The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 37 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. “I’m working as hard as I can. Every time I talk to my boss I ask, ‘Is there any more work?’ I’m trying to go to school so I can get a better job, so I can get off welfare.” Yolanda Williams, Philadelphia, who works part-time and receives Medicaid and food stamps to support her disabled husband and unemployed daughter, while also attending school. (NBC News) 1. U.S. employers add 162k jobs, rate falls to 7.4 pct. U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March. The gains were enough to lower the unemployment rate to a 4 1/2 -year low of 7.4 percent. (Associated Press) 2. Dozens arrested in pro-immigration protest at U.S. Capitol. Dozens of leaders in the immigration movement were arrested Thursday after they blocked a major intersection near the Capitol in a protest of Republican opposition to an immigration overhaul that would include a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. (McClatchy News) 3. G.O.P. rifts lead Congress to spending impasse. Hours before leaving on summer recess, Congress on Thursday hit a seemingly intractable impasse on government spending, increasing the prospects of a government shutdown in the fall and adding new urgency to fiscal negotiations between the White House and a bloc of Senate Republicans. (New York Times) 4. House GOP takes another cut at food stamp bill. House Republicans are proposing to double their food stamp savings to nearly $40 billion by rolling back waivers for able-bodied adults and targeting funds to states that are willing to impose greater work requirements on the parents of young children. (Politico) 5. Unions get creative to halt decline in membership. With union membership on the decline, labor leaders are getting more creative — and some say more desperate — to boost sagging numbers and rebuild their waning clout. (Associated Press) 6. Global warming, more wars? Climate could spark more conflict. Peacemakers are likely to be in great demand by 2050 if global warming proceeds unabated. That is the implication of a new analysis exploring the links between climate change and conflict. (Christian Science Monitor) 7. Kerry says Pakistan drone strikes could end as bilateral talks resume. The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, said on Thursday the two countries will resume high-level negotiations over security issues. Kerry suggested that disputed drone strikes could end soon. (Guardian/AP) 8. Iran assails house sanctions bill. Iran reacted angrily on Thursday to the overwhelming approval of harsh legislation on sanctions by the House of Representatives, saying the action would further complicate stalled negotiations aimed at resolving the protracted dispute over the Iranian nuclear energy program. (New York Times) 9. U.S. says Egypt restoring democracy. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said Egypt's military was "restoring democracy" when it ousted elected President Mohammed Morsi last month. Mr Kerry said the removal was at the request of "millions and millions of people." (BBC) 10. Spree of prison breakouts stirs fear of new Al Qaeda threat. In less than a week, more than 2,000 prisoners, many of them Islamic militants trained by Al Qaeda, have been broken out of detention in Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan in spectacularly violent raids. (Chicago Tribune) Editor’s note: Friends. I am transitioning into a different role at Sojourners, so after nearly 7 years, today is the last Daily Digest I will do. Sojourners will continue to bring you the news you need to know, although the format may change. I have thoroughly enjoyed producing the Digest, and I have always been grateful for the emails with your appreciation, suggestions, and critiques. Thank you. Duane
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. “I wanted to be part of creating a community where survivors and hard-living people could feel welcome.” Don Durham, founder of Healing Springs Acres, a community farm in North Carolina that provides people a means of serving their neighbors by growing thousands of pounds of produce for area feeding ministries. (Associated Baptist Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “What this research reveals above all is that poverty is hugely complex and controlled by myriad forces. The interconnectedness of the world through globalisation means the poorest and most marginalised face negative pressures from all quarters making it harder and harder to sustain a livelihood." Neva Frecheville, post-MDGs policy analyst for the Catholic aid agency Cafod, on a new report that the wellbeing of many poor people has deteriorated over the past 15 years as a result of factors beyond their control. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. "Remaining silent is not an option because it''s nearly impossible to survive on $7.25 an hour." Kareem Starks, a McDonald''s worker in Brooklyn, as hundreds of low-wage workers at fast food chains protested in New York, starting a week of demonstrations in several major cities demanding the federal minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. (Chicago Tribune/Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. “I think one of the great questions of our age for any faith group, is ‘What does the current generation owe succeeding generations?’ I am very much committed to working for a government that is in fact interested in handing off a safe planet, to handing off a peaceful rather than violent world to the next generation.” Shaun Casey, professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, named to head a new office in the State Department dedicated to outreach to the global faith community and religious leaders. (Washington Post) 1. 80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment. Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. (CBS News/AP) 2. Americans’ frustration with gridlocked Washington grows. Americans are eager for Washington to act on a host of issues they care deeply about, but instead they’ve just witnessed another week of sharp rhetoric and political finger-pointing. (McClatchy News) 3. Despite ambitious goals, millions would be left out of immigration deal. Even if the Senate legislation favored by Obama became law tomorrow, more than one in four illegal immigrants would remain undocumented and outside the system, according to federal estimates. (Washington Post) 4. Momentum builds against N.S.A. surveillance. What began on the political fringes only a week ago has built a momentum that even critics say may be unstoppable, drawing support from Republican and Democratic leaders, attracting moderates in both parties, and pulling in some of the most respected voices on national security in the House. (New York Times) 5. Obama expresses reservations about Keystone XL pipeline project. Barack Obama has given the strongest indication to date that he holds reservations about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, saying the project would not create many jobs and could raise gasoline prices. (Guardian) 6. Pope Francis heads home; Vatican sees Brazil trip as success. Pope Francis wrapped up his first overseas trip Sunday with one of the largest papal Masses in recent history and a final entreaty for Catholic youth and their ministers to get out and spread the faith. (Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times) 7. EU urges Egypt rulers to end stand-off with Brotherhood. Europe's top diplomat pressed Egypt's rulers on Monday to step back from a growing confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, two days after 80 of his supporters were gunned down in Cairo. (Reuters) 8. Mideast talks to resume amid deep skepticism. Israeli and Palestinian teams flew to Washington on Monday to end five years of diplomatic stalemate and prepare for a new round of Mideast peace talks, though optimism was in short supply after two decades of failed attempts to reach a deal. (Associated Press) 9. France praises Mali's election. France hails Mali's presidential election, the first since a coup and an Islamist-led insurgency which it helped repel, a "great success". (BBC) 10. Scores killed in Darfur tribal clashes. Two days of fighting between rival tribes in Sudan's Darfur region has killed up to 94 people, tribal leaders said. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. “This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration.” Natasha Frost, associate dean of Northeastern University’s school of criminology and criminal justice, on statistics showing the prison population in the United States dropped in 2012 for the third consecutive year. (New York Times) 1. White House prepares for budget showdown. Senior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown if Republicans continue to demand deeper spending cuts, lawmakers and Democrats familiar with the administration’s thinking said Thursday. (Washington Post) 2. Justice Department to take on states over voting rights. The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will legally contest a series of laws around the country as part of an aggressive campaign to fight a recent Supreme Court ruling that it says could reduce minority voting. (McClatchy News) 3. Juror says Zimmerman 'got away with murder.' A juror in the trial of George Zimmerman says the former neighborhood watch volunteer "got away with murder" when he was acquitted earlier this month in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. (Reuters) 4. Spy agencies under heaviest scrutiny since abuse scandal of the '70s. On three fronts — interrogation, drone strikes, and now electronic surveillance — critics inside and outside Congress have challenged the intelligence establishment, accusing officials of overreaching, misleading the public, and covering up abuse and mistakes.  (New York Times) 5. Pope Francis urges Catholics to shake up dioceses. Pope Francis has shown the world his rebellious side, urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a "mess" in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith. (Associated Press) 6. Army accuses Morsi of murder, kidnapping. Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is under investigation for an array of charges including murder, the state news agency said on Friday, stoking tensions as Egypt's opposing political camps took to the streets. (Reuters) 7. Iran is said to want direct talks with U.S. on nuclear program. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the Obama administration this month that Iran was interested in direct talks with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, and said that Iraq was prepared to facilitate the negotiations,  (New York Times) 8. Japan plans marine force and drone fleet. The Japanese government has said it needs to create a U.S. Marines-style force and a fleet of drone aircrafts as it faces territorial threats from China and North Korea. (Al Jazeera) 9. Honduran gangs offer peace from prison. The 18th Street gang and its arch rival, Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have taken small, ­suspicion-filled steps in recent weeks toward what church leaders and their supporters at the Organization of American States are calling “a peace process,” careful to avoid the term “gang truce.” (Washington Post) 10. Report says 220,000 died in Colombia conflict. Almost a quarter of a million Colombians have been killed in the country's internal conflict since 1958, most of them civilians, a government-funded report has said. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 38 weeks 6 days ago
In response to criticism, the U.S. has drastically reduced the number of drone strikes in Pakistan and is limiting them to “high-value targets.” The Associated Press reports:The CIA has been instructed to be more cautious with its attacks, limiting them to high-value targets and dropping the practice of so-called "signature strikes" - hitting larger groups of suspected militants based purely on their behavior, such as being armed and meeting with known militants, said a current U.S. intelligence official and a former intelligence official briefed on the drone program. …Two other senior American officials said the U.S. scaled back the number of attacks and tightened up its targeting criteria as a concession to the Pakistani army, considered the most powerful institution in the country and the final arbiter on the future of the drone program.Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. "The impact of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian action has been the source of growing concern within the humanitarian community. A particular fear has been that people in areas controlled by non-state armed groups designated as terrorists may have no or diminished access to humanitarian assistance and protection." Kyung-wha Kang, U.N. assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, on a new report showing counter-terrorism legislation is having a direct impact on humanitarian action. (Guardian) 1. Obama says, ‘Washington has taken its eye off the ball.’ President Obama on Wednesday said the fragile economic recovery is being undermined by worsening partisan politics in Washington and urged the country to stand behind him as Republicans try to roll back his vision of government. (Washington Post) 2. NSA vote splits parties, jars leaders. A $512.5 billion Pentagon appropriations bill cleared the House Wednesday evening after the leadership narrowly beat back efforts to curb the National Security Agency’s authority to collect private call records and metadata on telephone customers in the U.S. (Politico) 3. With little argument, House limits U.S. military involvement in Syria, Egypt. The House of Representatives approved measures Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from spending money on U.S. military operations in Syria without consulting Congress and would forbid funding U.S. military or paramilitary operations in Egypt. (McClatchy News) 4. Louisiana agency sues dozens of energy companies for damage to wetlands. Louisiana officials filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against dozens of energy companies, hoping that the courts will force them to pay for decades of damage to fragile coastal wetlands that help buffer the effects of hurricanes on the region. (New York Times) 5. The cost of child poverty: $500 billion a year. The United States has the second-highest child poverty rate among the world’s richest 35 nations, and the cost in economic and educational outcomes is half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new report by the Educational Testing Service. (Washington Post) 6. Slum trip, mass youth meeting await Pope in Rio. Pope Francis will bless the Olympic flag, visit a slum, and address upward of 1 million young Roman Catholics in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach on Thursday, as Latin America's first pope continued his inaugural international trip as pontiff. (Associated Press) 7. Leaving zero troops in Afghanistan? It's a serious option, Pentagon says. Following through on the so-called “zero option” for Afghanistan — in which no U.S. troops would remain in the country past 2014 — would be a dangerous way forward for the Pentagon, warn some lawmakers who say they are increasingly concerned about the prospect. (Christian Science Monitor) 8. Egypt rallies defy army chief's call. Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters filled Nasr City on Thursday, repeating their weeks-long demand that the deposed president — who was removed by the army on July 3 — is reinstated. (Al Jazeera) 9. Israeli-Palestinian talks to begin next week. The first talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators for almost three years are scheduled to begin in Washington next Tuesday, according to an Israeli minister.  (Guardian) 10. South Sudan: food fears for thousands in Jonglei as violence intensifies. Tens of thousands of people face severe food insecurity as they hide in the bush in Jonglei state, South Sudan, after another wave of violence cut off access to aid. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “Ramadan is a wonderful time of year for me. It’s the time to reflect. ... Your hunger is supposed to remind you that there are people who are fasting involuntarily all over this world. … I think what you do is you dial your energy level back just a tad. Instead of running, you walk …” Rep. Keith Ellison on being Muslim in Congress during Ramadan. (ABC News)
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. "There''s little doubt that things are getting worse. Aside from the fact the New Mexico economy has been so slow to turn around, the systems that generally serve people who are the working poor and suddenly lose their jobs or face greater hardship, all those systems have been strained beyond the max." Kim Posich, executive director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty on the Kids Count survey released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that showed New Mexico with the highest child poverty rate in the U.S. (Huffington Post/AP) 1. Poll finds black, white reactions to Zimmerman verdict vary wildly. The not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has produced dramatically different reactions among blacks and whites, with African Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of the jury’s decision and a bare majority of whites saying they approve of the outcome. (Washington Post) 2. Obama seeking to take credit and set course for economy. President Obama is restarting a major effort this week to focus public attention on the American economy, a strategy aimed at giving him credit for the improving job market and lifting his rhetoric beyond the Beltway squabbles that have often consumed his presidency. (New York Times) 3. Pelosi rolls out economic agenda for women. The California Democrat launched a legislative agenda of family-friendly policies, such as paycheck fairness for women, an increased federal minimum wage, and President Barack Obama''s proposed early childhood education initiative. (McClatchy News) 4. Michelle Obama speaking out on gun violence. It''s a second term for Michelle Obama, too, and she''s shifting her social-issues emphasis to kids and gun violence after spending four years stressing better physical fitness for the young. (Associated Press) 5. Al Qaeda growing, but less focused on U.S. The number of Al Qaeda affiliates has expanded, as has their geographic scope, but the terror network has become more diffuse and decentralized, the RAND study found. (Christian Science Monitor) 6. Pope Francis tries to bolster church in Brazil. Brazil is a huge battleground for souls. It has one in 10 of all the world’s Catholics, making it enormously important to the Vatican. But for years now, Catholicism has been on the losing end of a pitched struggle with increasingly influential evangelical churches. (Washington Post) 7. U.S. military intervention in Syria would create ''unintended consequences.'' The top U.S. military officer warned senators on Monday that taking military action to stop the bloodshed in Syria was likely to escalate quickly and result in "unintended consequences," representing the most explicit uniformed opposition to deeper involvement in another war in the Middle East. (Guardian) 8. Top U.S. general urges approval of continued military presence. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that he wanted the United States and Afghanistan to complete a security partnership agreement by October, allowing for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. (Washington Post) 9. Egypt starts amending constitution despite political divisions. A panel of legal experts started work on Sunday to revise Egypt''s Islamist-tinged constitution, a vital first step on the road to fresh elections ordered by the army following its removal of Mohamed Mursi as president. (Reuters) 10. 4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses. (McClatchy News)
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 3 days ago
The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have  sued former Pentagon officials over the drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen. At a hearing in federal court on Friday, an Obama administration lawyer argued that courts should stay out of national security decision making. McClatchy News reports Judge Rosemary M. Collyer wasn’t so sure:A Republican-appointed judge sounded dubious about the expansive claim, saying she was “really troubled” by assertions that courts are completely shut out of the drone strike debate. But for other legal reasons, the judge also sounded hesitant about a lawsuit targeted at top military and intelligence officials for violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens blown up in foreign lands.Read more here. 
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 3 days ago
In the past few months, drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen have dwindled to only a few. But the use of drones for unarmed surveillance has dramatically grown, giving the U.S. military unprecedented capabilities to track activities around the world. The Washington Post reports:Over the past decade, the Pentagon has amassed more than 400 Predators, Reapers, Hunters, Gray Eagles and other high-altitude drones that have revolutionized counterterrorism operations. Some of the unmanned aircraft will return home with U.S. troops when they leave Afghanistan. But many of the drones will redeploy to fresh frontiers, where they will spy on a melange of armed groups, drug runners, pirates and other targets that worry U.S. officials.Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. “It doesn’t matter that Pope Francis doesn’t use the expression ‘theology of liberation.’ What is important is that he speaks and acts on behalf of the liberation of the poor, the oppressed, and those who have suffered injustice. And that is what he has done, with indubitable clarity.” Leonardo Boff, theologian and former Franciscan priest who in 1985 was ordered not to write or speak publicly for a year because of his views, now emeritus professor of the philosophy of religion at the state university in Rio de Janeiro. (New York Times) 1. Across U.S., people rally for 'Justice for Trayvon.' Crowds chanted "Justice! Justice!" as they rallied in dozens of U.S. cities Saturday, urging authorities to change self-defense laws and press federal civil rights charges against a former neighborhood watch leader found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. (Associated Press) 2. Ex-city workers on edge in Detroit. The battle over the future of Detroit is set to begin this week in federal court, where government leaders will square off against retirees in a colossal debate over what the city owes to a prior generation of residents as it tries to rebuild for the next. (Washington Post) 3. Immigration faces critical weeks. August is certain to become a storm of dueling town halls, rallies, and lobbying efforts on both sides, so how lawmakers handle the next two weeks will be critical. Three factions are emerging that could help decide what — if anything — the House does on immigration. (Politico) 4. Strain on military families felt by young children. At a time when the U.S. military has the highest number of parents among its active-duty service members and is engaged in the longest sustained military conflict in history, in Iraq and Afghanistan, new research is showing that the strain on military families is being felt acutely by even its youngest members, children under the age of 6. (Washington Post) 5. In climbing income ladder, location matters. The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. (New York Times) 6. New frontiers for U.S. military spy drones. As the Obama administration dials back the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, the U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft to other hot spots around the world. (Washington Post) 7. Pakistan battles polio, and its people's mistrust. Anger … over American foreign policy has led to a disastrous setback for the global effort against polio. In December, nine vaccinators were shot dead here, and two Taliban commanders banned vaccination in their areas, saying the vaccinations could resume only if drone strikes ended.  (New York Times) 8. Unexploded ordnance killing Afghan civilians as bases abandoned. The U.S.-led coalition is failing to clear unexploded munitions from the Afghan bases it’s demolishing as it withdraws its combat forces, leaving a deadly legacy that has killed and maimed a growing number of civilians, United Nations demining officials charge. (McClatchy News) 9. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks' resumption put in doubt by both sides. Moves towards a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were mired in rumours, rebuttals, criticism, and confusion on Sunday in an indication of the political and diplomatic swamp facing key negotiators and their mediator, the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry. (Guardian) 10. Passing: Pioneering reporter Helen Thomas aged into legend. Covering 10 presidents over five decades, Helen Thomas aged into a legend. She was the only reporter with her name inscribed on a chair in the White House briefing room — her own front row seat to history. Starting as a copy girl in 1943, when women were considered unfit for serious reporting, Thomas rose to bureau chief. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 39 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. “If there is a law that I feel that does not conform with the Pennsylvania constitution and the U.S. Constitution, then I ethically cannot do that as a lawyer.” Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, on why she won’t defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, joining a growing number of state officials who are refusing to defend state laws they believe are unconstitutional. (Washington Post)   1. Billions in debt, Detroit tumbles into insolvency. Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course. (New York Times)   2. Senate negotiators strike deal on student loan rates. Instead of a fixed rate set by Congress as in the past, the rates for college and graduate school will go up and down with the market. They will be set once a year based on the Treasury’s 10-year borrowing rate, (McClatchy News)   3. Sensenbrenner and Lewis partner again on Voting Rights Act. The white Wisconsin lawyer and the black preacher from Georgia strode into the Senate hearing room together and took their seats, shoulder-to-shoulder, at the witness table. Veteran lawmakers and experts in civil rights law, they had been here before. (Washington Post)   4. Senate confirms nominees as G.O.P. discontent rises. President Obama’s executive branch nominees continued to cruise through the Senate on Thursday, including his controversial pick to be labor secretary, Thomas E. Perez, as Republican anger over a deal to avoid a weakening of the filibuster seeped into the open. (New York Times)   5. Catholic college heads appeal to Catholics in House on immigration. Nearly 100 current and former heads of Catholic colleges and universities are appealing directly to Catholic members of the House of Representatives to "draw wisdom and moral courage from our shared faith tradition" in supporting comprehensive immigration reform. (Catholic News Service)   6. World pays tribute as 'improving' Mandela turns 95. South Africa and the world showered tributes on Nelson Mandela on Thursday as the anti-apartheid leader turned 95 in hospital and his doctors reported he was "steadily improving" from a six-week lung infection. (Reuters)   7. Kerry to meet Palestinian president in peace talks bid. The state department announced the plan after Mr Kerry met the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Amman. Palestinian officials who met earlier did not endorse a new US plan. (BBC)   8. USAID announces assistance program for Afghan women. The U.S. Agency for International Development announced a new $200 million assistance program for Afghan women Thursday, amid fears that gains in women’s rights and development made over the past decade will dissipate after the withdrawal of foreign combat troops next year. (Washington Post)   9. Obama considering military power in Syria, top general tells Senate. The top US military officer told a Senate panel Thursday the Obama administration is deliberating whether to use military power in Syria, where a civil war entering its third year has killed almost 93,000 people. (Guardian/AP)   10. Egypt’s military and Islamists are far from a deal. More than two weeks after the military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power, intense efforts to bring the generals and the ex-president’s Islamist supporters to an agreement have so far come up empty, deepening Egypt’s political crisis. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 40 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. “This year’s commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day comes at a moment of deep reflection on the life and work of Madiba, as the universally revered leader remains in the hospital.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for Nelson Mandela International Day. Mr. Mandela is 95 years old today. (United Nations) 1. Immigration could hinge on August recess. The White House and its immigration reform allies are banking on the August recess as their next — and possibly last — major opportunity to compel House Republicans to act. (Politico) 2. Florida case spurs painful talks between black parents and their children. For many black residents, the verdict has spawned conversations that are personal and raw: discussions of sad pragmatism between parents and their children. (New York Times) 3. In Senate, emotional appeal to restore 'heart and soul' of Voting Rights Act. Rep. John Lewis (D) of Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement, urged members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to quickly restore a key section of the Voting Rights Act that recently had been struck down as unconstitutional. (Christian Science Monitor) 4. Racial disparities in life spans narrow, but persist. The gap in life expectancy between black and white Americans is at its narrowest since the federal government started systematically tracking it in the 1930s, but a difference of nearly four years remains, and federal researchers have detailed why in a new report. (New York Times) 5. Skeptical Congress turns its spycam on NSA surveillance. In an unusually critical oversight hearing Wednesday, lawmakers from both parties warned national security officials that they must change their use of sweeping National Security Agency surveillance programs or face losing the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have allowed for the agency’s mass collection of telephone metadata.  (McClatchy News) 6. UN nominee calls Syria inaction a disgrace. A U.S. ambassador nominee to the United Nations has called the U.N. Security Council's response to Syria's civil war a "disgrace" at her confirmation hearing. Samantha Power, who was President Barack Obama's nominee for the position, made the statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. (Al Jazeera) 7. Arab League backs Kerry peace plan. The Arab League has given its backing to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's plan for restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. (BBC) 8. Flow of U.S. military gear out of Afghanistan disrupted amid row. An escalating dispute between the Afghan government and the United States over customs procedures has halted the flow of U.S. military equipment across Afghanistan’s borders, forcing commanders to rely more heavily on air transport, which has dramatically increased the cost of the drawdown. (Washington Post) 9. Panama charges North Korea ship's crew. Panama has charged the crew of a North Korean ship detained in Panama after it was found to be carrying weapons. Prosecutor Javier Caraballo accused the 35 crew members of endangering public security by illegally transporting war material. (BBC) 10. Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt. A study has shown that the speed of evolutionary change is far outstripped by the rate of global warming, meaning many creatures will face extinction. (Guardian)
Posted by Duane Shank 40 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “When I got to the mound, I see both sides, both teams in the dugout, and it was amazing. It almost made me cry, too. I was close. It was amazing, a scene that I will never forget.” Mariano Rivera, 43-year-old New York Yankees relief pitcher who is retiring after this season, on the standing ovation he received as he entered his 13th All Star Game last evening. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 40 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. "It changes the narrative. It’s the last thing they expect to hear from someone in this uniform, and it’s the last thing the enemy would tell them." Major Dawud Agbere, Muslim U.S. Army chaplain in Afghanistan, on his counseling Afghan soldiers to work together for their country, rather than to dwell on ethnic and tribal divisions. (McClatchy News)
Posted by Duane Shank 40 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. "Low-income folks will often buy foods that are calorie-dense. We want to try to nudge them in the direction of farmers markets and purchasing healthy, less-processed foods. This is part of that strategy." Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the USDA, on efforts to provide farmers markets with wireless debit card machines so they can accept SNAP cards. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 40 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. "We should treat them differently because they are different. They've had different experiences. And in most instances, we've sent them into harm's way." U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner, who started the federal veteran's court in Salt Lake City, on why the program is invaluable for addressing the unique needs of veterans. (San Francisco Chronicle/AP)
Posted by Duane Shank 41 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. "It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car; you can't do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world." Pope Francis, speaking to a group of young priests and nuns. (Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 41 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “There is always a threat of something going wrong. There is always the threat of being injured and, God forbid, being killed in the line of duty. It is a fact we all accept.” Prescott, Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo, at a memorial service for nineteen firefighters killed in a wildfire who had worked under his command. (Arizona Republic)
Posted by Duane Shank 41 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. “It has reached a point where Band-Aids and baling wire are just not quite enough.” Steve Nagle, Missouri Parks Association president, on challenges of keeping parks open as states put off upkeep due to budget shortfalls. (Kansas City Star/McClatchy) 
Posted by Duane Shank 41 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. “This is a pride for us, that this is led by women. … Even if I don’t reach that day when the Sahara is independent, I am completely convinced that the next generation is going to live the day of independence.” Aminatou Haidar, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the most recognizable face of Western Sahara’s nationalist movement for independence from Morocco, in which women have taken a prominent role. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 41 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. "Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God''s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters." Pope Francis, in his first encyclical, "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith"), which completed a first draft written by Pope Benedict XVI. (Catholic News Service)
Posted by Duane Shank 42 weeks 19 hours ago
Early Wednesday morning, at least 17 people were killed in the first U.S. drone attack in Pakistan since May 28.According to NBC News:“PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- At least 17 people were killed in a U.S drone attack in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan early Wednesday, officials said."Local residents and security officials said the aircraft fired four missiles and struck a house at Sara-e-Darpakhel area of Miranshah, which is located near the Afghan border."'I never heard such a huge drone strike before,' local resident Nasrullah Khan said. 'They simultaneously fired four huge missiles and jolted the entire town.'" Al Jazeera reported that the Pakistan foreign ministry condemned the attack:“In a press release on Wednesday, the Pakistan foreign ministry said the strikes were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The statement described the attacks as 'counterproductive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications.'"
Posted by Duane Shank 42 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “If I made someone squirm, then so be it. Sango UMC is not going to be a congregation that talks about issues and solutions. We are going to be part of the solutions to the problems we face in our community. We are going to get our hands dirty as we live like Jesus and help others.” Rev. Willie Lyle, newly-appointed pastor of Sango United Methodist Church, Clarksville Tenn., who spent the week before his first sermon living on the street to experience homelessness. (The (Nashville) Tennessean)
Posted by Duane Shank 42 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. “They are literally hurting people, and it is wrong. It’s about violating people’s deepest moral values. Even when you have a majority, you’re not allowed to violate moral values.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, on the “Moral Monday” protests against budget and benefit cuts being made by the state legislature. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 42 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. "In normal circumstances, when you're digging fire lines, you make sure you have a good escape route, and you have a safety zone set up. Evidently, their safety zone wasn't big enough, and the fire just overtook them. By the time the other firefighters got in, they didn't survive." Art Morrison, Arizona State Forestry Commission, on the deaths of 19 firefighters in a wildfire in central Arizona.  (Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 42 weeks 6 days 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: New York Times The Washington Post The Los Angeles Times The Boston Globe The Chicago Tribune McClatchy News USA Today Politico The Globe & Mail (Toronto) BBC Guardian Haaretz Al Jazeera Reuters Associated Press
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. "This bill has some really tough spots. Certain parts of the movement don't feel it's part of the price of admission. But winning legislation that's bipartisan means that not everybody is going to be happy." Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, after a “border surge” plan was added to immigration reform legislation. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her dissenting opinion on the Voting Rights Act decision by the Supreme Court. (Supreme Court)
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. “Rather than having ended the racial class system, we have simply revised it by targeting black men through the war on drugs and decimated communities of color in the United States. … I believe a movement will emerge in the United States, and the question is will people of faith be leaders or will they be on the sidelines waiting for others.” Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, speaking to the American Baptist Churches USA national meeting on a budding movement to end mass incarceration. (Associated Baptist Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 2 days ago
Nine foreign climbers in the Himalayas in a remote part of northern Pakistan were killed Saturday night by a unit of the Pakistani Taliban. A Taliban spokesman claimed the killings were by a new unit set up to send a message against drone strikes by attacking foreigners. Al Jazeera reported:“Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan telephoned the AFP news agency to say that the killings were intended to avenge the death of the second in command of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in a US drone strike late last month."We did it and we claim responsibility for this attack," Ehsan said in the call from an undisclosed location."One of our factions, Junood ul-Hifsa, did it. It is to avenge the killing of Maulvi Wali ur-Rehman," he said."We want to convey to the world that this is our reply to US drone attacks," he added.”Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 2 days ago
Dozens of peace activists walked into Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday, following a nearly 200-mile march from Rock Island, Ill. The march ended with a rally at the gate of the Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing, where drone pilots will soon be trained. The Des Moines Register reported:“Dozens of protesters walked during each leg of the march, which was organized by the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The group covered about 15 miles a day, camping and staying in host houses along the way.“Organizers said the march was also to protest the development of drone technology at the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab in Rock Island. According to a company brochure, the lab manufactures UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, engine components.”Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. "If it's his time to go, he can go. I wish God can look after him. We will miss him very much. He fought for us to give us freedom. We will remember him every day.” Petunia Mafuyeka, a nurse in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the news that Nelson Mandela is now in critical condition. (Reuters)BREAKING NEWS: High Court sends back Texas race-based plan. The Supreme Court has sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for another look. The court''s 7-1 decision Monday leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 5 days ago
The most recent reported drone strike in Yemen, said to be five missiles fired at an SUV, killed at least six people. Reports from local tribal leaders in Yemen say that five were suspected Al Qaeda members, including a local leader. But one of those killed was a 10-year-old boy, brother of the AQ leader. Adam Baron of McClatchy News reports from Yemen:“If an apparent U.S. drone strike this month in the village of Mahashama had killed only its intended targets – an al Qaida chief and some of his men – locals might’ve grumbled about a violation of Yemen’s national sovereignty and gone on with their lives.“But the strike also killed a 10-year-old named Abdulaziz, the younger brother of the targeted militant, Saleh Hassan Huraydan, according to local tribal leaders and Yemenis with close ties to the al Qaida branch here. And that set off a firestorm of complaints that underscores how American airstrikes can so outrage a community that even though al Qaida loses some foot soldiers, it gains dozens of sympathizers.“Killing al Qaida is one thing, but the death of an innocent person is a crime that we cannot accept,” said a sheikh from the area…”Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 5 days ago
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted that drones are used for some law enforcement missions in the U.S. Today, the Washington Post reported that there have been at least four such operations since 2010. According to the Post:“The FBI has received clearance from federal aviation officials to conduct drone surveillance operations in the United States on at least four occasions since 2010, according to public records and U.S. officials.“The FBI began seeking permission in 2009 from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones domestically and received authorization for its first operations a year later, according to documents released Thursday by the FAA. The documents provide virtually no detail on where the FBI has operated drones in U.S. airspace, for what purpose or how long the missions lasted.”Read more here.
Posted by Duane Shank 43 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. “The Catholic schools have been a pipeline to opportunity for generations. It gave people like me the chance to be successful. It provided me and my brother with an incredible environment of security. Not every school provides that.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on a return to Blessed Sacrament School in the South Bronx, where she attended and which is now slated for closing by the Archdiocese of New York. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 44 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. “… none before or since Douglass . . . has so joined his national prominence and philosophy with the aspirations of the people of the District of Columbia. . . . He refused to separate his life in the District with the equality theme of his courageous life.”  D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton at the unveiling of a statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall of slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the first statue to represent the District of Columbia. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 44 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. “It used to be that if you had a fight with a Muslim, you would reconcile with the help of a sheik or a priest. But now if there is a conflict, they use the law against us.” Wafdi Saeed, whose brother Makarim was sentenced to 6 years in prison for allegedly denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, one of an increasing number of blasphemy cases in Egypt. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 44 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. "It's not something many people think about, but it takes a huge amount of resources to get food to our plates. That's just a terrible use of those resources."  Dana Gunders, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, on reports that Americans waste up to 90 billion pounds of food a year, much of it ending up in the trash. (Fresno Bee)
Posted by Duane Shank 44 weeks 3 days 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.
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 1 hour 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.
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 1 day ago
Quote of the day. "We are cursed as human beings with this element that''s called hatred, prejudice and racism. But it is my belief that, as it was Medgar''s, that there is something good and decent in each and every one of us, and we have to call on that, and we have to find a way to work together." Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of former NAACP leader Medgar Evers, who was murdered on June 12, 1963, 50 years ago today. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 2 days ago
Quote of the day. "Each day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools, we witness the human consequences of a broken immigration system. Families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our fellow human beings die in the desert. This suffering must end." Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, speaking as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opens its annual spring meeting. (Catholic News Service)
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 3 days ago
Quote of the day. "The family must release him so that God may have his own way. They must release him spiritually and put their faith in the hands of God. Once the family releases him, the people of South Africa will follow."  Andrew Mlangeni, long-time friend and anti-apartheid freedom fighter, as Nelson Mandela is admitted to the hospital in "serious but stable" condition. (Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 5 days ago
The pace of U.S. drone strikes is dramatically slowing. During the month of May, there was one strike in Pakistan and one in Yemen. The new restrictions announced by President Obama in his May 23 speech may be having an effect.So on a Friday afternoon, here’s some good news on the drone front. In the U.K., Domino’s Pizza released a video of an experimental "DomiCopter" remote-controlled drone delivering two pizzas. Huffington Post reports:We're crossing our fingers that Domino's new "DomiCopter" -- a drone that delivers pizzas -- is real. In a recent test video, the contraption traveled about four miles in 10 minutes on a two-pizza delivery in the U.K.Domino's hired creative agency T + Biscuits to develop and test out the contraption. Founder Tom Hatton told NBC that so far, the DomiCopter has been a success. "If anything it went quicker than a pizza boy," he said, pointing out that the DomiCopter doesn't need to stop at red lights. "We were amazed at how easy it was going to be."
Posted by Duane Shank 45 weeks 6 days ago
Quote of the day. “The time of year in the United States [that] an American child is most likely to go hungry is the summertime, and the principal reason for that is school is out.” Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services with the USDA, on the challenge of making sure millions of children get regular, healthy meals when they aren’t in school. (NBC News)
Posted by Duane Shank 46 weeks 1 hour ago
Quote of the day. “Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and then the total — all of these acts — will be written in the history of this generation.” Robert F. Kennedy, died June 6, 1968 after being shot the previous evening; from a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966. (Wikiquote)
Posted by Duane Shank 46 weeks 22 hours ago
Six British Christian peace activists were arrested and detained for 24 hours for protesting at the RAF base from which British drones in Afghanistan are controlled. It is the first anti-drone protest in the U.K. to result in arrests. Ekklesia reports:Six peace activists, representing the group Disarm the Drones, have become the first in Britain to be arrested and charged for anti-drones related offences. The nonviolent peace activists managed to breach security at Britain’s top security drone control base in Lincoln.The six, who are Christian peace campaigners, planted a peace garden in RAF Waddington yesterday morning (3 June 2013). They also displayed images of the victims of drone attacks and may have located the precise place where UK attacks are programmed.Read more here.