Iran’s Deal With The Devil

Iran and the United States finally reached an agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, but it seems this time the devil is in the details.

Over the weekend, the U.S., its allies, and Iran managed to work out a deal in which some of the international sanctions Iran has been experiencing will be lifted in exchange for certain reductions in Iran’s nuclear development.  This is a six-month agreement that the Obama administration hopes will lead to a more permanent solution after further talks take place.  I know what you’re thinking: “What an amazing diplomatic breakthrough!”  Well…

“Last night is not a historic agreement – it’s a historic mistake.  It’s not made the world a safer place…This agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place,” argued Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  Ok, so we’ll put him down as “still on the fence”: not surprising, since Netanyahu has never gotten along that well with President Obama.  He probably is just upset that Barack (the U.S. president, not Netanyahu’s Israeli political rival, Ehud Barak) is going to get all the glory for this one, right? Continue reading

The JFK Assassination: Where Are They Now?

Jacqueline Kennedy leads her children out from her husband's funeral on November 25, 1963, followed by other members of the Kennedy family.  White House photo by Abbie Rowe

Jacqueline Kennedy leads her children out from her husband’s funeral on November 25, 1963, followed by other members of the Kennedy family. White House photo by Abbie Rowe

 

As you have probably heard, today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, TX.  There has been no shortage of material commemorating the event, perhaps most notably the film “Killing Kennedy” which appeared on the National Geographic Channel and was based on the book by Bill O’Reilly (and Martin Dugard, who likely is responsible for more than 50% of the end product, but inevitably gets 5% of the credit).  I watched the program, and it made me wonder, whatever happened to some of those people?

Obviously, we all know what happened to President Kennedy. (The clue is in the title.) Lee Harvey Oswald also failed to make it out of that week alive, thanks to Jack Ruby.  The rest of the characters in this story went on living their lives, some fading into anonymity and others becoming high-ranking officials.  Here now is a review of what happened to a few of the people caught up in the JFK assassination. Continue reading

“12 Years a Slave”: Thoughts on America’s Darkest Chapter

An examination of some of the issues raised by director Steve McQueen’s newest film, including its historical, cultural, and spiritual implications.

I did not go to see 12 Years a Slave intending to write about it, but as much for myself as for others, I feel a need to do so now.  What I saw was not an ordinary film.  I knew before I went in that it would prompt a great deal of philosophical pondering, but perhaps even this expectation has proved to be too small.

The film tells the story of Solomon Northrup according to his 1853 autobiography.  A free black man living in New York state, he was deceived and abducted into slavery while on a trip to Washington, D.C.  For the next twelve years, he witnessed the horrors of slavery on multiple plantations in Louisiana, until finally a chance encounter allowed him to press his legal case and earn back his freedom.  It’s the kind of amazing true story that screenwriters would normally dream about, but the darkness of the subject matter is likely part of the reason that no filmmaker has attempted the feat until now. Continue reading

A Day to Honor our Veterans

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The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Guest blogger Shelley Watkins talks about how her life experiences have shaped her views of the U.S. military and her appreciation of our veterans.

Two days ago, I found myself making an unplanned stop at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  It was a beautiful fall day, colorful leaves swirling midst the verdigris soldiers, frozen mid-step as they walked across the field of battle. There was an unexpected flash of burnt sienna as an anxious fox scurried through the statues, desperate for sanctuary and finally disappearing under a bush. Does he really have a den in this crowded place, the only being allowed to walk among the statues? Continue reading

Mayors Gone Wild: Canuck Edition

800px-Skyline_of_Toronto_viewed_from_Harbour, Flickr John Vetterli

The lovely city of Toronto, now home to a truly embarrassing mayor. Flickr photo by John Vetterli

There are increasing calls for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to get ouuuwwwwt of city hall.  (“Ouuuwwwwt” is how people from Ontario tend to say “out”.)

Here in the United States, we know all about mayoral scandals.  In the ‘90s, there was D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who was sentenced to six months in prison after being convicted on drug charges.  In the ‘00s, we had Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose offenses made Barry’s seem rather trivial: he was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison for a laundry list of crimes that included “taking bribes, steering contracts to his friend, extorting businessmen, deceiving donors to his nonprofit, living lavishly on the public’s dime and loading the city’s payroll with friends and family.” Continue reading