Century Marks

Century Marks

Welcome mat

The Canadian government affords citizens a rare opportunity and responsibility: they can band together in groups to adopt refugees from Syria. The sponsorship program provides financial support and practical aid to refugees for a year and helps them learn English and find jobs. The Trudeau government first committed to taking 25,000 refugees, then added more. The Canadian immigration minister said he can’t keep up with the demand of people wanting to sponsor refugees. President Obama pledged that the United States would take 10,000 Syrian refugees, but so far only about half that many have been admitted into the country (New York Times, July 1).

Tracing a hoax

A purportedly ancient papyrus manuscript fragment that refers to Jesus’ wife is most likely a fake. Karen L. King, professor of early Christianity at Harvard, had argued for the fragment’s authenticity at a conference in Rome in 2012 and in a Harvard Theological Review article in 2014. Ariel Sabar, a journalist, investigated the provenance of the fragment in Coptic, tracing its ownership to Walter Fritz, a dropout student at the Egyptology Institute of Free University, former executive at a bankrupt automotive parts manufacturing company, and a producer of online pornography that features his wife. King acknowledged to Sabar that the fragment is likely a hoax (Atlantic, July/August and June 16 online post).

Close to home

After a lengthy discussion with a sportscaster about the NBA playoffs, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr asked if he could address another issue. Kerr, whose father was killed by a gunman in 1984 at the American University of Beirut, launched into a scathing critique of the federal government’s inability to regulate firearms. “It’s easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver’s license,” Kerr said. “As somebody who’s had a family member shot and killed, it devastates me every time I read about this stuff . . . and then it’s even more devastating to see the government just cowing to the NRA and going to this totally outdated Bill of Rights, right to bear arms” argument. The Orlando nightclub shooting happened the night before game five of the NBA playoffs (USA Today, June 24).

SNAP benefit

A recent study by two economists indicates that a $30 per person monthly increase in Supple­mental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits would not only increase grocery spending in poor households but improve nutrition. The increased benefit would also reduce the amount of fast food consumed and lessen the chance of food insecurity—the inability of a family to afford adequate amounts of food. SNAP benefits can be spent only on groceries, but the additional benefit would free up resources to pay for things like utilities (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 14).

Old times

Rick Tyler, an independent candidate in the race for Tennessee’s third congressional district, put up a billboard which read, “Make America White Again.” Another sign quoted Martin Luther King Jr., “I have a dream,” with Confederate flags imposed over the White House. Tyler says he has no ill will toward people of color and claims that he merely wants to take America back to the “1960s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.” The campaign signs drew a lot of attention and were taken down within 12 hours, but not by Tyler (WRCBtv.com, June 23).