The Common Good

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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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Transcript: Romney's Liberty University Speech

Mitt Romney on Saturday delivered the commencement speech at Liberty University. The Los Angeles Times has video and the full transcript of the speech. 

Read full transcript HERE.

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Human Rights Watch Slams NATO for Civilian Deaths in Libya

For ReutersSebastian Moffett reports on a new Human Rights Watch report:

"In a report based on investigations at bombing sites during and after the conflict, the New York-based HRW said NATO strikes killed 20 women and 24 children. It called on the alliance to compensate civilian victims and investigate attacks that may have been unlawful. "Attacks are allowed only on military targets, and serious questions remain in some incidents about what exactly NATO forces were striking," Fred Abrahams, special adviser at HRW, said in a statement."
 
Read the full story here

 

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Senior LRA Leader Captured in Central African Republic

The BBC reports that Caesar Achellam was captured by the Ugandan army on Saturday:

"A senior commander in the rebel Lord's Resistance Army has been captured by the Ugandan army, a spokesman has said. Caesar Achellam was seized on Saturday following a struggle between Ugandan soldiers and a group of 30 rebels. The commander, whom Ugandan officials say is a top rebel military strategist, was captured in the Central African Republic, one of several nations where the Ugandan-led LRA operates."
 
Read more here

 

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How Congress Can Hinder a Presidential Campaign

From yesterday's New York Times

"There is nothing a presidential campaign likes less than to be forced to answer for someone else’s actions. And yet President Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to face that challenge repeatedly during this election season as their allies and adversaries in Congress pursue agendas that do not always make things easy on the campaign trail."

Read the full story here

 

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