Trump says inner-city crimes are going up. He’s wrong. | America Magazine

Attempted murder, the police officer told me. That would be the charge if the two men were caught. “We probably won’t catch them,” he admitted, “but if we do, that’s what we’ll put on them.” I was surprised; it was, I said, more a mugging than anything else. “Did they have a gun?” he asked. Yes. “Did they say they were going to use it on you?” Yes. “That’s textbook attempted murder.”

This all happened two decades ago, but of course I remember every detail, in part because the officer’s words made me realize the gravity of the situation. Getting mugged was no big deal in West Philly in 1997, but the possibility that I could have lost my life over $24—that was something else.

A brief recap: I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, living a few blocks west of the school. On the evening in question, I was walking down Spruce Street toward campus, thinking about anything but my walk. My uncle had died the night before, and I was on my way to return an overdue book—The Raw And The Cooked, by Claude Levi-Strauss—to the library before I headed to New York the next morning for the funeral. For once, I let my guard down.

Source: America Magazine

The Guardian view on Jeremy Hunt: he must practise what he preaches | Editorial

“Just how easy is it to speak about things that have gone wrong?”, asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt in a speech he made last year about improving transparency and ending the blame culture in the NHS.

Mr Hunt is himself failing badly on this critical benchmark for greater openness. The Guardian this week has revealed that half a million pieces of medical correspondence, including test results and diagnoses for life-threatening conditions like cancer, sat undelivered in a warehouse between 2011 and 2016. Yet it has taken almost a year for the full extent of this failure to emerge.

Mr Hunt was first made aware of the problem in March last year. But he did not inform MPs until July last year, in a 138-word written statement that mentioned neither the scale of the problem nor the potential harm to patients. The incident was confined to a single paragraph buried in the Department of Health’s annual report. While it appears a team was set up in early summer 2016 to look into the problem, much of the undelivered correspondence did not arrive at the GP surgeries of affected patients until November and December last year. No explanation has been offered for why it has taken nine months from Mr Hunt being informed to urgent correspondence finding its way to patients and their doctors. The idea that letters containing test results and diagnoses for life-threatening conditions can go missing for years is a frightening prospect for any NHS patient. According to the government, 500 patients may have suffered serious harm as a result of the missing correspondence.

Source: The Guardian

Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

The transgender community got yet another win yesterday after a judge directed principal registrar of persons to effect name changes in the national IDs of five of its members in 21 days.This means Maurene Muia, Alesandra Ogeta, Maria Mbugua, Audrey Mbugua and Dalziel Wafula will officially use their new names on their national identification documents to reflect their new identity. Muia, formerly Maurice Muia, Mbugua, formely Andrew Mbugua and the other three formally changed their names through deed poll paid for and processed at the AG’s office. However, it was never reflected on their IDs.High Court judge George Odunga yesterday gave the 21-day ultimatum or an order would be given against the registrar, declaring he failed in a constitutional mandate.Odunga said the case had been put off on several occasions despite the Attorney General givinghis legal opinion.“The AG has given the registrar a legal opinion, which should have settled the matter…it cannot be put off any further,” he said, adding that such “inaction” to carry out a statutory mandate is contrary to the Constitution.

Source: Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

Budget 2017: An economic or spiritual matter?

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made a strong call to conversion in his 2017 Budget Speech. Quoting Pope Francis he said, “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”. He went on to say, “We need to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation”.

There is no doubt that South Africa is sitting on a fast-ticking social time bomb. Crunching numbers and good fiscal control alone will no longer keep the wolves at bay.

Gordhan’s Budget Speech alluded many times to key themes in Catholic Social Teaching (CST): option for the poor, trust, solidarity, human dignity, the call to community, responsibility and accountability. The 2017 Budget pointed to a bigger problem which is not simply economic: at the heart of South Africa’s woes is a spiritual crisis. We must build a true community of kinship. This is our strongest antidote to the crisis.

Source: Jesuit Institute 

Slovenia allows same-sex marriage – POLITICO

Country’s first lesbian wedding takes place this weekend, but gay couples are not allowed to adopt.


Slovenia permitted same-sex marriage for the first time on Friday, with a law coming into effect that gives gay couples largely the same rights as heterosexuals, but bars them from jointly adopting children, Reuters reported.

At least one same-sex couple will get married in Slovenia on Saturday, the first day the ceremonies can be held, the news site Žurnal24 reported.

Source: – POLITICO

The 2017 Election Briefing – England – Britain Elects

A useful introduction from “Britain Elects” to the local council elections due in May.

This new series of briefings will cover the elections to be held across England, Scotland and Wales on 04 May, 2017.

There will be elections to much of the English shire authorities, the principal authorities of Scotland and Wales, the six mayoral contests in England and the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster.

This part, of three, covers England.

Source:  – Britain Elects

By-Elections 23/02/17: A Good Night for LibDems.

At first glance, Thursday’s election results were not overly impressive for the Liberal Democrats. Dig a little deeper though, and something rather impressive emerges.

In two parliamentary by-elections, the standout features were an historic win for the Conservatives in Copeland, and Labour fending off a challenge from the UKIP leader in Stoke on Trent Central. Quite rightly, these have dominated the headlines. The Liberal Democrats distant third place in Copeland and fourth place in Stoke got little attention, even though both of these represented double the share of vote they got in the 2015 general election.

What makes this doubling of share remarkable, is that on a day of dreadful weather, with a low percentage poll in each contest, the Liberal Democrats increased not just their share of the vote, but also the actual number of ballots cast.  What’s more, there’s a pattern here: they’ve done the same thing in each of the six by-elections held since the EU referendum. Stepping back from Thursday’s two elections to take a longer view, of all nine by-elections held since the 2015 general election, we see that aggregating the total ballots, the Liberal Democrats have increased their total vote by an impressive 57%:

Liberal Democrats are also the only party to have increased their share of the vote – by almost 10%, going from 6.7% to 16.6%

But that’s not all the good news from current by-elections. In addition to this week’s parliamentary elections, there were more of the usual local by-elections. As has been customary in recent months, once again the Liberal Democrats turned in some stunning local results, gaining two  seats each from Conservatives and from Labour – and all in wards that they did not even contest, last time around.

Our lives keep on changing – yet the welfare myth of “them” and “us” persists | British Politics and Policy at LSE

Public, media, and government discussions on welfare are dominated by the notion that the population is divided into those who benefit from the welfare state and those who pay into it, despite the evidence painting a rather different picture. John Hills draws on the revised edition of his book Good Times, Bad Times to explain some of the implications of this welfare myth.

The last two years have been ones of momentous political change. In the UK, this included not least the election of a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron in May 2015, the result of the Brexit referendum, and the subsequent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister.

But some things remain the same. One is how ‘welfare’ is discussed, with the British political debate framed around the idea that our population can be divided into two groups – those who pay in, and those who pay out. This was a theme for former Chancellor George Osborne when in office, but also appears to shape the new Prime Minister’s thinking.

Source:  British Politics and Policy at LSE

Disrupting the Donald | Commonweal Magazine

At a meeting of grassroots activists, faith-based organizers, farm workers, undocumented immigrants, clergy, and several bishops held in Modesto, California, last week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy gave the most powerful and timely address I’ve ever heard from a Catholic leader.


Appointed by Pope Francis to lead the San Diego diocese last spring, McElroy has quickly emerged as one of the most respected intellectual leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States with his incisive essays and speeches on immigration, inequality, the threat of white nationalism, and the church’s obligation to confront Islamophobia. During one session at the Modesto meeting, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, jokingly but accurately called McElroy “the brains” of the U.S. episcopacy. Along with other “Francis bishops” like Cardinal Blase Cupich in Chicago, McElroy is also at the forefront of pushing the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops—in recent years most focused on fighting same-sex marriage and contraception coverage—to demonstrate greater institutional commitment to the breadth of Catholic social teaching and the pope’s priorities as they relate to poverty, inequality, and climate change.

Source: =Commonweal Magazine

Finland votes to legalise same-sex marriage once again

Finland has voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage… for a second time.

Despite voting in favour of marriage equality back in 2014, with 105 to 92 votes in support, the country’s parliament was forced to vote on the issue once again after a citizens’ petition called for a repeal of the incoming law.

The ‘Genuine Families’ petition, which demanded that marriage remains “a genuinely egalitarian union between man and women”, passed the 50,000 signature mark which is required for a parliamentary debate.

Unfortunately for same-sex marriage opponents, the petition failed to achieve its goal, as even more MPs came out in support of equality than in 2014.

120 members of parliament were opposed to a repeal of the marriage equality law, while just 48 supported it. Two members abstained and 29 people were absent.

Source: Gay Times