Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sojourners... News & Opinion Updates 12-21-10

From Sojourner…

Pope urges self-reflection on flaws that led to abuse “In a remarkable demonstration of public soul-searching, Pope Benedict XVI on Monday used a high-profile Christmas speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops to urge reflection on the flaws in the church’s very message and culture that permitted a global sexual-abuse scandal.”
Pope Says Sex Scandal Has Hit Unimaginable DimensionPope Benedict XVI said Monday that the continuing sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church had reached a “degree we could not have imagined” this year, and that the church must reflect on its failures, help the victims and prevent abusers from becoming priests.”
Evangelicals, Human Rights Groups Decry Gov’t Inaction on Refugees Thousands of men and women are facing another holiday season apart from their families and uncertain of whether they will be granted asylum in the United States.”

START. Senate Support Builds for Pact on Arms Control “The Senate moved closer on Monday to approving a new arms control treaty with Russia over the opposition of Republican leaders as lawmakers worked on a side deal to assure skeptics that the arms pact would not inhibit American plans to build missile defense systems.” Mullen urges Senate to ratify arms treaty “The nation’s top military officer appealed to the Senate on Monday to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, as supporters attracted more Republican votes, making it increasingly likely that the pact would be approved.” Support builds in Senate for approval of US-Russia nuclear treaty as more GOP senators join “President Barack Obama is moving closer to gaining Senate approval of a major arms control treaty with Russia as he builds support among reluctant Republican senators.”
Net neutrality. FCC is set to assert authority over access to the Internet “Federal regulators are poised to enact controversial new rules affecting Internet access, marking the government’s strongest move yet to ensure that Facebook updates, Google searches and Skype calls reach consumers’ homes unimpeded.” F.C.C. Is Set to Regulate Net Access “The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications.”
Environmental strategy. Environmentalists plan to redirect strategies “As 2010 comes to a close, U.S. environmentalists are engaged in their most profound bout of soul-searching in more than a decade. Their top policy priority – imposing a nationwide cap on carbon emissions – has foundered in the face of competing concerns about jobs.”
Spying on Americans. Monitoring America “Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.”
More low-wage families. Low-wage families on the rise, report says “The Great Recession, responsible for boosting unemployment to its highest levels in a generation, has sharply increased the percentage of working people who earn wages so paltry that they are struggling to survive, according to a new report.”
State and city debt crisis. $2tn debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities “Overdrawn American cities could face financial collapse in 2011, defaulting on hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowings and derailing the US economic recovery. Nor are European cities safe – Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice: all are in trouble.” No free lunch: States seek ways to repay jobless benefits “Thirty states and the Virgin Islands have exhausted their unemployment insurance trust fund reserves and are using U.S. treasury funds to maintain benefit checks for millions of workers who lost jobs through no fault of their own.”
Death penalty down. Death Penalty Down in U.S., Figures Show “States are continuing a trend of executing fewer prisoners and juries are wary of sentencing criminal defendants to die, according to year-end figures compiled by a group that opposes the death penalty.”
Health plan won’t cover brain damage. Pentagon Health Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy for Troops “Despite pressure from Congress and the recommendations of military and civilian experts, the Pentagon’s health plan for troops and many veterans refuses to cover the treatment — a decision that could affect the tens of thousands of service members who have suffered brain damage while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
American exceptionalism. America’s place in the world to play part in 2012 elections “Republicans, including a string of prospective presidential contenders, have taken their objections to President Obama’s policies to a provocative and controversial level. Over White House objections, they’re accusing him of not embracing the concept of American exceptionalism.”

Pakistan. U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan “Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.” NATO denies plotting raids inside Pakistan “The NATO force in Afghanistan denied Tuesday that the U.S. military intends to carry out ground raids inside Pakistan in pursuit of insurgent leaders hiding there.”  Incoming House intelligence chairman pushed for drone strikes “[Rep. Mike] Rogers’ unpublicized efforts as an advocate for that covert program, which has been expanded dramatically by President Obama, helped convince House Republican leader John Boehner last week to name Rogers incoming chairman of the intelligence committee.”
North Korea. North Korea makes gestures toward calm after South’s drills “North Korea has told a visiting American politician that it would allow international inspectors to visit a newly unveiled uranium-enrichment facility and announced Monday that it would not “retaliate” against South Korea for conducting military exercises.”  North Korea’s Restraint Could Signal New Policy “A day after North Korea backed off threats of violent retaliation for South Korean artillery drills, analysts and policy makers in Seoul said on Tuesday that the North’s unexpected restraint might signal, at least for now, that it is shifting away from its recent military provocations.” US envoy lauds N Korea ‘pragmatism’ “North Korea has won praise from an American peace envoy after it stepped back from confrontation over what it had called “reckless” military drills by South Korea and reportedly issued a new offer on nuclear inspections.”
Iraq cabinet. Iraq names cabinet after nine-month power struggle “Iraq has finally named a cabinet to lead it into a much anticipated post-war development phase after a debilitating nine-month power struggle.”
Ivory Coast. Gbagbo ally warns of ‘UN rebels’ “An ally of Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has warned UN peacekeepers they could be treated as rebels if they remain in the country after being told to leave.”
Sudan. N Africa leaders calm Sudan tension “The leaders of Libya and Egypt have flown in to neighbouring Sudan to try to patch up disputes over a referendum on independence for south Sudan, underscoring growing regional concerns about the vote.”
Russia-India pact. Medvedev seals India visit deals “Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed nuclear and defence agreements worth billions of dollars during a two-day visit to India.”

DREAM mustn’t die (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)  “Immigration leaders vow they will not forget those who sided against the DREAM Act, and we hope they don’t. On Saturday, millions of Latino voters watched the process, as both major Spanish-language networks interrupted regular programming to carry the long-awaited “DREAM vote” live. They heard the vitriol; they saw the shattered students. With those images in mind, they should renew their commitment to the cause.”
Using police on immigration is only justified for criminals (Editorial, Boston Globe) “Good police work depends on good community relations. Public safety will suffer if immigrants become too scared to report criminal activity to the police for fear of being detained and deported themselves.”
Fear vs. Reason in the Arms Control Debate (Robert Wright, New York Times) “There are six living secretaries of state from Republican administrations, and every one of them — from Henry Kissinger through Condoleezza Rice — endorses the New Start arms control treaty with Russia. Yet, as of this writing, the treaty is far from assured of support from even the one in four Republican senators needed for ratification.”

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