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  • What is it like knowing that you are fourth in line to a throne that stretches back to 871 AD? One lucky individual is about to find out after Prince William and Kate Middleton announced they are expecting their second child. Their new child will fall behind Princes Charles, William, and George in line of succession to the throne.
  • The natural human reaction to mass murders by ISIS or their purported sympathizers in Paris, Beirut, and San Bernardino is grief, anger, and a demand to redouble efforts to “degrade and destroy” the organization. People have had similar reactions after every terrorist attack, whether it was committed by the PLO or the IRA, whether it was in New York on 9/11 or London on 7/7. Once the red mist of rage has lifted, however, it’s important to think coolly and calmly about the long-term strategy for ending the horrific violence.
  • Pope Francis has been brushing up on his English ahead of his arrival in Washington in September, and tickets to his U.S. events are already a hot commodity. But anyone expecting his message to be simply one of mercy and love could be in for a distinct surprise. In his speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the pope of the poor could well deliver a harsh message for the world’s richest nation. For all the genuine warmth of his smile, his track record suggests he sees it as his job not just to comfort the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable. And however delicately he fine-tunes his language, the hard fact is that he believes the United States is as much a part of the problem as the solution.
  • When Mohammad Emwazi was unmasked as “Jihadi John,” the London-accented Islamic State executioner, the news media wasted no time in dispatching journalists to his neighborhood. British newspapers depicted a comfortably middle class area of multimillion-pound homes and boutique shops. The New York Times saw things differently. Its reporter described a “fertile breeding ground” for extremists characterized by housing projects and gang violence. The fact that the same place can be described as affluent by British media and rough and gritty by a U.S. outlet illustrates well how coverage of extremism often tells you more about the publication or journalist covering it than it does about the issue itself.
  • Some atheists want to celebrate difference, others want to join the political arena. Time for an Atheist Party?
  • This week “The Daily Show” ramped up their media coverage of midterm elections by heading to Texas for a week of shows entitled Democalypse 2014: South by South Mess. The guest the first night? Wendy Davis, of course. But before we get too excited at the idea that a satire news show is going to the center of a hotly disputed governor’s race, it’s worth remembering that four years ago today, on October 30, 2010, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallied on the National Mall in an unprecedented media stunt that put satire at the center of political debate. Compared to last midterm election’s rally, “The Daily Show’s” move to Texas may seem like a bit of a letdown.
  • It’s widely known that the Republican Party has a demographic problem. The GOP is decidedly unappealing to millennials, women and people of color. Despite creative efforts to redistrict and despite pushing rules that limit the population’s ability to cast a vote, it remains true that these voters will likely pose a real challenge to GOP hopes in the midterm elections. Rather than rethink their stance on political issues that turns off these voters, the GOP decided to address the problem by creating a series of ads meant to help show these groups that they should be Republicans too. The point they have tried to make is, if you really knew what it means to be Republican, you would be one too.
  • In jurisdictions across the country, police are allowed to employ a tool called civil asset forfeiture, whereby they can seize money and property based simply on the assumption that it has been used for criminal activity. No conviction is necessary, and often, the police are allowed to keep some, if not all, of the property for themselves. Sounds like the perfect setup for overzealous policing and corruption, right? In a long segment from This Week Tonight, John Oliver takes on the dubious practice and the behavior it encourages and calls for a reevaluation of the system. He also calls for a reworking of Law & Order and its ilk to “make them a lot more representative of what is actually happening,” drawing on the wonderfully deadpan assistance of Jeff Goldblum.
  • A council in the English town of Clacton-on-Sea scrubs a Banksy mural highlighting anti-immigration rhetoric off a wall after a complaint that it is racist.

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