The Common Good

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Evangelicals, Muslims Seek to Shape Common Values in Post-Revolution Egypt

Christianity Today reports:

17 Coptic evangelical leaders met with five Muslim Brotherhood counterparts at the Brotherhood's headquarters on February 28, and crafted a joint statement of common values that both sides agree the new Egyptian constitution and government should uphold. Evangelicals comprise a minority of Egyptian Christians, almost 90 percent of whom are Coptic Orthodox.

Read more about this story here

 

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Senator Calls Seniors Concerned About Social Security Cuts 'Greedy Geezers'

If there’s a contest for the title “greedy geezer,” a Social Security recipient living on $14K/year probably isn’t in the top ten…

"…former Sen. Alan Simpson recently referred to a group of seniors concerned about cuts to Social Security as “greedy geezers.” While Simpson characterizes retirees who receive an average annual Social Security benefit of $14,000 as “greedy,” a new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that simply raising or eliminating the Social Security payroll tax cap would only affect a tiny percentage of workers – the wealthiest in our nation -- while strengthening Social Security. …"

"[Currently,] a worker who makes twice the Social Security wage cap – $220,200 per year – pays Social Security tax on only half of his or her earnings, and one who makes just over 1.1 million dollars per year pays the tax on only about a tenth."

Read full report HERE.

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Banning Atheists from Public Office

A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:

There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.

And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.

The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.

In Tennessee for example,

"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court." 

There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:

People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!

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Money Unlimited

A good history in The New Yorker of attempts at regulating campaign finance leading to the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court and how Chief Justice Roberts orchestrated the decision:

"The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents."

Last evening, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who led the dissent in the case, commented on it in a speech at the University of Arkansas.  Asking why those with the most money are permitted to dominate the airwaves, he said:

"During the televised debates among the Republican candidates for the presidency, the moderators made an effort to allow each speaker an equal opportunity to express his or her views. Both the candidates and the audience would surely have thought the value of the debate to have suffered if the moderator had allocated the time on the basis of the speakers' wealth, or it they had held an auction allowing the most time to the highest bidder."

Yet thanks to the Court, that is essentially what we have in this election.   

+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Is Income Inequality to Blame for the Faltering Economic Recovery?

In a thought-provoking piece for Al Jazeera, Yale lecturer John Stoehr writes:

According to a study by the Center for American Progress, there is a striking correlation between the decline of infrastructure and the rise of inequality over the past four decades. In other words, the more money going to the top income earners, the more the rest of us deal with potholes, decrepit bridges, rusting rail cars and the rest.

Read the full piece here

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Unwelcome Milestone for Earth's Climate

From The Associated Press:

The world's air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere.

Learn more here

 

+Leave a Comment | Creation Care

When Is Military Intervention The Right Option?

In an opinion piece for Bloomberg ViewMichael Kinsley writes:

As demand starts to build on President Barack Obama to “do something” about the deteriorating situation in Syria, let’s review where the U.S. and its citizens stand on the general question of using military force abroad. On this issue, Americans are divided in strange ways. It’s no longer a matter of hawks and doves. There are liberal hawks and conservative doves as well as conservative hawks and liberal doves.

Read his full piece here

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Report: U.S. Failing to Tackle Child Poverty

From Think Progress

According to a new report from the Office of Research at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. Of the 35 wealthy countries studied by UNICEF, only Romania has a child poverty rate higher than the 23 percent rate in the U.S.

Read more here

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Top U.S. official: progress being made in hunt for Joseph Kony

Julian Pecquet reports for The Hill:

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he was “encouraged” by the progress being made and “heartened” by U.S. development investments in LRA-affected communities in northern Uganda. Coons is the sponsor of a bipartisan resolution condemning the crimes against humanity committed by the LRA and supporting ongoing U.S. and regional efforts to capture or kill Kony.

Learn more here
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Legal Action Brings Tennessee Mosque Construction to Standstill

CNN reports:

The long-running battle between a Tennessee Muslim community and its critics over a new mosque took a dramatic turn when a judge ruled that construction had to halt. 

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has existed for more than a decade, but the fight erupted in May 2010, when planning commissioners approved the center's plans to build a 52,960-square-foot building for a new mosque on Veals Road.

The backlash was stinging and included intimidation, lawsuits and an August 2010 fire that destroyed construction equipment and damaged vehicles at the construction site for the mosque. Police said it was arson.
 
A sign announcing the mosque was spray-painted with the words "Not Welcome."
 
Read the full story here
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