extreme-povertyCan the world put an end to extreme poverty within the next 15 years?

That’s the current goal of the World Bank, and its expected that the United Nations will adopt that same target later this year.

In 1990, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals included a target of halving poverty by 2015. That goal was achieved five years early. In 1990, more than one-third (36 percent) of the world’s population lived in abject poverty; by 2010 the number had been cut in half (18 percent). Today, it is 15 percent.

Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day. The new goal is to move almost all the world’s population about that line by 2030. Is that even possible?
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indian surrogatesSupporters of surrogacy tend to believe it is a win-win situation. Someone who desperately wants a child is given the opportunity to be a parent by someone who can have a baby, and is willing to do so either for money or out of benevolence (such as a sister acting as a surrogate for a sibling.) The truth is that the majority of surrogacy cases are ones where money changes hands. And when money changes hands, and the very lives of humans are at stake, things going badly awry.

In India, there is virtually no control over the surrogacy industry, and an industry it is. Gianna Toboni, a reporter for the HBO series Vice, traveled to India to investigate this industry. What she found was a lot of money, Indian women being taken advantage of and human trafficking.

Toboni and her team quickly expose the dark underside of an unregulated and dangerous industry. Women are routinely recruited from slums, made to sign contracts they can’t read, before spending a year living in a facility. Once the baby is born — via cesarean section so that doctors can maximize births per day — the surrogate is sent home, often without the full compensation she was promised.

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British school girls who allegedly joined ISIS in February 2015

British school girls who allegedly joined ISIS in February 2015

In the wild, a lion does not chase down the strong animal at the front of the pack; the lion chooses its prey by doing the least amount of work. The lion picks off the weak, the young, the vulnerable.

ISIS and human traffickers are animals, and they choose their prey accordingly. They seek out the vulnerable, the lonely, the searching. The internet is a fine hunting ground. There have been several stories of late of teen girls being lured from home to join ISIS (see here and here, for instance.)

A British journalist, posing as a teen girl, found out just how easily ISIS can contact and lure a girl. (more…)

screen_shot_20150330_at_12.32.27_pm.png.CROP.rtstory-large.32.27_pmFormer Oklahoma University student Levi Pettit and his friends did a terrible thing. The frustration and angry at the very racist chant about the lynching of African Americans by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is understandable and justified. However, in light of Levi Pettit’s act of public repentance, our response reveals how we understand a key aspect of Easter. Those who painfully forgive Pettit demonstrate a central pillar of the Passion of Christ whereas those who refuse to forgive Pettit inadvertently render the death and resurrection of Christ meaningless.

Torraine Walker’s op-ed at Huffington Post is a great example of an anti-Easter response to Pettit. Walker says that he is not buying Pettit’s apology. “Why are people of color expected to automatically forgive a racist who hasn’t proven themselves changed? These apologies always feel so fake and inauthentic.” Walker says that Pettit’s response is an example of a “Racial Apology Ritual” because it was manufactured and fake. Walker concludes,
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President Cristina Kirchner and Oliver Stone (Wikimedia Commons/Presidencia de la Nación Argentina)

Earlier this month, Acton and Instituto Acton Argentina hosted a daylong conference exploring the relationship between religious and economic freedom. Scholars from around the world, including Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg, traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to discuss the ways in which Christianity has contributed to building the foundations of freedom. In a new article for the American Spectator, Gregg discusses some issues he observed while visiting the country:

The first thing I noticed while recently lecturing in Argentina was just how much conditions had deteriorated since my last visit in 2010. The center of Buenos Aires is an impressive mixture of Art Deco, Baroque, nineteenth-century Parisian, and colonial styles alongside often surprisingly tasteful modern architecture. Amidst those same streets, however, it’s hard not to observe the increased number of beggars, the people befuddled by drink and drugs, the prostitutes, and the numerous homeless sleeping in doorways and the many elegant parks. Moreover, once you drive a few miles away from Buenos Aires’s center, you quickly encounter shanty towns that are no-go areas for the police.

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Portrait Of Author Mercy Otis WarrenIt is not often that women of the American Revolutionary War era are described as “formidable” and “intellectual,” but Mercy Otis Warren is such a woman. Born to wealthy Cape Cod family in 1728, Warren received no formal education but was tutored by her uncle. In 1754, she married James Warren, who became a Massachusetts state senator.

It was the murder of her brother at the hands of colonial revenue officers that drove Warren to political writings and action. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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What Opposition to Religious Freedom Really Means
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

The public debate over Indiana’s new religious freedom law is (almost) enough to drive this Baptist to drink. The conversation has been the most uninformed and ignorant I’ve seen in years.

D.C. City Council Violates Catholic Schools’ Right To Free Exercise Of Religion
Michael Root, First Things

One might think that the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, would be particularly vigilant in defending the freedoms fundamental to American life. Unfortunately, the District’s City Council has now seen fit to intervene into the life of religious institutions and insist that such institutions handle some topics in ways amenable to the Council’s opinions.

John Wesley and Religious Liberty
Mark Tooley, First Things

Recently a letter by John Wesley revealing his views about law enforcement and religious freedom was tweeted by its owner, the Wesley Hobart Museum of the Uniting Church in Tasmania, Australia.

5 myths about free enterprise
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Free enterprise is under attack. Opponents of the free enterprise system often rely on half-truths and flat-out falsehoods to make their case for bigger government. Here is a handy fact sheet to dispel some of these harmful myths and help defend a system that promotes prosperity, innovation and happiness.

Writing for The Federalist blog last week, American Energy Alliance Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dan Ziegler remarked:

The environment isn’t getting worse—it’s rapidly improving, even as our economy grows and our energy use increases. The EPA recently released new data on air quality showing that total emissions of the six major air pollutants have dropped by 68 percent since 1970. This is all the more impressive considering that during this same period, America’s population has grown by 54 percent, we’re using 44 percent more energy, we’re driving 168 percent more miles in our cars, and our economy has grown by 238 percent.

It goes from impressive to astounding when you consider that natural gas, coal, and oil have driven this growth. Technological innovations have made obtaining these energy sources smarter, safer, and more efficient than ever before.

In other words, we don’t have to wreck our economy to save the planet—an important realization which casts the green lobby’s preferred policies in a new light. There’s also the very real possibility that such policies would provide very little environmental benefit and even harm the environment. [Emphasis in original]

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On Friday Afternoon, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined host Sheila Liaugminas on Relevant Radio’s A Closer Look to discuss his recent article at the Public Discourse entitled God, Reason, and Our Civilizational Crisis. They discuss how differences between how societies view the divine will often cause tension and conflict between, and even within, cultures. The full interview is available via the audio player below.

cc-twitterThere is something about Indiana’s new religious freedom protection law that is causing otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds. As Elise Hilton pointed out earlier today, everyone from presumptive presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton) to corporate CEOS (Apple’s Tim Cook) to your ill-informed friends on social media have been claiming the law allows discrimination against homosexuals. It does not. (In most parts of the country, discrimination based on sexual orientation is legal—and always has been.)

Elise produced a helpful explainer with links to several articles that explain the reality of this legislation. But because there is so much disinformation, we need as much correction as possible. Here then are seven more articles you should read to get up to speed on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

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