The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Quote of the day. "We struggle first to have a vision for the future and second to ensure that women's rights are an essential part of human rights." Nehad Abu El Komsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women''s Rights, on the “Arab Spring” and women. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Al Jazeera reports:“At least three people have been killed in a suspected US drone attack in Pakistan's northwestern region along the Afghan border, according to a Pakistani security official.“The target of Saturday’s attack was a vehicle in Dattakhel area in North Waziristan, one of seven tribal districts and hotbed of al-Qaeda-linked fighters. All three people travelling in the car were killed and the vehicle completely destroyed, the security official said on condition of anonymity.”The attack was also reported in Pakistani newspapers DAWN and The Nation.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Quote of the day. “This is the most dysfunctional Congress I can remember. I’ve never seen Capitol Hill work so poorly.”  Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, as Congress plans to leave Washington this week until after the November election, without agreements on virtually every big issue it deals with: taxes, defense, spending, farms, even post office policy. (McClatchy Newspapers) 
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. Here is my pick of this week’s books.“On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson”By William Souder, Reviewed by Elizabeth Royte"On the bookshelves of many a contemporary environmental journalist looms at least one canonical text she’s hesitant to read. For this reviewer, it was Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” among the gloomiest books ever written, an unrelenting catalog of crimes committed by man against nature. But after reading William Souder’s engrossing new biography of Carson, “On a Farther Shore,” I returned to the book and discovered its central message to be — depressingly — timeless. Substitute organic pesticides and herbicides with the endocrine-­disrupting compounds found in everyday household items or the creep of chemicals used in hydrof­racking, and you may experience the same hair-prickling alarm felt by Carson’s readers 50 years ago."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Quote of the day. “Who’s talking about poor people? About working people? I hear people say we have a problem with youth apathy. It’s not a matter of apathy, to me. It’s a matter of youth recognition that the options are not sufficient.” Yasmin Kenny, Tampa, Fla., who earns $4.65 an hour as a server at a catering company, is one of millions of struggling working-class young adults who are up for grabs in this election. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Quote of the day. "We want to teach the community how to defend themselves, how to answer to police, how to be prepared, and to have confidence that they're going to have help." Leticia Ramirez, Phoenix, Ariz., on educating immigrants to respectfully stand their ground against police by remaining largely silent as the “show me your papers” provision goes into effect. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 1 week ago
Quote of the day. "When we get to heaven, the kingdom of God isn't going to be segregated. So why should the local church be segregated?"  Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic Church, a diverse non-denominational church based in Little Rock, Ark. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a recent speech on religion in response to violence in the Muslim world. (ABC News)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
 AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier reports“WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is sending more spies, Marines and drones to Libya, trying to speed the search for those who killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but the investigation is complicated by a chaotic security picture in the post-revolutionary country, and limited American and Libyan intelligence resources. The CIA has fewer people available to send, stretched thin from tracking conflicts across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”… “To fill in the gaps in spies on the ground, the U.S. intelligence community has kept up surveillance over Libya with unmanned and largely unarmed Predator and Reaper drones, increasing the area they cover, and the frequency of their flights since the attack on the consulate, as well as sending more surveillance equipment to the region, one official said.”“Largely unarmed?”  
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports“BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — U.S. drones hovered over the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday and militia forces fired toward the crafts, prompting authorities to close the airport for several hours for fear a commercial aircraft could be hit, Libyan officials said.“Abdel-Basit Haroun, the head of the militia in charge of city security, said the drones could easily be spotted from the ground. He says men angry over perceived foreign intervention fired in the air and authorities closed the airport."The drones are like bees," he said, referring to the long hours the drones were seen, with their buzzing noise heard in different neighborhoods of Benghazi. Militias, known as brigades, fought regime forces during Libya's eight-month civil war that led to Moammar Gadhafi's fall last year. Since then, many have roles in keeping security, though they have not been integrated into government forces.“An airport official confirmed the firing on the drones was the reason for the airport shutdown.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Micah Zenko, at the Council on Foreign Relations blog, points to a recently declassified report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the spread of drones. The report, Agencies Could Improve Information Sharing and End-Use Monitoring on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, finds:“Since 2005, the number of countries that acquired an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system nearly doubled from about 40 to more than 75. In addition, countries of proliferation concern developed and fielded increasingly more sophisticated systems. Recent trends in new UAV capabilities, including armed and miniature UAVs, increased the number of military applications for this technology. A number of new civilian and commercial applications, such as law enforcement and environmental monitoring, are available for UAVs, but these applications are limited by regulatory restrictions on civilian airspace.“The United States likely faces increasing risks as countries of concern and terrorist organizations seek to acquire UAV technology. Foreign countries’ and terrorists’ acquisition of UAVs could provide them with increased abilities to gather intelligence on and conduct attacks against U.S. interests. For instance, some foreign countries likely have already used UAVs to gather information on U.S. military activities overseas. Alternatively, the U.S. government has determined that selected transfers of UAV technology support its national security interests by providing allies with key capabilities and by helping retain a strong industrial base for UAV production. For instance, the United Kingdom and Italy have used UAVs purchased from the United States to collect data on Taliban activity in Afghanistan.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
In a lecture Thursday evening at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, former President Jimmy Carter included drone killings in a list of human rights violations. The Muscatine Journal reported:“Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that America is engaging in — and its citizens are accepting — human rights violations that “would never have been dreamed of” before the terrorist attacks that occurred in this country 11 years ago.“The nation’s 39th president said the U.S. government under both Republican and Democratic administrations has violated 10 of 30 provisions set out in a universal declaration of human rights that was forged after World War II, including perpetually detaining people in prison without informing them of any charges, providing them access to legal counsel or bringing them to trial and, more recently, by killing people via the use of unmanned drones.“We have now decided as a nation that it’s OK to kill people without a trial with our drones, and this includes former American citizens who are looked upon as dangerous to us,” Carter told a group of Drake University students involved in a social-justice learning program.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. “It’s of great importance to the residents of the District who are in a constant struggle to be both perceived and acknowledged as the full and equal American citizens that we are.” Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate in the House, on Congress permitting a statue of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass to be placed in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall representing D.C. with statues from each of the states. (New York Times) 1. CPS says agreement possible Friday, union less optimistic. The two sides trying to end the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years emerged from marathon contract talks early Friday, with school officials holding out the possibility that a package might be ready for a union sign off in the afternoon. (Chicago Sun-Times) 2. Ryan, House GOP OK spending hike. Coming full circle, the Republican-controlled House approved an across-the-board increase in domestic appropriations Thursday as part of a six-month stop-gap bill to keep the government operating past Oct. 1 and into March next year. (Politico) 3.  Gasoline pushes up retail sales, inflation in August. Retail sales rose by the most in six months in August, boosted by automobiles and high gasoline prices, but the underlying tone pointed to modest economic growth in the third quarter. (Reuters) 4. Pope arrives in Lebanon with message of peace. The pope arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit despite the recent unrest in region — including the war in neighboring Syria, a mob attack that killed several Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, and a string of violent protests across the region stemming from an anti-Islam film. (Associated Press) 5. Anti-U.S. protests as anger spreads through Muslim world. A new wave of anti-American protests erupted across the Muslim world on Friday, as Egypt’s recently elected government and its counterparts elsewhere in the Middle East struggled to contain widespread anger over a movie made in California that mocks the prophet Muhammad. (Washington Post) 6. Chaos was followed by organized ambush in Libya. The mayhem here that killed four United States diplomatic personnel, including the ambassador, was actually two attacks — the first one spontaneous and the second highly organized and possibly aided by anti-American infiltrators of Libya’s young government, a top Libyan security official said Thursday. (New York Times) 7. Military plans possible early Afghan withdrawal. The pace of the British withdrawal from Afghanistan could quicken next year because military commanders have changed their views about how many troops need to remain to help local security forces fight the Taliban, the defense secretary has said. (Guardian) 8. Japan plan to end nuclear power. In its first comprehensive energy review since the Fukushima disaster, Japan said on Friday that it would seek to phase out nuclear power by the end of the 2030s — but only after a longer-than-expected transition that would give power companies decades to recoup their investments and brace for a nonnuclear future. (New York Times) 9. UN nuclear agency board rebukes Iran. The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved by an overwhelming majority a resolution criticising Iran brought by world powers that was also aimed at dissuading Israel from military action. (Al Jazeera)  10. South Africa vows miner clampdown. The move came as striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine rejected a pay offer from the management and some unions threatened a general strike. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
During the Libyan revolution, U.S. drones were a significant part of the NATO forces involved, carrying out nearly 150 attacks. But when the conflict ended, the drones stayed. CNN reported in June:“A senior Libyan official told CNN that the U.S. is flying surveillance missions with drones over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya because of concerns over rising activity by al Qaeda and like-minded groups in the region but said that to the best of his knowledge, they had not been used to fire missiles at militant training camps in the area.”Following yesterday’s attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, President Obama declared that the killers would be found and that “justice will be done.”CNN reported today on the military role in that "justice:"The Pentagon dispatched a contingent of Marines to Libya, moved warships toward its coast, and planned to use drones in a stepped up search for those responsible for an attack on a U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador and three others.”A “senior military official” provided more details on the planned use of drones“American drones also were expected to join the hunt for potential targets. They would be part of "a stepped-up, more focused search" for a particular insurgent cell that may have been behind the attack, the official said. The unmanned surveillance aircraft are expected to fly over Benghazi and other areas of eastern Libya to look for militant encampments.”And, while the reports now are only of surveillance, an educated guess would suggest that the drones are (or soon will be) armed, and that missiles will likely be fired.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Patients cannot stay here at the hospital anymore. It is too dangerous. We treat them and then they must immediately go somewhere else." Ahmad al-Rashid, a medical student who is now a volunteer nurse at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, on the Syrian military bombing hospitals. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
A posthumous book of Christopher Hitchens’ essays was published this week with the title Mortality. Seven chapters are previously published essays, and the eighth is a series of notes he wrote in his last days in the hospital. In a review, Christopher Buckley writes that Hitchens’“… greatest gift of all may have been the gift of friendship. At his memorial service in New York City, 31 people, virtually all of them boldface names, rose to speak in his memory. One selection was from the introduction Christopher wrote for the paperback reissue of “Hitch-22” while gravely ill:”‘Another element of my memoir — the stupendous importance of love, friendship and solidarity — has been made immensely more vivid to me by recent experience. I can’t hope to convey the full effect of the embraces and avowals, but I can perhaps offer a crumb of counsel. If there is anybody known to you who might benefit from a letter or a visit, do not on any account postpone the writing or the making of it. The difference made will almost certainly be more than you have calculated.’”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
When and how one may draw general conclusions from particular evidence is a frequently debated question. One example is museums – do historical museums exist to preserve the evidence and artifacts of a particular experience, or should they attempt to draw generalized lessons from that experience? A thoughtful piece by Edward Rothstein in the New York Times examines how Holocaust museums in Israel are being retooled to educate on what are seen as the “universal lessons.” Rothstein takes issue, arguing that this“leaves Holocaust museums intellectually orphaned. What “lessons” are we supposed to take away? The impulse has been to generalize, to say that a Holocaust museum can’t be “just” about the murder of Jews during World War II.“Why? Is there a problem, say, with an American slavery museum being “just” about American slavery? Why should Holocaust museums deal with notions of tolerance or racism in general, or even genocide in general? Why do we think that the proper lesson comes from generalizing rather than comprehending the particular? The moment we generalize, we strip away details: we lose information and create equivalences that may be fallacious.”I’m inclined to agree. Some events in history deserve to be remembered and pondered in their own right, not simply as things from which to draw general lessons.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
As the number of drone attacks on Pakistan and Yemen continue to increase, protests against them are growing.On Sunday, some 40 people gathered to protest near the New York Air National Guard headquarters at Hancock Field in DeWitt, N.Y. The Syracuse Post-Standard reported“The group Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drone and End the Wars chose Sunday for its event because the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock was changing its name to 174th Attack Wing, which reflects the change in mission at the base from flying fighter aircraft to MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.”On Monday, two activists were convicted in federal court for trespassing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri while protesting the use of drones. The Associated Press reported“Retired minister Ron Faust of suburban Kansas City and Brian Terrell, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement from Maloy, Iowa, were among a group of 40 protesters who demonstrated at the air base in mid-April. They were arrested after entering a restricted area without permission.”… “We were there not to commit a crime, but to prevent one,” Terrell said, describing seeing in person a 9-year-old girl in an Afghani refugee camp missing an arm from what he said was a wayward drone strike. … Faust, a 69-year-old retired Disciples of Christ minister, compared drone strikes to ‘premeditated murder’ that cheapen the value of human life by allowing shooters to be as detached from their targets as video game players.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “We were there not to commit a crime, but to prevent one.”  Brian Terrell, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement from Maloy, Iowa, one of two anti-war activists convicted in federal court of trespassing at central Missouri's Whiteman Air Force Base to protest the use of unmanned military drones. (Kansas City Star/AP)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
In September, 2003, I wrote a piece for Sojourners magazine on the "Project for the New American Century," a neo-con organization to which a number of key Bush administration officials had belonged, including Vice President Richard Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In its grand plan for the future, released in September 2000, it urged a “transformation” of the American military into a robust global presence capable of fighting multiple wars, with a network of bases in critical regions around the world. But, the report said, this transformation was "likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor."From its beginning, the project was obsessed with Iraq.Only days later after the catastrophic 9/11 attacks, the Project released a letter arguing that "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." Now it seems that strategy began well before 9/11. In a New York Times op-ed this morning, author Kurt Eichenwald wrote of the series of briefings the Bush White House received from the CIA in the spring and summer of 2001, all warning of an attack to come. 
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. Here are my picks of this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 2 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “We’ve got miles and miles of miles and miles.  There’s lots of Interstates going through wide open spaces.”  Jerry Patterson, Texas land commissioner, after the state transportation commission voted an 85 mph speed limit for a section of highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio.  (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. “God is not necessary, but he is inevitable. He is wholly other and wholly present. Faith in him, the conversion of our human reality, both culturally and existentially, is the demand he still makes upon us.” Gabriel Vahanian, a theologian, from his 1964 book, “Wait Without Idols.” His critique of attempts to trivialize and modernize Christianity led to the so-called “death of God” movement in the 1960s. Vahanian died Thursday at the age of 85. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
It’s the time of year when various government agencies release their reports for the previous year, in this case, 2011. The annual report on poverty is due from the Census Bureau next week, and, according to AP, early reports are that“The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.”This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report on household food security. (If you want all the detailed statistical tables, here is the full report.) Not surprisingly, the results showed a growing number people in the U.S. going hungry. 17.9 million households (14.9 percent of households) were  “food insecure.” That means at some point during the year, those households did not have enough food due to lack of money. Of those, 6.8 million households (5.7 percent of households and one-third of all food-insecure households) had “very low food security.” That means at some point during the year, some household members went hungry. According to their answers on the survey, these folks reported that “the food they bought just did not last and they did not have money to get more,” and that “an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food.”It is hardly the time to reduce assistance to hungry families, but as McClatchy News noted,“The survey data comes as congressional Republicans … push for massive cuts in food stamp-program funding to curb enrollment growth and to help balance the federal budget. The Democratic-controlled Senate also voted in June to cut food stamp funding, but by a smaller amount.”Without programs such as SNAP (food stamps) school lunches, the Women, Infant and Children nutrition program; there would be many more food insecure families in America.Here’s the data in a helpful infographic from McClatchy.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. "This trend is pretty geographically pervasive, and even residents of small towns and rural areas are encountering diversity face to face. It''s not something they just read about in the newspapers anymore."  Barrett Lee, Penn State sociologist and demographer and lead author of a new study on diversity in the U.S. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report for August this morning. In the numbers that make the headlines, 96,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent – 12.5 million people. The numbers behind the headlines are mixed.Across the major demographic groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teenagers (24.6 percent), whites (7.2 percent), blacks (14.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.2 percent) showed little or no change. In the macro picture, 5 million people, 40 percent of those unemployed, are “long-term unemployed” (those jobless for 27 weeks or more.) 8 million people who are considered employed are referred to as “involuntary part-time workers,” meaning they are working part time because their hours have been cut or they are can’t find a full-time job.But it’s the people who aren’t even counted that give me pause. 2.6 million people are considered “marginally attached to the labor force,” meaning they want work, have looked for a job sometime in the past year, but didn’t look during August. So, they don’t count. Of these, 844,000 are “discouraged workers,” meaning they aren’t looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available for them. They also don’t count.There is much this country needs and there are people available and willing to do the job. What is lacking is the will to put them to work.  
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "The death toll is staggering, the destruction is reaching catastrophic proportions, and the suffering of the people is immense." Lakhdar Brahimi, new UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, in his first comments to the UN General Assembly. (Al Jazeera) 
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The huge populations in West Africa have disappeared, and those in the center and east are going rapidly. The question is: Do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants?” Andrew Dobson, an ecologist at Princeton, speaking of the mass slaughter of African elephants for their ivory tusks, which is putting the survival of the species at risk. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
U.S. drones continue to hammer Yemen today.  Reuters reports an attack this morningA U.S. drone strike killed six suspected Islamist militants in eastern Yemen on Wednesday, a security official said, the latest sign of a Washington-backed campaign against al Qaeda-linked fighters in the impoverished country. The drone fired eight missiles at a house where fighters were thought to be hiding in the Wadi al-Ain area of Hadramout province, a witness told Reuters. Eight people managed to escape, the witness added.Meanwhile, the attack on Sunday that killed 14 civilians is now being investigated as coming from a drone. Initially, the strike was said to have come from Yemeni planes, although the Yemen Post and Al Jazeera reported sources saying it was a drone.  On Monday, CNN quoted “three security officials” calling it a U.S. drone. Today, AFP reportsYemeni authorities have sent tribal representatives to investigate civilian deaths in an apparent US drone strike targeting an Al-Qaeda commander, one of them told AFP on Tuesday. Three women and a child were among 14 people killed in Sunday's strike near the town of Radaa, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Sanaa, targeting Al-Qaeda's Abdelrauf al-Dahab who escaped unharmed, local officials said.   
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released its monthly report on covert actions in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.Pakistan: August sees the highest number of CIA strikes in Pakistan since October 2011. A number of senior militants are killed along with at least two named civilians.July 2012 actionsTotal CIA strikes in August: 7 Total killed in strikes in August: 29-65, of whom at least 2 were reportedly civiliansFor the Bureau’s full Pakistan databases click here.Yemen: At least 26 people are killed in five confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen. This is still less than the May peak. Civilian casualties are confirmed for the first time since May.August 2012 actionsConfirmed US drone strikes: 5 Further reported/possible US strike events: 1 Total reported killed in US operations: 26-33 Civilians reported killed in US strikes: 2Click here for the full Yemen data.Somalia: For the fourth month no US military actions are reported in Somalia.Click here for the Bureau’s full data on Somalia.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 3 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The hazard from this storm is still very real. One need only look at the satellite imagery to see that this is a very slow tropical storm hammering communities across the Gulf Coast.” Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of disaster services for the Red Cross, on the continued threat of flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac. (McClatchy News) 1. Dems open convention playing defense of Obama. Democrats open their national convention Tuesday in defense of a president who carries both the power and the burden of incumbency, offering President Barack Obama as the best choice to revive the ragged U.S. economy and asking Americans to be patient with incomplete results so far. (Associated Press) 2. Black church leaders try to inspire congregants to vote for Obama. Two dozen of this region’s most influential black pastors sat in the cramped conference room of a suburban Baptist church last week, brainstorming how to inspire congregants still dismayed by President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage. (Washington Post) 3. Californians debate death penalty as vote to end it nears. Sharron Mankins, McGregor Scott and Bill Babbitt each have watched a man die inside the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, and each has a strong view on whether voters should end California''s death penalty in November. (Sacramento Bee/McClatchy) 4. Project aims to harness the power of waves. About 15 years ago, this environmentally conscious state with a fir tree on its license plates began pushing the idea of making renewable energy from the ocean waves that bob and swell on the Pacific horizon.  (New York Times) 5. With military at ‘turning point,’ Panetta avoids bold moves. For most of the past year, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has stressed that the vast military complex over which he presides is at a “strategic turning point.” A decade of grinding guerrilla war is drawing to a close. Defense budgets are shrinking. The implication is that major changes are coming to the military. (Washington Post) 6. Christian girl hailed as ''daughter of nation'' by senior Pakistani cleric. The Christian girl who was allegedly framed for blasphemy by her local mullah has been hailed as a "daughter of the nation" by one of Pakistan''s most senior Islamic clerics, who also vowed to guarantee her safety if she is eventually released from prison. (Guardian) 7. ''Record numbers'' of refugees fleeing Syria. The UN says more than 100,000 people fled their country in August — the highest monthly total since the uprising began. (Al Jazeera) 8. U.S. nears deal for $1 billion in Egypt debt relief. The Obama administration is close to a deal with Egypt''s new government for $1 billion in debt relief, a senior U.S. official said on Monday, as Washington seeks to help Cairo shore up its ailing economy in the aftermath of its pro-democracy uprising. (Reuters) 9. U.S. vehicle is rammed by a bomber in Pakistan. A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a sport utility vehicle belonging to the United States Consulate in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday morning, Pakistani and American officials said, in one of the most brazen attacks against Americans in the country in recent years. (New York Times)  10. Quebec elections arrive with chance that separatists will govern. Voters in Quebec head to the polls on Tuesday in an election that may see a separatist party return to power, potentially placing the French-speaking province on course for another referendum to break away from Canada. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
The Daily Digest is off for Labor Day. We hope you have a great holiday! Here are some links to Duane''s usual sources to browse until his return on Tuesday. 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 2 years 4 weeks ago
U.S. drones are having a busy weekend, killing people in both Pakistan and Yemen.On Saturday, an attack in Pakistan is reported to have killed six people. Pakistan’s The Nation reports that “A U.S. drone strike targeting a compound on Saturday killed at least six suspected militants in North Waziristan’s Datta Khel tehsil bordering Afghanistan.” DAWN newspaper added that “six drones flying low in Dattakhel fired four rockets on a vehicle and a house.”On Sunday, AP reported a strike in Yemen killed five people, including a top al-Qaida militant wanted for allegedly masterminding a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker.In a separate attack, 14 civilians were killed when a disputed strike hit two cars. In the same story, AP reported:“Yemeni fighter planes mistakenly hit vehicles carrying civilians traveling south of the capital, killing 14. Military officials said the airstrikes in Radda in the province of Bayda were based on faulty intelligence that the passengers were al-Qaida members. Missiles fired from the warplanes hit two vehicles carrying local residents returning to their villages. Tribesman Sheik Ahmed Ali said the dead included three women and three children.” The Yemen Post, however, cites “local sources” saying the attack was by a U.S, drone. Al Jazeera, citing officials and local tribal leaders, also reported the attack as a drone strike. Bloomberg, citing an “independent Yemeni news website,” reported that “it wasn’t clear whether the strike was launched from a U.S. drone or a Yemeni warplane.”Either way, 14 civilians are dead due to faulty intelligence. Ultimately, that is more important than the source of the missiles that killed them.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Last week was drone week in Pakistan, this week it’s Yemen. Two deaths were reported in an attack on a car on Tuesday, at least four in another car on Wednesday, and another attack today that killed eight. Reuters reports:“Eight Islamist militants were killed by a U.S. drone strike on Friday in a remote part of Hadramout, a Yemeni official said, the third such strike in the eastern Yemeni province this week.Yemen's defense ministry said on its website that eight al Qaeda members were killed in an air strike on their vehicle in the isolated, desert district of Hawra. The local official, who declined to be named, said it was a drone strike.The men were heavily armed, carrying machine-guns and explosives, the ministry said. The local official said the men were thought to have been on the way to carry out an attack.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
In their annual Labor Day statement, the U.S. Catholic bishops call for “national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life.” Issued by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Cal., chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the statement emphasizes the reality that “Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation.”The bishops then cite related issues in the news.On the deficit:“Public officials rightfully debate the need to reduce unsustainable federal deficits and debt. In the current political campaigns, we hear much about the economy, but almost nothing about the moral imperative to overcome pervasive poverty in a nation still blessed with substantial economic resources and power.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Our vision is to bring all kids together, regardless of background, so they can have fun." Dani Steiner, camp director.of the Jordan River Village camp in Israel that brings Jewish and Arab children with serious illnesses together. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “My prayer will be an opportunity to share the spirit of the Sikh faith with the American people. The tenets of Sikhism - humility, equality, and justice – lie at the heart of the American ethic.” Ishwar Singh, president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, who on Wednesday became  the first Sikh American to deliver the invocation at a national convention. (CNN Belief Blog)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. "The archbishop is of the view that Mr. Blair''s decision to support the United States'' military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible.… In this context, it would be inappropriate and untenable for the archbishop to share a platform with Mr. Blair." Roger Friedman, spokesman for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, explaining why Tutu has withdrawn from a seminar in South Africa in protest at the presence of Tony Blair. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Reuters reports that a drone attack in central Yemen yesterday killed two suspected militants:"Two men thought to be Islamist militants were killed in an apparent U.S. drone attack on a car in central Yemen on Tuesday, the defense ministry said.A security source and witnesses told Reuters the car was hit on a remote road from Hadramout to Maareb province - a mostly desert southeastern region where militants have taken refuge after being driven from their southern strongholds last month.It was not clear if there were other casualties in the attack. Washington, which fears the spread of militants in Yemen, has stepped up attacks by unmanned drones this year."The Yemen Post reported a local website as quoting a security source saying that one of those killed was a Saudi militant, and that a second car managed to get away.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “This is a historic moment in El Salvador. If we lose this moment, we lose the moment of a lifetime.”  Alex Sanchez, a former Salvadoran gang member who directs Homies Unidos, an antiviolence program in Los Angeles, on a truce in El Salvador between the region’s two largest gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18. (New York Times) 1. Isaac nearly a hurricane, packs coast flood threat. Isaac was on the verge of ballooning into a hurricane Tuesday that could flood the coasts of four states with storm surge and heavy rains on its way to New Orleans, where residents hunkered down behind levies fortified after Katrina struck seven years ago this week. (Associated Press) 2. Formal vote, keynote speech in Tampa. After a day of suspended animation, the Republican convention will spring to life Tuesday, with a busy agenda that includes the formal vote on the nomination of Mitt Romney, a speech by Romney’s wife, Ann, and a keynote address by one of the party’s stars, Gov. Chris Christie (New Jersey). (Washington Post) 3. Arctic sea ice hits record low, scientists say. The Arctic has lost more sea ice this year than at any time since satellite records began in 1979, Nasa says. Scientists involved in the calculations say it is part of a fundamental change. (BBC) 4. Charters draw students from private schools. Charter schools are pulling in so many onetime private school students that they are placing an ever-greater burden on taxpayers, who must fund an already strained public education system, according to research released Tuesday. (Los Angeles Times) 5. Michigan court sides with backers of pro-union initiative. The Michigan Court of Appeals on Monday ordered state officials to put a voter initiative that would enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution on the November 6 ballot. (Reuters) 6. Rachel Corrie verdict: death was an accident. The death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie was a "regrettable accident" for which the state of Israel was not responsible, a judge has ruled, dismissing a civil lawsuit brought by the family. (Guardian) 7. U.S. troops tried to burn 500 copies of Koran. U.S. troops tried to burn about 500 copies of the Koran as part of a badly bungled security sweep at an Afghan prison in February, despite repeated warnings from Afghan soldiers that they were making a colossal mistake, according to a U.S. military investigative report released Monday. (Washington Post) 8. Air strikes near Damascus kill dozens. Clashes intensify around Syrian capital as rare bombing raids in suburbs leave at least 60 dead, according to activists. (Al Jazeera) 9. Iran denies plans to show nuclear sites to diplomats. Iran said on Tuesday it has no plans to show its nuclear sites to diplomats visiting Tehran for this week''s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, despite an earlier offer by a deputy foreign minister. (Reuters) 10. Colombia pursues talks with Farc. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirms his government has held exploratory talks with left-wing Farc rebels in a bid to end the five-decade conflict. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 4 weeks ago
Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. Here is my pick of this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 5 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Rimsha has been sent to jail without any proof. We demand this law should be repealed, people are misusing it. And Rimsha should be released immediately." Bishop Arshad Khokhar, chairman of Bishop Council in Pakistan’s Sindh province, at a protest by Christians over the arrest of an 11-year-old girl accused of blasphemy. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 5 weeks ago
The Pakistan Foreign Office has formally protested this week’s drone strikes. DAWN, a leading Pakistani newspaper, reported today,ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday summoned a senior American diplomat to protest against US drone strikes in the country’s troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesman, the US Embassy in Pakistan was “démarched on recent drone strikes in North Waziristan.”Pakistani officials told the diplomat, who was not identified, that the attacks were unacceptable, unlawful and a violation of the country’s sovereignty. “A senior US diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said an official statement. “It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable.”How much longer will the U.S. government be able to flout international law?
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 5 weeks ago
After nearly 11 years of war, the New York Times reports that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan went over 2,000 this week. In an analysis of those deaths, the Times reports that “… three out of four were white, 9 out of 10 were enlisted service members, and one out of two died in either Kandahar Province or Helmand Province in Taliban-dominated southern Afghanistan. Their average age was 26.”Accompanying the piece is an interactive photomontage of these men and women, with their age and hometown. Clicking through the photos is a sobering experience, and makes one wonder how many more will die? As one mother, whose son had just turned 21 when he died, told the Times, “Our forces shouldn’t be there,” she said. “It should be over. It’s done. No more.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 5 weeks ago
As international concern about U.S. targeted killings with drones rises, Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said Sunday that every drone strike should be impartially investigated. According to Common Dreams,"Emmerson is preparing a report for the next session of the Human Rights Council in March covering the use of drone attacks, which have spiked since Obama's presidency.He questioned the legality of the drone strikes and noted the growing global outrage over their use. ‘We can't make a decision on whether it is lawful or unlawful if we do not have the data. The recommendation I have made is that users of targeted killing technology should be required to subject themselves, in the case of each and every death, to impartial investigation. If they do not establish a mechanism to do so, it will be my recommendation that the UN should put the mechanisms in place through the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Office of the High Commissioner.’”This comes as a flurry of drone strikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the last four days have killed at least 18 people.  Reuters reports that six people were killed in an attack on Saturday, five early on Sunday, and two more later on Sunday near the location of the previous strike. These attacks came as celebrations of the Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of Ramadan, were occurring. Tuesday, a further strike killed five, according to the Associated Press.Mr. Emmerson’s call for investigations is an important step, one that will hopefully mark the beginning of the end for drones as killing machines.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 5 weeks ago
Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. Here are my picks of this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 6 weeks ago
The Daily Digest is not available this week. But here are some links to Duane''s usual sources to browse until his return next week. 
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 6 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Your whole life your job defines who you are. All of the sudden that’s gone, and you don’t know what to take pride in anymore." - Yundra Thomas, Corona, CA, who is participating in a California program that helps long-term unemployed people find jobs. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 6 weeks ago
As drones continue to proliferate, the technology is behind them is speeding ahead. Wired takes a look at the next generation of drones now in development."Today's unmanned robotic planes only seemadvanced. A decade after the CIA and the Air Force tucked a Hellfire missile under the wing of a Predator drone, much hasn't actually changed: pilots in air-conditioned boxes remotely control much of the armed drone fleet; the robo-planes are easy for an enemy to spot; the weapons they fire weigh about the same; as much as they love the skies, they take refuge on dry land; and they're built around traditional airframes like planes and helicopters. Yawn.Drones are moving out to sea -- above it and below it. They're growing increasingly autonomous, no longer reliant on a pilot with a joystick staring at video feeds from their cameras. They're getting stealthier; the payloads they carry are changing; and they're going global. They're pushing humans out of the gondolas of blimps. And the laboratories of the drones of the future aren't only owned by American defense contractors, they're in Israel and China and elsewhere, too. … Here's a look at the more ambitious ways drones are getting re-imagined."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 6 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Brewer has once again put Arizona's name on the map as the epicenter of anti-immigrant racism and hate. However, like we have continuously showed throughout her time as governor, the community will stand united against Brewer's latest assault." - Carlos Garcia, director of the grassroots community group Puente in Phoenix, commenting on Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order barring immigrants who qualify for temporary legal status from receiving any state or local public benefits, including driver's licenses. (Reuters)