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Books, Literature & Ideas

Books, Literature & Ideas

Mike Luckovich | Mt. Rushmore vs. Mt. Hood / evergreenedigest.org

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Charlottesville and Trump: A spiritual exercise for the overwhelmed and exhausted

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Two people comfort Joseph Culver of Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 as he kneels at a late night vigil to pay his respects for a friend injured in a car attack on counter-protesters rallying against white nationalists. (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters)

  • Each new day finds us inundated with more data, the latest takes and the prospect of another crisis.
  • How do you continue to “bear witness” when every three or four days there is another crisis?

Jim McDermott, America 

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August 16, 2017 | Five days after the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va., our country continues to grapple with their significance. As has been true from the start of the Trump administration, each new day finds us inundated with more data, the latest takes and the prospect of another crisis. Simply trying to keep up with it all can be difficult. Gaining a broader perspective seems at times near impossible.

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For instance, we have condemned those who marched at Charlottesville in the strongest of terms; they have been outed on social media and excoriated in the press. But stepping back, that seems to be exactly what these groups wanted. Waving Nazi flags, shouting racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs, they certainly were not looking for approbation. No, they wanted a public spectacle of conflict. They wanted to provoke opponents to show up and get in fights with them; they wanted the press and others to mock and abuse them. Those moves serve their argument that the “other side” is just that: another position of equal standing, its supporters just as aggressive and partisan as them.

https://www.americamagazine.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/profile_photo/Jim%20McDermott.jpg?itok=4Lwq1XMB Jim McDermott is America’s Los Angeles correspondent. 

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A Murderous History of Korea

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In the West, treatment of North Korea is one-sided and ahistorical. No one even gets the names straight. But if American commentators and politicians are ignorant of Korea’s history, they ought at least to be aware of their own.

Bruce Cumings , London Review of Books

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https://cdn.lrb.co.uk/assets/covers/m/cov3910.jpg May 18, 2017 | More than four decades ago I went to lunch with a diplomatic historian who, like me, was going through Korea-related documents at the National Archives in Washington. He happened to remark that he sometimes wondered whether the Korean Demilitarised Zone might be ground zero for the end of the world. This April, Kim In-ryong, a North Korean diplomat at the UN, warned of ‘a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment’. A few days later, President Trump told Reuters that ‘we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.’ American atmospheric scientists have shown that even a relatively contained nuclear war would throw up enough soot and debris to threaten the global population: ‘A regional war between India and Pakistan, for instance, has the potential to dramatically damage Europe, the US and other regions through global ozone loss and climate change.’ How is it possible that we have come to this? How does a puffed-up, vainglorious narcissist, whose every other word may well be a lie (that applies to both of them, Trump and Kim Jong-un), come not only to hold the peace of the world in his hands but perhaps the future of the planet? We have arrived at this point because of an inveterate unwillingness on the part of Americans to look history in the face and a laser-like focus on that same history by the leaders of North Korea.


Bruce Cumings teaches at Chicago, and is the author of The Korean War: A History.


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Related:

Battlefield Earth: All the Countries John McCain Has Wanted to Attack, Tim Murphy and Tasneem Raja, Mother Jones 

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  • Syria, Iraq, Russia, North Korea, and nine other nations the Arizona senator has been eager to bomb, invade, or destabilize.
  • Israeli Lobby Takes Control of US Foreign Policy

A Forceful Essay Hits a Nerve

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  • The U.S. church is being asked to choose between the values of Francis and those of Trump.
  • Spadaro & Figueroa Are Onto Something

Anthony Annett, Commonweal

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July 28, 2017 | Over a decade ago, I was one of the co-founders of a small Catholic blog called Vox Nova. The goal of the blog was precisely that—to be a “new voice” for authentic and consistent Catholic social teaching. Most of us on that blog hewed to traditional teaching on social justice and were identified with the Catholic left. But we also tried hard to be consistent—we didn’t disdain Humanae Vitae, ignore abortion, call for women priests, or denigrate Church teachings on sexuality. In doing so, we sought to challenge the presumptions of those http://lacatholicworker.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/faith-and-politics-sign.jpg   who monopolized the mantel of “faithful, orthodox Catholicism.” We were attacked relentlessly for exposing their inconsistency. But in an ocean of right-wing Catholic opinion, Vox Nova was easily drowned out, in the end making only the tiniest of ripples. 

The same cannot be said of the forceful essay in La Civiltà Cattolica by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, and Marcelo Figueroa, which shone a light on the pathologies of a certain brand of American Catholicism. And the extent and vitriol of the pushback from the highest echelons of American right-wing Catholicism only shows that Spadaro and Figueroa have hit a nerve. 

Anthony Annett is a climate change and sustainable development advisor at the Center for Sustainable Development - Earth Institute at Columbia University and in this position is affiliated with Religions for Peace.

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Ralph Nader | Can the World Defend Itself from Omnicide?

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How Big Pharma Created the Heroin Epidemic

Ralph Nader, Dandelion Salad

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July 27, 2017 | Notice how more frequently we hear scientists tell us that we’re “wholly unprepared” for this peril or for that rising fatality toll? Turning away from such warnings may reduce immediate tension or anxiety, but only weakens the public awareness and distracts us from addressing the great challenges of our time, such as calamitous climate change, pandemics, and the rise of a host of other self-inflicted disasters.

Here are some warnings about rising and looming risks.

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1. The opioid epidemic is here now, and poised to become further exacerbated. It is the US’s deadliest drug overdose crisis ever, taking over 1000 lives a week. Even that figure is underestimated, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These fatalities, many of them affecting people in the prime of their life, stem from legally prescribed drugs taken to relieve chronic pain. Tragically ironic!

Congress is figuring out how to budget for many billions of dollars to combat this toll – much greater than the deaths by traffic crashes or AIDS. Republican and Democratic state officials are suing the drug companies for excessive, misleading promotion for profit. Still, the awful toll keeps rising.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel). 

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