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DRONE WATCH: Medals for Drone Pilots?

The Washington Post reports:

The Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield.”

If the medals are approved, that makes killing people from a computer in the U.S., thousands of miles from a combat zone, “distinguished warfare.”  Will hazardous duty pay come next?

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Olympic Security: Londoners Lose Battle to Keep Missile Systems Off Their Roof

With the Olympics just a few weeks away, Time reports on the fight that has broken out over security for the Games:

"Policing the world’s biggest peacetime logistics operation is a herculean task, and Britain’s intelligence and military officials are preparing for every eventuality — even if it means festooning a few apartment buildings with Rapier missiles.

Back in May, after residents learned about the plans through leaflets from the MoD, they launched the Stop the Olympic Missiles campaign. Residents staged a protest march on June 30 against government plans, which were approved by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary. In one of the most reproduced images of the protest, an elderly woman holds a sign that says “No missiles on homes! No snipers on schools! No guns on streets!” Other signs simply read, “No missiles in our community” and “This is not a war zone.”
 
But on July 10 a high-court judge rejected those claims, giving the government the all-clear to proceed. While delivering his verdict, Justice Charles Haddon-Cave suggested that the residents were not at risk and instead were “under something of a misapprehension” about the equipment. He also said the government was acting within the law. A day later lawyers representing the residents said they have decided to drop their case: the tenants simply cannot afford to appeal the court’s decision."
 
Read more here
 
 

 

 

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A Backward Step for Democracy in Britain

Nicholas Watt writes for The Guardian

"Nick Clegg's hopes of reforming the House of Lords, completing a journey begun a century ago by his Liberal predecessors, ran into severe trouble on Tuesday when 91 Tory MPs defied a three line whip to vote against the measure in the largest rebellion of the parliament. A furious David Cameron confronted the leader of the Tory rebellion just outside the House of Commons division lobbies late on Tuesday night as it became clear that normally loyal Tory MPs were determined to register their opposition to House of Lords reform."

Learn more here

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Let's Talk About population

Mother Jones on the last taboo - population:

"The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050. But should mothers average half a child more in 2045, the world population will peak at 10.5 billion five years later. Half a child less, and it stabilizes at 8 billion. The difference in those projections—2.5 billion—is the total number of people alive on earth in 1950.

"Overpopulation, combined with overconsumption, is the elephant in the room," says Paul Ehrlich, 42 years after he wrote his controversial book, The Population Bomb. "We don't talk about overpopulation because of real fears from the past—of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex. We don't really talk about overconsumption because of ignorance about the economics of overpopulation and the true ecological limits of earth."
 
Read more here

 

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Living in Poverty in America's Poorest City

NPR report on the plight of the poorest in Reading, PA - the poorest city in the United States:

"Like many mothers in Reading, Boggs has no husband to share the bills. Poverty is high, but it's a lot higher for single mothers. An astounding 66 percent of them in Reading live below the poverty line, less than $19,000 for a family of three. Boggs admits that she made some bad decisions in life and that her daughters' two fathers turned out to be unreliable. But, she quickly adds, "I wouldn't change anything in the world for my kids, my daughters. They're what keeps me going and keeps me fighting to keep searching, as bad as the economy is. If it was just me, I would have [given] up a long time ago." You hear that a lot around the learning center: hope that things will get better if you just keep plugging away, despite the bad times."

Learn more here

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Capital in the Capitol

We love a good infographic--and here's one more.

Capital in the Capitol: What's the Cost of Getting into Congress?

A few key numbers to look at-- in the 2 years prior to taking office, the after Representative raises $1700 a day. If you're trying to be a Seantor? Try $8700. 

What does that mean? Are they actually running this country? No way. Try breakfast, lunch, and cocktails with high-dollar donors.

Take a look. Thanks to Upworthy for finding this great piece.

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DRONE WATCH: Drone Attacks Not Okayed By Pakistan

The Pakistani newspaper DAWN reports that in an interview with CNN, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman said her government has not approved continuing drone strikes.

“There’s no question of it. We also consider it, the drone program, we consider it counterproductive to all our goals in the sense that it radicalizes for the, it radicalizes foot soldiers, tribes and entire villages in our region. And what we see, really, is that increasingly Pakistan is feared as a predatory footprint. The concerns over drones can’t just be brushed aside.”

She said that the government considered the strikes to be a violation of international law, and that the damage done by the strikes outweighed the claimed benefits.

“It is something that is not only radicalizing large swaths of the population and it is also seen as predatory. It’s seen as against the law. And it continues to challenge a relationship that can actually accomplish a lot more on the ground than we are doing today in eliminating terrorism.”

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State Department: Release Pastor Nadarkhani

The State Deparment yesterday released a statement on the imprisonment of Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for over 1000 days on charges of apostasy.

Organizations and countries has been calling for his release since he was imprisoned, but Iranian authorities has yet to agree to release him. A new date for Pastor Nadarkhani's trial has also been set recently.

Read the statement in full below:

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              July 9, 2012

2012/1118

 

STATEMENT BY VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESPERSON

Continued Imprisonment of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and
Repression of Minorities in Iran

We note that July 8 marked 1,000 days Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison.  Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately.

Unfortunately, Pastor Nadarkhani is not alone in his suffering.  The Iranian regime continues to deny and abuse the human rights of its citizens, in particular those of its many ethnic and religious minorities.  We are troubled by reports of the execution of four members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab community, whose sentences were carried out with little due process.  In March 2012, Iranian state media broadcast the forced confession of one of those executed.

We are also concerned by credible reports that prominent author Mohammad Soleimani Nia is missing following his release in May after five months in prison on unspecified charges.

We call upon Iranian authorities to respect and protect the freedoms and dignity of all its citizens, and to uphold its own laws and international obligations which guarantee such rights to all Iranians, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.

# # #

 

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New Study Finds Fracking Can Pollute

Salon reports on a new study which suggests that "fracking" can pollute water sources:

"A new study, published in the formidable Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, upends that common-sense argument. It shows that fluids may have traveled from deep within Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, one of the formations at the center of the gas boom, into shallow aquifers hundreds of feet above. These fluids aren’t products of fracking, but if they can travel up through layers of rocks, close to the surface, it means that fracking fluids could, too."

Read more about the study here

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How Do We Improve Work-Family Balance?

From The Nation:

"One might expect that the workplace would have adapted to accommodate these changes. With nearly double the number of available workers, and the fact that all employees now likely need to pitch in to share domestic duties, we might hope that employers would lower workers’ expected output. Yet exactly the opposite has happened."

Read the full article here

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