Daily Archives: May 26, 2008

Exemptions for Charities Face New Challenges

Authorities from the local tax assessor to members of Congress are increasingly challenging the tax-exempt status of nonprofit institutions ”” ranging from small group homes to wealthy universities ”” questioning whether they deserve special treatment.

One issue is the growing confusion over what constitutes a charity at a time when nonprofit groups look more like businesses, charging fees and selling products and services to raise money, and state and local governments are under financial pressure because of lower tax revenues.

And there are others: Does a nonprofit hospital give enough charity care to earn a tax exemption? Is a wealthy university providing enough financial aid?

In a ruling last December that sent tremors through the not-for-profit world, the Minnesota Supreme Court said a small nonprofit day care agency here had to pay property taxes because, in essence, it gave nothing away.

The agency, the Under the Rainbow Child Care Center, charges the same price per child regardless of whether their parents are able to pay the full amount themselves or they receive government support to cover the cost.

“We were shocked,” said Michelle Finholdt, who founded the center in 1994 and scraped together the money to buy a building in 2002. “There are a lot of other organizations in our area that we’re similar to, and they are exempt from property taxes.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Andrew Sullivan: Barack Obama is master of the new Facebook politics

It’s a new form of politics; it is likely to last beyond the Obama campaign and to change the shape of all campaigns to come. For Obama the new method was also bang on message. His liberalism is not a top-down, managerial variety; it’s more in line with progressive traditions of self-empowerment. A social network was the perfect medium.

I have seen this for myself. This spring, many friends who had never previously been interested in politics suddenly told me about their Obama fundraisers. I was stunned by their activism. No one had asked them. They were arranging the parties or performances or gatherings through Facebook and MySpace, without any formal leadership from Obama headquarters.

Just as Obama’s most famous web videos were never commissioned by the candidate ”“ they were created and disseminated spontaneously online ”“ so his fundraising began to take on a life of its own. The only other candidate who managed to inspire such energy was the maverick Republican Ron Paul. His message was not unlike Obama’s: self-empowered, antiestablishment, next-generation.

There is no question in my mind that this is the future of political organisation and fundraising.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, US Presidential Election 2008

A Retired Marine hunts for Fallen Soldiers

What a wonderful thing he is doing–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

The U.S. water system is on the brink of collapse

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Jim Demint: Recalling those whose service then and now makes us free

Earlier this month, 100 South Carolinian veterans of World War II came to Washington to see the World War II memorial. This magnificent monument fittingly occupies a central place on the nation’s Mall and honors the men and women and their comrades who fought not just for America’s freedom but also for the liberation of millions under tyranny. For me, the son of a World War II veteran who passed away last year, it was a highlight to rub shoulders with this band of brothers and thank them for their service.

The years have not dimmed their love of country or their pride in defending it. I saw the same passion, pride and courage among our troops earlier this year in Iraq and Afghanistan ”” different generations, different wars, but the same tenacious commitment. It was a personal and powerful illustration that freedom really is a sacred gift from one generation to another””one that is awesome in its privileges and its burdens.

Such burdens become even more vivid when the old veterans tell their stories ”” stories not about themselves but of those who didn’t come home….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

A Local Editorial: A grateful nation remembers

On this Memorial Day, don’t just remember the ultimate sacrifices of the Americans who have died in the line of military duty. Remember the immense sacrifices of the Americans who lived through military duty. Remember, too, how indispensable their service remains to the freedoms we enjoy.

Those who deserve that honor include not just active-duty personnel but Reserve and Guard members serving essential roles in continuing U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The bravery, dedication and skill of our armed forces transcend ongoing debates about when, where, why and how they should be deployed….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Memorial Day 2008 (2)–Fact Sheet: Facts about National Cemeteries

The Veteran’s Administration maintains more than 2.8 million gravesites at 125 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as in 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites. Occupied gravesites may hold the remains of more than one family member.

Approximately 306,600 full-casket gravesites, 93,700 in-ground gravesites for cremated remains, and 79,400 columbarium niches are available in already developed acreage in VA national cemeteries.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Memorial Day 2008 (I)–In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

”“Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serve”“KSH.

Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable (III)

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925), Patterns

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Notable and Quotable (II)

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up””for you the flag is flung””for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths””for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

”“Walt Whitman (1819”“1892)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Notable and Quotable (I)

“”¦that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion ”” that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain”¦”

”“Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

What's Your Blog's Reading level?

The Archer of the Forest took a look at a few–see what you make of the results.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Steve Banner: Conforming to the spirit of the age?

[Jefferts] Schori is quoted as saying: “Our heritage and context shape our theology. The ways in which we understand Scripture and appropriate gospel response to social realities are shaped both by our roots and our current circumstances.”

This is in direct contrast to the warning from William Connor Magee, who said to his assembled clergy in 1872: “Once let [the church] regard it as her main duty to ‘conform herself to the spirit of the age’ and the prophetic spirit will have died out of her. She will no longer ‘cry aloud and spare not’, she will no longer dare to speak the word of the Lord, ‘whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.'”

Rather than addressing the theological issues that threaten to divide the church, the denomination has tried to maintain order through intimidation: filing lawsuits against parishes that would seek realignment; attempting to depose bishops who hold to the traditional views of the church; and issuing a series of strongly worded letters from Schori to bishops across the country.

It seems increasingly evident that the only sensible outcome should be the eventual creation of a second Anglican province within the United States comprising those parishes and dioceses that have chosen to “walk apart” from the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

The Toughest Summer Job This Year Is Finding One

School is out, and Aaron Stallings, his junior year of high school behind him, wanders the air-conditioned cocoon of the Woodland Hills Mall in search of a job.

Mr. Stallings, 18, says he has been looking for three months, burning gasoline to get to the mall, then filling out applications at stores selling skateboard T-shirts, beach sandals and baseball caps. He likes the idea of working amid the goods he covets. But so far, no offers.

“I’m going to go to Iraq and get a job,” he says acidly. “I hear they’ve got cheap gas.” He grins. “I’m just playing. But I’ve been all over, and nobody’s hiring. They just say, ”˜We’ll call you tomorrow.’ And no one ever calls back.”

As the forces of economic downturn ripple widely across the United States, the job market of 2008 is shaping up as the weakest in more than half a century for teenagers looking for summer work, according to labor economists, government data and companies that hire young people.

This deterioration is jeopardizing what many experts consider a crucial beginning stage of working life, one that gives young people experience and confidence along with pocket money.

Little more than one-third of the 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States are likely to be employed this summer, the smallest share since the government began tracking teenage work in 1948….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Teens / Youth

The Economist: Inflation's back

Ronald Reagan once described inflation as being “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit-man”. Until recently, central bankers thought that this thug had been locked up for life. Thanks to sound monetary policies, inflation worldwide had stayed low in recent years. But the mugger is back on the prowl.

Even though America is close to recession and growth in other developed economies has slowed, inflation is rising. Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, this week gave warning about the mistakes of the 1970s, when inflation was let loose at huge cost to growth. His words were aimed at rich-country central banks, but policymakers in emerging economies are the ones who should most take heed. In countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia even the often dodgy official statistics show prices have risen by 8-10% over the past year; in Russia the rate is over 14%; in Argentina the true figure is 23% and in Venezuela it is 29%. If you measure the numbers correctly, two-thirds of the world’s population will probably suffer double-digit rates of inflation this summer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy