2019
May
23
Thursday

Gary Hirshberg came to Washington this week as a businessperson with a message about climate change: “This is not a partisan issue, period.”

Wait, what?

As founder and chairman of yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, Mr. Hirshberg knows full well about the partisan chasm that exists in America over this issue. Yet he and other business leaders, representing 75 companies with combined annual revenues of more than $2.5 trillion, believe the time is ripe for bridging that divide. The firms include big ones like PepsiCo and General Mills, plus oil giants BP and Shell.

Citing the risks of human-driven climate change observed by scientists, the business leaders met with members of both political parties yesterday – aiming to engage Republicans especially. The coalition is urging a “price on carbon,” such as a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, to create incentives for the private sector to transition toward a clean-energy economy.

“Investing in reversing climate change is good business,” Mr. Hirshberg said. Or as another CEO colleague told me and other reporters: Ultimately, sustainable business is the only business.

They don’t expect to win results instantly. But it’s a message they expect will resonate over time with Republicans, with a carbon tax being seen as a less-intrusive way for government policy to address what GOP lawmakers are increasingly acknowledging as an issue of genuine concern.

One reason is real-world evidence. (Mr. Hirshberg calls tackling warming temperatures a matter of “dire necessity” for Stonyfield’s cows.) But another reason is changing politics, as a fast-growing cohort of younger voters – including the kids of the CEOs – sees climate action as a top priority for their future.

Now to our stories for today, including a closer look at what’s really driving voter attitudes in Europe, the rising voice of veterans in U.S. politics, and what role humans should play in encouraging the revival of wild wolves.

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1. In EU elections, far-right talks up migration. But do voters care?

Based on political volume alone, immigration seems like the top issue among voters in this week’s European elections. The reality may actually be different.

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There is no denying that anti-immigrant messages have helped far-right parties and politicians win seats in several European countries. That is raising concerns that such gains will be repeated in this week’s European Parliament elections. But despite the volume of anti-immigration rhetoric, the latest polling data suggest the average voter has different concerns.

Migration – whether defined as a concern over incoming migrants or over declining birthrates and aging populations – is an issue, but not the topic most on the mind of voters as they go to the polls. Instead, topics like the economy, Islamic radicalism, and even concerns about nationalism itself outweigh immigration for many.

For instance, research indicates that in Italy, home of prominent populist leader Matteo Salvini, migration is seen as less of a threat than the economic crisis and trade wars or Islamic radicalism. Unemployment outranks migration in voters’ views of challenges confronting the country. Even in Spain, which last year became the main port of entry for migrants arriving from the Mediterranean, voters see Islamic radicals as the biggest threat to the European Union, followed by the economic crisis and trade wars.

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In EU elections, far-right talks up migration. But do voters care?

Rain clouds gathered over Milan’s iconic Il Duomo cathedral on Saturday as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini took to the stage, rosary in hand, and sought to cast himself as a savior of Europe and its Judeo-Christian heritage.

Addressing thousands of supporters huddled under umbrellas, Mr. Salvini argued that his tough stance on migrants was saving lives in the Mediterranean, and that Italy’s hard line would benefit Europe as whole. “We cannot welcome the other, if we forget who we are,” he said. “To welcome he who arrives from far away, we have to be in the position to do so. ... We do not want slaves. We do not want mass deportations. We do not want ghettos.”

The site was the rallying point of 11 populist European leaders, invited by Mr. Salvini, the leader of the nationalist League party, to present a united front ahead of European Union parliamentary elections that begin on Thursday. Foremost among all their issues – raised in speeches delivered in heavily accented Italian or English – was the topic of immigration: specifically, stopping it.

There is no denying that anti-migrant messages, often salted with misinformation, have helped far-right parties and politicians win seats in national elections in several European countries. That is raising concerns that such gains will be repeated at the continental level in this week’s EU elections.

But despite the volume of anti-immigration rhetoric, the latest polling data suggest the average voter has different concerns. Migration – whether defined as a concern over incoming migrants or over declining birth rates and aging populations – is an issue, but not the topic most on the minds of voters as they go to the polls. Instead, topics like the economy, Islamic radicalism, and even concerns about nationalism itself outweigh immigration for many.

‘Extremists who do not represent us’

Among the attendees of Mr. Salvini’s rally in Milan are leaders of France’s National Rally (formerly National Front), Alternative for Germany (AfD), and Geert Wilder’s Dutch Party for Freedom. The optics aim to convey unity.

Czech far-right politician Tomio Okamura, who is also attending, casts the forthcoming election as a decisive referendum on the future of European cooperation. “It is up to us to decide whether Europe shall remain European or whether people like [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, and [French President Emmanuel] Macron will be able to Islamicize Europe.”

Moments before the nationalist leaders and their supporters take over the square, a well-dressed Italian couple rushes away from the area. “We are fleeing from these far-right extremists who do not represent us,” says Alberto, putting an umbrella over Claudia, his wife.

The couple, who declined to give their last name for privacy reasons, lives and works in Munich. As economic migrants themselves, they do not rank migration as a major problem, although they acknowledge that it is a special challenge for Italy. “Instead of worrying so much about the boats that arrive in Italy, Salvini should worry about all the people who are leaving,” says Alberto.

“Salvini on his own can’t get far,” adds Claudia. “What worries me is that people are so fed up with the economic situation that there is a real chance of these populist groups gaining momentum.”

The couple’s comments hint at broader trends. Research by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) indicates that migration is seen in Italy as less of a threat than the economic crisis and trade wars or Islamic radicalism. Unemployment outranks migration among the challenges confronting the country.

Even in Spain, which last year became the main port of entry for migrants arriving from the Mediterranean, migration is not perceived as the biggest threat confronting Europe. Voters see Islamic radicals as the biggest threat to the EU, followed by the economic crisis and trade wars. Unemployment and corruption ranked as the top issues currently confronting the country – though that can still benefit the far-right.

“Spain, like Italy, is a country of strong traditions and family values, and when people feel threatened they naturally gravitate to the party that puts them first,” says Pedro Sanchez Mar, who is helping his parents sell salami at an agricultural fair in Chirivel, Spain. “In the Spanish case that is [populist upstart] VOX.”

“Many of my friends don’t understand why they need to speak English to get a job, why business is outsourced to China, or why they have to sell their goods in Germany because there is no market for them in Spain,” says Mr. Sanchez, a resident of Málaga who works part-time as a consultant for foreign companies.

Misconceptions and overestimations

Of course, there are still plenty of Europeans who do regard migration as Europe’s foremost concern. But that can be driven by misunderstanding as much as nationalism.

In a dilapidated building in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain, neighbors gather for a workshop called “Stop Rumores,” a nonprofit, government-funded initiative focused on breaking down the stereotypes about migrants that have become the bread and butter of populist movements across Europe.

Workshop leader Daniel José Rodríguez shows a video that uses doors as a metaphor for all the worlds that can be accessed through an open mind and contact with other cultures. Some of the two dozen or so participants respond with sympathetic nods, while others simply snicker.

“Doors were built to be closed,” argues a soft-spoken older man sporting a sharp hat.

Dominique Soguel
Neighbors participate in a workshop called "Stop Rumores," an effort to deconstruct prejudices and stereotypes around migrants, in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, on April 29.

Emboldened by this act of dissent, a middle-aged woman perks up on her plastic chair and unleashes a salvo of tales of “illegal migrants” who have benefited from the Spanish welfare state to the detriment of the country’s elderly and sick citizens.

“If a migrant arrives with an earache, he comes out of the hospital fully operated, while we are on the waiting list,” she says, insisting an acquaintance who is a nurse told her it was true.

Mr. Rodriquez reminds her that social assistance programs are based on need rather than nationality, that migrants are screened for public health reasons on arrival and treated in case of emergencies, and that people who cheat the system exist everywhere.

He asks the participants to estimate how many migrants they believe to be in their region and in Spain as a whole. The vast majority overshoot their estimate by massive margins – a tendency shared by many across Europe. Many are shocked to learn that only 1% of pension recipients in Spain are foreign, and more than half of those are citizens of the EU. Data and empathy, emphasizes the trainer, are the tools to dismantle rumors, including those that have been a regular feature of political rallies across Europe.

“One of the things that frightens me is when I encounter people who will give more weight to a piece of information they read on Facebook than to official data drawn from the relevant government ministry,” he says at the end of the session. “This worries me.”

A backlash against nationalism?

The ECFR’s research suggests that concern that nationalism itself threatens the EU is eclipsing worries about migration in some countries. Voters see nationalism as at least as important as migration in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. “Nationalism is especially important to voters who say they are likely to turn out at the polls,” the ECFR wrote.

The ECFR analysis of YouGov voting intention data also found that those who see migration as the priority issue are more likely to vote for far-right parties, whereas those who see radical Islam as the priority are more likely to back conservative parties.

“What we see in the data, particularly in countries like Austria and Germany, is the split between people who care about migration, simply the fear of foreigners coming, and those who are more concerned about integration and particularly the integration of Muslim migrants, the fear of radical Islam,” says Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and a founding member of the ECFR board.

Even among nationalist leaders themselves, Mr. Krastev adds, there is little agreement on immigration beyond keeping new migrants out. They disagree sharply about what to do with those already on the continent. Mr. Salvini, for example, sees the redistribution of migrants as essential, but that is a no-go for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Back in rainy Milan, Oriana, a saleswoman lingering outside before the start of her shift at a clothes store, is unimpressed by what anti-immigrant consensus there is. She only hopes that the EU elections will bring results that help bring relief to the struggling Italian economy.

“We have achieved so much in terms of integration,” she says. “All this focus on migrants is putting us a step back.”

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2. What veterans want in a commander in chief

Both parties are trying to recruit more veterans to run for Congress, and three young vets are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. When we spoke to voters who are veterans, they called for qualities like humility in public office. 

Mark
Courtesy of Mike Waltz
Green Beret Mike Waltz (r.) instructs a member of the Afghan National Police (l., blue shirt) in basic tactics in an undisclosed location. The police were ill-equipped and poorly trained for the isolated paramilitary operations required to combat the Taliban.

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What do veterans want in a commander in chief? Some praise President Donald Trump for his assertiveness, contrasting it with former President Barack Obama’s “apologizing.” Others say Mr. Trump seems brash and uninformed. As America begins anew the process of choosing a president, three young Democratic veterans of the 9/11 wars are vying to replace him in 2020.

Those who know better than most the cost of military ventures feel keenly the importance of electing a commander in chief who will remember there’s a person behind each uniform, who will bring the country together, and defend its moral standing in the world.

“I want to be inspired. I want to be proud,” says retired Navy Lt. Brad Snyder, who was blinded by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan. As he sees it, there’s a broad need right now, across government and society.

“We’re kind of in a vacuum of character-based leadership,” adds Lieutenant Snyder, who now teaches leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “We don’t [just] need the one good leader to be president. We need leaders in Congress, in the private sector.”

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What veterans want in a commander in chief

Mike Waltz remembers being in Afghanistan as a Green Beret when President Barack Obama announced badly needed troop increases – and, simultaneously, a timeline for withdrawal.

A colleague turned to him and said, “Sir, can you imagine Franklin Delano Roosevelt announcing to the world that we have just embarked on D-Day, but telling the Germans we would only be there six months?”

The frustration of that experience impelled him – like a growing number of other veterans – to enter politics, so he can help shape how America deploys its strength abroad.

“What do we value in a commander in chief? I would say, No. 1., it’s letting the military do their job, and not tying their hands from Washington, D.C.,” says Congressman Waltz, who now represents Florida as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He is part of a new generation of veterans indelibly shaped by the post-9/11 war on terror. They have put their lives on the line for American ideals, making nosedive landings in their cargo planes and rescuing buddies hit by insurgents rolling hand grenades at them. As a deeply divided America embarks once more on the process of choosing a president, many say they feel keenly the importance of electing a commander in chief who will bring the country together, protect its interests abroad, and defend its moral standing in the world.

“When you encounter people around the world who actually believe in America and what it stands for, you realize how important it is to behave like a world leader,” says a career veteran of the U.S. military’s special forces, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is still active duty and not authorized to comment publicly. “If America loses the moral high ground, then what reason does the rest of the world have to follow the U.S. instead of some other dominant power?”

In the 2020 Democratic presidential race, three young veterans are vying to be the next commander in chief. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who served seven months in Afghanistan as a Naval Reserves intelligence officer, took aim today at President Donald Trump for his four academic deferments and questionable medical exemption during the Vietnam War. 

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard completed two tours in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard as a military police officer. And Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a decorated Marine infantry officer who fought four combat tours in Iraq, is challenging Mr. Trump in his capacity as commander in chief.

Cheryl Senter/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., shakes hands with veterans at a campaign event held at Liberty House in Manchester, N.H., April 23, 2019.

“As a platoon commander, [my job] was to get … Americans from all over this country with diverse backgrounds, religious beliefs, political beliefs, all united behind a common mission to serve our country, to serve America,” said Congressman Moulton at a May 19 campaign stop in Rye, New Hampshire. “And in a lot of ways, I think that’s exactly the kind of leadership we need from the next president of the United States, especially at a terribly divided time in American history.”

On both sides of the aisle, veterans emphasize the importance of putting the country’s interests ahead of party politics. They know better than most the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the most expensive in America’s history.

Patriots, rain or shine

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks solidified his decision to enter the Navy, Brad Snyder was marching through fields of grapes in Afghanistan when his platoon hit a chokepoint.

The narrow opening in a 10-foot wall was an ideal spot for insurgents to plant an IED – an improvised explosive device – the kind fashioned from a cooking oil jug filled with fertilizer.

Lieutenant Snyder was one of two IED experts assigned to protect this Navy SEAL platoon from such threats.

His partner was leading that day, scanning the ground with a metal detector as they walked through the Panjwai Valley, not far from Osama Bin Laden’s old training grounds. The first three SEALs followed him without incident.

But the next man, one of the Afghan commandos they were training, broke out of the single-file line and stepped on an IED equivalent to 40 pounds of TNT.

The blast severely wounded the commando. Lieutenant Snyder rushed forward to help get him to a medivac, and was going back for another wounded Afghan when he stepped on a second IED.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is what it feels like to be blown up, to die – this is it,’” says Lieutenant Snyder, who is now retired from the service.

He woke up in Maryland’s Walter Reed hospital a few days later, blind yet grateful to be alive. He says he has never regretted his decision to serve – despite the loss of his sight, and the niggling questions he’d started to have that year about what the U.S. was doing in Afghanistan.

“You can’t be a fair-weather patriot,” says Lieutenant Snyder. “I have to stand with my countrymen, mistakes or victories.”

He isn’t so concerned with whether his commander in chief shares his political viewpoints, but he wants someone he can trust, a leader with integrity – adding that the president doesn't have to be a veteran.

“I want to be inspired. I want to be proud,” he says. 

As he sees it, there’s a broad need right now, across government and society. “We’re kind of in a vacuum of character-based leadership,” says Lieutenant Snyder, who now teaches leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “We don’t [just] need the one good leader to be president. We need leaders in Congress, in the private sector.”

Leading with strength and humility

Among those sent into combat, confidence and strength are frequently invoked as critical traits in leaders. When it comes to a commander in chief, there’s a desire that he or she project strength to the world – but also restraint.

“You want someone who can convey that they understand the gravity of war – someone who won’t send you needlessly into war,” says the special forces veteran. “[The late Arizona Sen.] John McCain was perhaps a good example of someone who, through his experience, would view war as a last resort. But if that was the only option left, he would hold nothing back and he would fight to win.”

Indeed, moral courage must be paired with humility and discernment, says Rob Nofsinger, a former Marine captain who served three tours in Iraq and went on to become an Army chaplain.

“If you have moral courage, but you don’t have the humility or discernment … now you’re leading everyone down a dangerous path because you can’t see the right one to take,” he says.

Once the course is established, central to the mission is taking care of the people under your command. “[A commander in chief] should be able to show compassion,” says Keith Robinson, a 32-year reservist, citing former President George W. Bush as an example.

Sgt. Joseph Knabel, a recruiter for the Texas Army National Guard, agrees – and says that leaders need to remember that people are more important than the mission. “They forget that there’s a person behind that soldier, there’s a person in that uniform,” he says. “If you give people purpose, direction, and motivation, that makes all the difference.”

Articulating a mission, strategy, and vision unites the country behind those serving, says former Navy pilot Ryan Smits. “When they know their country is behind them, they’re unstoppable,” he says.

Courtesy of Mike Waltz
Mike Waltz, who previously served in Afghanistan as a Green Beret, rides aboard an Afghan Mi-17 helicopter during a return visit in 2007 when he was director for Afghanistan policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The dozen-plus veterans interviewed for this article were hesitant to speak on the record about President Trump’s performance as commander in chief. Privately, some praise the strength he projects, contrasting it with Mr. Obama’s “apologizing.” But they also express concern that Mr. Trump’s decisions seem flippant, uninformed, and poorly explained, as compared with Mr. Obama’s articulate, dignified presence on the world stage.  

Still, at the end of the day “it doesn’t matter who’s in the White House, because they’re our boss and we will always follow the commander in chief’s order and support whatever they need us to do,” says Corey Lutton, a former Navy lieutenant who served in the Middle East and Japan. “That’s something that veterans bring to any organization, including Congress and the White House.”

That ethos of service is precisely why Congressman Waltz, along with Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL, and other House Republicans announced on Wednesday a new effort to recruit more GOP veterans to run for office. They hope to mirror Congressman Moulton’s success in helping a new wave of Democratic veterans get elected to Congress last fall.

As Congressman Waltz – a four-time recipient of the Bronze Star – wrapped up the event, he referenced his Christian background as an inspiration for the kind of leadership that is needed today.

“If you look at how Jesus led when he was on earth, he walked the walk, right? He led by example,” he said. “He led with strength, but he also led with humility.”

Staff writer Jessica Mendoza contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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Q&A

3. The ACLU attorney who fights to reunite migrant families

What does justice look like for children and parents who were separated by the Trump administration? An in-depth interview with a key ACLU official provides insight into a painstaking and extensive process.

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The American Civil Liberties Union’s national office has filed some 85 lawsuits against the Trump administration – on immigration alone. One of the key lawyers arguing these cases for the ACLU is Lee Gelernt.

“I don’t think there’s been a week in the last two years where there hasn’t been some major issue on the table that I’ve had to work on,” he tells the Monitor during an interview in Boston.

Mr. Gelernt is deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project and the lead attorney on efforts to reunite migrant families separated by the Trump administration. Last year, he won a District Court injunction to stop family separations.

As the ACLU has worked to trace parents who were deported without their children, it’s seen that “a lot of the indigenous people had no understanding of what was happening,” Mr. Gelernt notes.

The ACLU has won most of its cases, he says, adding, “The courts have pushed back. Who knows what cases will percolate up to the Supreme Court. We’ll see what happens there.”

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The ACLU attorney who fights to reunite migrant families

Lee Gelernt is deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project. As the lead attorney on efforts to reunite migrant families separated by the Trump administration and in blocking the first version of the Muslim travel ban, he’s a familiar face in court.

Mr. Gelernt is based at the ACLU’s office in New York. On a visit to Boston, he talked about the ongoing efforts to track down and reunite thousands of families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Under a “zero tolerance policy,” which ended last summer, adults were prosecuted for crossing the border and their children were dispersed to shelters across the country. The ACLU successfully sued to halt the practice in a U.S. District Court in San Diego.

Since Donald Trump took office, “I’ve had maybe a week of vacation,” says Mr. Gelernt, who is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School. Still, he adds, it’s nothing compared with the levels of stress experienced by migrants coming to the United States.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

You won a District Court injunction in 2018 to stop family separations. Where do we stand on that issue, and what is the treatment of families arriving now at the border who want to claim asylum?

I would say there are four big buckets. One has to do with the 3,000 people who have been reported separated to us, and whether any of the parents who were deported without their children are going to be allowed to return. We believe they were coerced or misled into giving up their own asylum rights. So these are families where the children are here in the U.S. and the parent is abroad.

The government said they would relook at these cases. They rejected all the cases we submitted. So we are likely to go to court very soon to see whether any of those parents can come back and get a chance to apply for asylum.

There is another bucket that’s backward-looking, and that’s because [the Department of Health and Human Services] revealed that there may be thousands more families that were separated.

So these separations preceded the zero tolerance announcement in the spring of 2018.

The government said, ... these are separations that occurred before the court injunction. The government is saying ... these are families that were separated before, but also the child was released; we got the child to a sponsor. ... [Editor’s note: After Mr. Gelernt’s interview, news reports came out that the Trump administration has so far identified more than 1,700 children who might have been separated before the zero tolerance policy. These cases have been forwarded to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for further review.]

And then once we find [the families], we’ll have to figure out what their situation is. It could be that ... some have been able to reunite. It could be that some of the parents are in Central America – I suspect a lot – and they felt it’s too dangerous for their kid to come back. It could be that some of the parents want their kids to come back but haven’t been able to get them back. ...

The third bucket is when you asked about what’s going on now. Since the court’s injunction, the government has said they’ve separated roughly 400 people ... and we suspect that’s an undercount. The government is taking the position that each of these 400 is consistent with the court’s order because all the court said is you can’t systematically separate for no reason – but you can still separate if there’s evidence in an individual case that the parent is a danger to the child.

And of course everyone agrees: You see a parent beating the child, right, you take the child away. But what we’re finding out is that they’re separating [families] because they alleged that the person might have been a member of a gang, or have a traffic violation, or some minor crime that doesn’t reflect at all on the parents’ ability to raise their kid. So we’ll be back in court. ...

And the fourth thing is the post-reunification, how can we get help for these children. They are suffering immeasurably from the trauma of the separation, as are the parents, particularly the young parents. And so now one of the things we’re working on is how can we get medical help, pro bono.

You were just talking about the different groups, and in many cases we have children in the U.S. and their parents were deported. Finding those deported parents, that must be a huge task.

The first time around ... the government said ... we can’t go look for [deported parents]. And so finally we got exasperated. I said, ‘The ACLU will find them, with NGO partners and a law firm.’ [Then] we fought with the government for information. At first they gave us this vague information. ... We then kept fighting with them and they said, well, we do have phone numbers. We were just blown away that they actually were sitting on phone numbers!

We finally got the phone numbers and what we did is just every day, for hours and hours and hours, call the parents and try and reach them. ... Eventually we reached them, and then we had a call with the child’s advocate – or attorney if they had one – and figured out on a rolling basis [how to proceed]. ...

It was an enormous task, and we’ve just now finished. We started back in August. ... That’s how big a task it was. Now we’re looking at starting up again [to trace the new batch of separated parents.] We suspect many of them are in Central America and were deported without their kids and also probably didn’t get a meaningful [asylum screening]. And what we’re seeing is a lot of the indigenous people had no understanding of what was happening.

How many cases against this administration have you defended in court?

Me personally? It’s a lot ... like 20 or so I’ve personally been arguing in court. The ACLU national office has now filed, just on immigration, I believe it’s 85 lawsuits against Trump. And that’s not including ACLU affiliates.

So what’s your strike rate?

We are winning most of the cases. I think that’s been one of the pleasant things, to see this system work. The courts have pushed back. Who knows what cases will percolate up to the Supreme Court. We’ll see what happens there.

Recently Vice President Mike Pence called for an end to nationwide injunctions by district judges, calling them judicial overreach. So do you worry, given the makeup of the Supreme Court, that it could side with him on this issue?

I worry about everything! But I think the nationwide injunction is an issue that’s going to be tackled sooner or later by the Supreme Court. I think if it means we bring additional lawsuits and we don’t bring them as one national but as regional [suits], I think that’ll be fine. We will still be able to prevail, I think. But we’ll see what the Supreme Court ultimately does about it.

Assuming there’s going to be no legislative reform of immigration law, what is the new normal in immigration policy?

What ultimately asylum laws will look like and immigration laws generally, I think remains to be seen with the outcome of the litigation. ...

I don’t think there’s been a week in the last two years where there hasn’t been some major issue on the table that I’ve had to work on. I can’t remember a time when it’s been this constant. I’m glad I’m in a place like the ACLU where I actually can try and push back.

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4. Call of the wild: Should Colorado bring back the wolf?

How much of a role should people play in the reintroduction of wild species? Colorado is shaping up to be the next battleground over wolf reintroduction.

Mark
U.S. Forest Service/AP/File
A female gray wolf and two of the three pups stroll through Lassen National Forest in Northern California. Advocates in Colorado are pushing for a ballot initiative that would direct the state wildlife agency to manage a reintroduction program.

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In Colorado a coalition of advocates is pushing for a ballot initiative that would, if approved by voters, direct the state wildlife agency to manage a reintroduction program. Supporters feel an obligation to help restore a keystone species that was previously hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states; others say that humans have meddled enough and should let nature take its own course.

“We’ve been supportive of the natural recolonization of wolves in Colorado,” says Blake Henning, chief conservation officer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “If they’re forcibly reintroduced, it sets the stage for conflict.”

Lessons from the Northern Rockies show that there are good tools to deal with potential conflicts, says Mike Phillips, a wildlife biologist who helped lead the effort to restore wolves to Yellowstone.

“What gets in the way of those objective lessons is the mythical wolf, [where] it’s this devastating monster that exercises its predatory will on a whim.” But, he adds, “You could make a strong case that the gray wolf represents the beating heart of the wild lands of Colorado.”

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Call of the wild: Should Colorado bring back the wolf?

It’s been more than 75 years since native wolves roamed the mountains of Colorado.

And now voters in the state may have a chance to bring them back.

A coalition of wolf advocates has crafted a ballot initiative proposal that, if voters approve, would direct the state wildlife agency to manage a reintroduction program.

It’s the latest iteration of a war that’s been playing out for several decades around the wolf and that touches on much deeper questions about how active a role humans should play in nature. Where some feel an obligation to help restore a keystone species that was previously hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states, others say that humans have meddled enough and should let nature take its own course.

In Colorado, many ranchers and sportsmen are already gearing up to oppose the measure, which they see as both harmful and unnecessary: Wolves, they say, are likely to come back to Colorado on their own. Advocates, meanwhile, see it as the most direct route to restoring a species they say is key to a healthy and balanced ecosystem, in a location that serves a critical role.

“If you can put a viable population of gray wolves in western Colorado, it will serve as the archstone, the final piece, connecting wolves from the high Arctic to the Mexican border,” says Mike Phillips, a wildlife biologist and Montana state senator who is a scientific adviser to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project. “There is no other place in the world where you can imagine that completion of [the range] of such a much-maligned carnivore.”

‘Ballot-box biology’

When wolves were listed as an endangered species in 1978, only about 1,000 remained in the lower 48 states, all in Minnesota. Discussions of reintroduction began soon after. The first reintroductions occurred in Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996 with 66 animals. Today, some 1,700 wolves live in the Northern Rockies, and they no longer have federal protection in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, or eastern Washington and Oregon. More than 4,000 live in western Great Lakes states, particularly Minnesota. And a much smaller population of Mexican wolves – around 130 – live in New Mexico and Arizona following reintroductions. Citing rebounding populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the gray wolf earlier this year, setting up what’s likely to be a fierce battle.

Courtesy of Jacob W. Frank/NPS
A wolf pauses near the entrance to Artist Paint Pots in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

Depending who you talk to, the reintroduction efforts have either been wildly successful or hugely detrimental. Within Yellowstone National Park, where wolves enjoy the greatest protection, the ecological effects have been most acute: Elk herds are smaller and stronger, and move more frequently to escape predators, aerating the soil and allowing vegetation to recover. There are fewer coyotes, helping both small rodents and the raptors that prey on them. Beavers, trout, songbirds, and streams have all benefited in various ways.

That “trophic cascade” may not be as extreme in less protected areas, but it’s what wolf advocates hope the predators will bring to western Colorado as well.

The state has considered and rejected wolf reintroduction in the past, most recently in 2016. In its rationale for opposing reintroduction, Colorado Parks and Wildlife cited a number of concerns, including the high cost of wolf management, a dwindling number of surplus elk in the southern part of the state, and the fact that the Mexican wolf – the subject of concerted recovery efforts – didn’t historically range this far north. Rather than actively reintroduce wolves, the agency reaffirmed its focus on management plans for wolves if they migrate down on their own.

That scenario is one that many wolf-reintroduction opponents point to as preferable to actively bringing wolves back.

“I’d love to see the migration part of it,” says Jay Fetcher, a cattle rancher near Steamboat Springs. There are too many elk, he notes, and wolves might keep those in check. And as long as he’s compensated quickly and easily, Mr. Fetcher says he’d be willing to accept some livestock loss. But he worries that reintroduction advocates aren’t considering all the ramifications.

“We have so many more people than the states where they were reintroduced,” says Mr. Fletcher. He worries about conflict between recreationists and wolves, or people’s pets being taken. “Are we going to be able to tolerate this species coming back in?”

Other ranchers are even more adamantly anti-wolf.

“I know we’ll have to deal with it at some point,” says Ernie Etchart, a sheep rancher near Montrose, Colorado, referring to wolves migrating into the state naturally. “But the thought of wolves killing my livestock frightens me. I don’t like it.”

He and other ranchers say that compensation packages don’t do enough: Some killed animals are never found; distressed livestock may lose weight; and the value of a killed animal doesn’t factor in its years of breeding.

“We have a closed herd, we can’t just go out and buy more sheep,” says J. Paul Brown, a sheep and cattle rancher in southwest Colorado who previously served in the Colorado legislature. “I have friends who are dealing with the wolves in Idaho and Wyoming and Montana, and I just cry for them. I don’t know how they stay in business.”

And some sportsmen worry about the effect on deer and elk populations.

“We’ve been supportive of the natural recolonization of wolves in Colorado,” says Blake Henning, chief conservation officer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “If they’re forcibly reintroduced, it sets the stage for conflict.”

Ultimately, he and other opponents say that they see the ballot initiative as a poorly conceived mechanism that allows wolf-lovers in Denver and Boulder to make a decision that would affect ranchers and hunters in the western part of the state. “We’re not in favor of ballot-box biology,” says Mr. Henning.

The myth of the wolf

Those concerns, say advocates, miss the big picture and are more grounded in fear than facts.

The ballot initiative is purposely sparse on details: If it gets enough signatures and makes it onto the 2020 ballot, it would direct the state wildlife commission to begin reintroduction of gray wolves to western Colorado before the end of 2023. It leaves all the details – how many, where, when, and which wolves – to the commission, noting that the plan should take into account the best science, involve public input and statewide hearings, and include compensation for livestock loss and mechanisms to resolve other conflicts.

And the idea that wolves should come back on their own has two major problems, say advocates. Despite occasional sightings of lone wolves, it’s much harder than people think for a viable wolf population to establish itself in Colorado – 400 miles south of current territory, across a major interstate and open space where Wyoming residents can shoot them without repercussion. And whereas a managed reintroduction would allow for livestock compensation and flexible management, any wolves that currently cross the state line into Colorado are protected under the Endangered Species Act and difficult to manage.

“We find from our research that rural Coloradans are just about as excited about this as urban Coloradans, in large part because we want to keep Colorado wild,” says Rick Ridder, a campaign consultant for the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which developed the initiative. Every poll has showed a significant majority of Coloradans in favor of bringing back wolves.

John Longhill, who has a horse ranch north of Silverthorne, says he’s excited to see wolves restored to the landscape where, as far as he’s concerned, they belong. They’re “a critical component of a balanced, working natural environment,” says Mr. Longhill. “There’s so much scientific evidence that supports this. We can’t react based on fear.”

Ultimately, say wolf advocates, much of the opposition to wolves is rooted in misperception, rather than science. Wolves aren’t dangerous to humans, and are less dangerous to livestock than many ranchers think, says Eric Washburn, a conservationist who lives near Steamboat Springs. He is a hunter, but says the number of elk and deer in the state can easily support wolves, and wolves can actually help with issues like chronic wasting disease, a problem for elk. Mr. Washburn understands ranchers’ concerns, but notes that the predation rates for livestock in the Northern Rockies have been extremely low.

“What we’re confronting is the myth of the wolf,” he says.

That myth – and a fear deeply ingrained for many ranchers – can be a tough obstacle, but wolf advocates hope education can go a long way to counter it. And for many, the wolf has a strong positive symbolism as well.

Lessons from the Northern Rockies show that there are good tools to deal with all the potential conflicts, says Mr. Phillips, who helped lead the effort to restore wolves to Yellowstone.

“What gets in the way of those objective lessons is the mythical wolf, [where] it’s this devastating monster that exercises its predatory will on a whim.” But, adds Mr. Phillips, “You could make a strong case that the gray wolf represents the beating heart of the wild lands of Colorado.”

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Difference-maker

Drivers of change

5. ‘You can’t unhurt a young person.’ But you can help them thrive.

It can be easy to define a community by its past. But when Dan Rhoton looks at one New Jersey city’s youths, he doesn’t see heirs to crime and poverty. He sees young people ‘ready to change the world.’

Mark
Courtesy of Hopeworks
Hopeworks youth work on hacking a solution to food access for Camden, New Jersey. Hopeworks couples coding and computer training with life readiness counseling.

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Dan Rhoton knows all about Camden’s reputation. The New Jersey city ranks among the most dangerous in the nation. But “your future doesn’t have to look like your past,” he insists. That’s the mentality he’s working to instill among Camden’s youths through his work at Hopeworks, a job training program that combines coding and other computer training with life readiness coaching.

Mr. Rhoton learned early on as a student teacher that great rewards come from taking the time to work with students overcoming trauma. He went on to spend 16 years working at a youth detention center just outside Philadelphia, first as a teacher and later as a vice principal. He walked away from that experience with a powerful lesson that he brought to Hopeworks. “You can’t unhurt a young person,” he says. “But by helping them heal, celebrating them,” you end up with someone who is stronger.

Hopeworks alumni affirm that idea every day. “Some folks have to go and watch an inspirational movie,” Mr. Rhoton says. “I am an extra in an inspirational movie.”

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‘You can’t unhurt a young person.’ But you can help them thrive.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, the Hopeworks office in downtown Camden is positively buzzing with activity. Clusters of computer banks are filled with teens and young adults working on everything from website development to sophisticated data projects for clients throughout the region.

The space more closely resembles a tech hub than a nonprofit centered on supporting youths.

As 18-year-old Jonathan Colon walks through the offices, he points out the training area where he has been learning about various platforms. He also sees his math teacher and two of his academic coaches.

“I am learning a lot,” says Mr. Colon, who had only spent six weeks with Hopeworks at the time, but already felt at home. “I wanted to make myself better, and make my mom proud.”

Founded in 2000, Hopeworks works with young people in and around Camden to help them develop technological skills and connect them with internships and jobs. The focus on real-world job training and experience is coupled with what the organization describes as “a positive, healing atmosphere” capable of helping participants break the cycle of poverty and violence.

Perhaps no one is more excited about this organization, and the effect it has on participants, than Executive Director Dan Rhoton.

“At the end of the day, what we do is make a promise to our young people: If you come and let us work with you, we will help you transform your life,” says Mr. Rhoton. “We will help you get the job you want, we will help you get the education you want. Your future doesn’t have to look like your past.”

Much of Camden’s past has been marked by poverty and crime. The New Jersey city ranks among the most dangerous in the nation. In recent years, however, crime rates have fallen significantly, with 2018 New Jersey State Police data indicating a continued downward trend.

Mr. Rhoton is familiar with the narratives about Camden’s downtrodden, but he sees a different reality – one featuring “an ambitious, energetic group of young people ready to change the world, often young people who have overcome tremendous obstacles and are still going.”

The Hopeworks team seeks to mobilize those young people – some 120 at any given time – through a multifaceted program that takes each person from entry-level training to an in-house paid internship before funneling them to a firm for a permanent job.

Participants receive computer training ranging from HTML to Photoshop, while a life readiness coach conducts mock job interviews, assists with resume writing, and offers advice on budgeting and other practical necessities.

Youths are then hired by the nonprofit to work on client projects. After six months of earning pay and building their professional portfolios, Mr. Rhoton and his team then help connect youths with permanent jobs. Some 93 landed jobs last year alone.

Turning bad moments into ‘superpowers’

Mr. Rhoton, who joined Hopeworks in 2012 as its chief operating officer and has been at the helm for the past four years, was inspired by student teaching experiences he had both at an elite private school and with youths on probation.

Courtesy of Dan Rhoton
Dan Rhoton is executive director of Hopeworks in Camden, New Jersey. Mr. Rhoton learned early on as a student teacher that great rewards come from taking the time to work with students overcoming trauma.

“Both were awesome, but the one for the youth on probation showed me where the real impact was,” he says.

Mr. Rhoton went on to spend roughly 16 years working at a youth detention center just outside Philadelphia, first as a teacher and later as a vice principal. He walked away from that experience with a powerful lesson that he brought to Hopeworks as the nonprofit was looking to adopt a trauma-informed model.

“If you take young men who made really bad choices, but help them figure out how they had been hurt, their worst moments in life could become their superpowers,” says Mr. Rhoton. “I took those lessons and then came to Hopeworks so we could start doing that in the community.”

That trauma-informed approach recognizes the difficulties that youths have experienced, and works with them to help acknowledge and own those experiences rather than pretending they didn’t happen.

“You can’t unhurt a young person,” he says. “But by helping them heal, celebrating them,” you end up with someone who is stronger.

Also critical is the nonprofit’s focus on technology as a driver of opportunity for youths.

“Very few young people can actually code or use technology to solve problems,” he says. “That’s where the economic power is. That is where the real potential is.”

He adds, “and if we can train the next generation of technologists, who are brown and black, who are coming from communities like Camden, if they are the ones who are controlling the conversation, then we are going to be living in a very different Camden.”

Many Hopeworks alums are already part of that movement, working with organizations like the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

“Hopeworks has found the balance between growing professional and interpersonal skills,” says Abigail Fallen, associate director for the coalition, in an email interview. “It provides their graduates with a set of skills to make themselves marketable in a professional setting.”

Ms. Fallen sees Mr. Rhoton’s passion and commitment to making change.

“Dan has helped to grow Hopeworks into an organization that can provide these talented, young individuals with a set of skills that makes them marketable to organizations,” she says, “but also a set of skills that allows them to become independent, confident young individuals.”

In the past year alone, three former participants have launched their own businesses. Mr. Rhoton sees that number growing, especially in a city where approximately 45% of the 70,000-some residents are under 25.

“Imagine if some significant portion of that huge youth population is tech savvy, entrepreneurial, and ready to go,” he says. “How long is it going to take before Camden is the tech mecca of the East Coast?”

‘A beacon of light’

Corey Thorpe, 21, completed his Hopeworks training and internship before moving into a full-time job, and describes the nonprofit as “a beacon of light for youth in the community, encouraging them to pursue something greater than life in the streets.”

“It gives youth that have little to no opportunities in other entry-level positions, (the chance) to meet other professionals and front-runners of many organizations to achieve potential that no one convinced them that they have in the past,” says Mr. Thorpe in an email interview, also speaking highly of Mr. Rhoton. “He goes the extra mile to make himself available for any youth who needs to speak about an issue, and he will do what he can to bring about change.”

The Hopeworks annual budget is approximately $2.5 million, with roughly a third of revenue coming from clients who hire the firm for tech projects, a third from donors, and the remainder from grants and events. Some of those proceeds are paid to youths working on projects, with $346,000 in stipends in 2018 alone.

In a recent interview, Rhoton spoke about why he loves working at Hopeworks.

“Some folks have to go and watch an inspirational movie,” he says. “I am an extra in an inspirational movie.”

For more, visit www.hopeworks.org.

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The Monitor's View

After India’s big election, time for inclusion

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The recent election in India was the most inclusive public event in history. More than 600 million people gathered to cast ballots. Yet despite this massive display of democracy, the big winner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, felt compelled to tweet this message after his party’s big win: “Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.”

Since coming to power in 2014, Mr. Modi has struggled to convince India’s religious minorities, especially the 14% Muslim minority, that he is not seeking dominance for the majority Hindus. Under his rule, India has seen a rise in hate crimes by right-wing Hindu groups.

Mr. Modi made this election very much about him. That might seem bad for a democracy. Yet his popularity only helps distance the prime minister from his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, whose roots lie in the idea that Hindus are a single nation and are threatened by Muslims and others.

India has a good history of secular governance and religious coexistence since its independence in 1947 – and despite the heavy sectarian violence during the partition of British India. Inclusion is now part of its identity. Just the sheer number of voters attests to that.

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After India’s big election, time for inclusion

The recent election in India was the most inclusive public event in history. More than 600 million people gathered over six weeks in April and May to cast ballots in polling stations from sea level to 15,000 feet in the Himalayas. Even the poorest and most rural people were treated with respect and equality.

Yet despite this massive display of democracy, the big winner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, felt compelled to tweet this message after his party’s big victory was declared Thursday: “Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.”

Since coming to power in 2014, Mr. Modi has struggled to convince India’s religious minorities, especially the 14% Muslim minority, that he is not seeking cultural and political dominance for the majority Hindus. Under his rule, India has seen a rise in hate crimes by right-wing Hindu groups. One state minister was banned from campaigning for three days after making anti-Muslim comments. And to show he is working for everyone, Mr. Modi kept repeating this slogan during the campaign: “together with all, development for all.”

The son of a tea seller, Mr. Modi made this election very much about him. That might seem bad for a democracy. Yet his popularity only helps distance the prime minister from his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, whose roots lie in the idea that Hindus are a single nation and are threatened by Muslims and others. One survey found a third of BJP voters would have backed another party if Mr. Modi was not running.

Mr. Modi won the contest in spite of a downturn in the economy and increasing stress for farmers. Rather than play to religious bigotry, he has had to come up with a slew of welfare schemes for poor people. He also took advantage of an attack by Pakistani terrorists in February to appeal for broad-based nationalism.

Since he came into office, the number of people with access to the internet has doubled to 500 million. With hopes of turning India into a global superpower, Mr. Modi cannot afford for flare-ups of religious intolerance to damage the country’s image.

India has a good history of secular governance and religious coexistence since its independence in 1947 – and despite the heavy sectarian violence during the partition of British India. Inclusion is now part of its identity. Just the sheer number of voters attests to that. Mr. Modi and his BJP, even though they won, must honor this legacy of harmony.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Church indestructible

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Today’s contributor, an admirer of great architecture, explores the idea of church as an unconfined, empowering, spiritual structure.

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Church indestructible

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Years ago I attended the Sorbonne University in Paris. Because of the city’s awe-inspiring cityscapes and exquisite buildings, I fell in love with great architecture. So many buildings in Europe and elsewhere are hundreds of years old. It can be easy to imagine that such structures will last forever, though of course they cannot.

But I’ve been learning in my study of Christian Science of a structure that is actually untouchable, indestructible. It’s not a physical building; its substance is divine beauty, nobility, and spirituality that can never truly be destroyed.

Mary Baker Eddy, a devout student of the Bible who dedicated her life to honoring God, explains the nature of this structure in the profound spiritual definition of “Church” found in her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” The definition begins, “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (p. 583).

The words “Truth,” “Love,” and “Principle” are capitalized in that sentence because they refer to God. This points to a concept of church that, rather than being made of bricks, stone, or wood, is above all a spiritual idea – one in which we honor God in our thoughts and hearts. That makes church a living presence and power. And if the idea of church is divinely established, it must be eternal, like the Divine. It can never be destroyed or harmed but rather is and always will be an ongoing, uninterrupted activity.

This gives me such comfort because it means that church is something we always have with us. We’re living it when God-inspired qualities such as truthfulness, love, and fairness are the foundation of our thoughts and guide our actions.

Science and Health goes on to expand that definition of “Church,” describing its effect on the world. It includes elevating and uplifting humanity, lifting us out of limited, materially based thinking with the light of spiritual understanding and healing.

We discover this true sense of church as we open our hearts to thinking and living consistently with God’s laws – with our real identity as the expressions of His love, goodness, and peace. And so we could say the purpose of church is to share and declare the Word of God, which brings healing. As the biblical figure David wrote, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!... He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalms 107:15, 20).

This healing concept of church was a great comfort to me when I faced a hereditary condition of a diseased, swollen, and infected leg. I immediately turned to the spiritual laws of divine Truth, Love, and Principle. I felt safe knowing that God’s love was governing me, that what God knew about me was the only truth – that as His spiritual daughter I am whole and protected.

I stayed in this mental realm of church for a month, consistently declaring that the Word of God, and not the situation with my leg, determines my real identity. Even though at one point the condition grew worse, I felt such trust in God’s care.

At the end of the month I was able to attend the Thanksgiving service at my local Church of Christ, Scientist. I don’t think it was any coincidence that I discovered my leg was completely healed as I sat – literally and figuratively – in church. That was over a decade ago, and the problem hasn’t returned. (To read more about this healing, see my testimony titled “Skin condition – healed” in the Jan. 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal.)

As a spiritual concept in our hearts, church is relevant and powerful today and forever. Its true value is not confined to a building, whether empty or full, old or new. A friend said to me the other day, “You know, it’s not the amount of people in the church that’s important; it’s the amount of church in the people.” As we learn about God as the divine Truth and Love that structures our lives and we yield to the divine Principle guiding each and every one of us as children of God, we will find ourselves in this indestructible haven of peace, the spiritual idea known as church.

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Viewfinder

Conga line

Richard Vogel/AP
Dancers from different Los Angeles area schools compete in the Conga Kids Dance Championship at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles May 22. Conga Kids serves predominantly Hispanic and African American 10- and 11-year-olds in historically disadvantaged areas. This year 9,000 fifth graders from more than 90 schools competed in the competition.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte and Karen Norris. )
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In Our Next Issue

( May 24th, 2019 )

That's the Daily for Thursday. We'll be with you again tomorrow, when our package will include first-person secrets of reporting on Capitol Hill.

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