The Common Good

Daily News Digest

The latest news on Presidential Campaign, Americans in prison, Housing relief blocked health & poverty, US military, Immigration, Payday lending, Seed vault, Afghanistan, Kenya, Turkey-Iraq, Israel-Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Editorial, Opinion and Passings.

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Presidential campaign. Race watched round the world "From Russia to Italy, from Kenya to India, the U.S. presidential campaign has not only captivated a global audience, it is reshaping the image of America."


Americans in prison. Record-High Ratio of Americans in Prison "For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator." U.S. Imprisons One in 100 Adults, Report Finds"Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million, after three decades of growth that has seen the prison population nearly triple. Another 723,000 people are in local jails." New High In U.S. Prison Numbers "More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more,"


Housing relief blocked. Republicans Block Consideration of Housing Relief Package in Senate "Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a bill designed to prop up the struggling housing industry, declaring that the Democratic-backed provisions would harm mortgage lenders and inflame the housing crisis."


Health & poverty. Coalition to examine health, poverty link "A coalition of leaders from the business, health care and education sectors said that they will examine how factors such as income, housing, education and stress - not medical insurance - shape the health choices people make and cause poor and middle-class people on average to live shorter lives than wealthier Americans."


US military. Army manual upgrades nation-building "The Army rolled out the first revision of its operations manual since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, putting stability operations - nation-building - on par with combat." Mullen says military must prepare for next president "Taking note of the debate over the Iraq war in the presidential race, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Pentagon officials in a town hall meeting that the military must be prepared to change policy and carry out the wishes of the next president."


Immigration. Appeals court denies injunction against controversial Arizona law "A federal appeals court refused to block a controversial Arizona law that shuts down businesses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The action by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco clears the way for the statute to be enforced beginning Saturday."


Payday lending. Ohio clergy push for lending reform "Clergy members representing a wide spectrum of Ohio's religious communities have banded together to fight the payday-lending industry on moral and economic grounds."


Seed vault. Near Arctic, Seed Vault Is a Fort Knox of Food"With plant species disappearing at an alarming rate, scientists and governments are creating a global network of plant banks to store seeds and sprouts, precious genetic resources that may be needed for man to adapt the world's food supply to climate change."


Afghanistan . Britain pulls Harry from Afghanistan "Prince Harry is to be withdrawn from Afghanistan after news of his secret deployment leaked out. The 23-year-old royal, who has spent the last 10 weeks serving in Helmand Province, is to be flown back to the UK amid concerns for his safety." Afghan mission close to failing, US says"After six years of US-led military support and billions of pounds in aid, security in Afghanistan is "deteriorating" and President Hamid Karzai's government controls less than a third of the country, America's top intelligence official has admitted."


Kenya . Kenya Rivals Reach Peace AgreementKenya's rival leaders broke their tense standoff, agreeing to share power in a deal that may end the violence that has engulfed this nation but could be the beginning of a long and difficult political relationship." Hope for an end to bloodshed in Kenya as leaders sign surprise power-sharing deal "President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a landmark - and largely unexpected - power-sharing agreement in an attempt to end Kenya's worst crisis since independence."


Turkey-Iraq. Turkish troops move out of Iraq "The Turkish military says it has withdrawn its troops from northern Iraq, following a controversial ground offensive against Kurdish rebels." Turkish troops withdraw from Iraq "The Iraqi foreign minister says all Turkish soldiers involved in an offensive against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) inside northern Iraq, have withdrawn into Turkey."


Israel-Gaza. Rocket barrage slams Ashkelon; Israel intensifies strikes on Gaza "The escalating fighting between Israel and Hamas peaked yesterday with a direct hit by a long-range rocket on a home in the port city of Ashkelon and the killing of at least 18 Palestinians in air strikes. These included five boys and a six-month-old baby." Israeli minister warns of Gaza 'holocaust' "An Israeli minister today warned of increasingly bitter conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinians could bring on themselves what he called a "holocaust". Israel warns of Gaza invasion "Israel is "not afraid" of launching a "major ground" invasion in Gaza, Ehud Barak, the country's defence minister, has said, amid ongoing air raids on the territory."


Iraq. Despite Problems, Iraqi Leader Boasts of Success "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gazed out at a sea of chanting Shiite pilgrims and offered a brash appraisal of his administration's 21-month tenure."


Iran. Concerns rise over Iran-backed militias in Iraq "U.S. military officials are voicing increasing concern that Iranian-backed Shiite militants are stepping up their activities in Iraq, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to make a historic visit to Baghdad that is expected to reinforce Iran's expanding influence." Iranian Pres. Ahmedinejad's visit to Iraq may upstage U.S. "President Bush's leading nemesis in the Middle East, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, begins a two-day state visit to Iraq on Sunday, attempting to highlight Iran's role as the region's major power and upstage Bush and the U.S. military presence." U.S. warns Europe of Iran missiles "With American officials working to close a deal on a missile defense system in Europe, the head of the U.S. program warned that Iran was within two or three years of producing a missile that could reach most European capitals."


Lebanon. US positions warships near Lebanon "The US has sent three warships, including the USS Cole, to take up positions off the coast of Lebanon in a show of force over the ongoing political deadlock in the country." Hezbollah says US ship is threat "A Hezbollah MP has condemned the deployment of the USS Cole warship off the coast of Lebanon as a threat to Lebanese sovereignty and independence."


Pakistan. U.S. Embrace of Musharraf Irks Pakistanis"The Bush administration's continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf, despite the overwhelming rejection of his party by voters this month, is fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan with the United States." U.S. opposes Pakistani plans for talks with militants "Senior Bush administration officials said they oppose plans by some Pakistani politicians to open talks with Islamic militants, saying that could lead to a repeat of a failed 2006 peace accord."


Editorial. Putting the strategy to the test (Haaretz) "If there is indeed a moderate Palestinian leadership with which we can reach a peace agreement that would win support from the world, and perhaps even from a majority of Palestinians, and if such a deal might weaken Hamas, then even if it is only an agreement "to be put on the shelf" until it can be implemented, it ought to be put on the shelf as soon as possible. There is no point in drawing the process out until the parties have agreed on every detail,"


Opinion.


A Great Leap Forward(Chris Turney, New York Times) "But now we're in the 21st century, and time is measured according to oscillations of vaporized atoms of cesium-133. Why do we still need something as oddly quaint as leap year? The answer lies in the fact that days and years are not neatly synchronized. This problem has confounded calendar makers for centuries, and prompted corrections far more clumsy than an occasional extra day in February.


Faith and tolerance (Alan Wolfe, Boston Globe) "The findings of the Pew Survey contain implications for both American politics and American culture. Neither the religious right nor the secular left can be all that happy with what Pew has uncovered."


Passing. Buddy Miles, 60, Hendrix Drummer, Dies "Buddy Miles, the drummer in Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys and a hitmaker under his own name with the song "Them Changes," died on Tuesday at his home in Austin, Tex. He was 60."

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