Shifting the Effort to Fight Terrorism: The Obama administration should make counterradicalization a key element of its counterterrorism efforts, a Washington Institute for Near East policy task force concludes. The task force, whose recommendations appear in "Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization," says that special focus should be put on helping mainstream Muslims provide alternatives to radicals. A series of wide-ranging recommendations includes rejuvenating efforts to promote democracy, empowering mainstream Muslims, linking U.S. aid to ending corruption, stimulating the development of free and independent media, challenging extremists in cyberspace, and strengthening the role of the State Department. The report acknowledges that, so far, a "strategy to effectively counter . . . extremism and empower mainstream alternatives has proved challenging."
Identity Theft Complaints Up: For the ninth year in a row, identity theft tops the 2008 list of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January-December 2008 shows that of 1,223,370 complaints, 26 percent, or 313,982, were about identity theft. The previous year, identity theft accounted for 259,266 of the 1,050,229 complaints. Complaints about third-party and creditor debt collection came in second with 104,641 complaints (9 percent of the total), followed by shop-at-home and catalog sales with 52,615 complaints (4 percent), Internet services with 52,102 complaints (4 percent), and foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams with 38,505 complaints (3 percent). Many of the claims coming to the FTC are fraud related, with consumers reporting being taken for more than $1.8 billion.
Government on Right Track, Wall Street Off Track: Public opinion on whether the government is on the right track in dealing with the economic crisis has jumped 16 percentage points since President Obama took office. According to the News Interest Index Survey conducted February 20 to 23 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 47 percent of respondents believe the government is on the right track in handing the economic crisis. In a Pew poll conducted just before Obama's inauguration, only 31 percent felt the country was on the right track. While 42 percent of those polled offered "nonjudgmental" descriptions when asked what comes to mind when they hear the term Wall Street, 10 percent come up with greed or excess and another 10 percent thieves and corruption. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the economic crisis continues to dominate the news. According to its survey, the economic crisis accounted for 40 percent of coverage for the fourth week in a row.
Arthritis and Heart Disease Make a Bad Situation Worse: People suffering from arthritis and heart disease were much more likely to avoid physical activity than those suffering from heart disease alone, despite the fact that exercise is good for both ailments. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, about 57 percent of adults with heart disease also suffer from arthritis. About 29 percent of those were inactive, compared to 21 percent of people with just heart disease, 18 percent with just arthritis, and 11 percent with neither. Chad Helmick, a coauthor of the study, says that "engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce arthritis pain and improve joint function, which in turn can help people with heart disease get more active and better manage both conditions." Some 14.1 million American adults have heart disease. Those who increased activity had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.