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The Greek crisis: who's to blame?

Supporters of the Syriza party and No vote campaign after results of the referendum in Athens, Greece, July 5, 2015(Credit: AP Images/Kay Nietfeld) Greece has been part of the "euro zone" since 1999.  When the 2008 recession hit, their nation was especially affected.  If it had its own currency, the drachma, it could have printed more money.  This would have lowered the value of the drachma internationally, making Greek exports more competitive.  It would also have lowered interest rates at home, encouraging investment and making it easier for Greeks to service their debts.

But Greece did not have this option.  Instead, the European Central Bank has lent it money to prop up its economy.  Now the Greek government cannot repay these loans.  Stronger countries such as Germany don't want to loan them any more money unless the Greeks agree to even more stringent austerity measures.  Last Sunday, Greeks voted by a large margin to reject such demands.  No one is sure what happens next.

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It's July Fourth every day

Independence Day celebration fireworks are seen from the Iwo Jima, U.S. Marine Corps Memorial at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, with the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Yates Building (dark red brick building), the Washington Monument (with scaffolding), and the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. in the distance, Arlington, VA, July 4, 2013 (Credit: USDA photo by Lance Cheung via Flickr) The date was July 3, 1776.  John Adams stated that America's independence, to be declared the next day, should be commemorated "with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

The next year, Philadelphia commemorated Independence Day with 13 rockets.  You might say that Fourth of July fireworks celebrations have progressed in the years since. Saturday's Macy's display in New York City featured 40,000 effects in 25 minutes.  Washington, D.C. celebrated with pyrotechnics over the reflecting pool in front of the Washington Monument.  Nashville claimed that their Fourth of July fireworks were "the biggest in the country."  Boston's fireworks over the Charles River were seen by 500,000 people.  Half a million people also came to Addison Circle Park, a suburb of Dallas, where 3,500 pounds of fireworks were used for a 30-minute display.

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What makes America unique?

Statue of Liberty viewed off of a boat in New York Harbor over the July 4th, 2009 weekend (Credit: Steve Chihos via Flickr) America celebrates her 239th birthday tomorrow.  According to a recent survey, nearly two in three Americans say God has granted our nation an exceptional role in human history.  Is this true?

Charles Murray earned a BA in history from Harvard and a PhD in political science from MIT.  In American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History, he states categorically: "American exceptionalism is a fact of America's past, not something you can choose whether to 'believe in' any more than you can choose whether to 'believe in' the battle of Gettysburg."  In its early years, the United States was considered to be "exceptional" by foreign observers as much as by Americans.

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Is involuntary euthanasia in our future?

Assisted Suicide Bill supporter Patrick Harvie (centre), speaks with representatives of My Life, My Death, My Choice, outside the Scottish Parliament, as MSPs are due to debate the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, which would allow those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to obtain help to end their suffering, May 27, 2015 (Credit: AP Images/Press Association/Andrew Milligan) Laura is a 24-year-old in Belgium who plans to die by euthanasia this summer.  She is not terminally ill.  Rather, she explains that she has wanted to die ever since she was a child.  "Life, that's not for me," she says.  She has been approved for death by lethal injection.  The chairman of Belgium's federal euthanasia commission recently stated that 50 to 60 psychiatric patients like Laura are euthanized each year.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002.  Last year it became the first nation to legalize child euthanasia.  According to The New England Journal of Medicine, Belgian doctors also "hasten the death" of patients "without an explicit request."  More than 1,000 patients a year are euthanized in this way.  As Cambridge professor Jack Keown explains, "If a doctor thinks death would benefit the patient, why should the doctor deny the patient that benefit merely because the patient is incapable of asking for it?"

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After same-sex marriage, is polygamy next?

Kody Brown, a polygamist and star of TLC reality show Sister Wives, poses for a photo with his four wives, (clockwise from bottom), Robyn, Christine, Meri and Janelle (Credit: TLC/Kyle Christy) Before last Friday's Supreme Court ruling, many of us argued that same-sex marriage could or would lead to polygamy.  Gay marriage proponents were quick to dismiss our warning.  But consider Chief Justice Roberts's dissent to the court's decision:

"Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective 'two' in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not.  Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.  If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.  It is striking how much of the majority's reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage."

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