persecuted-in-iraqThe Obama administration is moving to designate the Islamic State’s persecution of the Yazidi in Iraq an act of “genocide.” For the past few years the Yazidi, a tiny religious minority in the Kurdish region of the country, have been forced to flee the killings, rapes, and enslavement by Islamic State (the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS).

There is no doubt that what is happening to the Yazidi should be considered genocide. But what about the Christians who are suffering under Islamic State? According to some reports, Christian groups might not be included.

Nina Shea, a former commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, explains the significance of the exclusion:


Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 16, 2015

9 Things You Should Know About Islamic State
Joe Carter, TGC

Islamic State claimed responsibility today for a series of attacks in Paris yesterday that killed 127 people. In a statement the group said the purpose of the killings was, “To teach France, and all nations following its path, that they will remain at the top of Islamic State’s list of targets, and that the smell of death won’t leave their noses as long as they partake in their crusader campaign.” Here are nine things you should know about this Islamic terrorist group.

What Is Social Justice? Not What You Think It Is
Cherylyn LeBon, Opportunity Lives

A new book by renowned Catholic scholar and Ave Maria University trustee Michael Novak and Paul Adams, emeritus professor of social work at the University of Hawaii, seeks to clarify the true meaning of social justice and to rescue it from those who have co-opted the term.

How the U.S. Scores on a New Index of the Most Charitable Nations
Leah Jessen, The Daily Signal

‘Tis the season to be generous. But throughout the year, warmhearted Americans put the United States near the top of the most giving nations in the world, according to a newly released scorecard.

How upwardly mobile are Hispanic children? Depends how you look at it.
Nathan Joo and Richard V. Reeves , Brookings Institute

So how are the children of one particular group—Hispanic immigrants—doing? The answer to that question hinges on the point of comparison.

The fears of the past resonate in the present, and it’s no wonder humanity sometimes grasps desperately for answers in response to a frightening and unknowable future. Sometimes these answers come to us through literature and film which may allow us to dispense with the worst of them, given enough time.

The Overlords of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End – a classic 1953 science-fiction novel that serves as the basis for a Syfy network miniseries beginning Dec. 14 – turn out to be a very mixed bag for their underling humans. On the one hand, the aliens’ presumed benevolence ushers in a utopian era of peace and prosperity where armed conflict and atomic warfare are effectively abolished, and no person goes hungry or suffers illness long. On the other hand, the Overlords’ munificence generates intellectual sloth and cultural stagnation. To some, abandoning free will and flushing centuries of human accomplishments down the loo poses benefits far outweighing the costs. To others, it means sacrificing all that it really means to be human. Additionally, the Overlord “Supervisor” Karellen issues an edict – similar to the warning given Pandora by Zeus about opening a box – prohibiting humans from exploring space, which places profound limitations on human free-will.

According to Clarke, the trade-off is precursor to the next step of human evolution, rendering corporeal existence and Earth itself moot on the path to attaining a higher plane of being for ensuing generations. Humankind has to persevere, however, through the perils of the Atomic Age first, and the only way to avert a nuclear war is through intervention of the Overlords. However, as Clarke shows us, even the Overlords are devoid of free will after they are eventually revealed as performing the bidding of the next layer of galactic bureaucracy, the Overmind. (more…)

lsofpThe Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge from religious nonprofit groups to federal government’s contraceptive mandate. Here are some answers to questions you may have about that case.

What is this case and what’s it about?

The case the Supreme Court will hear, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, combines seven challenges to the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) contraceptive mandate.

To fulfill the requirements of the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka ObamaCare) the federal government passed a regulation (often called the “HHS Mandate”) that attempts to force groups into providing insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients. Some religious groups, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, objected on the ground that the requirement violates their religious liberty as protected by the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). HHS offered an accommodation which the Little Sisters found to be insufficient.

The Supreme Court will decide, as SCOTUS Blog explains, whether the government has offered nonprofit religious employers a means to comply and whether the whether HHS satisfies RFRA’s test for overriding sincerely held religious objections in circumstances where HHS itself insists that overriding the religious objection will not fulfill HHS’s regulatory objective—namely, the provision of no-cost contraceptives to the objector’s employees.

What was the accommodation and why was it rejected?

Poverty Inc., the new documentary that has grown out of the Acton Institute’s PovertyCure initiative, was awarded Atlas Network’s Templeton Freedom Award at an event last night in New York.

Brad Lips, chief executive of the Washington-based Atlas Network, which administers the award, said the documentary is “without question” worth the attention it is receiving. “Shining a light on an uncomfortable side of charity — where a paternalistic mindset puts the aid industry at the center of efforts to rescue the poor — Poverty, Inc. calls on us to embrace a different mental model,” he said. “The film makes a persuasive case that the most effective solutions to poverty lie in unleashing entrepreneurs to find new, innovative, and efficient ways to meet people’s needs.”

Acton Executive Director Kris Mauren said the award recognizes that the entire business of international development and foreign aid is at a tipping point. “While entrenched interests remain, mounting evidence is causing people of all political stripes to question whether their actions are really helping the poor,” he said. “This is where Poverty, Inc. comes in. Operating under the conviction that thoughtful documentaries change culture, we designed Poverty, Inc. to spearhead a broad reconsideration of poverty that is nonpartisan but pro-market.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 13, 2015

Religious liberty key to refugee crisis, leaders say
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities are essential to resolving the escalating refugee crisis in Syria and other countries, human rights advocates said at a forum in the nation’s capital.

The mysterious creator of bitcoin could be nominated for a Nobel prize in economics
Ian Kar, Quartz

No one knows exactly who Satoshi Nakamoto is (though many have tried to find out). That hasn’t stopped a UCLA finance professor from promising to get the pseudonymous bitcoin creator nominated for the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences—or, as it’s more commonly called, the Nobel prize in economics.

A marriage penalty for the poor
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

Few issues in American politics are more hotly debated than the role of marriage in explaining poverty. Some argue that the decline in marriage is one of the main contributors to poverty and low-income in America. Others argue that economic and structural factors are more important. But whatever side you come down on, it is hard to justify financially penalizing couples with children who choose to marry.

Washington raises pressure on India over U.S. human trafficking visas
Jason Szep, Reuters

The U.S. government is stepping up pressure on India to end a controversial policy of placing restrictions on passports of Indian nationals rescued from forced labor or human trafficking in the United States, a U.S. State Department official said.

Marco Rubio has inspired plenty of chin-stroking over his recent remarks about welders earning more than philosophers.

“We need more welders and less philosophers,” he concluded in a recent debate.

The fact-checkers proceeded to fact-check, with many quickly declaring falsehood (e.g. 1, 2). Yet the series of subsequent quibbles over who actually makes how much continue to side-step the bigger issue. Though the liberal arts are indeed important and ought not be viewed simply in terms of “vocational training,” mainstream American culture is certainly fond of pretending as much.

The individualistic  dream-stoking rhetoric, inflated expectations, and subsequent angst have become all too nightmarish a cliche among my generation, joined by ever-increasing attempts to secure more government goodies to keep the machine humming along. Surely there are many who approach the liberal arts with a healthy perspective, but at the same time, the jokes about the barista going for his third Master’s degree aren’t exactly jokes.

Rather than approaching each individual as a creative person with unique gifts and educational aspirations, we continue to pretend that one vocational or educational track ought to apply to all. At the same time, rather than approaching the so-called “job market” as an ecosystem of creativity and collaboration, filled with countless human needs waiting to be met, we revert to thinking only of ourselves, self-constructing our preferred vocational destinies while we move through the college assembly line. (more…)