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Out of Order

The House of Representatives has been debating the defense authorization bill for the past two days, including more than 140 amendments. But this year’s version of the McGovern-Jones amendment calling for a faster withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was not among them. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have offered similar amendments for several years, steadily gaining votes. Last year, there 204 votes in favor, including 26 Republicans. Activists believed this year might see an even higher total, perhaps enough to pass. Rather than face that result, the Rules Committee simply ensured that it would not come to the floor for a vote. 

CNN reported this morning two GOP congressional sources confirming that Republicans were concerned the amendment could pass. The only Afghanistan withdrawal amendment made in order was by Barbara Lee (D-CA), which would have essentially ended the war by limiting funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan. It predictably failed on a 303-113 vote.

Both McGovern and Jones denounced the action. McGovern asking, "What is the Republican leadership afraid of? Are they afraid a bipartisan majority of this House will vote to follow the will of the American people and change our Afghanistan policy?" Jones added, "This is supposed to be the people's House - that means we listen to the people. How about listening to the 72% of those who say get out of Afghanistan?” The next opportunity will likely be the defense appropriations bill sometime this summer.

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Apocalypse Fairly Soon

Paul Krugman looks at the European financial crisis and sees Apocalypse Fairly Soon.

Suddenly, it has become easy to see how the euro — that grand, flawed experiment in monetary union without political union — could come apart at the seams. We’re not talking about a distant prospect, either. Things could fall apart with stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs — both economic and, arguably even more important, political — could be huge.

 

 

 

 

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Making Money Off the Poor

Barbara Ehrenreich invetigates the growing practice of businesses and government making money off of the poorest in society:

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell.

Read her full article here

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Pour Me Another Cup of Coffee

A new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and AARP showed that coffee drinkers are likely to live longer.  Lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute says, “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”

The study included more than 400,000 people and found that “Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent.”

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Much to Be Done at This Year's G8 Summit

For Time MagazineJay Newton-Small reports on the upcoming G8 summit:

Not since the oil shocks that first brought the world’s superpowers together in 1974–back then they called themselves the “Library Group” because they met in the White House library–has the G8 had so much substantive business on a summit agenda. In recent years, world leaders have mostly just tried to to out-do one another with pledges of development assistance, leading to stories like this one from my colleague Massimo Calabresi, that questioned the usefulness of the annual summit.

Read more about the summit here

 

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Drones Attacked From Both Sides of the Political Spectrum

Jefferson Morley writes for Salon:

Opposition to the use of drones in domestic airspace is spreading from the Code Pink left to the Fox News right. While conservatives  laud the use of drones against suspected militants overseas, the sudden and vehement criticism of domestic drones this week by three right-wing commentators suggests that Congress’s rush to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned aviation vehicles now faces an unusual left-right chorus of critics.

Read the full story here

 

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Income Inequality Talk Too Hot For TED

The National Journal'Jim Tankersley writes:

There’s one idea, though, that TED’s organizers recently decided was too controversial to spread: the notion that widening income inequality is a bad thing for America, and that as a result, the rich should pay more in taxes. TED organizers invited a multimillionaire Seattle venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer – the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com – to give a speech on March 1 at their TED University conference. Inequality was the topic – specifically, Hanauer’s contention that the middle class, and not wealthy innovators like himself, are America’s true “job creators.”
 
Read more here
 
UPDATE: The Atlantic has the full transcript of the talk here
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Report: Issues Matter More to Voters Than Anything Else

According to a new report from the Barna Group:

A national sample of likely voters interviewed by Barna indicated that of all the different factors they will consider when choosing our next president, each candidate’s positions on important issues will be the single most important component in their candidate choice. More than four out of five likely voters (83%) said that positions on the issues are the most important factor in their decision of which candidate to support on Election Day.

See the full results of the report here

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Nuns on the Frontier

In the current controversy between the Vatican and U.S. religious women, a short history showing that it’s nothing new. Professor emerita of history Anne M. Butler tells the story:

In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West, braving hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy that, then as now, frequently exploited and disdained them was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change.

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