The Facebook Of Mormon

Mormons

The Article: Facebook Of Mormon by Shira Telushkin in The Atlantic.

The Text: The woman that he was trying to reach almost never picked up her phone, and she lived more than 50 miles away. Plus, he had to watch his gas mileage. So Brandon Gonzales, a then-20-year-old missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints, stationed in Slatington, Pa., looked her up on Facebook. The young Mormon found that she was almost always free to chat online in the mornings, and soon they were chatting every day. He would send her links to church videos and sermons that explained aspects of Mormon faith, family life, or church theology.

This was 2010, and, as far as most Mormons knew, what he was doing was completely forbidden.

Restrictions on technology have long been a defining feature of life during the Mormon mission, a full-time proselytizing effort that typically lasts two years for men and 18 months for women. Missionaries don’t use personal cell phones, browse the Internet, or even watch movies, excluding certain church-produced films. They read nothing outside of the Mormon scriptures and missionary-relevant texts. They call home only twice a year: on Mother’s Day and on Christmas. Up until April 2013, these missionaries kept in touch with friends via handwritten letters. Today they have access to email on a church-operated server for a limited time once a week. The lifestyle is constructed to minimize worldly distractions, and focus missionaries on the task of preaching their gospel. Which is why it was a pretty big deal that Brandon Gonzales was on Facebook.

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An Open Letter To House Republicans

Capitol Hill

The Article: What Century Are You Living In? An Open Letter to House Republicans by Barbara Boxer in The Huffington Post.

The Text: With all of the incredible challenges facing our nation — the need to rebuild our infrastructure, create jobs, improve education and address the threat of climate change — one would expect that these pressing issues would be at the top of your agenda.

But last week I watched in disbelief as Republicans instead chose to ratchet up the War on Women.

First, there was Republican Congressman Steve Pearce’s memoir that argued that wives should “voluntarily submit” to their husbands. Then, former GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joined in, suggesting that American women could “control their libido” rather than receive contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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How Much Of An Income Gap Is “Too” Much?

Wall Street

The Article: The Income Gap: How Much Is Too Much? by Yuki Noguchi in NPR.

The Text: In the debate over income inequality, the right and left seem to agree on one point: The U.S. is the land more of equal opportunity than equal outcomes.

But what’s the real relationship between the growing income gap and opportunity? A new report out last week has triggered more debate about the haves and the have-nots.

The study, led by Raj Chetty of Harvard University, says it’s not any harder to achieve economically in the U.S. today than it was 20 years ago. That flies in the face of growing criticism that the income gap is putting some opportunities beyond the reach of average Americans.

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Obama Gets Real About Weed, Prohibitionists Get Pissed

Obama Weed

The Article: The President Forgets To Lie About Marijuana, And Prohibitionists Are Outraged by Jacob Sullum in Forbes.

The Text: Prohibitionists were outraged by President Obama’s recent observation that marijuana is safer than alcohol—not because it is not true but because it contradicts the central myth underlying public support for the war on drugs. According to that myth, certain psychoactive substances are so dangerous that they cannot be tolerated, and the government has scientifically identified them. In reality, the distinctions drawn by our drug laws are arbitrary, and marijuana is the clearest illustration of that fact.

“As has been well documented,” Obama told The New Yorker’s David Remnick in an interview published on Sunday, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” When Remnick pressed him to say whether marijuana is in fact less dangerous than alcohol, the president said yes, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

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One Man On His Life Sentence For Crimes He Didn’t Commit

Life In Prison

The Article: Today I am 75, and facing death in a US jail for murders I didn’t commit by Kris Maharaj in The Guardian.

The Text: The day was 26 January 1972. It was quite a celebration. I don’t remember why I planned a special birthday party that year – I was turning 33 – but I suppose I was at the height of my good fortune. My fruit importation business had gone spectacularly well, and I had fallen in love with the horses. So I held the party at Kempton Park racecourse. I had a runner that day – if I recall correctly, it was Golden Ridge – and all my friends gathered around. They were happy days, and I basked in my good luck.

How different it is today.

This year I will celebrate my 75th birthday at the South Florida Reception Centre just outside Miami, USA. I will be roused by the prison guards at five in the morning. At six, there will be grits for breakfast, along with something they call “chicory” (there is no real coffee). After my insulin shot, I will be locked back down until around 9.30am. Then I should get a couple of hours on the yard, along with 600 other “inmates”.

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