch of asphalt outside the White House this week, Renata Teodoro, Maricela Aguilar and scores of other students are risking deportation simply by sharing their full names and immigration status with anyone who asks. North Korea. The U.S. announced new sanctions on North Korea today in an effort to throttle its nuclear weapons activities and apply further pressure on Pyongyang to end its international isolation. Quote of the Day. “It would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), explaining his vote to confirm Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
National Guard to Mexican Border. Hundreds of National Guard troops will begin deployment to the United States-Mexico border on Aug. 1, part of the Obama administration’s effort to increase security and stem the flow of weapons, cash, and people into the United States, the administration announced Monday. National Intelligence. The Obama administration's nominee to be the next director of national intelligence is expected to face questions from Congress on Tuesday about the expansion of top-secret agencies and contracts, after reports in The Washington Post showing that these efforts have become "so unwieldy and so secretive" that effective oversight is impossible. Darfur. The Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), a Sudanese rebel group, has agreed to sign a landmark deal with the United Nations on the protection of children caught up in the Darfur conflict. Quote of the Day. "Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books -- astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months." Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Trafficking. A burst of activity among state legislatures to target human trafficking has ushered in dozens of laws to step up criminal penalties against traffickers and offer new help to victims. Immigration. The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico is soaring so high this month that the Pima County medical examiner's office is using a refrigerated truck to store some of the bodies. Mandela Day. The world has been marking the first Nelson Mandela International Day as South Africa's first black president turns 92 years old. Quote of the Day. "Cinematography can tell a message that moves people, and brings them into conversation with believers. We have people who are still in our church because they saw a movie through us that hit home." Jeremy Johnston, executive pastor at 5,000-member First Family Church in Overland Park, Kan., on the use of Christian films for evangelistic outreach. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 1 week ago
Finance reform. Congress approved a rewrite of rules touching every corner of finance, from ATM cards to Wall Street traders, in the biggest expansion of government power over banking and markets since the Depression. Oil spill. BP said Thursday that it had capped its hemorrhaging well, at least temporarily, marking the first time in 86 days that oil was not gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Immigration-Arizona lawsuit. In the first courtroom showdown over Arizona's new immigration law, an attorney for a Phoenix police officer asked a federal judge Thursday to halt the implementation of much of the statute, saying it undermined the ability of the federal government to set foreign policy. Quote of the Day. "We were surprised how well this works. We were just hoping to see some effect on the mosquitoes' growth rate, lifespan or their susceptibility to the parasite, but it was great to see that our construct blocked the infection process completely." Michael Riehle, an entomologist who led the research that developed a genetically modified mosquito incapable of transmitting malaria to humans. (The Independent)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Oil spill. A new piece of equipment designed to control the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well sprung its own leak Wednesday night, the latest setback to BP's efforts to put an end to the environmental disaster. Energy bill. President Obama and Senate Democrats have decided to press ahead in the next two weeks with a scaled-back energy bill that limits carbon pollution by power plants but not by other industries in an effort to salvage the legislation before midterm elections. Immigration. A list of 1,300 Utah residents described as illegal immigrants has sown fear among some Hispanics here, and prompted an investigation into its origins and dissemination. Quote of the day. "As an international Christian relief, development and advocacy organization, World Vision focuses its attention internationally, where a vast majority of AIDS deaths and HIV infections occur. However, it is important that our government and domestic organizations that provide prevention, treatment and care to Americans continue to hone and improve strategies to defeat this disease." Craig Jaggers, U.S. senior policy adviser for global health at World Vision, responding to new U.S. strategy to combat domestic AIDS. (Christian Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Unemployment. It's been about six weeks since funding for extended jobless benefits expired, and by the end of this week, an estimated 2.5 million people will have lost federal aid. Global AIDS. The United Nations' agency in charge of AIDS policy is lowering the threshold for treating HIV-positive individuals in developing countries in the hope that earlier treatment will prevent hospitalizations and reduce related medical care costs. Gaza. The Palestinians of Gaza, most of them descended from refugees of the 1948 war that created Israel, have lived through decades of conflict and confrontation. Their scars have accumulated like layers of sedimentary rock, each marking a different crisis -- homelessness, occupation, war, dependency. Quote of the day. "If they get oil on their feathers, they lose their ability to regulate their temperature. If they swallow oil, they're going to get sick. … Oil and life don't mix." Greg Butcher, bird conservation director for the National Audubon Society, on the risk of the ongoing oil spill to millions of migratory birds flying into the Gulf region. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
Finance reform. The Senate on Monday was poised to end its deadlock and approve a historic overhaul of the nation's financial regulatory system as two more Republicans said they expect to support the legislation. Oil spill. The fate of the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well, and of deep-water oil drilling in general, remained very much unresolved Monday, even as BP engineers finally installed a massive new sealing cap that could potentially enable them to shut down the well permanently. Darfur-genocide warrant. The International Criminal Court has issued a second arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir - this time for charges of genocide. Quote of the day. "My life has been total stress. I sleep maybe four hours a night, worrying about money. I understood the president and Congress had to stabilize the banks, get Wall Street going. I figured something would be done for middle-class Americans, that they couldn't abandon us. But I was wrong." Dwight Michael Frazee, Tom River NJ, one of 1.4 million workers who have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks, questioning why Congress is not extending unemployment benefits. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 2 weeks ago
World Cup. And so the circle was complete. Nelson Mandela, who presided over the birth of a democratic South Africa, took center stage again last night at the country's coming of age. Uganda Bombing. At least 64 people have been killed in two near-simultaneous bomb explosions, apparently targeting crowds watching the World Cup final, in Uganda's capital, Kampala. Oil Spill. BP engineers moved a few steps closer Sunday to installing a snug-fitting cap on the broken Gulf of Mexico well that may finally allow the collection of all the oil leaking from it -- estimated at up to 60,000 barrels a day. Quote of the Day. "I used to live by goals, I used to live by plans, and very elaborate goals and backup plans. Now I feel like I'm more reacting and keeping an open mind and keeping a strong faith." Don Schoendorfer, who has a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on Free Wheelchair Mission, a faith-based nonprofit he founded that has given away nearly 500,000 wheelchairs in 77 developing nations. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Oil Spill. Engineers have succeeded in stopping the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government's top oil spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning. Jamaica. Residents of a besieged Jamaican slum have accused the army of shooting indiscriminately and burning victims’ bodies in a rampage through their neighbourhood hunting for an alleged drug baron. Teacher Layoffs. Senior congressional Democrats and the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to line up support for $23 billion in federal aid to avert an estimated 100,000 or more school layoffs in a brutal year for education budgets coast to coast. Quote of the Day. “We are reciting a very powerful prayer to summon the Lord to help our country. Things are quiet now, but there is fear still within us because none of us know what can happen in the future.’’ Sumitr Khorana, a Hindu community leader, as the chants of 1,000 Buddhist monks joined the voices of Muslim imams, Christian priests, and Hindu faithful in a prayer for peace in Bangkok. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
North Korea. North Korea announced Tuesday that it is severing all relations with South Korea, heightening the risk of armed conflict and creating perhaps the most serious crisis on the Korean Peninsula in more than two decades. Troops to the Border. President Obama will deploy 1,200 National Guard troops and request an extra $500 million to secure the Mexican border, his administration said Tuesday, a move dismissed by Republicans as insufficient to win their cooperation on an overhaul of the nation's immigration system. Climate Change. Europe will introduce a surprise new plan today to combat global warming, committing Britain and the rest of the EU to the most ambitious targets in the world. Quote of the Day. “I thought that the elderly farmers would get their money and get to live a few happy days of their lives. They deserve the money before they leave God’s earth.” John W. Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, on the number of farmers who have died while Washington delays payment from a negotiated settlement to compensate black farmers who claimed that the Agriculture Department had discriminated against them in making loans. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. President Obama has endorsed a "don't ask, don't tell" compromise between lawmakers and the Defense Department, the White House announced Monday, an agreement that may sidestep a key obstacle to repealing the military's policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. U.K. Budget. The coalition Government declared that the "years of plenty" for public spending were over yesterday, as it admitted that its $8.9 billion package of immediate savings was "only the start" of a huge program of cuts. Afghanistan. New Pentagon figures show there are currently around 94,000 troops in Afghanistan compared to 92,000 in Iraq. Quote of the Day. "Twitter has become the world's water cooler. It's a place where you can hear what millions are saying and feel, unbiased and in that moment." Adam Ostrow, editor of the social media blog Mashable. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Child Deaths. Death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries at a surprisingly fast pace, according to a new report based on data from 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. President at West Point. President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war. South Korea. South Korea has suspended all trade and investment with North Korea and banned the North's ships from passing its waters, Seoul announced today, saying Pyongyang had to pay for its brutality over the torpedo attack in which a warship was sunk. Quote of the Day. "I've bled for my country, I've sweated for my country, I've cried myself to sleep for my country -- which is a lot more than some people who are passing judgment on me have done. I would rather go sit in prison than go to Iraq." Patrick Hart, U.S. Army sergeant with almost 10 years on active duty, who went to Canada rather than face a second deployment to Iraq. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Finance Reform Passes. The Senate approved far-reaching new financial rules on Thursday aimed at preventing the risky behavior and regulatory failures that brought the economy to the brink of collapse two years ago and cost millions of Americans their jobs and savings. Mexican President Addresses Congress. Mexican President Felipe Calderón, speaking to a joint session of Congress Thursday, pleaded for more help in limiting the flow of weapons to Mexico, saying they were contributing to the devastating drug violence in his country. Rand Paul. Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who challenged the Republican establishment to win the party’s Senate nomination in Kentucky two days ago, criticized a landmark civil rights law on Thursday, landing himself in a potentially damaging dispute over civil rights and race. Quote of the Day. "We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place. It's a living species now, part of our planet's inventory of life ... This is an important step both scientifically and philosophically. It has certainly changed my views of definitions of life and how life works.” Dr. Craig Venter, pioneering U.S. geneticist, who with a research team has created the world’s first synthetic life form. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
North and South Korea. Tensions between North and South Korea escalated dramatically today following the publication of an international report which concluded that a South Korean warship was sunk by a torpedo from a North Korean submarine in March. Oil Spill. The first oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has entered an ocean current that could take it to Florida and up the east coast of the U.S., scientists say. Pakistan. Pakistan blocked access to YouTube today because of "growing sacrilegious content" on the video-sharing Web site. It is the latest twist in an escalating international row over Islam and freedom of speech online. Quote of the Day. "Unfortunately people are so wrapped up in this anti-government thing right now; I don't know why ... People neglect to recognize how government helps." Phil Glover, Johnstown, PA, on why the "tea party"-affiliated Republican was defeated in a special Congressional election. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Primary Election. Delivering a powerful message of discontent, voters Tuesday swept out veteran Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, nominated a "tea party" movement founder for a Senate seat in Kentucky, and forced Sen. Blanche Lincoln into a runoff for the Democratic nomination in Arkansas. Thailand. Buildings across the Thai capital, Bangkok, have been set ablaze by red shirt protesters after the military stormed a protest camp in the center of the city. Israel-Palestine. U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas discussed possible outlines of a future Palestinian state on Wednesday. Quote of the Day. “The 8 p.m. hour in cable news world is currently driven by the indomitable Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Grace, and Keith Olbermann. Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that line-up is simply impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be.” Prime-time anchor Campbell Brown explaining why she’s leaving CNN. (New York Times media blog)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Supreme Court Limits Juvenile Sentences. Juveniles may not be sentenced to life in prison without parole for any crime short of homicide, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, expanding its command that young offenders must be treated differently from adults even for heinous crimes. Oil Spill. Scientists warned Monday that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico was moving rapidly toward a current that could carry it into the Florida Keys and the Atlantic Ocean, threatening coral reefs and hundreds of miles of additional shoreline. Iran Nuclear Program. Iran appeared to draw back yesterday from confrontation over its nuclear program by agreeing to ship uranium abroad for enrichment, a move described by Western governments as being in the right direction but not enough to avert the threat of harsh U.N. sanctions. Quote of the day. "I'm trying to find out what human nature is all about ... It's a fascinating psychological question. There's no pressure on anyone to leave anything. But if no one left anything, we wouldn't be open long." Ron Shaich, former CEO of Panera Bread, has founded a Panera Cares Café with a donation system that lets customers pay what they choose, and some of the money is used to train at-risk youths or to feed people lacking funds to feed themselves. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Oil Spill Disaster. The gulf of Mexico oil spill may be many times larger than realized, with vast amounts of oil spilling out in deep undersea "plumes" which cannot be seen from the surface, scientists suggested yesterday. Mexican President Visits. President Felipe Calderón arrives in Washington this week for a two-day state visit that was supposed to be a celebration of U.S.-Mexican cooperation in his drug war. Instead, it is likely to showcase Mexico's frustration over Arizona's tough new immigration law, which Calderón has described as anti-Mexican. Chomsky Barred from Israel. Noam Chomsky, whose withering critiques of political establishments have earned him the wrath of regimes of all persuasions around the world, was today forbidden by Israeli immigration officers from entering the Palestinian West Bank. Quote of the Day. “Who’s tired of the bloodshed? Who’s going to get out in the streets and make a difference in the lives of young people? ... We’ve got to stand together. Bottom line is, police need to do their part. Preachers need to do their part. Politicians need to do their part. Parents, schools, everybody needs to do their part.’’ Rev. William E. Dickerson II in a fiery sermon yesterday morning at Greater Love Tabernacle in Dorchester, on a new outbreak of youth violence in Boston. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Immigration. A bill that aims to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jan Brewer, cheering critics who called such classes divisive and alarming others who said it's yet another law targeting Latinos in the state. New U.K. Prime Minister. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the U.K.'s first coalition in decades could mark a "historic and seismic shift" in British politics. Egypt. After years of the government’s promising to end Egypt’s state of emergency, Parliament on Tuesday approved a government request to extend for two years its right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court. Quote of the Day. “It was kind of an epiphany. We were giving them nice land to live on when what they were doing -- and what they needed -- was an underground railway.” Alan Rabinowitz, zoologist and president of Panthera, an organization that studies and promotes conservation of large cats, on the development of corridors to serve as migration routes between wildlife sanctuaries. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Oil Spill. BP officials on Monday announced another experimental plan to capture the crude oil that's gushing from a mangled well 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico as Louisiana authorities prepared for the likely arrival of a massive oil slick along the state's marshy shoreline. Haiti. Protesters in Haiti have demanded the resignation of the president, accusing him of using January's devastating earthquake as an excuse to remain in power. British Elections. Gordon Brown paved the way for a possible coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats by announcing his resignation yesterday in an attempt to derail a partnership deal between Nick Clegg and David Cameron. Quote of the Day. "It is reckless. Information is powerful, but misunderstood information can be powerfully bad." Hank Greely, director of Stanford University's Center for Law and the Biosciences, on a new do-it-yourself genetic test to scan for various illness. The test will soon be available at retail drugstores. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Supreme Court Nominee. Elena Kagan, 50, the former dean of Harvard Law School, would become the fourth woman to serve on the high court; if she is confirmed, the nine-member court would have three female justices for the first time. Oil Spill. Nineteen days after oil started spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, experts appeared Sunday to have no certain plan for sealing anytime soon a runaway well 5,000 feet below the gulf's surface. Iran Executions. The Iranian government hanged five Kurdish activists, including a woman, on Sunday morning in the Evin prison in Tehran in what appeared to be an effort to intimidate protesters from marking the anniversary of last year’s huge anti-government rallies after the June 12 election. Quote of the Day. "There's a million people living out of tents, and, my God, if you saw it and I was to tell you how many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are in Haiti, you'd be saying, 'How come nobody got them out of those tents?'" Musician Wyclef Jean, whose Yéle Haiti organization has spent $1,327,764 on earthquake relief. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Oil Spill. Oil sheens began lapping the shores of Louisiana's barrier islands on Thursday as emergency crews moved a 78-ton dome into place in the Gulf of Mexico in hopes of lowering it over a runaway oil well 5,000 feet below the water's surface. Immigration. A coalition of civil rights and labor groups said Thursday that it has organized a national boycott of Arizona in the wake of the state's new law targeting illegal immigrants. British Election. David Cameron has reached out to the Liberal Democrats in an effort to form a government -- after the U.K. general election resulted in a hung parliament. Quote of the Day. “Most everybody recalls that the atomic bomb was made by the Manhattan Project. They’re the people that made the atomic bomb. We had nothing to do with the making -- we were merely the delivery boys, so to speak.” Dutch Van Kirk, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, speaking in Columbus, GA. (McClatchy News)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Climate Legislation. The catastrophic oil spill unfolding in the gulf has provided the environmental community with a rare opportunity to shift public opinion on climate and energy issues, an opening on which it has been quick to capitalize. Greece. A day after protests against austerity measures turned deadly, claiming three lives, an uneasy calm settled on Athens on Thursday as Greeks waited to discover whether the fatalities had given pause to violent demonstrators opposed to a bail-out aimed at preventing economic collapse. Nigeria. President Yar’Adua of Nigeria, whose long sickness plunged Africa’s most populous country into a constitutional crisis, has died, the Office of the Presidency announced last night. Quote of the Day. "It's the coming together of people wanting green space and realizing that highways are a negative to the city. Covering them with green space gives you a wonderful place to live and work." Peter Harnik, director of the Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence, on cities turning freeways into parks by putting them underground or rerouting traffic. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Oil Spill. The urgent question along the polluted Gulf of Mexico: How bad will this get? No one knows, but with each day that the leaking oil well a mile below the surface remains uncapped, scientists and energy industry observers are imagining outcomes that range from bad to worse to worst. Tea Party. As several states with active "tea party" groups prepare to hold important primary elections this month, the movement is struggling to overcome accusations of racism that are tinting perceptions of this loose network of conservatives. Tutu on South Africa. Desmond Tutu has delivered a withering verdict on the state of South Africa as the country prepares to host the continent's first football World Cup. The archbishop emeritus, often described as South Africa's moral conscience, condemned rampant crime and corruption and said the legacy of racial apartheid was still being felt. Quote of the Day. “Thank you for sneaking your transistors under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers. Now God has a new adventure for me.” Ernie Harwell, radio voice of the Detroit Tigers for more than 40 years, in his 2002 final radio sign-off. Harwell died yesterday at the age of 92. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Non-proliferation Conference. Shattering a taboo dating from the Cold War, the Obama administration revealed Monday the size of the American nuclear arsenal -- 5,113 weapons -- as it embarked on a campaign for tougher measures against countries with hidden nuclear programs. NYC Car Bomb Arrest. Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, early Tuesday in connection with the failed Times Square car bombing. Teacher Layoffs. Facing a recession and the coming end of billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding, school districts nationwide are handing teachers pink slips for the upcoming school year. Quote of the Day. "We wanted to bring the war home. But we never expected that." Alan Canfora, one of nine students injured, along with four who were killed, when National Guardsmen shot into protesting students at Kent State University, forty years ago today. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
NYC Failed Car Bomb. The car bomb discovered in Times Square would probably have killed or maimed many people, police officials and federal investigators said Sunday as they began assembling evidence collected from the homemade device, video surveillance footage, and the vehicle itself. Immigration Rallies. In protests fueled by anger over a tough anti-illegal immigrant law in Arizona, tens of thousands of demonstrators joined marches and rallies Saturday in cities across the country, calling on Congress to pass an immigration overhaul. Oil Spill. With the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico tripling in size in 48 hours, President Obama visited New Orleans on Sunday and promised to "do everything in our power" to mitigate a looming environmental disaster. Quote of the Day. “All of these players, as well as their families, could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal. Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona to any state or local official with suspicion of his immigration status.’’ Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, in a statement calling for the repeal or modification of Arizona’s immigration law and its effect on the 28% of players who are foreign-born. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Finance reform. The Senate began debating a far-reaching bill Thursday to overhaul financial regulations, bracing for a series of amendments in coming days that will highlight key divisions between Democrats and Republicans. Middle East. U.S. President Barack Obama has told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace, senior Israeli officials told Haaretz on Thursday. Immigration. A coalition of top Senate Democrats laid out the contours of a proposed overhaul of immigration laws on Thursday — and appealed to Republicans to join them in pursuing it — even as doubts mounted about the prospects of winning approval of legislation this year. Quote of the day. "If you grew up in the civil rights movement, Dorothy raised you. She was the only woman at the top. There were no other girls, no other women. There was only Dorothy." Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), speaking at the funeral service for Dorothy Height. (Washington Post)