The Common Good

Daily News Digest

Economy, Democrats, Republicans, Army recruiting, Abortion, Congo, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Global poverty, features and selected op-eds.

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Economy. Poor still suffering from last recession "Many of the poorest people in the United States are still struggling to recover from the effects of a recession that ended six years ago, making them very vulnerable as the country stands on the brink of a new downturn." Bush, Lawmakers Are Close to Deal on Stimulus Package "President Bush and congressional leaders moved closer to agreeing on a compromise economic rescue package, fending off fresh protests from both the right and the left as they rushed to respond to a cascading series of economic troubles and to head off a potential recession." Stimulus plan builds bipartisan steam Spooked by stumbling stock markets around the world, Bush administration officials and members of Congress accelerated the pace of negotiations over a $150-billion economic rescue bill, saying they intended to pass it before Feb. 15." Fed's Action Stems Sell-Off in World Markets "The Federal Reserve, confronted by deepening panic in global financial markets about a possible recession in the United States, struck back with the biggest one-day reduction of interest rates on record and at least temporarily stopped a vertigo-inducing plunge in stock prices." Govt' Red Ink Expected to Get Deeper "The latest deficit projections from the Congressional Budget Office forecast a sea of red ink that will only deepen under plans to jump-start the economy with tax cuts and government spending."


Democrats. Hillary Clinton heads to California, Arizona; Barack Obama stays in South Carolina "A day after a bruising debate in South Carolina, the top Democrats parted ways, with Sen. Hillary Clinton visiting delegate-rich California and Sen. Barack Obama staying behind to remain focused on what has become an essential state for him." Clinton Now Looking Beyond S.C. "The next Democratic presidential nominating contest will take place in Soputh Carolina on Saturday, but Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton has already turned her full attention to places such as this: delegate-rich pockets of states that will vote in a tidal wave of primaries two weeks from now." Obama Turns His Message Of Change to The Economy "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has spent much of the past year laying out a vision for voters weary of partisan rancor and political double talk. Now, as he faces an electorate suddenly worried about plummeting 401(k) accounts and vanishing jobs, he argues that the issues are linked."


Republicans. Thompson departs race as rivals saturate Florida "The furious four-way Republican race for the primary affections of Florida roared up and down this long, heavily populated peninsula and did not pause for a moment of silence for the exit of Fred Thompson, the much-hyped former senator from Tennessee." Thompson Ends Campaign for G.O.P. Nomination "Fred D. Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee, dropped out of the Republican race for president after a third-place primary showing on Saturday in South Carolina, a state he had hoped to win when he entered the race riding a wave of optimism among conservatives looking for a strong general election candidate." Huckabee, Short on Cash, Curtails Effort in Florida "As the Republican front-runners crisscross Florida - the race's biggest prize yet and a state his campaign once considered essential - Mr. Huckabee is pulling back in the state."


Army recruiting. Army recruits with high school degree at 25-year low"The share of Army recruits with a high school diploma - which has shown to be a key indicator of future success in the military - dropped more than 12 percent between 2005 and 2007, reaching a 25-year low" Army Off Target on Recruits "The study also found that the number of "high quality" recruits -- those with both a high school diploma and a score in the upper half on the military's qualification test -- has dropped more than 15 percent from 2004 to 2007."


Abortion. A Youthful Throng Marches Against Abortion "Tens of thousands of abortion opponents took to the cold, gray streets of Washington yesterday, buoyed by a recent report that the number of abortions in the United States had hit the lowest level in years and vowing to continue the fight." Marching for life "Thousands converged on the Mall to protest on the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion throughout the United States." 35 years after Roe, abortion opponents find reasons to cheer "The two sides in the nation's debate on abortion are marking the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with their usual rallies and speeches. But this year, there are signs that not all is the same."


Congo. Study: Congo's death rates highest in Africa "Some 45,000 people die each month in Congo as the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis has failed to improve despite five years of relative peace in the Central African nation," Congo's Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended "Five years after Congo's catastrophic war officially ended, the rate at which people are dying in the country remains virtually unchanged, according to a new survey, despite the efforts of the world's largest peacekeeping force, billions of dollars in international aid and a historic election that revived democracy after decades of violence and despotism." War in Congo kills 45,000 people each month "The International Rescue Committee said preventable diseases and starvation aggravated by conflict have claimed 5.4 million lives since the beginning of the second Congo war in 1998,"


Gaza. UN: Some 350,000 Gazans stream into Egypt as militants blast border wall "Some 350,000 Palestinians poured out of Gaza and into Egypt early Wednesday, the United Nations said, after masked gunmen blew dozens of holes in the wall delineating the border." Gaza border breached, thousands flood into Egypt "Egyptian and Palestinian border guards did not resist the mass crossing at the Rafah terminal. Witnesses said Palestinian security officials later closed some of the breaches but kept two open, allowing Gazans to cross into Egypt and return with milk, cigarettes and plastic bottles of fuel." Palestinians flood into Egypt "Hamas, which has controlled the narrow coastal strip since last June, did not take responsibility for knocking the border wall down, but its militants quickly took control as Egyptian border guards stood aside."


Iran. Six-nation pact takes aim at Iran "In a bid to ratchet up pressure on Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, six leading world powers agreed to introduce a new United Nations resolution likely to tighten sanctions against the Islamic Republic." UN powers agree new Iran draft "The announcement was made by the German foreign minister after talks in Berlin with his counterparts from the US, France, the UK, Russia and China." Iran vows to follow nuclear path despite sanctions "Iranian leaders vowed to press on with Tehran's disputed nuclear work regardless of any new U.N. sanctions, one day after world powers agreed the outline of a new resolution." Bolton: 'Near zero' chance Pres. Bush will strike Iran "Former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton said that there is almost no chance that U.S. President George W. Bush will approve a military strike on Iran before he leaves office next January."


Iraq. Iraq's New Law on Ex-Baathists Could Bring Another Purge "More than a dozen Iraqi lawmakers, U.S. officials and former Baathists here and in exile expressed concern in interviews that the law could set off a new purge of ex-Baathists, the opposite of U.S. hopes for the legislation."


Global poverty. 9.7 million children under 5 die yearly, UNICEF says"About 9.7 million children die each year before their fifth birthday, mostly from diseases that could be prevented with simple, affordable measures, the UN Children's Fund said yesterday."


Feature. Farmers' markets in winter? A bounty of help for growers. "Ken Ruegsegger struggled after he sold his dairy herd a few years ago and concentrated on raising animals for their meat. A coalition of religious groups stepped in and paid an electric bill for his farm near Blanchardville in southwestern Wisconsin. Now he's paying them back and earning a profit as he sells his wares at indoor markets that have become popular in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa in winter months."


Op-Eds.


They neither see nor remember (Amira Hass, Haaretz) "Those who champion escalation ignore the fact that hermetic closure of all crossings into Gaza reminds the world what it loves to forget: Israel is the occupier. The aggressor. The learning disabled and the short-sighted do not see the moral - and not just security - bankruptcy of the escalation policy. Others will do that in their place."


Arguing themselves to death (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) "Democrats are so well positioned to take the White House and even win additional seats in Congress this year that it raises an intriguing question: How will they manage to blow it this time?"

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