The Common Good

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Infographic on Mass Incarceration

The Criminal Justice Degree Hub released an infographic on mass incarceration in the U.S. titled "Locked Up In America." According to the extensive graphic, the U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

Check out the graphic here.

 
+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Women Senators Prove Collaboration Is Better than Conflict

A group of female senators came to the rescue in Washington last week, helping forge a bipartisan compromise that ended the budget crisis. How did they do it? “We like each other,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told Time. “We work well together and we look for common ground."

This instance reaffirms women's leadership, and also helps illustrate how far we need to go: of 100 senators, only 20 are women.

Read more here.

Sign a thank-you note to the Senate's women for forging compromise.

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Air Pollution Shuts Down Entire City

Unprecedented levels of air pollution effectively closed the city of Harbin in northern China earlier this week. Smog limited visibility in some places up to 30 feet, and measurements of fine particulate pollution skyrocketed a record 40 times higher than the worse safe level set by the World Health Organization, according to the Washington Post.

In the city of 11 million, schools, public bus routes, and the airport were all forced to suspend activities given the unsafe conditions. Hospital admittances of patients with respiratory problems soared an additional 30 percent.

The cause, according to local Chinese news outlets, was the first day of the city’s heating being turned on before winter. China’s air quality has consistently been found to be harmful in the recent decades of the country’s rapid industrial development.

Read more.

+Leave a Comment | Creation Care

U.N. Women's Ad Series Shows Sexism Through Google Searches

Gender inequality is an international issue. Striving to empower women and call attention to the sexism of popular opinions worldwide, U.N. Women released a series of ads using text from Google real searches. The ads show women's face with their mouths obscured by the text of the searches, visually silencing their voices.

From unwomen.com:

 “When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices. 

“The ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. They are a wake up call, and we hope that the message will travel far,” adds Kareem Shuhaibar, copy writer.

U.N. Women is hoping to use the ads to start conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag: #womenshould

Image Credit: Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai/UN Women

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

House Passes Billions in Cuts to Food Stamps Program

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening narrowly passed a plan that cuts about $40 billion* from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the move will push nearly 4 million low-income people off of the program in 2014. USA Today reports

"The House voted 217-210 for the bill that cuts nearly twice as much from food stamps as a bill the House rejected in June. It is also far more than a Senate measure passed earlier this year that would trim about $4.5 billion in spending. The bill failed to draw the support of a single Democrat, many of whom have said the steep cuts would erode a key safety net depended upon by families with children, seniors, veterans and people looking for work."

Earlier on Thursday, Sojourners President Jim Wallis condemned the then-proposed cuts, saying, "These same politicians are not willing to go to where the real money is: the Pentagon budget, which everyone knows to be the most wasteful in government spending, or the myriad subsidies to corporations, including agribusiness subsides to members of Congress who will be voting to cut SNAP for the poor. ... They are going after cuts to the poor and hungry people because they think it is politically safe to do so. So let’s call that what it is: moral hypocrisy."

Check back with Sojourners for details on how your congressperson voted. 

Image: U.S. Capitol Building, Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

*The early version of this story incorrectly stated $40 million in cuts.

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

The Families of Colombia's 'False Positive' Victims Are Still Fighting For Justice

Sojourners editors Rose Berger, Elizabeth Palmberg, and photographer Ryan Rodrick Beiler have all covered stories in the Colombian drug wars.
 
We've visited the Christian base communities. We've traveled with Witness for Peace. We stood in the cash-yielding coca fields of subsistence farmers. We've met with the priests and Protestant pastors who spend more time burying their congregants than marrying them. We've prayed with the families.
 
Writing for VICE, Ellie Mae O'Hagan continues the story of dangerous peacemaking and the demand for justice in Colombia:
I was there with the NGO Justice for Colombia to hear about the country's 'false positives' scandal, which first broke five years ago and shows no sign of relenting any time soon. The scandal has its roots in the Colombian 50-year civil war between the government and the left-wing peasant insurgent group FARC. In the early 2000s, then-president Alvaro Uribe, out of an apparent concern for the army’s reputation, started putting pressure on soldiers to increase their kill figures.
 
According to media reports, soldiers were promised cash payments and more vacation time if they produced the bodies of dead FARC guerrillas—an accusation the government denies. In an effort to increase their quotas, soldiers allegedly started luring young, impoverished men away from their homes with the offer of work. Once away from their families, the soldiers executed the men, dressed them up in guerrilla uniforms, and presented them as combat kills. Many victims were dismembered and buried hundreds of miles away from their families.

Read more.

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Income Gap Between Rich and Poor is Largest in Hundred Years

The income gap in the U.S. is as wide as it has been in almost 100 years, according to a new study by UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University. The study, based on Internal Revenue Service statistics, reports that although the Great Recession hit the top 1 percent hard, the wealthy recovered more quickly than other income groups. The L.A. Times reports

The 1929 stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression, followed by World War II, reduced an earlier national income gap for decades. But it began to grow again in the 1970s, and has widened since.

Saez attributes the trend not just to technology and job outsourcing, but to the reduced power of progressive tax policies and unions, along with "changing social norms regarding pay inequality."

Read more here.

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

New ICE Policy Allows Detention Alternatives

On Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new guidance for its officials when detaining non-criminal undocumented parents with minor children. The new policy seeks to safeguard parents and reduce family separation. ABC News reports: 

“It clarifies that ICE officers and agents may, on a case-by-case basis, utilize alternatives to detention for these individuals particularly when the detention of a non-criminal alien would result in a child being left without an appropriate parental caregiver,” said Brandon Montgomery, a spokesperson for ICE.

Read more here.

+Leave a Comment | Immigration

Global Churches Alliance for Bangladesh Garment Workers

Mary Priniski wrote in the August 2013 Sojourners magazine about churches responding in solidarity with garment workers, disproportionately women, after the terrible fires in Bangladesh’s garment factories. Now, a global church alliance has been established. Ekklesia reports:

[The alliance] provides an action plan for grassroots campaigning, and a letter for consumers to send to their retailers demanding improvements to the pay and working conditions of garment workers. Real-life stories from garment workers in Bangladesh also highlight the oppression they face and the struggle to survive.

 

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Bradley Manning, Army Private Behind WikiLeaks Leak, Gets 35 Years in Prison

A military judge sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning, the man responsible for leaking thousands of documents to Wikileaks, to 35 years in prison this morning. Manning will also be dishonorably discharged. The Washington Post reports:

Manning, 25, was convicted last month of multiple charges, including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. He faced up to 90 years in prison.

According to the military, Manning is required to serve one-third of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. 

The government had asked Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, to sentence Manning to 60 years.

Read more here.

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