Aman, or reciprocal safety under Islamic law

[ by Charles Cameron — what eye do you use when there’s more going on than meets the eye? ] . Twice in one day, a week or so ago, I had reason to look up the meaning of “aman” in Islamic law. My source here was M. Reichberg and Henrik Syse, eds., Religion, War, […] Read more »

America’s Anti-Agoge

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] “….Instead of softening their feet with shoe or sandal, his rule was to make them hardy through going barefoot. This habit, if practiced, would, as he believed, enable them to scale heights more easily and clamber down precipices with less danger.” – Xenophon, The Polity of the Lacedaemonians “Be quiet! […] Read more »

Meet the Law That’s Been Quietly Protecting You and Strengthening Our Economy for the Past 5 Years:

“Dodd-Frank” is shorthand for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose chief co-sponsors on Capitol Hill were Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank. These reforms — that the President signed into law exactly five years ago today — and others the Administration has put in place since the crisis represent the most sweeping set of financial reforms since the Great Depression.

Why does it matter and why should you care? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

(And if you just want a quick breakdown of the numbers behind five years of Wall Street reform, take a look here.)

1. Remember the CFPB? Wall Street reform created it.

“CFPB” stands for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: an independent watchdog responsible for writing and enforcing rules to protect you as you borrow and save. And Wall Street reform made it happen.

Here's why that's a big deal:

You’d be surprised at exactly what lenders were able to get away with during the housing bubble — including loading up a mortgage with extra costs to jack up their own compensation in the short term before shuffling that loan over to a third party, making it their problem. With these bad incentives, lenders steered borrowers toward bad products they couldn’t afford (even when they qualified for better, lower-cost options), often burying the terms of made-to-explode mortgages in the fine print.

Dodd-Frank fixed that. Today, lenders have to assess borrowers’ ability to pay a mortgage first. They have to take responsibility for the risks of the loans they make, giving them “skin in the game” to encourage responsible lending. And they will have to present them to the borrowers in clearer, easier-to-understand terms. And the CFPB is keeping all kinds of consumer lenders honest — from credit card companies, to mortgage lenders, to debt collectors, to student loan servicers. Since 2011, the CFPB’s enforcement actions have delivered nearly $11 billion in relief to more than 26 million consumers harmed by illegal practices -- including a new action announced today.

(Those practices include deceptive marketing, unfair billing, and discriminatory practices by big banks and other financial institutions — and a whole lot more. Learn more about them here.)

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Abedin the Irreplaceable? My Eye

Exactly what special qualifications did Huma Abedin offer the State Department aside from her knowledge of Hillary’s likes and dislikes? And how could her SGE contract have lasted from June 3, 2012 - February 1, 2013 without breaking the law? Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: “This is Your Victory”

Watch the West Wing Week here. Violence Against Women Act: On Thursday, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, which provides resources for thousands of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalkin... Read more »

(Re)Defining the Long War: Toward a New Vocabulary of International Terrorism

by Aaron Hess & Z. S. Justus As the fight against terrorism continues, language plays a pivotal role. In current policies, the language of war continues to dominate. Based on an analysis of President Bush’s September 11th anniversary campaign speeches, we propose that war metaphors and language, such as victory, enemies, and allies, occlude the reality of counterterrorism efforts. It is difficult to pinpoint victory in this conflict, a requisite of the vocabulary of war […] Read more »