Thursday December 18, 2014
There seems to be a new age of activism rising. From Occupy Wall Street, to the "Stop Watching Us" march against government surveillance, to the Moral Monday protests, to the People's Climate March, to the recent nationwide protests over the killings of men and boys of color by police, there is obviously a discontent in this country that is pouring into the streets.
November 2016 is still a long way off, but it's hard to imagine that the presidential campaign will provide any bit of advertising as strangely entertaining and revealing as a video put online recently by Stand With Hillary, a new super PAC.
Haven't seen it? Oh you must. Right now. I give you leave from this column to go take a look, but hurry back. There's a lot to talk about.
Along with falling leaves and first snows, it's time for my annual holiday gift guide, offering suggestions for presents with meaning.
At a time of racial division and inequity in America, Equal Justice Initiative, eji.org, fights on behalf of low-income people snared unfairly by the justice system. The group is led by Bryan Stevenson, an African-American lawyer whom Desmond Tutu has called America's Mandela.
A loaded pun can be deadly.
And now, in China, the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is cracking down. "Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms," it said in a press release.
The decisions by two grand juries not to indict police officers in the deaths of black men mark an opportune moment -- both depressing and uplifting -- to write about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
The story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity may have fallen apart Friday.
But it doesn't mean that everything at U-Va. is OK. It doesn't mean that rape doesn't happen. It doesn't mean that Virginia and other universities treat rape, sexual assault, non-consensual sex or whatever they want to call it as serious crimes that deserve serious criminal investigations and serious punishments.
Herta Kriegner, a graphic artist from Austria, likes the German word "über." It conveys, she told me recently, both a European sensibility and a sense of going "above and beyond" for a customer. In fact, she likes the word so much that 15 years ago, when she started her own small New York design firm, that's the name she gave it: über.
Today, let's take a look at the Little Bill That Couldn't.
Say hello to the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act. It's sort of shy, but if you look over there behind the ottoman, you may see it peeking out.
Two disparate news items caught my eye recently that demonstrate how our government can act in ways that mystify and anger the taxpayers who support it with their hard-earned money.
The first was the report from the new prime minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, that about 50,000 Iraqi men were on his broken military's payroll who weren't even in the army, but were drawing as much as $600 a month in salary.