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Quick Read: Social. Justice. News.

Poll: No End in Sight for Economic Woes, High Unemployment

The Associated Press reports:

"A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent — the upper bounds of what's considered healthy — for at least four more years. If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

The election isn't going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate — that's for sure," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won't drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
 
Economists consider a "normal" level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
 
The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced."
 
Learn more here

 

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DRONE WATCH: Expanding Drone Surveillance in Afghanistan

Bloomberg reports:

"The Pentagon is seeking congressional approval to shift as much as $641 million in funding for intelligence and surveillance to priorities such as expanding Afghanistan operations of a Boeing Co. (BA) drone for Navy commandos.

The request for the 'reprogramming' of previously approved military intelligence funds was submitted [Monday] to the four congressional defense committees in a 20-page document."

 

Specific funding requests include:

“The $94.2 million sought for the ScanEagle drones made by Chicago-based Boeing would provide more ground stations. Six sites operated by contractors in Iraq would be moved to Afghanistan and ground stations operated by Navy SEALs would be doubled to eight from four.”  Also requested is “"$2.6 million to purchase hardware and software for an intelligence-gathering and dissemination system the U.S. Africa Command can use to share data with partner nations."

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Anger at Banks Didn't Result in Action

Writing for Time, Martha White notes:

"Anger against mega-banks brewed for most of last year, coming to a head with the Occupy Wall Street protests and fueled by banks’ unpopular (and short-lived) efforts to charge people for using their debit cards. People claimed they’d vote with their feet and switch to a smaller bank or a credit union, prompted by movements like the Facebook-driven Bank Transfer Day. But then a funny thing happened: Most people didn’t wind up switching banks after all."
 
Read the full article here
 
 
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The Women of Post-Gaddafi Libya

For The Daily Beast, Jamie Dettmer writes:

"At times there are two competing realities in post-Gaddafi Libya. For most ordinary Libyan women, there’s domestic drudgery and subordination to their men. For the more educated, drawn from higher ranks and involved in newly minted nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), there’s hope of change and greater opportunities.

The two realities seldom meet. As Libyans head to the polls this weekend to vote in their first national elections in nearly 50 years, there are two fundamental questions to ask about the prospects for women in post-Gaddafi Libya. Will those two realities ever start overlapping? And will the space that elite women have opened up since Gaddafi’s fall be reduced?"

Read his full article here

 

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The Recession's Legacy

Writing for The Huffington Post, Dr. Peggy Drexler argues:

"This prolonged downturn will end. They always do. People will find their way back to confidence. But especially for those growing up under the weight of its fearsome uncertainties, it will be with us for generations to come."

Read more here
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"God Particle" Discovered

It may have been buried in the bombastic July Fourth news cycle, but something amazing happened yesterday: scientists in Geneva have found the God particle. The Higgs boson, the elusive, “final puzzle piece” could help complete our understanding of physics and supposedly explains why objects have mass.

And just cause scientists are really good at keeping people’s heartbeats low, let’s make sure we say they didn’t find it, but they “observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson” and are more than 99-percent certain that it is what they think it is.

Why is this a big deal?

It just is. If nothing else, it opens another conversation with scientists, Christians, and anyone who has ever wondered “why are we here?”

New particles don’t get found every day, you know? Link ahead to someone who knows a WHOLE lot more about this than we do. Here’s The Wall Street Journal’s take.

And for your amusement, a pretty infographic: Are you there, God? It’s us, scientists. 

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Former Barclays CEO Feels 'Responsible,' Not 'Culpable'

The WSJ is reporting today on the testimony of Robert Diamond, the recently resigned CEO of Barclay’s before the British Parliament:

"A day after abruptly resigning amid a mushrooming scandal over interest-rate manipulation, former Barclays PLC chief Robert Diamond on Wednesday was assailed by British lawmakers for the bank's actions, in a preview of the scrutiny likely to lie ahead for other big lenders that are under investigation."

What caught my eye in particular, was the WSJ choice of a pull quote from Diamond’s testimony on the front page:

"I don’t feel personal culpability. What I do feel is a strong sense of responsibility."

In other words, he feels that he is somehow accountable for the wrongdoing in his organization but he also does not deserve blame or consequences for what has been done. To see the tenuous nature of his logic you just need to invert the situation.

If Barclays was having a year of record profits would there be any set of possible circumstances in which he would forgo his bonus by saying that while he was responsible for the growth he did not deserve the rewards? If not, why would we buy the argument that while he is ultimately responsible for the company’s wrongdoings he does not deserve the blame and resulting consequences?

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Does a President's Faith Make Any Difference in How He Governs?

CNN.com's John Blake reports:

We elect a president every four years, but perhaps we also elect a high priest.  Ever since George Washington spontaneously added “so help me God” to his inaugural oath, Americans have expected their presidents to believe in, worship and publicly invoke God....

History suggests, however, that piety and presidential performance don’t always match. Some of America’s most religious presidents have been its most brutal. And two of its greatest presidents wouldn’t even be considered Christians today, scholars say.

Consider Abraham Lincoln, who is widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s three greatest presidents, along with Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But Lincoln, who never joined a church, was not a Christian, says Niels C. Nielsen, author of God in the Obama Era.

“Lincoln believed in an active God, he believed in providence. But if you asked Lincoln if he believed in the deity of Jesus, he would have said no,” Nielsen says.

Or look at Roosevelt, who is virtually a national saint. With his perpetual grin and a cigarette holder perched jauntily in his mouth, he guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. His legacy is built on his New Deal, an array of programs that protected the poor and elderly from the abuses of unrestrained capitalism.

But Roosevelt was no saint in his personal life. He rarely talked publicly about his Episcopal faith, preferred golf over church (before he was stricken by polio), and likely cheated on his wife, scholars say.

Read Blake's report — which also examines the faith of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson and Barack Obama — HERE.

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Introducing Quick Read: Social. Justice. News.

It’s July 5 and we’ve got a little gift for you all.

The Sojourners office is only occupied today by a motley crew of staff who fall into two categories: those who were smart enough to not end up with any medical emergencies due to improper use of home fireworks, and those of us who weren’t smart enough to use the July 4th holiday as an opportunity for a five-day weekend. But, with this small, slightly dim group with highly refined survival instincts, we are still ready to bring you some great content.

We work hard every day to make sure our God's Politics blog brings you news and commentary on issues important to Christians who care about social justice. Still, it always seems like there is way more going on all day, every day than one person can ever keep up with.

For all of you who are unlucky enough to be chained to a computer, Blackberry (does anyone still use these?) smart-phone or are otherwise more electronically connected then you would like to be—we’ve got a special treat: our newest blog, “Quick Read: Social. Justice. News."

This is the place to go for quick information and short takes on the day's news. If it's important to Christians who care about economic justice, immigration, faith and politics, peace and nonviolence, and creation care, it should be on this blog.  

Our editors are constantly scouring the web to bring you great content, but it's impossible to grab it all. That’s where we need your help. Maybe it’s an article, factoid, story, video, or infographic that needs to be seen, heard and spread—send it our way. As the marketing campaign progenitors of neighborly distrust in the name of homeland security like to say—if you see something, say something.

We want to know what else you're reading, seeing and thinking about so that we can share it!

Visit the “Quick Read” blog and let us know what you think!

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DRONE WATCH: Methodist Church in Britain Opposes Use of Drones

The Methodist Church in Britain has agreed to ask that the U.K. government urge the U.S. to stop using drones in killing suspected terrorists. One concern expressed by church leaders was that increased reliance on unmanned weapons could make military interventions easier. On other concerns,

"A working group of policy experts submitted a report to the Methodist Conference highlighting moral concerns surrounding the use of drones, recognising that armed unmanned aircraft has the potential to transform the use of air power in conflict and counter-insurgency. 

Steve Hucklesby, a Methodist policy adviser and member of the working group, said: "If there is a legitimate use for this technology we need a much clearer idea of the boundaries for its use.  Terrorists function outside the law. It is vitally important that the UK and its allies do not do so as well. The targeted killings carried out by the CIA in northern Pakistan demonstrate only too clearly the ethical challenges that will face us as this technology proliferates more widely."

Following the Methodist action, The United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain voiced their support for the Conference's decision.

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