The Common Good

The Top 10 Stories of August 12, 2013

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“A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it.” Attorney General Eric H. Holder plans to say Monday, ­according to excerpts of his ­remarks that were provided to The Washington Post.

1. Holder seeks to avert mandatory minimum sentences for some low-level drug offenders.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is set to announce Monday that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences.
(Washington Post)

2. Embassies Open, but Yemen Stays on Terror Watch.
American diplomatic outposts reopened throughout the Middle East on Sunday, easing the sense of imminent danger that has preoccupied the Obama administration since it learned of a possible terrorist attack from communications between two high-ranking officials of Al Qaeda two weeks ago.
(New York Times)

3. Police Put Off Dispersal of Pro-Morsi Sit-Ins.
The Egyptian police appeared on Monday to have postponed once again their threat to begin choking off two Cairo sit-ins where tens of thousands have gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, leaving in place a tense six-week-old standoff.
(New York Times)

4. Israel Names Palestinian Prisoners to Be Released.
Israel announced early Monday the names of 26 Palestinian prisoners to be released as part of a deal for the resumption of peace talks here this week, but there were few initial signs that the move had inspired much enthusiasm for the negotiations.
(New York Times)

5. Immigration debate ensnares foreign workers.
Cracking down on recruiters who swindle foreigners trying to legally reach the U.S. on work visas is one of the rarely discussed, but potentially transformational, portions of a bill passed by the Senate last month.
(USA Today)

6. In Congo, rising violence triggers new U.N. unit.
Now, for the first time, the United Nations has created a rapid-reaction offensive combat force in an attempt to neutralize Congo’s rebel groups and protect civilians. The 3,000-strong force is to be made up of soldiers from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi.
(Washington Post)

7. U.S. judge orders NYPD stop-and-frisk monitor.
A federal judge has appointed an independent monitor to oversee changes to the New York Police Department's contentious stop-and-frisk policy. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday in the case of four men who say New York City police unfairly targeted them because of their race. There have been about 5 million stops during the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men.
(Associated Press)

8. A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water.
Across the southwest, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted. Three years of drought, decades of overuse, and now the oil industry's outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.
(The Guardian)

9. U.S. fast-food workers in vanguard of growing protests at 'starvation' wages.
McDonald's, along with dozens of profitable Wall Street-listed fast food and retail chains, is being rocked by unprecedented workforce- and consumer-led protests over wages and conditions. Since last year, when Walmart faced the first co-ordinated strikes in its history over pay and conditions, similar protests have been spreading through America's low-wage workforce.
(The Guardian)

10. Kerry trip to Brazil, Colombia could be chilly.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's attempts to build warmer relations with two U.S. allies in Latin America may be hindered by resentment after reports about an American spy program that widely targeted data in emails and telephone calls across the region.
(Associated Press)

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