Some points worth highlighting in Christianity Today article on marriage

While I wouldn’t endorse the entire article, this paragraph brings up issues which are rarely given the attention they deserve:

One issue that demands special attention is divorce and remarriage. The Bible has a fair amount to say about marriage (as much or more than it does on homosexuality), and yet the evangelical church has become lax about honoring the marriage vow. We use the word grace in a cheap way to avoid the awkward tough love of church discipline. Such inconsistency has been a major stumbling block for those outside the church. This does not mean we forbid all divorce, nor all remarriage. It does mean we evangelicals need to come to consensus about what constitutes legitimate biblical grounds for divorce and for remarriage, and maybe even create a covenant amongst ourselves that will help us to abide by our convictions on this matter.

I suspect the reason Evangelicals give gay marriage so much more attention than the problem of divorce and remarriage within the church is because it’s so much easier to criticize of the actions of others before our own.


On the “Ban the Box” movement

The “Ban the Box” movement is pushing public and private employers to refrain from asking about criminal records until later in the hiring process. It’s an increasingly popular policy within the criminal justice reform movement, and I recently reported on it for The New Republic. 

“Ban the Box” is getting bipartisan support:

[S]upport for Ban the Box spans the ideological spectrum. Georgia’s Republican governor is responsible for his state’s ban, while companies like Koch Industries and Walmart have voluntarily removed criminal history questions from their job applications.

The numbers indicate that the policy works. But it’s about more than jobs:

While these studies are good at showing concrete effects of these policies, the Ban the Box movement should be seen as part of a larger effort to humanize those with prior convictions. “It’s a deeply stigmatized population,” said Michelle Rodriguez, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “The criminal record has been used to basically dehumanize a population and to treat them as less than deserving of human dignity and respect.”

Understanding Colombia’s Armed Conflict: A Series for Colombia Reports

1504388_10152775220162408_1621929184215240779_oI recently wrote a five-article series for Colombia Reports on understanding the armed conflict in Colombia. Each article examined a different aspect of the dynamics of Colombian history and society which have played some role in the current violence between the leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries, and the armed forces.

Among the causes, I examined the history of political exclusion, inequality, and the weak/corrupt state institutions.

Other factors which have aggravated the situation have been drug trafficking and international actors, including the United States and multinational corporations.

4 Gitmo detainees repatriated to Afghanistan; 132 to go

From the Guardian:

The US announced on Saturday the release of four more prisoners from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. The four men were repatriated to Afghanistan.

Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, said: “This repatriation reflects the Defense Department’s continued commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo in a responsible manner.”

The men, who had been in the camp for more than 10 years, were named as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. They had been cleared for transfer for some time and are not considered to represent security risks in Afghanistan, where US troops are still deployed.

Earlier this month, 6 detainees from Guantanamo Bay were released and sent to Uruguay. Also from the Guardian:

Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, agreed to accept the six men – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian – as a humanitarian gesture and said they would be given help getting established in a country with a small Muslim population.

USAID tried to create anti-govt hip hop in Cuba with Serbian music promoters

Earlier this year, it was revealed that USAID had attempted to create a “Cuban Twitter” with the aim of regime change in the Caribbean island. This week, another similar initiative from the US development agency was revealed.

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Senate releases report on CIA torture, described as ‘brutal’ and ‘ineffective’

The Guardian:

The CIA’s post-9/11 embrace of torture was brutal and ineffective – and the agency repeatedly lied and misled the White House, Congress and the public about its usefulness, a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday concludes.

…The investigation that led to the report, and the question of how much of the document would be released and when, has pitted chairwoman Feinstein and her committee allies against the CIA and its White House backers. For 10 months, with the blessing of President Barack Obama, the agency has fought to conceal vast amounts of the report from the public, with an entreaty to Feinstein from secretary of state John Kerry occurring as recently as Friday.

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Interview with The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson



On Wednesday afternoon, I attended some panel discussions hosted by the Premio Gabriel García Márquez de Periodismo, a yearly festival that celebrates Spanish-language journalism. The list of panelists included Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker, whose work I started following after I read his biography of Che Guevara. He’s a seasoned journalist who has covered Latin American politics for decades, writing profiles of people like Fidel Castro, Augusto Pinochet, the King of Spain, and Gabo himself. He’s also covered conflicts around the world in Africa and the Middle East, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Given his experience in the region, I wanted to get his take on US decision to strike ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He was in a bit of a rush, but was kind enough to give me a short interview after the panel discussion. Here’s what he said: Continue reading