After President Obama released memos from Bush administration lawyers that defended waterboarding, Dick Cheney told Fox News that extreme interrogation methods like waterboarding helped the country gain important information and deter terrorist attacks.
Activists on both sides were disappointed when the Obama administration revealed its policy on embryonic stem cell research last month. The guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health are “not bold enough,” in the view of the New York Times. But to the Family Research Council actions permitted under the guidelines will “destroy human life.”
When Americans discuss the great crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church, they usually are thinking of the notorious sex abuse scandals. Vatican authorities, though, worry more about another crisis, one with potentially far graver implications for the church—the explosive growth of Protestant and Pentecostal numbers in what has always been the solidly Catholic stronghold of Latin America.
If the economic recession has made people more receptive to spiritual concerns and theological insights, that interest has not translated into sales of religion books (see Marcia Nelson’s report in this issue).
A lot of outrage, including threats of physical violence, has been directed at executives of the American International Group and other financial-services firms. The executives are perceived as having triggered the world wide economic crisis by their reliance on subprime mortgage–backed securities and on credit default swaps (something few people understand even after hearing them explained).
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).