Why more than 4,000 religious leaders are writing President Trump and Congress | America Magazine

A group of more than 4,000 religious sisters and clergy, including priests, brothers and deacons, sent a letter to every U.S. senator, member of Congress and President Donald Trump voicing support for the refugee resettlement program.

“Our nation has long prided itself on providing refugee families an opportunity to start a new life and the chance to contribute to the continued flourishing of our country. Now, when the need is so great, is not the time to waver in our commitment to this tradition of welcome,” said the letter dated on March 27 and released by the Franciscan Action Network in Washington.

Through executive action, Trump has sought to suspend the refugee resettlement program as part of a temporary travel ban affecting some majority-Muslim countries. Different federal judges have temporarily halted the ban, even after revisions were made to it, and asked for an extension in March to keep it from going into effect saying that it discriminates based on religion.

Even as the future of the executive order is decided, Catholic agencies and organizations that work with refugee resettlement or advocate for refugees, are bracing for what could happen should the ban be upheld.

Source: America Magazine

Our politics is trapped in a downward spiral: how to navigate out of the morass | British Politics and Policy at LSE

The public is losing faith in the political process – both in the UK and in many Western democracies. Politicians gather public support for promises they cannot realistically achieve, while many policies are developed and implemented in fundamentally flawed ways. Drawing on his insider experience, Nick Raynsford proposes three steps that would trigger meaningful change.

2016 has not been a good year for politics or politicians. Whether we are looking at the Trump candidacy in the USA, the tragic-comedy of the Brexit referendum, or the unrelenting horrors of Syria, again and again we come face to face with the uncomfortable truth that the public is rapidly losing faith in the political process as practiced in most Western democracies.  Hardly surprising then, if an increasing number are turning away from conventional politics, embracing ‘protest’ or ‘gesture’ parties or candidates, or using opportunities such as a referendum to send a message of disapproval to the ‘political elite’ in their ‘Westminster (or Washington) bubble’.

This response may be understandable at one level, but it is not a solution. On the contrary, the outcome will inevitably be greater public disaffection: as the ‘protest’ politicians predictably fail to deliver on pledges that were unrealistic (Syriza in Greece) or as ‘change’ policies (Brexit) unravel because of their inherent contradictions (“having your cake and eating it” as Boris Johnson memorably advocated). In the meantime, those who advocate ‘politics as usual’ compound the problem by failing to acknowledge the extent of public alienation, let alone coming up with effective solutions.

Source: British Politics and Policy at LSE

Universal Basic Income: A Case Against?

The concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), also known as a Citizen;s income, deserves serious consideration – and research. As John Kay notes at the end of his post,

As in other areas of policy, it is simply not the case that there are simple solutions to apparently difficult issues which policymakers have hitherto been too stupid or corrupt to implement.

This is a useful contribution to the debate, pointing out some of the flaws in the arguments presented by the advocates for UBI. Either it is simply unaffordable to UBI at a level appropriate for a decent standard of living – or it will remain necessary to supplement the minimal, affordable, level of UBI  for those people in extreme need with no additional income, thus eliminating “simplicity” as a core argument in its favour.

Here is the introduction to his analysis – read it in full:

The basics of basic income – John Kay

Basic income is a fashionable topic. A proposal to introduce one in Switzerland was put to a national referendum in 2016, although it was soundly defeated. Finland has recently introduced a modest experiment for 2,000 households. The current interest is mainly on the political left; for example, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and Britain’s John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Chancellor, have expressed enthusiasm for the concept of unconditional basic income. Benoit Hamon, the Socialist Party’s candidate for the French presidency, has made the proposal a principal plank in his platform. The Scottish National Party, which recently announced plans for a second independence referendum, is also strongly in favour. Basic income, at its roots, is a plan to replace all or most existing state benefits by a single payment, made unconditionally to all citizens (or perhaps residents) of a country. There are three principal strands of argument for such a proposal. The first deduces an entitlement to such income from some a priori moral principle. Such an assertion of rights goes back at least to Thomas Paine (1737-1809), and it has also attracted other philosophers, such as Bertrand Russell. More recently, the case has been put forward most vehemently by Philippe Van Parijs.

Source: The basics of basic income – John Kay

Analysis: A closer look at the ANC NWC’s statement reveals not so Zuma-friendly side | Daily Maverick

After four days of late-night announcements, angry press conferences, furious statements, and leaked speeches, it was time for the first major ANC structure to meet to discuss President Jacob Zuma, and the reaction to his factional reshuffle and removal of Pravin Gordhan from the Finance Ministry. In the end, the National Working Committee, surprising no one, simply resolved to “discuss” with Cosatu and the SACP their calls for Zuma to leave. At first glance it looks almost as if nothing has changed, that Zuma is still the MacDaddy of our politics, and the game goes on the same way as it has for many years. But look a little deeper, and it’s possible that the rules of the game have actually changed quite dramatically.


The ANC is nothing if not predictable. Zuma does something. There is righteous fury and furious anger. Society gets moving, people mutter darkly about Parliament passing a vote of no confidence. After a climax of press conferences, eventually a top ANC structure meets and glosses over it all.

Zuma stays on to giggle another day.

Source:  Daily Maverick

It’s time to expose the ANC’s biggest ‘smallanyana’ skeleton | Daily Maverick

It’s time to admit the truth. The ANC’s biggest “smallanyana” skeleton is that it did not liberate the country but was positioned to take credit for the end of apartheid because this would do more to unify us than the uninspiring non-story of that time’s financial realities.

Our country’s regression into Old Testament territory calls for Ezekiel’s unveiling of a similarly deluded nation’s origins:

“On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.”

Source:  Daily Maverick

STUDY: LGBT Youth Are Disproportionately in Jail | Advocate.com

A disproportionate number of queer youth, particular lesbians and bisexual girls, end up in jail or prison in the United States, according to a study released today by researchers at UCLA. Worse, those youth are considerably more likely to be raped during their time in custody.

“The findings support calls by policymakers and advocates for the need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGBT youth in state systems,” says Dr. Bianca D.M. Wilson, lead author on the report, released Tuesday by The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Source:  Advocate.com

Celia Wexler explores women’s struggles to be feminist and Catholic | National Catholic Reporter Book Review


By Celia Viggo Wexler Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 216 pages, $34


The central question explored in Celia Viggo Wexler‘s engaging and thought-provoking book is one that no doubt many millions of women have struggled with: Is it possible for a woman to be both a feminist and a Catholic?

For Wexler, an award-winning journalist and Huffington Post blogger, this is not an academic question. She had reached a juncture in which she had to “find a way to stay Catholic that made sense to me and respected my intellect and feminism, or I would have to leave the church.”

Source:  National Catholic Reporter

New Statesman: “Conservative poll showed party would lose seats to the Liberal Democrats”

Against some expectations, Theresa May has kept her promise not to seek an early general election. The Prime Minister prides herself on sticking to her word and a campaign would cost valuable Brexit negotiating time. But one factor has received little attention: the increasing threat posed to the Tories by the Liberal Democrats.

Last month, Conservative MPs from Cornwall and Devon urged May not to go to the country for fear they would lose their seats. In Richmond, Tim Farron’s party overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority by attracting Remain voters and the Lib Dems have won 34 council seats from the Tories since May 2015.

The MPs’ fears, I can reveal, were later reinforced by private Conservative polling. According to multiple sources, a survey conducted by Crosby Textor showed the party would lose most of the 27 gains they made from the Lib Dems in 2015, including all those in south London, all those in Cornwall and most of those in Devon.

Source: New Statesman

European parliament overwhelmingly backs red lines for Brexit negotiations | Politics | The Guardian

The European parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a tough negotiating stance towards the British government in the Brexit negotiations.

MEPs in Strasbourg approved a resolution setting out the parliament’s red lines in the coming talks by 516 votes to 133, with 50 abstentions, comfortably exceeding the two-thirds majority sought by parliament leaders to show unity behind their approach.

The resolution backs “phased negotiations” in the divorce proceedings, going against the wishes of Theresa May’s government, which would like exit talks and discussions of a future trade arrangement to happen in parallel. Talks on such a deal can also only occur once London has come to a settlement with the EU on its financial liabilities and the rights of citizens.

The parliament leaves open the possibility that UK citizens might be able to individually apply to keep the rights they currently enjoy, and suggests Ukraine’s association agreement might be a future model for an EU-UK trade deal.

Source: The Guardian

MEP vote deals blow to PM’s hopes for parallel Brexit talks – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

MEPs have voted in favour of a tough line on Brexit negotiations following a debate in Strasbourg in which Nigel Farage was heckled and rebuked for accusing the European Parliament of “behaving like the mafia”.

The former Ukip leader was told to retract his “unacceptable” remark by the parliament’s president, Italian Antonio Tajani, and said that, in respect of his national sensitivities, he would instead brand them “gangsters”.

But Mr Tajani responded: “There are no mafia or gangsters here. There are representatives of the people. This is nothing to do with national sensitivities, it is to do with being civil and democratic.”

Source: BelfastTelegraph.co.uk