You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 06.

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Christian Chaplain Fired for Preaching Compassion and Love Over Violence of American Sniper

March 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

What would Jesus do?

On February 10th, MidAmerica Nazarene University's  (MNU) chaplain Randy Beckum gave his morning sermon, which wasn't unusual – it was his job. But what was different that day was the response to the sermon – as one student paper put it, the sermon sparked an “outcry” and a torrent of criticism particularly on social media. The criticism ranged from complaints that Beckum had politicized his sermons to the idea that he had insulted Christians who served in the military.

What was this controversial sermon that Beckum gave? Here's the full text and below you'll find an embedded video of the sermon:

Beckum's sermon that day was about America's addiction to violence, citing the film “American Sniper” as a symptom of that, and how this was problematic for Christianity, a religion founded on the ideals of nonviolence. Here's an excerpt:

As you know two movies came out recently. Selma, the story of one of the 20th century most influential Christian leaders, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led a non-violent movement that changed the course of American History forever. And American Sniper, the story of the most deadly Navy SEAL sniper in American history. Selma has made 29-30 million so far. American Sniper made over 103 million in the first 4 days. Gives you an idea about who our heroes are. I don’t think it is an under-statement to say that our culture is addicted to violence, guns, war, revenge and retaliation. Unfortunately, so are a lot of Christians.

He went on to say that we have to “be very careful about equating patriotism with Christianity,” and implored his flock to be “controlled by love, compelled by love for everyone.”

Shortly after Beckum's sermon, it was announced that he would no longer be the vice president of the university's Community Foundation. Although the university president claimed Beckum had previously expressed interest in stepping down from that position, his daughter disputes this assertion.

Many in the MNU community are wondering if Beckum was “punished …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Man Faces Life in Prison for Posting a Photo of a Gang Sign to Facebook

March 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

He doesn't even have a criminal record.

Aaron Harvey has no criminal record, but he's facing life in prison for a picture he posted to Facebook. Harvey and 14 other men, including notably the rapper Tiny Doo, are charged with conspiring with gang members.

Harvey and the others flashed gang signs on photos they posted on Facebook, and California has a 2000 conspiracy law that says gang members can be prosecuted if they benefit from crimes that other gang members committed.

Prosecutors claim Tiny Doo saw a boost in sales as a result of gang shootings that took place in 2013 and 2014, but it's unclear what, if any, benefit Harvey gained from simply posting some photos on Facebook.

“They’re saying I benefited because my stature, my respect, went up,” said Harvey. “I didn’t even know I had any stature. I don’t understand how someone can benefit from something they don’t even know exists.”

Harvey's lawyers plan to ask the judge to dismiss the charges during a scheduled March 16th hearing. “This is not the American justice system,” said his lawyer, Edward Kinsey. “We attach personal liability to things. You’re not guilty by mere association or mere membership — it’s just wrong. If they can get away with this, I fear for our future as free citizens.”

h/t Raw Story. 

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Who Authored Obamacare's Exchanges? King v. Burwell and Justice Kagan's Law Clerks

March 6, 2015 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Despite all the media hubbub and intense scrutiny, we didn’t learn all that much from the oral argument in King v. Burwell. The four liberal justices—Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan—clearly believe that an exchange established “for” or “in” a state by the federal government is the same as an exchange “established by the state” (or at least that it’s ambiguous and the tie goes to the IRS). Justices Scalia and Alito—and presumably the silent Thomas—equally believe that words mean what they say.

While Justice Kagan’s chambers may run like a well-oiled machine, Obamacare has been a mess from the very beginning.”

So the case, as expected, turns on the views of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy, who gave very little away. Indeed, I’ve never seen John Roberts so quiet at an oral argument—holding his cards so close that they risk being permanently imprinted on his vest—while Anthony Kennedy was characteristically inscrutable. In other words, 4-3 in the government’s favor with two wild cards.

That’s exactly what everyone knew going into the argument, and 85 minutes later if anyone tried to tell you that they knew what the outcome would be, they were engaging in spin or wishful thinking. To put an even finer point on it: whichever side you thought had the better chance of winning, downgrade your expectations to 50-50.

A Revealing Exchange

But getting beyond the prognostication—which is almost always a futile exercise—there was one exchange that at least illuminated what this case turns on. Not surprisingly, it came in a colloquy between Justices Kagan and Alito (with the petitioners’ counsel, Mike Carvin, acting as the foil). As seasoned court-watchers know, those two justices are the ones to focus on if you want to understand the crux of any matter before the Court. They’re rarely the swing votes, but their questioning is clear, incisive, and to the point.

Here’s Kagan’s initial question:

So I have three clerks, Mr. Carvin. Their names are Will and Elizabeth and Amanda. Okay? So [to] my first clerk, I say, Will, I’d like you to write me a memo. And I say, Elizabeth, I want you to edit Will’s memo once he’s done. And then I say, Amanda, listen, if Will is too busy to write the memo, I want you to write such memo. Now, my question is: If Will is too busy to write the memo and Amanda has to write such memo, should Elizabeth edit the memo?

Carvin stylized this hypothetical a bit, positing that the original plan was to pay Will for a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Women Get Turned On: The Stubborn Myths About Women and Sexual Desire

March 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon

Author Emily Nagoski talks about women’s biggest sexual insecurities and generation porn.

Just a few weeks ago, Sprout Pharmaceuticals submitted flibanserin to the FDA for review. The so-called female desire drug had been rejected twice before, which has led some to charge sexism. Terry O’Neill of the National Organization for Women said of the FDA’s repeated rejections: “I fear that it’s that cultural attitude that men’s sexual health is extremely important, but women’s sexual health is not so important.” But in an Op-Ed recently published in the New York Times, sex educator Emily Nagoski made a different argument: “The biggest problem with the drug — and with the F.D.A.’s consideration of it — is that its backers are attempting to treat something that isn’t a disease.”

She wasn’t just referring to the fact that hypoactive sexual desire was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders two years ago, although that is certainly of note. Nagoski was also pointing to misconceptions about what constitutes normal desire, especially in women. That misconception is that it is necessarily spontaneous, arising like a boner out of the blue. But the truth is that for many women, desire is responsive. First comes kissing or touching, and then comes sexual desire — and that is perfectly normal. “I can’t count the number of women I’ve talked with who assume that because their desire is responsive, rather than spontaneous, they have ‘low desire,’” she wrote in the Times. “That their ability to enjoy sex with their partner is meaningless if they don’t also feel a persistent urge for it; in short, that they are broken, because their desire isn’t what it’s ‘supposed’ to be.”

The cure for that isn’t a pill; it’s, as Nagoski put it, “a thoughtful exploration of what creates desire between them and their partners.” Luckily, Nagoski has written an entire book on that very topic, “Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life.” Lots of books — and articles and experts — claim to have the keys …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Jon Stewart Slams Ferguson Cops and Fox News

March 6, 2015 in Blogs

By AlterNet

And Jessica Williams reports live from Ferguson: “Fuck these people.”

When police in Ferguson, Missouri use force, 88 percent of the time it's against black people. That's one of the many infuriating findings of the DOJ's Ferguson report highlighted by Jon Stewart last night. “You know they probably just hit that one white guy by accident when they were trying to hit a black guy,” Stewart notes. 

“How deep did the Ferguson police department's racism go? Skin color was even an issue for the members of the police force who cannot see in color.” Police dogs. Even their police dogs are racist. 

Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams summed it all up from the scene. “F*ck these people,” she says. Watch below. 

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Friends with Benefits: Russia and North Korea's Twisted Tango

March 6, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Russia and North Korea make up the latest international odd couple. President Vladimir Putin has recently reached out to one of the poorest and least predictable states on earth. So far, the new Moscow-Pyongyang axis matters little. But Russia has demonstrated that it can make Washington pay for confronting Moscow over Ukraine. It may try to leverage its influence in North Korea to make things harder for the United States.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) exists only because of Russia’s predecessor state. The United States and the Soviet Union divided the Korean peninsula, which had been a Japanese colony, after Tokyo’s surrender in World War II. Moscow set up the DPRK in its zone of control.

In 1950, Joseph Stalin approved Kim Il-sung’s plan for a military offensive to conquer the southern half of the peninsula, where the Republic of Korea (ROK) had been established. As the leader of global communism, Stalin could hardly say no to Kim Il-sung. But he distanced the USSR from Pyongyang’s invasion in order to avoid conflict with America.

After the United States and its allies threatened to overrun North Korea, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) intervened massively. The PRC then eclipsed the USSR in Pyongyang’s halls of power; the Sino-North Korean relationship was said to be as close as lips and teeth.

In practice, however, the DPRK’s relations with both communist giants were tempestuous as Kim balanced the two while extirpating all domestic opposition. He disapproved of de-Stalinization and denounced Khrushchev; Kim was later angered by Chinese opposition to turning the North into a de-facto monarchy under the Kim family. North Korea denounced Moscow in 1991 after it recognized South Korea. The North reacted more calmly when Beijing did the same the following year only because Pyongyang had no other patrons to turn to.

Russia and North Korea are using each other…again.”

Over the last two decades, Russo-North Korean relations have been minimal. The DPRK welshed on its debt and offered few economic opportunities. In contrast, Seoul provided Russia with investment and trade in abundance. Moscow even transferred weapons to the ROK to help pay off Russia’s debts to the South.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il in 2011, but little came of this meeting. Two years later, President Vladimir Putin held a summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, by when it appeared that Russia was beginning …read more

Source: OP-EDS