Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to header Skip to footer

Checkout line protests

- Daily News Briefing

Adding Bookmark

Bookmark Saved

Bookmarks Loading
Bookmarks Loading

Today's View

Whether it is cleverly disguised propaganda or content contrived for clicks, social media is rife with “fake news.” What’s to be done? Germany is considering a law that would make Facebook and Twitter quickly remove content that is judged fake. Other European countries are eyeing similar measures. But policing the internet could easy slip into constraining free speech. Common sense, healthy skepticism, and private watchdogging are probably better alternatives.

There is one channel for fake news, however, that could easily be fixed by a little consumer pressure: supermarket checkout lines. Pardon me for sounding like Andy Rooney, but why do supermarkets that pride themselves on bright, friendly environments allow scurrilous tabloids to blare at us about celebrity peccadilloes, unsubstantiated conspiracies, and other news of the weird as we load the conveyer belt?

Crafting laws to fight fake news might be ill advised. But a small counteroffensive against it could begin with gentle complaints to a supermarket manager or corporate headquarters. Stores that remove or relocate tabloids could be rewarded with what every merchant wants: our shopping dollars.

John Yemma

US strike sends message to Syria: what it didn't say

The Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at a Syrian air base were a clear message to Assad from President Trump that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated. They did not signal support for regime change.

Nicholas Blanford, Correspondent; Scott Peterson, Staff writer 

The US has launched its first punitive military strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria since the civil war there began six years ago, a powerful message that Washington will no longer tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

President Trump’s administration indicated that the strikes, which saw 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at Syria’s Shayrat airbase, were linked only to the chemical weapons attack Tuesday that killed at least 86 people, including 27 children, in Idlib Province.

And while they may have chastened Mr. Assad, analysts say, they do not appear to signal a broader change of US policy on Syria that would pose a longer-term threat to his hold on power.

“This [missile attack] clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late Thursday. "I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or posture relative to our military activities in Syria today. There has been no change in that status.”

Those comments might offer some reassurance to Assad that the air strikes were more a slap on the wrist than the beginning of a knockout blow. And with the war slowly turning in his favor – and key allies Russia and Iran continuing to stand by him – Assad looks likely to stay in power, a reality the international community has had to accept.

“We should not invest the limited American military attack with any strategic connotations so far,” says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics. “It’s an attack divorced from any strategic political vision. It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration has any concrete ideas to find a political solution.”

Read the full article on

Neil Gorsuch heads to a Supreme Court changed by his appointment

The Senate voted Friday to confirm Neil Gorsuch. An ugly political fight and the dropping of a 200-year-old rule meant to ensure bipartisan candidates has raised concerns about whether the high court will be perceived as more political.

Henry Gass, Staff writer

The United States Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch Friday, elevating the Colorado native to the nation’s highest court after more than a year of unprecedented stonewalling by both parties that culminated Thursday in the chamber “going nuclear.”

The decision by Senate Republicans to avoid a filibuster by invoking the so-called “nuclear option” on Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation – lowering the number of votes required to end debate from 60, which typically necessitates some cross-party support, to 51 – is viewed by many as a blow to a chamber designed to moderate the passions of other political branches.

But the blast radius is also expected to reverberate around the Supreme Court itself. Some legal experts fear that scrapping the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees could transform the high court into a political body similar to Congress: subject to the ideologies of whomever controls the White House.

Read the full article on

Why Trump is right: China isn't playing by trade rules

The president toned down his anti-China rhetoric during this week's summit with China's President Xi. Now, some urge him to follow up with consistent multinational pressure on Beijing.

Mark Trumbull, Staff writer

One of the greatest risks in President Trump’s policy agenda is that he’ll start a trade war, tanking the global economy as he lashes out against allegedly unfair practices of other nations including China.

That’s been a common refrain for months, including this week as he met for the first time with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A “global recession” will occur if Mr. Trump follows through on his threatened 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods, rival candidate Jeb Bush warned during the presidential campaign last year.

No one wins in a trade war, said President Xi himself in a speech two months ago.

The grain of truth here is that, yes, an all-out trade clash between the two largest economies would have immediate and negative consequences for workers and consumers around the world. But all of this may, at the same time, miss a key point: The global trade system has deep flaws that are related to China, not Trump.

For years, China has been welcomed by the world into trade linkages, on the expectation that over time it will play the game of commerce the way others generally do. Trade experts say that hasn’t happened. Even many of the same CEOs and economists who warn against a trade war say China has been violating both the letter and spirit of global trade rules.

Trump’s election win stemmed partly from the resonance of his critique of trade policies as harming US workers. While outside experts may not paint the issue with the president’s broad brush, some say a tougher stance toward China is needed, that a damaging trade war isn’t the most likely outcome, and that the “just be patient” strategy carries its own deep risks.

“His diagnosis is correct. It's very frustrating, I find, listening to the Washington trade establishment” view about not risking a trade war with China, says Robert Atkinson, an economist who studies the ties between global trade and national economic performance. “The war has been going on for 15 years, and in earnest for the last eight. The notion that if you respond you're a protectionist, or you're starting a trade war, ... that's incorrect.”

Read the full article on

LGBT rights and judicial overreach: How GOP lawmaker sees landmark ruling

For the first time, a federal appeals court ruled this week that civil rights law applies to LGBT Americans. A Utah senator calls the decision judicial overreach – at the same time that he's traveling nationwide to expand those rights.

Harry Bruinius, Staff writer

When a federal court in Chicago expanded the definition of “sex discrimination” this week, ruling for the first time that federal civil rights protections extended to LGBT Americans in the workplace, conservatives like state Sen. J. Stuart Adams of Utah felt this was another example of judicial overreach.

The Republican majority whip in the Utah Senate, Senator Adams maintains an “originalist” position: words in a text should mean what they were first intended to mean. And it seems clear to him that when passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion, Congress did not intend to include sexual orientation.

Yet the Utah senator, a conservative Christian, has also become one of the most vocal Republican advocates for expanding civil rights protections for LGBT citizens. For more than a year, he has been traveling across the country trying to convince other lawmakers to explore a “Fairness for All” concept, which encourages LGBT advocates, lawmakers, and other groups to sit down together with a spirit of mutual concern and respect, rooted in a desire to transcend the nation’s bitter divisions.

“I don’t necessarily want to criticize this ruling,” says Adams, noting that he respects the judiciary’s obligation to interpret the law. “But it’s important to find a statutory solution before those rulings are made. In a pluralistic society … and with same-sex marriage and religious conscience both needing to be protected, there’s a better way to do it, in my mind.

“If you're able to legislate rather than litigate, I think you get to a better place when you need the ability to find common ground,” he continues, describing his own unlikely journey from a religious conservative resisting any LGBT “special rights” to an advocate urging others to expand them.

Read the full article on

An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are 'living entities.' Could the same approach work in the US?

The Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers have retreated thousands of feet in the past few decades. Indian judges have moved aggressively to protect them.

David Iaconangelo, Staff

Just weeks after a high court in the Indian state of Uttarakhand granted legal personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, the same court extended that same standing to the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers that feed them.

The finding follows New Zealand’s mid-March passage of a law recognizing the Whanganui River as a living entity. And the Indian court’s effort to protect the vanishing glaciers also carries religious overtones, since both the rivers and glaciers are considered sacred sites to many Hindus.

“The past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory and we are morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation,” the ruling reads.

The ruling and the New Zealand law are variants of “rights of nature” measures with theoretical roots dating back to the 1970s. They appear in the United States, too: More than three dozen US localities have ordinances ascribing varying types of rights to nature, or to specific natural objects. Their rise is in some ways a monument to the global exchange of ideas, with US activists advising national legislatures in Ecuador and Bolivia, whose laws in turn emboldened jurisdictions in the US and elsewhere.

“So far in the US, the local laws have been more broadly focused, so not ecosystem-specific,” says Mari Margil director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, adding, “We are beginning to see a little bit of a shift in some communities in the US.”

“People come at it from a spiritual place, a moral place and sometimes a practical place – that existing environmental laws don’t protect the environment, and we need to do something different.”

Read the full article on

Editorial: The Monitor's View

Trump’s epiphany on Syria

The Monitor's Editorial Board

When historians write about President Trump in years hence, they may ask what made him suddenly feel so responsible in early 2017 for the “beautiful babies” killed in Syria by chemical weapons. His political rhetoric during the 2016 campaign had been one of indifference toward the slaughter of Syria’s most innocent. But as president, after seeing images from the attack and realizing what power he had to prevent future attacks, Mr. Trump felt accountable if he did not act.

The gruesome killing of more than 80 civilians, he said, “had a big impact on me – big impact.” So he ordered the launch of cruise missiles on select aircraft facilities in Syria. His ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the president was trying to do what he can to protect innocent civilians. And his response was designed not only to protect the United States from these kinds of indiscriminate weapons but also to safeguard the rest of humanity.

Trump’s epiphany is hardly unique in the globalized age in which we live. It is far easier to know of distant atrocities, especially if one is a president with a vast intelligence service but also through the ubiquity of cameras. And it is far easier to do something about wrongdoing, especially if a country can project its influence and military might within hours. Because we know more of the human condition, and we can do something about it, we also feel more responsible – perhaps even guilty. Indifference is becoming less and less an option.

This phenomenon is aptly described in a much-discussed article, “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” by University of Oklahoma historian Wilfred McClay in the spring issue of the academic journal The Hedgehog Review. She describes how modernity’s ceaselessly expanding capacity to comprehend and control the physical world has also expanded our potential moral responsibility.

“I can see pictures of a starving child in a remote corner of the world on my television, and know for a fact that I could travel to that faraway place and relieve that child’s immediate suffering, if I cared to. I don’t do it, but I know I could,” she writes. This creates the pervasive need to have one’s innocence affirmed through some sort of absolution and redemption. She explains: “In a world of relentlessly proliferating knowledge, there is no easy way of deciding how much guilt is enough, and how much is too much.”

Trump’s shift of thought about Syria reflects a wider shift in geopolitical thinking. Again, Ms. McClay explains: “The heightened moral awareness we now bring to international affairs is something new in human history, stemming from the growing social and political pluralism of Western democracies and the unprecedented influence of universalized norms of human rights and justice, supported and buttressed by a robust array of international institutions and nongovernmental organizations….”

Just what the US and its allies do now, such as negotiate a truce and start peace talks, depends to a degree on how people in these countries want to affirm innocence. Guilt is only a temporary means toward the restoration of a social or personal equilibrium, even harmony.

The international norms designed during the 20th century to prevent the use of chemical weapons were built on this “expanding” moral responsibility felt by much of humanity. Now we are witnessing once again a call to act on those norms.

Read the full article on

A Christian Science Perspective

All I can do is pray

What do we do when the drama of everyday living has our back against a wall and we feel we’ve reached the limits of what we can do? Where do we turn when we are sure our heartfelt desire to help a friend, resolve a problem in the community, or provide meaningful assistance somewhere else in the world just can’t be enough to meet the need? In such circumstances we often hear, in helpless resignation, “All I can do is pray.” What if instead of waiting until moments of last resort, we went to God first?

Throughout time, men and women have prayed for healing and to let God guide them. From Abraham in biblical times to today, people have found prayer to be a potent help. Describing why prayer is powerful, Christian Science Discoverer Mary Baker Eddy explains: “True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us. It makes new and scientific discoveries of God, of His goodness and power. It shows us more clearly than we saw before, what we already have and are; and most of all, it shows us what God is” (“No and Yes,” p. 39).

Knowing what we are – spiritually, made in the image and likeness of God, who is all good – is key. This idea has helped me in countless situations involving work, family, friends, and my own health.

For example, at one time I was bedridden with symptoms of pneumonia. I decided to pray about this and began by deeply considering what God is and what He does for us. I saw that as divine Love, God is trustworthy, so I was not waiting for a precarious power to help me.

Christ Jesus had shown in his teachings and healing works that all cause and effect belong to God, the supreme power of the universe. And according to the basic law that “like produces like,” God as Spirit must produce only that which is spiritual, without illness.

Realizing even in a degree that God is the cause of every effect and only causes good, quickly resulted in complete healing, without a period of recuperation. I got up, dressed, ate a hearty meal for the first time in three days, and was back to my full schedule the next morning.

This, along with other healings I’ve had, has proved to me that God is ever-present and universal, whose power is always good and is immediately available.

The power of divine Love enables us to feel the divine energy of Spirit in daily life, and to experience His justice and mercy, which are adequate for any circumstance. Step by step we can make our lives a living prayer so that “all I can do is pray” will no longer be a resignation when “all else fails.” Prayer opens the window to a better understanding of God and His goodwill for all of us.

Judy Cole

Read this article and others like it on

“The object of the Monitor is to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
- Mary Baker Eddy

The Daily News Briefing is published Monday through Friday by The Christian Science Publishing Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

To send a comment to the Editor, email

Delivered to you by

DNB Newsletter - Footer

The Christian Science Monitor is a trademark of The Christian Science Publishing Society, registered in the United States and in other countries.

©  The Christian Science Publishing Society