RAP Sheet

Profiling Rules Said to Give F.B.I. Tactical Leeway

posted on April 10, 2014

The New York Times reports on revisions to the Justice Department’s racial profiling rules. The article notes that the “rules would allow the F.B.I. to continue many, if not all, of the tactics opposed by civil rights groups, such as mapping ethnic populations and using that data to recruit informants and open investigations. The new rules, which are in draft form, expand the definition of prohibited profiling to include not just race, but religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation…. But they do not change the way the F.B.I. uses nationality to map neighborhoods, recruit informants, or look for foreign spies.”


Read at The New York Times

Study: “Jesus Wife” Fragment not a Fake

posted on April 10, 2014

CNN reports on the conclusion from a team of scientists indicating that a controversial scrap of papyrus where Jesus says “my wife” is real. “A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, ‘Jesus said to them, my wife’ is an ancient document, dating between the sixth to ninth centuries CE,” Harvard Divinity School said in a statement. Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School historian, revealed the document in 2012, and said, “The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus.”

Read at CNN

Religion Only Works When it Appeals to the Senses

posted on April 10, 2014

At The New Republic, Jenna Weissman Joselit reviews A History of Religion in 5½ Objects by S. Brent Plate. In the book, Plate writes, “To learn about religion we have to come to our senses. We are sentient beings, and religion is sensuous. The religious point is to pay attention, to feel, now.” In praising the book, Joselit remarks, “Does A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects add up to more than the sum of its five and one half parts? On balance, it does. Best savored as a collection of essays in which readers might dip in and out, this book doesn’t just alert us to the expressive power of religion. It rings true.”

Read at The New Republic

Russia Didn’t Share all Details on Boston Bombing Suspect, Report Says

posted on April 10, 2014

The New York Times reports on a new inspector general’s report that largely exonerates the F.B.I., finding that the Russian government declined to share important information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev that would have led to greater surveillance. According to the report, “After an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev.” One senior official said, “Had they known what the Russians knew they probably would have been able to do more under our investigative guidelines, but would they have uncovered the plot? That’s very hard to say.”

Read at The New York Times

Pope Approves Reforms for Scandal-Plagued Vatican Bank

posted on April 9, 2014

Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service reports, “Pope Francis has approved a new direction for the scandal-ridden Vatican bank as it seeks to improve transparency and compliance with international guidelines.” The bank has long been plagued by accusations of money laundering and links to the mafia, but the new statement ended speculation that Francis may shut down the bank if the reforms failed to meet international standards on accountability. “The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Read at Religion News Service

7 Million Afghans Just Dealt a Blow to the Taliban

posted on April 9, 2014

At The Atlantic, David Rohde reports that despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations, 58 percent of eligible voters, similar to that of Americans in the 2012 presidential race, turned out to elect Ashraf Ghani as the new president of Afghanistan. Ghani, who has a Lebanese Christian wife and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, is a former World Bank technocrat and has published a book entitled Fixing Failed States. Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan said, “Relative to what we were expecting, it’s very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban … And a very good day for the Afghan people.”

Read at The Atlantic

Could Jeb Bush Win Over the Christian Right in ’16?

posted on April 9, 2014

Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics explores Jeb Bush’s possible presidential bid as prominent social conservatives quietly begin to support him. In particular, his longstanding support of immigration reform has garnered him much from some conservative religious leaders. “He resonates on multiple levels. His optics on faith, his strong narrative as it pertains to his conservative leadership in Florida — those credentials speak for themselves,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Read at Real Clear Politics

Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam

posted on April 9, 2014

Richard Pérez-Peña and Tanzina Vega of The New York Times report, “Facing growing criticism, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it had reversed course and would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam.” Ali, who has written extensively on her experience as a Muslim girl in her native Somalia, has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” In a statement, the university said, “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

Read at The New York Times

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