Why Easter is Easter

Today is Easter Sunday, a big day in the Christian calendar when they celebrate the idea that Jesus rose from the dead. But why is it called ‘Easter’? And what’s with all the bunnies and painted (and chocolate) eggs that have now come to symbolize this day? Brent Landau explains some little-known facts about the holiday and says that like with Christmas, Easter has a lot of pagan elements folded in, starting with why it is celebrated in the springtime, specifically the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
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Black Acting School

In 1987, Robert Townsend wrote, directed, and starred in the comedy Hollywood Shuffle that satirized the then-popular blaxploitation films. He played aspiring actor Bobby Taylor and the limited range of roles that that he was able to audition for and the expectations the filmmakers had about how black people behave, as shown in this funny scene from the film.
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Using unpopular targets to undermine press freedoms

Authoritarian governments often use people and groups who are unpopular at any given time to undermine the freedoms that everyone should have but that restrict the government’s freedom to act with impunity. This is why it is necessary to defend the rights of even those whom you disagree with and even despise. Right now, WikiLeaks is hated by both Republicans and Democrats, and the Trump administration is making dangerous noises about curbing speech and press freedom using WikiLeaks as the excuse.
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Religious people never give up

I wrote before that religious groups are now trying to reverse policies that have long been declared to be unconstitutional, such as the use of class time and facilities to teach the Bible, something that was disallowed as far back as 1948. Now four members of the Republican-controlled legislature in North Caroline have introduced a bill that would outlaw same-sex marriage, although such bans were declared to be unconstitutional in 2015.
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California vaccination rates soar

Mississippi usually ranks low in terms of public health measures while California ranks high. But when it comes to childhood vaccinations, that was reversed with resistance to childhood vaccination being high in California while vaccination rates have been highest in Mississippi. 99.7% of Mississippi kindergartners have had their shots, compared to a national average of 94.5% and the anti-vaxxers had taken aim at that state. The reason for the high rates is simple. Mississippi was enlightened enough to take a strong line over a long time when it comes to confronting the spread of infectious diseases, while California had a large number of well-to-do, educated people who bought into the anti-vaccinations scare stories and had the clout to exempt their children. The state had allowed parents to opt out under the most generous terms, such as having religious or philosophical objections
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Aung San Suu Kyi has become an apologist for Burmese anti-Muslim bigotry

I have mentioned before how Buddhism, seen in the west as a peaceful, contemplative religion, is not immune from its adherents becoming violent towards minority religious groups. This has happened most noticeably in Sri Lanka and in Myanmar and Peter Maass reports on the shameful role that Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Sui Kyi has played in the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
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Wahoo under fire

The racist image of Chief Wahoo that adorns all kinds of merchandise for the Cleveland Indians has long been a flashpoint for controversy. Despite the protests against it, the team has kept it on, citing that hoary old excuse of ‘tradition’ when the likely reason is that many fans love it and are willing to find excuses, however weak, for keeping it on, and the team owners don’t want to offend them. The fact that the Indians went to the championship finals last year has brought more national attention to the image, and the reviews were not good.
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It gets even worse for United Airlines

Pretty much everyone is now aware of the incident in which airline security personnel forcibly ejected a 69-year year old passenger off a United Airlines flight after he refused to accept their cash offer to give up his seat to allow airline personnel to travel on that flight. The videos of the bloodied passenger being dragged off the plane have gone viral big-time. (If you are one of the few people who are not aware of this and have not seen the videos, see my earlier post.)
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Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert discuss whether god exists

Such theological discussions with controversial points of view are not the usual stuff of late-night TV talk shows, and it is interesting the Colbert was willing to explore such an issue. Although he is a believer, he was willing to let the atheist Gervais (who refers to himself as an agnostic-atheist and explains what that is) have his say. Gervais says some things that are widely believed but are not self-evidently true though Colbert concedes them, such as that science proves things to be true or that if all the current scientific knowledge were destroyed, they would come back pretty much intact a thousand years from now.
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