The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 51 weeks ago
Islam Goes to Bat for America. Tens of thousands of Muslims plan to pray "for the soul of America" outside the U.S. Capitol this month in what is being described as a first-of-its-kind event. Health Care. A new Democratic proposal on health care slims down costs and benefits, but whether it's enough to get the measure through the Senate isn't known. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who made the proposal, is facing a Sept. 15 deadline to produce legislation. Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday invited representatives from a group of six world powers, including the United States, to Tehran, but he said negotiations over his country's right to a nuclear program would be off the table. Quote of the day. “I wanted to create a music-driven station where music gets heard that would never be played on a commercial radio station.” Scott Johnston of Creston MT describing the low-power radio station he runs from his front porch. (New York Times).
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 51 weeks ago
Moral standards in policy. Susan Pace Hamill, law professor at the University of Alabama Law School, is running for a house seat in the state of Alabama. ... "I believe the process through which government makes all policy should be premised on central moral and ethical standards," said Hamill in a press release. Unemployment. The pace of U.S. job losses hit a one-year low last month but the unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, the government said on Friday in a report showing a slowly improving labor market. Health care politics. With President Obama poised to give a health-care address Wednesday before a joint session of Congress, administration officials promised that he will deliver a detailed prescription for reform despite the risks of spelling out exactly where he stands. Quote of the day. "We all die, and we want to do so with the most dignity and most control. It seemed a no-brainer. And it spares our children from making those decisions." Barbara Frank, a retired teacher in LaCrosse WI, where nearly everyone of a certain age has an advance-care directive, a pioneering program that became the impetus for the “end-of-life-provision” in health care legislation now infamously called “death panels.” (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 52 weeks ago
Health care. Aides to President Barack Obama are putting the final touches on a new strategy to help Democrats recover from a brutal August recess by specifying what Obama wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots. Unemployment. These long-term jobless workers now make up more than a third of the nation's 14.5 million unemployed workers, and their plight has become a signature trait of this recession. Food aid. The combined punch of drought, water restrictions and recession has created an ironic situation in California's Central Valley: Officials are handing out tons of food in the heart of one of the nation's most productive agricultural regions. Quote of the day. "Libraries are really the first responder in this economic crisis, and particularly for job seekers." Larra Clark, who managed a study for the American Library Association showing that libraries are filling up with people waiting to get online to fill out applications, write résumés or look for job openings. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 22 hours ago
Health care. Recent town-hall uproars weren't just about health care. They were also eruptions of concern that the government is taking on too much at once. Civil Rights. Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census. Afghanistan. The top U.S. commander for Afghanistan called the situation there "serious" but salvageable, in a sobering assessment issued Monday that is expected to pave the way for a request for more American troops, funds for Afghan forces and other resources. Quote of the day. "It was one of the primary reasons I moved here. I couldn't afford health care in the United States. … To me, this is the best system that there is." Judy Harvey of Prescott Valley, who now lives in Alamos, Sonora, on why American retirees are moving to Mexico. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 1 day ago
Health care. “Yet other factors suggest that President Obama still has stronger prospects for achieving his health policy goals than surface impressions of the Congressional recess indicate. He lags behind his own timetable for action, but remains ahead of presidential predecessors who pursued the same objective.” New Orleans. “This once-ravaged city is finally mending from Hurricane Katrina after years of administrative delays and political disputes that choked the flow of millions of dollars in federal aid.” CIA interrogation. “Their transformations took place in a sensory cocoon: aboard a CIA aircraft, shackled in place, deprived of sight and sound by blindfolds, headsets and hoods.” Quote of the day. “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” Sen. Ted Kennedy (1932-2009), speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. (American Rhetoric)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 2 weeks ago
Burma. "Jim Webb, who arrived on Friday, will be the highest ranking U.S. official to meet the [Prime Minister] in a decade." Egyptians-Somali Pirates. "Fishermen held in Puntland since April break free in boats after overpowering their captors." Death Panels. "Rumors that President Obama’s health care plans would create 'death panels' began with some of the same media outlets that helped defeat President Clinton’s health care plan."
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 2 weeks ago
Health care. “The sound and fury at U.S. 'town hall' meetings on healthcare reform have revealed as much about conservative fears of President Barack Obama as about health issues -- and in the end might have little significance in the broader debate.” Afghanistan-election. “They have learned a lot about politics and advocacy in the past seven years. And though some are hesitant to call the nascent efforts a full-blown women's movement, few doubt that women have come a great distance when it comes to knowing and advocating for their own rights.” United Nations. “The Obama administration will work with the United Nations to fight terrorism and other major world challenges, U.S. envoy Susan Rice said on Wednesday, marking a clear shift from the Bush administration's disregard for the world body.” Quote of the day. "I wanted to make a point that humanitarianism is not a crime, and water's not littering." Walt Staton, of “No More Death,” convicted in Tucson, AZ, for littering after leaving water bottles for immigrants along trails in the desert. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 2 weeks ago
Health care. “President Obama began a personal effort Tuesday to reclaim momentum for his health-care initiative with a direct rebuttal of what he called 'scare tactics,' rumors, and misrepresentations.” Death penalty. “North Carolina on Tuesday became only the second state — the other is Kentucky — with a law that allows murder suspects and death-row inmates to try to prove racial bias was behind a prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty or a jury's decision to impose it.” Pakistan. “Pakistan’s nuclear facilities have come under attack from the Taliban and other groups, and there is a 'genuine' risk that militants could seize weapons or bomb-making material, an article published in a West Point research group’s newsletter said.” Quote of the day. "If you don't have an idea that materializes and changes a person's life, then what have you got? You have talk, you have research, you have telephone calls, you have meetings, but you don't have a change in the community." Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, 1921-2009. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 3 weeks ago
Health care. “The White House on Monday started a new Web site to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to 'socialized medicine,' 'rationed care' and even forced euthanasia for the elderly.” Suu Kyi-Burma. “Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's detained opposition leader, has been sentenced to another 18 months under house arrest after being found guilty of violating an internal security law.” Congo. “For the women of eastern Congo, a U.S.-backed Congolese military operation meant to save them from abusive rebels has turned into a nightmare of its own.” Quote of the day. “To me, the worst thing would be that out of naiveté, or out of stupidity, or out of fear, you didn't know when to speak or you didn't know what to say. What I ask from God is that He illuminate me so that I can do what I need to do." Father Miguel Lopez, on his ministry in Michoacan, Mexico, a state where the violence of the narcotics trade leads to assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 3 weeks ago
Attacks against homeless people. “With economic troubles pushing more people onto the streets in the last few years, law enforcement officials and researchers are seeing a surge in unprovoked attacks against the homeless, and a number of states are considering legislation to treat such assaults as hate crimes.” Afghanistan. “In the first ever unauthorized dispatch from an officer on the frontline, one young [British] Captain offers a brutally honest account of life in Afghanistan, revealing the pain of losing comrades, the frustration at the lack of equipment, and the sense that the conflict seems unending and, at times, unwinnable.” Iran. “Iran's police chief admitted yesterday that protesters who were arrested after June's disputed presidential election had been tortured while in custody in a prison in southwest Tehran. But he denied that any of the detainees had died as a result.” Quote of the day. "My best guess is that increasingly in these rich countries, the benefits of greater development are flowing more to women. Women have more education, and because they have more education and skills they probably find it easier to take a year off and have a baby and pay for the additional costs, and then get back into the labor force." Shripad Tuljapurkar, a biology and population studies professor at Stanford University, on new research that economic prosperity may not be linked to an inexorable decline in fertility. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 3 weeks ago
Justice Sotomayor. “The scene was fitting for the occasion: A group of Colombians, Nicaraguans and Cubans meeting at a Peruvian restaurant in Miami to toast a Puerto Rican woman's ascent to the highest court in the land. The story of her life resonates with the nation's 45 million Hispanics.” Global warming. “The federal government must take decisive action to avoid 'a potentially catastrophic loss of animal and plant life' in national parks, according to a new report that details the effects of global warming on the nation's most treasured public lands.” Hamas war crimes. “A prominent human rights group said there is 'strong evidence' that Gaza’s Hamas rulers committed war crimes by allowing militants to fire rockets from the territory that killed civilians in Israel, according to a report released yesterday.” Quote of the day. “It’s the recession. Children are the most expensive item in every family’s budget, especially given all the gear kids expect today. So it’s a good place to cut back when you’re uncertain about the future.” Andrew Hacker, a sociologist at Queens College of the City University of New York, explaining falling birth rates in the U.S. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 3 weeks ago
Darfur. “The Obama administration's Sudan envoy is facing growing resistance to a suggestion he made recently to civilians displaced from Darfur that they should start planning to go back to their villages.” Kenya. “Hillary Rodham Clinton began a major trip to Africa on Wednesday by publicly urging Kenya, a strategic U.S. ally, to move faster to resolve tensions lingering from a disputed 2007 election that precipitated the country's worst crisis since it gained independence.” Immigration. “The Obama administration intends to announce an ambitious plan on Thursday to overhaul the much-criticized way the nation detains immigration violators, trying to transform it from a patchwork of jail and prison cells to what its new chief called a 'truly civil detention system.'” Quote of the day. "I call on humanity to support this sensible and achievable goal. Let us each do our part in this common journey, and thereby ensure that there will be no more victims such as those we honor today." U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, calling for complete nuclear disarmament on today’s 64th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 3 weeks ago
North Korea-reporters freed. “North Korea pardoned and released two detained American journalists after former president Bill Clinton met in Pyongyang on Tuesday with the country's ailing dictator." Faith. “As soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, congregations are discovering how spirituality can help veterans afflicted with postwar stress. But many pastors remain unsure how to help when veterans contend with chronic nightmares, outbursts and panic attacks.” Palestine. “Palestinians have a legitimate right to engage in 'resistance' against Israel, but 'we must not stain our legitimate struggle with terror,' Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said at the opening of his Fatah movement's sixth convention yesterday.” Quote of the day. "In the USAID budget, every dollar has three purposes: help build an Air Force base, support the University of Mississippi, get some country to vote our way." Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, describing the confusion and political goals around U.S. foreign assistance programs. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Bill Clinton in North Korea. “Former President Bill Clinton arrived in North Korea Tuesday, state media reported, in an effort to gain the release of two American journalists who were arrested in March and have been in the North's custody ever since.” Afghanistan. “Little more than three weeks before the presidential election, problems that include insecurity and fears of fraud are raising concerns about the credibility of the race, which President Obama has called the most important event in Afghanistan this year.” Darfur-Sudan. “After years of worldwide outrage over suffering in Darfur, the Obama administration will soon launch a new policy that could soften some longtime U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese government implicated in the large-scale killings and displacement of African tribespeople.” Quote of the day. "Cyclists need to be treated with respect and not surprise." Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado, on a new state law requiring cars to give at least a 3-foot buffer when passing cyclists. Several other states have passed similar laws. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Recession effects. “Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution.” Israel house evictions. “The United States and the United Nations sharply condemned the eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and their replacement with Jewish families on Sunday.” Pakistan. “Eight Christians have been killed in religious unrest in Pakistan's central Punjab, after days of tension sparked by the rumored desecration of a Koran.” Quote of the day. "Students are really savvy shoppers these days, so they're realizing, with a changing economy and green jobs looking to take a leap within the next couple of years, that they want to be armed with those types of skills.” David Soto of The Princeton Review explaining why colleges are increasingly offering “green” degree programs leading to jobs in sustainability. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Gates & Crowley at White House. “They did not link arms, and there were no public apologies. But a subdued meeting over beers on the White House patio last evening appeared to achieve President Obama’s goal of encouraging a deeper dialogue on race between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley.” Food safety. “The House approved the first major changes to food-safety laws in 70 years Thursday, giving sweeping new authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the way food is grown, harvested and processed.” Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is notorious as the world's leading producer of opium and heroin, most of it shipped to Europe. Less well-documented is the country's own addiction epidemic. As many as a million Afghans, mostly men but increasing numbers of women, are addicted to heroin or opium.” Quote of the day. "We're not going to just be chanting, 'Yes we can! Yes we can!' We are going to put the pressure on discussing the details." Jorge Mujica, an immigration advocate in Chicago, on efforts to move forward with efforts for immigration reform. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Foreign aid & religion. “The role of religion in overseas assistance has long been highly sensitive for a country founded on the principle that state and religion should be separate. But as U.S. policymakers seek to curtail the influence of radical Islam, they are being increasingly hamstrung by legal barriers, some experts say.” Responsibility to protect. “The Obama administration is supporting moves to implement a U.N. doctrine calling for collective military action to halt genocide. The next step is to see if the countries in favor of implementing the policy will act when a new genocide is brewing if all other diplomatic actions fail.” Iran. “Iranian riot police have used sticks and batons in an attempt to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters gathering to mourn protesters killed in unrest after a disputed presidential election.” Quote of the day. “The president will drink Bud Light. As I understand it -- I have not heard this, I've read this, so I'll just repeat what I've read, that Professor Gates said he liked Red Stripe, and I believe Sergeant Crowley mentioned to the president that he liked Blue Moon. So we'll have the gamut covered tomorrow afternoon.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, on today’s “beer summit” at the White House. (White House press office)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Sotomayor nomination. “President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, moved closer to taking her seat on Tuesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved her nomination and sent it on to the full Senate.” Food stamps. “More retailers are accepting food stamps, as a record number of consumers are turning to government aid to pay for groceries. Nearly 39 million people received food stamps — now known as Electronic Benefit Transfers — in April 2009.” Executions in China. “China plans to reduce the number of death sentences it hands out each year to 'an extremely small number' and to reserve executions for only the most serious offenders.” Quote of the day. "Our takeaway is that even going into the recession, the economic outlook for a lot of families was dire. There was a flattening of the median income, and the poverty level was creeping up year after year." Laura Beavers, national coordinator of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Kids Count” annual assessment of children from low-income families, on this year’s report. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Health care & abortion. “With House leaders struggling to reach agreement on healthcare legislation, aiming toward a possible vote this week, a new hurdle has emerged: abortion.” Burma. “Judges in Myanmar have said they will deliver their verdict on Friday in the trial of the country's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.” India. “The card's introduction, one of the largest IT projects in the world, will eliminate a patchwork of local IDs and is meant to improve the delivery of social services to the poor.” Quote of the day. "There's a compassion boom going on. Instead of people worrying about their own problems, they're thinking of others." Robert Grimm of the Corporation for National & Community Service, on a report showing more Americans volunteered in their communities in 2008 than in 2007. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Iraq. “The entrenched leadership of the Kurdistan region of Iraq was shaken Sunday by what appeared to be a stronger than expected showing in regional elections by a new opposition coalition.” Neighborhoods matter. “Researchers have found that being raised in poor neighborhoods plays a major role in explaining why African American children from middle-income families are far more likely than white children to slip down the income ladder as adults.” Editorial - Mexico. “If this country is ever going to get a handle on its illegal immigration problem, more than a secure border and a workable guest-worker program is needed. Mexico's economy also needs to prosper.” (Denver Post) Quote of the day. “I was frustrated with all the turnover among staff, with the lack of teacher input, with working longer and harder than teachers at other schools and earning less.” Jennifer Gilley, a social studies teacher at the Ralph Ellison Campus of the Chicago International Charter School, where three campuses recently voted to unionize. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Health care. “A day after President Obama made an aggressive public appeal for swift healthcare reform, the Senate officially gave up on the notion that it can pass a comprehensive package before its scheduled recess early next month.” Prof. Gates' arrest. “What began as a prominent African American professor's dispute with a white police sergeant grew more complex Thursday as the officer spoke publicly for the first time and a fuller portrait of his life emerged.” Afghanistan. “U.S. military officials in Afghanistan have halted the practice of releasing the number of militants killed in fighting with American-led forces as part of an overall strategy shift that emphasizes concern for the local civilian population's well-being rather than hunting insurgent groups.” Quote of the day. “You name the country, I’ve gotten prayers from them. I hope in some way that by tweeting their prayers, these people are helping themselves somehow. Once you figure out what you want, in 140 characters or less, you can start to take action.” Alon Nil, founder of a Twitter address where prayers can be tweeted, then printed and placed in a crack in the ancient stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (AP, Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Abortion. “President Obama, who has vowed to find common ground on culture-war issues, finds himself in the middle of a classic Washington dispute over abortion that is further undermining support among conservative Democrats for his ambitious health-care reform efforts.” Life in prison. “More prisoners today are serving life terms than ever before — 140,610 out of 2.3 million inmates being held in jails and prisons across the country — under tough mandatory minimum-sentencing laws and the declining use of parole for eligible convicts.” Sudan. “In a ruling many hope will bolster Sudan's fragile north-south peace agreement, an international arbitration panel Wednesday awarded the northern-led government control of several key disputed oil fields while giving large swaths of contested grazing lands to the south.” Quote of the day. "Everyone is getting paid except people in front of the camera in college basketball. If we weren't putting on a great show, there wouldn't be great highlights that they now sell." Ed O’Bannion, former UCLA basketball star, explaining a lawsuit by former college athletes seeking compensation from the NCAA for the sale of content that includes their images. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Global poverty. “The United Nations says it needs $5bn to help the world's poor this year, warning that the need for aid has never been greater.” Pakistan. “Two major military offensives in recent years failed to rub them out. And now, as Pakistani generals brace again for war in South Waziristan, the Taliban militants there are tougher and greater in number than their brethren on the run from the military in the country's volatile Swat Valley.” F-22 stopped. “The Senate voted Tuesday to kill the nation's premier fighter-jet program, embracing by a 58 to 40 margin the argument of President Obama and his top military advisers that more F-22s are not needed for the nation's defense and would be a costly drag on the Pentagon's budget in an era of small wars.” Quote of the day. "There are one million black men in jail in this country, and last Thursday I was one of them. This is outrageous. … This is how poor black men across the country are treated every day in the criminal justice system. It's one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it." Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates on his arrest by Cambridge, MA, police. (USA Today, from Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Army increase. “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Monday announced a temporary increase in the size of the Army of up to 22,000 troops to meet what he called the 'persistent pace' of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Israel-West Bank. "Israeli settlers on horseback set fire to fields of olive trees and stoned Palestinian cars in the West Bank yesterday, apparently in response to the Israeli army’s removal of an illegal outpost in the area.” HIV therapy. “Hundreds of thousands more Africans with HIV could be treated without extra spending if blood tests for monitoring side effects are abandoned, the biggest trial of HIV therapy in the continent has found.” Quote of the day. “We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up.” Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, on a decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration not to release extensive research on the dangers of drivers using cell phones. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
North Korea. “Images and accounts of the North Korean gulag become sharper, more harrowing and more accessible with each passing year. A distillation of testimony from survivors and former guards, newly published by the Korean Bar Association, details the daily lives of 200,000 political prisoners estimated to be in the camps.” Hispanic worker deaths. “The number of Hispanic workers who die on the job has risen, even as the overall number of workplace deaths has declined, according to federal statistics.” U.S. war deaths. “U.S. troops have now departed almost completely from the streets of Iraq's cities, and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki plans to visit the graves of American soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery during a trip to Washington this week and to offer a personal 'thank you' to the men and women who gave their lives for the sake of a new Iraq.” Quote of the day. "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Astronaut Neil Armstrong, as he took his first step onto the surface of the moon, 40 years ago today. (Today’s news on the commemoration, Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Food safety. “Farming and ranching representatives appeared before a congressional panel Thursday to express concern that a major bill pending in the House could unnecessarily complicate the marketplace without improving food safety.” Iraq. “As Iran simmers over its disputed presidential election, Shiite clerics in Iraq are looking across the border with a sense of satisfaction that they have figured out a more durable answer to a question that has beset Shiite Islam for centuries: What role should religion play in politics.” North Korea. “The U.N. Security Council on Thursday banned travel and froze assets of 10 North Korean individuals and businesses linked to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, marking the first time the United Nations has directly penalized members of the nation's military and business elite.” Quote of the day. "You're going to need a strong back and a strong bladder to get through Virginia now." John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic, on Virginia’s plans to close 19 of its 42 highway rest stops as a budget-cutting measure. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Immigration. “The Obama administration has opened the way for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States.” CIA assassins. “CIA officials were proposing to activate a plan to train anti-terrorist assassination teams overseas when agency managers brought the secret program to the attention of CIA Director Leon Panetta last month.” Colombia. “The United States and Colombia are poised to sign an agreement to transfer anti-drug flight operations from Ecuador to at least three Colombian air bases, a move that has drawn criticism here that it will leave the country even more dependent on Washington.” Quote of the day. "You needed people in office who really did vibrate sympathetically with what the people needed. Paul Wellstone helped me see somebody in action trying to make the world better for working people, people of color, everybody who's in the so-called out crowd." Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), explaining his transition from community activist to elected official. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Israel-Gaza. “Israeli combat soldiers have acknowledged that they forced Palestinian civilians to serve as human shields, needlessly killed unarmed Gazans and improperly used white phosphorus shells to burn down buildings as part of Israel's three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter.” Honduras. “The two diametrically opposed views underscore the deep divisions and simmering anger evident in Honduras, where those who support Zelaya are generally poor and those who oppose him tend to come from the middle and upper classes.” Sotomayor hearing. “Republican senators sparred with Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday over racial bias, judicial activism and temperament as she presented herself as a reliable follower of precedent rather than a jurist shaped by gender and ethnicity, as some of her past speeches suggested.” Quote of the day. “This is the higher education equivalent of the moon shot. The president is putting a bet on one sector to get a lot more graduates. They want to have a measurable impact on work force development.” Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, which supports community college initiatives, on President Obama’s plan to increase funding for community colleges. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
CIA paramilitary teams. “The CIA ran a secret program for nearly eight years that aspired to kill top al-Qaeda leaders with specially trained assassins, but the agency declined to tell Congress because the initiative never came close to bringing Osama bin Laden and his deputies into U.S. cross hairs.” Iraq. “They've only got a five year-old softball bat, a threadbare cap, three scuffed balls and nine second-hand gloves from a flea market. They train on a college soccer field. And there's not a uniform among them. However, they love America's pastime as much as Crash Davis of 'Bull Durham' ever did. Meet Iraq's national baseball team.” Episcopal Church. “The bishops of the Episcopal Church voted at the church’s convention on Monday to open 'any ordained ministry' to gay men and lesbians, a move that could effectively undermine a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops that the church passed at its last convention three years ago.” Quote of the day. "Small-scale farming is management-intensive. It's an incredibly intellectual exercise, but you're also getting your hands in the dirt — that's why it's so attractive. There's a hunger for that." Tom Philpott, food editor at Grist.org, which covers food and agriculture, on a new generation of young organic farmers. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Anti-terror policies. “President Obama is facing new pressure to reverse himself and to ramp up investigations into the Bush-era security programs, despite the political risks.” Sri Lanka. “Hundreds of thousands of Tamils remain locked in camps almost entirely off limits to journalists, human rights investigators and political leaders. The Sri Lankan government says that the people in the camps are a security risk because Tamil Tiger fighters are hiding among them.” Soldier suicides. “Army commanders are failing at the day-to-day task of monitoring troubled young soldiers in their barracks back home, which is helping push suicides to record numbers, the head of the Army's suicide task force says.” Quote of the day. “These neighborhoods with gang problems don’t have a lot of assets. But there is a school, a park and a rec center. Those are public assets. Let’s use those to create social connections that replace gangs.” Jeff Carr, Director of Gang Reduction and Youth Development in Los Angeles, on a program to combat gang violence by keeping lights on until midnight in some of the city’s roughest park. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Recession. “While the numbers of individual homeless people remained relatively flat, the number of people in families that were homeless rose by 9 percent from Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2008, the report found.” Obama & Pope. “Both the pope and the president recognize that despite their differences, they have an opportunity to join forces on international issues that are mutual priorities: Israel and the Palestinians, climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, increased aid to poor nations and immigration reform.” Iraq. “With little notice and almost no public debate, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders are pushing ahead with a new constitution for their semiautonomous region, a step that has alarmed Iraqi and American officials who fear that the move poses a new threat to the country’s unity.” Quote of the Day. "We're going to see pretty significant increases. We are even hearing from many people that, a year or two ago, used to be financial donors to the pantry." DeWayne Wells, president of Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan, the largest food bank in the state, on the growing number of middle class families seeking food assistance. (Wall St. Journal)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Iran. “Clashes between hundreds of determined young men and women chanting 'Death to the dictator' and 'God is great' and security forces wielding truncheons erupted in downtown Tehran today.” Mexico. “The Mexican army has carried out forced disappearances, acts of torture and illegal raids in pursuit of drug traffickers, according to documents and interviews with victims, their families, political leaders and human rights monitors.” G8 and development aid. “If the assistance is delivered and is in fact mostly new money, it will constitute the largest international effort in decades to combat hunger by investing in the fundamentals of an agricultural economy, including seed, fertilizer, grain storage and research into new plant varieties." Quote of the day. “There is a time to die and a way to do that with reverence. Hospitals should not be meccas for dying. Dying belongs at home, in the community. We built this place with that in mind.” Sister Mary Lou of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation in Rochester, NY, on the convent’s ministry to dying sisters, which provides a social network and continued engagement in life and spiritual beliefs, along with palliative health care. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Economic stimulus. “While other stimulus money has been slow to circulate, the food-stamp boost is almost immediate, with 80% of the benefits being redeemed within two weeks of receipt and 97% within a month, the USDA says.” Health care. “African Americans are less likely than whites to survive breast, prostate and ovarian cancer even when they receive equal treatment, according to a large study that offers provocative evidence that biological factors play a role in at least some racial disparities." Sudan. “Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have appealed against a decision by the body's tribunal not to charge Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, with conducting genocide.” Quote of the day. "While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human." Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas Veritate, his new encyclical on the world economic system. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
U.S. – Russia. "President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reached a preliminary agreement Monday to cut the American and Russian nuclear arsenals by as much as a third while exploring options for cooperation on missile defense." Pope on financial crisis. "The pope today called for a 'profoundly new way' of organizing global finance and business, calling for a new social and ethical dimension to capitalism and arguing the case for a new world political authority to help champion 'the common good.'" China. "Rival protesters took to the streets again on Tuesday, defying Chinese government efforts to lock down this regional capital of 2.3 million people and other places across its western desert region after bloody clashes between Muslim Uighurs and security forces that were mostly Han Chinese." Quote of the day. “When school’s open, families tend to stay where they are. And when school’s out, they’re told it’s time to go.” Deronda Metz, the director of social services for the Salvation Army in Charlotte, NC, explaining a surge in homeless families in the summer. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
Burma. “Rather than tying negotiations, not to mention sanctions, to the treatment of just one figure, say policy analysts, humanitarian workers and exiles, the world should engage the junta on a broad range of economic, humanitarian and ethnic issues that will return electoral politics to its rightful place as one concern among many.” Gaza activists. “Israel says it will expel eight pro-Palestinian activists detained at sea last week as they tried to ferry aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade.” Passing. “Robert S. McNamara, perhaps the most influential defense secretary of the 20th century, who helped lead the nation into the maelstrom of Vietnam and spent the rest of his life wrestling with the war’s moral consequences, died early Monday at his home in Washington.” Quote of the day. “I’ve always been about seeking social justice and combating discrimination and racism. I always wanted to stand up and fight for the underdog.” Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
Hong Kong. "Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Wednesday to push for democratic rights, amid a slumping economy." DR Congo. "U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he was 'deeply distressed' by the rape and assault of some 20 female inmates during a breakout." Syria. “Syria's president scraps a law limiting sentences for men who kill their female relatives in the name of family honor.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
Honduras. “The Organization of American States (OAS) has given the current leaders of Honduras three days to restore exiled President Manuel Zelaya to power.” Iraq. “Up to 40 people have been killed in a bomb blast in the northern city of Kirkuk, just hours after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq's towns and cities.” Climate bill. “As the most ambitious energy and climate-change legislation ever introduced in Congress made its way to a floor vote last Friday, it grew fat with compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts intended to win the votes of wavering lawmakers and the support of powerful industries.” Quote of the day. "It was a real David and Goliath fight. This news is extremely gratifying to all the people and organizations who have worked so hard on this issue for the past eight years. We're thrilled to death." California State Senator Fran Pavley, author of a state law setting carbon dioxide limits on new vehicles that was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Breaking news. “The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today that Democrat Al Franken won the U.S. Senate election and said he was entitled to an election certificate that would lead to him being seated in the Senate.” Drug war-Canada. “Mexico's crackdown puts the squeeze on cocaine dealers in British Columbia. Up here, as the violence grows, bodies pile up.” Iraq. “Iraqis danced in the streets and set off fireworks Monday in impromptu celebrations of a pivotal moment in their nation's troubled history: As of Tuesday, this is no longer America's war.” Quote of the day. “I think it helps to level the playing field because, in many cases, workers have been disadvantaged. They've been intimidated, they've been harassed, and we have case after case after case that we can look at.” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on the Employee Free Choice Act. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Honduras coup. “Soldiers stormed the presidential palace in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa at dawn Sunday and forced President Manuel Zelaya into exile in Costa Rica.” School nutrition. “It didn't seem like a radical idea at the time. First, Ginger Gray, the food service director for Kenton County, Ky., schools, took away fried potato chips, offering students baked versions instead. Next, she phased out fruit drinks such as Kool-Aid in favor of 100 percent juices.” Iran. “More than 2,000 Iranians have been arrested and hundreds more have disappeared since the regime decided to crush dissent after the disputed presidential election, a leading human rights organization said yesterday.” Quote of the day. “There are so many competing interests at work now, 24-7 — whether it’s the people who want the governor to stay, or people who want him to go. It’s as rough as I’ve ever seen it — it’s mean, the long knives come out at night.” Katon Dawson, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, on the political jockeying over the future of Gov. Mark Sanford. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Iran. “Defying an official ban, hundreds of people held a graveside tribute Thursday for the woman who's become a symbol of the Iranian opposition after she was killed while protesting the country's disputed election.” Iraq. “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken to calling the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq’s cities by next Tuesday a 'great victory,' a repulsion of foreign occupiers he compares to the rebellion against British troops in 1920.” Mountaintop removal. “Coal industry advocates and environmentalists converged on Capitol Hill Thursday at a congressional hearing on the impact of mountaintop removal mining on Appalachian streams and rivers.” Quote of the day. “God and guns were part of the foundation of this country. I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.” Ken Pagano, pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, KY, explaining why he is inviting his congregation and others to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Children of soldiers. “After seven years of war, most children of combat troops are showing more fear, anxiety and behavioral problems, according to the Pentagon's most sweeping survey of the effects of war on military children.” South Carolina governor. “Mark Sanford's extramarital excursion to Latin America is just the latest -- albeit the most lurid -- in a series of setbacks that have plagued Republicans as they struggle to recast the party and promote a new generation of national leaders.” Tanzania. “Africa is full of at least 50 million orphans, the legacy of AIDS and other diseases, war and high rates of death in pregnancy and childbirth. With the numbers increasing every day, Africans are struggling to care for them, often in ways that differ strikingly from the traditional concept of an orphanage in the developed world.” Quote of the day. "We are flexible. But we don't trust the government. It has shown it's ready to settle disputes by force and not through dialogue. And we have shown we will stand up for our rights." Peruvian tribal leader Luis Pizango in opposition to plans to open the Amazon to development. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Pakistan. “Up to 80 people have been killed after missiles were fired from a U.S. 'drone' at the funeral of a suspected Taliban commander of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan.” Mideast. “Right under the nose of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israel Defense Forces has lifted some of the main, permanent roadblocks in the West Bank, which have played a central role in restricting the movement of Palestinians, mostly between the main Palestinian cities.” Health insurance. “The 'public option' has emerged as the crux of the unfolding debate over health-care reform on Capitol Hill, an ideological flash point that has become perhaps the greatest challenge for the Senate negotiators attempting to reach a compromise that could actually become law.” Quote of the day. "The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost." President Barack Obama on Iran. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 10 weeks ago
Martyr of Iran. “Her name was Neda Salehi Agha Soltan and she was a philosophy student. But the manner of her death has turned her into an instant, global symbol of the Iranian regime’s brutality.” Energy bill. “Climate-change legislation would cost the average household $175 a year by 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office, far below the figure commonly used by GOP critics of the House bill.” Voting Rights Act. “A key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act survived a constitutional challenge yesterday in the Supreme Court, but justices made it clear that a law forged in the darkest days of the nation's civil rights struggles may no longer be appropriate in a new era of American racial politics.” Quote of the day. "[There was an] enormous crashing jolt. You could hear all this crashing and glass breaking, I didn't hear any brakes at all. When the dust settled, the entire front of the train was gone." Tom Baker, 47, a District resident, on the crash of two Metro trains in Washington, D.C. At least 9 people are dead and more than 70 injured. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 10 weeks ago
Iran. “Iranian riot police have reportedly fired tear gas to break up a new opposition rally in central Tehran hours after a warning to protesters.” NYT reporter escapes. “David Rohde, a New York Times reporter who was kidnapped by the Taliban, escaped Friday night and made his way to freedom after more than seven months of captivity in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Immigration. “Lawmakers will gather at the White House next week for a working session on immigration reform, a meeting that has been highly anticipated by Latino leaders eager for President Obama to honor his campaign promise to put millions of undocumented workers on a 'pathway to citizenship.'" Quotes of the day. "Years ago, there's no way we could do this. It brings to mind Big Brother, George Orwell, and '1984.' It's just funny how Americans have softened on these issues." Keith Sadler, police chief. "No one has the right to know who goes in and out my front door. That's my business. That's not what America is about." David Mowrer, a local laborer. Both commenting on the 165 closed-circuit TV cameras that “will provide live, round-the-clock scrutiny of nearly every street, park and other public space” in Lancaster, PA. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 10 weeks ago
Financial regulation. “President Barack Obama's proposed overhaul of financial regulations aims to eliminate a number of the loopholes that contributed to the recession. Here's a summary of what went wrong and how his proposals would try to fix it.” Guns to Mexico. “The United States lacks a coordinated strategy to stem the flow of weapons smuggled across its southern border, a failure that has fueled the rise of powerful criminal cartels and violence in Mexico, a government watchdog agency report has found.” Iran. “Iran's government sought today to decapitate the opposition movement by rounding up ­hundreds of activists, journalists and intellectuals. A total of 500 were reported to have been detained across the country, including well-known political figures from the 1979 Islamic revolution.” Quote of the day. "It's cool now to be an active, involved father. Overall, men being more active fathers is starting to become more of the norm and less of the anomaly." Aaron Rochlen, associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin, on new attitudes in 21st century fatherhood. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 10 weeks ago
War funding approved. “A divided House of Representatives Tuesday approved by 226 to 202 a $105.9 billion emergency spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and help curb flu outbreaks. However, many lawmakers in both parties were uneasy.” Human trafficking. “The Obama administration yesterday expanded the U.S. watch list of countries suspected of not doing enough to combat human trafficking, putting more than four dozen nations on notice that they might face sanctions unless their records improve.” Job benefits for same-sex partners. “His action is a significant advance for gay rights and comes days after the Obama administration sparked outrage by filing a legal brief defending the law forbidding federal recognition of same-sex marriage.” Quote of the day. “This was just a call to say: ‘It appears Twitter is playing an important role at a crucial time in Iran. Could you keep it going?’” P.J. Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, explaining why State Department staff called Twitter asking for a delay in scheduled maintenance, which would have cut off service while Iranians were using Twitter to swap information and inform the outside world about the protests around Tehran. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 11 weeks ago
Iran elections. “Social media sites are challenging levers of state media control and allowing Iranians to find novel ways around restrictions.” North Korea. “Two American journalists sentenced by North Korea last week to 12 years of hard labor were caught shooting video for what the North said was a politically motivated 'smear campaign,' state-run media said Tuesday.” Sotomayor. “Judge Sonia Sotomayor defended her membership in an all-female networking club, telling senators that the group did not discriminate in an inappropriate way.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 11 weeks ago
Iran election. Tens of thousands of Iranian opposition activists have taken to the streets of Iran for a third day protesting against the disputed presidential election, defying a ban by the Interior Ministry. Health care. The White House is caught in a battle within its own party over how to finance a comprehensive overhaul of America's health-care system , as key Democrats advocate a tax plan that could require President Obama to break his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. Netanyahu & Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said he would agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state, on condition that it be demilitarized and that its leaders recognize Israel as a Jewish nation-state. Quote of the day. "Today, I have submitted my official formal request to the council to cancel the election result. I urge you, Iranian nation, to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way." Mir Hossein Mousavi, a defeated candidate in Iran's presidential election, on the disputed election results. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 11 weeks ago
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 11 weeks ago
Peru. “Faced with a simmering crisis over dozens of deaths in the quelling of indigenous protests last week, Peru’s Congress this week suspended the decrees that had set off the protests over plans to open large parts of the Peruvian Amazon to investment.” Zimbabwe. “Growing numbers of children in Zimbabwe are turning to prostitution to survive, the charity Save the Children says.” Editorial - Voting Rights Act. “The Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly on a challenge to the Voting Rights Act. There is a real danger that it could strike down Section 5. That would be a radical reversal for the court, which has repeatedly upheld the act since its passage in 1965. It would cripple the power of Congress and the Justice Department to protect voters from discriminatory state rules.” (New York Times) Quote of the day. "Had we gone ahead in February, we would have had a consumer backlash of considerable magnitude. Now there will still be some level of disruption, there's no question about that, but it's a lot better than it would have been." Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps, speaking of today's switch to all-digital broadcast television. (Los Angeles Times)