5 Fast And Easy Ways To Be A More Informed Citizen

5 Fast And Easy Ways To Be A More Informed Citizen

Prove Winston Churchill wrong.
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Winston Churchill once said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

This philosophy unfortunately seems to be true at times and is highlighted in videos like this one that Jimmy Kimmel Live produced back in 2013 about whether people preferred Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (newsflash, they’re the exact same thing).

So how can we combat the ignorance? The easy answer is to just get informed. In today’s fast-paced 24-hour news cycle, that may seem hard. However, there are easy, fast ways to get the news and become a better, more educated voter. Here are five of those ways:


1. NPR One

National Public Radio sounds boring, but it’s actually one of the best ways to stay in the know about all the latest happenings. NPR One is an app you can download for free off of the app store, and it will play random segments put together by the NPR team that is uploaded early that morning. Every time you open the app, it will automatically play the hourly newscast which is usually under five minutes. I often listen to this while I’m getting ready in the morning, and it gives you things to talk about for the day!


2. NYT Now

The New York Times is easily one of the most respected names in journalism. It’s great that they now have a free app that gives you a “morning briefing.” You can read what you need to know for the day, and how it may affect the world. It takes under five minutes to read, but it is very comprehensive and even comes with a “back story” that goes more into depth about a particular news story.


3. FiveThirtyEight’s Significant Digits Newsletter


FiveThirtyEight is one of my absolute favorite websites for keeping up to date with politics. This is a statistical journalism news source that gives you great analysis of statistics from everywhere from politics to sports. This also has a daily newsletter called “Significant Digits” written by the hilarious Walter Hickey. This newsletter gives you the stats you need to know for the day and is chock-full of little quips by Mr. Hickey. This newsletter is a great and easy way to start the day.


4. theSkimm

theSkimm is a more recent daily newsletter that is gaining a lot of popularity. Unique in its use of vernacular and “plain english,” theSkimm also is a summary of what you should know for the day. Another reason I love it is that it takes the time to explain to you the background of various events and why you should care about them. It’s extremely easy to read and I would strongly recommend it for newcomers that want the stay informed, but don’t want something difficult to understand.


5. Vox

Vox’s motto is “Explain the news,” and boy, does it accomplish just that. Like theSkimm, Vox will take the time to explain complicated issues to its readers, as well as producing fun, visually stimulating videos. Known for its articles entitled “Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask,” Vox will take the time to break down complicated issues in a non-condescending way to its readers. Vox is one of my absolute favorite news sources and it should become your favorite, too.


Technology has made it all too easy for us to become better informed citizens. Take ten minutes of your time each day to help prove Winston Churchill wrong. America will be better for it.

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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The American Paradox: ​Colonial-Settler Capitalism Vs Native International Federalism

The European Nation-State Structures Supporting Colonial-Settler Systems Towards Capitalism; And The Native American Confederation That Is An Internationalist Collective Towards The Unity Of All The Tribes Of Humanity.

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Throughout the history of the United States there has been two major contradictions: the state apparatuses formed off of the model of European nations, and the federal structure modeled off of the native tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. While these two systems have evolved side-by-side with one another; there are differences that need to be highlighted. There is a clear connection between the atrocities committed by the European structures that caused the genocide of the native population and the enslavement and forced migration of African populations towards the end goal of profiting economically. There is also a clear connection with the ideals embodied in the federal structure and act of unity designed to integrate and concentrate a multi ethnic, multi cultural structure towards the aim of a transcended system designed to bond human species.

When we look in closer details to this colonial settlers heritage, it has a lot in line with Anglo Saxon superiority, which extended into Anglo American superiority, which we consider today as "white supremacy". This perspective of racial supremacy and ethnic identity has conflicted with the basic pretexts of the model of native designed federalism by sheer fact that the atrocities of mass genocide of the native population and enslavement of Africans populations. Defense and justification was rationalized by the ideas of European style nation-states which became a main aspect of the colonial-settler structure that has built the United States's States and defended the corresponding structure of capitalism it supported. This structure of capitalism, white supremacy, and nation-states serve to culminate into the colonial-settlers apparatus that ultimately embodies some of the worst aspects of imperialism and other forms of exploitation. The colonial wars with native peoples, the manifest destiny against the rest of the native population in the continent as well as the conquest of Mexico, the overseas expansion that occurred during the Spanish-American war, and the modern imperialism/neocolonialism via corporations and global military domination of the post World War II "Pax Americana"; just to name a few examples of the colonial-settlers atrocities. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, this is the mentality of the "triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism"; which was another way of describing what has been embodied in the colonial-settler structure, and is something dating back to the origins of the United States. But even with these atrocities, the origin of the United States is shared by its federalism.

Federalism was the basis that formed the United States in its beginning via the Articles of Confederation, and later the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of the federal government. While the colonial-settler structures blended with this, Federalism was a creation of native peoples in America. The idea of federalism was rooted in the collective native tribes of America who formed a confederation most know today as the Iroquois Confederacy. It was a coalition of tribes that came together to form a collective that worked in the interests of the group as a whole rather than any one individual tribe. These basic pretexts of political organization, coupled with native economic values of resource conservation and egalitarian distribution towards members of the collective tribe; formatted an institutional system that strikingly contrasts the individualism of European nation-states and their economic structure of capitalism with its privatization and self-serving incentives. This manner of transcended organization beyond any one particular tribe structure allowed for a system of unity that could be seen as a proto-form of internationalism, given theoretically the tribes welcomed all other tribes. The development of this international perspective likely was influenced by the interconnected trade network systems that intertwined the Americas in multiple structures of trade and commerce. It has been said that the Iroquois Confederacy developed the concept of a peace belt, a belt used to signify members of the confederation and a sign of friendship to the tribes connected in the vast North American and Pan-American trade networks. One could compare this to a proto form of universal citizenship/international passport. It is worth noting that this internationalist mentality has corresponded with the US federal structure in its motto E Pluribus Unum.

In the end, the atrocities of the European nation-states and its corresponding loyalty to capitalism has all but destroyed the native Federation and its corresponding economic system and mentality of international unity of the human species. The colonial-settler structure of the United States continues to wage a campaign of imperialism as a means of expanding the economic capacity of its capitalist structure via exploitation internally of the populace within its borders!and colonial territorial apparatuses; as well as protruding externally with an expanse of militarism on a global scale as a way of consolidating economic domination and exploitation. The loss of the memory of the history of federalism, the native mentality of egalitarian internationalism, and other tragedies inflicted by the cruelties of the colonial-settler imperial occupation derived from European systems of government do not hold unilateral hegemony over the course and path of the United States federal government. While the two corresponding structures have codeveloped, the inherent nature of the colonial-settler system is not one that is unalterable or invulnerable.

The basic pretexts outlined in early draft of the Articles of Confederation, such as the model written by Thomas Paine, outlined a federal government that instituted universal citizenship, voting rights for all, abolish of slavery, economic protection and egalitarian distributive methods, amongst many other attributes lost to placate the colonial-settler heritage. Entire wars have been fought to curtail this colonial-settler imperialism, and in the end the federal Union has repelled and advanced, even if slower than desired. The momentum of history will approach a point in which the colonial-settlers structure collapses internally and externally, just as every imperial power has; but with the legacy of the native union embodied in American federalism, the potential for a rebirth and rejuvenation of that lost perspective is possible. And when that perspective is revived and re-instituted, the United States can finally live up to its motto: Out of Many, One.

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