IPS Blog

Too Fat to Fight

Pizza and freedom fries have become national security threats. As Marian Wright Edelman recently put it in an OtherWords op-ed: “It’s time to fight childhood obesity.” The U.S. military gets it. A military officers group called “Mission: Readiness” wants to make school lunches healthier, after its new study reported more than a quarter of Americans ages 17-24 are ineligible to enlist because they weigh too much. The group appeared on Capitol Hill to tell Congress about this problem.

Exploiting Athletes

The NCAA is mulling the expansion of the men’s college basketball tournament, an inevitability that will mean young athletes will rake in millions more dollars for their schools. Marc Morial’s recent OtherWords op-ed, College Basketball Graduation Rate Insanity and cartoonist Khalil Bendib’s accompanying cartoon highlight this exploitation, which will only deepen as the money increases. And this change would be a great opportunity to follow up on Morial’s suggestion “that schools failing to graduate at least 80 percent of their athletes not only be ineligible for post-season play, but lose all of their athletic scholarships.”
College Basketball

With All Deliberate Speed

The Washington Post ran a front page story reminding us that our schools are a reflection of our society as a whole. And in many parts of the country, segregation is on the rise again. Just a week before the Post story ran, OtherWords columnist William A. Collins wrote about how electing our first African-American president didn’t do away with racism in America. In it, he noted how our schools’ “slow drift toward re-segregation has continued unabated.” This cartoon by OtherWords cartoonist Khalil Bendib, titled School Resegregation, illustrates this problem.

School Resegregation

Injustice Served

Bradley Birkenfeld, who is serving time in a Pennsylvania federal prison for his role in Swiss-bank tax evasion schemes that he exposed, is now petitioning President Obama for clemency. He submitted his clemency application on tax day, arguing that he has worked with federal officials to expose thousands of tax cheats. As Jesselyn Radack explained in her recent OtherWords op-ed, rewarding Birkenfeld’s information, which led to $780 million recovery for our treasury, with a three-plus year prison sentence simply discourages would-be whistleblowers.

Palin’s Contract with Stanislaus

Sarah Palin, leader of everyday Americans. You betcha. She’s just your typical small-town, Alaska hockey mom who, Donald Kaul noted, doubles as a latter-day American savior to the Tea Party faithful. One who requires first-class plane tickets, or else “the private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger,” when she travels to speak of her folksiness, according to the Associated Press. She stands up for the rest of us before retiring to her mandatory suite in a luxury hotel and an additional two single rooms for her entourage. That’s what some California State University-Stanislaus students learned when they fished her contract with their Central California school, where Palin was hired to speak this June, from a trash bin. It’s enough to make me reconsider every claim she’s made about being just one of the people. And the more I learn about Sarah Palin, the less I believe her.

Rushing to Universal Coverage

Last year, before Rush Limbaugh pledged to emigrate to the jewel of Central America, I lived and worked In Costa Rica for six months. I quickly learned that the “Caja” is the government health-care plan most Costa Ricans use. I asked my boss one day in my first couple weeks, “I’m not yet paying into the Caja, what happens if I get run over by a car or something? I don’t have insurance.” She was a bit incredulous. “Of course you’d be taken care of,” she said. “What, if you get hurt really badly, you think they’re going to kick you out? That’s why we have hospitals.” Actually, yes, being from the United States, that was a major concern. Like Jim Hightower says in his OtherWords column, Costa Rica’s health-care is system is universal. It’s great to know that Rush Limbaugh’s smart enough to know the value of getting universal care.

What If We’re Not So Angry?

It seems the more conservative you are, the more aggressive you want America to be with our nukes. If we’re angry loose cannons with an itchy finger on the button, the thinking seems to go, rogue countries will think long and hard about crossing us. Personally, I think it would be a good thing if the planet believes the United States would consider the nuclear option to truly be a the last, worst option. Mary Slosson provides in her OtherWords op-ed an insightful examination of latter-day nukes pointing out the United States and Russia still have that market cornered. Together, we’ve got 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons in our possession. But what if conventional wisdom dictated that we didn’t want to use them? Nobody thinks our great vulnerability is a dearth of devastating conventional arms.

Yes, Virginia, Slavery Happened

What would Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s supporters make of Donald Kaul’s recent column about the “Compton Cookout” party at the University of California at San Diego? McDonnell proclaimed April to be “Confederate History Month,” purportedly to honor soldiers who fought for the pro-slavery South in the Civil War. McDonnell sparked widespread outrage and criticism for failing to acknowledge slavery during his proclamation. At first, he said it was because that wasn’t among issues that were the “most significant for Virginia” during the Civil War. One day after this story broke, McDonnell apologized “to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed.” But actions speak louder than words, and when the governor was not spinning damage control he thought it more important to ask all Virginians to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”

GAP Files Complaint Against World Bank Agency

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has filed a complaint with the Washington, DC Bar Association against Suzanne Folsom, who served as director of the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) from 2006 to 2008. The complaint reveals unethical actions taken by Folsom as the manager of the Bank’s investigations unit, including improper interference with an external review, abuse of authority, harassment, and deception of INT staff. You can read the bar complaint on the GAP website. According to the whistleblower organization, INT staff have said “informally” that their agency “became little more than a ‘plumbers’ unit,’ dedicated to plugging the information leaks that embarrassed (Paul) Wolfowitz” when he served as the World Bank’s president.

Investing in Green Energy

Green America recognizes the best way to address the climate crisis is going green. As the world accepts the reality of climate change, investors are increasingly attracted to efficient, clean energy. Just like Victory Bonds supported the U.S. role in World War II, so does Green America hope to see “Clean Energy Victory Bonds” help America fight climate change. They aren’t available yet, but proponents are pushing legislation to create them soon. “These bonds would allow individuals to invest in the rapid deployment of renewable and energy efficiency projects, with a fixed rate of return — and with the full backing of the U.S. government,” according to Green America, which also lists several ways to invest in clean energy that already exist.

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