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March 17, 2014

Over at The New York Times, Timothy Egan notices a strange similarity between Paul Ryan's rhetoric on poverty, and that of the English authorities during the 19th century potato famine in Ireland:

A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a "culture of dependency"? Certainly England's man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. "Dependence on charity," he declared, "is not to be made an agreeable mode of life."

And there I ran into Paul Ryan. His great-great-grandfather had fled to America. But the Republican congressman was very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated "culture of dependency" is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it was also England's excuse for lethal negligence.

There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs.

But you can't help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy. [The New York Times]

I don't think anyone really thinks dependence on charity or a culture of dependency ought to be a long-term condition. Self-reliance is an indisputable virtue. But for the truly helpless, there can be no pathway back to self-reliance if one starves to death. Famine is not honorable or virtuous. Nor is it civilized to live in a country where the poor starve to death.

Paul Ryan would do better to set out an agenda of job creation than lecture the poor on the virtues of self-improvement. There are lots and lots of people who want jobs, who want to work and want the dignity of self-reliance — so many that there are 2.9 job seekers for every job opening. People can't lift themselves out of poverty and off welfare if the economy isn't creating an abundance of jobs. Job creation comes first. John Aziz

11:45 a.m. ET

Saturday night's Republican presidential debate featured a lot of heated conflict — once all of the candidates finally made it out on stage. Watch The Washington Post break down just how delightfully awkward the whole introduction process was. Julie Kliegman

11:26 a.m. ET

At Saturday's Republican presidential debate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio attacked President Obama. A lot. To be exact, Rubio attacked Obama four times with some version of, "Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing."

His performance was widely mocked.

But Sunday on ABC's This Week, Rubio stood by his talking point.

"It's what I believe and it's what I'm going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running," he said.

In other words, Rubio knows exactly what he's doing. Julie Kliegman

11:00 a.m. ET

Beyoncé released a new single and music video Saturday, marking her first major release since she surprise-dropped her self-titled album in 2013. "Formation," which heavily references Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement, centers on black pride.

Two filmmakers have called out Beyoncé, claiming she used footage from their documentary, That B.E.A.T., without permission, The New York Times reports.

Beyoncé's representative countered that the footage is properly licensed. Julie Kliegman

10:30 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will debate in Flint, Michigan, on March 6, the Democratic National Committee announced Sunday. The city is grappling with an ongoing water crisis that has endangered residents' health.

"This debate is an opportunity to elevate the very serious issues facing the residents of Flint, and it's also an opportunity to remind voters what Democratic leadership can do for the economy — so that everyone in America has a fair shot," DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said.

Both candidates have drawn attention to Flint in recent months. Sanders has called on Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to resign. Clinton left the New Hampshire campaign trail Sunday to visit the city. Julie Kliegman

10:18 a.m. ET

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made a brief cameo on Saturday Night Live alongside host Larry David. The sketch featured the two men on a sinking ship, with David's character asserting that he should be saved due to his wealth. Sanders played Bernie Sanderswitzky, a nod to his Jewish upbringing, and labeled David's character as the 1 percent.

Watch the uncanny duo below. Julie Kliegman

8:06 a.m. ET
Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey is at capacity with accepting refugees, but will continue to do so as people flee Syria, the nation's deputy prime minister said Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

"In the end, these people have nowhere else to go," Numan Kurtulmuş said. "Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will...watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders."

Turkey's border has been closed for three days as they provide aid to 35,000 Syrians on the other side. The nation has 3 million refugees, 2.5 million of whom fled Syria. The European Union has encouraged Turkey to host refugees, offering the nation 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in incentives to do so. Julie Kliegman

7:34 a.m. ET
Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

International powers condemned North Korea for defying international warnings Sunday by launching a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others believe is a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could reach the United States mainland, The Washington Post reports. It comes a month after the rogue state claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called it "yet another destabilizing and provocative action" and "a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain, France, and the European Union also condemned the launch, CNN reports.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hold an 11 a.m. emergency meeting in New York to go over a potential response to North Korea. Julie Kliegman

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