With the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
1. The New York Times series about a homeless child named Dasani is some of the best journalism I’ve read in years. Go read it now. Seriously, I’ll wait.
2. President Obama’s eulogy at Mandela’s funeral was excellent
“The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.
And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace.”
3. There is a budget deal. It’s better than sequestration, but not that much better. Here’s a rundown of what’s in it from wonkblog:
“The sequestration relief is evenly divided between defense spending and non-defense discretionary spending. The sequester’s cuts to mandatory spending are unaffected.”
4. An extension of unemployment benefits was not included in the deal:
“Unless Congress acts — suddenly and unexpectedly — that recession-era initiative will expire at the end of the month. About 1.3 million current beneficiaries will lose aid. Also affected are an estimated 1.9 million more who would have been eligible for the program in the first half of 2014 after their state benefits ran out.”
5. A good look at the performance of the safety net during the recession.
The green line shows that poverty rates would have soared during the most recent recession if there were no safety-net programs in place. But as the blue line shows, the poverty rate actually stayed fairly constant. The expansion of food stamps, unemployment insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit blunted a lot of misery. (Seethis recent paper (pdf) by Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University for more detail on that.)
In today’s Gospel from Matthew we get a preview of the Kingdom of God:
“11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples
11:3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
11:4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
11:6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
The Kingdom is characterized by healing and good news. I wish in these poverty news round-ups that I had more good news to report, clearly the work of the Kingdom is still ongoing.
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