Archive

September 25th, 2016

Yes, it's hard to think about kids with cancer. But please don't look away.

    It's 6:30 a.m. and the sun is starting to peek out over the horizon. I take another gulp of my coffee, and leave the keys with the valet outside the hospital. I check my camera, making sure I have a formatted memory card and fresh batteries in my flash.

    As I grab my bag from the back seat, I can't help but notice the mismatched socks, leftover granola wrappers, and wrinkled school fliers that litter my car. I take a deep breath, thankful that my kids' seats are empty. I'm not at the hospital for them this morning. I'm there for 4-year-old Phoebe.

    About four years ago, I started taking pictures of sick kids. I look for smiles in hospital rooms and look past IV poles in hopes of capturing the fleeting moments of carefree childhoods that exist alongside tragic diagnoses and crippling test results. I look for little hands grasping onto hospital beds as toddlers take their first steps in brightly decorated triage rooms. My heart skips a beat when I see an older sister smile at a younger sibling, knowing that siblings, too, suffer when their loved ones are sick.

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When the county commission's prayer goes too far

    Plenty of local governments open their meetings with a quick, generic prayer from a member of the clergy. But is it different when the lawmakers themselves say "Let us pray" and then supplicate God to open everyone's heart to the message of Jesus Christ? Does that violate the Constitution?

    In a significant defeat for religious liberty, a federal appeals court has upheld a continuous practice of sectarian, public prayer by the members of a North Carolina board of county commissioners. The dissenting judge, the distinguished conservative J. Harvie Wilkinson, said the "seat of government" in the case was made to resemble "a house of worship." The court's majority said it was just following Supreme Court precedent.

    At the start of all the meetings of the Rowan County commissioners, one of the five -- all of whom are Christians and have been as long as anyone can remember -- invites those present stand for the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. The commissioners take turns, but each typically opens by saying "Let us pray" or "Please pray with me."

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When it comes to climate change, let's get our priorities straight

    Policy expert Bjorn Lomborg answers The Washington Post's question: How much should the next president be willing to spend on mitigation or retooling for renewable energy?

    The next administration must recognize not only that climate change is a real problem but also that we are not on course to solve it. The next president needs the courage to discard our current feel-good but ineffective solutions. Ending our reliance on the fossil fuels that have powered two centuries of economic growth will require an energy revolution.

    Many policies focus on solving global warming by investing in solar and wind, but over the coming quarter-century, these technologies will contribute only marginally to the solution. Moreover, they are not competitive now and will be mostly inefficient for at least 25 years.

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What is going on here anyway?

    I know, it seems outrageous, But it's getting a lot of attention on some very respectable Web pages - which mainstream media won't mention:

    Donald Trump was not born in Queens,

    He was born in the Philippines,

    In a hotel in downtown Manila.

    Where his hair turned bright vanilla

    Due to vitamin deficiencies.

    His mom and dad were Celanese

    And left him with Franciscan nuns

    At the age of fourteen months.

    Adopted on the 3rd of June

    By a real estate tycoon

    Who took the little boy away

    To a mansion in the U.S.A.

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September 24th

A rising Japanese leader softens her controversial nationalism

    Japan's new defense minister, Tomomi Inada, is pushing her country to become a stronger, more independent actor on the world stage - and trying to make herself prime minister in the process. But as she gets closer to both goals, she's finding that Japan's success is more dependent than ever on deepening cooperation with its neighbors and the United States.

    Inada rose to prominence in Japan as a conservative firebrand who embraced controversial views, including questioning the facts surrounding Japan's wartime atrocities. She once suggested that Japan should get its own nuclear weapons. She is often accused of being a revisionist - a term for those who seek to partly rehabilitate Japan's wartime history. But as was clear to me after an hour-long interview last week during her first trip to Washington in her new role, Inada is coming to terms with the fact that if she wants to lead Japan into the future, she needs to be a globalist first.

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Trump is the Islamic State's dream candidate

    Every time there is a terrorist attack attributed to Muslim extremists anywhere in the world, Donald Trump will rush forward to claim, as he did after an Easter bombing in Pakistan, that he alone can solve the problem of radical Islamic terrorism. His eagerness to score political points has come back to hurt him in the past, as when, following this summer's mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, he sent a tasteless tweet bragging: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" He must have been deeply disappointed that the Orlando attack, which resulted in the deaths of 49 people, did not give him a boost in the polls. But, he apparently figures, there is still time to make political hay out of the suffering of others.

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The impostor in the red ball cap

    A lot of people have said a lot of things about Donald Trump's deficiencies, but the most succinct may be this: "beyond repair."

    What loose cannon would say such a thing about Trump? Surely it is someone swimming in partisan passion, blinded by bile.

    Ah, but no, the description comes from one of the more dispassionate people imaginable, a Republican to boot: former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    True, Gates, confines his assessment to foreign policy. But you can read between the lines in his recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal and deduce that he doesn't think Trump is capable of just about any duty the presidency requires.

    Gates calls Trump "stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government."

    That's not all. Gates calls Trump "temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief."

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The bipartisan path to tackling climate change

    Policy expert Heather Zichal answers The Washington Post's question: How much should the next president be willing to spend on mitigation or retooling for renewable energy?

    The disconnect between the reality of climate change and Donald Trump's phony dismissal of the issue couldn't be more frustrating to a country in need of solutions, not slogans. Hillary Clinton has promised to protect critical ongoing policies from the current administration. But unless there are new majorities in Congress, if elected she will face the same opposition and intractability on climate policy that President Barack Obama faced.

    The good news is that beneath all the noise and fury, there's actually a clear path ahead to tackling climate change with solutions that are bold and potentially bipartisan. The next administration should seize the opportunity to build a historic partnership between business and government - an opportunity to prove once and for all that good climate policy creates good jobs.

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Preparing for North Korea's inevitable collapse

    Let's be honest. The world would be a better place if a revolutionary tribunal in the near future sent North Korea's Kim Jong-un and his henchmen to the gallows. Kim's subjects are so malnourished that North Koreans are notably shorter than their South Korean cousins. The state's gulags are so large, you can see them from space. Survivors of those camps have testified that fellow prisoners withered away from starvation.

    The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has acknowledged the horror. A 2014 report from that office says that inside of North Korea "crimes against humanity" have been committed as a result of the state's policy. These include "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation."

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Electoral setbacks won't deter Angela Merkel

    Many people seem to expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologize. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union, keeps underperforming in regional elections. Most recently, the CDU took a drubbing in parliamentary elections in Berlin on Sept. 18. The reason: the backlash against the kindness Merkel showed toward refugees last year.

    There have been five defeats this year, in every state that held elections. The party's biggest loss -- a 12 percentage-point decline from the 2011 result -- was in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the wealthy southwestern state that received the most asylum applications this year -- more than 75,000. In Berlin, the CDU lost 5.8 percentage points, but the result destroyed the CDU-Social Democrat coalition that governed the city-state: It no longer has a majority in the city council, and the Social Democrats, who won a plurality, must now look for a different configuration, possibly with different partners.

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