The group blog of The New Republic

June 24, 2013

American life is full of two groups of people: those who find racism abhorent, and those find this first group of people tiresome. Paula Deen's humilation this week seems to have brought out the members of Group 2. Why is everyone making such a big fuss, they ask? 

Thankfully, The New York Times has a very amusing report from Georgia on this subject: 

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June 23, 2013

Edward Snowden's Strange Layover in Moscow

Who knew that Moscow was on the way from Hong Kong to Quito?

As I write this, Edward Snowden waits in a "capsule" at a new hotel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport until he takes off for Havana at 2:05pm tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, he has been seen by an Ecuadorian doctor and Ecuador's ambassador to Russia, and has asked Ecuador for asylum. Snowden will have spent less than 24 hours in Russia, and will not have seen any of it: he can't leave the airport as he doesn't have a Russian visa.

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June 21, 2013

Just as a smooth, luminous pearl hardens around the irritant of a single grain of sand, many of the most magnificent acts of social unrest come as the result of local issues and incidents that are easily forgotten in the haze of tear gas and improvised folk music.

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Though it rambles across much farmed-over terrain and takes care to mention all the caveats, such as Palestinian maximalism and gridlock1, Roger Cohen’s latest New York Times column is notable for the slightly more novel point that it is partly up to American Jewish groups to push Israel away from its disastrous, growing, and nearly half-century-long occupation of the West Bank.

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Last week, Gang of Eight members called the idea that comprehensive immigration reform should commit more agents to the U.S. Mexico border, advanced in an amendment proposed by Sen. John Cornyn, for what it is: utterly wrong. Senator Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, said, “Most experts have told us [border agents] will not do close to as good a job as the drones and the helicopters and the more mobile assets.”

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Well, maybe not all of their time. But more than a third of it: According to the latest American Time Use Survey, released Thursday by the Labor Department, the average American aged 15 or older on average spent 8 hours and 44 minutes sleeping. This is infinitely more shocking than whatever those partners in leaks, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, plan to reveal next.

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The protests in Brazil, which have lasted a couple weeks and yesterday drew more than one million to the streets of the cities, are about a lot of things: the rising cost of living, corruption, mistreatment by police. But one of the prime grievances (since resolved) was a rise in subway and bus fares.

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June 20, 2013

When the American writer Max Eastman asked James Joyce why Finnegans Wake was so hard to read, Joyce replied that he desired to keep critics "busy for 300 years." This may sound pompous, but even those of us who have never read Finnegans Wake can understand why someone might be willing to spend decades studying Joyce. 

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In an important step, the American Medical Association voted to condemn the FDA’s longstanding ban on gay men donating blood at its biannual conference Tuesday.

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An immigration reform advocate I spoke to yesterday had a fine way of summarizing the tenuous mix of hope and frustration he feels watching comprehensive immigration reform take shape in the Senate: “Even when the ball moves, it doesn’t.” 

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