TIME faith

Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem

Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held In D.C.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

If Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s disparagement of atheists was just the ranting of a tinpot politician turned Fox News bloviator, it could be left without comment or fuss.

Unfortunately, not only does Huckabee have to be taken seriously as a possible Presidential candidate in 2016, but his suggestion that atheists who work for the government (primarily elected officials) be summarily “fired” is an applause line in too many quarters in the United States. That nonbelievers somehow deserve to be discriminated against is a view widely shared, particularly among Christian conservatives who seem to think “religion by the sword” is an oldie but a goodie.

This latest bit of hate was offered up – where else? – at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The ritual hookup between Christian conservatives and Republican presidential aspirants is a right wing, Jesus-loves-us debauch of Homophobia, Intolerance and Militarism, a trifecta easily remembered by the acronym “HIM”.

Huckabee, in a tortured metaphor about answering phones “God is ringing,” exhorted his audience to answer the God-call by making sure only people with the right values are hired for jobs in Washington and by making sure those who “refuse to hear … God’s heart” are fired. No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.

Yes, that is illegal, which makes the suggestion all the more stunning from someone who expects to be taken seriously on America’s national political stage.

But such warped intolerance toward people who simply don’t subscribe to a deity, is considered a ticket to electoral success in some parts of the United States. Consider Zach Dasher’s view of nonbelievers – comments he rolled back on Monday after public pressure.

This Republican congressional candidate in Louisiana and nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, suggested on his faith-based podcast that atheism contributed to the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children and six adults in 2012.

Apparently, the premier driver was not the mental illness from which shooter Adam Lanza clearly suffered, nor was it that an unstable man was able legally to amass a stockpile of weapons, thanks to his mother supplying them.

According to Dasher, “the reason why (the Sandy Hook massacre) happened is that we have denied as a culture that man is made in God’s image.” He said the “atheist agenda” reinforces a message that says “you don’t matter … all you are is chemical, all you are is material.”

Had Dasher bothered to find out about atheism, humanism and the nonreligious, he would have come to understand just how precious this community views life.

Unlike Dasher, who believes there is another existence – a better one — outside the temporal, atheists, humanists and freethinkers believe they have one life and one chance to do something meaningful with it. With no supernatural arbiter to fall back on, nonbelievers know it is up to them and them alone to promote justice, compassion and a fair society.

The proof that secular people are good, care for others and build healthy societies is evidenced in cross-national studies. The research of Phil Zuckerman at Pitzer College, demonstrates that secular societies, such as Sweden and Denmark, among others, are more likely to enjoy broadly shared prosperity and a high level of societal health and happiness than traditionally religious ones, and certainly more so than the United States.

Gregory Paul has done a similar comparison, as well as one between states within the US, and found parallel results. Which way the causal arrow goes is an interesting question: does secularism foster healthy caring, or does religiosity die away in societies where people care for one another? Paul himself says, “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities.”

Whichever way the causal arrow goes, politicians like Huckabee and Dasher would do well to ponder (if indeed they know the meaning of the word) on Zuckerman’s summation: “(W)hen we consider the fundamental values and moral imperatives contained within the world’s great religions, such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one’s fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism — those traditionally religious values are most successfully established, institutionalized, and put into practice at the societal level in the most irreligious nations in the world today.”

With that reality, one has to wonder what politicians like Huckabee and Dasher really stand for?

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME White House

9 Secret Service Screw-Ups and Scandals

Secret Service - stock photo
Ian Waldie—Getty Images

From White House intruders to wild and crazy nights

With Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appearing before a House oversight panel on Tuesday with promises to fix the agency after revelations that a fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room, the agency is making lots of promises. “It will never happen again,” Pierson told the panel.

But as hopeful as she may be, those who remember even the recent history of the agency have reason to take that vow with a grain of salt. Not only is there a decades-long history of intrusions at the White House, but the agency is also no stranger to messing up.

For example:

Earlier this year, three agents were sent home from a trip to the Netherlands after getting drunk the night before the President was set to arrive.

In 2013, two agents were removed from Presidential security detail after sending sexually inappropriate emails to a colleague, which was uncovered when one of the agents was discovered trying to forcefully enter a woman’s hotel room after forgetting a bullet inside.

In 2012, eight agents were fired after it emerged that they had allegedly solicited prostitutes while on an on-duty trip to Colombia.

In 2001, an agent admitted to having stolen nearly $3,000 in cash that the Secret Service had taken as evidence in the years prior.

In 1999, an agent in Chicago with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton went to a hotel bar and put her service weapon in her purse under her chair; a thief with a long arrest record stole the gun.

In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Ken Starr got permission to question Secret Service agents. Though helping a President find some personal privacy for a tryst was nothing new in the agency’s history, the Starr Report still made headlines by revealing that agents had watched her come and go from the Oval Office.

In 1997, an agent who was guarding former President Ronald Reagan was convicted of sex with a minor and possession of drugs, as well as resisting arrest.

In 1971, in the realm of legal-but-shady real-estate dealings, it was revealed that the Secret Service had arranged for a Florida home near President Nixon’s compound in the area to be sold for $150,000—the owners were, ironically, annoyed by all the Secret Service presence—to a buyer who turned out to be a friend of the administration’s, who subsequently leased the house back to the the Secret Service.

In 1964, when the Warren Commission investigated the Kennedy assassination, the group found that Secret Service agents had been drinking the night before the event—though there was no accusation that the drinking impaired their work, it was still forbidden—and that the route was not properly secured.

Then again, hope for a scandal-free secret service isn’t necessarily misplaced. After all, the agency once had a spotless record. In the April 16, 1934, issue of TIME, agency chief William Herman Moran recalled 52 years in the agency and was “proud that, since its organization in 1861, his secret police system has never had a scandal.”

The same article recounts the story of an agent who stopped President Warren Harding from getting on a boat that soon sank and President Herbert Hoover from speaking from a platform that had been “gutted by termites” to the point of collapse. Highly visible saves —like preventing President Reagan’s assassination in 1981—are few and far between, but daily successes like looking out for termites are likely to have continued over the decades that would follow, largely unnoticed. It’s the fate of the Secret Service that, until its agents do something wrong, the work that they do mostly remains, well, secret.

TIME Books

The Politician America Really Needs: A Certain First Lady

Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird Johnson Bettmann/Corbis

Jonathan Darman is the author of Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of A New America, out this month.

Forget the LBJ fantasies—if we could have Lady Bird back, things might be different

In this dismal hour of American politics, there is no better way to strike just the right note of sober-minded weariness than to speak, wistfully and longingly, about the wonders of Lyndon Baines Johnson. What we wouldn’t give for the impresario of arm-twisting—the president who, in the mid-1960s, forced greatness out of Washington that transformed people’s lives. The steward of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The man who delivered Medicare. If only we had LBJ around, who could force even our do-nothing politicians to do something.

The sad truth is that today’s politics are probably too hopelessly polarized to make good use of a legislative wunderkind. What we need are politicians who are unafraid to go to the most difficult places, to look painful realities in the face. And for that, we don’t need LBJ. We need his wife.

This might seem strange, sure. In pictures from the 1960s, Lady Bird often looks like the ultimate example of a smiling, silent good wife. Throughout her long career in Washington, she was always guided by a simple question: how to serve her husband best. To serve Lyndon, a wild-tempered man of expansive appetites and unending need, that often meant suffering indignities that were shocking even in a pre-feminist era. Jackie Kennedy, who watched Lady Bird write down every one of Lyndon’s thoughts and wishes, thought Lady Bird looked “like a trained hunting dog.”

LANDSLIDE -- book jacket

But Lady Bird’s dutiful subservience obscured her strength: a rare willingness to see the world as it really was. Despite his modern reputation as a pragmatist, LBJ often struggled to look at the future realistically, preferring to alternate between fantasies of great glory or doom and gloom. At key moments in the Johnson presidency, when Lyndon would give in to paranoia about the future, Lady Bird was a lone voice of reason.

During the historic campaign of 1964, as delegates to the Democratic National Convention gathered in the late-summer heat of Atlantic City, a woe-begotten Lyndon, worried about the demands of the office, took to his White House bedroom, saying he might refuse the nomination and let the presidency go. Lady Bird wouldn’t have it. In a letter to her husband she was kind but clear: “To step out now would be wrong for your country, and I can see nothing but a lonely wasteland in your future. Your friends would be frozen in embarrassed silence and your enemies jeering.” Lyndon got on a plane to the convention and accepted his party’s nomination as planned.

In the fall, even as landslide victory began to look like a sure thing, Lady Bird worried about the South, where white Democrats were enraged over the Administration’s handling of Civil Rights. Though southern politicians said they could not guarantee her safety, she set off for the confederacy in a train dubbed the “Lady Bird Special” to make the case for her husband.

And trouble came. In Charleston, she was greeted by angry protesters and a crude sign calling her “BLACK BIRD.” In Columbia, South Carolina, her words were temporarily drowned out by a booing mob. It was enough to shake a seasoned politician but Lady Bird simply held her white-gloved hand in the air. “This is a country of many viewpoints,” she said. “I respect your right to express your own. Now it is my turn to express mine. Thank you.” And with that, her harassers hushed.

Just weeks before the election, the political world convulsed with the news that Walter Jenkins, the Johnsons’ closest aide, had been caught having sex with another man in the basement of a Washington YMCA. Lady Bird urged her husband to show public support and compassion for a man who had served their family for decades. When he refused, Lady Bird defied the advice of his counselors and released her own public statement: “My heart is aching today for someone who has reached the end point of exhaustion in service to his country.”

In the course of the ‘64 campaign, Lady Bird displayed a deep realism about human nature that is far more rare in a First Lady than we might think. President Obama, like his predecessors, promotes his wife as a source of real-talk, the one person who is unimpressed by his office and still gives it to him straight. But a First Lady, like any spouse, often feels the criticisms of her husband more acutely than does the president himself. A bunker of denial and recrimination can be an enticing escape for both partners in a political marriage. Hillary Clinton provided many assets to her husband during their time in the White House, but relief from paranoia and self-pity was not among them.

Even Lady Bird’s powers had their limits. As the Johnson presidency wore on, Vietnam overwhelmed everything, including Lady Bird’s ability to cut through the illusions in her husband’s head. It is tantalizing to imagine an alternate history of the Johnson presidency in which the First Lady was empowered to help her husband in Vietnam the way she helped him in other areas.

And it is tempting to imagine what would happen if more leaders today had Lady Bird’s spirit, her willingness to go to the unkind places, to face the fury of hostile crowds. Imagine how things might be different if our leaders had faith that when you look at the hard things plainly, they often to turn out to be far less frightening than they seem. And then imagine what would happen when a truly gifted leader broke that silence and spoke.

Jonathan Darman, a former political correspondent for Newsweek, is the author of Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of A New America, out this month.

 

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Protests in Hong Kong: A Brief History

Hong Kong protest 1967
A pro-China protester arrested by police officers during a demonstration in Hong Kong on May 18, 1967. Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

The city has seen plenty of demonstrations over the past half century

Correction appended: Sept. 29, 2014, 9:50 a.m. E.T.

For a region of only about 400 square miles, Hong Kong has seen more than its share of protest in the last century. The uprising that sprang into action this week — as “Occupy Central” protesters demand the ability to elect their next local government head, the Chief Executive, without the intervention of Beijing — is part of a long history of political conflict in the area.

1967: Communists in the British colony of Hong Kong rise in support of the Cultural Revolution sweeping China

When England took control of Hong Kong in 1842 after the first Opium War, British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston is said to have remarked that it was “a barren island with hardly a house upon it” — but by the middle of the 20th century Hong Kong was becoming a prosperous business center. The cultural difference between the Communist mainland and the neighboring region was thrown into stark contrast in 1967.

Though the initial protests of that summer seemed to have arisen organically among Hong Kong workers, China supported the movement from afar and issued an ultimatum demanding that arrested protesters be freed; the ultimatum, however, did not involve any question of British control of the area. As TIME explained, the situation between the two nations was one of “mutual dependence”:

Britain wants to hold onto Hong Kong to protect its vast investments and to retain a Far Eastern headquarters for British banking and trade interests. It also does not know how it could gracefully withdraw from Hong Kong under the present circumstances without totally losing face in the Orient. In recent years, Red China has been building up its influence in the Crown Colony, and Britain has been too afraid of offending its overpowering neighbor to do anything about it. As a result, about one-fifth of the colony’s Chinese, who make up 99% of the 4,000,000 population, are openly pro-Peking, and the rest play it safe. Red China commands the support of three of Hong Kong’s major daily newspapers, the most important labor unions, and a large number of schoolteachers, which is one reason a high proportion of young Chinese in Hong Kong are Maoists.

That July, when shots from across the Chinese border killed five Hong Kong police officers, the U.K. responded by sending in troops, the first armed confrontation between British and Chinese soldiers in Hong Kong since Communist rule had begun in China nearly two decades before. Though the stand-off between the two powers could have gotten even more intense, by early August things had calmed down.

And that bitter history did not keep China and Hong Kong from getting closer in the decade that followed. Rather, they grew to rely on one another, economically at least: TIME reported in 1979 that China sent an annual $2 billion in exports to Hong Kong, while the same amount went back to the mainland in remittances from residents and earnings of Chinese companies located there. Hong Kong businesses relied on Chinese labor, while the Chinese government used Hong Kong as an outlet for its economic dealings with the rest of the world.

1989: Tiananmen Square helps Hong Kong’s independent political identity take shape

Economic interdependence was a major factor in shaping the 1984 decision about what Hong Kong would look after the U.K. handed over control in 1997. According to the agreement, the preexisting “system of law” and capitalist economy would be preserved even as the region became part of China. The decade-long period of transition, however, was marked by more strife.

In 1989, as pro-democracy protests gripped the mainland, a full one-sixth of Hong Kong’s population (by TIME’s count) came out to march in support of that cause. Meanwhile, many in Hong Kong weren’t much happier with the U.K. than they were with China: even as it began to seem that Beijing’s grasp on Hong Kong might be tighter than expected, Westminster also made it harder for residents of the colony to settle in the U.K., a move that left many Hong Kong residents feeling stranded between two cultures. After the Tiananmen Square massacre that summer, the modern Hongkonger identity began to crystallize. According to TIME’s reporter in Hong Kong at the time, Hong Kong residents were both firmly pro-democracy and firmly Chinese:

The glittering glass-and-steel Bank of China, Southeast Asia’s tallest building and a prominent addition to Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline, was to embody the faith that both Hong Kong and China placed in a common future, a visible symbol of the ”one country, two systems” promised when the British crown colony reverts to China in 1997. Last week two enormous black-and-white banners drooped across the tower’s facade bearing a grim message in Chinese characters: BLOOD MUST BE PAID WITH BLOOD.

Overnight the savage massacre in Tiananmen Square shattered Hong Kong’s wary faith in that future. Thousands donned funeral garb to mourn the dead of Beijing. The stock market plunged 22% in one day in a paroxysm of lost confidence. Chinese flocked to mainland banks to withdraw their money, as much in anger as in fear. And the largely apolitical people of this freewheeling monument to commercialism discovered a newfound political activism.

The grief and fury felt in Hong Kong are the latest expression of a startling change in the colony’s view of itself. Throughout its almost 150-year history as a bold, pushy trading enclave, the business of Hong Kong has been business. The colony was a place where foreigners and Chinese alike came to make money and get away from the political turmoil on the mainland. But since the student movement blossomed in Beijing last April, Hong Kong has been galvanized. It has found an identity at last, and it is Chinese.

2003: Pro-democracy protests return

In the early ’90s, Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten — the last British governor of the region — proposed a plan to further democratize Hong Kong’s government, over Beijing’s objections. So when the transfer took place in 1997, the question of how much democracy would last, and for how long, lurked beneath the smoothness of the hand-over.

Less than a decade later, that concern proved well-founded: in 2003, Hong Kong residents took part in what was the biggest pro-democracy protest in the whole country since 1989, sparked by a new antisubversion national security law, which ended up not passing. As TIME noted, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive had been counted on to “keep Hong Kong in its place,” but it was becoming clear that such a task was easier said than done.

2014: “Occupy Central” begins

Read more about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong here, on TIME.com: Hong Kong’s Protesters are Fighting for Their Economic Future

Read TIME’s 1989 cover story about the Tiananmen Square massacre, free of charge, here in TIME’s archives: Despair and Death In a Beijing Square

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the year in which England took control of Hong Kong. It is 1842, not 1942.

TIME conflict

Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters

"Mandated territories granted England include: Tanganyika Territory (formerly part of German East Africa), Mesopotamia and Palestine," wrote TIME in a brief news bit in 1923—a fleeting mention of a decision that would change the face of the Middle East as we know it

TIME

The map above is from a 1929 TIME article titled “Islam vs. Israel”—even though, as the map makes clear, in 1929 there was no country called Israel. (On a desktop, roll over to zoom; on a mobile device, click.)

Instead, there was Mandatory Palestine. The idea of a mandatory nation, using the common definition of the word, is an odd one: a country that’s obligatory, something that can’t be missed without fear of consequence. But the entity known as “Mandatory Palestine” existed for more than two decades—and, despite its strange-sounding name, had geopolitical consequences that can still be felt today.

The word “mandatory,” in this case, refers not to necessity but to the fact that a mandate caused it to exist. That document, the British Mandate for Palestine, was drawn up in 1920 and came into effect on this day in 1923, Sept. 29. Issued by the League of Nations, the Mandate formalized British rule over parts of the Levant (the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean), as part of the League’s goal of administrating the region’s formerly Ottoman nations “until such time as they are able to stand alone.” The Mandate also gave Britain the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.

The Mandate did not itself redraw borders—following the end of World War I, the European and regional powers had divvied up the former Ottoman Empire, with Britain acquiring what were then known as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Palestine (modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan)—nor did it by any means prompt the drive to build a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism, the movement to create a Jewish homeland, had emerged in the late 19th century, though it wasn’t exclusively focused on a homeland in Palestine. (Uganda was one of several alternatives proposed over the years.) In 1917, years before the Mandate was issued, the British government had formalized its support for a Jewish state in a public letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour known as the Balfour Declaration.

But by endorsing British control of the region with specific conditions, the League of Nations did help lay the groundwork for the modern Jewish state—and for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the region that would persist for decades more. Though Israel would not exist for years to come, Jewish migrants flowed from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and formal Jewish institutions began to take shape amid a sometimes violent push to finalize the creation of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the growing Jewish population exacerbated tensions with the Arab community and fueled conflicting Arab nationalist movements.

TIME reported on some of the tensions in the 1929 article from which the map above is drawn:

The fighting that began between Jews and Arabs at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall (TIME, Aug. 26) spread last week throughout Palestine, then inflamed fierce tribesmen of the Moslem countries which face the Holy Land (see map)…

…Sporadic clashes continuing at Haifa, Hebron and in Jerusalem itself, rolled up an estimated total of 196 dead for all Palestine. A known total of 305 wounded lay in hospitals. Speeding from England in a battleship the British High Commissioner to Palestine, handsome, brusque Sir John Chancellor, landed at Haifa, hurried to Jerusalem and sought to calm the general alarm by announcing that His Majesty’s Government were rushing more troops by sea from Malta and by land from Egypt, would soon control the situation

The clashes in Mandatory Palestine, which at times targeted the British or forced British intervention, began to take a toll on U.K. support for the Mandate. As early as 1929, some newspapers were declaring “Let Us Get Out of Palestine,” as TIME reported in the article on Jewish-Arab tensions. Though the Mandate persisted through World War II, support in war-weary Britain withered further. The U.K. granted Jordan independence in 1946 and declared that it would terminate its Mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948. It left the “Question of Palestine” to the newly formed United Nations, which drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by the U.N. General Assembly—but rejected by most of the Arab world—on Nov. 27, 1947.

As the day of May 14 came to an end, so did Mandatory Palestine. The region was far from settled, but the Mandate did accomplish at least one of its stated goals. Mere hours earlier, a new document had been issued: the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Read a 1930 cover story about the Zionist movement during the period of Mandatory Palestine: Religion: Zionists

TIME Afghanistan

New Afghan President Sworn In After Disputed Vote

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai speaks during a news conference at his resident in Kabul on Sept. 10, 2014 Massoud Hossaini—;AP

"We want to be held accountable. I am your leader but I am no better than you. If I make mistakes, you should hold me accountable"

(KABUL, AFGHANISTAN) — Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan’s new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country’s first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.

Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country’s north and south.

Ghani Ahmadzai, a former World Bank official and Afghan finance minister, wore a dark black turban popular in the country’s south as he swore in his two vice presidents and then Abdullah.

Abdullah, a former foreign minister, spoke first and thanked Karzai for his service and the people of the country for casting votes in the millions despite the threat of attack from Taliban militants who tried to thwart the election process.

“We are committed as one in the national unity government,” Abdullah said. “Our commitment will be fulfilled together as unified team to create national unity.”

Ghani Ahmadzai then congratulated Karzai for a peaceful and democratic transition of power, and he thanked Abdullah for making the national unity government possible.

“We want to be held accountable. I am your leader but I am no better than you. If I make mistakes, you should hold me accountable,” Ghani Ahmadzai said.

Karzai — the only president Afghanistan and the West have known since the invasion — wore a wide smile as he greeted his presidential guards upon entering the palace. Karzai has said he is glad to be stepping down after more than a decade of what the U.S. ambassador recently said was one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

The inauguration caps a nearly six-month election season that began when ballots were first cast in April. A runoff election in June between Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah stretched on for weeks as both sides leveled charges of fraud. The United Nations helped carry out what it said was the most thorough recount in its history, a count that reduced Ghani Ahmadzai’s vote percentage from 56 percent to 55 percent, but still gave him the win.

But the real power struggle was taking place in marathon talks between the two sides, often brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials. The political deal the sides agreed to created the new position of chief executive that Abdullah will now fill.

U.S. officials have said they expect Ghani Ahmadzai to sign a security agreement with the U.S. shortly after his inauguration to allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends on Dec. 31.

Even as the inauguration unfolded in the heavily guarded presidential palace, two bomb attacks took place on the road connecting the country’s main airport with the palace. One roadside bomb did not result in any deaths or injuries, but a second attack about a kilometer (half mile) from the airport by a suicide bomber killed six or seven people, police officer Abdul Latif said.

A bigger attack took place in the eastern province of Paktia. Police Capt. Mohammed Hekhlas said that a car bomb exploded near a government compound as gunmen attacked, sparking a gun battle that killed seven Taliban militants. Another police official, who gave his name as Azimullah, said four police officers and two civilians also were killed.

The inauguration took place eight days after the political deal was signed between Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah. Though Kerry played a big role in the political deal, the short notice of the inauguration date and events elsewhere in the Middle East did not allow him to attend. Instead, the U.S. was represented by John Podesta, counselor to President Barack Obama. Other notable guests included Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

TIME politics

Celebrities Congratulate Chelsea Clinton on Her New Baby Girl

President Obama Speaks At The Annual Clinton Global Initiative
Chelsea Clinton is viewed in the audience as U.S. President Barack Obama, who is in New York City for the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 23, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky is the world's newest Clinton

Chelsea Clinton announced late Friday night that she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. That makes Hillary Clinton a grandmother, and could have implications for her much-speculated 2016 presidential run—Clinton has said she wants to experience being a grandmother before deciding whether she’ll run for President.

Politics aside, the Twittersphere was aglow with will-wishing and congratulations for Chelsea Clinton on her daughter’s birth, with personalities from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile extending their regards.

Here are some of the choice tweets:

And here are some playful mentions thrown in for good measure:

Note the tongue-in-cheek cynicism, too:

 

TIME Family

See Chelsea Clinton’s Life in Pictures

From her first baby pictures to her pregnancy, here's Chelsea's very public life in pictures

TIME Tech

Tech Firms Desert Powerful Right-Wing Group After Climate Change Spat

Silicon Valley distances itself from the American Legislative Exchange Council

Google wasn’t the first major tech company to leave powerful conservative activist organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over its position on climate change, but it seems to have been the one that set the other dominoes falling.

After Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the company would no longer support the group, which opposes environmental regulations and has said climate change could be “beneficial,” Yahoo, Facebook and Yelp all issued statements indicating that, for unspecified reasons, their memberships in the group would be allowed to expire.

Microsoft had already quit the organization in August, according to the liberal group Common Cause which monitors ALEC, after a Boston-based investment group raised questions about the company’s support in light of ALEC’s opposition to federal renewable energy programs.

The group is known for creating model legislation that promotes free market and conservative policies, which it then works to pass in state legislatures around the country. On energy policies, it has sponsored initiatives to curb the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and opposed federal programs aimed at increasing the production of energy from renewable sources.

It has been extraordinarily effective at getting legislation passed, particularly in the last several years, and has become a favorite target of progressive groups, much like the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who are themselves reputed to be major ALEC supporters. ALEC did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TIME. In response to news that Google would be pulling its support, ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson said in a statement, “It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”

The most recent wave of departing Silicon Valley companies haven’t explained their decisions to leave ALEC, but the news comes after intense lobbying from liberal and environmental organizations. “We reevaluate our memberships on an annual basis, and are in that process now,” Facebook said in a statement. “While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, like net neutrality, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress and so will be unlikely to renew our membership in 2015.”

Similar spurts have happened in the past. According to records kept by ALEC watchdog The Center for Media and Democracy, in 2012 both Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced a parting of ways with ALEC. The same year McDonald’s announced it was revoking support for the group and Pepsi followed the next day with an announcement that it too had cut ties with the group.

The Guardian reported in 2013 that ALEC was facing a “funding crisis” following the departures of a number of member firms.

TIME politics

Obama’s Wrong About Our Go-It-Alone, Imperialistic, America-First Tax Code

Burger King To Buy Tim Hortons Chain For About $11.4 Billion
A vehicle drives past a Burger King Worldwide Inc. restaurant in Peoria, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Burger King Worldwide Inc. agreed to acquire Tim Hortons Inc. for about C$12.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in a deal that creates the third-largest fast-food company and moves its headquarters to Canada. Bloomberg—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Andrés Martinez is editorial director of Zócalo Public Square, for which he writes the Trade Winds column.

Our "territorial” tax system is just Yankee imperialism

The Obama administration is not living up to its promise to move the country away from an arrogant, unilateral approach to the world. And it has not embraced a more consensus-driven, multipolar vision that reflects the fact that America is not the sole player in the global sandbox.

No, I am not talking here about national security or counter-terrorism policy, but rather the telling issue of how governments think about money — specifically the money they are entitled to, as established by their tax policies.

The president and Jack Lew, his treasury secretary, have labeled companies that relocate overseas “unpatriotic.” This week the administration announced a series of executive actions meant to crack down on such relocations — legally known as “inversions” — when they entail folding a U.S. entity into an overseas holding company, often for tax purposes. Walgreens, the drugstore chain, recently backed down from a plan to pull off an inversion given the firestorm around the issue.

The political fight around these inversions have pitted profitable corporations (mostly pharmaceuticals) and their lobbyists against politicians and pundits lamenting the fact that some folks refuse to pay their “fair share” or to appreciate the benefits bestowed upon us all by our American citizenship. And we all know which side of that fight we’re supposed to be on.

But hold on. The political debate around this issue is — and I know this will come as a shock! — divorced from the real underlying problem. The inversions debate is less about greedy companies wanting to lower their taxes and more about the fact that ours is a country with an outdated tax code — one that reflects the worst go-it-alone, imperialistic, America-first impulses.

Most of the arguments around inversions, and most of the media coverage, are purely focused on tax rates. And that’s understandable. We’re used to squabbling about rates and, at 35 percent, America’s corporate income tax is among the highest in the world. So this story of unpatriotic companies is almost entirely told as a quest for lower rates elsewhere.

But the far more significant problem is old-fashioned Yankee imperialism. The United States persists in imposing its “worldwide taxation” system — as opposed to the “territorial” model embraced by most of the rest of the world.

Under a “territorial” tax system, the sovereign with jurisdiction over the economic activity is entitled to tax it. If you profit from doing business in France, you owe the French treasury taxes, regardless of whether you are a French, American, or Japanese multinational. Even the United States, conveniently, subscribes to this logical approach when it comes to foreign companies doing business here: Foreign companies pay Washington corporate taxes on the income made by their U.S. operations.

But under our worldwide tax system, Uncle Sam also taxes your income as an American citizen (or Apple’s or Coca-Cola’s) anywhere in the world. What confers jurisdiction in this case is not the location of the economic activity but your home base or residency, as a company or individual. So $100 made by Apple selling a device in Shanghai or Paris is the same to Uncle Sam as $100 made in Los Angeles.

Well, almost the same. The one difference is that the $100 profit Apple makes in another country is first taxed by that country, and only taxed by Washington when it is literally brought back home (“repatriated,” in tax lingo). At that time, Apple receives a credit for the taxes paid elsewhere (just like you get to deduct your state income taxes from your federal tax bill).

So, let’s assume Apple makes $100 in a country with a 15 percent corporate tax. Apple pays that country’s tax authority $15. Then, Apple must decide whether or not to keep the rest of its money overseas. Bringing that $85 back to the United States to invest in business here or return to shareholders would require Apple to pay an extra $20 tax to Uncle Sam. (Apple would owe $35 in U.S. taxes minus the $15 credit it would receive for taxes paid elsewhere on that income.)

This deferral in imposing a tax that shouldn’t be imposed in the first place gives us the worst of all possible worlds — in complexity, inefficiency, and disincentives to investing in America and its future. Defenders of the status quo and corporate critics like to point out that companies often don’t pay a full 35 percent rate on their global income because a hefty portion of their overseas profits remains trapped overseas. So they shouldn’t whine about the rate, the argument goes, as if companies relish these artificial hurdles to allocating resources where they are most needed.

Imagine you are a California-based widget manufacturer competing around the world against a Dutch widget manufacturer. You both do very well and compete aggressively in Latin America, and pay taxes on your income there. Trouble is, your Dutch competitor can reinvest those profits back in its home country without paying additional taxes, but you can’t. Alibaba, the Chinese online retailer that just floated its massive IPO in New York, may face a lot of challenges expanding beyond its Chinese market, but taxes certainly won’t be one of them. USA Today reported that the company’s effective tax rate is 11.9 percent, compared to more than 30 percent for Amazon. And, the Chinese company won’t be hounded by its Communist regime to pay taxes on money it makes outside China.

The big underlying conceptual problem is that our worldwide approach to taxation, dating back to the 1920s, is the tax code equivalent of gunboat diplomacy. It presupposes that America has jurisdiction over anything Americans do elsewhere, and that other countries don’t really matter. It presupposes that it is our government, and no other, that is responsible for creating the conditions for business to take place. This approach dates back to a time when it would have been unimaginable to think that iconic American multinationals could one day do more business in foreign lands than at home, or that they might face formidable foreign competitors (even within the U.S. market!).

A number of companies have moved their headquarters outside the United States because our tax code makes it so difficult to run a global business. But it was emblematic of our nationalistic hubris that Burger King was also denounced as “unpatriotic” recently when its merger with Canada’s Tim Horton’s was announced. The company’s relocation to Canada (hardly a dodgy, tax-evasion haven) makes sense given where the combined companies’ operations are, but in Washington this was just seen as another treason by inversion – because in our myopic worldview, other countries don’t matter.

Instead of attacking companies struggling to compete in the global marketplace, the Obama administration should work with Republicans to move to a territorial tax system. That’s even more important than fiddling with the actual rates, because it is what will level the playing field between U.S. companies and their foreign competitors. Both would pay the U.S. rate here, but not elsewhere.

If we modernize our tax system to reflect the realities of the global economy, we won’t just stop more American companies from leaving. We’d also be encouraging plenty of foreign companies to pull off inversions of their own, to America. We may not be the only country that matters (sorry, D.C.), but if we fix the tax code, we’d be about as good a place to do business as anywhere else on earth.

Andrés Martinez is editorial director of Zocalo Public Square, for which he writes the Trade Winds column. He wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square.

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