U.S.-Iran diplomacy got a boost recently with the White House nomination of Samantha Power as the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. While Power, who chaired President Barack Obama’s Atrocities Prevention Board, is not shy about military intervention, her work with the White House on multilateral affairs gives hope for a better diplomatic hand at the Security Council. This, in addition to the fact that moderate presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani was declared the winner on Saturday with over 50 percent of the vote, becoming Iran’s next president, heralds good tidings for improved diplomacy with Tehran. These trends also build on recent improvements to the sanctions regime. This month, the administration acknowledged the need to ensure that at least humanitarian aid and medicine can circumnavigate sanctions policy (which have all but crippled the socio-economic fabric of Iranian society), as well as some basic communications technology that Washington thinks could be useful in any future Iranian revolution or resistance movement. READ ARTICLE
RECENT TELEVISION & RADIO INTERVIEWS
The Gun Lobby and Congress's Failure to Keep America Safe From Guns, CCTV News, READ MORE
US-EU Plan to Arm Syrian Rebels Deals Blow to US-Russia Diplomacy, FOX News,READ MORE
On Republican Party's 159th Birthday, Democrats Give Up On Gun Control,Current TV, READ MORE
Cuomo, Cars, and Culture: How Gun Violence is More Than Mental, CCTV News, READ MORE
Preventing Gun Violence in the 113th Congress, CCTV News, READ MORE
The Multi-Faceted Nature of Gun Violence Prevention, CCTV News,READ MORE
Beyond Job Numbers: How to Fix America's Soaring Poverty and Inequality Rates, FOX News, READ MORE
The Politics of Gun Control, Part 2: NRA, Congress and America's Social Capital, CCTV News, READ MORE
The Politics of Gun Control, Part 1: NRA, Congress and America's Social Capital, CCTV News, READ MORE
What the World Wants in an American President: On Drones and Diversity, CCTV News, READ MORE
What America's Mass Shootings Say About American Violence, The Rick Smith Show, READ MORE
A Volatile Mix: Mental Illness, Lax Gun Laws and Violence’s Socio-Economic Fixation, CCTV News, READ MORE
UN Press Conference: Introductory Remarks on the Global Peace Index and Positive Peace Index, United Nations, READ MORE
The Republican Primaries, Super PAC Money in Politics, and the Economy, FOX News, READ MORE
President Obama Announces New Military Strategy and Defense Cuts at Pentagon, CTV News, READ MORE
Congress Punts on Payroll Tax Cut, Faith Drops in Congress, Candidates Queue for Iowa, FOX News, READ MORE
The Obama-Romney Fight Over Middle Class America, FOX News, READ MORE
U.S. Sanctions On Iran Should Be Lifted For Humanitarian Goods, Politix, June 15, 2013.
Iran’s presidential elections on Friday offered a rare opportunity for the world’s media spotlight to shift from focusing on Iranian officials, donning white lab coats flanked by metallic centrifuges, to the Iranian people. Tens of millions of Iranians headed to the polls, while others boycotted elections that were neither free nor fair. It could be days or weeks before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor is determined. Throughout the presidential confirmation process, the U.S. will be in no position to bemoan the results, however conservative or moderate. After three decades of diplomatic isolation, the U.S. had little opportunity to constructively influence this election or Iran’s electoral processes. READ ARTICLE
Not Just Any Jobs, But Just Jobs,The Hill, June 12, 2013.
Last week, a high-level panel appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon released its recommendations for a global development agenda when the Millennium Development Goals expire at the end of 2015 and when approximately one billion people will still be living in extreme poverty. The panel recognized the tremendous achievement the world has made in lifting 600 million people out of extreme poverty but also warned of rising global inequality. Their number one priority going forward: Leave no one behind. This should sound familiar to Washington’s “leave no child behind” agenda. Hopefully this one will be more successful. READ ARTICLE
The Way Forward on Syria, FOX News, May 28, 2013.
United States-Russia diplomacy is finally making headway on Syria. Monday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Paris to discuss their joint proposal for peace talks, they were encouraged by news over the weekend that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will attend the talks. If all goes according to plan, next month's peace conference in Geneva will bring together the Syrian government and opposition leaders to broker a ceasefire and establish a transitional government. READ ARTICLE
Drones Weaken USA's Moral Might,USA Today, May 24, 2013.
Armed drones, at first blush, are a boon to America's military toolkit, as President Obama reinforced in his counterterrorism speech on Thursday. Drones, in the short run at least, could mean fewer U.S. troops deployed and fewer American lives lost. Unsurprisingly, the appeal is mounting for unmanned killing machines that know no national boundary, need no permit for deployment and go unnoticed by enemies. More than 75 nations have remotely piloted aircraft. Drones are merely the latest in military innovation; all countries will want one shortly. READ ARTICLE
America Must Rethink the War on Terror,US News & World Report, May 24, 2013.
As President Barack Obama defended the nation’s ever-evolving counter-terrorism policy yesterday at the National Defense University and opened the parameters for military action in places outside of the traditional battlefield, the risk of writing into law permission for warfare any time, any place and anywhere – and without appropriate (if any) checks and balances – increased tenfold. Calls for a complete rethink on America’s so-called “war on terror” and its accompanying and unfettered ability to wage war wherever, through the Authorization for Use of Military Force, have been made across the board, most recently by former Obama administration official Harold Koh and by the president himself on Thursday. They should be heeded immediately, especially by members of Congress. READ ARTICLE
Doing Away with Food Deserts in the District, Washington Post, May 17, 2013.
It’s hard to believe that so many in America — over 50 million people — live in food insecurity. This is the unfortunate reality all too common in Somalia or Pakistan, but America? What’s worse is that this food insecurity is most apparent in our nation’s capital. Yet, nearly 13 percent of all households in the District were food insecure between 2009 and 2011. Over 4 percent were considered to have “very low food security,” which means, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, they are experiencing intense hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis. Worse, 37.4 percent of households with children in the District of Columbia said they were unable to afford enough food. This is the worst rate in the nation. READ ARTICLE
Military Spending is Not Right Way to Boost America's Economic Security,FOX News, May 15, 2013.
That Washington is holding defense cuts responsible for slow economic growth is a specious argument at best. War spending is unproductive and inflationary. Modern defense costs are capital intensive, not labor intensive, making the industry inefficient as a job creator. The defense industry has a presence in congressional districts across this country, so cuts affect every member. But every district in the U.S. has pressing infrastructure, education, health and environmental needs, and the return on the taxpayer’s dollar is much higher when invested on these areas. READ ARTICLE
DC's Separate and (Un)equal Driver's License Plan, Washington Post, May 8, 2013.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray(D) proposed a bill last week that would permit undocumented District residents to acquire driver’s licenses and identification cards. D.C. is the latest in a string of states that have taken similar steps in response to immigrant rights organizing, such as Maryland and Oregon. But unlike current driver’s license regulations in the state of Washington and New Mexico, Gray’s proposal would create a distinct type of driver’s license that would immediately identify its holders as undocumented. The problem with this approach is that it exacerbates discrimination and endangers immigrants, and our community, even more. READ ARTICLE
Authorization for Use of Military Force: A Blank Check for War Without End, The Guardian, May 5, 2013.
A handful of Democratic and Republican senators are considering a rewrite of 60 of the most consequential words to ever pass through Congress. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the attacks of 11 September 2001, and provides the legal cornerstone for the so-called US "war on terror". Only one brave Congress member opposed it. It allows the US government to wage war at anytime, any place and on anyone deemed a threat to national security – with remarkably little evidence needed. READ ARTICLE
Ending Global Poverty Depends on Employment Based Growth,The Hill, April 29, 2013.
The World Bank has always focused on poverty reduction; it is their stated mission to ‘help reduce poverty’. But actually ending it, with a target date, was never their explicit goal, until now. In Washington, at their annual spring meeting last week, the World Bank, with the support of the International Monetary Fund, committed to ending extreme global poverty by 2030. This is no small feat and they should be lauded for taking the leap. READ ARTICLE
DC Public Schools: How to Keep Kids Out of Class, Not In,Washington Post, April 29, 2013.
A new report, released last week, suggests that DC Public Schools’ much lauded reform efforts are still failing to produce positive Results for DC’s students. Despite changes first championed by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and now by Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the report isn’t pretty: There was little progress in test scores, costly school closures made capacity problems worse and sent students to poorer-performing schools, restrictive evaluations led to higher turnover of teachers, and racial gaps in achievement grew. READ ARTICLE
Stop Atrocities Before They Start, CNN, April 26, 2013.
One year ago this week, President Barack Obama launched the Atrocities Prevention Board to find ways to get ahead of the kind of crisis we're seeing in Syria, and the kind we witnessed in Darfur and Rwanda. The board's aim is to shift U.S. foreign policy away from responding to atrocities to preventing them; to oversee the development of prevention and response policy, and to deal with urgent situations as they arise. The board is under the chairmanship of the National Security Council and is a result of a decades-long effort by the global anti-genocide community. It marks its one-year anniversary 10 years after the genocide began in Darfur, and nearly 20 years after Rwanda. READ ARTICLE
Congress Must Tax Fossil Fuels, Roll Call, April 19, 2013.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last week to delay greenhouse gas emissions regulations for new power plants — one of President Barack Obama’s main levers to limit global warming — is a serious setback to our country’s commitment to environmental and health safety. Thankfully, Congress can lead where the administration is not, and a perfect place to start is the House Ways and Means Committee’s bipartisan comprehensive public outreach effort to explore significant tax changes. READ ARTICLE
Immigration Debate: How DC Can Move the Conversation Forward, Washington Post, April 10, 2013.
The city’s Mayor Vince C. Gray (D), if he chooses, will have an opportunity to support these immigration reform efforts via executive order, by directing the Department of Motor Vehicles to remove the Social Security Number requirement from DMV applications, thus allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to get a driver’s license. Presently, 25,000 undocumented immigrants in the District of Columbia cannot obtain a driver’s license from the DMV. Gray could easily change this, and it would come with substantial City Council backing. READ ARTICLE
Cost of Inaction Will Be Great, Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 28, 2013.
America’s commitment to tackle climate change just suffered setbacks with news that President Barack Obama might weaken the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations for new power plants, one of the president’s main levers to limit warming, and Science Magazine’s reporting that the earth is warming much faster than previously thought. This comes on the heels of a recent Government Accountability Office report citing the “high risks” that global warming poses to federal infrastructure and financing. READ ARTICLE
Addressing DC's Truancy Epidemic, Washington Post, March 27, 2013.
With DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s call this month for educational equity across the District’s divide, there is a great opportunity to address one driver of this inequity: the high school truancy and chronic absenteeism, especially for students who attend schools east of the Anacostia River. The trends are alarming. At 66 percent, the majority of Anacostia High School students have missed over 25 days of school. In fact, the average number of unexcused absences at Anacostia is 47 days. READ ARTICLE
Sequester Set to Sock it to DC's Poorest, Washington Post, March 13, 2013.
The District of Columbia’s poverty problem received much-needed attention recently with this paper’s reporting on how DC General has become a home for hundreds of homeless parents and children. The over-crowded and abandoned hospital-turned-homeless shelter has become a testament to DC benevolence, ushering in an outpouring of comment, contribution and caring. This is all well and good, but poverty is easier to care about when it comes in concrete and fixable forms. DC General is no different. It gave us something tangible to target. READ ARTICLE
A Patriotic Fix For America's Hunger Epidemic, The Nation, March 7, 2013.
One nation, underfed. That’s the tagline for the new film out by Participant Productions, entitled A Place at the Table, which looks at America’s growing hunger epidemic. Participant Media, which produced Lincoln, The Help and Food Inc., does not disappoint with its latest take on what America must tackle. And in light of the March 1 sequester cuts to social programs, the film’s timing couldn’t be more appropriate. Table’s statistics are overwhelming, but they are intended to overwhelm. Whether it’s the 50 million Americans who are living in food-insecure households (which means they are struggling with hunger), or the fact that 1-out-of-2 kids in America will, at some time in their childhood, have to rely on federal assistance for food. READ ARTICLE
With Loss of Local Gym, Anacostia Residents Lose More Than Just a Chance to Exercise, Washington Post, February 27, 2013.
Anacostia’s main fitness center on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue closed this month due to hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, and the community is now left wanting in the gym’s absence. D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) had moved to put a stay on the closure but to no avail. The neighborhood is now both a food desert and a fitness desert. The SPIRIT Health and Wellness Center was no ordinary gym, which is why the space’s landlord, The Salvation Army, is now looking for a new nonprofit tenant who can provide similar services to Southeast. READ ARTICLE
Why the US is so Reticent to Read the Right Messages in Asia and the Pacific?FOX News, February 25, 2013.
President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set the stage last week for Japan's inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade bloc that includes 11 nations but excludes China. With this move, the US has set a dangerous precedent and one that will immediately alienate a critical trading ally. This confrontational style, which includes America’s military pivot towards Asia, won’t fly well with China’s equally confrontational leader Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi has already come out swinging at American swagger, noting that foreigners across the Pacific have “nothing better to do” than “engage in finger-pointing at us.” READ ARTICLE
Anacostia Totem Pole Belies Washington's Devotion to Redskins,Washington Post, February 22, 2013.
At the corner of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, in Anacostia, a totem pole will rise from a plain patch of vacant ground this spring. It may seem odd that a Native American totem pole was the piece of public art selected by community residents, given that the Native American presence in Anacostia is now negligible, but, historically speaking, it’s fitting. The Nacotchtank Native American tribe was among the first dwellers east of the river now called Anacostia, the Anglicized variant of the tribe’s name. The totem pole, which some Ward 8 residents see as a potential city landmark as well as a tribute to Native Americans, will stand where the Nacotchtank once stood. READ ARTICLE
A Truly Radical Approach to School Reform, Washington Post, February 11, 2013.
When it comes to forecasting the educational future of District youth, especially for those living in low-income communities, there are some impressive words and initiatives being thrown around by past and present city leadership. Whether it’s Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s “Raise D.C.,” a recently established public-private sector partnership dedicated to “cradle-to-career” success for D.C. youth, or Michelle Rhee’s new “Radical” book tour, the prescriptions are impressive. Yet they continue to miss the mark. Much has already been discussed about Raise D.C.’s report, released last week, which cites that 4-in-10 District third-graders read proficiently and four out of every 10 young adults has a full-time job. READ ARTICLE
Searching for Affordable Housing in Anacostia, Washington Post, February 6, 2013.
This month marks one year since my next-door neighbors in Anacostia moved out. They didn’t want to leave. They left because they couldn’t afford it. It was a single mother and her 15-year-old son, and for the purposes of confidentiality, I’ll call them Roz and Cory. I think they’re in Boston now, which wasn’t their preferred choice, but it was their only option — living with distant, and abusive, relatives. Roz and Cory liked our neighborhood. Rent was affordable under the District of Columbia’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 services. They paid about $100 per month for rent — a sum that seemed feasible, albeit barely, given that Roz had lupus and was persistently unemployed. And, thanks to Social Security assistance, there was at least some food on the table. READ ARTICLE
Missing the Mark on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy at MLK Ave,Washington Post, February 4, 2013.
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated last month with community service ads and intimations in President Obama’s inauguration speech, I wondered, as I do every year, how the nation can commemorate a leader so disingenuously. We will likely do the same during Black History Month. It’s almost historical revisionism. We soften his message substantially. America would hardly be comfortable encountering the revolutionary King today. For to truly memorialize his leadership would be to focus on his trademark message: the pervasiveness of militarism, poverty and racism in our society and how vigilant, nonviolent action is needed to eradicate them. READ ARTICLE
Gun Bans Aren't the Only Answer to America's Violence Problem, US News and World Report, January 24, 2013.
With New York State legislature laying down the law on gun control, and with the White House taskforce announcing similar measures, it is clear that the National Rifle Association isn't ruling this roost—at least at the state legislature and executive branch levels. The verdict is still out on Congress, however, given the NRA's heavy financial influence over the years. Despite recent meritorious attempts to keep assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and online and gun show sales to a minimum, all this talk of gun safety will still fall short of significantly curbing violence. READ ARTICLE
Pentagon Resists Budget Cuts - Without Even Knowing How Much It Spends, The Guardian, January 23, 2013.
No matter how much Congress softens the sequestration's austerity footprint, everyone in government will have to nip-and-tuck in order to balance budgets. And that will include the Pentagon – something that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel and even the Bowles-Simpson commission support. We cannot afford to continue a clear and present double-standard in Washington, DC while also keeping the government accountable to its taxpayers. On one side of the discretionary spending spectrum, Republicans are absolutely religious about each government dollar doled out, and are quite keen to see sequestration cuts – to "entitlement" programs. On the other side, cuts to defense spending and oversight of the Pentagon is not up for discussion. READ ARTICLE
Sandy Hook Shootings: We Need to Focus on More Than Just Gun Control, Washington Post, December 21, 2012.
Slowing the 100,000 gun related injuries per year, 30,000 of which result in death, however, won’t happen from a simple upgrade in gun controls and gun safety, though that would surely help. At the root of gun violence is something much more insidious. Look at any of the hard data on the geography of gun violence: the majority of it consistently corresponds and correlates strongly with poverty and inequality. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about how shame or guilt works in instigating violence. READ ARTICLE All 2012-2013 Articles Archived HERE