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Links on R&P from around the web

Socialist François Hollande Defeats Sarkozy for French Presidency

posted on May 7, 2012

France has a new president after a run-off election Sunday night. Socialist François Hollande beat Nicholas Sarkozy, who becomes France’s first one-term president in 31 years, according to Bruce Crumley in TIME. During his campaign, Sarkozy was accused of pandering to anti-Muslim sentiments on the French electorate’s far-right.

Read at TIME

Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch’s Buddhist Spirituality Permeated His Life and Music

posted on May 7, 2012

Adam Yauch, known to Beastie Boys’ fans as MCA, died from cancer on Friday at the age of 47. In The Huffington Post, Jaweed Kaleem writes that Yauch had been a practicing Buddhist since 1994 and was known for his activism for Tibetan independence. In 1994, Yauch “explained his attraction to Buddhism” in an interview for Tricycle magazine: “The feeling I get from the rinpoches and His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] and Tibetan people in general. The people that I’ve met are really centered in the heart; they’re coming from a real clear, compassionate place.”

Read at The Huffington Post

America’s Return to Political Polarization

posted on May 7, 2012

Writing in The Fiscal Times, Bruce Bartlett offers a historian’s response to “the most talked-about article in Washington this week.” He refers to an op-ed in The Washington Post from political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Orstein, entitled “Let’s Just Say It: Republicans Are the Problem.” Bartlett blames the current political polarization on the extinction of the Southern Democrat; he traces the roots of this shift to back before the Civil War, to the slave-holding South, its Biblical literalism and deeply held conservatism.

Read at The Fiscal Times

Friends And Foes Of Gay Marriage Woo Voters In N.C.

posted on May 7, 2012

On Tuesday, North Carolinians will go to the polls to decide the fate of Amendment One. At NPR, Jessica Jones points out that “state law already prohibits same-sex marriage but this measure would have broader consequences,” in part because it not only bans same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. Activists on both sides, including those from religious groups, are out campaigning for supporters. 

Read at NPR

Accused 9/11 Planners Silent, Defiant in Guantánamo Court Appearance

posted on May 7, 2012

From Guantánamo Bay, The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg reports: “Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators put on a show of defiance during a marathon war court arraignment Saturday, sitting mute rather than answering their U.S. military judge’s questions ahead of their trial on charges of planning the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

Read at The Miami Herald

In Prison, Play With Trial at Its Heart Resonates

posted on May 7, 2012

This past weekend marked the debut and three-day run of  “The Life of Jesus Christ,” a passion play performed by men and women from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Warden Burl Cain has often come under fire for the “Christian environment” of Angola, the men’s prison, and for his programs, which he sees as a way to combat the hopelessness at a penitentiary where the numbers of life sentences are particularly high. Writes The New York TimesCampbell Robertson, “The average sentence at the state penitentiary is 93 years. Of the 5,329 men in prison, over 4,000 are serving life without parole. Less than two hundred are expected to ever leave.”

Read at The New York Times

On National Day of Prayer, Plenty of Politics

posted on May 4, 2012

Yesterday’s annual “National Day of Prayer” (NDP) is the high holy day for the intersection of religion and politics in America, so writes The Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumball. Since a 1952 law gave it the imprimatur of state sanction, NDP “has become an annual part of the political fabric,” explains Trumball. “It’s a day when politicians appeal to voters as people of faith, when interest groups cast wary judgment on politicians, and when many atheists and civil libertarians seek to cast doubt on the very concept and constitutionality of an annual day for prayer in the US.”

Read at Christian Science Monitor

This Prom Has Everything, Except for Boys

posted on May 4, 2012

The New York Times’ Patricia Leigh Brown goes to Hamtramck High School’s first all-girl prom. “The dense scrappy working-class city of 22,500 encircled by Detroit,” Brown writes, “once predominantly German and Polish, has become one of the most diverse small cities in America.” The decision to exclude boys from this classic American teen “rite of passage” was meant to accomodate this growing diversity, in particular the religious beliefs of the city’s Muslim population, which forbids “dating, dancing with boys or appearing without a head scarf in front of males.” Brown writes that this boys-free space allowed many of the Muslim teenage girls, “normally concealed in a chrysalis of hijab and abaya, the traditional Muslim cloak, [to] literally let their hair down in public for the first time.”

Read at The New York Times

Is Wall Street Meeting God’s Expectations?

posted on May 4, 2012

At The Wall Street Journal, David Weidner asks, “What if God was an analyst?” Weidner finds that the Christian Bible verse, Matthew 25:14-30 (known colloquially as “the Parable of Bags of Gold”), seems, at first blush, to endorse capitalism: “You don’t have to sing in the Sunday choir to get the drift. The message is that God wants us to do something with what we have. He wants us to prosper, multiply and take a little risk.” Yet there is one problem, writes Weidner. Jesus’ message in Matthew isn’t really about making money, but about multiplying good. 

Read at The Wall Street Journal

Is Obama’s Vetting Finally Beginning?

posted on May 4, 2012

At Commentary, Alana Goodman wonders that, after a year of endless scrutiny on the GOP presidential contenders, if it is finally time to vet the president? Her answer is a resounding yes, especially since no adequate vetting occurred in 2008. Goodman pins her hopes on the beginnings of this process on David Maraniss’ soon-to-be-released biography of the president. Goodman writes that Obama has maintained “nearly complete control of his own life narrative … But Maraniss’s biography threatens that narrative by questioning it: Was Obama’s journey [into politics] entirely spiritual and intellectual? Or was it also grounded in the lower realms of ambition and calculation?”

Read at Commentary