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Lastmilitary-draft December Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced he would lift the military’s ban on women serving in combat, a move that allows hundreds of thousands of women to serve in front-line positions during wartime. “This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Secretary Carter said at a news conference.

Today, the top officers in the Army and Marine Corps followed that policy to its logical conclusion and told Congress that it is time for women to register for future military drafts.

The would be a radical change since, as the New York Times notes,

Selective Service laws have never required women to subject themselves to the draft and face the prospect of being forced into military service. The current version of the Military Selective Service Act requires that virtually all men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 register, most within 30 days of turning 18. That includes non-U.S. citizens living in the United States, such as refugees.

If we are going to have a military draft and women are eligible for combat (an idea I oppose), then it’s only fair that women be forced to serve alongside men. But perhaps it’s time we abolish the idea of military conscription altogether.
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cow-faceDuring the Spanish Civil War, an American farmer named Dan West served as an aid worker on the front lines. His mission was to provide relief to weary soldiers, but all he was allotted to give them was a single cup of milk.

This meager ration led West to wonder if more could be done. “What if they had not a cup,” thought West, “but a cow?”

The “teach a man to fish” philosophy behind that question inspired West to found Heifer International, an organization that provides farm animals to needy families and communities in developing countries. It’s an appealing model (like many Americans, my family has made donating a farm animal a holiday tradition) but does it work? Is giving an animal an effective option for helping the poor?

Developmental economist Bruce Wydick agricultural economics professor Chris Barrett studied the impact of farm animal donations:
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The highly popular “buy-one, give-one” models — as epitomized by the popular TOMS Shoes brand — have long held the attention of Western do-gooders. It’s quick, it’s easy, and hey, people like the shoes. And let’s not forget the power of the Warm & Fuzzies.

Yet many are beginning to raise concerns about the actual impact of these activities. As Acton’s Michael Matheson Miller recently explained in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, “The one-for-one model can undermine local producers. When you give free things, why would you buy local shoes?”

In the debut of his new smarty-pants comedy show, “Adam Ruins Everything,” Adam Conover chooses to set his sights on precisely this:

To their credit, TOMS Shoes has taken certain steps to reconsider its model, including a decision to “employ 100 Haitians and build a ‘responsible, sustainable’ shoe industry in Haiti.” But alas, by all public appearances, there is still a ways to go. (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
By

Toward a better understanding of religion and global affairs
John Kerry, The National Catholic Review

In June, Pope Francis’ historic encyclical “Laudato Si’” helped advocate for global measures to combat climate change. Religious advocacy groups have long raised awareness about famine and human rights violations abroad; Buddhist nuns in Nepal play a crucial role in natural disaster recovery efforts; and religious organizations have been essential to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees.

Pope Francis’ Arrival in the U.S. Is a Low-Key Prelude to Pageantry
Peter Baker, Azam Ahmed and Jim Yardley, The New York Times

Even as Newsweek asked on its cover, “Is the Pope Catholic?” Francis rejected the notion that he is an anticapitalist leftist not committed enough to church teachings. “I have never said anything that is not in the social doctrine of the church,” he said, alluding to provocative speeches on the excesses of capitalism. “Maybe some things sounded slightly leftish, but that would be the wrong interpretation.”


House Democrats Ask Pope Francis To Address Ways To Combat Climate Change
YouTube

“Pope Francis, we hope you will address climate chante, and talk about how it especially hurts lower-income communities andthe most vulnerable among us:” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, IL 9th District.

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refugeesRecently a number of religious groups—including some connected to the World Council of Churches and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—have urged the U.S. government to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees this coming fiscal year, in addition to increasing the total U.S. resettlement commitment to 100,000 refugees from other parts of the world.

Although President Obama has not agreed to increase the amount nearly that much, last week he ordered his administration to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States in the coming year, directing his team to prepare for at least 10,000 in the next fiscal year.

How does the federal government decide how many refugees to let into the U.S. and from which countries? Here is the answer to those questions and other facts you should know about refugees and resettlement policy in America:
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sex-workers-rightsAmnesty International, the human-rights watchdog organization, voted Tuesday to support the decriminalization of “sex work” at its Dublin-based International Council Meeting. This was in spite of the fact that anti-human trafficking organizations around the globe pushed for just the opposite.

Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,’ Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said in a statement.

Shetty called it “a historic day” for the organization. Equality Now, an organization that works against female genital mutilation and human trafficking, released a statement regarding Amnesty International’s decision:

Amnesty International today has voted to adopt a policy that seeks to decriminalize all aspects of the commercial sex industry in the name of protecting the human rights of people in the sex trade. In doing so, it has ignored the clear links between prostitution and sex trafficking that it says it opposes, as well as the incompatibility of the commercial sex trade with gender equality, human rights and international law. It has ignored survivors of the commercial sex trade who repeatedly called on the organization to rethink its position based on their experiences and to adopt a policy that seeks to curb, rather than facilitate, the commercial sex trade.

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Supreme CourtIn a significant victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court voted in a 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal exchanges. Here is what you should know about the case and the ruling.

What was the case about?

At the core of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the Court noted, were three key reforms: (1) Guaranteed issue and community rating requirements, (2) Require individuals to maintain health insurance coverage or make a payment to the IRS, unless the cost of buying insurance would exceed eight percent of that individual’s income, and (3) Seek to make insurance more affordable by giving refundable tax credits to individuals with household incomes between 100 per cent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line

Additionally, Obamacare requires the creation of an “Exchange” in each State—basically, a marketplace that allows people to compare and purchase insurance plans. The law gives each State the opportunity to establish its own Exchange, but provides that the federal government will establish “such Exchange” if the State does not. This case hinged on what “an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031]” could mean since several individual states refused to establish their own exchanges.

The Internal Revenue Service interpreted the wording broadly to authorize the subsidy also for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by the federal government. The four individuals who challenged the law argued that a federal Exchange is not an “Exchange established by the State,” and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges. Several district courts agreed with the government, but because one sided with the plaintiffs the case ended up at the Supreme Court.

Can you explain that without the legalese?
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