You need to know this. Diplomacy works. On Monday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We are calling on Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also it's subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons.” Shortly afterward, a Syrian official told reporters that his nation welcomed the proposal. In a series of television interviews that same evening, President Obama called the Russian proposal a “possible breakthrough” and a “positive development.” The plan for a Syrian surrender of chemical weapons was a response to an off-the-cuff comment by Secretary of State John Kerry, who was asked what Syria could do to avoid a military strike by the United States. Secretary Kerry responded, saying, Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done obviously.” Almost immediately, Russian officials urged Syria to accept the proposal, and Syria accepted. Within 24 hours, China and Iran backed the plan as well, and pulled us back from brink of a potential world war. This is what happens when our leaders use diplomatic efforts, rather than military strikes, to resolve a conflict. In a single day, we went from facing a world war, to Russian officials working on an “effective, concrete” plan for Syria to hand over chemical weapons. And, once those weapons are surrendered, there is little risk that chemicals will wind up in the hands of terrorists. Some media reports claim that President Obama worked out this proposal with Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Russia, and other reports say that Secretary Kerry's off-hand comment initiated the proposal. Regardless of who gets credit, the lesson is clear. Dropping bombs is not the only way to resolve a conflict.
In screwed news... The Kansas state legislature says they're orchestrating a campaign against child poverty. However, their plan is more about imposing their so-called moral values on Kansas residents, than about lifting families out of poverty. Republican Governor Sam Brownback put together the Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty, which was supposed to study the issue, and recommend ideas to help struggling families. What they came up with were nine recommendations like “understanding the importance of marriage and families” and reducing the availability of food assistance throughout the state. Rather than proposing jobs or education that could help people earn more money, the state task force proposed free marriage licenses, and suggested investing in something called “Healthy Relationship Education in Middle and High School.” The task force simply perpetuated the meme that if you're living in poverty, it could only be the result of your bad choices. Republicans love to talk about limited government, and staying out of people's lives, but it looks like that doesn't apply to the low-income people living in Kansas.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The possibility of another war isn't the only thing that can create unlikely political bedfellows. In Wisconsin, that state's Libertarian Party is joining forces with the Green Party to support a solar energy proposal. Both parties have endorsed a plan that would allows customers to lease solar panels and other renewable energy products that they can't afford to buy outright. Paul Ehlers, the Wisconsin Libertarian Party Chair, said, “There are all kinds of philosophical disagreements [with the Green Party], but at the end of the day this was pretty much a no-brainer.” The measure is known as the Clean Energy Choice Initiative, and it is far more likely to gain traction in the state legislature – which is controlled by Republicans – now that the Libertarians and Tea Party in the state support it. Michael Vickerman, with RENEW Wisconsin, said that thanks to the coalition with Libertarians, green energy advocates “can talk to Republican legislators in a way we couldn't in the past.”
As the heated debate about raising the minimum wage continues, one fast-food restaurant in Michigan is proving that it's possible to pay a living wage. Moo Cluck Moo currently starts workers at $12 an hour, and will increase that to $15 an hour on October 1st of this year. Co-owner Brian Parker said, “We always wanted to be at $15 an hour. If just feels human to do it.” And, they say higher wages are actually a great investment. The company has seen better customer service, lower employee turnover, and less time and money spent hiring and training new workers. According to the Think Progress Blog, increasing employee pay can also help increase productivity, and provide a boost to the local economy when workers have more money to spend. Overall, better pay is a win-win-win for the business, the employee, and the local shops and restaurants. And, as the fast-food strikes continue in several cities around our nation, workers are pointing to good-paying, successful businesses like Moo Cluck Moo, and providing a heck of a lot of free publicity.
And finally…Most young girls are focused on friends, school, or hobbies, but not Brynne Larson and her friends. The trio is much more interested in exorcism. That's right, Brynne's father, Rev. Bob Larson, supposedly trained the girls in the practice of expelling demons, and they headed off to England to fight the “satanic element” of Harry Potter. The girls say that the popularity of the J.K. Rowling's series shows a rise in occult activity across the pond. In a video posted by Daily Mail, 18-year-old Brynne said, “Harry is using this magic for good. So here we have the dangerous idea that you can use this magic for good or bad. When in reality, all magic is bad 'cause you're getting your power from Satan.” No word yet on whether Aqua Buddha is involved.