'God Isn't Fixing This' Argument Divides Even More In Gun Debate

Attendees at a Donald Trump rally in Manassas, Va., take part in a prayer and moment of silence after the San Bernadino, Calif., shootings.

Attendees at a Donald Trump rally in Manassas, Va., take part in a prayer and moment of silence after the San Bernadino, Calif., shootings. Cliff Owen/AP hide caption

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As yet another mass shooting claimed the lives of 14 people Wednesday in San Bernadino, Calif., a familiar refrain echoed from the lips of politicians: Pray.

But for many fed up with the now seemingly routine shootings and the resulting inaction from each one over how to stop another tragedy, pleas to God weren’t enough anymore.

That was the sentiment the New York Daily News proclaimed on the tabloid’s cover Thursday. With the headline blaring, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” it highlighted the tweets of GOP politicians, each asking for prayer in the wake of the shooting of an office party at the Inland Regional Center.

An early look at tomorrow’s front page…
GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS: https://t.co/eKUg5f03ec pic.twitter.com/j4gEFg9YtJ

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 3, 2015

“Prayers aren’t working,” the paper wrote. “White House hopefuls on the Democratic side of the aisle called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the shooting…. But after yet another mass shooting in America, GOP presidential contenders were conspicuously silent on the issue of gun control. Instead, the Republicans were preaching about prayer.”

The hashtag #GodIsntFixingThis soon began trending on Twitter.

Stand up against violence. Embrace peace. We can do better than this. #GodIsntFixingThis

— bobbyp (@bobbyp) December 3, 2015

Dear @SpeakerRyan @tedcruz @RandPaul – STOP PRAYING AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. #SanBernadino #godisntfixingthis

— Al McWilliams (@AlMcAlMcAl) December 3, 2015

In 2015 there have been 351 mass shootings in 334 days. More than 1 mass shooting per day. #GodIsntFixingThis #itsuptous

— Torri Shack (@torrishack) December 3, 2015

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who called for more gun restrictions in the wake of the devastating shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in his state two years ago, echoed those sentiments.

Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2015

Others argued back that God wasn’t acting, because he had been removed from schools and the public sphere.

I disagree with #GodIsntFixingThis!! God has NEVER left us. We are the ones that took Him out of everything!

— ShaySoSuper (@BrownShataria) December 3, 2015

#GodIsntFixingThis ? Maybe because God is constantly getting kicked out of this! Don’t need politicians pretending to be believers!

— Timothy Henderson (@pragart) December 3, 2015

The passionate online reactions mirror just how divided Americans are on the issue. An October CNN/ORC poll showed the public was split — 52 percent oppose stricter gun-control laws, while 46 percent support new ones.

Others thought the online backlash against prayer came across as crass.

“Mock­ery isn’t fix­ing this. As a sup­port­er of stronger gun con­trol, this New York Daily News cov­er and the re­lated #God­Isn’tFix­ingThis Twit­ter storm make me wince. Only people who agree with me can pray for vic­tims of gun vi­ol­ence?” National Journal’s Ron Fournier wrote, adding, “[I]t in­sults any­body who op­poses gun con­trol and de­means their sym­path­ies for the vic­tims. It mocks their pray­ers. That’s no way to win a cul­ture war.”

Dr. Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote this in the Washington Post:

“Ironically, enough, the ‘Don’t Just Pray There, Do Something’ meme will actually keep things from happening. After all, some of our biggest obstacles to policy solutions of any kind is an ideologically fractured populace where virtually every issue is a test of political purity.

“If you shame away the most human aspects of public life — such as the call to pray for one another — you will find this situation worsening, not getting better. After all, we learn to listen to one another, and even work together, because we see one another as fellow humans, fellow citizens, as people of goodwill, not just as avatars to be warred against on a screen.”

Meanwhile, Republican Ted Cruz said at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Washington that since the shooters in San Bernadino were Muslim it “may be ‘yet another manifestation’ of ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ as USA Today noted.

Cruz at Republican Jewish Coalition: calls for moment of silence for #SanBernadino; says “we are at war.”

— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) December 3, 2015

But the truth is, both sides have politicized the issue — on Thursday morning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email asking people to sign their gun control petition, which takes you to a fundraising page.

The issue is one that will still factor deeply into the 2016 elections. During the 2012 presidential race, the National Rifle Association alone spent more than 10 times as much as gun control groups.

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Reaction From Muslims In Southern California

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The shooters in the San Bernardino attack were Muslim. Steve Inskeep speaks with Jihad Turk, imam and president of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School, about reaction among the Muslim community.

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Bagels And Bongos: The Jewish-Latin Music Connection

USC professor Josh Kun, who joins Alt.Latino for this week's show, is a co-founder of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, which in 2013 assembled a collection of Latino-Jewish music titled It's A Scream How Levine Does The Rhumba.
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USC professor Josh Kun, who joins Alt.Latino for this week’s show, is a co-founder of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, which in 2013 assembled a collection of Latino-Jewish music titled It’s A Scream How Levine Does The Rhumba. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

This week on Alt.Latino, we explore the deeply intertwined roots that connect Jewish and Latin music.

Professor Josh Kun teaches at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He’s researched music history extensively, and he joins us to spin some awesome old records, including Celia Cruz’s performance of “Hava Nagila” (who knew?).

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’ve got more examples, be sure to let us know in the comments section.

Hear The Songs

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Celia Cruz

  • Song: Hava Nagila
  • From: Latino Erotico
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Mickey Katz And His Orchestra

  • Song: My Yiddishe Mambo
  • From: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story, 1940s-80s
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Eydie Gorme

  • Song: Sabor a Mi
  • From: 20 De Coleccion
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Rene Bloch

  • Song: Mambo Chicano
  • From: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story, 1940s-80s
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Xavier Cugat

  • Song: Miami Beach Rhumba
  • From: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story, 1940s-80s
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Machito

  • Song: Mambo La Concord
  • From: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story, 1940s-80s
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Ruth Wallis

  • Song: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba
  • From: It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story, 1940s-80s
YouTube

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Pentagon To Announce Women Are Allowed In Frontline Ground Combat Positions

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is expected to announce Thursday that women in the U.S. military – including the Army and Marines – can now serve in combat posts. It’s the most emphatic step taken in a process to open combat jobs to women that began in January of 2013.

Carter is making an announcement at noon Thursday; we’ll update this post with news from the event.

Women are being cleared to play a greater role in combat — and vie for thousands of jobs — after the military conducted an internal review.

From NPR’s Tom Bowman and our national security desk:

“Some Pentagon officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, have said they worry about the ability of Marine infantry units to be as effective with both male and female troops. Carter is expected to say he’ll take Dunford’s concerns into consideration in opening the military jobs.

“The Pentagon has been opening up jobs to women throughout the Obama administration, admitting women to Navy submarines and to the Army’s elite Ranger School.”

The announcement comes more than 20 years after women were officially excluded from serving in small ground combat units back in 1994. It also comes three years after a group of servicewomen sued the Pentagon and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012. Two months after that suit was filed, Panetta announced that women would be gradually allowed to serve combat roles.

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Planning, Other Details Make California Shooting 'A Really Strange Case'

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Investigators are combing through data for clues about motives in the San Bernardino attack. A married couple opened fire on a workplace holiday party and seemed to have planned at least the getaway.

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Appeals Court Convicts Oscar Pistorius Of Murder

Pistorius, shown here during his trial, was released from prison in October, and has been living with an uncle under house arrest.

Pistorius, shown here during his trial, was released from prison in October, and has been living with an uncle under house arrest. Alon Skuy/AP hide caption

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An appeals court in South Africa has convicted double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius of murdering his live-in girlfriend, a ruling that could send him back to prison for up to 15 years.

The court ruled that the trial judge erred last year when she convicted Pistorius of “culpable homicide,” the equivalent of manslaughter, for killing Reeva Steenkamp by shooting her through a bathroom door in 2013.

In overturning the September 2014 verdict, Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal called the case “a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions,” The Associated Press reports. The news service quotes the judge as saying:

“A young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympian heights as an athlete. In doing so he becomes an international celebrity, he meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model, romance blossoms, and then, ironically on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life.”

As the Two-Way has reported:

“Pistorius is a world-famous Olympian and Paralympian, known as the “Blade Runner” for his use of carbon-fiber blades during competition. His lower legs were amputated when he was a baby as a result of a genetic condition.”

Pistorius maintained that he shot Steenkamp, a former model, accidentally, because he believed an intruder had broken into their Pretoria home. Prosecutors argued that he shot her following an argument.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who heard the trial, ruled that Pistorius could not have known that Steenkamp was behind the door when he fired and acquitted him of the murder charge. But as The Telegraph reports, the appeals court found that to be an error:

“Justice Leach argued the fact that Pistorius didn’t know Steenkamp was behind the door did not mean he is not guilty of murder.

“Justice Leach said: ‘The argument appears to have been that in the circumstances that prevailed, the accused may well have fired without thinking of the consequences of his actions.

‘In my view this cannot be accepted.’

“The Supreme Court judges argued that whether Pistorius believed it was an intruder or Ms Steenkamp behind the door did not go to the heart of the issue; he could reasonably be expected to have forseen that shooting in such a small space could lead to death.”

The Telegraph said Leach also ruled that “the Supreme Court found that the original trial did not take into account all the circumstantial evidence involved in the case, including key police evidence, which was an error. The judges considered the ballistics evidence in particular to be crucial.”

The verdict comes less than two months after Pistorius was released from prison on the lesser charge and placed under house arrest. He has been living with an uncle.

Under South African law, Pistorius will be sent back to prison, the BBC reports. Here’s more from the BBC:

“We don’t have a date yet, but it will be next year. The minimum sentence for murder is 15 years, but the judge does have the discretion to lower it.”

The BBC adds that Pistorius “can challenge the ruling in the constitutional court but only if his lawyers can argue that his constitutional rights have been violated.” There do not appear to be grounds for such an appeal, it quoted legal expert Mannie Witz as saying.

Steenkamp’s father, Barry, told South African media that he was relieved by the judgment and described it as fair, the AP said:

” ‘Let us now all get on with our lives,’ Barry Steenkamp said. His voice breaking with emotion, he said of his daughter: ‘I’m sure she’ll be able to rest as well now.’ “

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It's A Numbers Game

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Order the following famous families from most amount of brothers to the fewest brothers: Jonas Brothers, Marx Brothers, Ringling Brothers. That would be Ringling (7), Marx (5) and Jonas (4). That’s the gist of this numerical ordering game.

Heard in Lulu Miller & Alix Spiegel: I Second That Emotion

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Blank Of Blank

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One of Pittsburgh’s nicknames is “City of Bridges,” referring to its many river-spanning structures. Appropriately, all of the answers in this final round are three-word phrases with the word “of” in the middle.

Heard in Lulu Miller & Alix Spiegel: I Second That Emotion

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Specialty Drugs Can Prove Expensive Even With Medicare Coverage

A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Medicare recipients taking Revlimid for cancer could end up paying, on average, $11,538 out of pocket for the drug in 2016, even if the medicine is covered by their Medicare Part D plan.

A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Medicare recipients taking Revlimid for cancer could end up paying, on average, $11,538 out of pocket for the drug in 2016, even if the medicine is covered by their Medicare Part D plan. Carmine Galasso/MCT/Landov hide caption

toggle caption Carmine Galasso/MCT/Landov

Medicare recipients who have arthritis, cancer or other complex conditions may find they have to pay thousands of dollars a year for their medications, even if their insurance plan covers most prescriptions.

For 2016 the out-of-pocket costs can reach as high as $11,538 for a single drug — far more than the maximum catastrophic threshold of $4,850 for Medicare beneficiaries, according to an analysis of Medicare Part D drug coverage released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

That threshold is supposed to be the upper limit for the out-of-pocket expenses a beneficiary has to pay during a single year. But Tricia Neuman, director of the program on Medicare policy at Kaiser, called that limit “leaky,” because Medicare still requires seniors to pay 5 percent of a drug’s cost after they reach the limit.

And that out-of-pocket amount can increase quickly, especially for someone taking multiple expensive medications for cancer, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis or certain other illnesses or chronic conditions.

“We were struck by the thousands and thousands of dollars that some people can pay for specialty drugs, in some cases, even after they reach the catastrophic level,” Neuman says.

The analysis showed, for example, that seniors taking Revlimid for cancer could end up paying $11,538 of their own money in 2016, even when that medicine is covered under their Medicare prescription drug plan.

Some people may not realize they can be on the hook for such expenses, Neuman says. “They could find themselves with an unpleasant surprise when they exceed the limit and still have to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars,” she says.

Neuman urges people to shop around for a Medicare plan that covers the particular prescriptions they need. “It really does pay to shop,” she says. “We found that plans vary widely in terms of the drugs they cover and what they charge.” Open enrollment for Medicare plans, including Part D prescription drug plans, ends on Dec. 7.

If Medicare customers take a medication that has been excluded from their plan, the costs can be exceptionally high, the report showed. The out-of-pocket cost for Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis medicine, for example, could reach almost $50,000 a year, if it’s not covered. Other specialty drugs for conditions such as multiple sclerosis or hepatitis C can climb even higher.

And even for lower-priced drugs that are covered by the plans, a patient’s out-of-pocket costs can vary widely. For example, Spiriva, a drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, costs $33 under one Medicare plan and $472 under another, according to the report.

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