The Common Good

Quick Read: Social. Justice. News.

Mladic War Crimes Trial Begins

The BBC reports on the opening day of Ratko Mladic's war crimes trial at The Hague:

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic intended to "ethnically cleanse" Bosnia, the opening day of his war crimes trial has heard. Gen Mladic faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, in connection with the brutal 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Read more about the trial here

 

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An Election Between the 1 percent and the 99 percent?

For The NationAri Berman argues that President Obama must hold Wall Street accountable:

It’s easy to forget that the 1 percent, while overwhelmingly powerful in our political system, are by nature a tiny minority of voters. Thus, Obama’s core message should be about ensuring fairness and expanding opportunity for the 99 percent. But he won’t have the credibility to make such a message stick unless he jettisons what has been the albatross around his administration’s neck—the closeness between Washington and Wall Street.

Learn more here

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Church Leaders Speak Out on VAWA

For CNNLeith Anderson and Lynne Hybels on the new version of the Violence Against Women Act being debated by Congress:

This week the House of Representatives is considering a proposal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, first enacted in 1994, but in a new version that would significantly undermine the same U visa program that provided Nicole with safety and permanency in the United States. The U.S. government estimates that as many as 17,500 foreign-born victims are illegally trafficked in from abroad each year, and academic estimates suggest that at least 100,000 victims of human trafficking live in the United States today. By force, fraud or coercion, traffickers keep victims enslaved in prostitution or forced labor.

Read their full article here

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Poisoning The Common Good

Writing for Religion News Service and featured in The Washington PostTom Ehrich has some strong words for the culture of fear and distortion he sees in politics:

When people make grandiose claims about “God’s will” and “American values” and demonize others who hold different views, we haven’t just channeled a tragic yesterday and its wars and pogroms. We have poisoned the well of community on which our nation depends today and made a mockery of God and faith.

Read his full article here.

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Troop Withdrawal: Easier Said Than Done

In his successful run for president of France, one of Francois Hollande’s campaign promises was to withdraw all French troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Now that he’s taken office, he’s discovering that was easier to promise than it will be to accomplish. 

Military specialists are advising him that it is “next to impossible to transport all combat troops and their equipment back to France by the end of the year.” A number of other countries, faced with opposition at home to their war involvement, are also interested in speeding up withdrawals. It should make for interesting discussions at this weekends' NATO Summit.   

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Showdown in Europe

In his inaugural address today, new French President Francois Hollande called for a European pact for growth to balance out German-driven austerity measures.

"I will propose to our partners a pact that will tie the necessary reduction of our public debt to the indispensable stimulation of our economies."

But, according to Spiegel Online,

Europeans hoping that mounting international opposition will make her drop her austerity plan to save the euro -- a policy that is causing so much pain in ailing economies like Greece and Spain -- are likely to be disappointed, say analysts in Germany.

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Is Hope the Key to Tackling Poverty?

In the latest edition of The Economist, a new theory on how to tackle poverty: offer hope.

The idea that an infusion of hope can make a big difference to the lives of wretchedly poor people sounds like something dreamed up by a well-meaning activist or a tub-thumping politician. Yet this was the central thrust of a lecture at Harvard University on May 3rd by Esther Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology known for her data-driven analysis of poverty. Ms Duflo argued that the effects of some anti-poverty programmes go beyond the direct impact of the resources they provide. These programmes also make it possible for the very poor to hope for more than mere survival.

Read more about Ms. Duflo's research here

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Tony Perkins Says Government "Crowding Out" Anti-Poverty Nonprofits

In a heated discussion with MSNBC's Martin Bashir, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said:

“We don't think government is the source or the solution for dealing with poverty. We believe that the American people who are generous in their giving, local communities that can address not just the material poverty but the spiritual poverty as well….When you have the government crowding out those nonprofit organizations that go beyond just the material need, instead of just giving someone a fish, teaching them to fish. That's what the religious community does when they're empowered to do so.”

See the full interview here

 

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Voters See Brighter Future for Economy

The Hill reports on a new poll focussing on the country's economic prospects:

Voters are optimistic the economy will improve in the next year, but still hold doubts on President Obama’s economic policies, a new USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday finds. Likely voters in the U.S. think the economy is improving already, giving Obama an edge as the incumbent. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed believe they will be "better off" next time this year and 58 percent predict good economic conditions in a year.

Read more about the poll here

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Coming Home: The New Afghan Mission

Gen. John Allen, the U.S./NATO commander in Afghanistan, is reorienting the military mission in Afghanistan. As U.S. troops leave, Afghan troops must take the lead.

Faced with an order from President Obama to withdraw 23,000 troops by the end of the summer, and the prospect of further reductions next year, Allen is hastily transforming the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. Instead of trying to continue large U.S. counterinsurgency operations for as long as he can, he is accelerating a handover of responsibility to Afghan security forces. He plans to order American and NATO troops to push Afghans into the lead across much of the country this summer, even in insurgent-ridden places that had not been candidates for an early transfer.

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