The latest news on Health Care, Immigration & Census, Unemployment, Climate Change, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Iran-Israel, Arms Control, Japan, and Select op-eds.

By Duane Shank 10-22-2009

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Quote of the Day. “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system. If money as such does not multiply on its own, how are we to explain the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few?” Georg Sans, professor of the history of contemporary philosophy at the pontifical Gregorian University, writing in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. (London Times online)


400,000 former Anglicans worldwide seek immediate unity with Rome “Leaders of more than 400,000 Anglicans who quit over women priests are to seek immediate unity with Rome under the apostolic constitution announced by Pope Benedict XVI.” Offer Raises Idea of Marriage for Catholic Priests “The invitation to join the Catholic Church extends to married Anglican clergy, leading some to wonder whether the move could liberalize the church on a crucial issue: celibacy.” Pope's Wooing of Anglicans Challenges Archbishop “Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI are both noted theological scholars leading flocks through complicated times. In recent days, Archbishop Williams's already tough mission became even more difficult.”

Growing Common Ground Between Liberals and Conservatives on Immigration “Is the idea of common ground between liberals and religious conservatives a pipe dream? Not when it comes to one of the major goals of President Obama's first term: immigration reform.”


Executive Pay. Obama administration to cut executive pay at 7 bailed-out firms “The Obama administration plans to order companies that have received exceptionally large amounts of bailout money from the government to slash compensation for their highest-paid executives by about half on average.” U.S. to Order Steep Pay Cuts at Firms That Got Most Aid "Responding to the furor over executive pay at companies bailed out with taxpayer money, the Obama administration will order the firms that received the most aid to slash compensation to their highest-paid employees.”

Democrats Lose Big Test Vote on Health Legislation “Democrats lost a big test vote on health-care legislation on Wednesday as the Senate blocked action on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years.” Senate blocks Medicare payment bill “With budget anxieties pervading the congressional healthcare debate, the Senate on Wednesday sidetracked popular legislation that would have increased Medicare payments to doctors by nearly $250 billion over the next decade.” Poll: 1 in 4 Adults Say Family Member Lost Health Coverage “More than a quarter of U.S. adults report that at least one member of their immediate family lost health insurance coverage within the past year, a new poll reveals.”

Immigration & Census. Health care not done, GOP changes subject back to immigration “Immigration, an issue placed on the congressional backburner by attempts to revamp the nation's health-care system, is percolating again as Republican lawmakers are pushing a measure that would require U.S. Census forms to include a question about the citizenship status of respondents.”

Unemployment. Payroll Pandemic “Even as the manufacturing and service sectors of the U.S. economy simultaneously expanded in September for the first time since the recession began in December 2007, payrolls declined in 43 states last month, pushing up the unemployment rates in 23 of them.”


Global Hunger. Experts Worry as Population and Hunger Grow “Scientists and development experts across the globe are racing to increase food production by 50 percent over the next two decades to feed the world’s growing population, yet many doubt their chances despite a broad consensus that enough land, water and expertise exist.” Drought pushes 23m Africans to brink of starvation “A four-year drought has pushed as many as 23 million people to the brink of starvation across East Africa, making it the worst in a decade or more. Close to four million of those at risk are in Kenya, where one person in ten survives on emergency rations.” Ethiopia asks for urgent food aid “The Ethiopian government has asked the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people.”

Climate Change. India and China sign climate pact “India and China have signed a five-year deal aimed at combating climate change. The countries have agreed to strengthen dialogue and co-operate on battling global warming.”

Afghanistan. In Helmand, a model for success? “Before a battalion of U.S. Marines swooped into this dusty farming community along the Helmand River in early July, almost every stall in the bazaar had been padlocked, as had the school and the health clinic.” Militants deepen their foothold in Afghanistan's north “As the Obama administration moves into a crucial phase of deliberations over the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, residents of a widening arc of territory a half-day's drive from the capital, Kabul, describe daily lives fraught with danger as the militants' foothold becomes stronger.” Effort aims to give Afghan fighters way out “New efforts aimed at persuading low-level Taliban fighters to lay down their arms have become the centerpiece of U.S. and Afghan government strategy as the White House debates whether to boost troop levels there.” Australia to review Afghan force “Australian Defence Minister John Faulkner has asked for recommendations on how to complete operations in Afghanistan as early as possible.”

Iraq. Stalemate in Parliament Could Delay Iraq Elections “The Iraqi Parliament announced Wednesday that it had reached a stalemate over drafting an election law. That could well delay the election, scheduled for Jan. 16, and might even slow down the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.” Delay in Iraqi elections may slow pace of U.S. troop pullout “U.S. commanders may have to slow the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq if Baghdad delays national elections scheduled for Jan. 16 or if other political instability develops, senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday.”

Iran. U.S., Iran move closer to nuclear deal “Deft diplomacy and regional security woes are driving Tehran and Washington toward a deal on Iran's nuclear program, experts say, illustrated by movement Wednesday in talks to transfer most of the Islamic Republic's fissile material abroad to be processed for medical uses.” Iran Deal Would Slow Making of Nuclear Bombs “Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country’s ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.”

Iran-Israel. Israel 'met Iran' at atomic talks “Senior Israeli and Iranian officials have met face-to-face and discussed the threat of nuclear arms, Israel says. Israeli officials told the BBC each side attended panel sessions of a disarmament and non-proliferation conference in Cairo in September.” Iran, Israel attend secret nuclear meet in Cairo “Israeli and Iranian representatives recently took part in a conference in Cairo on nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) said Thursday, but Tehran said the report on the meeting was untrue.”

Colombia. US congressional hearing highlights Colombia rights abuses “United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya told a congressional panel Tuesday of her continued concern over what she has called a ‘pattern of harassment and persecution against human rights defenders.’" Colombia rights defenders say they're under constant attack “Human rights defenders in Colombia are under constant attack for their work, facing murder, death threats, illegal surveillance, arbitrary detentions and prosecutions, activists told a congressional panel in Washington on Tuesday.”

Arms Control. Clinton urges support for U.S.-Russian arms-control treaty “With a congressional battle looming, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday defended the administration's broad arms-control agenda and said that reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles would be a critical first step in preventing the spread of the deadly weapons to other countries.”

Japan. U.S. pressures Japan on military package “Worried about a new direction in Japan's foreign policy, the Obama administration warned the Tokyo government Wednesday of serious consequences if it reneges on a military realignment plan formulated to deal with a rising China.”


Will Obama Finally Pay Attention to Sudan? (John Prendergast, Wall St Journal) “Crafting a sensible strategy on paper is a necessary but insufficient step. The real test is implementing these fine principles. To do so, U.S. officials must first recognize that the status quo in Darfur, Southern Sudan, and other vulnerable areas is unacceptable.”

More Troops Are a Bad Bet (Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times) “We have been similarly oblivious to the strength of nationalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly among the 40 million Pashtuns who live on both sides of the border there. That’s one reason the additional 21,000 troops that President Obama ordered to Afghanistan earlier this year haven’t helped achieve stability, and it’s difficult to see why 40,000 more would help either."

Sojourners' Daily Digest is a compilation of the top news related to our commitments of life and peace, economic and racial justice, and care of creation, with a special focus on news of the engagement of faith in public life.

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