The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Iran. “The political chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has warned reformists in the country against seeking what he called a 'velvet revolution,' vowing that it would be 'nipped in the bud.'” Health care. “For a Canadian facing emergency surgery in the United States, a ride on a privately chartered Lear jet back to Canada is a whole lot cheaper than having the operation in a U.S. hospital.” Violence at Holocaust Museum. “An elderly Maryland man with a long history of ties to neo-Nazi organizations walked into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday and opened fire, killing a security guard and sending visitors scrambling for cover.” Quote of the day. "I am more concerned with the threat from the Christian-identity groups than the homegrown Islamic terrorists. It's a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that this guy did what he did may be symptomatic of things to come." Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on yesterday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Health care. “President Barack Obama is moving quickly to head off opposition to major health care legislation from fiscal conservatives in Congress by vowing to follow strict rules for paying for it without further driving up the already huge deficit.” War funding. “The White House’s ever-expanding wartime spending bill could soon exceed $105 billion even as President Barack Obama remains stymied by divisions in Congress and a set of terrorism-related issues that have strained relations in his own party.” Supreme Court. “The Senate Judiciary Committee is to begin hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on July 13, a victory for the White House, which has been pushing for early consideration of President Obama's nominee.” Quote of the day. “Compared to any other time in the last 30 or 40 years, there's a better chance of success than ever before. But this is going to be like an Indiana Jones movie, where we kind of slip through a lot of narrow escapes." Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, on the prospects for health care reform. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 4 weeks ago
Economy. “President Obama today promised to deliver more than 600,000 new jobs this summer with accelerated spending of some of the $787-billion economic stimulus that Congress approved at his urging earlier this year.” Iran. “Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets of Tehran in a mass show of support for their candidates in the upcoming presidential election.” Afghanistan. “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has given the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan 60 days to conduct another review of the American strategy there, the fifth since President Barack Obama took office less than five months ago.” Quote of the day. “Globe workers and the New England community understand that the quality of The Boston Globe, an institution so vital to the life and culture of the region, depends on the fair treatment of the men and women who work so hard to produce it." Daniel Totten, president of the Boston Globe Newspaper Guild, commenting on the union voting down proposed pay and benefit cuts. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Arms trade. “Though the U.S. accounts for more than half the total increase, China and Russia nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade, with China now second only to the U.S. in the military expenditure league table.” Lebanon election. “Official results released a day after Lebanon's hotly-contested parliamentary election have confirmed the pro-Western coalition has held on to its majority.” North Korea. “North Korea has sentenced two U.S. journalists to 12 years hard labor after finding them guilty of entering the country illegally, according to state media." Quote of the day. "Our society has deteriorated to the point where people will take the battle right into the church. People see it as a soft target rather than see it as a place of reverence anymore." Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director of the Christian Security Network, a national organization focused on helping churches plan for emergencies. (Chicago Tribune)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Unemployment rises. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nationwide unemployment rate now stands at 9.4%, the worst it has been in more than 25 years. If workers abandoned their job searches or settled for part-time employment were factored in, the rate would have been 16.4%.” Abortion. “Tiller's death has focused attention on abortions late in pregnancy. While it is clear that they account for a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million U.S. abortions each year, much about the procedures is unclear, including exactly how many are done, by whom and under what circumstances.” Burma - Aung San Suu Kyi. “The spray-painted demands appear overnight -- 'Free Aung San Suu Kyi' read the scrawls on walls across this city -- only to be whitewashed by security forces as soon as they are discovered.” Quote of the day. "For the first time a woman member has been elected Speaker - and that too a woman from the Dalit community. In electing you ... we members of parliament pay tribute to the women of our country and the great contribution that they have made." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the election of Meira Kumar, 64, a former lawyer and diplomat, as Speaker of India’s Parliament. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Obama speech in Cairo. “President Obama pledged on Thursday to 'seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,' imploring America and the Islamic world to drop their suspicions of one another and forge new alliances to confront violent extremism and heal religious divides.” Katrina housing. "Hurricane Katrina victims around the Gulf Coast who were told to vacate their temporary trailers by the end of May will instead be allowed to buy them for $5 or less, White House officials announced on Wednesday.” Tiananmen anniversary. “Chinese police have ringed Tiananmen Square, to prevent people marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre.” Quote of the day. “You can raise pigs to be very strong and very fat. But a pig is still a pig. And a pig has no rights.” Liu Suli, who served 20 months in prison for his role in the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, on the idea that “his fellow Chinese have made a devil’s bargain, trading the freedom that he and his fellow protesters sought for a chance at a car and a bigger apartment.” (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Obama in Middle East. “Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda leader, has accused Barack Obama … of following the policy of his predecessor George Bush in 'antagonizing Muslims.'" Afghanistan. "A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, a military investigation has concluded.” China. “In a crackdown apparently timed to the 20th anniversary Thursday of the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations, the Chinese government has pulled the plug on the social networking site Twitter and dozens of other Internet sites and blogs.” Quote of the day. "It's good to have some money in my pocket. I can buy my own meals every so often or get on the bus rather than doing so much walking. [But] It's not going to pay enough money for me to get out of homelessness." Eric Sheptock, currently homeless, but working in a janitorial job. (Washington Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 5 weeks ago
Detainee torture photos. “President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned.” Doctor killed. “The 51-year-old man held on suspicion of killing prominent abortion provider Dr. George Tiller belonged to anti-government militia groups, had been convicted of carrying explosives in his car and was outraged by the doctor's speedy acquittal on abortion-related charges.” El Salvador. “Mauricio Funes, a television journalist whose party once fought a bloody guerrilla war in El Salvador, on Monday became the country's first leftist president amid emotional symbols of landmark change.” Quote of the day. “Part of being a good friend is being honest. And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests.” President Obama on U.S.-Israel relations. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Doctor killed in church. “George R. Tiller, the nation's most prominent provider of controversial late-term abortions, was shot and killed yesterday in the lobby of his Lutheran church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher.” Immigration. “In a high-stakes battle that could affect California's share of federal funding and political representation, immigrant activists are vowing to combat efforts by a national Latino clergy group to persuade 1 million illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 U.S. census.” U.S.-Cuba. “Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on immigration and has signaled its willingness to cooperate on issues including terrorism, drug trafficking and even mail service, a sign that the island's communist government is warming to President Obama's call for a new relationship after decades of tension.” Quote of the day. "We ask the question all the time: 'What are y'all doing for us in this neck of the woods?' We can't get streetlights down here. We got holes in the street." R.C. Brock, a resident of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans on the pace of rebuilding poor, mostly African-American neighborhoods. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Sotomayor & abortion. “William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said Judge Sotomayor's record has more bright spots than conservative Catholics can reasonably expect to get from an appointee of President Obama.” Gaza. “Dozens of families still live in tents amid collapsed buildings and rusting pipes. With construction materials barred, a few are building mud-brick homes. Everything but food and medicine has to be smuggled through desert tunnels from Egypt. Among the items that people seek is an addictive pain reliever used to fight depression.” Climate change. “Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.” Quote of the day. "There's fire in the ashes and good things happening everywhere. There are reserves of life and strength in us that we never imagine are there until we absolutely need them." Jerry Smith, a Capuchin friar who runs two soup kitchens in Detroit that serve 2,000 meals a day. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
FBI & terrorism. “The FBI and Justice Department plan to significantly expand their role in global counter-terrorism operations, part of a U.S. policy shift that will replace a CIA-dominated system of clandestine detentions and interrogations with one built around transparent investigations and prosecutions.” Human rights crisis. “The global economic crisis is exacerbating human rights abuses, Amnesty International has warned. In its annual report, the group said the downturn had distracted attention from abuses and created new problems.” Israel. “Rebuffing Israel on a key Mideast negotiating issue, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the Obama administration wants a complete halt in the growth of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory, with no exceptions.” Quote of the day. “We sent them food, fertilizer, factories, more than we give our own poor people. And all they pay us back with is this nuclear test.” Lee Soon-hwan, a South Korean office worker, on North Korea’s nuclear test. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
California same-sex marriage. “The California Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to uphold Proposition 8 and existing same-sex marriages left in place all rights for California's gays and lesbians except access to the label 'marriage,' but it provided little protection from future ballot measures that could cost gays and other minorities more rights.” North Korea. “North Korea has declared an end to its half-century-old armistice with the South, saying that it sees Seoul's move to join a U.S.-led anti-proliferation initiative as a 'declaration of war.'" Darfur. “Delivering a blow to hopes that he would soon reverse the expulsion of humanitarian aid agencies from Darfur, the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has renewed his attack on the charities, accusing them of seeking to bring about a regime change.” Quote of the day. “This wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government." Judge Sonia Sotomayor, explaining her philosophy as she was nominated to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 6 weeks ago
Supreme Court. “If confirmed, Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Supreme Court justice of Hispanic descent and only the third woman ever to sit on the panel.” Climate change. Caps, Trades and Offsets: Can Climate Plan Work? “It sounds like alchemy, an act of bureaucratic magic. Under the climate-change bill just approved by a House committee, the U.S. government would literally make a commodity -- as tradable as a Pontiac or a pork belly -- out of thin air.” Israel. Israeli legislation raises issue of loyalty “The ultranationalist party led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has unveiled two bills targeting Israel's Arab minority, one that would outlaw the Arabs' traditional day of mourning over the birth of Israel and another that would require an oath of allegiance to the Jewish state.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Climate change. “The House Energy and Commerce Committee, splitting largely along party lines, approved on Thursday the most ambitious energy and global warming legislation ever debated in Congress.” Black mayor in Philadelphia, Miss. “The city of Philadelphia, Miss., where members of the Ku Klux Klan killed three civil rights workers in 1964 in one of the era’s most infamous acts, on Tuesday elected its first black mayor.” Pakistan. “Short of food and desperate for the military to support them, some 200,000 people remain trapped in northern Swat as the Pakistani army battles to wrest the area farther south back from Taliban extremists.” Quote of the day. “We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset -- in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.” President Barack Obama, in his Thursday speech on national security. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Guantanamo. “President Obama will attempt today to answer critics of his dismantling of Bush-era policies on detention and interrogation, in a speech reminding Americans that strong national security and adherence to laws and national values are not mutually exclusive.” Iran. “Iran test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile yesterday which Western analysts believe is capable of hitting targets in Israel, as well as southern Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East.” Aung San Suu Kyi. “The United Nations Secretary General promised to go to Burma to demand the release of political prisoners as the authorities resumed their closed trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning democracy leader, a day after briefly admitting journalists and foreign diplomats.” Quote of the day. "People are going to have to figure out: Do they want schools, do they want roads, do they want public safety, do they want to take care of the less fortunate?" John Burton, a former state Senate leader who is now chairman of the California Democratic Party, after voters rejected the state budget plan. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Guantanamo. “Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday decided to drop plans to give President Obama money to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility for terrorism suspects.” Afghanistan. “The U.S. military rejected a charge that around 140 noncombatants were killed in a recent bombing in Farah province, and put the toll instead at 20 to 30 civilians.” Credit card reform. “At first glance, the sweeping credit card legislation that passed the Senate on Tuesday looks like a huge victory for consumers. The bill, after all, contains relief from penalty fees and certain interest rate spikes.” Quote of the day. "She was composed, upright, crackling with energy. Very much in charge of her defence team." UK ambassador Mark Canning describing Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a trial hearing. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 7 weeks ago
Burma. “As protests grew around the world, the trial of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, entered its second day Tuesday as the government pursued its charges that could transform her years of house arrest into the harsher conditions of a prison term.” Pentagon ends Bible quote. “The Pentagon said Monday it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House, as was the practice during the Bush administration.” Fuel and emissions standards. “President Obama will announce tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
President speaks at Notre Dame. “Engaging the culture war directly, President Obama made a plea Sunday at the University of Notre Dame for both sides to talk to each other with 'open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words' on abortion and other fiery issues.” Sudan-Darfur. “The International Criminal Court's pretrial judges have summoned three Sudanese rebel leaders to appear before the Hague-based tribunal to face charges of ordering a deadly attack against African Union peacekeepers in Darfur more than 18 months ago.” Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka's army says it has ended its war with the Tamil Tigers after killing 250 separatist fighters, including the group's leader, his son and three senior officials.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
War funding. “The House passed a bill yesterday that would provide more than $96 billion in funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through Sept. 30, as President Obama had requested, but a bloc of 51 Democrats opposed it.” Israel-Iran. “Israel has acceded to American demands by pledging to coordinate its moves on Iran with Washington and not surprise the United States with military action.” Immigration. “Census data from the Mexican government indicate an extraordinary decline in the number of Mexican immigrants going to the United States.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
Abuse photos. "A month after making public once-classified Justice Department memos detailing the Bush administration's coercive methods of interrogation, President Obama yesterday chose secrecy over disclosure, saying he will seek to block the court-ordered release of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees." National security policies. "Congressional Democrats are voicing growing unease over the Obama administration’s national security policies, including the seemingly open-ended commitment in Afghanistan and the nettlesome question of what to do with prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." Climate Change. “With a series of compromises on the stickiest issues behind them, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is poised to approve the legislation by the end of next week.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
El Salvador. “Two decades ago, it was a civil war, with soldiers, death squads and guerrillas spilling the blood. Now it's gangs (thousands of members originally from Los Angeles), drug-fueled crime, abusive police officers -- all the makings of a bloodletting that has terrified the population and contributed in recent elections to the unseating of the party that ruled for 20 years.” Choice neighborhoods. “The Obama administration is proposing a new program that aims to transform the nation's poorest neighborhoods from head-to-toe: taking 10 urban centers with high concentrations of public housing and improving it while adding day care centers and even farmers markets, sidewalks and parks.” U.S. soldier "broke." “The portrait that emerged Tuesday of Sgt. John Russell, the 44-year-old from Sherman, Texas, charged with killing five fellow service members at a Baghdad military base, in many ways personifies the emotionally taxed soldier the Army says has become a growing concern as the Iraq war stretches into its seventh year.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 8 weeks ago
Pope visits Jerusalem. "Pope Benedict XVI waded straight into Middle East politics Monday as he began an historic five-day pilgrimage meant to strengthen the Vatican's strained relationship with Israel and boost his profile as a beacon of peace in the Holy Land." New Afghanistan commander. "Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon sought 'fresh thinking' to implement its new strategy for the worsening conflict in Afghanistan, replacing Army Gen. David McKiernan with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a veteran counterinsurgency expert." Postville immigration raid. "If there is an epicenter in the shifting, emotionally charged debate over U.S. immigration policy, it is Postville, Iowa. One year ago today, two government helicopters and some 900 immigration agents descended on this town of 2,200 and rounded up nearly 400 illegal immigrants working at a nearby meatpacking plant."
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Afghanistan. “Afghanistan's leading human rights ­organization is investigating claims that white phosphorus was used during a deadly battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban last week in which scores of civilians may have died.” Cost of war. “The debate over how — and how long — the United States should fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan returns to Washington's political stage this week as a wary Congress begins considering new funding for the conflicts.” Economy. “As millions of people seek government aid, many for the first time, they are finding it dispensed American style: through a jumble of disconnected programs that reach some and reject others, often for reasons of geography or chance rather than differences in need.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Unemployment. “Although it is the highest jobless rate since September 1983, the pace of job losses slowed appreciably last month compared with February and March, another sign that the severe economic slump might be starting to ease.” Abortion. “President Obama called for overturning a decade-old ban on publicly funded abortions in the District as part of his budget proposal Thursday, but did not overturn the national ban on federal funding, thus angering advocacy groups on both sides of the volatile issue.” Sudan. “Sudan's government says it will invite new aid groups to work in Darfur and allow those still operating there to expand their activities.”
Posted by Duane Shank 5 years 9 weeks ago
Afghanistan. “Up to 100 civilians, including women and children, are reported to have been killed in Afghanistan in potentially the single deadliest US airstrike since 2001. The news overshadowed a crucial first summit between the Afghan President and Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.” Economy. “The jobless rate is expected to tick up later this week and continue climbing for months, a crisis in commercial real estate looms and the latest survey of bank lending suggests that it's still pretty hard to get a new mortgage. So it may sound surprising that some forecasters see an imminent end to the recession.” Healthcare. “The Obama administration's senior healthcare official Wednesday flatly rejected the idea of taking over the nation's medical insurance system, saying the federal government did not want to assume management of healthcare coverage.”