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1. Caught in the cycle of poverty (Edin) The Los Angeles Times
2. Far-Off State Capitals Are More Corrupt (Campante) The American Prospect
3. New veterans fight new battles after coming home (Bilmes) The Associated Press
4. Reformed Islam: Between hatred and critical thinking (Anwar) The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
5. Islamic fundamentalism and democracy (Mawardi) The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Caught in the cycle of poverty
The Los Angeles Times
Quoted: Kathryn Edin, Malcolm Wiener Center
Topic: Poverty in America
After months searching for work and feeling increasingly discouraged, Natalie Cole caught a break — an offer of a part-time position at a Little Caesars Pizza shop in Compton. The manager scheduled her orientation and told her she had to pass a food safety test. She took the test — and failed. But rather than study and take it again, she shrugged it off. …
But if Cole doesn't find a better way, chances are her children won't finish school, hold steady jobs or stay healthy. "Poverty is bad for kids," said Harvard Kennedy School professor Kathryn Edin, who studies poverty policy. "It just makes everything a struggle."
Children who are born into poverty and spend years that way are more likely to be teenage parents and remain poor as adults, according to the Urban Institute. "Getting out of poverty takes extraordinary perseverance," Edin said. "When disadvantage builds over generations, it is going to take generations to unbuild it." …
Far-Off State Capitals Are More Corrupt
The American Prospect
Cited: Research by Filipe Campante
Topic: Political corruption
A new paper shows that state capitals located in less-populated areas are more likely to breed corruption. The paper, authored by Filipe R. Campante of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Quoc-Anh Doh of Singapore Management University, tested what seems to be a logical idea: when lawmakers are more out of sight, they can get into more trouble. Turns out that in this case, the logical idea is the right one.
The authors found "a very robust connection" between corruption and capital location. They used several different measures of corruption and isolation and continued to get the same result. Isolated capital cities tend to pay high salaries to their governors and have smaller media outlets covering political happenings. …
New veterans fight new battles after coming home
The Associated Press
Quoted: Linda Bilmes
Topic: Healthcare benefits for veterans
America has a new generation of veterans. More than 1.6 million troops are back from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and they are unlike any other group of veterans the nation has ever seen. More of them are Reserves and National Guard. More are women. They have different injuries than those who fought before them. And nearly half of them are seeking benefits for service-related disabilities. Claims are being filed faster than the government can process them. The average wait to get a new claim handled is about eight months. …
The cost of veterans' benefits and health care peaks decades after a war ends, says Harvard University economist Linda Bilmes. These peaked in 1969 for veterans from World War I and in the 1980s for World War II. They haven't peaked yet for Vietnam veterans.
Finances are likely to be even tighter 30 years from now when costs for the newest veterans are greatest, she said. Unless a special fund for them is started now, "It's quite plausible many people will feel we can't afford these benefits we overpromised," Bilmes warns. …
Reformed Islam: Between hatred and critical thinking
The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Commentary by: M. Syafi’i Anwar, Ash Center
Topic: The future of Indonesian Islam
Are Indonesian Muslims committed to a reformed Islam? This question arose during an informal discussion among Indonesian post-graduate students at Harvard’s Science Center cafe recently.
It was not easy to answer that question as they had recently been following the Irshad Manji saga and the increasing threat of Muslim hard-liners in Indonesia.
Along with the hard-liners’ success in failing Lady Gaga’s planned concert in Jakarta, another crucial question was asked: Where is Indonesia heading? No one could answer that question.
Let’s focus on Manji’s ideas about reformed Islam, which has sparked controversy in the Muslim world, including Indonesia and Malaysia. …
Islamic fundamentalism and democracy
The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Commentary by: Izhari Mawardi MPP 2012
Topic: The evolution of Islamic fundamentalism and democracy
Amid the hyped resistance of Muslim hard-liners to a planned concert of American singer Lady Gaga in Jakarta, there is reason to hope that ultimately the democratic process will offer a way for Islamic fundamentalism to coexist in society.
To understand this, we need to see how Islamic fundamentalism arose and how recent changes have evolved Islamic fundamentalism into a democratic player rather than an opponent of democracy.
Islam has been around for 1,400 years, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that Islamic fundamentalism took root as a major regional political force. Islamic fundamentalism grew from an acute sense of disappointment with the failure of good governance. It was the way that Muslims dealt with the failures of leaders, religious as well as political, in serving society. …