Category Archives: World Affairs

handguns

Prayer Won’t Save America From Its Mass Shootings Epidemic

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment surrounded by people who swore upon the power of prayer. My mother, who I love and respect deeply, has a powerful testimony about prayer in her own life. I, on the other hand, never took to prayer.  Maybe I didn’t clinch my hands tight enough or shut my eyes hard enough or speak the optimized words, in order to hear God. The act itself felt like bargaining with some psychic reserve I sought out in hopes of a loan or a fix rather than a communion with the creator of the universe. In church, as a child, I often found myself looking around the room as others prayed. What were they seeking and would they find it, I wondered.

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Bill Bratton

The Most Likely Target: Living With the Threat of Terrorism in NYC

Last night as I walked through Chelsea Market’s narrow strip of shops, past a bakery, a charcuterie, and a clothing pop-up, a disconcerting question grabbed my mind. Where is the nearest exit? Twin bolts of urgency and paranoia thundered from the deep recesses of my subconscious. To my left, down a ramp, a door to 15th Street stood a 20-yard dash away. The thought of a situation where I would need to dash to the door seemed absurd, and yet somehow it didn’t. People walked past me, talking, observing the art on the walls. Others sat eating. No one made any sudden or loud movements. I continued on my mission to find my parents an anniversary card. The thought of sprinting, while under attack, disappeared all together as I stared at books I wished to buy.

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French flag

An Act of War in Paris

I discovered the severity of the ISIS attacks in Paris Friday night while sipping a whiskey and ginger inside, of all places, the United Nations. A man sitting next to me on a couch informed a friend of his, “They killed everyone in the theater.” Prior to entering the UN, I read reports of a dozen or so casualties in coordinated restaurant shootings. Now Agence France-Presse’s official Twitter declared around 100 dead. The mostly young, mostly well-dressed contingent in the UN continued talking and laughing – their chatter creating a buzz across the expansive, open room that resembled an airport terminal minus the pretzel stands and news hubs. Amid the caterwaul of a thousand conversations, the plight of France, my ancestral homeland, weighed heavy on my heart and mind.

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Prompts: “The City I Most Want To Visit In 2014″

Prompts is a joint creative exercise between my friend Matt W. and I. We will choose a different subject at the beginning of each week and post no more than 500 words on said topic on Fridays.

Montreal's Biosphere is among the Quebec city's Epcot Center-themed attractions.

Montreal’s Biosphere is among the Quebec city’s Epcot Center-themed attractions.

The City I Most Want To Visit In 2014 – Montreal

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Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100: “Naked Cowgirl”

Naked Cowgirl and her fans

This is the 21st edition of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a periodic glimpse into New York City seen through the eyes of a new New Yorker, yours truly. Click here for past installments.

New Yorkers will do anything, literally anything, to make a buck. Witness a Naked Cowgirl in a bikini on a 35-degree night last week near Times Square. I have no idea whether she is affiliated with the Naked Cowboy, but she looks a hell of a lot better in her patriotic outfit. Here’s hoping she doesn’t get sick standing out in the cold. Tourists to the city need a little Naked Cowgirl to thaw them out.

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Guest Blog: What I Learned Volunteering In Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath

Today my journalist friend Brett Schweinberg shares his experience volunteering in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath on Staten Island. It’s been a month since Sandy hit. Many people in the area Brett visited remain in need. Learn how you can help here.

I journeyed to Staten Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy feeling uneasy about my reasons for the trip. The plan called for two neighbors and I to drive from Chicago on Friday night after work, volunteer on Saturday and Sunday, and drive through the night Sunday to get home in time for work on Monday.

On the 13-hour car ride in, my travel companions and I wondered aloud whether the money we were spending on gas and lodging would be better spent through any of the dozens of organizations collecting for the relief effort. I feared a shameful sort of voyeurism drove my desire to volunteer as much as a true desire to help.
Between the thrill of participating in a relief mission, the fun associated with driving halfway across the country and the incessant praise I received from friends and family, I worried I might be gaining too much from what was supposedly a selfless act.

What I found once I arrived in Staten Island erased my doubts.

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Manti Te’o for Heisman: Why The Numbers Don’t Add Up

Manti Te'o/US Presswire

All praise/blame for this post should go to Jordy Pujol, the anti-Bayless.

ESPN carnival barker/used car salesman/white devil Skip Bayless pissed in the wind Tuesday to the contrived, shit-starting tune of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o for Heisman. Bayless is famous for taking contrarian viewpoints, and generally being a pompous, arrogant, spineless piece of shit. His latest piece, I must admit, floored me. He is capable of talking about someone besides LeBron James or Tim Tebow, I learned.

Other than this revelation, Bayless’s Te’o piece followed the same cookie-cutter theme as all his arguments – a lot of bluster and precious little substance. Bayless proclaimed Te’o a deserving Heisman winner but also anointed himself head of the Johnny Football fan club. Johnny Football, for the uninitiated, is Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, believed to be Teo’s chief competition for the Heisman.

Truth is, talk of a Te’o Heisman is laughable – whether or not it comes from Bayless’s well-manicured fingers or anyone else. Te’o Heisman talk has gathered steam for two reasons: A) Te’o plays for Notre Dame, a traditional power in the midst of a national championship run; and B) Notre Dame is 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. Some would argue the Heisman should be awarded to the best player on the best team. I am not one of those people. If anything, talk of Te’o, as Heisman winner, reflects on the dearth of quality candidates this season, Manziel excluded.

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An Open Letter To My Republican Friends

Election Day Tomato!

I wrote this open letter to my Republican friends to let them know it would all be OK.

Dear Republican friends,
I know today feels like the death of America and the end of the world all rolled into one. I’ve read your Facebook posts and tweets. Your guy lost. I get it. Now President Obama’s going to fulfill his nefarious plan to make America a socialist country, take away your guns, let immigrants run wild picking all manner of crops, and bankrupt us all. Hell, he’ll probably fulfill a portion of his plan while smoking a doobie and reading the Koran during a same-sex marriage ceremony in the Oval Office. We are surely going to hell in a hand basket.

This is fantasy though. Star Wars VII, that’s reality.

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Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100: “A Surreal Storm”

Wash Heights' silent streets

This is the 17th installment of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a daily series chronicling my experiences and observations as a new New Yorker. Click here to read more about my “Frankenstorm” experiences.

This morning I’d consider Hurricane Sandy a dud if I had no TV or Internet. The so-called “Frankenstorm” delivered a minimal amount of mayhem in Washington Heights, the neighborhood I live in on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I waited 16 hours for a jarring wind gust or buckets of rain to alert me a serious weather event had arrived. None came. My apartment never lost power, unlike millions of Americans along the Atlantic coast. The lights flickered two or three times. It was all painless, distant.

Ironically, I know Sandy rocked the East Coast because I have power, and thus TV and Internet. I watched video of rising waters in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. I also witnessed a collapsed four-story apartment building on the news. People across the country saw these same images Monday. The images were real, though they seemed otherwise.

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Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100: “Frankenstorm”

Frankenstorm?

This is the 13th installment of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a daily series chronicling my experiences and observations as a new New Yorker. I am using the term “daily” loosely, I admit.

The first time I saw the phrase “Frankenstorm” I thought the media was referring to former “Saturday Night Live” funnyman and current U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Like, Al Franken had whipped up a ruckus about someone or something. It seemed like a New York Post-style phrase. This is how my mind works. I was wrong of course.

When I learned “Frankenstorm” referred to the convergence of a hurricane with an arctic blast, and therefore was unrelated to the senator, I laughed. I might have yawned too. I’ll leave the freakout to New Yorkers.

As a south Louisiana native who has weathered more hurricanes than I can count, I find it hilarious how New Yorkers are bugging out about the so-called “Frankenstorm”. To them, it’s like the Zombie Apocalypse meets The Perfect Storm.

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