Daily Archives: February 27, 2008

LA Times Editorial: Setback in Kenya

Hopes were dashed again in Kenya on Tuesday as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan suspended mediation talks between presidential rivals Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. The power-sharing agreement that appeared within reach last week is proving elusive, and it’s not hard to understand why. Kenya’s elections, like those in many other developing democracies, can be an effective mechanism for imposing majority rule. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into equitable divisions of power, wealth, economic opportunity or natural resources. Elections have destabilized such countries as Ivory Coast, Pakistan and Ethiopia, and the Palestinian territories. In Kenya, they have historically been winner-seizes-all contests that have been marred by violence and have left an increasingly bitter taste in the hungry mouths of the losers.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Kenya

Surgeon Accused of Speeding a Death to Get Organs

On a winter night in 2006, a disabled and brain damaged man named Ruben Navarro was wheeled into an operating room at a hospital here. By most accounts, Mr. Navarro, 25, was near death, and doctors hoped that he might sustain other lives by donating his kidneys and liver.

But what happened to Mr. Navarro quickly went from the potentially life-saving to what law enforcement officials say was criminal. In what transplant experts believe is the first such case in the country, prosecutors have charged the surgeon, Dr. Hootan C. Roozrokh, with prescribing excessive and improper doses of drugs, apparently in an attempt to hasten Mr. Navarro’s death to retrieve his organs sooner.

A preliminary hearing begins here on Wednesday, with Dr. Roozrokh facing three felony counts relating to Mr. Navarro’s treatment as a donor. At the heart of the case is whether Dr. Roozrokh, who studied at a transplant fellowship program at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was pursuing organs at any cost or had become entangled in a web of misunderstanding about a lesser-used harvesting technique known as “donation after cardiac death.”

Dr. Roozrokh has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer said the charges were the result of overzealous prosecutors. But the case has sent a shudder through the tight-knit field of transplant surgeons ”” if convicted on all counts, Dr. Roozrokh could face eight years in prison ”” while also worrying donation advocacy groups that organ donors could be frightened away.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Tracey Lind: A prayer for the Democratic debate

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Theology

William Buckley RIP

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, “National Review.”

He also found time to write 45 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and edit five more. Two more books, one a political novel, and the other a history of the magazine called “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription” are scheduled to be published in 2007.

The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

Notable and Quotable

The dogs next door get a little noisy, so one day somebody called animal control to complain. When the officers arrived, I heard my neighbors tell them, “Hey, dogs bark. It’s human nature.”

–Kent Kollmer in the December 2007 Reader’s Digest, page 190

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

Consumers cut back on small pleasures

The murky financial outlook and recession fears are factors. Another driver: fear of being out of step with a cultural mind-set that increasingly says less is more. If your best friend and next-door neighbors are cutting back on little luxuries, shouldn’t you be, too?

“For years, we had the opposite. It was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Now, the Joneses are starting to cut back,” says Ellie Kay, author of 12 personal finance books.

The cold, hard numbers on the nation’s economic mood bear out that consumers don’t feel flush.

Consumer confidence plummeted in February to its lowest since February 2003, which was just before the U.S. invaded Iraq. The Conference Board’s much-watched index of consumer confidence fell to 75 from 87.3 in January, the group reports

“There’s a sense that prices are rising ”” and will continue to rise ”” but wages will not,” says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. “This is squeezing household budgets whether they’re $200 per week or $200,000 per year. Folks are looking closely at anything they don’t have to purchase now.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Oil hits a high; some in U.S. see $4 gas by spring

Gasoline prices, which for months lagged the big run-up in the price of oil, are suddenly rising quickly, with some experts fearing they could hit $4 a gallon by spring. Diesel is hitting new records daily and oil closed at an all-time high on Tuesday of $100.88 a barrel.

The increases could not come at a worse time for the economy. With growth slowing, high energy prices that were once easily absorbed by consumers are now more likely to act as a drag on household budgets, leaving people with less money to spend elsewhere. These costs could exacerbate the nation’s economic woes, piling a fresh energy shock on top of the turmoil in credit and housing.

“The effect of high oil prices today could be the difference between having a recession and not having a recession,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economist.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Switch to Southern Cone by San Joaquin Appears to Violate Canons of New Province

The newly available English-language translation of the canons and constitution of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone indicates several inconsistencies with moves by dioceses to switch their affiliation from The Episcopal Church to the South American-based province.

The situation seems especially complicated for the Diocese of San Joaquin which already approved the switch at its annual convention last December. Article two of the Southern Cone constitution limits membership in the province to dioceses “that exist or which may be formed in the Republics of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and which voluntary declare themselves as integral diocesan members of the province.” Article four of the constitution requires that amendments “be submitted to the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and then to each diocesan synod for approval.”

In a statement given to a reporter from The Living Church, a spokesman for Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone said the provincial leadership was aware of the constitutional impediments before voting unanimously to issue its “emergency, temporary and pastoral” invitation to affiliate. “Both the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone and the General Synod decided to go ahead because of the nature of the emergency,” the spokesman said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Exorcisms May Be On The Rise

The Catholic Church has always believed in the idea of demonic possession — of the fight, within the individual, between good and evil, says CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.

The ancient ritual of trying to drive evil spirits formtortured souls was dramatically portrayed by Hollywood in “The Exorcist.”

The Church, Phillips points out, would rather such graphic religious experiences took place privately.

When one Archbishop, Emanuel Malingo, began holding increasingly popular public exorcisms, the Vatican made him stop. The exorcism scenes weren’t pretty, Phillips observes.

There is evidence, though, that the practice of exorcism is experiencing a revival, according to the Washington Post.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Parents face cut-throat competition — for kindergarten

Karen Moran has done everything a mother can do to find a good school for her 5-year-old twin daughters.

The Wicker Park mom has trolled the Chicago Public Schools Web site for test scores and class sizes. She has spent her mornings touring a half-dozen private and public schools. She has hit the playgrounds to quiz parents about the best schools. And she has had her children tested for entry into gifted programs.

“I’ve spent more time on this process than in I did trying to get into college or law school,” Moran said. “There’s so much stress and uncertainty right now, I feel sort of panicked about what’s going to happen.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education

The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture with Lyrics

Posted in Uncategorized

Did You Hear the One About the Christian Comedian?

The William Tell Mom, as she is sometimes identified on YouTube, is named Anita Renfroe. She is 45 and lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband, John, a Southern Baptist minister; her daughter, Elyse, 18; and her mother, Kay Pulliam. Renfroe’s two sons, Austin and Calvin, who are in their 20s, live close by. Last Mother’s Day, at the urging of her kids, she posted on YouTube the film clip of her performance at the Dozier Center for the Performing Arts in Kennesaw, Ga., and promptly forgot about it. “I thought it would be a nice thing to do,” she says. “I thought maybe 1,000 people might see it.”

Turns out that was optimistic. Over Mother’s Day weekend, the clip got about 500 hits. But Renfroe never got around to taking the video down, and as the summer progressed, its popularity continued to grow. By Labor Day, it had passed the 800,000 hit mark. Then the blogosphere discovered it: Mommyneedscoffee.com and hotmomsclub.com thought it was hilarious. “That’s when it went bazooka,” Renfroe says.

By Oct. 1, approximately 1.5 million people had seen the video. By Oct. 19, the number had risen to 8 million; the video had gone viral. “That’s pretty impressive until you realize that the guy who eats live locusts has, like, 12 million hits,” Renfroe told me. Then a producer from “Good Morning America” called at 5:30 one morning to ask whether the show could run the clip. The song got even bigger when iTunes put the video on its lineup. After that, Renfroe was fending off offers like a Hollywood starlet.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Rochester reasserts 'no-go' claim

In his first interview since his controversial comments, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali vows not to be forced into silence

His claim that Islamic extremism has turned some parts of Britain into “no-go” areas for non-Muslims led to fierce rows between political and religious leaders over the impact of multiculturalism on this country.

Those comments were followed soon after by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion that the adoption of aspects of sharia law in Britain was “unavoidable”.

The bishops’ views in The Sunday Telegraph sparked a storm of criticism and raised questions over the role of the Church in society but, most seriously for Dr Nazir-Ali, led to threats that he and his family would be harmed.

Yet, in his first interview since the sinister calls were made to his home, the Bishop of Rochester remains steadfastly defiant. He will not be silenced. “I believe people should not be prevented from speaking out,” he says. “The issue had to be raised. There are times when Christian leaders have to speak out.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

The Reverend Carl Reid answers readers' questions about the Anglican split

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

A Resolution from the Diocese of Louisiana Garnering Much Attention

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils