The Common Good

Blog Posts By QR Blog Editor

Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 16 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports on new analysis on global poverty:Poverty across the planet will be virtually eliminated by 2030, with a rising middle class of some two billion people pushing for more rights and demanding more resources, the chief of the top U.S. intelligence analysis shop said Saturday.If current trends continue, the 1 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day now will drop to half that number in roughly two decades, Christoper Kojm said."We see the rise of the global middle class going from one to two billion," Kojm said, in a preview of the National Intelligence Council's global forecast offered at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado."Even if some of the most dire predictions of economic upheaval" in the coming years prove accurate, the intelligence council still sees "several hundred million people...entering the middle class," Kojm said.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 16 weeks ago
Writing for The Huffington Post, Eric Sapp takes a closer look at a recent Pew Forum poll:Here's a key point in the poll that didn't get much attention: 82 percent of those who know Obama is Christian say they are comfortable with his religion. So voters are basically twice as comfortable with Obama's faith when they know what it is. This is why faith outreach is so important (but more on that later).Why does the fact that most voters are not comfortable with Obama's religion matter? More than two-thirds of voters (and seven-in-10 women voters) say they want a president with strong religious beliefs. As one might imagine, these numbers are even higher with religious populations. Eight-in-10 Protestants and three-in-four Catholic voters want a president with strong religious beliefs. And let's be honest, they aren't talking about wanting Obama to have strong Muslim beliefs (so the fact that 17 percent of voters think he's Muslim doesn't add to the plus column)!Read more of Eric's analysis here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 16 weeks ago
While the country continues to be outraged over the shootings in Aurora, Colo., lobbyists on both sides of the gun debate, talking heads, and politicians are using it as an opportunity to push their agendas. Perhaps one of the most controversial is the erection of a billboard picturing shooter James Holmes beside President Barack Obama, paralleling the shooting to the war in Afghanistan. To read more from The Atlantic Wire and view the billboard, click HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes for The Huffington Post:The devastating impact of poverty on American economic life is well known. It wastes the talents, energy, and productive potential of many in the work force. In some communities, it increases crime which overburdens the police, the courts, and prisons, and makes doing business in these areas more costly. It strains the health care, and the welfare system. This results in a bigger tax drain on the middle-class. It sharply reduces the ability of thousands of consumers to purchase goods and services. This further crimps business growth and reduces government tax revenues. Yet, there is not a faint mention of the word poverty on the presidential campaign trail. There's a reason, in fact several reasons, for this. One is trying to define who is poor. Apart from the visibly homeless, and those rummaging around on skid row, and in some of the poorest and most recognizable urban inner city communities, one can easily be considered working, or even middle class, one day and the loss of a job, and tangible income, can quickly dump that person into the poverty ranks. This makes the poor even more diffuse, and hard to typecast. They cut across all ethnic, gender, and religious and even political party affiliation lines. There are low income persons in the South, Middle America, and the rural areas, that are conservative, and vote GOP. The other reason is that the poor do not have an advocacy group to go to bat for them with lawmakers such as labor, civil rights, education, environmental, or abortion rights supporters have. This further increases their political invisibility. The only time the poor had loud champions was a brief moment during the 1960s when a small band of anti-poverty groups and organizers got the attention of the Johnson Administration. They shouted, cajoled, and actively lobbied LBJ for a major expansion of anti-poverty programs, funding, and initiatives to reduce poverty in the nation. But the anti-poverty crusade quickly fell victim to Johnson's Vietnam War build up, and the increased shrill attacks from conservatives that the war on poverty was a scam to reward deadbeats and loafers, and sharp budget cutbacks. Read the full piece here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
USA Today reports on a new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, called Kids Count:The well-being of American children looks to be a mixed bag, with gains in academic achievement and health offset by growing economic distress, a new study finds.The percentage of children living in poverty in the U.S. is on the rise, according to the new Kids Count report, which also finds more children living in single-parent homes and with parents struggling to afford housing. The data, which track change in 16 indicators of well-being from 2005 to 2010, also show more children had parents lacking steady employment. The decline in children's economic situations is ominous because living in extended periods of deep poverty threatens children's development, says Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released the Kids Count report. Read more about the study here    
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Employee rights activists Mary Kay Henry and Christine L. Owens write for CNN:Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage. For the last three years, while the prices of gas and milk have risen steadily and the richest 1% have enjoyed huge tax breaks, the federal minimum wage has remained frozen at $7.25 an hour, which amounts to just $15,080 a year -- as long as you get paid for any time you take off. That's more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. As a result, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has slowly eroded -- in just three years, its real value has sunk to $6.77 per hour, a nearly 50-cent drop. The Bush tax cuts, which are simply the perquisite of the moment for the 1%, allow for the richest to prosper at the expense of middle-class and low-income workers. While CEOs make millions and their corporations make billions as part of a so-called economic recovery, the majority of Americans are struggling to make ends meet. This struggle is exacerbated by the low federal minimum wage. As middle-class jobs are increasingly replaced by low-wage work, however, this is the economic reality for a growing number of Americans. Read more of their op-ed here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Writing for The Huffington Post, Joanna Zelman reports on a new NASA study:Unprecedented melting of Greenland's ice sheet this month has stunned NASA scientists and has highlighted broader concerns that the region is losing a remarkable amount of ice overall. According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland's surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface skyrocketed from 40 percent to 97 percent. In over 30 years of observations, satellites have never measured this amount of melting, which reaches nearly all of Greenland's surface ice cover. Learn more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
E-mails from former Sen. Russell Pearce purportedly reveal the motivations behind SB 1070, claims the ACLU:"The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has released thousands of e-mails that it says proves Arizona's controversial immigration law was racially motivated.The e-mails, acquired through a public records request to the state Legislature, are to and from former senator Russell Pearce, who authored Senate Bill 1070."Read the full story HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Reuters reports:"Senators are planning to introduce a bipartisan bill on Monday to give the country's securities regulator the authority to seek tougher fines for alleged Wall Street criminals.The bill, sponsored by Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, would boost the penalties that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can seek from firms and individuals accused of wrongdoing and triple the cap on funds the agency can seek from repeat offenders. 'If a fine is just decimal dust for a Wall Street firm, that's not a deterrent,' Grassley said in a statement. 'A penalty should mean something.'" The bill comes only months after SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro asked Congress to boost the agency's firepower, after a federal judge in New York tossed out two SEC settlements over paltry penalties. Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
ThinkProgress reports on Mayor Bloomberg's comments on the subject of gun control:"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doubled down on his call for stronger gun regulation in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, telling MSNBC Monday morning that both presidential candidates must explain how they will address gun violence.“How anybody can run for the highest office in the country where 48,000 people are going to get killed in the next four years and not have a plan. Maybe they do, maybe they have a secret plan to end the war,” Bloomberg said and called for strengthening existing laws and closing loopholes."Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Mother Jones examine the growing phenomenon of urban farms, and the effects that they are having on their communities:"There's been a growing body of research that suggests that urban farming and greening not only strengthen community bonds but also reduce violence. In 2000, Philadelphia had 54,000 vacant lots, and so the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society reclaimed 4,400 of them, mowing lands, providing upkeep, planting trees and gardens, and erecting three-foot-high fences that served no purpose other than as a kind of statement that this land now belonged to someone.The greening of these parcels (just 8 percent of the vacant land in the city) had an unexpected effect: Over the course of 10 years, it reduced shootings in the areas surrounding these renewed lots. Part of it was practical: The vacant lots had previously been hiding places for guns. But as Charles Branas, an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania who released a study on the project late last year, says, 'People just became more in touch with their neighbors. People felt more connected to each other.'"Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Scott Keys reports for ThinkProgress: "One of the most conservative congressmen in the country stepped up to defend Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and the rights of all Muslim-Americans yesterday against Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) spurious accusations that she is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, calling them 'the wrong thing to do.'”During a town hall held by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on Sunday, a constituent lauded Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witchhunt about a supposed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government and called on her congressman to support her efforts. Sensenbrenner instead used the opportunity not only to defend Abedin, but to advocate for the larger notion of religious pluralism in America and a separation between church and state."Read more about Rep. Sensenbrenner's response here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
On Friday, The New York Times reported:"Moshe Silman, the desperately indebted Haifa man who set himself aflame last weekend as part of a social justice protest in Tel Aviv, died Friday from the second- and third-degree burns over 94 percent of his body.In the year since 400,000 people filled Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last summer, setting off a national protest movement, Mr. Silman, 57, had become a fixture of demonstrations in Haifa. His self-immolation stunned but also galvanized the protest movement, which had been struggling to find its footing."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
According to Cathy Lynn Grossman in USAToday:  Five chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team, already in Colorado and New Mexico ministering to victims of the ravaging wildfires, redeployed to Aurora by 8 a.m. mountain time,Dealing with mass trauma isn't something taught in seminary, says Jack Munday, director of the team.The BGEA is now headed by Graham's son, Franklin, who also leads Samaritan's Purse, which rushes in aid in natual disasters.Munday says the chaplains went directly to Gateway High School in Aurora where the survivors and victims friends and family are gathered. They're also on call with local authories to go to other locations such as area hospitals.Munday described how the team -- sent to mass shootings, natural disasters and other major tragic events -- approaches people who may be angry, grieving, in shock or simply in need of help reaching their own family or clergy.Read the entire report HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 17 weeks ago
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney cancelled campaign events Friday in the wake of the unfolding tragedy in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater early today, killing at least a dozen people (members of the military among them, according to news reports), and wounding dozens of others. Both men made statements reacting to the massacre.In a statement released early Friday morning, Romney said and his wife were "deeply saddened" by news of the shooting."We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice," Romney wrote.Speaking at an event in Florida, Obama said in part:Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled. And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters.  At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here.I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.So what I’d ask everybody to do, I’d like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities every single day. So if everybody can just take a moment.(Moment of silence.)Thank you, everybody. I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.I am grateful to all of you, and I hope that as a consequence of today’s events, as you leave here, you spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
From CNN:A federal judge ordered a Tennessee county to conduct a final inspection of a new mosque, clearing the way for worshippers to possibly begin using the building in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday.The ruling by U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell is the latest development in a two-year battle over the opening of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, near Nashville, that has been marked by legal challenges and anti-Muslim sentiment.Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Many of us take great care of where our food comes from, whether it is organic and has been treated humanely. But do we take the same care over the workers who grow and pick that food? Apparently not, according to Salon:The food industry employs one in five private sector workers. Yet only an estimated 13 percent of those workers make a living wage. Thanks to lobbying by the National Restaurant Association (once led by Herman Cain), the national minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour. Many warehouse and farm workers are paid by the piece, which can amount to even less. And so, in a situation riddled with irony, food-system workers rely on food stamps at double the rate of rest of the U.S. workforce.In the food industry, as in America overall, the concerns of low-wage workers tend to get swept under the table. A generation of hipsters has built its identity around sustainable food. Maybe it’s time to start a new trend. The next time you order that hormone-free hamburger on a stone-ground bun with organic ketchup, ask for a side of worker justice. Learn more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports on Presidential candidates attempts to sway the middle classes, and the lack of clarity about just who the middle class actually are:In a recent speech, President Barack Obama referred to the "middle class" 14 times, defining it as a family that makes up to $250,000 a year. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has looked at it from the other direction, saying that someone who falls into poverty "is still middle class."In the fuzzy labels and loose speech of this political season, "middle class" has ballooned to cover just about everyone. So what does the term really mean?There's no official definition.If anything, a slew of economic data suggests a middle class that's actually shrinking. Mid-wage manufacturing and other jobs are disappearing due to automation and outsourcing, while lower-income positions and poverty spike higher. The White House's chief economist, Alan Krueger, said in January that the middle class fell from 50 percent of U.S. households in 1970 to 42 percent in 2010, as more families moved to the extreme ends of income distribution.But it's not just about economic ranges. And politicians are not bound by such gauges anyway.Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Salon reports on what could be a turning point in the fight against AIDS:"Just one decade ago, experts from the CIA to the World Health Organization feared that AIDS would infect more than 100 million people, becoming a runaway epidemic and crippling countries. But the world, led by the United States, responded in a massive way and expanded treatment from tens of thousands to millions of people, leading to slight decreases in the past five years in the numbers of people living with HIV in countries from West to Southern Africa, where the epidemic has hit the hardest.Is the world now at the next turning point in the history of AIDS? Is this a moment when AIDS, not countries, becomes crippled? Doubters are many. But many also believe new prevention tools and ramped up campaigns to protect newborns and women will help them finally outmaneuver a virus that has killed millions for decades."Find out more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
For The Daily Beast, Mark Hertsgaard asks why parents aren't taking the potential effects of climate change on their children's lives more seriously:"Beyond the distress and discomfort, the record-breaking heat raises a puzzling question for anyone who cares about the future of our young people. The laws of physics and chemistry—the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades after being emitted—mean that man-made global warming is just getting started on this planet.  As a result, my Chiara and millions of other youth around the world are now fated to spend the rest of their lives coping with the hottest, most volatile climate in our civilization’s 10,000-year history. Think of them as Generation Hot.Why, then, are so few parents taking action to try to protect their beloved children from this gathering catastrophe? And why has no one asked them to?"Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Writing for The Nation, Bryce Covert examines how state-level opt outs of Medicaid expansions will affect women:"The Medicaid expansion is a crucial component of the law’s overall goal of extending coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019, covering almost half of the total number of people the bill promised to insure. Originally, the law included a provision that the federal government could take away all of a state’s Medicaid funding if it refused to go along with the expansion, which all but ensured participation. But the Court ruled that such a maneuver was unconstitutional. Just a few days after the decision was announced, seven Republican governors said they would flat-out reject the money to expand Medicaid rolls, with at least eight more looking to follow suit. More have said no since then.This could create a no-man’s land for those who earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible for tax subsidies to help them buy insurance, but don’t qualify for their state’s (unexpanded) Medicaid program. These Americans are surely struggling to get by, but not quite enough to get health coverage promised to those above and below them."Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Writing for Newsweek Magazine, Joel Kotkin wonders if the Millennial generation will be remembered as the "screwed generation:""Today’s youth, both here and abroad, have been screwed by their parents’ fiscal profligacy and economic mismanagement. Neil Howe, a leading generational theorist, cites the “greed, shortsightedness, and blind partisanship” of the boomers, of whom he is one, for having “brought the global economy to its knees.”How has this generation been screwed? Let’s count the ways, starting with the economy. No generation has suffered more from the Great Recession than the young. Median net worth of people under 35, according to the U.S. Census, fell 37 percent between 2005 and 2010; those over 65 took only a 13 percent hit.The wealth gap today between younger and older Americans now stands as the widest on record. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center."Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
A fascinating piece from The Atlantic looks at faith and spirituality amongst those who have travelled across our universe:"For many people, space represents its own religion, a spiritual experience on its own, secular terms, with no help from the divine or ancient rituals. But for those who believe and travel into space, the experience can endow their faith with greater significance. There is awe in science because, simply, there is awe in reality. We use science to discover that reality, and some use religion to understand it, to feel it deeply."Read the full article here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
The Christian Post reports: "A new ABC/Washington Post poll released Monday highlights the differences between Americans who believe racial and religious discriminations are non-issues today versus those who feel racism is a factor in selecting our elected leaders. The poll is timely given that its findings apply to both presidential candidates: incumbent Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. president, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who if elected would be the first Mormon U.S. president.According to the poll, 62 percent of non-blacks do not see racial discrimination as a predominant issue in their communities. Among this group, 59 percent favor Romney while 34 percent back Obama.In March, 42 percent of Americans surveyed said candidates' religious beliefs were important compared to 38 percent in the most recent poll. Political analysts view this as a sign that more Americans are becoming comfortable with Romney's religious beliefs as they learn more about him. Sixty-three percent say a candidate's religion does not matter significantly." Read more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
In a column Sunday in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, Giles Fraser, the former canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral, set a discussion about the Church of England and its stance toward gay marriage within the context of the Eucharist, saying, "The parish church opens up the jollof rice and communal wafers to all comers, shouldn't we do the same with the marriage feast?"Fraser continued,The problem with the CofE on the gay issue is not that it doesn't practise what it preaches but that it doesn't preach what it practises. And orthopraxy (what you do) is more properly basic than orthodoxy (what you think). In practice, the CofE has a reasonably good track record of opening up the jollof rice and the communion wafer to all comers – and certainly better than its official pronouncements would lead onlookers to believe. So why is there such a huge gap between the CofE at parish level and the CofE as expressed by official pronouncements? During General Synod this week, the archbishops came under heavy fire from parish clergy for submitting a shockingly negative response to the government's same-sex marriage proposals in the name of the CofE, as if they constituted the CofE's views. They don't. The parish church is typically a more inclusive place than the church's leadership understand. Here there is neither rich nor poor, black nor white, gay nor straight. The archbishops are out of touch. The parish is the centre of gravity of the church.Read the column in its entirety HERE.Image: Stained glass window depicting the Last Supper by Antonio V. Oquias/Shutterstock.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Dr. Josef Olmert asks if, as the Syrian conflict rages in the streets of Damascus, the end is near?"It has been in the making, as consistently predicted in this blog, and now it is finally happening. The Sunni uprising against the Alawite-dominated regime of Bashar Assad is fast approaching the point of decision. The battles are taking place in the capital Damascus, and the reports, while some may be somewhat exaggerated, are very clear: the rebels of the Free Syria Army are fighting in the very center of the city, are about to be, or already are in control of some of the headquarters of the once feared intelligence organizations, and it is all taking place minutes away from the presidential palace. By some accounts, the palace is without residents, as Bashar and his immediate family have already moved to the Alawite Mountains, something that was also predicted in this blog."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Chris Hedges has a fascinating piece for Salon on the betrayal of the most vulnerable by war:"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac in their lives breaks their spirit and their dignity. Pick up Erich Maria Remarque’sAll Quiet on the Western Front or James Jones’s From Here to Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the Iliad. The allure of combat is a trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game of deception in which the powerful, who do not go to war, promise a mirage to those who do."Read the full article here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
Despite the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration laws, the battle between legislators at the local and federal level is still raging, writes Adam Sorensen for Time:"Last Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference to announce that he didn’t want his city’s law-enforcement authorities to follow federal requests to hold some undocumented immigrants, picked up on other charges, for deportation. The national media’s ears perked up. Emanuel, a former Chief of Staff to President Obama, was at loggerheads with his old boss — good copy in the making. But on the same day, back in Washington, D.C., much bigger news was developing on the future of federal and local cooperation on immigration policy. John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told a House subcommittee that his efforts to persuade officials to honor any of ICE’s detention requests in the jurisdiction of Cook County, which includes Chicago, had hit a wall. 'I won’t sugarcoat it,' he said. 'I don’t think that approach is going to work in full.'”Read more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 18 weeks ago
According to Reuters, opposition forces in Syria are reporting that 220—mostly civilians—were killed by Syrian forces in the bloodiest day so far. "According to a detailed account by activists before news of the massacre, a convoy of 25 vehicles with army and security forces headed west after dawn on Thursday, with three armoured vehicles and five trucks towing artillery, passing through the town of Muharda in the direction of the village of Tremseh."They blockaded the village from all four sides and began violently and randomly firing on houses as a helicopter flew overhead. As the attack happened the electricity and telephone lines were cut. Residents gathered in the streets in a state of fear and panic. They were unable to flee because of the blockade from every side," the report posted on activist Web sites said."
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Politicians, pundits, concerned citizens alike are all looking for the magic bullet to generate revenue without alienating an entire voting bloc or causing the American people more angst. Celebrities, pastors, and community leaders think the Robin Hood tax—taxing less than half of 1 pecent on Wall Street transactions— is the answer. What say you?
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Zeenia Framroze, a student at Harvard University, spoke in April at Georgetown University Berkley Center's Millennial Values Symposium. She speaks in this clip on how the Millennial generation faces its challenges for the future in light of diverse value systems."If we stop listening to each other, if we try to impose our values on another group, we lose the noteworthiness of our values itself. We need to have some faith in democracy and some faith in the marketplace of ideas and values," Framroze said. "We'll bicker and fight, but ultimately we'll have a far more worthwhile discussion."
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
With the Olympics just a few weeks away, Time reports on the fight that has broken out over security for the Games:"Policing the world’s biggest peacetime logistics operation is a herculean task, and Britain’s intelligence and military officials are preparing for every eventuality — even if it means festooning a few apartment buildings with Rapier missiles.Back in May, after residents learned about the plans through leaflets from the MoD, they launched the Stop the Olympic Missiles campaign. Residents staged a protest march on June 30 against government plans, which were approved by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary. In one of the most reproduced images of the protest, an elderly woman holds a sign that says “No missiles on homes! No snipers on schools! No guns on streets!” Other signs simply read, “No missiles in our community” and “This is not a war zone.” But on July 10 a high-court judge rejected those claims, giving the government the all-clear to proceed. While delivering his verdict, Justice Charles Haddon-Cave suggested that the residents were not at risk and instead were “under something of a misapprehension” about the equipment. He also said the government was acting within the law. A day later lawyers representing the residents said they have decided to drop their case: the tenants simply cannot afford to appeal the court’s decision." Read more here    
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Nicholas Watt writes for The Guardian: "Nick Clegg's hopes of reforming the House of Lords, completing a journey begun a century ago by his Liberal predecessors, ran into severe trouble on Tuesday when 91 Tory MPs defied a three line whip to vote against the measure in the largest rebellion of the parliament. A furious David Cameron confronted the leader of the Tory rebellion just outside the House of Commons division lobbies late on Tuesday night as it became clear that normally loyal Tory MPs were determined to register their opposition to House of Lords reform."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Mother Jones on the last taboo - population:"The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050. But should mothers average half a child more in 2045, the world population will peak at 10.5 billion five years later. Half a child less, and it stabilizes at 8 billion. The difference in those projections—2.5 billion—is the total number of people alive on earth in 1950."Overpopulation, combined with overconsumption, is the elephant in the room," says Paul Ehrlich, 42 years after he wrote his controversial book, The Population Bomb. "We don't talk about overpopulation because of real fears from the past—of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex. We don't really talk about overconsumption because of ignorance about the economics of overpopulation and the true ecological limits of earth." Read more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
NPR report on the plight of the poorest in Reading, Pa. - the poorest city in the United States:"Like many mothers in Reading, Boggs has no husband to share the bills. Poverty is high, but it's a lot higher for single mothers. An astounding 66 percent of them in Reading live below the poverty line, less than $19,000 for a family of three. Boggs admits that she made some bad decisions in life and that her daughters' two fathers turned out to be unreliable. But, she quickly adds, "I wouldn't change anything in the world for my kids, my daughters. They're what keeps me going and keeps me fighting to keep searching, as bad as the economy is. If it was just me, I would have [given] up a long time ago." You hear that a lot around the learning center: hope that things will get better if you just keep plugging away, despite the bad times."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
We love a good infographic--and here's one more.Capital in the Capitol: What's the Cost of Getting into Congress?A few key numbers to look at-- in the 2 years prior to taking office, the after Representative raises $1700 a day. If you're trying to be a Seantor? Try $8700. What does that mean? Are they actually running this country? No way. Try breakfast, lunch, and cocktails with high-dollar donors.Take a look. Thanks to Upworthy for finding this great piece.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
The State Deparment yesterday released a statement on the imprisonment of Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for over 1000 days on charges of apostasy.Organizations and countries has been calling for his release since he was imprisoned, but Iranian authorities has yet to agree to release him. A new date for Pastor Nadarkhani's trial has also been set recently.Read the statement in full below: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATEOffice of the SpokespersonFor Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              July 9, 20122012/1118 STATEMENT BY VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESPERSONContinued Imprisonment of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and Repression of Minorities in IranWe note that July 8 marked 1,000 days Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison.  Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately.Unfortunately, Pastor Nadarkhani is not alone in his suffering.  The Iranian regime continues to deny and abuse the human rights of its citizens, in particular those of its many ethnic and religious minorities.  We are troubled by reports of the execution of four members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab community, whose sentences were carried out with little due process.  In March 2012, Iranian state media broadcast the forced confession of one of those executed.We are also concerned by credible reports that prominent author Mohammad Soleimani Nia is missing following his release in May after five months in prison on unspecified charges.We call upon Iranian authorities to respect and protect the freedoms and dignity of all its citizens, and to uphold its own laws and international obligations which guarantee such rights to all Iranians, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.# # # 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Salon reports on a new study which suggests that "fracking" can pollute water sources:"A new study, published in the formidable Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, upends that common-sense argument. It shows that fluids may have traveled from deep within Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, one of the formations at the center of the gas boom, into shallow aquifers hundreds of feet above. These fluids aren’t products of fracking, but if they can travel up through layers of rocks, close to the surface, it means that fracking fluids could, too."Read more about the study here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
From The Nation:"One might expect that the workplace would have adapted to accommodate these changes. With nearly double the number of available workers, and the fact that all employees now likely need to pitch in to share domestic duties, we might hope that employers would lower workers’ expected output. Yet exactly the opposite has happened."Read the full article here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Writing for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson takes a look at what the President's tax plan actually does:"In the long run, historically low tax rates for the "bottom" 98 percent aren't sustainable. For President Obama, demanding higher taxes on rich people is the easy part. Three in five people told Gallup that "upper-income people" were paying too little in federal taxes, Molly Ball reported. The hard part is facing up to the long-term reality that historically low tax rates on 98 percent of Americans is no way to pay for historically high entitlements for 100 percent of Americans."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
The Atlantic's national correspondent, Jeffrey Goldberg, on the Syrian crisis and how the U.S. should respond:"Secretary of State Clinton has again stated that it is only a matter of time before the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad collapses. Speaking in Tokyo to reporters, she said: "The sand is running out of the hourglass," and went on to say, "There is no doubt that the opposition is getting more effective in their defense of themselves and in going on the offense against the Syrian military and the Syrian government's militias. So the future, to me, should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime: the days are numbered."But what is the number? And could the Administration be doing more to move that number down? When it comes to Syria, this administration has a very elastic sense of time."  Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
A New York Times op-ed this week examined the growing phenomenon of poverty in the suburbs:"Hardship has built a stronghold in the American suburbs. Whatever image they had as places of affluence and stability was badly shaken last year, when reports analyzing the 2010 census made it clear that the suburbs were getting poorer.While the overall suburban population grew slightly during the previous decade, the number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs grew by 66 percent, compared with 47 percent in cities. The trend quickened when the Great Recession hit, as home foreclosures and unemployment surged. In 2010, 18.9 million suburban Americans were living below the poverty line, up from 11.3 million in 2000."Learn more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Writing for The Huffington Post last Friday, Richard C. Leone asks:"So is a renewal of the war against poverty in the offing? The current balance of political forces suggests that, rather than muster all the weapons we have to fight for the poor, many are willing to settle for uneasy neutrality. This is one "war of choice" we choose not to wage. Austerity is the watchword of the day defined somewhat differently but accepted by the mainstream of both parties as the bedrock of policy for the foreseeable future…It's past time to connect the dots and see that by ignoring the poor we undermine the welfare of everyone in the 99 percent living from pay check to pay check. We must revive our generous national nature. And more selfishly come to see that we might find ourselves in their shoes. It may be that the poor will always be with us, but that doesn't mean it's OK to ignore them."Read more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Youcef Nadarkhani, the 35-year-old Christian pastor has been imprisoned in Iran since October 2009 after protesting a law that all children read the Quaran and being charged with evangelizing to Muslims. The trial date has been set for Sept. 8. From the Christian Post: "According to Present Truth Ministries, which has been closely monitoring the pastor's case, Nadarkhani will presumably be tried for crimes against security. 'We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that,' the ministry said Thursday." 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
From the Associated Press via STLToday.com: JOPLIN, Mo. — The FBI has joined an investigation into the second fire at a Joplin mosque in four years.The blaze early Wednesday burned a 4-by-6-foot section of shingles atop the Islamic Society of Joplin's building. Firefighters extinguished the flames before they could do further damage, authorities told The Joplin Globe.Capt. Kelly Stephens of the Jasper County Sheriff's Department said investigators were studying security camera footage but he would not say what the tapes showed.About 50 families are members of the Islamic Society of Joplin, which opened the building in 2007 as a mosque and community center, society officials said. The FBI led an investigation in 2008 when the mosque's sign was torched; that crime remains unsolved.Read more: HERE.
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes for CNN on his hopes for peace in Sudan and South Sudan:"My fellow Elders Martti Ahtisaari, Mary Robinson and I are going there to try to ensure that the terrible lessons of war are not forgotten - and to share our hope that these two beautiful countries can find a path to peace. We will relay the world's fears of another deadly conflict that would shatter the hopes of both nations and the broader region. And we will tell the leaders that, while it will take time and patience, we believe - as a result of our own experience - that peace can be achieved.One of our main reasons for going to Sudan and South Sudan now is the humanitarian situation, which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. We are already witnessing an unbearable catastrophe with the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan in Sudan, and the ensuing outpouring of refugees into South Sudan and Ethiopia."Read the full article here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
The Atlantic profiles a new documnetary called Bangladesh: On The Frontlines of Climate Change:"Ami Vitale's beautifully shot documentary visits the communities on the Bay of Bengal that are already suffering the consequences of global warming. Vitali, a photojournalist, made the switch to video to tell the story of one mother who, fearing that increasingly violent weather patterns will harm her family, seeks justice." Watch the short film and find our more here
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 19 weeks ago
The Associated Press reports:"A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent — the upper bounds of what's considered healthy — for at least four more years. If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.The election isn't going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate — that's for sure," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won't drop back to 6 percent until after 2016. Economists consider a "normal" level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent. The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced." Learn more here 
Posted by QR Blog Editor 2 years 20 weeks ago
Writing for Time, Martha White notes:"Anger against mega-banks brewed for most of last year, coming to a head with the Occupy Wall Street protests and fueled by banks’ unpopular (and short-lived) efforts to charge people for using their debit cards. People claimed they’d vote with their feet and switch to a smaller bank or a credit union, prompted by movements like the Facebook-driven Bank Transfer Day. But then a funny thing happened: Most people didn’t wind up switching banks after all." Read the full article here