Great books tell stories. Here’s our pick of vivid and insightful new releases for better understanding America, world events, history, science, and theology
JUNE 20: Thousands of people march in the center of Recife, state of Pernambuco, Brazil, during a protest in what is now called the “Tropical Spring” against corruption, the high cost of hosting the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, and other problems. More than 1 million Brazilians pledged via social media networks to march in 80 cities across Brazil as the protest movement grows.
Wednesday, June 12
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), holding its national meeting in Houston, re-elected the denomination’s first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. of New Orleans. Luter called for more black missionaries overseas. The SBC also approved a resolution expressing disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America for allowing openly homosexual boys into the organization (see "Down South"). SBC churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
Thursday, June 13
Last year, for the first time ever, more white people died than were born in the United States. According to data released today by the Census bureau, the population of “non-Hispanic whites” fell by 12,400. The total non-Hispanic white population is still 198 million, or 63 percent of the population, but this is the first time in American history—including wars and depressions—that the non-Hispanic white population has fallen.
Friday, June 14
Turkey entered its third week of protests. So far, at least four people have died, and more than 5,000 protesters have been treated for injuries or the effects of tear gas. More than 600 police officers—who have reportedly used strong-arm tactics—have been injured. The protests began as a peaceful demonstration against the redevelopment of Gezi Park, the last remaining green space in central Istanbul. The demonstrators are now protesting what they call Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic leadership. Throughout the protests, Erdogan has vowed to continue redevelopment plans. He dismissed protesters as extremists and the protests as undemocratic plots to topple his government, which was elected with 50 percent support in 2011.
Monday, June 17
Cindy McCain, wife of former GOP presidential candidate and current U.S. Sen. John McCain, received an award for her pro-homosexual activism. McCain received the Trevor Hero Award at an annual fundraiser in New York City for The Trevor Project. The organization offers support and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Presenting the award was her daughter and popular blogger Meghan McCain.
A new Pew study says media coverage this year tilted strongly toward positive coverage of same-sex marriage. “It wasn’t even close,” reported Paul Hitlin, Amy Mitchell, and Mark Jurkowitz at Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. In nearly 500 articles and TV segments from March 18 to May 12, “stories with more statements supporting same-sex marriage outweighed those with more statements opposing it by a margin of roughly 5-to-1.”
Tuesday, June 18
A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the contraceptive mandate to Geneva College. Geneva, a Christian school in Beaver Falls, Pa., objects to providing federally mandated insurance coverage to employees and students that includes Plan B (the so-called “morning-after” pill) and Ella (the “week-after” pill). U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti had originally dismissed Geneva’s complaint but then reinstated the suit in May after Geneva presented evidence that the school was already experiencing the effects of the mandate, and could not sue until it had experienced actual harm.
A community college professor in Tennessee who required her students to wear rainbow-colored ribbons in a show of support for the gay rights movement got a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom telling her she was violating the students’ First Amendment rights. Students in Linda Brunton’s psychology class at Columbia State Community College had to wear “rainbow coalition” ribbons to show support for the homosexual community. When some students objected, Brunton called them “ignorant and uneducated.” The ADF letter demands an apology from Brunton and a reaffirmation of religious liberty by the college.
Wednesday, June 19
Obama at Brandenburg
President Obama spoke at the iconic spot where John Kennedy declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan demanded of Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall.” The Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, was also where Obama himself spoke to more than 200,000 people five years ago, as a presidential candidate. Today, facing declining approval ratings at home and a host of unresolved international crises abroad, the carefully staged event included only about 6,000 carefully selected attendees who heard the president call for a reduction of nuclear arms and the closing of the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba—which he promised to do during the 2008 campaign.
Russia and China are among the world’s worst countries for human trafficking, according to a report released today by the U.S. State Department. The report places the two nations on a list with nations such as North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe as the worst performers in fighting human trafficking. China’s one-child policy has created a huge demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides or prostitutes. The report accused Russia of using trafficking to obtain forced labor.
Eyes in the sky
FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress that his agency uses drones over American skies. He told a congressional committee that the FBI’s drone program “is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized leads.”
Exodus International—a Christian ministry that aimed to help people struggling with homosexuality—announced it would close after nearly 40 years of operation. “We’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Exodus President Alan Chambers, one day after he issued an apology to homosexuals for promoting counseling methods that included reparative therapy. (See “Leaving Exodus”).
Thursday, June 20
With 27.9 seconds left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Lebron James drilled a two-point shot, stole the ball, drew a foul, and hit two free throws to clinch a 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs and a second consecutive NBA Championship for the Miami Heat. Also for the second year in a row, James was named the NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player.
May throughout most of the world was the third warmest May on record, according to data released by the National Climatic Data Center. Not only that, May was the 339th consecutive month above the 20th-century average. The last time May was cooler than that average: 1976. It was also the eighth warmest spring on record, though it wasn’t warm everywhere. The United States had an unusually cool spring, with some central and southeastern U.S. states posting one of their 10 coolest springs on record.
Sunday, June 23
A Colorado school district discriminated against a 6-year-old boy because it wouldn’t allow him to use the girls’ bathroom: So says a report by the state’s civil rights division released by the family’s attorney. Coy Mathis “has identified as a female since an early age,” according to Reuters, and has “attended Eagleside Elementary School, south of Colorado Springs, as a girl since kindergarten.” He used the girls’ restroom until late 2012, when the principal informed the parents that Coy would have to use the boys’ restroom or a gender-neutral staff lavatory. Coy’s parents withdrew Coy from the school and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
Monday, June 24
An Italian court found Silvio Berlusconi guilty of paying for sex with a minor and sentenced the 76-year-old former prime minister to seven years in prison. The panel of three female judges in Milan also convicted him of abuse of office and barred him from ever seeking office again. Berlusconi, who denies the charges, will remain free during appeals.
U2 front man Bono appeared on Focus on the Family’s radio program to “thank the American people” for their work on HIV/AIDS. Bono said most of the 9 million Africans saved from HIV/AIDS are alive because of treatments funded by the United States. He added, “I also want to thank the evangelical community for that, because it wouldn’t have happened without their leadership.” He said George W. Bush and his administration “deserve praise for starting this out.”
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to undo affirmative action, and instead told the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at a University of Texas at Austin policy that left white student applicants at a disadvantage. Because the high court didn’t issue a sweeping ruling, no other college admission programs come under its effect—at least for now. (See “Back to the states”).
The Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals in the final 76 seconds to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 and win the NHL’s Stanley Cup. “We didn’t give up. We were going to throw everything at them,” said Bryan Bickell, who scored the tying goal. “It was crazy. We just got guys in front, and good things happened.” Seventeen seconds after Bickell’s goal teammate Dave Bolland scored the winning goal.