The latest news on Aid to Schools Across the Country, Facebook Officials Quiet About Role in Protests, Afghanistan, Egypt, Yemen, South Sudan, Defector Admits WMD Lies, Canada-Immigration Policy, and Select Op-Eds.
Quote of the Day. "We came because the land, its forests and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal; because the people are suffering intolerable harm to their homes, their health and their communities; and because all the people downstream are threatened by the degradation and contamination of the rivers." Author Wendell Berry, after he and 13 other environmental activists ended their four-day occupation of Gov. Steve Beshear's outer office. (Lexington Herald-Leader/McClatchy)
RELIGION IN THE NEWS
2011 Church Membership: Southern Baptists Decline "Church membership for more than a third of the nation's largest churches took a hit last year while non-Orthodox Christian churches are on the rise, a new report on denominations finds."
Cardinal urges social ministry workers to continue church's legacy "Telling an audience of Catholic social ministry workers Feb. 13 that they are "still contributing to writing the book on Catholic social doctrine," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace offered historical context and encouragement for their efforts."
Churches wrestle with guns in the pews "The way Rev. Jonathan Wilkins sees it, members of his Baptist church in Thomaston, Ga., should have the right to carry guns into worship services to protect the congregation."
Churches view social networking as ministry tool "With the Internet closing in on television as Americans' main source of national and international news, churches increasingly are viewing social-networking applications like Facebook as ministry tools."
What Will House Republican Budget Cuts Do to Churches? (Robert Parham, EthicsDaily.com) "House Republicans are placing low-income Americans at risk with their proposed spending cuts. When the poor turn to churches for help, churches won't have the resources to make up such cuts."
NEWS AT HOME
Obama's proposed budget. Obama budget makes deep cuts, cautious trades "President Obama submitted a budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 on Monday full of surgical cuts and cautious trade-offs to lawmakers clamoring for bold action to reduce government spending and control a budget deficit expected to rise to a record $1.6 trillion this year." Obama's Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit "With President Obama's release on Monday of a budget for next year and House action this week on a Republican plan for immediate deep spending cuts, the nation is getting its clearest view since the president took office of the parties' competing visions of the role of government, the urgency of addressing the deficit and the best path to long-term economic success." It's more a political guide than a spending plan "President Obama's latest spending blueprint is more political road map than problem solver, another in a string of pragmatic moves aimed squarely at independent voters."
Aid to schools cut across the country. Aid Cuts Have Texas Schools Scrambling "All across Texas, school superintendents are bracing for the largest cuts to public education since World War II, and the state is not alone. Schools across the country are in trouble as billions in emergency stimulus grants from the federal government have run out."
Facebook officials quiet about role in protests. Facebook Officials Keep Quiet on Its Role in Revolts "With Facebook playing a starring role in the revolts that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt, you might think the company's top executives would use this historic moment to highlight its role as the platform for democratic change. Instead, they really do not want to talk about it."
NEWS AROUND THE WORLD
Afghanistan. General: Taliban 'beaten' by surge "Coalition forces in Afghanistan have beaten the insurgency in an important stronghold of Taliban fighters, though pockets of resistance remain, a U.S. commander said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY." Afghan child casualties 'growing' "An increasing number of children are being killed and injured in the Afghan conflict, mostly by the Taliban and other militants, a new UN report says."
Egypt. Egypt Army Sets 6-Month Blueprint, but Future Role Is Unclear "The military officers who have governed Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday have laid out a brisk six-month timetable in which to draft constitutional amendments, submit them to a referendum and elect a new government, stirring debate about the military's long-term intentions." Egypt's generals reach out to protest leaders, try to quell strikes "Egypt's new military rulers tried to contain growing labor unrest Monday and to reach out to youthful revolutionaries as the formidable task of governing the politically unstable and impoverished country became apparent." Egypt's army offers reassurances, but its ability to oversee transition is in question "Egypt's new military rulers swiftly reassured citizens and strategic allies alike of their commitment to civilian control and stability, but with ecstatic crowds still in the streets, it was far from certain the generals had the vision or will to transform the Arab world's most populous nation into a vibrant democracy." Ex-judge to head Egypt reform panel "Egypt's new army rulers have appointed Tareq al-Bishry, a retired judge, to head a committee set up to suggest constitutional changes."
Iran. Iran Uses Force Against Protests as Region Erupts "Hundreds of riot police officers in Iran beat protesters and fired tear gas Monday to contain the most significant street protests since the end of the 2009 uprising there, as security forces around the region moved - sometimes brutally - to prevent new unrest in sympathy with the opposition victory in Egypt." Deaths reported in Iran protest "Two people were killed at a banned opposition rally in Iran, a member of parliament has told the Iranian Student's News Agency." Iran unrest: MPs call for death of Mousavi and Karroubi "Members of Iran's parliament have called for opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be tried and executed."
Yemen. Street battles in Yemeni capital "Unrest in Yemen turned ugly as protesters clashed with police and government loyalists in Sanaa on the fourth consecutive day of rallies." Defying obstacles, a female activist presses for reform "Tawakkol Karman sat in front of her laptop, her Facebook page open, planning the next youth demonstration. Nearby were framed photos of her idols: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela."
Bahrain. Thousands mass after Bahrain clashes turn deadly "Thousands of Shiite protesters marched into the capital of Bahrain on Tuesday after a man was killed in clashes between police and mourners at a funeral for a man shot dead at an earlier anti-government rally." Clashes Erupt in Bahrain as Tumult Ripples Across Mideast "The police officers, 20 of them, raised their weapons and fired rubber bullets and canisters of tear gas directly into a small group of protesters chanting slogans and holding signs on Monday." Bahrain police fire at protesters "Opposition group suspends parliamentary participation after another person is killed in firing at funeral procession."
South Sudan. South Sudan 'massacre killed 200' "Most of the dead were civilians, including children and others chased into a river by rebels, a minister said." Wave of violence raises worries about Southern Sudan "An alarming wave of violence has racked Southern Sudan in the two weeks since its upcoming independence was announced, raising worries about the long-term prospects for the world's soon-to-be newest country."
Defector admits WMD lies. Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war "The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war."
Canada-Immigration policy. Tories tread carefully on immigration policy "The federal Conservatives are bringing in record numbers of immigrants, while clamping down on illegal refugees and the wearing of the veil, in an effort to placate their socially conservative base and yet still woo immigrant voters."
The Obama Budget (Editorial, New York Times) "Mr. Obama's budget does not directly address those big issues, but doing so would require a negotiating partner, and Mr. Obama, at present, does not have one among the Republican leaders in Congress. His latest budget is a good starting point for a discussion - and a budget deal - but only if Republicans are willing participants in the process."
Nelson Mandela's lesson for Egypt (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) "But even as Egyptians celebrate, they would be wise to remember that their biggest challenges are only beginning. The same holds true for the Obama administration."
Saving Social Security (Bernie Sanders, Los Angeles Times) "Social Security is the most successful social program in American history. It shouldn't be privatized; its benefits shouldn't be cut; and the retirement age shouldn't be raised."
Sojourners' Daily Digest is a compilation of the top news related to our commitments of life and peace, economic and racial justice, and care of creation, with a special focus on news of the engagement of faith in public life.