Insight News

Feb 12th


Pakistan's sovereignty and the killing of Osama Bin Laden

"This article, first published as an ASIL Insight, is reprinted with permission from the American Society of International Law,”

On May 2, 2011, U.S. forces entered Pakistan—without the Pakistani government’s consent—to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.  In the wake of the successful U.S. military operation, the Pakistan Government objected to the “unauthorized unilateral action” by the United States and cautioned that the event “shall not serve as a future precedent for any state.” Former President Musharraf complained that the operation violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. The episode implicates a host of important legal and political issues.  This Insight focuses on one of them: when may one state use force in another state’s territory in self-defense against members of a non-state armed group, and what constraint does the principle of sovereignty impose on that action?

Judge Patricia Martin: Family matters

The Honorable Patricia Martin, who serves as the Presiding Judge of the Child Protection Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, is the president-elect of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In this key role she is devoted to helping change children’s lives. She previously chaired the Supreme Court of Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Juvenile Justice, and spent a decade as an assistant Cook County Public Defender. With her wealth of experience, Judge Martin is a wise observer of what works best in the court system for children and families. As National Child Abuse Prevention Month comes to a close, here are some critical lessons she shared with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Black Community Crusade for Children.

Another barrier to achievement for students of color

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the rate of non-proficiency on the MCA Math test among black students at all grade levels in Minneapolis Public Schools was 74%. In St. Paul, it was 68%. The Parent Fact Sheet on the Minnesota Department of Education’s Web site states that the MCAs “are given every spring to measure student performance against the Minnesota Academic Standards, which specify what students in a particular grade should know and do.” In other words, only about one in four black students in Minneapolis, and one in three in St. Paul, were able to demonstrate that they learned what they were supposed to in Math. The question is, to what extent were these students, and their parents, being given valid feedback throughout the school year?

Republicans propose devastating legislation

We are heading into the last leg of the 2011 legislative session and the stakes continue to be high for Minnesotans. Budget proposals passed by the Republican majority will have particularly devastating effects on our community.

As a new member to the Minnesota State Legislature, I ran with the belief that it was our job to do right by Minnesotans across the state regardless of political affiliation. Despite the perceived difficulties of no longer being in the majority, I was confident that the new Republican majority would be fair and balanced in their budget approach, setting in place resources for those who need it most, while making sure that everyone participates in a shared sacrifice for our state’s economic future. I must admit, my confidence in this shared ideal has been shaken. 

Children’s health on the chopping block

Like many parents, California mother Anne-Marie Skinner knows “accidents happen.” Her active, athletic teenagers Constance and Lucas are both involved in a number of extracurricular activities, and both have unfortunately suffered sports-related injuries that required serious medical care. One of the worst accidents happened when a basketball hit Constance in the face, requiring an emergency room visit, an MRI, and follow-up care from multiple doctors, including a pediatric eye care specialist. Thankfully, both Constance and Lucas have been able to get the care they need because they are enrolled in Healthy Families, California’s version of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—low-cost health insurance for children, teenagers, and pregnant women. Healthy Families makes Constance and Lucas’s care affordable for their family. Anne-Marie has already cut her family’s budget back to bare bones in this economy, including spending less on buying food. “If it wasn’t for Healthy Families I would be buried in a blanket of medical debt,” she says.

Smarter on crime

The nation’s decades long war on drugs and ‘tough on crime’ posture has failed to reduce crime rates and control the rising prison population.  Additionally, our current crime fighting strategy puts us at a disadvantage in other critical sectors, namely education.  Knowing what we now know, it is clear that it’s beyond time to take a different approach on crime…a smarter one.

Obama’s tightrope: What about the workers?

President Barack Obama is adept at walking a tightrope.  That’s what he did last week when he talked about the budget, chastising both Democrats and Republicans.  He spoke to the need for government to stand in the gap for the needy even as he understood the ramifications of the Ryan budget.  Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, is bound and determined to reduce the size of government.  He will do it on the backs of the poor and the needy, and he will, if he has his way, eviscerate the role that government plays in providing a safety net for those at the bottom.
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