By Karin Fleming
During the time Bush was in office, funding for federal abstinence-until-marriage programs grew from $80 million in 2001 to $176 million in 2008, in spite of research that shows these programs have little effect on teen behavior–or at least less of an effect than comprehensive sex education programs. Recently in In These Times, Steve Yoder hypothesizes that this may change. The combination of President Obama’s record of supporting comprehensive sex education programs and changes on the state level have indicated a shift to comprehensive sex education programs. But with Democrats using abstinence-only programs as a bargaining chip for Republicans, it’s unclear how the changing trends will be reflected in the 2010 federal budget.
“Of course not. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
-Janet Napolitano, the new Homeland Security Secretary, responding to the German magazine Der Spiegel’s (seen in the Spiegel Online’s International section) question about whether her decision not to use the word “terrorism” during her first testimony to Congress was because Islamic terrorism was considered less of a threat.
“The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration over the past three decades. In 1980, we had 41,000 drug offenders in prison; today we have more than 500,000, an increase of 1,200 percent…African-Americans are about 12 percent of our population; contrary to a lot of thought and rhetoric, their drug use rate in terms of frequent drug use rate is about the same as all other elements of our society, about 14 percent. But they end up being 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison by the numbers that have been provided by us.”
-Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., in his floor speech March 26 introducing “The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.” The bill will create a commission dedicated to fundamental prison reform.
According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 59% of Americans favor setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if it causes higher energy prices.
6*Senior Bush administration officials have been accused of torturing detainees in Guantanamo by a Spanish judge. If the judge decides to issue arrest warrants against the six, it would mean they would risk detention and estradition if they traveled outside the U.S.
The case is against Alberto Gonzales, former attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defense; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, both senior justice department legal advisers. -The Guardian
As reported in the documentary Call + Response Slave Traders made more money in 2007 than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.
Only 14% members of Congress signed a letter asking Pres. Obama to “reconsider” his order to deploy 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. 400 refused.
According to the United Nations, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan increased last year by nearly 40%. 2,118 civilians were killed in 2008, compared with 1,523 in 2007. -NY Times
Operation Enduring Freedom
The war in Afghanistan began on Oct. 7, 2001. In the last eight years, over 600 American soldiers lost their lives and thousands of Afghan civilians have been left dead. Last year was particularly devastating, with not only drastic increases in U.S. and Afghan casualties, but also the expansion of military operations across the border into Pakistan.
President Obama has pledged to change the direction of military operations in Afghanistan, saying there is “no military solution to the Afghan crisis.” But, according to the statements he made at the end of March, this change means a surge in the numbers of troops, non-military personnel–who will be responsible for improving state institutions and police in preparation for the presidential elections in August–and private military contractors, who already outnumber U.S. soldiers two to one.
While the U.S. is escalating military efforts in a war that can’t be won militarily–and one that now crosses the borders of two countries–many are left wondering, what next?
“This is not a temporary force uplift… It’s going to need to be sustained for some period of time. I can’t give an exact number of years that it would be, but I’m trying to look out for the next three to four or five years.”
-General David McKiernan, the top American commander in Afghanistan, during a press conference in February.
-New York Times
“Send us 30,000 scholars instead. Or 30,000 engineers. But don’t send more troops–it will just bring more violence.”
-Shukria Barakzai, member of the Afghan parliament, on Obama’s plans to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan.
-Christian Science Monitor
“So while we pursue the battle against the Taliban, we must recognise that the heart of the threat comes from the people in western Pakistan… So the starting point for the new administration’s approach to the region is going to be to treat it as an integrated whole, a single theatre of war, with very different rules on each side of the border.”
-Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Representatitive for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Brussels Forum 2009.