“OVER the past 40 years, the geography of family life has been destabilized by two powerful forces pulling in opposite directions and occasionally scraping against each other, much like tectonic plates. One is the striking progress toward equality between men and women. The other is the equally striking growth of socioeconomic inequality and insecurity. Since the 1970s, families have become more egalitarian in their internal relationships. But inequality among families has soared. Women have become more secure as their real wages and legal rights have increased. But families have become more insecure as their income and job instability have worsened.”—Stephanie Coontz
Hebrew transcript of Obama and Netanyahu’s phone call
Barack Obama:I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.
Benjamin Netanyahu:And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?
BO:I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.
BN:Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
BO:I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.
BN:Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.
BO:Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.
BN:Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.
BO:I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.
BN:I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –
BO:(interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.
What we understand as “rights” do not have an obvious parallel in the bible, but the biblical imperative to seek and do justice is undeniable. And while the word “justice” is never defined in Scripture, for Wolterstorff the definition is clear: doing justice is repeatedly exemplified in efforts to protect and care for widows, orphans, aliens, and the poor. Justice in the Old Testament displays what Wolterstorff calls a “preferential option for the vulnerable.” Why does this justice imperative seem – according to many commentators – to recede in the New Testament? Here Wolterstorff provides an illuminating exegesis. He argues that in the original Greek of the New Testament, there are many instances of dik-stem words. As a student of classical Greek, he was taught to translate such words as “justice,” “just,” and “justly.” But in most English translations of the NT, these dik-stem words are translated to mean “righteous” and “righteousness.” Among contemporary Christians, “righteousness” has come to refer to an individual’s being right with God (and when the word is applied to God, it is understood to refer to God’s retributive justice). Did the meaning of the dik-stem words change over time? Wolterstorff proposes instead that the meaning of “righteous” has changed in the English language. To do justice is to do the right thing; to do so habitually is to be “righteous” in a sense that the word no longer has today. If that is the case, then the call for justice is not muted or supplanted in the New Testament; instead, it is expanded so that to love our neighbors and seek shalom in our communities is also to do justice.
“We never ask if science disproves Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, though the play includes statements that are at odds with modern science. We never ask if science disproves Maximilian Kolbe’s self-sacrificing love, though his own knowledge of science would be seventy years out of date today. Lovers don’t look to science to prove the reality of their love. Why on earth would we want to go to science for proof of the reality of God’s love?”—Paul Mueller
“Believing in inerrancy doesn’t make you a fool for Christ anymore than believing the world was flat contra Galileo made the Catholic church fools for Christ. Resisting injustice, sacrificing your life for others, showing solidarity with the oppressed, selling your goods and embracing poverty – these are the sorts of actions that make one a fool for Christ.”—Aric Clark
“The MH17 disaster and Eastern Ukraine are now front page news across the entire world. The circumstances of the crash are anything but clear, but it is clear that they are not what the Americans initially alleged. This they have already admitted. The Ukrainian government is in disarray bordering on nonexistence. The Ukrainian military is either kettled in traps of their own devising and suffering horrific losses, or blasting away at densely populated districts with heavy artillery and rocket fire. The Ukrainian economy is in freefall, with trade links to Russia severed and industry nearing standstill. The country is bankrupt and at the mercy of the IMF. If you feel that the several hundred lives lost aboard MH17 are a tragedy, then you should consider a larger number: 42 million. That’s the population of Ukraine minus Crimea (which will be fine) and that’s the number of lives at risk from civil war and economic collapse.”—ClubOrlov: Saving Face
“And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”—Origen
An ancient religious divide is helping fuel a resurgence of conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim countries. Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed a Syrian civil war that threatens to transform the map of the Middle East, spurred violence that is fracturing Iraq, and widened fissures in a number of tense Gulf countries. Growing sectarian clashes have also sparked a revival of transnational jihadi networks that poses a threat beyond the region.
Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism by which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Bahrain.
Alongside the proxy battle is the renewed fervor of armed militants, motivated by the goals of cleansing the faith or preparing the way for the return of the messiah. Today there are tens of thousands of organized sectarian militants throughout the region capable of triggering a broader conflict. And despite the efforts of many Sunni and Shia clerics to reduce tensions through dialogue and counterviolence measures, many experts express concern that Islam’s divide will lead to escalating violence and a growing threat to international peace and security.
Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together for centuries. In many countries it has become common for members of the two sects to intermarry and pray at the same mosques. They share faith in the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and perform similar prayers, although they differ in rituals and interpretation of Islamic law.
Shia identity is rooted in victimhood over the killing of Husayn, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, in the seventh century, and a long history of marginalization by the Sunni majority. Islam’s dominant sect, which roughly 85 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims follow, viewed Shia Islam with suspicion, and extremist Sunnis have portrayed Shias as heretics and apostates.
Andrew Goldman:The new HBO movie “The Girl” depicts your relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, who, after giving you your first movie role in “The Birds,” plants an unwanted kiss on you, tries to blackmail you for sex and stalks you. Why would he do these things?
Tippi Hedren:He was a misogynist. That man was physically so unattractive. I think to have a mind that thought of himself as an attractive, romantic man and then to wake up in the morning and look at that face and that body was tough. I think he had a whole lot of problems.
AG:The film made me ponder the expression “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Is there any satisfaction in exacting revenge on a man who has been dead 32 years?
TH:Well, I don’t know that I’ve gotten any revenge on him. Maybe this movie is a bit. But I’m not the first one this happened to. Other actresses never made any overt statements about it. What he did with his life is astounding. There is no one in this world that did films like he did. Nobody.
AG:The worst abuse happened after you rebuffed his advances. Actors have been known to sleep with less powerful directors for advancement in show business. Did you ever consider it?
TH:I have a strong Lutheran background, and my parents instilled in me strong morals. This was something I could never have done. I was not interested in him that way at all. I was fortunate enough to work with him, and as far as I was concerned, he ruined everything.
AG:There is a scene in “The Girl” — as well as in the Donald Spoto book it’s based on — in which Hitchcock informs you that you are to be sexually available to him any time, any place. How do you even respond to that?
TH:I said, I’ve got to get out of the contract. He said, I’ll ruin your career. And he did. He wouldn’t let me out of the contract. I’d be a really big star if he hadn’t stopped my career. There were so many people who wanted me for their films. All he said was, “She isn’t available.” That’s a mean, mean man.
AG:You’ve said that his wife, Alma, knew of his obsession with you.
TH:That couple was an enigma to all of Hollywood. At one point, she came to me during “Marnie” and said, “I’m so sorry you have to go through all of this,” and I looked at her and said, “Alma, you could stop it.” Her eyes just glazed over, and she turned and left.
Most Americans have no idea that, after Israel pulled its last settlements out of Gaza in 2005, Israel maintained — and still maintains — control over Gazan airspace (prohibiting flights), access to Mediterranean seaports (prohibiting commercial vessels), and transfer of its agricultural and other products out of Gaza through checkpoints into Israel and the world beyond. A people cannot create a viable economy under such conditions. To this end, we are “our brothers and sisters keepers.” Part of our responsibility is to learn the whole story.
I abhor Palestinian radicals that target noncombatants and infrastructure in Israel, but I understand Hamas refusing to yield to still another ceasefire without demanding that Gazans be able to ship goods in and out of Gaza and an end to the disproportionate death and destruction it has caused.
Christians who want to hear from their brothers and sisters in Palestine are encouraged to read Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, or Blood Brothers, a book by Elias Chacour, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church.
Sure, it’s fun to indulge occasionally — once a week, say. Maybe you’ll get lucky and stumble on a 1966 episode of “Bewitched” called “Man’s Best Friend,” where a young actor named Richard Dreyfuss, still a teenager, made one of his first appearances. Or perhaps you’ll hit upon one of the two “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episodes from the 1950s directed by the unknown Robert Altman.
But if you’re watching this fare all day, every day, you need help, because “venerable” doesn’t necessarily mean “still watchable.” Sluggish pacing, wooden acting, wince-inducing jokes and obvious plot twists abound in the television of the distant and even not-so-distant past. Too much of this will turn your brain to mush as surely as too much of today’s reality TV will.
So here’s my takeaway: a negative income tax or basic income of sufficient size would, by definition, eliminate poverty. We still don’t know if there’d be much of a cost in terms of people working and earning less. If there is, the effect is almost certainly small enough that a negative income tax can offset the lost earnings and remain affordable. The worst case scenario is that we eliminate poverty but see a modest decline in employment. The best case scenario is we eliminate poverty at even lower cost and don’t see much of an effect on employment. That’s a gamble I’m willing to take.
“Anyone with an ounce of brain matter knows that trying to impeach President Obama would be disastrous. Republicans certainly know this. If they had an actual cause for impeachment, the GOP would have put the evidence out there already instead of the mountain of bullshit they’ve been shoveling to make it look like they had something on the president. But Republicans have been pandering to the racist scumbags patriots in their base for so long that conservatives really do expect Republicans to impeach Obama. There’s a good chance the GOP will take the Senate in November and then what? If Republicans don’t immediately start impeachment proceedings, their lunatic base will lose what little is left of their minds.”—Conservatives Are So Stupid The GOP Has To Trick Them Into NOT Impeaching Obama
Back in February, Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was arrested after he knocked out his fiancee in a casino in Las Vegas. Video of him dragging her out of the elevator unconscious made quite the stir. They were both arrested, actually, as she reportedly struck him as well. The case has not yet gone to trial, but the two of them have been going to some kind of counseling. My guess was that the punishment from the NFL would be pretty severe, considering the infraction here. On Thursday, though, it was revealed that Rice had been suspended for a mere two games. I was stunned by this. As noted by numerous people on Twitter, he would have gotten four games if he had smoked pot. He gets just two for knocking his girlfriend unconscious? That’s unbelievable. Even if Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, had attacked him first, Rice is a 220-pound man and should know that what he did was completely wrong and unconscionable.
The NFL is sending a terrible message to its fans by being so lenient with this punishment. Domestic violence is a major problem in this country and the league had a perfect opportunity to make a statement here. Rice should be sitting out the season. Instead, he will miss only two games and will be right back on the field before the weather has gotten cold. Brutal.
To make matters worse, professional loudmouth Stephen A. Smith made an ass of himself yet again on ESPN’s First Take on Friday. Smith seemed to be trying to bash Rice for his actions, but it somehow turned into a lecture to women about being careful not to provoke men into beating them. Seriously. Smith has since been ripped up and down by virtually everyone, and he issued the standard apology on the show Monday morning.
“Any party that can respond to the fact of yawning economic inequality in the 21st Century by blaming the 99 percent for not working hard enough has put ideology before reality. Any party that even now thinks slashing taxes below their current historically low levels will cure our economic ills is utterly delusional. Any party that is unconcerned with the social dangers of an economic system that increasingly rewards only the very very rich cannot be trusted with government. There has to be a pragmatic element to any conservatism and an ability too adjust to new circumstances and new problems. There are some hopeful signs among reformocons, but the tenor of the discourse remains absurdly doctrinaire, treating Reagan as some kind of god and compromise as the ultimate evil. Over the last decade, the GOP has seemed like a church rather than a political party, with dogma rather than policies, and beset by heresy-hunts rather than genuine debate.”—Why Am I Moving Left?
“There was another swath of the country, Nixon’s silent majority, that was just as bewildered about what America had become. In the wake of the civil rights movement and sexual revolution, this group turned away from mainline churches and moderate politics in search of a more unambiguous set of moral truths.”—‘The Invisible Bridge,’ by Rick Perlstein
“Today only a tiny minority of outsiders see Israelis as victims. The true victims, it is now widely accepted, are the Palestinians. Indeed, Palestinians have now displaced Jews as the emblematic persecuted minority: vulnerable, humiliated and stateless. This unsought distinction does little to advance the Palestinian case any more than it ever helped Jews, but it has redefined Israel forever. It has become commonplace to compare Israel at best to an occupying colonizer, at worst to the South Africa of race laws and Bantustans. In this capacity Israel elicits scant sympathy even when its own citizens suffer: Dead Israelis - like the occasional assassinated white South African in the apartheid era, or British colonists hacked to death by native insurgents - are typically perceived abroad not as the victims of terrorism but as the collateral damage of their own government’s mistaken policies.”—The country that wouldn’t grow up
“The Gaza war, you see, is not a war over tunnels. It’s not even a war in defense of Israel. It’s a war about…war, a war in defense of just war. Once upon a time, crackpots thought they were fighting a war to end all wars. That was its justice. Now they’re fighting a war in order to make just war possible. That is its justice. The theory of just war is supposed to impose limits upon the launching and fighting of wars. It’s a condition of, a constraint upon, war. But here it becomes the end—both the aim and the justification—of war. Because that is the aim of Israel’s war, “civilians cannot be used” to make such a war “impossible.” They must instead be used to make it possible.”—The Higher Sociopathy
Economic inequality has worsened significantly in the United States and some other countries. The richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Oxfam estimates that the richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity.
Inequality in America is destabilizing… …Inequality causes problems by creating fissures in societies, leaving those at the bottom feeling marginalized or disenfranchised.
Disparities reflect not just the invisible hand of the market but also manipulation of markets. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote a terrific book two years ago, “The Price of Inequality,” which is a shorter and easier read than Piketty’s book. In it, he notes: “Much of America’s inequality is the result of market distortions, with incentives directed not at creating new wealth but at taking it from others.”
Inequality doesn’t necessarily even benefit the rich as much as we think. At some point, extra incomes don’t go to sate desires but to attempt to buy status through “positional goods” — like the hottest car on the block.
Progressives probably talk too much about “inequality” and not enough about “opportunity.” Some voters are turned off by tirades about inequality because they say it connotes envy of the rich; there is more consensus on bringing everyone to the same starting line. Unfortunately, equal opportunity is now a mirage. Indeed, researchers find that there is less economic mobility in America than in class-conscious Europe.
“…there’s a real scarcity of economists willing to think about the possibility that abundance makes markets obsolete altogether. Property rights may be a way of allocating resources when there aren’t enough of them to go around, but when automation replaces labor altogether and there’s lots of everything, do we still need it? I don’t know, but I think the unwillingness of economists and thinkers to even contemplate it tells us that we’re arguing about what kind of railroad rules we should have once there are automobiles everywhere.”—When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?
But wouldn’t it be even more amenable to conservative principles to eliminate government interference altogether, whether federal or state? Couldn’t Uncle Sam simply write checks directly to everyone? After all, aren’t we the people best equipped to make decisions about how to use our money?
These are arguments for what’s known as a universal basic income — a check that everyone, regardless of income, would receive from the federal government on a regular basis. Economist Milton Friedman, a pioneer of contemporary conservatism, was probably the best-known proponent of the idea, which has recently been implemented with good results so far in Brazil. Instead of filtering through layers of bureaucracy and charitable groups, the money goes directly to the people who have the most reason to use it well, because it’s theirs.
“I think probably you better ask other Christians! I really don’t know. But, I do go to pretty conservative churches. One time I was visiting a church and the pastor got up and started preaching a sermon about people not being related to apes, and he started talking about this scientist in Montana who discovered red blood cells in dinosaur bones—he didn’t know I was in the audience—and it was my research he was talking about! Unfortunately, he got everything wrong. I just got up and left. I don’t feel that I’m discrediting God with the work I’m doing, I think I am honoring him with the abilities he’s given me.”—Mary Schweitzer
“I go to a church in a denomination that other churches are leaving because they can’t stand the idea of being in the same denomination as churches that are allowed to perform same-sex marriage. The PCUSA has space for both sides, and while the liberal churches are okay with worshipping alongside those who disagree, the conservative churches have no space for that sort of disagreement about fundamental issues like the resurrection. …Oh wait, that was about gay marriage. Never mind. Like I said, it makes me sad.”—Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a Liberal Christian in a Sea of Conservativism
1) The causus-belli, the kidnapping and death of three Israeli teenagers was false. This has now been admitted by Israeli officials. There was never a scrap of proof, only supposition.
2) Bibi said Hamas did it, and started a war based on that, for vengeance.
4) Except that we all know it was just a pretext. Doing it based on a lie just rubs that in.
5) Hamas has been fighting better than last time, inflicting enough Israeli casualties to matter.
6) Israel has been deliberately leveling large parts of Gaza. The damage is much worse than Cast Lead. Most refugees will have no home to go back to.
7) Israel wants truces now, but by and large it’s Hamas who is refusing them.
9) Because the status-quo ante is unacceptable. Gaza was under siege, unable to bring in most goods, food, water and so on and most residents could not leave, even for life-saving medical care.
10) Hamas’s condition for the end of the war is substantially “life the siege”. If the siege is not lifted, the parts of Gaza which have been flattened cannot be rebuilt, because the equipment needed cannot enter Gaza.
11) Israel can inflict as much collective punishment (a war crime) as it likes on the Gazans, but it can’t make Hamas stop fighting, or shooting missiles.
12) Israel also wants, as part of a condition for peace, for Hamas to let it keep hunting down the tunnels. In other words, it wants Hamas to allow Israel to destroy its ability to fight back even a little.
“I think humans will leave earth as computers. What does that mean? People have wondered about immortality for centuries. It’s not as nebulous or unattainable as people imagine. It’s just that the form it will likely come in may be unsatisfactory to those living now. Humans will become immortal by changing the definition of humanity. It starts and ends with moving our brains to the computer.”—Humans Leave Earth as Computers
“[T]he church of Christ is called as the advocate of every victim of the rulers of the age, and that, not because the victim is right, for the church does not know how any are judged in the Word of God, but because the victim is a victim. Advocacy is how the church puts into practice its own experiences of the victory of the Word of God over the power of death, how the church lives in the efficacy of the resurrection amidst the reign of death in this world, how the church expends its life in freedom from both intimidation and enthrallment of death or of any agencies of death, how the church honors the sovereignty of the Word of God in history against the counterclaims of the ruling principalities. This advocacy, in its ecumenical scope as well as its actual specificity, constitutes the church’s political task, but, simultaneously, exemplifies the church’s worship of God, as intercession for anyone in need, and for the need of the whole creation, which exposes and confounds the blasphemy of predatory political authority.”—William Stringfellow
“The loss of America is the narrative that keeps nativism alive, feeds its ambitious political agenda, and attempts to keep the ever creeping demographic reality at bay, that within the next two generations, and here now in California, there will be no white majority. This exceptionalist narrative so carefully constructed and manicured for centuries as will cease to be. The constant steady shout to go back home, the stares, the often mis-spelled signs, the detention facilities are scenarios Latino/a immigrants have faced for over a century and they show no sign of abating. The narrative of the lost land, for some, only goes one way. Losing America after all, is much more important than losing Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. The late 19th century depiction of an America morphing into an octopus, the Colossus of the North, is the shadow of a security state they know all know too well.”—Bullet The Blue Sky—Again: Immigration, Contagion & the Lost Land
“Finally, there is the far right. These are the True Believers: the ones who not only buy into the center-right line, but also the raw Objectivism of Ayn Rand and Fox News that says that the only economic injustice in society is the one being perpetrated by the government itself, taking money from the “deserving” and giving it to the “undeserving.” In this view, the only inequality that matters to them is redistributive taxation to “others” in society. But the far right, being mostly made up of poorer and middle-class voters, does have the saving grace of at least grasping that something is fundamentally broken in the economy, and they’re willing to take drastic measures to fix it. This is the problem: on the center left and center right are mostly well-to-do people who have no personal incentive to alter the status quo. Whether out of genuine belief or raw self-interest, they don’t think that much needs to change, and they believe that things will be back to normal soon. After all, things tend to be going pretty smoothly for them, and there don’t seem to be any pitchforks on the horizon—yet.”—The four basic American reactions to record inequality
“One of the critiques of Just War Theory that happens to be entirely correct is that, in practice, it is nothing but window dressing for war. That is, the existence of this theory and its various proponents does not constrain war actors that much. It just gives them a language with which to justify things they are going to do anyways. When military acts clearly run afoul of the principles, that doesn’t matter. Militaries still do them if they feel it is necessary and in their interests and supposed adherents to Just War Theory find ways to justify them nonetheless.”—Just War Theory is window dressing
“Sarah Palin is returning to her roots in low-budget television–but this time, she’s on the web, the focus is American politics, and she owns the network. The Sarah Palin Channel launched Sunday, asking prospective viewers for 9.95 per month–96 cents more than Netflix–or 99.95 a year. (No word on whether subscribers get money back if Palin decides to stick with the project for only half of that term.) The cost is the same as the web TV channel run by Glenn Beck, a role model for wealthy media figures who hope to monetize the cult of personality they’ve built up by expertly playing to the cultural affinities and anxieties of Red America.”—Sarah Palin’s Low-Budget TV Channel Is Pricier Than Netflix
“Anyone who thinks that lifting a summary of an idea or event, even intentionally, is morally equal to cutting and pasting someone’s original argument or analysis doesn’t understand the nature or the stakes of academic dishonesty.”—Jackson Doughart: The fetish of plagiarism-outing