The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 8 weeks ago
Dalai Lama. Activists say they are hopeful that a visit to the White House today by Tibet's spiritual leader signals a change in President Obama's foreign policy toward China and its abysmal record on human rights. Egypt. Dozens of Egyptian women and human rights activists have staged a protest in Cairo against a recent decision that bars women from holding judicial positions. Education. Senior House Republicans and Democrats plan to announce Thursday that they will team up to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a rare show of bipartisanship in the polarized Congress. Quote of the Day. "The majority of our immigrant families are 'mixed families,' meaning that some members are legal United States citizens and some are not. Because of this reality, these families will stay together and we will continue to have some people living in the shadows of legality. Both the Congress and our president have the responsibility to help bring an end to these people living in the shadows of our society -- often deprived of basic human rights and exploited by employers -- and onto a path which would eventually bring them into full legal residence.” Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, in his Lent message. (San Fernando Valley Sun)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 8 weeks ago
Foreclosures. Experts fear that a new wave of foreclosures will hit this year as prolonged unemployment makes it difficult for millions of homeowners to pay their mortgages -- and many of them aren't likely to get much help from a federal program aimed at keeping them in their houses. Haiti. The scale of devastation caused by the Haiti earthquake was far worse than the Asian tsunami and is almost certainly the most destructive disaster in modern history, according to a U.S. study. California Budget Cuts. Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget proposes saving $304 million by eliminating programs that provide a safety net for elderly, disabled, and low-income immigrants who don't yet qualify for federal welfare. Quote of the Day. "Rich countries have no excuse for failing to deliver the aid increases they promised five years ago at Gleneagles. The missing $21bn could pay for every child [in the world] to go to school and could save the lives of two million of the poorest mothers and children." Max Lawson at Oxfam on a study showing that aid to developing countries from richer nations will fail to hit targets set five years ago at the Gleneagles summit. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 8 weeks ago
Bayh to Retire. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana announced Monday that he will not seek a third term in November, a decision that, coming on the heels of other Democratic departures, could imperil the party's prospects of retaining control of the Senate. Haiti. A school partially collapsed in north Haiti after a mudslide yesterday, killing four children and bringing further catastrophe to a country already devastated by last month's massive earthquake. Pakistan. The capture of top Taliban militant commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the Pakistani city of Karachi is the most important catch for the American CIA and the Pakistani intelligence service since March 2007. Quote of the Day. "There are more people in the shadows. This is our busiest year ever." David Bates, president of Olive Branch Mission, the oldest rescue mission in Chicago, which is now on the front lines of the new homelessness crisis. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 8 weeks ago
Immigration. An unusually wet winter in Arizona this year has been lethal for illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico into the United States, with nine people dying from hypothermia since November. The same number of immigrants died of hypothermia during the previous three winters combined. School Lunches. By this summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have launched its most sweeping safety reforms in a decade for the food it buys for school lunches. But much work remains to ensure that food purchased for the National School Lunch Program -- in particular, ground beef -- is 'as safe, wholesome and high quality' as the best commercial products. Haiti. The Jan. 12 earthquake was an equal opportunity leveler with such mass deadliness that it erased the individuality of its victims. According to the Haitian government, more than 230,000 people died in the disaster, but initially few had ceremonies to mark their deaths. Quote of the Day. “If the government were not to continue the same level of support, it would be very detrimental, like cutting the legs off a wobbling child and expecting it to run a marathon. It’s very possible we’ll still be at this level of need five years from now.” John Katalinich, chief lending officer at the Inova Federal Credit Union in Elkhart, IN, on federal government plans to wind down many of its emergency programs for housing. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Immigration. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced new rules on Thursday for the temporary immigrant farm workers program, saying they would raise wages and strengthen labor protections for foreign and American workers. Women and Unemployment. Steady increases among women with college degrees over the past two decades apparently have paid off during the recession, with government statistics showing they fared better than men over the past year, and for the first time surpassed the number of men holding payroll jobs.” Iran. The Iranian regime thwarted Opposition plans to hijack the 31st anniversary celebrations of the Islamic revolution yesterday by shipping in tens of thousands of supporters and violently suppressing anti-government protests. Quote of the Day. "We are extremely grateful for the U.S. government response to Haiti, but that doesn't mean the needs in other crisis-affected regions are going to go away." Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw, spokeswoman for Catholic Relief Services, expressing concern that U.S. government funding for earthquake relief in Haiti will mean cuts for programs in other parts of the world. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Mandela Freedom Anniversary. Celebrations are being held to mark 20 years since the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, a key step towards ending apartheid in South Africa. African Americans and Economy. President Obama hosted a rare Oval Office meeting with civil rights leaders Wednesday to discuss his plans for improving the dire economic conditions gripping much of black America. Haiti. Haiti has declared Friday a day of mourning to mark one month since a massive earthquake devastated much of the capital Port-au-Prince, amid conflicting death tolls by the government. Quote of the Day. "I just didn't meet people from all over the world like I do now doing this. I've had great discussions with doctors and nurses from India and Jamaica, from all over, about their work and their homes. It's fascinating." Matthew Tabor, Arlington, VA, who spent Wednesday picking up staff of Washington Adventist hospital and taking them to work through the blizzard in his four-wheel-drive Jeep. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday urged the Senate to overhaul student lending, asserting that the banking industry has had "a free ride from taxpayers for too long" and that executives with lending giant Sallie Mae have enriched themselves as borrowers rack up college debt. Haiti. In the power vacuum, Haitians have had to fend, and lead, for themselves. Many of those who lost their homes are trying to remake their lives in one of more than 500 encampments that have sprouted up around the city. Some are home to a few dozen people; others to tens of thousands. Sri Lanka. The President of Sri Lanka dissolved Parliament last night and announced fresh elections as the Opposition called for nationwide protests over the arrest of General Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief. Quote of the Day."I feel better, I feel lighter, I got my privacy back. People say, 'You'll be back.' But I read more, walk the dogs more. I'll be fine." Laura LeNoir, Birmingham, Ala., explaining why she ended her Facebook account. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 9 weeks ago
Costa Rica Election. Laura Chinchilla won the Costa Rica election Sunday. She'll be the country's first woman president, echoing a trend across Latin America where women are being voted into high-level political office in record numbers. Passing-Rep. John Murtha. John Murtha, the Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and decorated former Marine whose fierce opposition to the Iraq war helped catalyze public sentiment against the conflict, died Monday. Iran. Iran's formal notification Monday to a United Nations nuclear watchdog that it will begin producing higher-grade enriched uranium marks a new and potentially dangerous turn in Tehran's confrontation with the West over its nuclear ambitions. Quote of the Day. "Public sentiment is negative. It is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary, principle-based approach" to establish "the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and [the] environment." Jairam Ramesh, Environment Minister of India on a decision to defer the commercial cultivation of what would have been its first genetically modified (GM) vegetable crop. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Bank of America Charged with Fraud. Bank of America and two of its former bosses have been charged with fraud for allegedly misleading shareholders during the takeover of Merrill Lynch. Obama & Dalai Lama. The sudden deterioration in US-Chinese relations is set to accelerate after the White House confirmed today that Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama in Washington later this month in defiance of Beijing. Unemployment. The United States economy shed 20,000 jobs in January, the government said Friday, deepening concern that relief from the deepest economic downturn in a generation would be slow to come. But even as the economy struggled to start creating jobs again, the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 10 percent in December. Quote of the Day. "Like polar bears, these high-elevation butterflies were already living in extreme environments, and now they don't have any options … Their environment is changing so quickly that they just can't cope.” Matthew Forister, a biologist at the University of Nevada-Reno who led a study of beleaguered butterflies in California. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Community Development. The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it will offer up to $1 billion in low-cost loans to banks that focus on funding development in lower-income communities, part of the administration's new emphasis on helping smaller banks. Haiti. After a five-day suspension of medical evacuation flights from Haiti that threw the fates of hundreds of gravely injured earthquake victims into doubt, new Federal Coordinating Centers are now open for business at airports in Washington, D.C., and in Atlanta. Iran. Throwing up a challenge to the increasingly violent tactics of Iran’s ruling elite, the country’s two leading opposition figures are urging protesters to defy the government and take to the streets in an antigovernment rally on Feb. 11. Quote of the Day. “No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Gays in the Military. The Pentagon's top leaders declared Tuesday for the first time that -- after decades of opposition and equivocation from the armed forces -- they support an end to the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. Haiti. Four days into a new food distribution program from the United Nations that aims to repair a faltering aid effort, paper coupons that can be redeemed for 55 pounds of rice have become more valuable than Haitian money. Brazilian Dam in Amazon. Brazil has approved the controversial construction of a giant hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon, defying a 20-year protest by indigenous and environmental campaigners who say that the project will devastate the surrounding rainforest and threaten the survival of local tribes. Quote of the Day. “It doesn’t seem right that I can rent a place somewhere for half of what I’m paying. I told my bank, ‘Just take a little bite out of what I owe. That would ease me up. Isn’t that why the president gave you all this money?’”Joe Figliola, Elgin, IL, one of millions of Americans whose home’s value is below 75 percent of the mortgage balance, and like many others, is considering walking away from the mortage. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Budget. President Obama on Monday sent Congress a $3.8-trillion federal budget that includes a $100-billion jobs package, more education spending, higher taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year and a focus on controlling the deficit. Climate change. The climate change accord reached at Copenhagen in December passed its first test on Monday after countries responsible for the bulk of climate-altering pollution formally submitted their emission reduction plans, meeting the agreement’s Jan. 31 deadline. Sudan. The number of people needing food aid in south Sudan has quadrupled in a year to more than four million, the UN's World Food Programme says. Quote of the day. "Many repairs are not being done or done properly, and too many flights are leaving the ground in what the FAA calls 'unairworthy,' or unsafe, condition," John Goglia, a former airline mechanic who was a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member from 1995 to 2004, commenting on an investigation into airline maintenance problems. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 10 weeks ago
Budget. Obama will propose a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 that projects the deficit will shoot up to $1.6 trillion this year, but would push the deficit down to about $700 billion, or 4% of the gross domestic product, by 2013. Haiti. The African Union has agreed to consider a proposal to resettle thousands of Haitians left homeless by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, and possibly create a state for them in Africa. Education. The Obama administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of President Bush’s signature education law, No Child Left Behind, and will call for broad changes in how schools are judged to be succeeding or failing, as well as for the elimination of the law’s 2014 deadline for bringing every American child to academic proficiency. Quote of the Day. "My parents grew up and carried the scars of racial segregation. I didn't want to see my children have to face the same problem. We just felt that this certainly was a time to act. If not now, when? If not my generation, what generation?" Joseph McNeil, now 67, one of four students who sat-in at a Greensboro, NC, lunch counter 50 years ago today, sparking the civil rights movement of the 1960s. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Haiti. More than two weeks after the earthquake that devastated much of this country’s southern half, the capital remains a city of teetering walls, dangling electrical wires and precariously balanced heaps of jagged cinder block and wrought iron, all rattled daily by aftershocks. Congress v. Supreme Court. Sensing a clear political opportunity, congressional Democrats are rushing to craft legislation to counter a Supreme Court ruling that they fear could lead to a flood of foreign spending on U.S. political campaigns. Army Suicides. Alarmed by the suicides of eight soldiers in the year's first eight days, the Army's No. 2 general told commanders to have face-to-face contact with GIs to remind them "each one is valued by our Army," according to the Jan. 8 memorandum provided to USA Today. Quote of the Day. “We don’t know exactly what is happening in this country. The president is putting on his karakul hat, talking about security in London, but here our mullahs are being killed, our soldiers are being killed, our innocent civilian people are being killed, and nobody cares.” Abdul Qadir, son-in-law of an Afghan Imam killed yesterday by shots from a NATO convoy. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Haiti. Fifteen days after an earthquake devastated this nation, a teenage girl was rescued from the rubble of her house -- weak and thirsty -- on a hillside in the capital. State of the Union. President Obama used his first State of the Union address to reset his relationship with the American middle class. But it was the politics of Washington, rather than any specific policy, that the president spoke about with the most passion after a year when the change he pledged proved elusive. Iran. Two Iranians convicted of being "enemies of God" and trying to topple the Islamic regime were hanged at dawn today. It was the first known execution of opposition activists since June's disputed presidential election prompted massive street protests. Quote of the Day. "This issue transcends race and faith. From the gold diggers in the 19th century ... to the governor in the 20th century, we are a state of immigrants. We are the state of California." Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, at a prayer vigil/rally in Santa Ana, CA as part of a national day calling for comprehensive immigration reform. (Orange County Register)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Haiti. Acting on persistent fears that homeless and orphaned children will be victimized by human traffickers, the Haitian government in Port-au-Prince has put the brakes on the large-scale migration of orphans destined for adoptive families in the U.S. State of the Union. When President Obama appears before Congress and the nation on Wednesday night to deliver his State of the Union speech, his goals will be to reset his agenda, assure his demoralized party that he has not given up on key priorities and try to convince a skeptical public that he can still change Washington. Yemen. A month after the failed airplane bomb plot that put this country’s problem with Al Qaeda in the international spotlight, the United States and 20 other countries are gathering for a conference on Wednesday in London to discuss ways to address Yemen’s growing instability. Quote of the Day. "HMD 2010 is an opportunity for us all, whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever we do or don’t believe. It’s a day for everybody to take on the experiences of those who suffered this most horrendous persecution and to make their voices and their hopes part of our shared future." Carly Whyborn, chief executive of the U.K. Holocaust Memorial Trust on today’s observance of Holocaust Memorial Day, which coincides with the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. (Ekklesia)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Rebuilding. Concerned about corruption and wobbly Haitian leadership, international donors agreed Monday during a meeting in Montreal on a 10-year rebuilding effort for earthquake-damaged Haiti, one that would create an even better capital city and that the government said would cost $3 billion. Iraq. A day after bombs rocked three hotels in central Baghdad, another suicide bomber detonated explosives Tuesday outside the forensics department of the Interior Ministry. Health Care. Seeking to avert the collapse of major health-care legislation, the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress face a crucial decision about whether to use a procedural maneuver that would allow them to advance the bill despite the loss of their 60-vote majority in the Senate. Quote of the Day. "We played black gospel and blues for those Iranians. They were just hugging us they were so excited. They loved it." Sylvester Hoover, 52, owner of Baptist Town, MS's only business, a one-room grocery, laundromat, and barbecue grill. Hoover visited Iran with Dr. Aaron Shirley, a pediatrician who serves the rural poor, to study a low-cost rural health-care delivery system that has helped cut infant deaths by 70% over the last three decades. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 11 weeks ago
Quote of the Day. "It's kind of cool for a change. I mean, we do this in Iraq, but at the same time there we're killing people, you know what I mean?" Sgt. Eric DeJesus, a 26-year-old from New Jersey, on the U.S. Army distributing food and water in Haiti. (Los Angeles Times) Haiti. Haitians awoke Sunday to a land littered with crumpled buildings as international aid efforts turned more and more attention to finding shelter and getting aid to those hundreds of thousands who survived the most devastating natural disaster in Haiti's history. State of the Union. President Obama will propose in his State of the Union address a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments and a requirement that companies let workers save automatically for retirement. Afghanistan War. An increase in the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan could lead to a negotiated peace with the Taliban, the commander of Nato forces in the country has said.
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Earthquake in Haiti. Haiti has approved plans for more than a dozen sprawling tent cities in and around Port-au-Prince, the first step in an epic relocation effort that could reshape the country as up to one million people displaced by the earthquake find new places to live. Health Care. Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed her commitment to pass far-reaching health-care legislation this year, members of Congress and health policy experts began Thursday to deal with the reality that a smaller bill would have a better chance. China & Internet. Hillary Clinton has deepened a row over freedom of expression in China by warning Beijing that its alleged attack on Google would have "consequences" and comparing its censorship of the internet to the Berlin Wall. Quote of the Day. “He didn’t think of the ramifications, I guess. You can’t expect the whole world to know what this ritual is all about. I would suggest, pray on the plane and put the tefillin on later on. Pray, and fulfill the ritual later.” Rabbi Shmuel Greenberg, White Plains NY, on a young man from his congregation who caused a panic on board a jet as he put on the small leather boxes attached to leather straps that observant Jews wear during morning prayers. A flight attendant thought it looked ominous, as if the young man were wrapping himself in cables or wires, and the plane was diverted to Philadelphia. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Campaign Spending Ruling. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns. Haiti Relief. About 4,000 marines and sailors from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, N.C., who were scheduled to leave for Afghanistan this week, will instead steam to Haiti to support humanitarian relief operations. Vietnam Dissidents. Leading Vietnamese dissidents, including a human rights lawyer and an anti-government blogger, received long jail sentences on Wednesday in the latest sign of an ongoing crackdown on its domestic critics by the country’s Communist Government. Quote of the Day. "The special forces guys -- they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business." Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, chief of the U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, in a recorded sermon to soldiers. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Haiti Earthquake. A strong aftershock has rocked Haiti, sending screaming people running into the streets, eight days after another quake devastated the country. Massachusetts Election. Republican Scott Brown dealt a devastating blow to President Obama's domestic agenda Tuesday night by capturing the Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, the legendary Democrat who had made health-care reform the cause of his political career. Afghanistan. Afghanistan's president will unveil a plan in the next eight days to offer work, education, pensions, and land to Taliban fighters who lay down their weapons. Quote of the Day. “I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn’t stop until you turn it off. At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.” Francisco Sepulveda, a 14-year-old Bronx eighth grader, speaking of his smart phone, an example of a new study showing that those aged 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day using electronic devices. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 12 weeks ago
Haiti Immigrants. Calling the aftermath of the earthquake "a disaster of historic proportions," the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, said she was granting a designation known as temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants because their safety would be at risk if they were deported. Working Women. In a trend that researchers call "the rise of wives," women are increasingly better-educated than their husbands and have emerged as the dominant income-provider in one of five marriages. Afghanistan. A small but determined squad of at least seven attackers laid siege to the heart of the Afghan capital Monday morning, detonating explosives, hurling grenades, and engaging in a fierce four-hour gun battle with security forces in one of the most brazen insurgent assaults on Kabul in at least a year. Quote of the Day. “It’s like we’ve got more going on in our parking lot than we do within the walls of the church.” Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood (WA) Community Presbyterian Church. When the church was told it would have to close its farmers’ market on the church parking lot or the lot could no longer be claimed as tax-exempt, it decided to keep the market and pay the $700 in annual taxes. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 13 weeks ago
Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane's usual sources to browse until his return: 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 4 years 13 weeks ago
Earthquake in Haiti. Survivors strained desperately on Wednesday against the chunks of concrete that buried this city along with thousands of its residents, rich and poor, from shantytowns to the presidential palace, in the devastating earthquake that struck late Tuesday afternoon. World Response. After a warning from the country's Prime Minister that the eventual death toll could top 100,000, governments and aid agencies from around the world were working to channel personnel and supplies to the battered Haitian capital. Deportation of Haitians Suspended. Immigration officials said it was clear they could be putting Haitians’ safety at risk by sending them back to a country staggering from the vast destruction of the quake. About 30,000 Haitians in the United States are facing deportation orders, immigration officials said. Quote of the Day. “There are people digging with their hands, searching for people in the rubble. There was unimaginable destruction.” Bernice Robertson, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 13 weeks ago
Earthquake in Haiti. The Haitian prime minister said Wednesday several hundred thousand people may have died in Haiti's powerful earthquake. Uganda -- Anti-Gay Legislation. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has distanced himself from a bill proposing execution for some gay people. He stressed that the MP who proposed the bill, who is a member of the ruling party, did so as an individual and was not following government policy. Race Relations. President Obama has ignited a surge of optimism among African Americans as they assess race relations and their prospects for the future, but the hope for reconciliation that accompanied the election of the nation's first black president remains far off. Quote of the Day. "It's hard because everyone's addicted to their cellphone. That's where we come in. We put a real, human face to it. We're going to put the pressure on legislatures." Jennifer Smith, president of FocusDriven, a new organization patterned after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that will combat driver cellphone use, after a new study showing that 28% of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or send text messages while driving. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 13 weeks ago
Yemen-Somalia. Thousands of Somali boys and teenagers fleeing war and chaos at home are sailing to Yemen, where officials who have long welcomed Somali refugees now worry that the new arrivals could become the next generation of al-Qaeda fighters. China-Missiles. China has tested a new technology that can intercept and destroy missiles in mid-air in a display of military strength just days after the United States angered Beijing by selling Patriot missiles to Taiwan. Bank Bonuses. The budget that President Obama submits next month is likely to include new fees on financial firms as the White House seeks to recover the full costs of its $700 billion bailout of the banking industry, officials said. Quote of the Day. "When I was a kid growing up … it was a special thing to do. Now, it's like you're getting on a Greyhound bus to go somewhere. The crowding, the screening through the security … in the last couple years, flying is just not a pleasant experience." Tom Seeley, Brooklyn, NY, on why he and his family now drive to Chicago to visit relatives. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 13 weeks ago
Proposition 8. Scholars, gay and lesbian partners, and opponents of same-sex marriage are expected to testify about the nature of marriage and homosexuality during an unprecedented federal trial today to determine whether gays and lesbians may marry. Bank Bonuses. The bank bonus season, that annual rite of big money and bigger egos, begins in earnest this week, and it looks as if it will be one of the largest and most controversial blowouts the industry has ever seen. Immigrant Prison Deaths. Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation’s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Quote of the Day. “Green is not just the environment. It’s politics, government, social justice.” Jennifer Auceda, 17, student at a “green school” in New York City where environmental education is a basic part of the curriculum. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 14 weeks ago
Immigration. Legalization of the more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States would raise wages, increase consumption, create jobs, and generate more tax revenue, two policy institutes say in a joint report Thursday. Mountaintop Mining. Mountaintop coal mining, which involves blowing up mountain peaks to get access to coal seams below, should be halted immediately because of growing evidence of its environmental and health threats, scientists urged Thursday in the journal Science. Yemen. Yemen insisted yesterday that it could handle its own mounting security challenges without any direct foreign intervention, pointedly warning Washington to learn the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. Quote of the Day 1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord]. 2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an] 3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and] 4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king. 5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger. A recently deciphered inscription found in Israel, dating from the 10th century BCE, the time of King David, making it the earliest known Hebrew writing and typical of biblical language. (Jerusalem Post, Haaretz)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 14 weeks ago
Education and Poverty. The South has become the first region in the country where more than half of public school students are poor and more than half are members of minorities, according to a new report. UK Politics. Months before a national election, Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared Thursday to have survived an attempt to unseat him by two senior figures in the governing Labour Party who issued an unusual appeal for a secret ballot on his leadership. Sudan. International diplomacy to support a fragile peace deal in Sudan must intensify or the south of the country will suffer a humanitarian disaster, aid groups have warned. Quote of the Day. “This is irresponsible at best and pernicious at worst. Unfortunately and sadly, it is a continuation of the pursuit of profit over safety -- for both drivers and pedestrians.” Nicholas A. Ashford, professor of technology and policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on new systems that put Internet-connected computers on auto dashboards. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 14 weeks ago
Somalia. A million people in southern Somalia risk starvation after the World Food Program on Tuesday suspended humanitarian aid because of attacks and threats by Al Qaeda-linked Islamic rebels. Homeless and Cold. Homeless shelters are swamped as an extended cold snap in the eastern half of the country raises alarms about people living on the streets or in unheated buildings. Passing. Deborah Howell, a trailblazing newspaper editor who led the innovative Washington bureau of the Newhouse News Service before serving as ombudsman of The Washington Post, died Jan. 2 in an accident near Blenheim, New Zealand. Ms. Howell, who published two Pulitzer Prize-winning projects when she was a top editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, was a powerful presence in American journalism and was a particularly inspirational figure to women in a field long dominated by men. Quote of the Day. "My double radiation exposure is now an official government record. It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die." Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person certified as having survived the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, died Monday at age 93. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 14 weeks ago
Health Care. As congressional Democrats work toward a final healthcare bill, they appear increasingly likely to forgo the formal conference committee process for merging House and Senate versions of the legislation, opting instead for closely held negotiations between leaders from the two chambers. Climate Change-CIA. The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets -- including spy satellites and other classified sensors -- to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests. Afghanistan Attack. The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian informant who lured intelligence officers into a trap by promising new information about al-Qaeda's top leadership. Quote of the Day. “The Church may be eternal, but not the churches. In the past, these buildings were sacred, but today there is no sense of the sacred.” Béatrice de Andia, the founder and president of the Religious Heritage Observatory in Paris, on the number of French churches in disrepair. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 14 weeks ago
Children’s Health Insurance. As Democratic Congressional leaders work to merge the House and Senate versions of major health-care legislation, a big question is what they will do about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now provides coverage to more than nine million children and pregnant women and is expected to cover more than 14 million by 2013. Economic Crisis. Regulatory failure, not low interest rates, was responsible for the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis of the last decade, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, said in a speech on Sunday. Iraq. December was the first month in which no U.S. troops were killed in combat in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Quote of the Day. “I’m trying to teach the kids that you don’t need to have expensive toys to have fun. You can make it fun, from anything.” Igor Montoya, Miami, on the growing trend to buy less and spend more time visiting with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, and other hobbies, along with volunteering for civic and religious activities. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 16 weeks ago
Health care. Senate Democrats won a milestone victory early Monday in the health-care debate, approving a procedural motion to move the reform legislation to final passage later this week, and without a single vote to spare. Climate change. After two weeks of delays, theatrics and last-minute deal-making, the United Nation climate change talks concluded here early Saturday morning with a grudging agreement by the participants to “take note” of a pact shaped by five major nations. Iran. Defying a heavy presence of security forces, a funeral became a rallying point for further protests against the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 17 weeks ago
Climate Change. US President Barack Obama has called on world leaders to come together at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen as time runs out to strike a deal. Trafficking. America's war on human trafficking got its biggest-ever one-year boost in federal funding following President Barack Obama's signing of an appropriations bill, one of several significant anti-trafficking developments this week. Death Penalty. The number of executions in the United States increased this year, but the number of new death sentences handed down fell to the lowest total since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center. Quote of the Day. "The Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding is going green. If wazas go green, it's the perfect way to demonstrate the substitution of cleaner energy not just for weddings but for heating households, too." Usmaan Ahmad, who oversees program development for Mercy Corps in Srinagar, Kashmir, on finding alternative fuel for wedding cooks who cut down an estimated 15,000 trees a day for their feasts. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 17 weeks ago
Climate Change. The Danish presidency of the climate summit in Copenhagen has sought to play down expectations of a comprehensive deal emerging from the meeting. Health Care. New obstacles slowed Senate action on the healthcare bill Wednesday, as the hunt for supporters narrowed to a lone Democrat -- Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- and Republican delaying tactics brought debate to a temporary standstill. Burma. The military junta in Myanmar allowed the opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to meet with senior members of her party on Wednesday, the latest in a recent series of signals that suggest the junta might be responding to diplomatic overtures from the West. Quote of the Day. “We love this. It stays fresh, the cleanup is minimal because it doesn’t drop anything, and it goes away and comes back next year. It’s kind of like having a little pet.” Megan Arquette, Manhattan Beach, CA, on a new business that rents Christmas trees in pots, then returns them, alive, to the nursery after the season. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 17 weeks ago
Immigration Reform. Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., on Tuesday filed the first comprehensive immigration reform bill in the current Congress, giving renewed hope to millions of undocumented immigrants in South Florida and around the country. Iran. Iran says it has successfully test-fired an improved version of a medium-range missile, drawing western protests. DC Same-Sex Marriage. The District was on the verge Tuesday of becoming the sixth place in the country to legalize same-sex marriage after the council gave final approval to its bill allowing the unions. Quote of the Day. “How can one remain indifferent in the face of problems such as climate change, desertification, the degradation and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase in extreme weather, and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical areas?” Pope Benedict XVI on environmental ethics in his World Day of Peace message. (National Catholic Reporter)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 17 weeks ago
Guantanamo. President Obama has directed the federal government to buy a nearly empty state prison in rural Illinois to house up to 100 detainees held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Human Rights. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that human rights and democracy promotion are central to U.S. foreign policy, in a major speech after months of criticism that the Obama administration was being too timid about denouncing abuses of basic freedoms abroad. Afghanistan. Gordon Brown today set out an ambitious plan for a 68-nation conference in London next month on the future of Afghanistan, including plans for two senior co-ordinators to organize the civilian reconstruction of the country, one representing the U.N. and the other Nato. Quote of the Day. "We wear wool slippers, flannel pajamas and a robe; it's not that bad. Training yourself to live cooler is a good thing." James Lee, a father of two in Chester, N.H., on a growing trend to turn thermostats down because of tight budgets and eco-friendly consciences. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 17 weeks ago
Climate Change. Negotiations at the U.N. climate summit have been suspended after developing nations withdrew their co-operation. Iran. The moment is fast approaching when Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, may have to make the most difficult decision of his career -- whether to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and risk triggering a conflagration that could spread across the Middle East. Congo. More than 1,400 civilians were deliberately killed this year in eastern Congo during two successive military operations, and the United Nations urgently needs "a new approach to protect civilians," according to a new report. Quote of the Day. “We have to make it the case that the people of our world are demanding justice in such a way that it’s impossible for our political leaders to deny it. That’s why we’re all here in Copenhagen. That’s what you’re marching for.” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, speaking to a march of as many as 100,000 people at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. (Christian Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 18 weeks ago
Nobel Prize. President Obama, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize here on Thursday, acknowledged the age-old tensions between war and peace but argued that his recent decision to escalate the conflict in Afghanistan was justified to protect the world from terrorism and extremism. Iran. Human rights in Iran are as poor as at any time over the past 20 years, according to a report from campaign group Amnesty International. The report details 'patterns of abuse' by the regime before and after disputed presidential elections in June. Jobs. The Congressional Black Caucus and President Barack Obama are at loggerheads over what to do about African-American unemployment, which is higher than the national average and has reached nearly 50 percent among teens. Quote of the Day. "This triple whammy of forces made it riskier for would-be homebuyers to find financing, would-be sellers to receive good value for their home, and potential long-distance movers to find employment in areas where jobs were previously plentiful," William Frey, Brookings Institution, on the effect of the housing collapse, the credit crisis, and the recession as the reasons fewer Americans are moving. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 18 weeks ago
Health Care. Democratic Senate negotiators struck a tentative agreement Tuesday night to drop the controversial government-run insurance plan from their overhaul of the health-care system, hoping to remove a last major roadblock preventing the bill from moving to a final vote in the chamber. Climate Change. Britain and its partners at the Copenhagen climate summit were accused of 21st century 'carbon colonialism' today over a draft agreement that developing nations say would discriminate against them. Divorce. These tough economic times may have at least one positive side effect: they might be encouraging greater family solidarity. The evidence for this? The US divorce rate fell during the first full year of what might be called the Great Recession. That's the first such decline since 2005. Quote of the Day. "They're all obsessed with the deal and numbers. In order to make this numbers game work, we have to agree on how to have a global paradigm shift." Rae Kwon Chung, South Korean “godfather of the so-called green growth movement,” on the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. (Los Angeles Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 18 weeks ago
Climate Change. When world leaders gather in Copenhagen today for negotiations on a new agreement to combat climate change, their success or failure will ride on economics, not environmental science. Afghanistan Policy. When he finishes testifying on Capitol Hill this week, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, will return to Kabul to implement a war strategy that is largely unchanged after a three-month-long White House review of the conflict. Bolivia. President Evo Morales has claimed victory in Bolivia's presidential election and appears set to serve a second five-year term. Quote of the Day. "I'm not a music critic. I cannot tell you where Bruce Springsteen falls in the pantheon of the American songbook, but I am from New Jersey. And I can tell you what I believe. I believe Bob Dylan and James Brown had a baby … that child is Bruce Springsteen. He is The Boss.” Jon Stewart of The Daily Show at the Kennedy Center Honorees ceremony. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 19 weeks ago
NIH-Stem Cell Research. Thirteen embryonic stem cell lines were approved Wednesday for federally-funded research with assurance from the director of the National Institutes for Health that research on them is ethical and does not violate principles on human dignity and sanctity of life. Unemployment Drops. In the strongest jobs report since the recession began, the government reported Friday that the nation’s employers had all but stopped shedding jobs in November, taking some of the pressure off of President Obama to come up with a jobs creation program. Darfur. A former top U.N. investigator on Thursday accused the Obama administration of failing to enforce a five-year-old arms embargo in Darfur, Sudan, and said weapons continue to flow into the region. Quote of the day. "I'm not a purist, but I think we all need to do our part." Curtis Jones, Las Vegas, explaining why he bought a green-certified home, which made up nearly 17% of all single-family homes built in the U.S. last year. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 19 weeks ago
Afghanistan. Lawmakers from both parties searched for weaknesses Wednesday in President Obama's newly announced Afghan strategy, focusing on what many said was a contradiction between his promise to begin removing U.S. troops in 18 months and his caveat that departures will depend on "conditions on the ground." Jobs. On the eve of what is likely to be another 10 percent-plus monthly unemployment report, President Barack Obama has invited business, labor, financial, academic, and nonprofit leaders to Washington to discuss job creation. Immigration. In separate reports released Wednesday, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security and the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch criticized the controversial and increasingly common practice of transferring immigration detainees to detention centers far from their families and attorneys. Quote of the Day. "You need a little of this, a dash of that, a sprinkle of salt or whatever, to make a recipe come together and be really good ... The same thing with peace ... You need justice, you need equality, you need human rights and more." 1997 Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams, who won for her work to ban land mines, describing Ingredients for Peace, a new cookbook that offers recipes from more than 60 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and peace activists. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 19 weeks ago
Afghanistan Policy. President Obama announced Tuesday that he would speed 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in coming months, but he vowed to start bringing American forces home in the middle of 2011, saying the United States could not afford and should not have to shoulder an open-ended commitment. Same-Sex Marriage in DC. The D.C. Council voted overwhelming Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, a key step in a process that could enable gay couples to marry in the nation's capital by the spring. Climate Change. India has targeted drastic carbon dioxide intensity cuts over the next 10 years, a government report has shown. The world's fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide is aiming to reduce its carbon intensity by 24 per cent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Quote of the Day. “Dickens was about half right. This is the toughest year anyone can remember, and a lot of charities have their backs against the wall.’’ Michael Durkin, president of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, recalling the author’s best-of-times, worst-of-times paradox. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 19 weeks ago
Afghanistan. President Obama issued orders to send about 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan as he prepared to address the nation Tuesday night to explain what may be one of the most defining decisions of his presidency. Health Care. The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the Senate health bill could significantly reduce costs for many people who buy health insurance on their own, and that it would not substantially change premiums for the vast numbers of Americans who receive coverage from large employers. Honduras. Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya says the election of Porfirio Lobo as the next president has served only to intensify the political crisis. Quote of the Day. “Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for." Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) of the House Appropriations Committee, as he introduced the Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010, which adds a chapter to the Internal Revenue Code titled "Temporary Afghanistan War Surtax." (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 4 years 20 weeks ago
Duane "News Digester" Shank and the Sojourners team are out of the office. But here are some links to Duane’s usual sources to browse until his return: 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 4 years 20 weeks ago
Afghanistan. President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he's called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy. Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1. Philippines. The Government of the Philippines declared a state of emergency in the southern island of Mindanao today after gunmen killed and mutilated at least 46 people in the country’s worst single act of political violence. Hate Crimes. The number of crimes against black people and members of religious groups increased in 2008, making up a growing share of incidents motivated by bias, the FBI reported Monday. Quote of the Day. “One of the problems in the past with interfaith dialogue is we’ve been too unwilling to upset each other. We try to honor the truth. This is the truth for you, and this is the truth for me. It may not be reconcilable, but it is important to refuse to make the other the enemy.” Rabbi Ted Falcon, who with Rev. Don Mackenzie and Sheik Jamal Rahman, who call themselves the“interfaith amigos” as they speak around the country on what they call “the spirituality of interfaith relations.” (New York Times)