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Weekly Digest

The following front-page stories received the most comments during the preceding week.

While talking to a Marine who served in Afghanistan, New York Times writer Matt Richter says "I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service. 'No problem,' he said. It wasn't true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn't want to be thanked for their military service? Many people, it turns out." read more


Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency. "The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people." The move sends the politically charged issue back to Congress, where Republicans haven't shown they can muster the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to override Obama's veto.


Richard Florida, New York Times: The parties in Washington are more polarized than they have been in decades, the partisanship gap between rural Republicans and urban Democrats has grown, and the battle for suburban voters keeps intensifying. Much less is said, however, about the equally significant economic divisions between liberal "blue states" and conservative "red states." read more


Aurin Squire: "Black respectability politics" describes African-Americans' self-policing morality and propriety in order to better reflect themselves to the white mainstream. I would be lying if I said I didn't benefit from the cultural gymnastics of learning and adapting to mainstream etiquette, values, dress codes, hairstyles and preferred media. This is how most people, regardless of race and class, try to live. There is nothing wrong with self-improvement, dressing well and speaking proper English. But black respectability politics is more than self-help and discipline. It's like living your life as a job interview. Forever. It is a state of always striving to impress and never arriving at the promised land of equality. It's a mindf**k, because in order to be "equal" to whiteness, I have to take it upon myself to do more, to counteract the feeling that I am less. read more


The Justice Department will not file charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012, a Justice official told USA Today. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder by a Florida jury in 2013. Federal investigators looked into whether his actions were a civil rights violation.


Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, New Republic: The Republican non-response is having a moment, this time in the context of President Barack Obama's religious convictions, which are up for review once again. First, after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani bizarrely accused Obama of not loving his country, Republican governors Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal refused to disagree. When asked in an interview Saturday whether or not Obama is a Christian, Governor Walker again demurred, saying "I don't know." Though Walker was evidently reminded during the interview of Obama's public remarks about his Christian faith, Walker still insisted it is impossible for him to know whether or not the president is a Christian. read more


In the middle of last summer came news of a bizarre occurrence no one could explain. Seemingly out of nowhere, a massive crater appeared in one of the planet's most inhospitable lands. Early estimates said the crater, nestled in a land called "the ends of the Earth" where temperatures can sink far below zero, yawned nearly 100 feet in diameter. The saga deepened. The Siberian crater wasn't alone. There were two more, ratcheting up the tension in a drama that hit its climax as a probable explanation surfaced. Global warming had thawed the permafrost, which had caused methane trapped inside the icy ground to explode. read more


The notion that Congress might actually shut down the Department of Homeland Security as part of a broader fight over President Obama's immigration policies seemed laughable just a few weeks ago. Literally. A top Republican staff member laughed when asked if Republicans, who are usually security-minded, were prepared to shut down the agency in a political battle over Mr. Obama's recent executive actions. But now, with just days remaining until funding for the Homeland Security agency runs out on Friday, a shutdown of the department is looking increasingly likely. read more


Seth McLaughlin, Washington Times: A movement is underway to stage an informal protest when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hits the CPAC stage Friday. William Temple, a member of the Golden Isle Tea Party, said the party doesn't need another Bush in office and should listen to the grass-roots activists that helped fuel their gains in the 2014 election. "A lot of peoples were not going to come here because they heard Jeb Bush was speaking," Temple said before laying out his plan at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "We are going to get up en masse, and we are going to walk out on him," the 64-year-old said. "We are not going to interrupt anyone's speech, but we are all going to exercise our right to [use] the bathroom at the same time."


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday that his experience taking on thousands of protesters in his state helped prepare him to take on terrorists across the world. The likely Republican presidential contender sparked pointed criticism from labor union leaders across the country after remarks delivered on the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington. "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said. read more


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