the Web Editors 5-18-2017

Roger Ailes answers questions during a 2006 panel discussion. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Ailes grew the network to profound influence among right-wing audiences. But many other have found his Fox News growth strategy troubling during a time when use of the term fake news is on the rise. 

FILE PHOTO: Michael Flynn testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on "Worldwide Threats" in Washington February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena on Wednesday demanding documents related to Russia from President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ramping up its monthslong investigation of Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director James Comey waits to speak at the Boston Conference on Cyber Security at Boston College. March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey followed a turbulent year for Comey in which he became embroiled in controversy over his handling of investigations involving both Trump and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Here is a timeline of the events that preceded Comey's firing and Trump's reaction to them.

Pollution, poverty, and war take their toll on our health in ways beyond our control, and yet health care in our nation is still treated as a commodity for those who can afford it, rather than as a right for all. It is unthinkable that our nation can build pipelines that poison clean drinking water but expect citizens to suffer without affordable treatment due to lead exposure. It is unacceptable that some communities are trapped in cycles of poverty through discrimination often born of racism but cannot afford the medicine they need because their money must go to cheap, often less-nutritious food. And while it is unconscionable that our nation spends more on destroying lives abroad than it does on saving lives at home, the damage from war exceeds mere monetary cost. Investing in fighting an enemy abroad fuels enmity and distrust at home, putting undo stress on us and eroding our sense of compassion.

Trump will mark the National Day of Prayer by issuing guidance to federal agencies like the Treasury Department on how to interpret a law that says churches and religious organizations risk losing their tax-exempt status if they participate in political campaigns.

Lucy Hadley 5-01-2017

Photo via Dhanya Addanki/ Sojourners 

Labor unions have organized May 1 marches for more than a century, rallying support for shorter work hours, benefits, and safe working conditions. This year, for the first time, they are explicitly partnering with immigrants’ rights groups for the May 1st action.

Aaron Favilia/AP

Students from the University of the Philippines decry extrajudicial killings during a rally in Quezon City, north of Manila. Photo by Aaron Favilia/AP

Father Benjamin E. Alforque is convener of the church-based Filipino group Rise Up for Life and for Rights. Alforque was interviewed via email in February by Eric Stoner.

Eric Stoner: Was there a tipping point that set Rise Up in motion?

Benjamin Alforque: The tipping point was when the killing of the poor started to include poor farmers and peasants who were leaders of the justice and peace groups and organizations, but who were [falsely] charged with being drug users or pushers.

Are people’s opinions of the drug war and extrajudicial killings changing? Many people thought it was okay to kill drug addicts and pushers. People felt safe that they could leave their homes at night to do their jobs without fear that a drug addict would barge into their huts and small homes, rape women, and kill families just to get money for drugs. They favored immediate execution because, after all, we have no rehabilitation facilities, the jails and prisons are full, and government has no money to spend for their incarceration and rehabilitation. But now, with the extent of the killing of the poor, many are fearful. They fear that they could be the next victim, because the police have a quota of drug-related deaths, and they could be the next one to fill the quota.

Do you see the Catholic Church taking a more active position? On Feb. 18, the church mobilized some 10,000 people to Walk for Life. Bishops have come into the open, telling the president that death is not the answer to the proliferation of drugs and addiction. This show of force by the Catholic Church against extrajudicial killings related to drugs [is also against] the move in Congress, with executive approval, to revive the death penalty.

The church could do more. It can open its facilities and resources for the positive care of drug addicts. In its pastoral program, dioceses, parishes, and church-based institutions could strengthen catechetical approaches and family life ministries to address the real social roots of addiction and other related maladies.

But more important, the church should walk with the poor in their struggle for substantial radical social transformation. She must fully give witness to the Vatican II documents, especially becoming more fully the church of the poor through basic ecclesial communities as agents of transformation. She must strengthen her pastoral program with the poor and not make her identity revolve around the sacraments and the liturgy that are emptied of their original social content for liberation-salvation. If the church lives more fully with the poor, then she can protect the poor while at the same time being a target with them. That is her cross and her martyrdom. There also lies her genuine participation in the resurrection of Jesus.

Where do you find hope? In my sermons I say, “You must rise up together and assert and protect the gains of the resurrection of Jesus, the gains that he has in store for all of us who believe in him!” The mass movement of the poor is where I find hope. They incarnate the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus. They relive the pristine experience of early Christianity in various ways for the event of God’s reign.

People participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, in New York City, U.S. January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco was the latest blow to Trump's efforts to toughen immigration enforcement. Federal courts have also blocked his two travel bans on citizens of mostly Muslim nations.

Eric Stoner 4-25-2017
Freedom II Andres/

Freedom II Andres/

LAST SUMMER, riding the global wave of anti-establishment right-wing populism that would several months later propel Donald Trump into the White House, Rodrigo Duterte took power in the Philippines. He campaigned on the promise that he would launch a brutal war against drugs, criminality, and corruption—like he did as mayor, when he sanctioned death squads that took more than 1,000 lives—and wasted no time implementing his agenda once elected. At the same time, he has deftly made overtures to the political parties on the Left, which has largely quieted their criticism.

As was the case in the 1980s—during the nonviolent People Power movement that toppled Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who ruled the Philippines for more than two decades—this has left civil society, students, and faith-based organizations to lead the charge not only for social, economic, and environmental justice, but also against the rapidly growing number of drug-related killings.

In January, I traveled to the Philippines to better understand Duterte’s rise and to meet with those organizing to stop him. The international news is filled with headlines of the vicious campaign of extrajudicial executions. To explain his commitment to the cause, Duterte has positively compared himself to Adolf Hitler—saying that he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million drug users—and pledged that the drug war will continue for his entire six-year term. To date, since he took office more than 8,000 people, or on average more than 30 a day, have been killed by police and so-called “vigilantes,” whom critics argue are often connected to state security forces.

As the drug-related killings mounted, a new ecumenical network of people of faith—including clergy from the Catholic Church, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church—and groups such as Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), the largest alliance of urban-poor organizations in the country, launched Rise Up for Life and for Rights in October.

California "weed nun" Christine Meeusen, 57, who goes by the name Sister Kate (L), and India Delgado, who goes by the name Sister Eevee, trim hemp in the kitchen at Sisters of the Valley near Merced, California, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Based near the town of Merced in the Central Valley, which produces over half of the fruit, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States, the Sisters of the Valley grow and harvest their own cannabis plants.

the Web Editors 4-21-2017

3. March for ScienceAnd Climate.

This weekend is the March for Science. Next week is the People's Climate March. LISTEN to our audio short, where we have a serious chat with scientists about religion. Then WATCH our video short, where we very non-seriously contemplate whom we might meet at the Climate March.  

Lyndsay West 4-18-2017

Paschal pardon here exemplifies a miscarriage of justice for one of the prisoners. The custom condemns Jesus, whose guilt is dubious. Ultimately, Jesus divinely conquers the unjust system at hand when he walks freely among his disciples in the flesh, three days after he is crucified as a criminal. But the possibility of a triumphant erasure of crime in the U.S. is limited. Constitutionally, the president can offer clemency — or “leniency” — for any federal offense, aside from cases involved with impeachment, by two methods: commute, which lessens the sentence but retains civil restrictions like the loss of the right to vote, or pardon, which eliminates the sentence entirely.

Pope Francis blesses with holy water as he leads the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 9, 2017. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile.

As a matter of policy, popes meet with any head of state who requests an audience, regardless of any differences they have.

Besides being leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the pope is a head of state. Such meetings allow for an exchange of views on world affairs and a chance for the pope to encourage ethical solutions to world problems.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations against Syria in the Mediterranean Sea. Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy

"Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack," President Donald Trump said of Tuesday's chemical weapons strike, which Western countries blame on Assad's forces. "No child of God should ever suffer such horror."

Avery Davis 3-28-2017

The power of the order is found less in its immediate consequences, and more in its trajectory-setting results. While the world is slowly backing away from a crumbling cliff, this executive order represents a shift into drive to send the global climate hurtling toward the ledge.

Stephen Mattson 3-24-2017

The problem for many Christians is that instead of asking themselves, “What would Jesus Do?” they ask, “What does the Bible say is permissible?” At first glance these two questions don’t seem radically different, but the applications are often contradictory to each other.

the Web Editors 3-23-2017
A pumpjack retrieves oil from the group against a sunset background

The State Department is set to approve the Keystone XL pipeline by Monday, Politico reports. The cross-border permit that will allow construction to proceed is set to be signed by Undersecretary for political affairs Tom Shannon just before the end of the 60-day timeline President Donald Trump called for in January.

Jim Wallis 3-17-2017

Overall, states would be forced to absorb $880 billion in Medicaid cuts to prevent the reduction or elimination of Medicaid services, something states are in no position to do according to governors from both parties. The bill would cut almost $900 billion from Medicaid over ten years, mostly to pay for changes that would benefit high-income people and corporations.   

And in a morally shocking move, it is not just the poor, but the older and sicker poor people who will fare the worst under the new law.

the Web Editors 3-16-2017

Image via a katz 

Judge Watson’s ruling came from a lawsuit filed by Hawaii, according to the Guardian. In the case, the state of Hawaii claimed that the ban hurt Hawaii’s tourism industry and negatively affected businesses and universities’ ability to recruit talented individuals from the banned countries. They continued to point out that the ban hurts families bringing up the example of Ismail Elshikh — an imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii — whose Syrian mother-in-law’s visa is still on hold and might not denied with the new restrictions of the ban.

the Web Editors 3-09-2017

The White House and Pruitt have proposed a budget for the EPA that would cut the agency’s budget by $2 billion and eliminate 20 percent of the workforce, including the entire Office of Environmental Justice. In his letter, Ali suggests the budget cuts will specifically harm those most in need of help, saying that the agency’s new leadership hasn't given "any indication that they are focused or interested in helping those vulnerable communities.”