The Common Good Weekly Digest

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Week ending January 15, 2016

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

The Economy

U.S. stocks plummeted again Friday, capping another volatile week of trading amid continued concerns that a slump in the global economy could spread to American shores. Renae Merle and Jonnelle Marte, Washington Post [More]

The market’s horrible week, in numbers: “109: The number of years—at least—since U.S. stock have suffered a worse opening. This was the worst year-starting five trading sessions ever in the history of both the S&P 500 and the older Dow Jones Industrial Average… 14%: The amount that China’s volatile Shenzhen Index has fallen in the past week. Trouble in China, heralded by a drop in China’s yuan currency and a selloff in Chinese stocks, was probably the cause for the selloff…11%: The amount that crude oil tumbled in the week. In a dynamic that watchers of the market in 2015 will find familiar, oil’s drop to historical lows was a substantial drag on markets. $1,048,976,678,385.80: The amount of value that the stocks in the S&P 500 lost over the past week.” Alex Rosenberg, CNBC  [More]

World’s richest lose $194 Billion in first trading week of 2016. Brendan Coffey and Jack Witzig, Bloomberg [More]

Why China’s economy is slowing down: “First, the global economy is slowing, and so their export markets aren’t as robust as they’ve previously been.  But secondly, China is becoming less competitive as a global economy in part because they are trying to transition from a manufacturing and export economy into an economy that’s focusing on innovation and higher-end products. And as they do that, as their cost of production goes up, they are competing with high-end economies like the United States, Japan, Germany, Korea.” NPR [More]

A progressive way to end corporate taxes: “Suppose that, instead of taxing corporate profits, we required companies to turn over an amount of stock, in the form of nonvoting shares, to the government. The shares would be nontransferable, except in the case of mergers or buyouts…A portion of whatever profit it makes will automatically go to the government..federal revenues will go up, because companies will have incentive to do what is most profitable, not what minimizes their tax liability.” Dean Baker, Op-Ed, New York Times [More]

The cure for the world’s malaise: government investment: “The obstacles the global economy faces are not rooted in economics, but in politics and ideology. The private sector created the inequality and environmental degradation with which we must now reckon. Markets won’t be able to solve these and other critical problems that they have created, or restore prosperity, on their own. Active government policies are needed.” Joseph Stiglitz, Op-Ed, Project Syndicate [More]


Neck-and-neck 2016 primary races: Trump and Ted Cruz are neck and neck in Iowa, while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are also locked in a tight race.” Mark Murray, NBC News [More]

Bernie Sanders is gaining momentum: Iowa: Hillary Clinton holds a 48%-to-45% lead over Sanders.

New Hampshire: Sanders edges Clinton, 50% to 46%. Patrick O’Connor, Wall Street Journal


2016 Campaign

The GOP’s Final Four – Cruz, Trump, Ru­bio & Christie:Ru­bio am­ped up his an­ger in talk­ing about IS­IS, Pres­id­ent Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive or­der on guns, and Hil­lary’s Clin­ton’s qual­i­fic­a­tions for high­er of­fice. Christie’s pro­sec­utori­al ap­proach played well with the South Car­o­lina crowd, par­tic­u­larly his jibes at Obama as a dic­tat­or and petu­lant child. Cruz is a nat­ur­al per­former who opened the de­bate by chan­nel­ing deep an­ger among con­ser­vat­ives over Obama’s de­fense of Ir­an after the seizure of Amer­ic­an mil­it­ary per­son­nel. Trump was, well, Trump.” Josh Kraushaar, National Journal [More]

The mutually beneficial campaign detente between Trump and Cruz came to an end on Thursday’s debate: “They went so far as to question each other’s fitness to govern.” Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker [More]

“The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential nominee who represents their interests… Republicans are expressing a growing fear that the coming election could be shattering for the party.” Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin, New York Times [More]

Bruni: Obnoxiousness is the new charisma: At least so it would seem for Republican front runners Cruz and Trump. Frank Bruni, Op-Ed, New York Times [More]

Will: Rubio’s record of misjudgment: “His strengths include intelligence, articulateness and, usually, cheerfulness. His misjudgments involve, in ascending order of importance, the Senate immigration bill of 2013, sugar, Libya and S. 590. Together these reveal a recurring penchant for ill-considered undertakings.” George Will, Op-Ed, New Hampshire Union Leader [More]

Should Clinton be favored to beat Trump? Not necessarily. Donald Trump is above all a salesman… Trump would adapt, pivot, and do anything to make his next deal; winning the general election…Trump would enter the general election running a breath away from Hillary Clinton, a candidate with a hard base, a low ceiling, and same worn, thin Washington-elite agenda most voters have outgrown.” Alex Castellanos, Op-Ed, Politico [More]

As the race tightens, Clinton paints Sanders as out of step on gun control: The new point of contention that aims to put Sanders on defense: his 1993 vote on the “Charleston Loophole.” “It’s expected to become a new tack in Clinton’s argument… intended to erode Sanders’ popularity with Democratic primary voters.” Gabriel Debendetti, Politico [More]

Foreign Affairs/National Security

Turkish army shells ISIL in response to Istanbul blast: “Turkish ground forces have heavily shelled ISIL positions in response to a suicide attack blamed on the group that killed at least 12 people in Istanbul.” AL Jazeera [More]

The talks to negotiate peace in Syria are “dead” as a result of the new Saudi-Iran confrontation.  David Hearst, Huffington Post [More]

Saudi Arabia – Friend or Frenemy: “Why did Saudi Arabia kill an influential Shi’ite cleric, despite US back-channel requests to spare his life? The answer lies in domestic Saudi politics… Saudi Arabia executed 47 people last weekend… To distract the public, the Saudi monarchy also executed four Shi’ites, including Nimr.” Editorial, Boston Globe [More]

As rebel-held town of Madaya starves, Syria agrees to food aid: “Amid mounting international dismay over reports of starvation deaths and images of skeletally thin children in the besieged, rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya, the Syrian government agreed Thursday to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.” Ann Barnard, New York Times [More]

“Saudi Arabia and Iran have been locked in mutual ‘closed circuits of violence’ for decades in a conflict that is more about regional power than Shia or Sunni religious disputes,” according to Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the revolution in 1979.  Nathan Gardels, Huffington Post [More]

The fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia “will play out not in Saudi Arabia or Iran, but in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen” with little chance of any diplomatic breakthrough. Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, Huffington Post [More]

Political backlash after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detain 10 US sailors: “The incident spilled over into the U.S. presidential campaign, where Republicans are critical of the nuclear deal Iran forged with six world powers and due to take effect soon. At a campaign rally, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump described the detention of the sailors as “an indication of where the hell we’re going.” Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Phil Stewart, Reuters [More]

ISIS profiting from looted antiquities: 15 countries on the U.N. Security Council have promised to help block the trade in antiquities and oil, after the U.S. State Department’s failed efforts. Steven Lee Myers and Nicholas Kulish, New York Times [More]

Pakistan has been using jihadism as a tool of statecraft and foreign policy over the past four decades: “On Dec. 29, a bomb explosion targeting a government office killed at least 26 in Mardan. The breakaway Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the jihadist terror group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility… It is clear that for Pakistan’s Pashtun heartland the war against jihadist terror is not over by any means.” Mohammad Taqi, Huffington Post [More]

Egypt’s President turns to religion to bolster authority: “The public blessings of the religious establishment may give President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi  a certain legitimacy in the eyes of many Egyptians. But there are also signs that his approach may irk younger Egyptians…. ‘Already there is no democracy, and now they are telling us where to pray.’” Declan Walsh, New York Times [More]

Why Russia and China won’t curb North Korea: “Russia’s and China’s stances on North Korea are not so much different from how the United States treats Saudi Arabia—a brutal regime sponsoring the ideology of violent jihadism, but one with which Washington needs to maintain friendship for realpolitik reasons.” Artyom Lukin, Huffington Post [More]

Japan and South Korea reached a historic agreement on WWII “comfort women” Former U.S. House Intelligence Committee chair Jane Harman writes, “the two countries made a strong statement that diplomacy can be a positive-sum game.” Jane Harman, Huffington Post [More]

US drone wars in Africa are not over: “Reported U.S. drone strikes increased in Somalia and Yemen in 2015.” Charlotte Alfred, Huffington Post [More]

Iran’s foreign minister addresses Saudi Arabia’s extremism and provocations: “The Saudi leadership must now make a choice: They can continue supporting extremists and promoting sectarian hatred; or they can opt to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability. We hope that reason will prevail.” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Op-Ed, New York Times [More]

Domestic Affairs

Obama closes final State of the Union with a long discussion of polarization: The fascinating, unresolved question about polarization… is whether the bitter atmosphere is an artifact of politics alone, or whether the country itself is more deeply split. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker [More]

Flint wants safe water and someone to answer for its crisis: “Flint’s water was found to have elevated levels of lead that were reflected in children’s blood, but state reaction has been slow.” Mitch Smith, New York Times [More]

How to fix the country’s ailing schools: Success in Union CIty compared to false starts in Newark. David L. Kirp, Op-Ed, New York Times [More]

Battle over unions signals Supreme Court role at center of political debate: “On the docket are abortion, affirmative action, the rights of religious objectors to opt out of legal obligations, and a clutch of election-law disputes that could benefit one political party over another. The court will probably soon add a review of President Obama’s [immigration] executive actions.” Robert Barnes, Washington Post [More]

“El Chapo Speaks: A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world.” Sean Penn, Rolling Stone [More]

Oklahoma earthquakes leads to calls for the governor “to make changes to oil and gas drilling regulations and reduce seismic activity scientists link to the energy industry. Two large earthquakes were recorded in northwest Oklahoma on Wednesday, including a magnitude 4.8 quake.” Heidi Brandes, Reuters [More]

Book & Film

“Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World,” allows Arab women to speak for themselves. ““Excellent Daughters” is an attempt to demystify these Western assumptions of womanhood in the Arab world. As a woman, Zoepf is granted unique access to the lives and stories of Arab women — many of whom, for the first time, find themselves negotiating contemporary interpretations of gender norms with centuries-old values rooted in Islam.” Alex Laughlin, Washington Post [More]

Making of a Murderer: This documentary, filmed over 10 years about a true crime story, sets up the dichotomy between evidence (showing horrible criminal acts) on one side vs. police and prosecutorial corruption (setting up innocents as criminals) on the other. Which is it? Watch to find out. Netflix

Archive of Past Digests

TCG Weekly Digest – January 8th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – December 24th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – December 18th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – December 12th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – December 4th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – November 20th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – November 13th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – November 6th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 30th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 23rd, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 16th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 9th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 2nd, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 25th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 18th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 11th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 4th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 28th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 21st, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 15th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 7th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 30th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 24th, 2015