Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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Why can’t Muslims laugh at Mohammed?
David P. Goldman, Asia Times

Why do Jews as well as Christians–but not Muslims–laugh at jokes about the founders of their faiths?

The Pontifical Spin Cycle
George Weigel, National Review

The Battle of the Blogs over papal environmentalism.

Nuns Intercede for Victims of Sex Trafficking in Italy
Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times

In cooperation with social workers, local institutions, and embassies, the nuns assist the women in getting new documents, necessary for a new start.

A conservative anti-poverty agenda: Criminal justice reform
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

America’s criminal justice system entrenches far too many people in poverty. And the fact that this system so disproportionately incarcerates black men is the disgusting icing on an awful cake.

41Qav5dx8bLThings aren’t looking good for millennials. Tied up in the “American dream” is an assumption that you’ll do better than your parents, but those of us between the ages of 18 and 34 are predicted to be the first generation to actually do worse financially. Time Magazine recently boiled down some depressing figures from a U.S. Census Bureau report. According to the article, “millennials are worse off than the same age group in 1980, 1990 and 2000″ when looking at median income, leaving home, employment, and poverty.

In Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying America’s Young, Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer systematically explain how current policies and laws are hurting the youngest workers. This book isn’t simply a rant against the baby boomers and Washington, instead it is a carefully thought-out, heavily researched examination of the concerns that millennials face and what can be done to eliminate these issues. One of my favorite quotes from the book summarizes the theme: “Time and time again, Washington has shown its unwillingness to tackle the main moral and economic issues facing the nation. The longer our leaders delay, the harder it will be to undo the damage wrought by economic policies that are betraying America’s young.”

Disinherited is broken down into four parts: “Stealing from the Young to Enrich the Old,” “Keeping Young People Uneducated,” “Regulations that Cripple the Young,” and “Where To from Here?” The chapters are a healthy mix of stats and figures, charts, and anecdotal evidence. For example, a chapter on problems in primary and secondary education, while it backs up points with numbers, offers a lot more anecdotal evidence and interviews with specific individuals than some other chapters. I prefer more of this evidence, but more numbers-oriented people will certainly be satisfied as well. (more…)

tosUpdate (May 10, 2015): JPay has provided the following statement: 

In response to your article, How a Terms-of-Service Agreement Can Land You in Solitary Confinement, JPay has removed that language from our Terms of Service and made the below statement.

“It has recently come to our attention that there is language in our Terms of Service that impacts our customers and their families. The language states that JPay owns all content transmitted through our Email, VideoGram and Video Visitation services. Our intention was never to take ownership and profit in any way from our customers’ content. That is not and has never been JPay’s business and we have removed this language from our Terms of Service.  From its inception, JPay has pledged to make our customers our top priority and we will continually strive to meet this pledge as best and as quickly as we can.”

For just about every service you use online, like Facebook or iTunes, you have to agree to a company’s “terms-of-service” (TOS) agreement. Most of us don’t bother to read the TOS; we merely click the “I Agree” button and get on with our lives. We aren’t likely to suffer any negative ramifications from our failure to read the fine print.

The same can’t be said, though, for the users of JPay, a company that provides digital communications systems to corrections facilities in at least 19 states. As their website says, JPay offers a variety of services for inmates and their families: “Send money to your loved one in state prison. Email your cousin in county jail. Chat with a friend using video visitation or give the gift of music with the JP4® player.”

But there’s a catch. Buried in JPay’s lengthy TOS is this clause:

You … acknowledge that JPay owns all of the content, including any text, data, information, images, or other material, that you transmit through the Service.

As Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, this means:
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nepal earthquakeNepal has a human trafficking issue. With an open border between Nepal and India, traffickers openly move people between the two countries with promises of work. Nepalese women are trafficked to China for sex work. With the recent massive earthquake, the Nepalese who have been displaced now face the threat of trafficking.

Tens of thousands of young women from regions devastated by the earthquake in Nepal are being targeted by human traffickers supplying a network of brothels across south Asia, campaigners in Kathmandu and affected areas say.

The 7.8-magnitude quake, which killed more than 7,000 people, has devastated poor rural communities, with hundreds of thousands losing their homes and possessions. Girls and young women in these communities have long been targeted by traffickers, who abduct them and force them into sex work.

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factory-workers1When faced with work that feels more like drudgery and toil than collaborative creative service, we are often encouraged to inject our situation with meaning, rather than recognize the inherent value and purpose in the work itself.

In Economic Shalom, Acton’s Reformed primer on faith, work, and economics, John Bolt reminds us that, when enduring through these seasons, we mustn’t get too concerned about temporal circumstances or humanistic notions of meaning and destiny. “As we contemplate our calling, we will not simply consider the current job market,” he writes, “but ask ourselves first-order questions about who we are, why we are here, how God has gifted us, and how we can best serve his purposes.”

This involves reexamining what our work actually is and who it ultimately serves. But it also involves fully understanding God’s design for humanity in the broader created order. As we harness the gifts and resources that God has given us, it is crucial that we understand the source and aims of our toil, and the obligation and responsibility that comes with our authority. (more…)

RFAOn this week’s edition of Radio Free Acton, we talk with Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner and the American Enterprise Institute about whether or not Big Business is good for economic freedom. Spoiler alert: it’s problematic.

We also talk with Michael Van Beek of the Mackinac Center, our co-sponsors for Carney’s recent lecture at Acton’s Mark Murray Auditorium, and find out a bit about what our fellow Michigan think-tankers are up to over at their headquarters in Midland.

Listen via the audio player below:

nigerian-rescueDuring the night of April 16, 2014, dozens of armed men from the jihadist group Boko Haram captured over 300 Christian girls aged 12 to 15 who were sleeping in dormitories at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria.

Some of the kidnapped girls have been forced into “marriage” with their Boko Haram abductors, sold for a nominal bride price of $12, according to parents who talked with villagers. All of the girls risked being forced into marriages or sold in the global market for human slaves.

The kidnappings were the focus of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ social media campaign that garnered much attention last year. What has received considerably less attention is the rescue of many of the women that had been kidnapped by the terrorist group.

Nigeria’s military said it has freed nearly 700 Boko Haram captives in the past week (though it’s still unclear how many—if any—of the “Chibok girls” were rescued). Many of the woman have begun to share stories about their horrific ordeal.

A woman named Musa was rescued from forced marriage to one of her husband’s killers:
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greece for saleGreece has had to deal with a very uncertain economic outlook over the past decade or so, but now it’s getting downright ugly. Greece owes over $1 billion this month in debt repayments, along with pensions, government salaries and other obligations. They likely don’t have the money.

The rapidly deteriorating Greek economy makes its already daunting debt pile even harder to manage, a key point of contention between Athens and its lenders. The [European Commission’s] latest forecast reckons that Greece’s debt will reach a whopping 180% of GDP this year, much higher than expected in recent months. Greece’s most recent bailout agreement called for its debt-to-GDP ratio to fall to 110% by 2022, which looks nearly impossible without some sort of restructuring, write-down, or default.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
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New York City Underreported School Violence to State, Audit Shows
Kate Taylor, New York Times

A review of violent episodes at 10 public schools in New York City found that the Education Department failed to report nearly a third of the cases to the state, as required, according to an audit the state comptroller released on Wednesday.

Pence, GOP leaders get pastors’ ‘rebuke’ for RFRA fix
Robert King, Indianapolis Star

A pastor who stood behind Gov. Mike Pence last month when he signed the “religious freedom” bill stood in the heart of the Statehouse on Monday and publicly rebuked Pence for the “betrayal” of signing the “fix” that quelled the national backlash.

The Wild Ideas of Social Conservatives
Ross Douthat, New York Times

[T]he basic social conservative analysis has turned out to have more predictive power than my rigorously empirical liberal friends are inclined to admit.

A conservative anti-poverty agenda: Strengthening the family
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

Conservatives tend to prefer an indirect approach to fighting poverty. That means we don’t have to have big government “anti-poverty programs” with “anti-poverty” branding in order to effectively fight poverty.

FosterParentImageSome of the earliest documentation of children being cared for in foster homes can be found in the Old Testament and in the Talmud, notes the National Foster Care Parent Association (NFPA). And early Christian church records also show children were boarded with “worthy widows” who were paid by collections from the congregation.

The modern foster care movement also has roots in religious-based charity. In the mid-1850s, the work of Charles Loring Brace, a minister and director of the New York Children’s Aid Society, became the foundation for the foster care movement as it exists today.

As a result of the New York Children’s Aid Society’s placements sectarian social agencies and state governments became involved in foster home placements. But once the state became involved, the values of government bureaucrats began to trump religious convictions in determining what was best for children.

A prime example is new laws and regulations regarding gender identity and sexual orientation that conflicts with the values of religious foster parents. In The Weekly Standard, Jeryl Bier explains how the federal Department of Health and Human Services is weighing in and requiring “affirmation”:
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