Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's comments add to criticisms that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hasn't done enough to bridge sectarian rifts. The cleric also says ISIS militants must be expelled.
A pain clinic is a strange place to think about economics.
And to be honest, I wasn’t at the time. I was thinking of myself. My abdomen, freshly scarred from two surgeries to remove endometriosis. My pants, which didn’t fit. The pain and numbness that ran down my right leg. My hand, which wouldn’t hold a pen. I’m a reporter. I have to hold a pen.
The GW Pain Center was on my road back.
The waiting room was full of people with their own pain. Diabetics who’d lost a limb. Older men and women in wheelchairs. Restless kids dragged along, too loud for the small, tense space. Veterans willing themselves to walk a few steps, knowing a punishing set of parallel bars and weights was just inside the clinic doors.
We were not always kind to one another. How can you prioritize one person’s pain over another? Is my set of stairs worth more than your heavy purse? Does your 7 on the 1-10 scale look anything like mine?
Ruth Graham wrote a spectacular story in the Boston Globe about how pain, and our subjective responses to it, can exacerbate inequality. I feel like I saw this a million times over. The skeptical eyebrow at a patient, sometimes me. Were they seeking drugs? Really hurting? How do you know?
I’ve been thinking about pain a lot as we build our new show, Marketplace Weekend. In part because my experience was so formative to who I am now, both physically and emotionally. But more because of pain’s subjective nature. And the necessity to recognize that no matter what you’re experiencing, someone else is living a different experience. Even if you can’t quite grasp it.
But you can ask. And that, to me, is the essence of reporting.
How are you? What was that like? Tell me how it felt.
The author Leslie Jamison wrote a gorgeous and searing book, "The Empathy Exams." I recommend the whole thing, but the first essay, on her time making money as a medical actor, just nails this. “Empathy isn’t just listening,” she writes, “it’s asking the questions that need to be listened to.”
Or even if I’m stumbling around and stabbing at the wrong questions.
“Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.”
That’s how it is with money, too. It pushes you, shapes you. Your 1-10 scale of losing a job is utterly different from mine. That framed first dollar over the bar? Tell me why it’s special.
Our show certainly won’t be perfect, and there will be times when we know nothing. But we’ll aim to ask, with humor, curiosity, and, I hope, empathy.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced the largest federal credit card settlement over discrimination in U.S. history. GE Capital Retail Bank, now known as Synchrony Financial, was ordered to pay $228.5 million in refunds to customers.
The CFPB says the bank told credit card customers certain services were free when they were not; signing people up and charging them without their consent, and even charging people who weren’t eligible to receive the service.
The largest chunk of the settlement ($169 million) is over allegations GE Capital Retail Bank declined to offer debt relief to people if they asked for service in Spanish, or if they had mailing addresses in Puerto Rico.
“These kinds of practices are amazingly common,” says Jill Fisch, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. “Historically credit cards have been an area where the credit card companies are able to identify lower income and less educated consumers and take advantage of them and we’ve seen that over many years.”
GE Capital self-reported the incidents and says it regrets its error. In April, Bank of America paid $727 million over similar practices, and over the past two years American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Discover have all been ordered to refund customers more than $700 million dollars total.
More on the news that NATO is accusing Russia of giving money to anti-fracking environmentalist groups. Plus, Detroit is implementing new pension plans for some of its residents, the implications of which have other states nervous. Also, Minessota will be the next state to offer businesses the option of classifying as b-corporations, a title which allows the equal prioritization of social missions and profit.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving perceived death threats on Facebook. The court and the company could have starkly different approaches to identifying credible threats.
The newly expanded benefits would allow people in a same-sex marriage to take time off from work to care for their spouses, no matter which state they live in.