On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver took on the fraudulent behind-the-scenes (and occasionally, not so behind-the-scenes) practices of America’s mega-televangelist ministries — specifically, those that have exploited people’s faith for monetary gain with the promise that “donations will result in wealth coming back to you.” It’s called “The Prosperity Gospel,” and is built on the idea that every donation a congregant gives its pastor is a “seed” that will one day be harvested. “Wealth is a sign of God’s favor,” after all.
After learning of these shady practices embedded in mega-ministry culture, Oliver resolved to embark on a thought experiment: Why not file some paperwork and establish a church of his own (“a disturbingly easy process,” Oliver said), call it “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” and then ask congregants to meditate on the fraudulence of megachurches?
[In the first week of August, armed members of the Oath Keepers (the same ones who appeared in Ferguson this week) and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon andCliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.
A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. At the center of the land grab is Ken Ivory, a Utah state representative and president of the American Lands Council. Ivory has been accused of fraud in three states for allegedly scamming local governments into funding the ALC using taxpayer money.
The elected officials supporting state seizure of public lands couch their arguments carefully, using innocuous rhetoric to claim that their only goal is better land management. But in reality, these politicians are following directly in the ideological footsteps of Bundy, the scofflaw rancher who owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to American taxpayers and doesn’t recognize the U.S. government as “even existing.”
Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith: Integrity, Ethics, Accountability, Identity
[… a more productive place to begin might be to ask why there has not been any noticeable difference in professional or political expectations of Smith—in her self-presentations, speaking engagements, professional service, and publications? There are certainly many people who knew/know, so why have her ethics and integrity not been questioned or challenged in the same or similar way to those of Dolezal? Why does Smith’s fraud get excused on the grounds of “her good work” but Dolezal does not?
Meanwhile, we’ll all fail to ask why, as Dolezal and Smith present themselves through such complicated personal stories of childhood abuse and family dysfunction, we respond so differently to Dolezal’s blackface and Smith’s redface. We’ll avoid the opportunity to think out loud together about why it seems the entire nation demands accountability of someone pretending to be Black–of literally altering her physical appearance to conform to racist expectations of Blackness–but doesn’t seem to give one iota of concern about those who pretend to be Indian.]
According to the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, just over $9 billion has been disbursed toward relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti; 59 percent went to U.N. agencies, international NGOs, and private contractors, 40 percent went to the donor countries’ civil/military entities, and 1 percent went to the Haitian government.
At the January 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual meeting of corporate and government leaders from around the world that’s like Burning Man for the 1 percent, Lamothe said that one key to rebuilding the country was tourism and that the government was investing in the industry to stimulate economic growth, with the belief that economic benefits would trickle down to the poor. “Our strategy is very simple,” Lamothe said at this year’s forum. “In order to fight poverty, we need to create wealth.”
Wealth for whom? one might ask. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund invested $2 million in Pétionville’s Royal Oasis, where rooms go for $250 a night and up. Its website stated that its $2 million equity stake in the venture would generate income that it would later plow into other projects and programs over the long term. The International Financial Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, contributed $26.5 million to the Marriott project.