We usually don’t think about water unless we’re thirsty, or unless we’re enduring a flood or a drought. Water has been very much on the minds of people in Georgia and other southeastern states, which have experienced the worst drought in a hundred years. Without significant rain, the water supply for Atlanta (Lake Lanier) could run out in the next three to nine months.
People who have knowledge of and access to contraceptives tend to have fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. It’s no accident that the world’s lowest abortion rates are found in Belgium and the Netherlands, where contraception is widely available, or that the highest rates are in Cuba and Vietnam, where access is limited.
The most impressive thing about “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an open letter to the world’s Christian leaders signed by 138 Muslim scholars, is that it exists. (See news report.) The second most impressive thing is the economy of its argument.
When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Columbia University, he was introduced as a “a petty and cruel dictator” by his host, the school’s president, Lee Bollinger. When he addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations, the U.S. delegation walked out.
European countries are asking how to deal with hundreds of young Muslims who went to Syria to fight and then returned home. Denmark is experimenting with rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Returning fighters are treated not as criminals but as troubled youth who lost their way and need a second chance. The program, first used with neo-Nazi youth, is voluntary and includes counseling, mentoring, opportunities for more schooling, and meetings with parents. So far the program seems to be working. Denmark has the second highest number of foreign fighters per capita. They “only become ticking bombs if we don’t integrate them” back into society, said a Danish psychologist (New York Times, December 13).