The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 38 weeks ago
Health Care. The Senate is ready to begin a volatile, high-stakes health care debate that's sure to be punctuated by tense and unpredictable battles over some of the most incendiary issues in American politics today. Indian PM Visits. Indian PM Manmohan Singh has begun a visit to the US for talks expected to be dominated by Afghanistan, climate change and nuclear energy cooperation. Afghanistan Policy. As President Obama nears a decision on Afghanistan, he faces a partisan divide in public opinion that is pulling him in opposite directions. His recent statements about the decision suggest that he is trying to accommodate the views with a war strategy that can be successful and contained. Quote of the Day. "It had to happen, as soon as possible. This is in the farmers' interests because the farmer is the one most dependent on the environment." Luiz Alberto Bortolini, Brazilian farmer, on a program where he and hundreds of other farmers are replanting trees as part of an ambitious to reduce deforestation. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 39 weeks ago
Climate Change. With less than three weeks remaining before negotiators gather in Copenhagen to hammer out a global response to climate change, a rapid-fire succession of countries are unveiling national plans that serve as opening bids for reining in heat-trapping emissions. Immigration. Immigration enforcement officials said Thursday that they were expanding a program for auditing companies that might have hired illegal immigrants and had notified 1,000 companies this week that they would have to undergo such a review. Afghanistan. The United States is developing a set of benchmarks to ensure that Afghan President Hamid Karzai keeps a promise delivered at his inauguration to fight corruption and inefficiency. Quote of the Day. “The State Duma hasn’t yet ratified the protocol banning capital punishment because many in Russia support the death penalty. The society needs more time to ban the death penalty. But the government structures support a ban on capital punishment.” Mikhail Krotov, Russian President Medvedev’s envoy to the Constitutional Court, on a decision by the Constitutional Court that effectively outlawed the death penalty by continuing a moratorium until the nation fully bans executions. (AP/Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 39 weeks ago
Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai was sworn in today for a second-five year term as Afghanistan's president, assuming leadership of a war-battered nation and a government that the West is demanding be cleansed of corruption. Health Care. Democratic leaders in the Senate on Wednesday unveiled their proposal for overhauling the health care system, outlining legislation that they said would cover most of the uninsured while reducing the federal budget deficit. Cuba Policy. A battle over Cuba policy is escalating in Congress, with proponents saying they have their best chance in years of repealing the ban on U.S. tourist travel to the island. Quote of the Day. "Thanksgiving is coming, and many Americans are struggling to meet their basic food needs. Being thankful is not enough this year. Christians need to say thanks and seek justice for those at risk of hunger." Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics on this week’s USDA report that 17 million households -- 14.6 percent of all homes in the United States -- were "food insecure." (Associated Baptist Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 39 weeks ago
Venezuela-Colombia. Reacting to a deal that gives the Pentagon use of seven bases in Colombia for flights to combat drug trafficking and insurgency, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said this month that his country should prepare for war with its neighbor. Jerusalem. The Israeli construction of 900 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem is part of a "routine building programme," an aide to the prime minister has said in reaction to U.S. criticism. Climate Change Legislation. Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. Quote of the Day. “For us, it was very important to receive the support of the universities. We are impressed by the social conscience of the students in the United States.” Moises Alvarado, president of the union at a closed plant in Choloma, Honduras, after a succcessful campaign by United Students Against Sweatshops persuaded Russell Athletic to agree to reopen the plant and rehire 1,200 workers. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 39 weeks ago
Hunger in the U.S. The nation's economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat. El Salvador. In a sign of the remarkable changes afoot in El Salvador, the government Monday bestowed the nation's highest award on six Jesuit priests slain by the army exactly 20 years ago. Mammogram Guidelines. A government panel's recommendation Monday that women under the age of 50 do not need regular mammograms set off a furious debate about the importance of the routine screening tool, leaving many women confused about how best to protect their health. Quote of the Day. “There used to be a lot of racial tension here, but everybody knows that we need each other to survive this recession. People now, they seem to be starting to care for one another.” Eugene Edwards, president of the Henry County (GA) branch of the NAACP, on blacks and whites finding each other in waiting rooms of the welfare office and at the food pantry. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 40 weeks ago
Veterans Day. As the nation honors millions of veterans who served their country in numerous wars, those fresh from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are ready for another tour of duty, but this time as a civic engagement in their home communities. Honduras. A U.S.-brokered accord that was supposed to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to power has collapsed. And his supporters, who have been organizing street protests against his successor, are down to their final card: calling on Hondurans to boycott upcoming elections. DC Sniper Executed. John Allen Muhammad, the sniper who kept the Washington region paralyzed by fear for three weeks as he and a young accomplice gunned down people at random, was executed Tuesday night by lethal injection. Quote of the Day. "There's a level of responsibility that's involved, like having a little baby. It compels you to extend yourself and not think only of yourself. I have to think about him first." Eric Jenkins, a New York state prison inmate, speaking of a puppy he’s working with through the “Puppies Behind Bars” program in which inmates train dogs to work with disabled veterans. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 40 weeks ago
Korea. A North Korean naval ship suffered heavy damage Tuesday during an exchange of gunfire between the two Koreas along a disputed sea border off their western coasts, officials said. Health Care & Abortion. President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health-care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them. Afghanistan. Afghanistan's president has come out fighting against calls by the U.S. to crack down on corruption, arguing that his government is not solely to blame and saying that the West is in his country only for its own ends. Quote of the Day. "Our stitching was perfection. So I never thought we'd lose our jobs to China. But we did. We did. Now what is everyone supposed to do?" Geraldine Ritch, 62, in western North Carolina, where the unemployment rate is now 15% as jobs have been shipped overseas. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 40 weeks ago
Health Care -- House Passes Bill. Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system on Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand as their defining social policy achievement. Nuclear Treaty. After months of negotiations with Russia, Obama administration officials are hopeful about a breakthrough -- possibly this week -- that would enable the two sides to sign a successor to their most extensive nuclear weapons treaty before it expires Dec. 5. Afghanistan Policy. Advisers to President Obama are preparing three options for escalating the war effort in Afghanistan, all of them calling for more American troops, as he moves closer to a decision on the way forward in the eight-year-old war. Quote of the Day. "This is not just a day of celebration for Germans. This is a day of celebration for the whole of Europe; this is a day of celebration for all those people who have more freedom." German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a ceremony in Berlin marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 41 weeks ago
Fort Hood. The Texas military base that was the scene of a mass shooting Thursday has been hard hit by the growing strain on the Army from multiple combat deployments -- with its personnel suffering the highest number of suicides among Army installations since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. AIDS Funding. Slowed funding from international donors, including the United States, is imperiling recent dramatic gains in treating AIDS patients in the developing world, according to a new report. Unemployment. More than one in 10 members of the American workforce were unable to get a job in October, the Labor Department said Friday, the first time in nearly three decades that the unemployment rate has soared into double digits. Quote of the Day. “Winning and losing is part of the game. From the time you start playing, you understand that at the end of the season only one can win and it’s not always going to be you. They won. Congratulations.” Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies on the World Series won by the New York Yankees. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 41 weeks ago
Afghanistan-U.N. The United Nations is temporarily pulling hundreds of staff members out of Afghanistan while it reviews security arrangements in the wake of an attack by militants on a Kabul guesthouse last week that killed five U.N. employees. Honduras. The panel overseeing a deal to end the four month political crisis in Honduras has said that Roberto Micheletti, the country's interim president, will stand down although it has not given details as to when. Faith Leaders & Climate Change. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged religious leaders on Tuesday to push their governments to take bolder action on climate change at a key U.N. summit next month. Quote of the Day. "This decision sends a clear message to all governments that even in the fight against terrorism you can't forsake the basic rights of our democracies." Armando Spataro, deputy public prosecutor in Milan, Italy, after an Italian court convicted 22 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force colonel on kidnapping charges for the U.S. government's long-standing practice of covertly seizing terrorism suspects abroad without a warrant. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 41 weeks ago
Climate Change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Congress and the Obama administration Tuesday to take bold steps to address global warming, even as Senate Democrats and Republicans feuded over whether to press ahead with a climate bill. Burma. Barack Obama's policy of engagement with Burma made modest progress today after the detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, made a rare exit from the home that has been her prison for much of the past 14 years to meet senior US officials. Premature Births. High rates of premature birth are the main reason the United States has higher infant mortality than do many other rich countries, government researchers reported Tuesday in their first detailed analysis of a longstanding problem. Quote of the Day. "Nonviolence is our most powerful weapon. If they cannot accuse us of terrorism, they cannot stop us. The world will support us." Mohammed Khatib, secretary of the Bilin, West Bank, village council, referred to as “a modern-day Gandhi in a culture that enshrines the language of the gun.” (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 41 weeks ago
Immigration. On Monday, the court asked the administration for its views in a challenge to an Arizona law that punishes companies for hiring illegal immigrants. Other states with large immigrant populations will watch the next steps closely, because their own laws and ballot measures could be on the line. Malaria Vaccine. Scientists in Africa have begun trials of a malaria vaccine which, if successful, could save millions of lives on the continent and around the world. Developed through two decades of research, the Mosquirix vaccine -- also known as RDS,S -- is being tested in Africa's biggest ever clinical trial, spanning seven nations, and involving some 16,000 children. Global Warming. Global warming will force up to 150 million "climate refugees" to move to other countries in the next 40 years, a new report from the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) warns. Quote of the Day. "It was pointed out that the name of the NAACP is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That confuses folks sometimes. As they say, colored people come in all colors. No one should be denied the right to vote in this country -- period." Benjamin Todd Jealous, national president of the NAACP, speaking to a mostly white NAACP chapter in the Maine State Prison. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 42 weeks ago
Honduras. The interim leader of Honduras says he is ready to sign a pact to end its crisis which could include the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Health Care. After six months of dealmaking, House Democratic leaders introduced a health-care reform bill Thursday that would expand coverage to almost all Americans and overhaul the insurance industry while asking the wealthiest taxpayers to pay much of the tab. Iran. Hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough over Iran's nuclear program were dwindling tonight after Tehran demanded changes to a uranium exchange deal that European diplomats described as "unacceptable." Quote of the Day. “You get a real sense of the gravity when you see the faces of those who are there to greet their loved ones. You can see the genuine anguish on their faces. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by what you see.” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, accompanying President Obama to Dover, Delaware, to meet with the families of war casualties. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 42 weeks ago
Health Care. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will unveil a health-care reform bill on Thursday that includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved. Hate Crimes. President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, a milestone that activists compared to the passage of 1960s civil-rights legislation empowering blacks. Afghanistan. The deaths of five U.N. employees in a Taliban assault on a Kabul guesthouse Wednesday is forcing the world body and humanitarian agencies to reevaluate the way they operate in Afghanistan, officials said, putting at risk programs aimed at helping millions of people and stabilizing the war-torn country. Quote of the Day. “I could never admit to something I didn’t do. I realized that if I was going to die in prison because of saying I’m innocent, well that was what was going to happen.” Dewey Bozella, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., released from prison after 26 years, when his conviction was overturned. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 42 weeks ago
Legal Aid. A new California law that gives poor residents the right to an attorney in civil matters such as child custody and foreclosure is being hailed as a model that could transform the nation's legal landscape. African Union. African Union members could soon be obliged to help and protect millions of citizens uprooted by conflict and natural disasters, after the body agreed a convention on internally displaced people. Afghanistan. October became the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan when two bombs killed eight soldiers and an interpreter in separate attacks Tuesday. Quote of the Day. “I liken myself to the old woman who lives in a shoe. The seams are tearing, and people are just popping out all over.” Mary L. Fifield, the president of a Boston community college, on the surge in enrollments at community colleges, including a large number of recent high school graduates who can’t afford four-year colleges due to the recession. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 42 weeks ago
Global Health Funds. Bill and Melinda Gates will make an unusual personal appeal to Washington officials Tuesday night, asking them to continue funding global health initiatives despite the recession and to commit to nearly halve the number of child deaths worldwide by 2025. Trafficking. Recent raids are the latest in a long-running effort, Operation Cross Country, aimed at child prostitution rings around the country. Almost 1,600 agents and officers took part in the raids, which led to federal and state charges against a total of 691 suspects. Iran. High-ranking Iranian officials appear divided over a draft proposal with the United States and other countries that would transfer the bulk of the Islamic republic's enriched uranium stockpile out of the country. Quote of the Day. “When the starting gun sounded on the clean energy race, the United States stumbled.” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, encouraging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to craft an ambitious climate change bill. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 42 weeks ago
Health Care. With a growing sense that Democrats may have the votes to pass health-care reform, many participants are now attempting to shape the components of landmark legislation rather than to defeat it. Faith. “Pope Benedict XVI ended a three-week Vatican meeting on Africa on Sunday with a call for peace and reconciliation among all people on the continent, regardless of ethnic and religious differences.” Iraq. Twin car bombs that devastated three government buildings and killed 132 people Sunday underlined a new strategy in Iraq's contest for power ahead of January elections: spectacular blows aimed at destroying faith in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to secure the country as the United States withdraws. Quote of the Day. “I’m just tired of it all, and I don’t want to be in my house anymore. One month there is money, and the next month there is none. One day, she is taking it out on me and hitting me, and the next day she is ignoring me. It’s more stable out here.” Betty Snyder, 14, explaining why she has joined the growing number of teenage runaways caused by the recession now living on the streets. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 43 weeks ago
Climate Change Map. Released by the [British] Government today, it illustrates a rise in global average temperature of four degrees Centigrade by 2060, and as such represents a dramatic acceleration of previous forecasts made as recently as 2007 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Health Care. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning toward putting a public insurance option in the Senate health reform bill -- a signal that Reid increasingly believes he can get the votes needed for a plan that would allow states to opt out of the program. Hate Crimes. The Senate voted Thursday to extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation, bringing the measure close to reality after years of fierce debate. Quote of the Day. "Icons are like the horizon between heaven and earth. When you pray in front of an icon it is like you are praying in front of a window into heaven. Even those who are not Christians can stand and appreciate and believe there is something holy there, and sometimes this causes them to study about it." Dennis Bell, an artist, explaining a Pan Orthodox Icon Exhibit being shown in Washington D.C. this weekend. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 43 weeks ago
Executive Pay. Responding to the furor over executive pay at companies bailed out with taxpayer money, the Obama administration will order the firms that received the most aid to slash compensation to their highest-paid employees. Colombia. Human rights defenders in Colombia are under constant attack for their work, facing murder, death threats, illegal surveillance, arbitrary detentions and prosecutions, activists told a congressional panel in Washington on Tuesday. Global Hunger. A four-year drought has pushed as many as 23 million people to the brink of starvation across East Africa, making it the worst in a decade or more. Close to four million of those at risk are in Kenya, where one person in ten survives on emergency rations. Quote of the Day. “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system. If money as such does not multiply on its own, how are we to explain the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few?” Georg Sans, professor of the history of contemporary philosophy at the pontifical Gregorian University, writing in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. (London Times online)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 43 weeks ago
Health Care. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid is facing intensifying pressure from liberal lawmakers to revive a proposed government insurance plan before health-care reform legislation reaches the Senate floor, amid signs that moderate Democrats may be warming to the idea. Pakistan. All schools and universities have been closed across Pakistan a day after suicide bombers attacked an Islamic university in the capital, Islamabad. Climate Change. India’s climate change policy was in turmoil yesterday as its Environment Minister admitted that he had made a proposal to adjust the country’s position that caps on greenhouse gases should apply only to rich countries. Quote of the Day. "The real impact of these cuts is on families. Parents are forced to find makeshift care, one day with a neighbor, one day with an aunt, in order to get to work." William Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, on the effect of cutting child care subsidies. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 43 weeks ago
Sudan. “On Monday, the administration unveiled a new policy in Sudan, outlining an effort that officials said was aimed at ending the mass human suffering there, promoting a definitive peace and preventing Sudan from serving as a haven for terrorists.” Israel. “UN human rights investigator Richard Goldstone has rejected Israel's claim that the peace process would be harmed by his report on the offensive in Gaza.” India. “Indian companies, long dependent on hand-me-down technology from developed nations, are becoming cutting-edge innovators as they target one of the world's last untapped markets: the poor.” Quote of the day. “We’ve spent the last few decades shoveling money at the rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor, put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and all but bankrupted the federal government — while giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just about everything they’ve wanted.” Bob Herbert op-ed column, "Safety Nets for the Rich." (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 43 weeks ago
Wall St. Bonuses. Top Obama administration officials sharply criticized Wall Street firms planning to pay big bonuses, pointedly contrasting the soaring profits some financial companies have recorded in recent days with continuing high jobless rates across the country. Immigration. Addressing one of the most contentious immigration policies in recent years, the Obama administration unveiled changes Friday in a program that allows state and local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, is facing a runoff vote after a UN-backed election watchdog recommended that thousands of ballots apparently cast in his favour be scrapped. Quote of the Day. “We’re down, but we’re not out. And that’s a classic American story.” Dayne Walling, mayor of Flint, MI, on community gardening where abandoned neighborhoods are becoming green space and community gardens. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 44 weeks ago
Swine Flu. People who do not believe in vaccinating children have found fuel for their arguments in the swine flu vaccine. Immigrations Enforcement. A controversial federal program that deputizes state and local law enforcement agents to catch illegal immigrants is expanding under the Obama administration, despite changes announced this summer intended to curb alleged racial profiling and other police abuses. Afghan Elections. An investigation of allegedly fraudulent ballots in Afghanistan's troubled election has reduced President Hamid Karzai's portion of the vote to about 47 percent, an outcome that will trigger a runoff between him and his closest competitor, according to officials familiar with results. Quote of the Day. “Where are these people going to work? They did not think this through.” -- Maria Diaz, a 13-year employee at the Highways and Transportation Department in Puerto Rico, in response to Gov. Luis Fortuno's plan to decrease the territory's $3.2 billion deficit by eliminating more than 20,000 public sector jobs. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 44 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 44 weeks ago
Health Care. After months of relentless courting and suspense, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, cast her vote with Democrats on Tuesday as the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to remake the health-care system and provide coverage to millions of the uninsured. Nobel Prize. In a rare public defence of a process normally shrouded in secrecy, four of the Nobel peace prize jury's five judges have spoken about a selection they said was both merited and unanimous. Global Hunger. The UN's annual report on global food security confirms that more than one billion people -- a sixth of the world's population -- are undernourished. Quote of the Day. "Obviously, if you are wiping with 80-proof alcohol, you are probably being about as safe as you can be. Germs don't like ... a high volume of alcohol." Very Rev. Steve Lipscomb, dean of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, Kan., which has begun wiping its Communion chalices with vodka-soaked gauze after each parishioner takes a sip in an effort to combat the H1NI virus. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 44 weeks ago
Death Penalty. With 37 prisoners executed last year, the United States is among the top five countries that still have the death penalty. Afghanistan Policy. President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized -- and the Pentagon is deploying -- at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials. North Korea. North Korea test-fired short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan yesterday, in a gesture of defiance as it rebuilds diplomatic bridges with South Korea add the United States. Quote of the Day. "We are out here fighting ... and I find out the United States of America is deporting my dad? I feel anger, betrayal, rage. But you can't lose concentration out here." Pfc. Janos V. "Johnny" Lutz, serving with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, on learning that his father, a legal permanent resident, was arrested and is scheduled for deportation to his native Hungary, apparently for missing a hearing. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 44 weeks ago
Health Care. After months of collaboration on President Obama's attempt to overhaul the nation's health-care system, the insurance industry plans to strike out against the effort on Monday with a report warning that the typical family premium in 2019 could cost $4,000 more than projected. Gay Rights. Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists marched Sunday in Washington to show President Obama and Congress that they are impatient with what they consider piecemeal progress and are ready to fight at the federal level for across-the-board equality. Climate Change -- Africa. African leaders have said the continent will need $65 billion to deal with the effects of global warming and called for the support of rich nations. Quote of the Day. "Churches are very soft targets and very vulnerable to attack from terrorists and other homegrown, disgruntled individuals. Unfortunately, most religious leaders are living in denial." Pastor Ken Pagano, who resigned last month at the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky. to co-found the International Security Coalition of Clergy to focus on Second Amendment and church-security issues. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 45 weeks ago
Obama Awarded Peace Prize. President Obama, who has pledged to place diplomacy ahead of confrontation and reached out to a skeptical world with offers of mutual understanding, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace today for what the Nobel committee called "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Hate Crimes. The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would broaden the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation, legislation that would bring major changes to a law enacted in the days after the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Afghanistan Policy. President Obama and his top advisors are moving toward a strategy on Afghanistan that defines Al Qaeda as a greater threat to U.S. security than the Taliban, a view that could help them avoid the major troop increase sought by military commanders. Quote of the Day. "They just don't talk about it. People don't understand that part of the healing begins when you talk about it, so they just keep it to themselves." Jacquelyn Martin, a civil rights organizer, on Mississippi’s decision to require civil rights in its U.S. history curriculum. (Christian Science Monitor)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 45 weeks ago
Health Care. The Senate Finance Committee legislation to revamp the health-care system would provide coverage to 29 million uninsured Americans but would still pare future federal deficits by slowing the growth of spending on medical care. Iran. The first death sentence for participation in Iran’s post election protests was handed down on Monday, an Iranian reformist website has reported. Darfur. An African Union panel is due to hand over a report aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki led the inquiry and will deliver his findings to the AU in Ethiopia. Quote of the Day. "Culture and religion inform every decision about health, illness, disease and care, about true caring, about who can live, about the measure of quality in a life, about when suffering begins and how it ends. We bring our full selves to every bedside." Dawn Seery, head of the Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio, on the role of hospital ethics committees in assisting families making end-of-life decisions. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 45 weeks ago
Climate Change. The United States came under pressure to show leadership in U.N. climate talks on Wednesday with Mexico saying its neighbor is a stumbling block in efforts to try to craft a tough global climate agreement by December. Immigration. The United States will review the procedures under which it detains about 380,000 illegal immigrants a year, exploring the use of converted hotels and nursing homes as it seeks to transform a prison-based system into one tiered according to the risk posed by individual detainees. Iran. Iran’s judiciary has shut down three pro-reform newspapers, opposition Web sites reported Tuesday, in what appears to be a new effort to prevent protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Quote of the Day. "People are managing their money in a different way. You clearly have a situation where those people who have jobs are exhibiting recession anxiety and they are making more debit transactions." David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, which tracks the credit card industry, on why people are using debit cards more and credit cards less. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 45 weeks ago
Death Penalty. Those questions are at the heart of a heated Eighth Amendment constitutional debate about cruel and unusual punishment raging in Ohio. And the debate is spilling over onto the national scene. Health Care. As Democrats prepare to take up health-care legislation on the floor of the Senate and the House, they are facing tough choices about two competing priorities. They want people to pay affordable prices for health insurance policies, but they want those policies to offer comprehensive health benefits. Pakistan. Steps by the United States to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors there, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban. Quote of the Day. "I'm dazed. I'm dazed but thrilled. It's starting to sink in." Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California at San Francisco, who along with Carol W. Greider of Johns Hopkins University and Jack W. Szostak of Harvard Medical School was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research showing how cells protect their genes as they divide repeatedly throughout an organism's life. It was the first time two women shared the prize. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 45 weeks ago
Pakistan. Five United Nations staff have been killed in a suicide attack on the UN's World Food Programme offices in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term today with one new member and with a cavalcade of court-watchers looking for clues to where this group is headed. Infant Mortality. Nearly one in 10 of the world’s babies is born premature, and about one million infants die each year as a result, according to a report that is the first attempt to measure a toll that is hidden in much of the world. Quote of the Day. "Please make these people understand that it's cruel to make people wait like this for a health bill that may never come about. I signed for my final check, it was direct-deposited on Tuesday, all that money is going to my rent, and I don't even have money to buy food." Ann McGilly, a New Jersey resident, received her last unemployment check last week and said she no longer has money to pay for her 17-year-old son's medication, wondering why the Senate is putting action on health care ahead of extending unemployment benefits. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 46 weeks ago
Asian Earthquake & Typhoon. Rescue workers in the earthquake-devastated Indonesian city of Padang have been stepping up the hunt for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings, although hopes of finding many of the hundreds missing still alive are beginning to fade. Unemployment. U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine recovery from a prolonged recession. Afghanistan. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan staunchly defended his emphasis on stabilizing the country with a troop-intensive counterinsurgency strategy, arguing Thursday that reducing U.S. aims in the nation would be "short-sighted." Quote of the Day. "There are just not enough jobs for older people. They have no choice but to go on Social Security." Richard Johnson, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, explaining last year’s record 19% increase in the number of retired workers collecting Social Security. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 46 weeks ago
Health care. “As the Senate Finance Committee continued to debate its version of a healthcare overhaul bill Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans clashed over abortion -- potentially complicating President Obama's drive for action this fall.” Climate change. “Unwilling to wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.” Iraq. “The top US military commander in Iraq has said that the withdrawal of US forces is going faster than expected - freeing up resources for Afghanistan.”
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 46 weeks ago
Afghanistan. Stepping into an intensifying debate in Washington, the new head of NATO said Monday that more allied troops are needed in Afghanistan to help train the country's security forces. Poverty Rising. Poverty rose in the West and Midwest last year, as slowdowns in housing and manufacturing sent more families below the poverty line, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday. Honduras. The de facto government backed off Monday from its attempt to shut down protests and limit free speech after congressional leaders warned that they would not support the measure. Quote of the Day. "We have more people than ever coming here thinking they'd never ever be here." Amy Ginsburg, executive director of Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, MD, speaking of families who had never asked for help before -- many of them former middle-class residents now unemployed or facing foreclosure. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 46 weeks ago
Health Care. As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, takes on the delicate task of melding two competing versions of major health-care legislation, aides say he will lean heavily on President Obama to arbitrate a number of contentious issues that still threaten to divide liberal and centrist Democrats and derail a final bill. Abortion. Some abortion foes think the rationale for Roe vs. Wade is vulnerable. They're trying to amend state constitutions -- including California's -- to define personhood from conception. Iran. Amid growing international pressure in advance of highly anticipated talks this week, Iran displayed its defiance of Western threats against its nuclear program by announcing Sunday that it had test-fired at least two short-range missiles. Quote of the Day. "We want to find ways to help people live healthier lifestyles and eat more fruits and vegetables, and increase the economic prosperity for farmers." Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan on the increasing number of farmers markets in the U.S., up 70% in the last decade to 4,900 nationwide. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 47 weeks ago
Guantanamo. When Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert established the facility, humane treatment of prisoners was a top priority. He discusses how that principle fell out of favor in the seven-plus years since he left. G20 Summit. President Obama will announce Friday that the once elite club of rich industrial nations known as the Group of 7 will be permanently replaced as a global forum for economic policy by the much broader Group of 20 that includes China, Brazil, India and other fast-growing developing countries. Iran. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed for the first time on Friday that Iran was building a "semi-industrial enrichment fuel facility," designed to produce nuclear fuel that it had not previously announced to international authorities, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. Quote of the Day. "People laugh at metal detectorists. I’ve had people go past and go, ‘Beep, beep, he’s after pennies.’ Well no, we’re out there to find this kind of stuff, and it is out there.” Terry Herbert, a British amateur treasure hunter who found a buried cache of 1,500 pieces of intricately worked gold and silver probably dating from the seventh century. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 47 weeks ago
Nuclear Weapons -- Security Council. The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for nuclear disarmament, in a session chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama. G20 Summit. Economic stability, financial regulation, climate change, and bankers' bonuses are set to top the agenda. U.S. in Afghanistan. The senior American commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday rejected any suggestion that his grim assessment of the war had driven a wedge between the military and the Obama administration, but he warned against taking too long to settle on a final strategy. Quote of the Day. “With the economy right now everyone wants to make their dollars go further. I see all kinds of people using coupons. I see teenagers using coupons. I see grandfathers using coupons.” Heather Hernandez, a stay-at-home mother in Houston on why shoppers' use of grocery coupons is up 23 percent in the first half of 2009. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 47 weeks ago
Health Care. In a bid to attract liberals and unify Democrats on his healthcare overhaul bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday proposed to boost subsidies for financially strapped people who would be required to buy insurance. Climate Change. For a man known for his diplomatic reserve, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was unusually upfront about his frustration with the pace of talks for a treaty to stop global warming yesterday. "The world's glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them -- or us," he said at the opening session of his climate change summit. Afghanistan. President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan. Quote of the Day. "Every Census has its controversy because the stakes are so high. We're up to the challenge." Steve Jost, Census associate communications director, on the upcoming 2010 Cenus. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 47 weeks ago
Religious Leaders. More than 25 Christian, Jewish, and Islamic leaders from the United States will be gathering Tuesday as part of an effort to press leaders of the world's largest national economies to fulfill their promises to help people who have suffered from the global economic recession. Health Care. Seeking to lock down votes before Tuesday's meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus began reworking his health-care overhaul to ease the financial burden on middle-class Americans who would be required for the first time to have health insurance. Honduras. Honduran police officers used tear gas early Tuesday to disperse thousands of backers of Manuel Zelaya, the deposed leader, outside the Brazilian Embassy, where he was seeking refuge after sneaking back into the country the day before. Quote of the Day. "A review of the 'tea party' crowds shows they are not all Republicans but a mix of Republicans, Democrats and independents. This is a populist revolt, rather than a conservative revolt." Republican strategist Roger Stone. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 47 weeks ago
Climate Change. After months of almost single-minded focus on health care, President Obama is about to shift the White House spotlight to global warming -- first with a speech to the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, then later in the week at the G-20 economic conference in Pittsburgh. Afghanistan. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure." Israel. The UN nuclear assembly has called for Israel to open its nuclear facilities to UN inspection and sign up to the non-proliferation treaty. Quote of the Day. "We are here for the music and it is a message of peace and unity, not only for Cuba, but for the entire region." Colombian singer Juanes, who organized a Peace without Borders concert in Revolution Square, Havana, attended by an estimated one million people on Sunday. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 48 weeks ago
Lack of health care. As medical care has improved for people with health insurance, the consequences of being uninsured have worsened, according to a new study that says the lack of coverage translates into nearly 45,000 deaths each year among working-age Americans. Religious Charities. Nearly 60 groups concerned with civil rights, labor, health and education urged Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday to renounce a Bush-era memo allowing religious charities that receive federal grant money to discriminate in hiring. Global working poor. While economists in developed nations are cautiously pointing to the first signs of renewed economic growth, the global financial crisis is slamming some of the working poor around the world, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said Thursday. Quote of the day. "For those of us who are battling the time crunch and those of us [for] whom access to fresh food is an issue in our neighborhoods, farmers' markets are a really important, valuable resource that we have to support." First lady Michelle Obama, opening a new farmer's market just across the street from the White House. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 48 weeks ago
Health care. A year-long effort by senators to draft a bipartisan overhaul of the nation's health-care system on Wednesday yielded the only congressional proposal that would extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans while making good on President Obama's pledge not to add "one dime" to budget deficits. Obama and race. President Obama has long suggested that he would like to move beyond race. The question now is whether the country will let him. Global poverty. The global recession is expected to push 89 million more people into extreme poverty by the end of 2010, the World Bank said Wednesday as it called on the leaders of the 20 largest economies to engage in "responsible globalization." Quote of the day. “People say to us, ‘Oh, I grew up with your music,’ and we often say, sotto voce, ‘So did we.’” Folksinger Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, who died yesterday at 72. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 48 weeks ago
Immigrants & health care. Trying to quell a conservative uproar over his healthcare agenda, President Obama has proposed barring illegal immigrants from a possible government-arranged health insurance marketplace -- even if the immigrants pay with their own money. The move has surprised some of Obama's fellow Democrats and infuriated immigrant advocates. Women in the pulpit. The percentage of U.S. Protestant women serving as senior pastors has doubled over the past decade, according to the latest study by the Barna Group. Afghanistan election. European Union election observers have said that about 1.5 million votes in last month's Afghan elections -- almost a third of ballots cast -- could be fraudulent. Quote of the day. "My life was worthless. Now I have a future. I have a vision for what I can do." Grace Mokeira, who has been on death row in Kenya for 16 years, responding to President Mwai Kibaki's announcement that he was commuting all death sentences to life in prison. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 48 weeks ago
Children in prison. After murders committed by juveniles spiked in the early 1990s, states toughened laws, making the United States the harshest nation in world in the legal punishment of children, according to a recent study. Green energy. With the most diverse array of alternative energy potential of any state in the nation, Hawaii has set out to become a living laboratory for the rest of the country, hoping it can slash its dependence on fossil fuels while keeping the lights on. Iran. The US and Iran are to hold their first face-to-face talks in three decades after the European Union struck a deal to resume nuclear negotiations. Quote of the day. “We don’t need the news that comes from TV. This is news we care about, and it comes fast enough for us." Ohio Amish farmer Karl Yoder on The Budget, a newspaper that has served as the main source of news for Amish communities since 1890. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 48 weeks ago
Health care. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pledged Sunday that President Barack Obama will support barring public funding for abortion in any health care overhaul legislation. Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe can expect no major financial aid or lifting of sanctions until it carries out promised democratic reforms, the first European Union delegation to visit for seven years has warned. Passing. Norman E. Borlaug, the plant scientist who did more than anyone else in the 20th century to teach the world to feed itself and whose work was credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday night. Quote of the day. “Because of the union, my father got things like vacation days or a raise in wages. But my mother, who worked as a domestic, had nobody. It taught me from a young age the difference between workers who are organized and workers who were by themselves.” John Sweeney, retiring as president of the AFL-CIO. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 49 weeks ago
Poverty growing. The early impact of the worst recession since the 1930s pushed median incomes down, forced millions more people into poverty and left more Americans without health care in 2008, according to new annual survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Global warming. The Obama administration’s senior negotiator on global warming warned Thursday that developed and developing nations remained deeply divided in talks on reducing greenhouse gases and that time was running out before United Nations treaty negotiations in December. UN women "super-agency." The general assembly was set to ratify the new agency – which would have a budget of around $1bn and consolidate four existing bodies that deal with women's issues – before its current session concludes on Monday. But Egypt, Cuba, Sudan and Iran have mounted a last-minute campaign to delay ratification. Quote of the day. “We used to be able to use 9/11 as a touchstone. The students recognized it as an event they lived through and that affected the way that they lived. Now we view it as an opportunity to have a historical discussion.’’ Robby Chisholm, senior program director for history and social studies for Boston public schools. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 49 weeks ago
Health care. President Obama confronted a critical Congress and a skeptical nation on Wednesday, decrying the "scare tactics" of his opponents and presenting his most forceful case yet for a sweeping health care overhaul that has eluded Washington for generations. Child mortality rate drops. The number of children dying before their fifth birthdays each year has fallen below nine million for the first time on record, a significant milestone in the global effort to improve children’s chances of survival, particularly in the developing world, according to data that Unicef will release on Thursday. Anti-Muslim bias persists. Eight years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the general public thinks Muslims are second only to homosexuals in being discriminated against, a new survey shows. Nearly six in 10 Americans -- 58 percent -- think Muslims are subject to 'a lot' of discrimination. Quote of the day. "The introduction of the books is a rather good way to decrease the popularity of the Communists among the young people." Lev Ponomaryov, who campaigns for Russia to repudiate Stalinism, on a decision by the Russian Education Ministry that excerpts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago," are to be required reading for students. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 49 weeks ago
Health Care. While the month of August clearly knocked the White House back on its heels, as Congressional town hall-style meetings exposed Americans’ unease with an overhaul, the uproar does not seem to have greatly altered public opinion or substantially weakened Democrats’ resolve. Sotomayor Officially Takes Court Seat. Justice Sonia Sotomayor officially took her seat as the Supreme Court's 111th member Tuesday in a tradition-filled ceremony witnessed by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and scores of lawmakers, judges, family members and friends. Global hunger. Eliminating the millions of tons of food thrown away annually in the U.S. and U.K. could lift more than a billion people out of hunger worldwide, experts claim. Quote of the day. “What comes out of my blog is the experiences of a soldier right in the middle of all of this. I think that people need to hear from us, more than they need to hear from the big whigs. War has a cost, and that cost is paid by soldiers.” An Army specialist nicknamed "Mud Puppy" explaining his blog from the 10 months he spent in Afghanistan. (New York Times)