Frances Catanio

News editor at Al Jazeera America digital. New Yorker. Film & chocolate lover. Traveler.
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To be sure, there are Christians in the world who face persecution, from Copts in Egypt to Catholics in northern Nigeria. But in the U.S., the Christian faith and its institutions have never been more pampered by the state.

And yet the persecution complex of American Christianity blares its sirens.

It’s a tried-and-true formula of conservative politics: take a problem that’s ultimately about poverty and class structure — here, the fact that contraception, which many Americans regard as a basic need, is incredibly expensive — and transform it into a debate about devotion.
What the religious right labels ‘persecution’ is something else entirely: it is the natural pushback that occurs when any one sectarian group goes too far in trying to control the lives of others. Americans are more than happy to allow religious organizations to tend to their own matters and make their own decisions about internal governance. When those religious groups overstep their bounds and demand that people who don’t even subscribe to their beliefs follow their rigid theology, that is another matter entirely.
Excerpted from “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do” by Robert Boston. via Salon

I am protesting the muzzling of Al Jazeera’s staff in Egypt. #FreeAJStaff

Yes, I feel this way about news sometimes too. 

In the attributionalist’s view, people are poor because of personal traits — especially their moral failings. In order to relieve poverty, we must make poor people into better human beings, by essentially regulating their behavior. The opposing “relationalist” view contends that economic positions are largely explained by relationships between groups, and that we all share a responsibility to alleviate poverty because the experiences and behaviors of those who aren’t poor have an effect on the lives of those who are.

We can debate these points theoretically, but we can also look directly to evidence of the relationship between poverty and inequality to evaluate whether the relationalist or attributionalist stance makes more sense in the real world. The rich have become richer in the United States, but they haven’t done so simply by creating new economic value through their own hard work. Instead, they have seized considerable value created by others.

'Over these past two months, nothing about my wife indicates she is alive,' Erick Munoz said in an affidavit.

'When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death. As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise’s hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight.'


Coffee Is My Operating System Mug

I remember when I didn’t even like the smell of coffee. Now this is true of my life. 

The fact that mothers are happier when they work part-time than when they work full-time probably doesn’t tell us much about the state of women’s roles in the workplace. More likely, it suggests that very few Americans — male or female — want to work as hard as Sheryl Sandberg works — or, for that matter, as hard as they themselves are working.


Official: Reports of sex assault in Navy increase 

The number of sexual assaults reported within the Navy has grown by about 50 percent in the past year, which Navy officials said Wednesday is a sign that a growing number of sailors feel more comfortable reporting an assault and believe something will be done about it — a prior source of concern for victims, advocates say.

The Navy said it is on track to end the 2013 fiscal year later this month with about 1,100 reports of sexual assault. A total of 726 were reported in the previous fiscal year.

Rear Adm. Sean Buck, the Navy’s top sexual assault prevention and response officer, told reporters at an annual training conference that the increase was something Navy officials had expected as they ramped up efforts to let sailors know that sexual assaults are being treated seriously.

Read more at Al Jazeera America

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images