The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Qanta Ahmed, Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion and Associate Professor of Medicine, State University of New York, writes in Haaretz about a recent trip to Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. She finds that hatred of the US and strengthening of the Taliban are directly linked to continuing drone attacks.“While the drive to codify U.S. drone policy is finally gaining momentum, it may be a case of too little, too late. As long as drones remain airborne, neo-orthodox Islamist terrorists and non-violent - but extremist - anti-American ideologues gain political capital, hoarding it as fast as America loses it. As long as we allow our administration to deploy drones without accountability, Pakistani anti-Americanism is validated, the Taliban is actually strengthened, while we as Americans remain confined in an ugly reality - defined not by who we are, but by whom, how and how often, we kill.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart." Pope Benedict XVI, with his first tweet as @Pontifex. (Catholic News Service) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Bishop Walter Sullivan, former head of the Catholic diocese of Richmond, Va., has died at the age of 84.In the movement against nuclear weapons in the 1980s and 90s, I met and worked with a number of Catholic bishops. The then-named National Conference of Catholic Bishops had issued a pastoral letter in 1983 opposing nuclear weapons, The Challenge of Peace, which became a model for other denominations. The bishop I knew best was Bishop Sullivan, who served as bishop-president of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace organization, for more than 10 years. He was also committed to people in poverty, and was a featured speaker at the first conference of Call to Renewal in September 1995. It is prophetic voices such as his that we badly need today. I was blessed to have known him.      The National Catholic Reporter has an obituary worth reading:“One of the celebrated "Jadot bishops," meaning progressive American prelates appointed under Pope Paul VI during the 1970s, Walter Sullivan led the Richmond, Va., diocese for almost 30 years, and from that perch became one of the country's premier "peace bishops," denouncing armed conflict from Vietnam and the Cold War all the way up to Iraq."He just could not reconcile war and Christianity," said Phyllis Theroux, a Virginia-based author whose biography of Sullivan, The Good Bishop, is scheduled to appear from Orbis Books in May."He once said that as far as I'm concerned, you can take the whole 'just war' tradition and stick it in a drawer and lock it up," she said, adding that Sullivan believed the idea of a just war had been "abused" by both clergy and politicians.“Bishop Walter Sullivan died Tuesday as a result of an inoperable liver cancer after he returned to his Richmond home from a local hospital. He was 84.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The punishment is supposed to fit the crime, but when a legislative body says this is going to be the sentence no matter what other factors there are, that’s draconian in every sense of the word. Mandatory sentences breed injustice.” Roger Vinson, federal judge in Tallahassee, Fla., on mandatory life without parole sentences for a third conviction. (New York Times) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 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 from this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “I felt like I was being asked to bury John Wayne. How does one bury someone who is epic?” Father Howard Draberk, on conducting the funeral for Hilmar G. Moore, the mayor of Richmond, Texas, for 63 years. (New York Times) 1. Obama takes push for higher taxes on wealthy to workers at Michigan plant. The visit to Michigan was the latest stop in a public-­relations effort by the White House aimed at harnessing Obama’s popularity across the country to generate momentum behind his plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”  (Washington Post) 2. In talks, House majority weighs loyalty to voters. As their leaders inch toward agreeing to higher tax rates, dozens of House Republicans find themselves caught between the will of a larger American public that favors higher taxes on the rich and the wishes of constituents who re-elected them overwhelmingly to oppose the Obama agenda at every turn. (New York Times) 3. Charities fight changes on deductions. Most Americans who file income tax returns won't be affected by proposed changes in how charitable contributions are deducted because they don't itemize their deductions, federal income tax records show. That hasn't stopped charity officials and others from lobbying Congress to fight any change in deductions as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations.  (USA Today) 4. Right-to-work debate heats up ahead of Michigan vote. Even with the outcome considered a foregone conclusion, the heated battle over right-to-work legislation in the traditional union bastion of Michigan shows no sign of cooling. (Associated Press) 5. Obama plans push for immigration reform. As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans. (Los Angeles Times) 6. Pentagon says Afghan forces still need assistance. As President Obama considers how quickly to withdraw the remaining 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan and turn over the war to Afghan security forces, a bleak new Pentagon report has found that only one of the Afghan National Army’s 23 brigades is able to operate independently without air or other military support from the United States and NATO partners. (New York Times) 7. Exclusive: U.K. military in talks to help Syria rebels. A plan to provide military training to the Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime and support them with air and naval power is being drawn up by an international coalition including Britain. (Independent) 8. Egypt braces for protests over constitution. Pro-government and opposition protesters have started to gather in Cairo for rival rallies for and against a controversial constitutional referendum proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. (Al Jazeera) 9. El Salvador told to investigate 1981 El Mozote massacre. El Salvador should investigate a civil war-era massacre that left some 1,000 people dead and bring those responsible to justice, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights rules. (BBC) 10. Israel suspected over Iran nuclear program inquiry leaks. Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of leaks implicating Iran in nuclear weapons experiments in an attempt to raise international pressure on Tehran and halt its program. (Guardian) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
While most news of drones is their use abroad by the U.S. military and CIA, they are also increasingly used for surveillance in this country. A report in the Washington Times shows that the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection agency are using their drones to assist local law enforcement agencies.“The practice is raising questions inside and outside government about whether federal officials may be creating an ad-hoc, loan-a-drone program without formal rules for engagement, privacy protection or taxpayer reimbursements. The drones used by CPB can cost between $15 million and $34 million each to buy, and have hourly operational costs as well.“In addition, DHS recently began distributing $4 million in grants to help local law enforcement buy its own, smaller versions of drones, opening a new market for politically connected drone makers as the wars overseas shrink.“The double-barreled lending and purchasing have some concerned that federal taxpayers may be subsidizing the militarization of local police forces and creating new threats to average Americans’ privacy.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "He's doing very, very well. And it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need." Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South African Defense Minister, after visiting Nelson Mandela in the hospital where he is undergoing a third day of tests.   (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of U.S. drones crashing at civilian airports. Craig Whitlock reported in the Washington Post:“A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by setbacks.“Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
Most drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen are eventually reported. Not so in Afghanistan. Since they are part of an ongoing war, they don’t make the news. But Stuart Ackerman, writing in Wired, finds that the Air Force reported last week that there have been 447 drone strikes in Afghanistan this year.“Never before in Afghanistan have there been so many drone strikes. For the past three years, the strikes have never topped 300 annually, even during the height of the surge. Never mind 2014, when U.S. troops are supposed to take a diminished role in the war and focus largely on counterterrorism. Afghanistan’s past year, heavy on insurgent-hunting robots, shows that the war’s future has already been on display.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 40 weeks ago
One of the remaining Al Qaeda leaders was killed Thursday in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan. The Associated Press reports:“Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, who was also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when missiles slammed into a house Thursday near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziristan tribal area, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.”The report added that his wife and daughter were also injured, and his wife died Friday.Reuters reports another senior leader killed on Sunday when a drone fired missiles at a house with Mohammad Ahmed Almansoor inside, in the main town in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border. Three other suspected militants were killed in the attack.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 42 weeks ago
The New York Times reports that before the election, the Obama administration was working to develop rules and procedures for killing by drone strikes. The impetus for the project was a concern that if Mitt Romney were to win the presidency, there was nothing in place to guide a new administration. Resolving internal disagreements also appears to be a goal, as The Times notes:“Though publicly the administration presents a united front on the use of drones, behind the scenes there is longstanding tension. The Defense Department and the C.I.A. continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice Department and State Department officials, and the president’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint, officials involved in the discussions say.”The Guardian adds that there already are rules – known as international law.“Human-rights groups and peace groups opposed to the CIA-operated targeted-killing programme, which remains officially classified, said the administration had already rejected international law in pursuing its drone operations."To say they are rewriting the rulebook implies that there isn't already a rulebook" said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Center for Democracy. "But what they are already doing is rejecting a rulebook – of international law – that has been in place since [the second world war]."Also this weekend, the Washington Post reported that drones are also playing a role in the selection of a new CIA Director to replace David Petraeus.“As Obama approaches a second term with an unexpected opening for CIA director, agency officials are watching to see whether the president’s pick signals even a modest adjustment in the main counterterrorism program he kept: the use of armed drones to kill suspected extremists. … The list of possible replacements is led by three CIA veterans who have all contributed to the agency’s pronounced shift toward paramilitary operations. Obama’s choice could determine whether the trajectory continues or begins to taper off.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 42 weeks ago
Daily Digest is off for the day, but here are a few of Duane's usual news sources for you to review until the Digest returns next week. Have a wonderful holiday!The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeThe Chicago TribuneMcClatchy NewsUSA TodayPoliticoThe Globe & Mail (Toronto)BBCGuardianHaaretzAl JazeeraReutersAssociated Press
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. "I welcome this order. Justice has been done and the law of the land has been upheld by the court. It will send out a positive image of Pakistan in the international community that there is justice for all and that society has risen up for justice and tolerance." Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan''s federal cabinet, on the news that a Pakistan court has thrown out charges against a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy. (Al Jazeera) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 weeks ago
An Awake to Drones blog has been started by Protest Chaplains of Chicago to begin a conversation about the use of drones for warfare and surveillance. They hope that such a conversation “will guide and lead us to take actions to stop this warring madness, to ground the drones.” “We invite you to wake up and join us in theological conversation or dialogue about the use of drones for warfare and surveillance. A few of us here in the Chicago area from a variety of faith and spiritual backgrounds have begun to wake up and talk about the horror of it all. We are beginning to question our country’s use of drones instead of due process, our President’s Kill List, the naming of all men above 18 years of ages as “enemy combatants.” It’s made some of us go back and study Just War theory again, dig deep into our sacred texts, examine our consciences. It’s brought us together and made us want to reach out to you.”Protest Chaplains are “imams, ministers, pastors, priests, rabbis, friars, sisters, monks, as well as non-ordained, from all traditions, or none, supporting Occupy Chicago as chaplains/spiritual presence.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 weeks ago
Brian Terrell, co-founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will begin a six-month prison sentence the end of November after being arrested for trespassing while protesting drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The Columbia Missouri Daily Tribune reports that he is using his remaining time to educate about the use of drones.Last week Terrell spoke to students at the University of Missouri: “Terrell told students the program at face value seems like a "no-brainer" because it keeps American troops out of harm's way. But he also challenged them to consider how the United States would respond if other countries were firing missiles into America from a video game console overseas. "If someone else was doing this to us, we would try to bring them to justice," he said.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "I am going to try to represent the mother attribute of God. A mother is a caring person but at the same time, a mother can be firm in doing whatever she is doing." Ellinah Wamukoya, consecrated Saturday to serve as the Anglican bishop in Swaziland, is the church’s first female bishop in Africa. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 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 from this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 43 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "This isn''t really rocket science here. You have a lot of people on the roads over Thanksgiving, so the crashes are naturally going to get worse." Allen Parrish of the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety, author of a new statistical study showing the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the year''s deadliest times for traffic accidents. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Noah Shachtman points out in Wired’s Danger Room that since 9/11, U.S. intelligence agencies have had counter-terrorism as their primary focus, including hundreds of drone strikes. Then he notes two former heads of the CIA who are urging a return to intelligence-gathering.“We have been tremendously focused on counterterrorism for the last 11 years [since 9/11]. How do you now begin to make sure that you cover other necessary things without making the country less safe?” asks former CIA director and retired Gen. Michael Hayden.“Nearly every major international security concern facing Petraeus’ successors is, in essence, a question of intelligence: What is Iran’s nuclear capability, really? Which way will the Syrian civil war go? Why is China building up its Navy so fast? What the hell is Kim Jong-Un up to? “Those are things that you’re not going to learn through diplomacy or through press reporting. And that takes you to intelligence,” notes John E. McLaughlin, the CIA’s former acting director.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We're complete strangers to them, and for them to put this together for us, it's an amazing feeling. The Katrina victims paying it forward to the Sandy victims is part of their healing process as well." Tim Occhipinti, Hoboken, N.J. city councilman, helped coordinate transportation and distribution of  8 tons of donated food, clothes and other supplies brought on the “Train of Hope” from Louisiana. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Several weeks ago, the Washington Post reported that the CIA was proposing a “significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones.” The proposal was championed by Director David Petraeus to allow the agency to continue its attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, as well as shift drones to other perceived threats.With Petraeus’ sudden departure, there are calls for a real debate on the role of drones. Questions and opposition to the drone assassination campaign were already growing, now there are more.Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, writes in U.S. News & World Report of the need for guidelines on drone use.“Drones and other forms of remote-control warfare aren't going away. The technological developments that empowered them won't be undone. The very real organizations that do seek to threaten Americans and U.S. interests aren't going to fold up on their own. But we do need, urgently, some theory around which we create legal, ethical, and practical guidelines for remote-control warfare, based on what we know about human nature, and what we have learned about human response to our efforts to date."
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "For Hispanic evangelicals, I don''t think it''s a secret that this is a top priority. This is home, this is granma and granpa, this is a child and a mother, a son and a dad." Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, part of a broad coalition of evangelical leaders calling on President Barack Obama to meet with them and introduce a bipartisan immigration reform bill within the first 92 days of his term. (ABC News)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
There are multiple news reports that an Israeli air strike has killed senior Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari in Gaza City. The Associated Press is reporting that, “The Israeli military says its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants.” Al Jazeera adds that Palestinian security sources reported a total of four air strikes across Gaza late Wednesday afternoon. A BBC reporter in Gaza City says the sound of gunfire echoed through the streets after the air strike. This follows several days of cross border attacks by Hamas on Israel and Israeli retaliation.Haaretz is running a live blog, and on Twitter #Gaza, there are live reports of continued shooting and explosions from further air strikes.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
As it continues to condemn U.S. drone attacks, it appears that Pakistan is close to manufacturing its own drones. The Guardian reports that at a major arms fair held in Karachi last week, a senior Pakistani defense official briefed allies on their progress."The foreign delegates were quite excited by what Pakistan has achieved," said the official, who was closely involved with organising the four-day International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (Ideas). "They were briefed about a UAV that can be armed and has the capability to carry a weapon payload."“The official said Pakistan wanted to demonstrate to friendly countries, principally Turkey and the Gulf, that it can be self-sufficient in a technology that is revolutionising warfare and which is currently dominated by a handful of countries that do not readily share the capability.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Alexis Simendinger at RealClearPolitics reports on an appearance by former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright at the Global Financial Leadership Conference In Naples, Fla. While the two disagreed on many topics, they also found some agreement:“But looking ahead, the duo found issues on which they agree, and the government’s reliance on unmanned drones was one. Albright and Rice concurred that drone warfare saves American lives and is effective, but both expressed worries about the long-range implications and encouraged the Obama administration to focus during its second term on the issues surrounding deployment of such weapons.…“Albright said she was “not sure” about the human targets who wind up on the administration’s drone-strike lists, and she raised concerns about the use of unmanned drones by other nations. Rice predicted the technology “will become ubiquitous,” and she questioned how the United States would be able to protest if Russia decided to use drones domestically in Chechnya, or China used them against targets in Tibet. “It makes me quite uncomfortable,” Rice said.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “I fully expected to come in here on Tuesday and open up my temple to serve the community and let it be a food distribution place. And we couldn’t. Instead, I’m going around telling volunteers helping us, ‘It’s unsanitary: put your mask on; wear your gloves.’” Rabbi Marjorie Slome, on her West End Temple in Queens, where flooding filled the basement and reached up to four feet on the first floor.  (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It’s important not just in black Christianity but in American Christianity to hold onto the progressive strand of evangelical Christianity — the social gospel. To hold accountable this hypercapitalist and radically individualist strand of Christianity in American religion.” Rev. Jonathan L. Walton, installed yesterday as Pusey minister of the Memorial Church at Harvard University. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
• After the story broke on CNN, the Defense Department announced Thursday that on Nov. 1, two Iranian fighter jets fired at a U.S. surveillance drone flying in international airspace over the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon said the Predator drone was 16 miles off the coast of Iran, international space begins at 12 miles. While not explicitly confirming the charge, a senior Iranian armed forces commander issued a statement saying "The defenders of the Islamic Republic will respond decisively to any form of encroachment by air, sea or on the ground."• Wired reports that the U.S. military has launched 333 drone strikes so far this year in Afghanistan. The secret CIA drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen get more attention because of the legal and ethical questions they raise. But, “it’s worth remembering that the rise of the flying robots is largely occurring in the open, on an acknowledged battlefield where the targets are largely unquestioned and the attending issues aren’t nearly as fraught."
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 44 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “By making death and producing tragedy, you sought to extinguish the beauty of life, to diminish potential, to strain love and to cancel ideas. You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own. But remember it always: You failed.” Mark Kelly, as he and his wife, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, faced at his sentencing the man who shot her and 18 others nearly two years ago. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Who voted?One of the big questions before Tuesday’s election was whether Barack Obama could replicate the diverse coalition of voters responsible for his 2008 victory. The news? He did. As Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, put it: “In 2012, communities of color, young people and women are not merely interest groups, they’re the ‘new normal’ demographic of the American electorate.”Here’s a snapshot of the numbers taken from initial CNN exit polls.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “In 2012, communities of color, young people and women are not merely interest groups, they’re the ‘new normal’ demographic of the American electorate.” Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza. (McClatchy News) 1. Back to work, Obama is greeted by looming fiscal crisis. Newly re-elected, President Obama moved quickly on Wednesday to open negotiations with Congressional Republican leaders over the main unfinished business of his term — a major deficit-reduction deal to avert a looming fiscal crisis — as he began preparing for a second term that will include significant cabinet changes. (New York Times) 2. Immigration reform returns to fore. Immigration’s sudden rise to the top of Washington’s to-do list after years on the legislative back burner spotlights how worried Republicans are about Latinos abandoning their party. (Politico) 3. Barack Obama stokes expectations of climate change action. Barack Obama's invocation of "the destructive power of a warming planet" in his victory speech has stoked expectation that he will act on climate change in his second term. (Guardian) 4. Republicans face murky political future in increasingly diverse U.S. Republican leaders awoke Wednesday to witness their grim future. And then they promptly began what promises to be an extended period of internal strife over how a party that skews toward older white men can compete in an increasingly diverse nation. (Washington Post) 5. Youth vote decides presidential election – again. Millennials made it to the polls in droves Tuesday – proving themselves a central voting bloc in swing states and defying speculation that their enthusiasm had waned since the days of Barack Obama’s historic candidacy in 2008. (Christian Science Monitor) 6. Romney won over white evangelicals, Catholics, but they weren't enough to win. Concerns that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism would put off white evangelical voters did not bear out at the polls Tuesday. Seventy-eight percent of white evangelical Christians went for Romney, up from 74 percent for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. (Washington Post) 7. Spending by independent groups had little election impact. Never before has so much political money been spent to achieve so little. Record spending by independent groups, which in many ways defined how campaigns were waged this year, had no discernible effect on the outcome of most races. (Washington Post) 8. Obama faces familiar world of problems in 2nd term. Now that his re-election is secured, President Barack Obama has a freer hand to deal with a world of familiar problems in fresh ways, from toughening America's approach to Iran and Syria while potentially engaging other repressive countries such as Cuba and North Korea and refocusing on moribund Middle East peace efforts. (Associated Press) 9. As 'insider attacks' grow, so does U.S.-Afghanistan divide. Interviews with commanders and soldiers in Kandahar provided graphic details of several so-called insider attacks and illustrated how deeply they are dividing U.S. forces from the Afghan army and police units the Americans have promised to mentor, train and fight with for at least two more years. (Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times) 10. Anger in Athens as Greek austerity measures passed. It came after a night of rain, tear gas and clashes. But after four months of tortuous negotiations and a rancorous parliamentary debate, the Greek parliament finally announced late on Wednesday night that it had passed the most draconian package yet of austerity measures needed to keep Europe's weakest economy afloat. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby offers 10 reasons he’s hearing from Republicans:1. Losing among young people, African-Americans and Hispanics.2. Hardline immigration rhetoric during the primaries.3. Superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast and consuming news coverage the last week of the campaign.4. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s praise for Obama in the wake of the storm.5.The selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate, when a Republican from a more winnable battleground state might have made a difference.6. Some social conservatives claim that Romney's soft positions on abortion and same-sex marriage left grassroots Republicans uninspired.7. The Romney team and his super PAC allies allowing their candidate to be defined early by Obama. 8. The decision to air a misleading ad in Toledo media market about Chrysler moving Jeep production to China during the closing days of the race.9. The Romney campaign's "poor media buying."10. The Democrats ground game – finding, persuading and turning out voters – was devastatingly better than anything the GOP had.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
The results of yesterday’s election appear to show a “dramatic rejection” of the Religious Right, writes Dan Gilgoff on CNN’s Belief Blog.“For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states. On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results seemed to mark a dramatic rejection of the Christian right’s agenda.”Gilgoff also notes that Obama increased his support among white evangelicals in Ohio, and narrowly won Catholics nationwide. 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn''t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty.” President Barack Obama, from the victory speech following his reelection. (Chicago Tribune) 1. Rejuvenated Obama reelected as president. Barack Obama was elected to a second presidential term Tuesday, defeating Republican Mitt Romney by reassembling the political coalition that boosted him to victory four years ago and remaking himself from a hopeful uniter into a determined fighter for middle-class interests. (Washington Post) 2. Democrats grab Senate seats in Massachusetts and Indiana. Democrats snatched Republican Senate seats in Indiana and Massachusetts on Tuesday, averted what was once considered a likely defeat in Missouri and held control of the Senate, handing Republicans a string of stinging defeats for the second campaign season in a row. (New York Times) 3. GOP keeps House control, beats back Democrats. Republicans won enough crucial races Tuesday to retain control of the House of Representatives, beating back a strong Democratic challenge and allowing the GOP to keep pushing an agenda of fiscal austerity. (Washington Post) 4. State-by-state recap: Who won? Who lost? The results from all of the key races across the country. (Washington Post) 5. Election results raise questions about Christian right's influence. On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results seemed to mark a dramatic rejection of the Christian right’s agenda, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage. (CNN Belief Blog) 6. Republicans face struggle over party's direction. Mitt Romney’s loss to a Democratic president wounded by a weak economy is certain to spur an internecine struggle over the future of the Republican Party, but the strength of the party’s conservatives in Congress and the rightward tilt of the next generation of party leaders could limit any course correction. (New York Times) 7. Barack Obama has another chance to deliver his foreign policy promises. Obama now has four more years and a second chance to deliver on his promise to become an agent of change in the world. The logic of a second term will certainly push him to try. (Guardian) 8. Obama win spells trouble for Netanyahu. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an even more awkward time with Washington and re-energized critics at home who accused him on Wednesday of backing the loser in the U.S. presidential election. (Reuters) 9. Western efforts on Syria shifting. Western efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad shifted dramatically Wednesday, with Britain announcing it will deal directly with rebel military leaders and Turkey saying NATO members have discussed using Patriot missiles to protect a safe zone inside Syria. The developments came within hours of Barack Obama's re-election, with U.S. allies anticipating a new, bolder approach from the American president to end the deadlocked civil war. (Associated Press) 10. Pakistani militants hiding in Afghanistan. The Taliban leader who sparked international outrage by ordering the attack on a Pakistani schoolgirl last month has escaped retribution by hiding in a section of eastern Afghanistan where U.S. forces are already spread thin and focused on other targets, according to U.S. officials. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
We’re all accustomed to the electoral maps of the United States – blue states on both coasts and the upper Midwest, everywhere else a sea of red. We’ll be seeing them all evening. But what if the map were drawn with states scaled to size according to the outside money spent in them? NPR has a fascinating video that does it. It’s worth a look.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
As millions of Americans wait in long lines to vote today, David Firestone wonders why it has to be so difficult.“This is the day when voters raised on a reverence for democracy realize the utter disregard their leaders hold for that concept. The moment state and local officials around the country get elected, they stop caring about making it easy for their constituents to vote. Some do so deliberately, for partisan reasons, while others just don’t pay attention or decide they have bigger priorities.“The result can be seen in the confusion, the breakdowns, and the agonizingly slow lines at thousands of precincts in almost every state.“As they stand in windswept, hour-long lines to cast a ballot, voters might ask themselves, why are there so few polling places and workers? Why isn’t the government making it easier for me to vote, rather than forcing me through an endurance contest?”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 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 from this week’s books.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “This campaign-finance thing is crazy. Imagine all the people we could be feeding and helping with all the money that’s gone into ads.” Denise Benning, 53, Columbus OH. (Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Tom Roberts in the National Catholic Reporter, writes on questions raised by the rapidly growing use of unpiloted drones.“Each expansion of drone use magnifies the concerns of the legal and human rights communities about whether the United States is dangerously pressing the limits of -- or even violating -- international law. Just as worrisome, experts say, is whether the increasing use of drones in such circumstances will slowly erode the force of international law, rendering it ineffective.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Most of us have read President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech warning of the growing military-industrial complex in the U.S.  Fifty years later, many of his fears have become realities. Aaron B. O’Connell, an assistant professor of history at the United States Naval Academy and a Marine reserve officer, points out in a New York Times column the part of Ike’s speech we don’t often remember: “Eisenhower’s least heeded warning — concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war — is more important now than ever.”He explains:“Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Tuesday, Nov. 6, is Election Day. As we’ve seen these past months, in a closely divided country, elections bring out the worst in us. Hundreds of millions of dollars in negative advertising, families and churches divided, each side convinced that a victory by the other side will be disastrous for the country. It is clear that Christians will vote in different ways  — some for Barack Obama, some for Mitt Romney, some for another candidate, and some will not vote. But Tuesday evening, Christians in more than 800 congregations will be gathering together for communion, regardless of party, political affiliation, or denomination.The Election Day Communion campaign is the vision of several pastors to build unity in Christ in the midst of theological, political, and denominational differences. In sharing communion together, the Campaign says, Christians can reaffirm our allegiance to Christ and remember some basic truths.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Our election system has probably never been under as much strain as it is right now — anything that can go wrong, probably will go wrong.” Victoria Bassetti, former Senate Judiciary Committee counsel and the author of the new book, Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters, on the likelihood of a “perfect storm” of election day problems. (NBC News)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. "We left because they were trying to kill us. They wanted to kill us because we were Christians. … At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.” Noura Haddad, 18, who fled Homs, Syria with her family, as Christians, who have largely sought to remain neutral in the civil war, are increasingly on the receiving end of abuse and attacks. (Independent)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 45 weeks ago
In an editorial this morning, the Washington Post sums up the legal and political problems with a continuing war based on “kill lists,” then concludes with its recommendations for greater transparency and accountability:“Drone strikes should be carried out by military forces rather than by the CIA; as with other military activities, they should be publicly disclosed and subject to congressional review. The process and criteria for adding names to kill lists in non-battlefield zones should be disclosed and authorized by Congress — just like the rules for military detention and interrogation. Before operations begin in a country, the administration should, as with other military operations, consult with Congress and, if possible, seek a vote of authorization. It should seek open agreements with host countries and other allies.“There may be cases where the president must act immediately against an imminent threat to the country, perhaps from an unexpected place. But to institutionalize a secret process of conducting covert drone strikes against militants across the world is contrary to U.S. interests and ultimately unsustainable.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 46 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It’s very stressful in China — sometimes I was working 128 hours a week for my auditing company. And it will be easier raising my children as Christians abroad. It is more free in Australia.” Chen Kuo, 30, on why she is joining a record number of skilled professionals leaving China. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 46 weeks ago
 This is the daily digest
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 46 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Look, the city is extremely vulnerable to damaging storm surges just for its geography, and climate change is increasing that risk. Three of the top 10 highest floods at the Battery since 1900 happened in the last two and a half years. If that’s not a wake-up call to take this seriously, I don’t know what is." Ben Strauss, director of the sea level rise program at the research group Climate Central in Princeton, N.J., on Hurricane Sandy. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 46 weeks ago
 Quote of the day. “We knew that this was going to be a very dangerous storm, and the storm has met our expectations. This is a once-in-a-long-time storm.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking of the devastating flooding, power outages and scattered fires left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 46 weeks ago
Kurt Volker, U.S. ambassador to NATO from July 2008 to May 2009, wrote in the Washington Post on the risks associated with the increasing U.S. reliance on drones as its “principal and permanent component in fighting global terrorism.” According to Volker, these risks are moral, the consequences, the U.S. monopoly on drone warfare will not last, and our national identity. He proposes that we need a standard for the use of drones and suggests“A more useful standard comes from our country’s basic approach to warfare. For a conventional military engagement, we would take into account the costs and risks of: sending a force to carry out the strike; generating public support; seeking congressional authorization; attracting allies to the cause; the regional effects of military action; and the duration and end of the mission, not just the beginning.”