Kendrick Lamar Releases Surprise New Album

Christian Bertrand /
Photo via Christian Bertrand /

Fresh off winning five Grammy awards for his album To Pimp a Butterfly, rapper Kendrick Lamar released eight new tracks on March 4 under the project name untitled unmastered.

These new tracks continue Kendrick's tradition of talking faith and politics, including his relationship with God. For example, a lyric from untitled 05 reads: "Why you want to see a good man with a broken heart?/Once upon a time I used to go to church and talk to God/Now I'm thinking to myself hollow tips is all I got."

Chick-fil-A Draws Crowds (Not Just for the Waffle Fries)

It could get pretty crowded at Chick-fil-A this week — and not because of the fast-food restaurant's famous waffle fries. 

Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to appear at Chick-fil-A locations nationwide after the company's president strongly denounced same-sex relationships.

The restaurant chain with Christian roots — “closed Sunday,” it proudly proclaims — is run by owners with conservative values. Now company President and CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a nationwide food fight by saying he is "guilty as charged" for supporting traditional marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives," Cathy told the Biblical Recorder newspaper. The article was reprinted by Baptist Press on July 16.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spearheaded “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’’ and, as of Tuesday, more than 500,000 people had pledged on its Facebook page to show up or give support to the restaurant via social media on Wednesday. [Editor's Note: As of 9:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, 853,482 people had said they were "attending" or "maybe attending" Huckabee's event at the fast-food chain.)

Mission Creep

On Jan. 25, 2011, Jacob Flowers left work early to get to a meeting. The organization where Flowers serves as executive director, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, has been involved in community organizing since 1982. Although not officially affiliated with any religious body, the Center works closely with the faith community and is housed in a large building owned by First Congregational Church, a United Church of Christ community in Memphis.

While a snowstorm swirled outside, Mid-South’s organizing director, Brad Watkins, presided over an afternoon workshop in which anyone who was interested could come in and complete Freedom of Information Act requests about FBI surveillance. Activists decided that a FOIA-themed workshop would be a good way to stand in solidarity with anti-war and pro-Palestinian activists in the Midwest whose homes had been raided by the FBI the year before. Since the workshop attracted only a modest crowd of peace activists, nothing could have been more alarming than the arrival of three unexpected guests—black-clad agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“We suspected that they found a way to get into the building,” Flowers recalled in an interview, “because normally the building is locked up pretty tight.” The FBI agents explained that they were there to warn the owners of the property of an impending protest. Watkins informed them that it was a workshop, not a protest, and that they were currently looking at the people responsible for organizing it. As soon as Watkins began asking if they were trying to harass citizens concerned about FBI repression, the agents quickly left.

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Police Evict Occupy London Protesters from St. Paul's Cathedral

Photo by Anky /
Photo by Anky /

LONDON — Police on Tuesday evicted scores of demonstrators from a makeshift tent city they had erected outside historic St. Paul's Cathedral more than four months ago as part of a global protest against capitalism.

After brief skirmishes in the operation that authorities launched before dawn, 20 protesters were arrested but most reacted largely peacefully as they were moved out.

Police dumped an estimated 150 tents and equipment into waiting garbage trucks. By midday, the former campsite was cleared and the last of its occupiers were leaving.

Egypt: The Revolution One Year On

Tahrir Square, November 2011. Image via Wiki Commons.
Tahrir Square, November 2011. Image via Wiki Commons

Today is one year to the day since protestors massed in Cairo's now-legendary Tahrir Square. Inspired by events in nearby Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians called on their leader, Hosni Mubarak, to step aside and allow democratic reform to take place. The country, the city, the square, were (and remain) icons for what has become known as the Arab Spring.

The protests that began a year ago brought down a government that for too long had failed to care for its citizens in a manner that was good, decent and just. But in the time since, Egypt has walked a difficult path. How are Egyptians marking this poignant anniversary, how do they feel about the changes that have occurred, and what are their hopes for the years to come?

Here’s a round-up of some of the best insights into these questions from around the world:

They're Baaaa-aaack: OWS Protesters Return to Zucotti Park

 The Occupiers have returned to Zucotti Park!

The barricades that have kept them out since the park was cleared November 15 are gone and steady streams of protestors are returning to their adopted home.

It remains to be seen whether the camp will be allowed to return to its former glory, or whether the security guards who have been controlling entry to the plaza will keep the returning protestors on a tight leash. According to The Associated Press

One security guard told a group of protesters: "No sleeping bags allowed, either, OK, folks?"

Too Much Talk?

BY THE TIME you read this, the Occupy Wall Street campaign may have fizzled or frozen, but even so it stands as the most significant truly grassroots, outside-the-system political eruption since the Great Crash of September 2008.

Some pundits have been calling Occupy Wall Street the tea party of the Left. But that’s not fair to the Occupiers. The tea party never mustered this many people for such a sustained effort, and the tea party has never been a truly independent, grassroots movement, not with former member of Congress and Big Pharma lobbyist Richard Armey pulling strings from the beginning.

The closest the Occupy movement has come to “establishment” support has been some help from organized labor. But the unions aren’t really a significant part of America’s power structure anymore, and the fact that they were willing to help the Occupiers shows they’ve finally begun to realize that. In fact, the leaderless DIY movement in Lower Manhattan has done something the labor movement should have pulled off years ago—a mass confrontation with the plutocrats who are steering the economy toward greater deindustrialization and inequality.

The unions are famously in decline, but they still have more than 14 million dues-paying members, and that dwarfs every other social force in the U.S. The Occupy Wall Street website proclaims the movement’s kinship with the revolutionary tactics of the Arab Spring. But the Occupy movement lacks the organic connection to the mainstream population that animated the streets of Egypt in February 2011. However, if the unions ever mobilized even 10 percent of their membership for an “occupation” of the seats of power, we really would have our own Tahrir Square.

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The Year of the Protester

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2011: The Protester
TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2011: The Protester

I love seeing who is chosen as TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year.

But sometimes TIME's honoree is not just a “Person.” Sometimes it’s “Persons” or even a thing.

Sometimes it’s the biggest news story of the year. Sometimes it encapsulates the zeitgeist,  global urgings, or our collective mood.

This time around, it’s all of those things: A person, a group, a zeitgeist, a news story.

According to TIME, 2011 is the year of “The Protester.”