The Common Good

Weekly Wrap

The Top 10 Stories of August 5, 2013

Quote of the Day:
“For the past decade, the U.S. has been able to hide Bagram behind the shield of ongoing military conflict in Afghanistan. What’s happening now is that the shield is disappearing and what’s left is the legacy of the second Guantanamo, which is going to last beyond the Afghan war.” Tina M. Foster, director of the International Justice Network, which represents more than 30 detainees in the jail at Bagram air base outside Kabul, Afghanistan.

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of August 2, 2013

Quote of the day.
“I’m working as hard as I can. Every time I talk to my boss I ask, ‘Is there any more work?’ I’m trying to go to school so I can get a better job, so I can get off welfare.” Yolanda Williams, Philadelphia, who works part-time and receives Medicaid and food stamps to support her disabled husband and unemployed daughter, while also attending school.
(NBC News)

1. U.S. employers add 162k jobs, rate falls to 7.4 pct.
U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March. The gains were enough to lower the unemployment rate to a 4 1/2 -year low of 7.4 percent.
(Associated Press)

2. Dozens arrested in pro-immigration protest at U.S. Capitol.
Dozens of leaders in the immigration movement were arrested Thursday after they blocked a major intersection near the Capitol in a protest of Republican opposition to an immigration overhaul that would include a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.
(McClatchy News)

3. G.O.P. rifts lead Congress to spending impasse.
Hours before leaving on summer recess, Congress on Thursday hit a seemingly intractable impasse on government spending, increasing the prospects of a government shutdown in the fall and adding new urgency to fiscal negotiations between the White House and a bloc of Senate Republicans.
(New York Times)

4. House GOP takes another cut at food stamp bill.
House Republicans are proposing to double their food stamp savings to nearly $40 billion by rolling back waivers for able-bodied adults and targeting funds to states that are willing to impose greater work requirements on the parents of young children.
(Politico)

5. Unions get creative to halt decline in membership.
With union membership on the decline, labor leaders are getting more creative — and some say more desperate — to boost sagging numbers and rebuild their waning clout.
(Associated Press)

6. Global warming, more wars? Climate could spark more conflict.
Peacemakers are likely to be in great demand by 2050 if global warming proceeds unabated. That is the implication of a new analysis exploring the links between climate change and conflict.
(Christian Science Monitor)

7. Kerry says Pakistan drone strikes could end as bilateral talks resume.
The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, said on Thursday the two countries will resume high-level negotiations over security issues. Kerry suggested that disputed drone strikes could end soon.
(Guardian/AP)

8. Iran assails house sanctions bill.
Iran reacted angrily on Thursday to the overwhelming approval of harsh legislation on sanctions by the House of Representatives, saying the action would further complicate stalled negotiations aimed at resolving the protracted dispute over the Iranian nuclear energy program.
(New York Times)

9. U.S. says Egypt restoring democracy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said Egypt's military was "restoring democracy" when it ousted elected President Mohammed Morsi last month. Mr Kerry said the removal was at the request of "millions and millions of people."
(BBC)

10. Spree of prison breakouts stirs fear of new Al Qaeda threat.
In less than a week, more than 2,000 prisoners, many of them Islamic militants trained by Al Qaeda, have been broken out of detention in Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan in spectacularly violent raids.
(Chicago Tribune)

Editor’s note:

Friends.

I am transitioning into a different role at Sojourners, so after nearly 7 years, today is the last Daily Digest I will do. Sojourners will continue to bring you the news you need to know, although the format may change. I have thoroughly enjoyed producing the Digest, and I have always been grateful for the emails with your appreciation, suggestions, and critiques.

Thank you.

Duane

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of August 1, 2013

Quote of the day.
“I wanted to be part of creating a community where survivors and hard-living people could feel welcome.” Don Durham, founder of Healing Springs Acres, a community farm in North Carolina that provides people a means of serving their neighbors by growing thousands of pounds of produce for area feeding ministries.
(Associated Baptist Press)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 31, 2013

Quote of the day.
“What this research reveals above all is that poverty is hugely complex and controlled by myriad forces. The interconnectedness of the world through globalisation means the poorest and most marginalised face negative pressures from all quarters making it harder and harder to sustain a livelihood." Neva Frecheville, post-MDGs policy analyst for the Catholic aid agency Cafod, on a new report that the wellbeing of many poor people has deteriorated over the past 15 years as a result of factors beyond their control.
(Guardian)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 30, 2013

Quote of the day.
"Remaining silent is not an option because it''s nearly impossible to survive on $7.25 an hour." Kareem Starks, a McDonald''s worker in Brooklyn, as hundreds of low-wage workers at fast food chains protested in New York, starting a week of demonstrations in several major cities demanding the federal minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.
(Chicago Tribune/Reuters)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 29, 2013

Quote of the day.
“I think one of the great questions of our age for any faith group, is ‘What does the current generation owe succeeding generations?’ I am very much committed to working for a government that is in fact interested in handing off a safe planet, to handing off a peaceful rather than violent world to the next generation.” Shaun Casey, professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, named to head a new office in the State Department dedicated to outreach to the global faith community and religious leaders.
(Washington Post)

1. 80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment.
Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
(CBS News/AP)

2. Americans’ frustration with gridlocked Washington grows.
Americans are eager for Washington to act on a host of issues they care deeply about, but instead they’ve just witnessed another week of sharp rhetoric and political finger-pointing.
(McClatchy News)

3. Despite ambitious goals, millions would be left out of immigration deal.
Even if the Senate legislation favored by Obama became law tomorrow, more than one in four illegal immigrants would remain undocumented and outside the system, according to federal estimates.
(Washington Post)

4. Momentum builds against N.S.A. surveillance.
What began on the political fringes only a week ago has built a momentum that even critics say may be unstoppable, drawing support from Republican and Democratic leaders, attracting moderates in both parties, and pulling in some of the most respected voices on national security in the House.
(New York Times)

5. Obama expresses reservations about Keystone XL pipeline project.
Barack Obama has given the strongest indication to date that he holds reservations about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, saying the project would not create many jobs and could raise gasoline prices.
(Guardian)

6. Pope Francis heads home; Vatican sees Brazil trip as success.
Pope Francis wrapped up his first overseas trip Sunday with one of the largest papal Masses in recent history and a final entreaty for Catholic youth and their ministers to get out and spread the faith.
(Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times)

7. EU urges Egypt rulers to end stand-off with Brotherhood.
Europe's top diplomat pressed Egypt's rulers on Monday to step back from a growing confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, two days after 80 of his supporters were gunned down in Cairo.
(Reuters)

8. Mideast talks to resume amid deep skepticism.
Israeli and Palestinian teams flew to Washington on Monday to end five years of diplomatic stalemate and prepare for a new round of Mideast peace talks, though optimism was in short supply after two decades of failed attempts to reach a deal.
(Associated Press)

9. France praises Mali's election.
France hails Mali's presidential election, the first since a coup and an Islamist-led insurgency which it helped repel, a "great success".
(BBC)

10. Scores killed in Darfur tribal clashes.
Two days of fighting between rival tribes in Sudan's Darfur region has killed up to 94 people, tribal leaders said.
(Al Jazeera)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 26, 2013

Quote of the day.
“This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration.” Natasha Frost, associate dean of Northeastern University’s school of criminology and criminal justice, on statistics showing the prison population in the United States dropped in 2012 for the third consecutive year.
(New York Times)

1. White House prepares for budget showdown.
Senior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown if Republicans continue to demand deeper spending cuts, lawmakers and Democrats familiar with the administration’s thinking said Thursday.
(Washington Post)

2. Justice Department to take on states over voting rights.
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will legally contest a series of laws around the country as part of an aggressive campaign to fight a recent Supreme Court ruling that it says could reduce minority voting.
(McClatchy News)

3. Juror says Zimmerman 'got away with murder.'
A juror in the trial of George Zimmerman says the former neighborhood watch volunteer "got away with murder" when he was acquitted earlier this month in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
(Reuters)

4. Spy agencies under heaviest scrutiny since abuse scandal of the '70s.
On three fronts — interrogation, drone strikes, and now electronic surveillance — critics inside and outside Congress have challenged the intelligence establishment, accusing officials of overreaching, misleading the public, and covering up abuse and mistakes. 
(New York Times)

5. Pope Francis urges Catholics to shake up dioceses.
Pope Francis has shown the world his rebellious side, urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a "mess" in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith.
(Associated Press)

6. Army accuses Morsi of murder, kidnapping.
Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is under investigation for an array of charges including murder, the state news agency said on Friday, stoking tensions as Egypt's opposing political camps took to the streets.
(Reuters)

7. Iran is said to want direct talks with U.S. on nuclear program.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the Obama administration this month that Iran was interested in direct talks with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, and said that Iraq was prepared to facilitate the negotiations, 
(New York Times)

8. Japan plans marine force and drone fleet.
The Japanese government has said it needs to create a U.S. Marines-style force and a fleet of drone aircrafts as it faces territorial threats from China and North Korea.
(Al Jazeera)

9. Honduran gangs offer peace from prison.
The 18th Street gang and its arch rival, Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have taken small, ­suspicion-filled steps in recent weeks toward what church leaders and their supporters at the Organization of American States are calling “a peace process,” careful to avoid the term “gang truce.”
(Washington Post)

10. Report says 220,000 died in Colombia conflict.
Almost a quarter of a million Colombians have been killed in the country's internal conflict since 1958, most of them civilians, a government-funded report has said.
(Al Jazeera)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 25, 2013

Quote of the day.
"The impact of counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian action has been the source of growing concern within the humanitarian community. A particular fear has been that people in areas controlled by non-state armed groups designated as terrorists may have no or diminished access to humanitarian assistance and protection." Kyung-wha Kang, U.N. assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, on a new report showing counter-terrorism legislation is having a direct impact on humanitarian action.
(Guardian)

1. Obama says, ‘Washington has taken its eye off the ball.’
President Obama on Wednesday said the fragile economic recovery is being undermined by worsening partisan politics in Washington and urged the country to stand behind him as Republicans try to roll back his vision of government.
(Washington Post)

2. NSA vote splits parties, jars leaders.
A $512.5 billion Pentagon appropriations bill cleared the House Wednesday evening after the leadership narrowly beat back efforts to curb the National Security Agency’s authority to collect private call records and metadata on telephone customers in the U.S.
(Politico)

3. With little argument, House limits U.S. military involvement in Syria, Egypt.
The House of Representatives approved measures Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from spending money on U.S. military operations in Syria without consulting Congress and would forbid funding U.S. military or paramilitary operations in Egypt.
(McClatchy News)

4. Louisiana agency sues dozens of energy companies for damage to wetlands.
Louisiana officials filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against dozens of energy companies, hoping that the courts will force them to pay for decades of damage to fragile coastal wetlands that help buffer the effects of hurricanes on the region.
(New York Times)

5. The cost of child poverty: $500 billion a year.
The United States has the second-highest child poverty rate among the world’s richest 35 nations, and the cost in economic and educational outcomes is half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new report by the Educational Testing Service.
(Washington Post)

6. Slum trip, mass youth meeting await Pope in Rio.
Pope Francis will bless the Olympic flag, visit a slum, and address upward of 1 million young Roman Catholics in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach on Thursday, as Latin America's first pope continued his inaugural international trip as pontiff.
(Associated Press)

7. Leaving zero troops in Afghanistan? It's a serious option, Pentagon says.
Following through on the so-called “zero option” for Afghanistan — in which no U.S. troops would remain in the country past 2014 — would be a dangerous way forward for the Pentagon, warn some lawmakers who say they are increasingly concerned about the prospect.
(Christian Science Monitor)

8. Egypt rallies defy army chief's call.
Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters filled Nasr City on Thursday, repeating their weeks-long demand that the deposed president — who was removed by the army on July 3 — is reinstated.
(Al Jazeera)

9. Israeli-Palestinian talks to begin next week.
The first talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators for almost three years are scheduled to begin in Washington next Tuesday, according to an Israeli minister. 
(Guardian)

10. South Sudan: food fears for thousands in Jonglei as violence intensifies.
Tens of thousands of people face severe food insecurity as they hide in the bush in Jonglei state, South Sudan, after another wave of violence cut off access to aid.
(Guardian)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 24, 2013

Quote of the day.
“Ramadan is a wonderful time of year for me. It’s the time to reflect. ... Your hunger is supposed to remind you that there are people who are fasting involuntarily all over this world. … I think what you do is you dial your energy level back just a tad. Instead of running, you walk …” Rep. Keith Ellison on being Muslim in Congress during Ramadan.
(ABC News)

+Continue Reading

The Top 10 Stories of July 23, 2013

Quote of the day.
"There''s little doubt that things are getting worse. Aside from the fact the New Mexico economy has been so slow to turn around, the systems that generally serve people who are the working poor and suddenly lose their jobs or face greater hardship, all those systems have been strained beyond the max." Kim Posich, executive director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty on the Kids Count survey released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that showed New Mexico with the highest child poverty rate in the U.S.
(Huffington Post/AP)

1. Poll finds black, white reactions to Zimmerman verdict vary wildly.
The not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has produced dramatically different reactions among blacks and whites, with African Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of the jury’s decision and a bare majority of whites saying they approve of the outcome.
(Washington Post)

2. Obama seeking to take credit and set course for economy.
President Obama is restarting a major effort this week to focus public attention on the American economy, a strategy aimed at giving him credit for the improving job market and lifting his rhetoric beyond the Beltway squabbles that have often consumed his presidency.
(New York Times)

3. Pelosi rolls out economic agenda for women.
The California Democrat launched a legislative agenda of family-friendly policies, such as paycheck fairness for women, an increased federal minimum wage, and President Barack Obama''s proposed early childhood education initiative.
(McClatchy News)

4. Michelle Obama speaking out on gun violence.
It''s a second term for Michelle Obama, too, and she''s shifting her social-issues emphasis to kids and gun violence after spending four years stressing better physical fitness for the young.
(Associated Press)

5. Al Qaeda growing, but less focused on U.S.
The number of Al Qaeda affiliates has expanded, as has their geographic scope, but the terror network has become more diffuse and decentralized, the RAND study found.
(Christian Science Monitor)

6. Pope Francis tries to bolster church in Brazil.
Brazil is a huge battleground for souls. It has one in 10 of all the world’s Catholics, making it enormously important to the Vatican. But for years now, Catholicism has been on the losing end of a pitched struggle with increasingly influential evangelical churches.
(Washington Post)

7. U.S. military intervention in Syria would create ''unintended consequences.''
The top U.S. military officer warned senators on Monday that taking military action to stop the bloodshed in Syria was likely to escalate quickly and result in "unintended consequences," representing the most explicit uniformed opposition to deeper involvement in another war in the Middle East.
(Guardian)

8. Top U.S. general urges approval of continued military presence.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that he wanted the United States and Afghanistan to complete a security partnership agreement by October, allowing for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
(Washington Post)

9. Egypt starts amending constitution despite political divisions.
A panel of legal experts started work on Sunday to revise Egypt''s Islamist-tinged constitution, a vital first step on the road to fresh elections ordered by the army following its removal of Mohamed Mursi as president.
(Reuters)

10. 4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses.
(McClatchy News)

+Continue Reading