Like just about everyone, President Barack Obama recognizes the deep divides facing the United States lately. And he thinks one of the contributing factors is a decline of shared news and information sources.
In a long and winding interview with Rolling Stonepublished this week, the president offers suggests that the “biggest” challenge facing national unity is the proliferation of news sources, and the ability of Americans now to function almost completely in an information bubble.
“The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources,” he tells Rolling Stone’s Jann S. Wenner. “And it's getting worse.”
The president blames the shift from he calls it “curated journalism”—to clickbait-type websites and Facebook sources that present erroneous information as fact. He gives the example of “an article on climate change by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist looks pretty much as credible as an article written by a guy in his underwear in a basement, or worse.”
The problem with these, he says, is they remove common sets of information from national discourse—essentially, people no longer have to interact with differing ideas and opinions.
People are no longer talking to each other; they're just occupying their different spheres. And in an Internet era where we still value a free press and we don’t want censorship of the Internet, that's a hard problem to solve.
I think it's one that requires those who are controlling these media to think carefully about their responsibilities, and [whether there] are ways to create a better conversation. It requires better civics education among our kids so that we can sort through what's true and what's not. …
Last month, the National Association of Evangelicals conducted a survey of Church leaders “about their experience with persecution and their projections for the future.” And a high percentage expect persecution of Christians to increase.
Only 32 percent said they’ve been persecuted themselves (which isn’t really a low number), but 76 percent think they will be persecuted “in the coming years.”
In a little more detail, of the 32 percent who say they already experience persecution, 92 percent think it will continue. And of the majority, 68 percent think persecution is coming.
NAE’s survey used the the English Oxford Living Dictionary’s definition of “persecution,” which is “hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression.” Discuss
The police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in Minnesota earlier this year was charged with second-degree manslaughter today, according to CNN. Other charges include two felony counts of "dangerous discharge of a firearm."
“No reasonable officer—knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time—would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement announcing the charges.
Jeronimo Yanez pulled over Castile for a broken taillight outside of St. Paul back in July. Castile was reaching for his idenitifcation when Yanez fired four shots into the car while Castile was still in the passenger seat.
Castile's girlfriend, Lavish "Diamond" Reynolds, streamed live footage of the traffic stop on Facebook following the police officer's seven rounds of gun shots, which fatally wounded Castile. Their 4-year-old daughter was in the backseat of the car. The video went viral, and drew international attention and sparked protests for weeks following Castile's death.
Castile was also licensed to carry and communicated that to the officer. He had also been pulled over dozens of times without conflict. Discuss
Next week is Thanksgiving, and it’s coming at the end of one of the most contentious, exhausting years in memory. In that sense, it might seem difficult for people to be in an uber thankful mood.
But a new survey suggests that American might actually be focusing on more important things this Thanksgiving. Basically, people care a lot more about family than money and material stuff, and that’s refreshing.
LifeWay Research released the results of a “representative survey of 1,000 Americans” that shows some encouraging responses. Here’s Americans are saying they’re thankful for this year (the yellow bar represents overal percentage of those who selected that item; the red represents the percentage who said that item is what they're most thankful for):
And when it comes to material stuff, not that many people say they’re thankful for money (32 percent), contrary to what you might expect.
Younger respondents (under 25) were expectedly less family-centric than older generations, but it still ranked high (77 percent). They say they’re more thankful for “fun experiences” (70 percent) and “achievements” (61 percent).
Still, it's nice to see some news about people caring about each other for a change. Discuss
Just days after President Obama and now President-elect Trump traded barbs on the campaign trail, the two men had a surprisingly friendly meeting at the White House. After meeting about the coming transition of power, Trump told Obama, “Mr President, it was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times.” He then repeatedly told reporters that Obama is “a very good man,” explaining, “We had never met each other. I had great respect."
President Obama reportedly told Trump, “If you succeed, the country succeeds,” and explaining to reporters that he would do everything he could to “facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.”
In what’s maybe the most surprising outcome, Trump even told Obama that he would seek his “counsel" on future matters. The meeting was supposed to last only 10 minutes, but the two talked for nearly an hour and a half. Discuss