"The new study raises a valid concern, although people barely scraping by frequently deal with money in sophisticated ways, says Harvard University sociologist Kathryn Edin, who studies U.S. families subsisting on welfare. “Poverty can lead to better, not just worse, mental functioning."
The Obama Administration’s proposal to change an outdated food aid restriction would allow the United States to feed millions more people at the same cost.
...By strengthening and not undercutting local farmers, cash aid also helps countries to avoid hunger later.
In many places, people go hungry because there is no food. But in a lot of places, food is available and the market is working — people are just too poor to buy it. In those places, giving individuals or charitable groups cash to buy food can make food aid cheaper, faster and fairer. By strengthening and not undercutting local farmers, cash aid also helps countries to avoid hunger later.
...giving individuals or groups cash to buy food can make food aid cheaper, faster and fairer....the United States, the largest donor, is still tied to sending [food]...
With the exception of one country, every major supplier of humanitarian food aid enjoys the flexibility to use whatever form of aid works best — they can send food, buy food in the affected region, or just provide cash or vouchers. But the United States, the largest donor, is still tied to sending sacks of grain and legumes from America. Only 15 percent of American humanitarian food aid can be untied — bought outside the United States.
Now the Obama administration proposes giving America more flexibility. In the 2014 budget it just submitted to Congress, it is upping the untied amount from 15 percent to 45 percent.
The proposal also modernizes food aid by ending a second great inefficiency: a process known as monetization. And it is planning to ask American companies to provide not just commodities but also super-nutritious foods for the severely malnourished — in general modernizing food aid.
Read the full article here, including the problem in Haiti - why our food donations are disrupting their ability to recover.
Photo: By Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), Flickr
Business, labor, sports and other groups spent about $54 million on lobbying at the state Capitol in 2012, according to data released Wednesday, March 20, by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
That doesn't include roughly $2.5 million spent to influence action by the state Public Utilities Commission. It also doesn't count reports from about 160 organizations that have yet to file their information with the board.
The figures include money spent on lobbying activity plus compensation for lobbyists.
The 2012 totals at this point are down about 13 percent compared with last year and lower than any year since 2006.
Leading the expenditure list for 2012 is the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which spent $2 million.
The rest of the top 10 are Education Minnesota ($1,040,000); the Minnesota Business Partnership ($880,000); the Minnesota AFL-CIO ($860,000); Minneapolis Radiation Oncology Physicians ($640,000); the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association ($627,000); the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses ($620,000); the League of Minnesota Cities ($620,000); the Minnesota Vikings Football Club ($610,000); and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians ($575,000). MORE
The Minnesota Vikings American football team has announced the final design for a new stadium to built in the Minneapolis city center that will feature the world’s largest transparent roof. This feat will be achieved using state-of-the-art polymer instead of glass to resist the extremes of Minnesota’s climate, while providing views of the city skyline and a sense of openness for fans and players alike.
Due to its Siberia-like climate, Minnesota isn't exactly the best place in the world for outdoor sports. Its winters are marked by blizzards and arctic cold, while the summers are broiling stretches of windless days punctuated by massive thunderstorms. Spring and autumn are nice, but they each last an hour and a half, so can be safely ignored.
In the past fifty years Minnesota has built a number of indoor and convertible stadiums to get away from the weather, but the heavy snowfalls ask a lot of their expansive domes, such as in December 2010 when the Metrodome in Minneapolis tore and collapsed in spectacular fashion when the weight of the snow became too great.
The plans for the new multi-purpose stadium, which will replace the Metrodome, were announced on Monday by the Minnesota Vikings American football team, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and HKS Sports & Entertainment Group.
The stadium is part of a decades long redevelopment program for the Minneapolis city center and the waterfront area in particular. Seating 65,000 and budgeted at US$975 million, the designers say it boasts an “authentic structure influenced by its Minnesota location” and is marked by a soaring prow and huge doors facing the city skyline that open and are tall enough to let a Star Wars AT-AT walk through comfortably. The purpose of the design is to reflect the city’s climate, geography, history, and civic architectural and technological heritage.
It's probably safer to hammer in work boots rather than heels, but Habitat for Humanity York Region likes to live dangerously. At least for one night only. Habitat will host a “Hammer & Heels” dinner and fashion show in October ...
Jordan Blank's insight:
I think it is great that Habitat for Humaity is doing a fun twist on volunteer work!
(Reuters) - Syria hailed a "historic American retreat" on Sunday, mockingly accusing President Barack Obama of hesitation and confusion after he delayed a military response to last month's chemical weapons attack near Damascus to consult Congress.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said tests had shown sarin nerve gas was fired on rebel-held areas on August 21, and expressed confidence that U.S. lawmakers would do "what is right" in response.
Washington says more than 1,400 people, many of them children, were killed in the attack.
It was the deadliest incident of the Syrian civil war and the world's worst use of chemical arms since Iraq's Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988. But opinion polls have shown strong opposition to a punitive strike among Americans weary of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama's announcement on Saturday that he would seek congressional authorization for punitive military action against Syria is likely to delay any strike for at least nine days.
But the United Nations said his announcement could be seen as part of an effort to forge a global consensus on responding to the use of chemical arms anywhere.
"The use of chemical weapons will not be accepted under any circumstances," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "There should be no impunity and any perpetrators of such a horrific crime against humanity must be held accountable."
View gallery."March 8, 2005 - A Syrian soldier riding on top of a tank gestures after leaving his position, in Dah …
Arab states called on the international community to take action against the Syrian government.
The final resolution of a meeting of Arab League meeting foreign ministers meeting in Cairo urged the United Nations and international community to "take the deterrent and necessary measures against the culprits of this crime that the Syrian regime bears responsibility for".
The ministers also said those responsible for the attack should face trial, as other "war criminals" have.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told Arab League counterparts on Sunday that opposing international intervention would only encourage Damascus to use weapons of mass destruction.
The Syrian government says the attack was staged by the rebels. With Obama drawing back from the brink, President Bashar al-Assad reacted defiantly to the threat of Western retaliation, saying Syria was capable of confronting any external strike.
He left his most withering comments to his official media and a junior minister.
"Obama announced yesterday, directly or through implication, the beginning of the historic American retreat," Syria's official al-Thawra newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused Obama of indecision. "It is clear there was a sense of hesitation and disappointment in what was said by President Barack Obama yesterday. And it is also clear there was a sense of confusion as well," he told reporters in Damascus.
View gallery."Syria braces for tough response from West. (Produced by Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
Before Obama put on the brakes, the path had been cleared for a U.S. assault. Warships were in place and awaiting orders to launch missiles, and U.N. inspectors had left Syria after gathering evidence on the use of chemical weapons.
Kerry invoked the crimes of Adolf Hitler, Saddam and the potential threat to Israel from Syria and Iran in urging skeptical U.S. lawmakers to back a strike on Assad's forces.
"This is squarely now in the hands of Congress," he told CNN, saying he had confidence "they will do what is right because they understand the stakes."
It became apparent on Sunday that convincing Congress of atrocities committed by Assad's forces was only one of the challenges confronting Obama.
Lawmakers raised a broad array of concerns, including the potential effectiveness of limited strikes, the possible unintended consequence of sparking a wider Middle East conflict, the wisdom of acting without broader international backing to share the burden and the war weariness of the American public.
Many Democrats and Republicans are uneasy about intervening in a distant civil war in which 100,000 people have been killed over the past 2 1/2 years, and lawmakers have not cut short their summer recess, which ends September 9.
Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told CNN there were "real challenges," but added: I think that at the end of the day, Congress will rise to the occasion. This is a national security issue."
U.K., France support involvement of U.S. Congress …Play video."
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took a more skeptical view. "It's at least 50-50 whether the House will vote down the involvement in the Syrian war," he told NBC.
"I think the Senate will rubber stamp what he wants," he said. "The House will be a much closer vote." The Senate is controlled by Obama's Democratic Party, while the House is in the hands of the Republican Party.
Members of Congress were briefed by Obama's national security team on the case for military action and Kerry said he had more evidence backing accusations against Damascus.
"I can share with you today that blood and hair samples that have come to us through an appropriate chain of custody, from east Damascus, from first responders, it has tested positive for signatures of sarin," he told CNN.
U.N. weapons inspectors collected their own samples and diplomats say Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the five permanent Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - that it would take up to two weeks before the final report is ready.
In Damascus, ordinary Syrians reacted with a mixture of relief, disappointment and scorn to Obama's decision. "I have to admit this morning was the first time I felt I could sleep in," said Nawal, who works as a housekeeper in the Syrian capital.
Bread had returned to the bakeries and members of the state security forces appeared relaxed, drinking tea and chatting at their posts outside government buildings.
"We always knew there wouldn't be a strike," one of them said. "It's not going to happen. Anyway, we were never nervous about it. We were just worried for the civilians. But we're confident it's not going to happen."
John Kerry on 'This Week'Play video."
FRANCE CANNOT GO IT ALONE
The United States had originally been expected to lead a strike relatively quickly, backed up by its NATO allies Britain and France. But British lawmakers voted on Thursday against any involvement and France said on Sunday it would await the U.S. Congress' decision.
"France cannot go it alone," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told Europe 1 radio. "We need a coalition."
French President Francois Hollande, whose country ruled Syria for more than two decades until the 1940s, has come under increasing pressure to put the intervention to parliament.
A BVA poll on Saturday showed most French people did not approve of military action and most did not trust Hollande to conduct such an operation.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, his prime minister, was to meet the heads of both houses of parliament and the conservative opposition on Monday before lawmakers debate Syria on Wednesday.
French first lady Valerie Trierweiler said on Sunday she was still in shock over pictures of Syrian children killed in the attack and told France's M6, "I do not know how one can bear it, how one can accept it."
Syria and its main ally, Russia, say rebels carried out the gas attack to draw in foreign military intervention. Moscow has repeatedly used its U.N. Security Council veto to block action against Syria, saying it would be illegal and only inflame the civil war.
View gallery."A view shows tanks and military vehicles that belonged to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar a …
Critics say further delay by Obama is simply buying Assad more time.
The Istanbul-based Syrian opposition coalition said Assad had moved military equipment and personnel to civilian areas and put prisoners in military sites as human shields against any Western air strikes.
It said rockets, Scud missiles and launchers as well as soldiers had been moved to locations including schools, university dormitories and government buildings inside cities.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports, and attempts to reach Syrian officials for comment were unsuccessful.
Obama's credibility has already been called into question for not punishing Assad over earlier alleged gas attacks, and he is under pressure to act now that he believes Damascus has crossed what he once described as a "red line".
Failure to act, some say, could mean Iran would feel free to press on with a nuclear program the West believes is aimed at developing an atomic bomb and that might encourage Israel to take matters into its own hands.
"If Obama is hesitating on the matter of Syria, then clearly on the question of attacking Iran - a move that is expected to be far more complicated - Obama will hesitate much more, and thus the chances Israel will have to act alone have increased," Israeli Army Radio quoted an unnamed government official as saying.
A Texas high school football game had an ending for the ages after one team returned a squib kick for a touchdown as time expired... (VIDEO: A HS football game became an instant classic after one team returned a squib kick for a TD as time expired.
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