The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 26 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "When the Nobel committee awarded the peace prize to me, they were recognising that the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world, they were recognising the oneness of humanity.” Aung San Suu Kyi, delivering her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1991 when she was under house arrest. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 26 weeks ago
Vietnam vet and author Terry McDermott sees parallels between the B-52 bombings of Cambodia and the drone strikes in Pakistan."Simply put: American technology — B-52s then, drones now — makes it far too easy to unleash holy hell on our enemies. We live in an age when American might can overwhelm the defenses of entire countries with barely a drop of American blood spent. It is, in a way, too easy. Because there is so little risk, there is no political cost to be paid for the drone wars."But he asks:"We've been trying to attack Al Qaeda with missiles, bombs and drones for 25 years now. Shouldn't we at some time stop and ask ourselves: What's the point? As good as we've become at killing people, the larger problem persists. … That larger problem is that we cannot kill our way to victory in the war on terror." 
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 26 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports: "The White House’s semiannual report to Congress on the state of U.S. combat operations abroad, delivered Friday, mentions what has been widely reported for years but never formally acknowledged by the administration: The U.S. military has been taking “direct action” against members of al-Qaida and affiliates in Yemen and Somalia.The report does not elaborate, but “direct action” is a military term of art that refers to a range of lethal attacks, which in the case of Yemen and Somalia include attacks by armed drones. … The report applies only to U.S. military operations, including those by special operations forces — not those conducted by the CIA."Another step toward greater transparency, which can hopefully lead to greater accountability.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 26 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "I can’t see any reason for having as large an inventory as we are allowed to have under New Start, in terms of real threat, potential threat." - Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), urging the administration to seek cuts in nuclear warheads below the treaty ceiling. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 26 weeks ago
Wednesday evening, a saucer-shaped object was spotted on a flatbed truck being transported on the Capital Beltway.  Some drivers posted photos on Twitter and Facebook, some called the police, wondering why a UFO was being moved on the highway.Turned out it was an experimental drone dubbed the X-47B being taken to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland for test flights. What’s new about it?  According to a military press release:"The X-47B is the first unmanned vehicle designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. As part of the program's demonstration, the X-47B will perform arrested landings and catapult launches at Pax to validate its ability to conduct precision approaches to the carrier."The military warned that the drones are likely to be seen flying around in the coming months. And as one local resident tweeted, "Don't worry, that's not an alien spacecraft, just a flying military robot. …"
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
In the second attack in two days, AFP reports that a U.S. drone strike killed at least three people early today in a building in the central market of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan near the Afghan border."A US drone fired two missiles on the first floor of a shop in the main market and at least three militants were killed," a senior official told AFP. … "When the first missile hit the building, I heard cries for help and ran towards it, but militants stopped me at a distance. When they started rescue work, another missile hit," a local tribesman said about Thursday's strike. "I eventually saw them removing three burnt bodies in a really bad shape. They were put in wooden boxes and taken away."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "The most important thing the Arab spring brought us was to give women leadership roles. When women become leaders of men, and men are following, when women sacrifice themselves and get killed in front of men, when they get detained for political issues and men don''t feel ashamed of women who are arrested, this is a change." - Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni activist who won the Nobel peace prize for her part at the forefront of the popular revolution against the former dictator Saleh's rule. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Ibrahim Mothana, an activist, writer and community worker from Yemen, writes that the anger and despair resulting from civilian casualties of drone strikes are causing Yemenis to join radical militants:"Anti-Americanism is far less prevalent in Yemen than in Pakistan. But rather than winning the hearts and minds of Yemeni civilians, America is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends. Indeed, the drone program is leading to the Talibanization of vast tribal areas and the radicalization of people who could otherwise be America’s allies in the fight against terrorism in Yemen. … Yemeni tribes are generally quite pragmatic and are by no means a default option for radical religious groups seeking a safe haven. However, the increasing civilian toll of drone strikes is turning the apathy of tribal factions into anger. The strikes have created an opportunity for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar al-Sharia to recruit fighters from tribes who have suffered casualties."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
According to a new Pew Research Center global survey:"The Obama administration's increasing use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world.  … In 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, more than half of the people disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia."The major exception? “… in the United States, a majority, or 62 percent, approved the drone campaign.”You can read the Pew Survey HERE.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Twenty-six Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama yesterday demanding the White House’s legal justification for “signature” drone strikes. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), with 23 other Democrats and two Republicans wrote:“We are concerned that the use of such ‘signature’ strikes could raise the risk of killing innocent civilians or individuals who may have no relationship to attacks on the United States. Our drone campaigns already have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight. We are further concerned about the legal grounds for such strikes under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The implications of the use of drones for our national security are profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have.  They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.”  In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the “Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,” which would require the government to get a warrant before using aerial drones to surveil U.S. citizens. According to Sen. Paul:"Like other tools used to collect information in law enforcement, in order to use drones a warrant needs to be issued. Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
After running an editorial, USA Today often follows it with an opposing view on the topic. It’s  a good feature, giving readers both sides of issues.  Today’s editorial was on drones.  After considering the major objections to drones, the editorial concludes:"These are all valid concerns. For the time being, though, the U.S. continues to confront a non-state enemy bent on plotting terror attacks inside America. Unless someone comes up with a better way to protect the nation, the drone strikes should continue, at least until Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, is eliminated and al-Qaeda is out of business."The opposing view, written by Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, argues that:"White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan admits that the U.S. targeted killing program sets a precedent. Russia, China or Iran may claim tomorrow, as our government does today, the power to declare individuals enemies of the state and kill them far from any battlefield, based on secret legal criteria, secret evidence and a secret process. That is the world we are unleashing unless the program is stopped."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Quote of the day. ”An agreement has been reached clearly with Nato that no bombardment of civilian homes for any reason is allowed. Even when they are under attack, they (coalition forces) cannot use an airplane to bomb Afghan homes.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a press conference in Kabul yesterday. (DAWN)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
After more than a week with no reported drone strikes, there are news reports this morning of strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.Over the past several days, the Yemeni army has recaptured two towns from Ansar al-Sharia — an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  Militants have fled and heavy fighting continues.  Apparently as part of that offensive, an attack by a US drone killed nine people: “A US drone struck a house where al-Qaeda militants were meeting, and a car nearby," in the town of Azzan in Shabwa province early in the morning, a tribal source told AFP on condition of anonymity.In Pakistan, the Associated Press reports:"Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed four suspected militants after firing two missiles at a vehicle in which they were riding near the Afghan border.  
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “We are the church, we are the church. We are the church as much as the bishops are, as much as our lay colleagues are, as much as people who raise their children in the tradition are. That’s the church. We are all the church.” - Sr. Anne Curtis of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas on the differences between American nuns and the Vatican. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer and professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, asks:"US civilian and military employees regularly target and fire lethal unmanned drone guided missiles at people across the world. Thousands of people have been assassinated. Hundreds of those killed were civilians. Some of those killed were rescuers and mourners. These killings would be criminal acts if they occurred inside the US. Does it make legal sense that these killings would be legal outside the US?"He says no, and offers five reasons why these drone assassinations are illegal.  
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Cynthia Tucker, a visiting professor at the University of Georgia and winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary,writes on the lack of accountability in the drone war:"Obama’s “targeting killing” campaign has a glaring flaw: It has remained shrouded in semi-secrecy, a classified program that flouts the full disclosure and public debate that democracy demands. The president has protected the United States from the murderous impulses of Islamists, but he has not defended the constitutional principles he is sworn to uphold. … The public needs more information about the president’s drone war, not less. At the very least, the Obama administration ought to release the memos its lawyers have written to justify its “targeted killings.” That would be a step toward the accountability that the citizens of a democracy deserve. After all, the Obama administration is carrying out its drone war in our names."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It never stops being an ugly situation. Seeing seniors suffer and having a hard time is something we never get used to.” - Dru Bolakowski, director of resource and referral at the Council on Aging of Elkhart County, IN, on finding more and more hunger among the clients she helps. (Elkhart Truth)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
It’s 2 feet long, weighs only 6 pounds, and can fit into a soldier’s backpack.  It’s the “Switchblade,” the next generation of drones. They’re about the size of model planes, with tiny explosive warheads that the soldier firing it can accurately aim at a target. Its accuracy is being touted as a way to minimize civilian casualties.According to the Los Angeles Times,"The 2-foot-long Switchblade is so named because its wings fold into the fuselage for transport and spring out after launch. It is designed to fit into a soldier's rucksack and is fired from a mortar-like tube. Once airborne, it begins sending back live video and GPS coordinates to a hand-held control set clutched by the soldier who launched it. When soldiers identify and lock on a target, they send a command for the drone to nose-dive into it and detonate on impact. Because of the way it operates, the Switchblade has been dubbed the "kamikaze drone."… "This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible," said William I. Nichols, who led the Army's testing effort.”Sound like a future fantasy? Think again, “About a dozen Switchblades were tested last year by special operations units in Afghanistan, according to Army officials, who said the drone proved effective.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
As relations between the U.S. and Pakistan continue to deteriorate, the Obama administration has decided the solution is … more drone attacks."Expressing both public and private frustration with Pakistan, the Obama administration has unleashed the CIA to resume an aggressive campaign of drone strikes in Pakistani territory over the last few weeks, approving strikes that might have been vetoed in the past for fear of angering Islamabad." Seems to me that killing more people in Pakistan is probably not the best way to improve relations.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Even after getting psychiatric help, I was still afraid to go outside. I was afraid to go into public places or anyplace that had a crowd. With Kaeci, I''m able to do that. I can have more of a normal life." - James "Jimmy" LaCaria, retired Army major diagnosed with PTSD, on the difference that Kaeci, his 5-year-old Australian service dog, has made in his life. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
As the use of drones for surveillance and other activities in the U.S. increases, Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, argues for greater transparency and accountability."With Congress enacting a law giving the go-ahead for the use of drones in U.S. airspace last February, the drone industry is now poised to deploy the technology to monitor everything from neighborhood safety, to political protests, to traffic conditions. The possibilities of using drones for airborne, real-time newsgathering haven't been lost on the media, either. Drones have many positive uses, such as aiding firefighters, dusting crops, or scouting hazardous areas for workers, but -- without privacy and transparency rules -- these powerful surveillance tools also have strong potential for misuse."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 27 weeks ago
In addition to legal and moral concerns about targeted drone killings, a new question is being raised:"But by killing off Al Qaeda leaders and operatives by means of the unmanned drones rather than capturing them, is the US losing out on valuable intelligence on an evolving organization – and thus on information that might also be crucial in defeating the terrorgroup?"
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We are looking at a growing climate of fear where folks really think long and hard about accessing basic services." - Milton Butterworth, who oversees outreach migrant health services for Blue Ridge Community Health Services in Hendersonville, N.C., on immigration enforcement fears keeping workers from getting health care. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 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 in this week’s books of interest.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Following a four-day visit to Pakistan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, has called for a UN investigation into U.S. drone attacks. Pillay told a news conference in Islamabad:  “Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law. The principle of distinction and proportionality and ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command and beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
In the wake of the death of Al Qaeda’s #2 leader Monday, BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner wonders  if the movement can survive the continued attrition of its leaders by targeted drone strikes. He concludes that:"In the long term, perhaps the most serious threat to al-Qaeda lies not so much in the unseen death from the air through drone strikes but in an eventual evaporation of its cause. Last year's mass democratic movement, dubbed by some the "Arab Spring" or "Arab Awakening", completely bypassed al-Qaeda, which had always insisted that violent jihad was the best and only path to just government. With the recent departure of Western forces from Iraq and the imminent withdrawal of international combat forces from Afghanistan, the global jihadist movement will be deprived of a significant recruiting tool.But it would be foolish to believe that the movement is finished."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
One of the U.K.’s leading newspapers, The Guardian, takes on President Obama’s drone policy in an editorial this morning:"Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and John Brennan – two saints and a counter-terrorism adviser – may give the counsel a president feels he needs before adding another al-Qaida suspect to his kill list. But whatever else these authorities do, they do not constitute due process – and Barack Obama's administration knows it. It is doing everything it can to avoid scrutiny. It is refusing to publish its standards for putting people on terrorist or assassination lists. What are the target limits? When is a last resort truly a last resort, particularly in areas well back from recognised battlefields? And who is providing independent oversight?"
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “We’re doing this because these are life issues. And by lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.” - Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a social justice lobby, speaking of the bus trip being organized across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation’s poor and disenfranchised. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Robert Grenier was CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 9/11. He then played a key role in coordinating covert operations in Afghanistan, and was head of the CIA's Counter  Terrorism Center. In a recent interview, he spoke about the Obama administration’s drone program:"It [the drone program] needs to be targeted much more finely. We have been seduced by them and the unintended consequences of our actions are going to outweigh the intended consequences. … We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan."Grenier went on to express particular concern about Yemen, saying that the popular anger being generated by drone attacks could lead to “the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven.”
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Yesterday, the government of Pakistan once again expressed its opposition to U.S. drone attacks on its territory as being against international law. This morning, speaking in neighboring India, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta responded:"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is delivering a strong defense of the U.S. use of drones to kill insurgents in Pakistan, telling an audience next door in India on Wednesday that America has made it clear to Islamabad it will continue to target al-Qaida leaders in that country."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Following three U.S. drone strikes in the past three days, the government of Pakistan is not happy, and it has made it officially known."Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned Washington's deputy ambassador to Islamabad, Richard Hoagland, to "officially convey the government's serious concern regarding drone attacks in Pakistani territory". A statement repeated the stance that drone strikes were "unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.""Meanwhile, U.S. officials claim to have confirmed that Monday’s strike killed the #2 leader of Al Qaeda, known as Abu Yahya al-Libi, along with 15 other people. News reports say that"Abu Yahya was among al Qaeda's most experienced and versatile leaders - operational trainer and Central Shura head - and played a critical role in the group's planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts," one official said."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “I just deleted over 25,000 songs from my iTunes library. I am going to trust in the cloud, where my library now lives. I''m a bit scared, but I backed everything up, took a deep breath and stepped into the future.” Bob Boilen, on All Songs Considered blog. (NPR)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
USA Today has a weekly opinion column featuring Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, and Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic strategist. As longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot. This week’s dialogue was on the domestic use of drones."Cal: Do we want our government collecting a constant stream of information on our whereabouts? Drones equipped with Tasers and beanbag guns could fly over political demonstrations, sporting events and concert arenas. The ability of these machines to collect information is almost unlimited — and if we allow it to happen, we will have accepted the Orwellian vision of Big Brother. Trying to recover liberties after losing them is like trying to regain your lost virginity.Bob: In fact, drones have already been deployed to assist local police departments, which on its face may seem like a good idea. But local police don't control the drones; that's done by trained drone pilots in the U.S. military. So police departments may request assistance on a local crime issue, but who knows what other information is being collected by the U.S. government while the drone is flying over a particular area? On the subject of using drones for domestic purposes, Cal, we have found complete common ground."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
The escalating campaign of drone attacks in Yemen is having the opposite effect from what the U.S. intends:"Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims’ relatives and human rights activists."
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Unfortunately, the tendency is to thank a veteran for their service, pat them on the butt, and say: 'Go on, now.  But we all joined for the same reason; and just because you have your discharge papers doesn't mean the reason goes away, the sense of duty." - Dave Landymore, former Marine sergeant, on why he and other returned veterans are now working to revive inner-city neighborhoods. (Christian Science Monitor)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Who is targeted for killing in U.S. drone strikes? Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan claimed in his recent speech that:"when considering lethal force we ask ourselves whether the individual poses a significant threat to U.S. interests. This is absolutely critical, and it goes to the very essence of why we take this kind of exceptional action. …We are not seeking vengeance, rather we conduct targeted strikes because they are necessary to mitigate an actual ongoing threat, to stop plots, prevent future attacks and save American lives."But Greg Miller reported Sunday in The Washington Post"The quickening pace of the U.S. drone campaign in Yemen this year has raised new questions about who is being targeted and why. A review of strikes there so far suggests that the Obama administration has embraced a broader definition of what constitutes a terrorism threat that warrants a lethal response.In more than 20 U.S. airstrikes over a span of five months, three “high-value” terrorism targets have been killed, U.S. officials said. A growing number of attacks have been aimed at lower-level figures who are suspected of having links to terrorism operatives but are seen mainly as leaders of factions focused on gaining territory in Yemen’s internal struggle."A former high-ranking counterterrorism official said that targets must still be a “direct threat” to U.S. interests. “But the elasticity of that has grown over time,” he added.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Fifteen dead in Pakistan on Monday:The third US drone strike in as many days in Pakistan has raised the three-day death toll in the aerial attacks to at least 27, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. Monday's strike in the Hesokhel village of North Waziristan's tribal areas, was said to have targeted a hideout for fighters, officials said. The latest strike, which officials said had killed 15 people, was the seventh in a span of less than two weeks.At least 10 die in Sunday Pakistan strike:A US drone strike in Pakistan's frontier tribal areas has killed 10 suspected fighters, according to Pakistani officials. Sunday's strike was the sixth such attack in two weeks, despite ongoing demands by Islamabad for aerial strikes on its territory to stop.Pakistani intelligence officials said four missiles were fired at the village of Mana Raghzai in South Waziristan near the border with neighbouring Afghanistan. The suspected fighters had gathered to offer condolences to the brother of a commander killed in another drone attack one day earlier.The brother was among those who died in the Sunday morning attack.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Last month, White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan acknowledged in a public speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center that the United States was using armed unmanned drones to kill alleged militants. Brennan’s acknowledgement was the only “new” news.  Beginning in earnest under President George W. Bush and dramatically escalating under President Barack Obama, the United States is now using drones in four countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia), and has used them in two others (Iraq and Libya). Going by the names Reaper and Predator, firing missiles named Hellfire, the drones are responsible for thousands of deaths, including hundreds of women and children. Why drones? There are three major reasons opponents of the unmanned death planes usually give. First, in fighting against terrorist and insurgent organizations, the United States has adopted a kill — not capture — strategy. With a “kill list” of targets, the attacks aim at known or suspected leaders. Second, the attacks can be carried out with no danger to American troops. Remotely guided from distant locations, drones are a way of carrying out risk-free military operations. Third, with the attacks increasingly under the control of the CIA rather than the military, they can be conducted with a high degree of secrecy. Whom the drones targeted and killed, and how many civilians may have also been killed, is free of scrutiny.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
After releasing its first public statement in response to Vatican criticism, Leadership Conference of Women Religious president Sr. Pat Farrell did an exclusive interview with the National Catholic Reporter.In the statement, you also say that the Vatican order has caused “scandal.” What is the nature of the scandal as you see it? How are you defining that? I think the inference that many people could draw from the publication of the Vatican document is that we are unfaithful, that we are not in communion with the church. We really do not see ourselves in that way. However, there are genuine questions that we bring -- the conversations that need to happen. And I think the outpouring of support that has been manifested across the country is another manifestation of that. There are conversations and questions that need to happen that are also shared by a lot of the laity of the church. The insinuation that I think many people could draw from reading that Vatican document is that if we raise those questions, we’re unfaithful to the church. That’s not true. And I don’t think that’s really fair. I think, in fact, that that is a sign of our deepest faithfulness to the church -- questions that the people of God need to raise, that we need to talk about together in a climate of genuine dialog.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 28 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The board recognizes this matter has deeply touched Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world as evidenced by the thousands of messages of support as well as the dozens of prayer vigils held in numerous parts of the country. It believes that the matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world.” - Leadership Conference of Women Religious National Board in a statement responding to the Vatican critique of their organization. (National Catholic Reporter)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 29 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 in this week’s books of interest:
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 29 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "In America a lot of people have lost their jobs. But also in Europe and in Berlin, times are tough. This song is for all those who are struggling." - Bruce Springsteen, during a concert at Berlin's Olympiastadion, introducing his song, “Jack of All Trades,” an attack on bankers that includes the lyrics: "The banker man grows fat, working man grows thin." (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 29 weeks ago
A good history in The New Yorker of attempts at regulating campaign finance leading to the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court and how Chief Justice Roberts orchestrated the decision:"The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents."Last evening, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who led the dissent in the case, commented on it in a speech at the University of Arkansas. Asking why those with the most money are permitted to dominate the airwaves, he said:"During the televised debates among the Republican candidates for the presidency, the moderators made an effort to allow each speaker an equal opportunity to express his or her views. Both the candidates and the audience would surely have thought the value of the debate to have suffered if the moderator had allocated the time on the basis of the speakers' wealth, or it they had held an auction allowing the most time to the highest bidder."Yet thanks to the Court, that is essentially what we have in this election.  
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 29 weeks ago
Quote of the Day“I was concerned that it would disturb the peace of the monastery by getting involved in something somewhat controversial, adversarial, but it hasn’t. If you study monastic history, there were often conflicts between monks and civil authorities.” - Justin Brown, Abbot of St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, LA, on the monastery suing the state over a law allowing only licensed funeral directors to sell caskets, prohibiting the abbey from selling its handcrafted ones.(Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 30 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 in this week’s books of interest:The CauseBy Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson, Reviewed by Jeff ShesolPower and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11By Jack GoldsmithDemocracy’s Blameless Leaders: From Dresden to Abu Ghraib, How Leaders Evade Accountability for Abuse, Atrocity, and KillingBy Neil James Mitchell
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 30 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The medals are supposed to be for acts of heroism. I don't feel like a hero. I don't feel like I deserve them. I witnessed civilian casualties and civilians being arrested in what I consider an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation." - Zach LaPorte, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, on returning his medals at a rally in Chicago during NATO protests. (Chicago Tribune)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 30 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "What is the Republican leadership afraid of? Are they afraid a bipartisan majority of this House will vote to follow the will of the American people and change our Afghanistan policy?" - Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), after the House Rules Committee refused to allow a floor vote on an amendment he co-sponsored with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) for a faster withdrawal of troops. (CNN)
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 30 weeks ago
The House of Representatives has been debating the defense authorization bill for the past two days, including more than 140 amendments. But this year’s version of the McGovern-Jones amendment calling for a faster withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was not among them. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have offered similar amendments for several years, steadily gaining votes. Last year, there 204 votes in favor, including 26 Republicans. Activists believed this year might see an even higher total, perhaps enough to pass. Rather than face that result, the Rules Committee simply ensured that it would not come to the floor for a vote. CNN reported this morning two GOP congressional sources confirming that Republicans were concerned the amendment could pass. The only Afghanistan withdrawal amendment made in order was by Barbara Lee (D-CA), which would have essentially ended the war by limiting funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan. It predictably failed on a 303-113 vote.Both McGovern and Jones denounced the action. McGovern asking, "What is the Republican leadership afraid of? Are they afraid a bipartisan majority of this House will vote to follow the will of the American people and change our Afghanistan policy?" Jones added, "This is supposed to be the people's House - that means we listen to the people. How about listening to the 72% of those who say get out of Afghanistan?” The next opportunity will likely be the defense appropriations bill sometime this summer.
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 30 weeks ago
Paul Krugman looks at the European financial crisis and sees Apocalypse Fairly Soon.Suddenly, it has become easy to see how the euro — that grand, flawed experiment in monetary union without political union — could come apart at the seams. We’re not talking about a distant prospect, either. Things could fall apart with stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs — both economic and, arguably even more important, political — could be huge.    
Posted by Duane Shank 2 years 31 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "If you're eating out tonight, your chances of finding an entree that's truly healthy are painfully low." - Helen Wu, assistant policy analyst at RAND, on a new study showing that 96 percent of main entrees sold at top chain restaurants exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat, and saturated fat. (USA Today)