Daily Archives: March 27, 2009
At a Mass on Saturday in Luanda, Angola, Pope Benedict tried to warn his listeners of the dangers of belief in witchcraft. Though he never used that word, his implication was clear when he suggested that African Catholics should offer Christ to their fellow citizens because “so many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers.” He worried aloud about many Africans: “In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers?”
Who indeed? The statement reflects a real and tragic problem in many parts of Africa, even among people who identify as Christians. Many still consult shamans and use talismans or potions for everything from fertility problems to exorcisms, while others take things a horrifying step further: Children, especially those with a physical deformity or afflicted with a disease like AIDS, are often brutalized or killed in the belief that they are possessed by evil spirits. The elderly, especially women, are also common targets. Earlier this month, Amnesty International reported that more than 1,000 people were rounded up in Gambia in a government-sponsored witch-hunt, and in Tanzania alone, at least 45 albinos have been murdered since 2007 because popular superstition holds that they are witches.
No wonder church leaders who praise the explosion of faith across Africa as the future of Christianity — the Christian population has gone to 360 million today from eight million in 1900 — also take pains to try to purge superstition and witchcraft from the continent. And they regularly fail, or offend.
After over 126 years, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church will hold its last service this Sunday.
The church, located on Warwick Neck Avenue, which has close to 100 members, is merging its congregation with St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Post Road in Apponaug.
The two parishes will officially become one during this Sunday’s mass, which will begin at St. Mary’s and proceed to St. Barnabas where it will be completed. Episcopal Bishop Geraldine Wolfe will preside over the mass.
During an interview on Tuesday, church elders from St. Mary’s said the decision was made strictly due to financial reasons. The church has seen a steady decrease in parishioners over the years and despite a drive two years ago to modernize their service, attendance didn’t increase enough for the church to survive.
China is seeking technology and weapons to disrupt the traditional advantages of American forces, and secrecy surrounding its military creates the potential for miscalculation on both sides, according to a Pentagon study released Wednesday.
The annual report from the Defense Department to Congress, “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009,” catalogs efforts by China to supply its armed forces with weapons that can be used to intimidate and attack Taiwan and blunt the superiority of American naval and air power, at least near its territory.
“We have advocated time and again for more dialogue and transparency in our dealings with the Chinese government and military, all in an effort to reduce suspicions on both sides,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.
Last month Frank Koppe gathered together all 50 of his employees at Koppe-Apparatebau for coffee, cake and the kind of bad news that has lately become all too familiar. He told them the small company’s business, designing and manufacturing custom equipment for industrial plants, had been sliced nearly in half.
But rather than resorting to layoffs, Mr. Koppe asked half his employees to come in every other week. The government would make up roughly two-thirds of their lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.
The program ”” known as “Kurzarbeit,” which translates as “short work” ”” and others like it lie at the heart of a heated debate that has erupted on the eve of next week’s Group of 20 meeting of industrialized and developing nations and the European Union, creating a rift between the Obama administration and European governments. The United States is pressing for a coordinated package of stimulus plans by member countries to encourage economic growth, something that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek of the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, has called “a way to hell.”
But virtually all European governments, led by budget-conscious Germany, are resisting the American pitch, saying the focus should be on stricter regulation of financial markets.
The Anglican Consultative CounÂcil had a constitutional obligation towards the costs of the Conference, but had stopped putting money aside for the Conference since 2004, spending it instead on new offices.
The Â£1.6 million left over from 1998 and from setting money aside up to 2004 did not cover the exÂpected Â£2.5-million rise in the cost to Â£6.1 million. In the event, because of the shortfall in the number of bishops who attended, the final cost was Â£5.2 million.
“To commit expenditure in adÂvance of secure income was a practice that the directors of an entirely stand-alone company might have regarded as too risky. In doing so, it appears therefore that those involved have proceeded on the expectation that the Anglican ComÂmunion and in particular Church of England bodies . . . would not ultimately let the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Conference fail to pay its bills.”
The Commissioners were worried as early as May 2006 that they would be landed with the bill.
Jimmy Carter came to Notre Dame in 1977. So did Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush in 2001.
The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. But this year’s selection of President Barack Obama has been met by a barrage of criticism that has left some students fearing their commencement ceremony will turn into a circus.
Many Catholics are angered by Obama’s planned appearance at the May 17 ceremony because of his decisions to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups that provide abortions or educate about the procedure.
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue explained in a statement released today that the proposal originated from the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, and “therefore comes from the heart of the abortion industry — threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this country.”
“I am appalled that this proposal will result in the deaths of many more preborn children and cause untold harm to women,” he continued. “As a society, we need to wake up and stop treating abortion as a quick-fix solution to pregnancy and offer compassionate and practical support to women facing crisis pregnancies.”
Update: in yesterday’s Financial Times Jeffrey Sachs did not like the plan:
The idea of “private sector price discovery” is therefore flim-flam. There would be price discovery if the government’s loan had to be repaid whether or not the asset paid off in full. In that case, the investor would bid $360,000. But under the Geithner-Summers plan the loan is precisely designed to be a one-way bet, for the purpose of overpricing the toxic asset in order to bail out the bank’s shareholders at hidden cost to the taxpayers.
The banks could be saved without saving their shareholders ”“ a better deal for taxpayers and without the moral hazard of rescuing shareholders from the banks’ bad bets. Most simply, the government could provide loans to buy the toxic assets on a recourse basis, therefore without the hidden subsidy. Alternatively, the plan could give the taxpayers an equity stake in the banks in return for cleaning their balance sheets. In cases of insolvency, the government could take over the bank, the much dreaded nationalisation, albeit temporary. At the end of the Bush administration, Congress voted for the $700bn (â‚¬517bn, Â£479bn) troubled asset relief programme (Tarp) on the assurance the taxpayer would get fair value for money (for example, by taking equity stakes in the rescued banks). The new plan does not offer that.
Nearly seven in 10 high school students say the struggling economy has affected where they applied to college this year, a survey out today shows.
And yes, they are stressed about it. Most students will find out this month where they have been accepted. The biggest concern: that they will get admitted into the school they most want to attend but won’t be able to for financial reasons.
Evangelization will be his primary focus, he said after a press conference Saturday, citing the 2000 Apostolic Letter by Pope John Paul II in which the late pontiff urged his church “to take up her evangelizing mission with fresh enthusiasm.”
[Robert] Guglielmone said that reiterating the message of Jesus Christ was the “challenge of the century.”
He is leaving the sixth-largest U.S. diocese, with about 1.4 million Catholics, for one whose population is approximately 176,000. Before he became rector of Rockville Centre’s St. Agnes Cathedral, Guglielmone was the diocesan director of clergy personnel, overseeing 450 priests and 300 deacons, he said. By contrast, South Carolina has a total of about 130 priests and 100 deacons.
“I am both humbled and grateful that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI would entrust this awesome ministry to me,” he said Saturday morning. “I must admit that I am a bit anxious about leaving Long Island where I have spent almost my whole life. However, I do trust in the Lord and am very encouraged by the wonderful sense of Southern hospitality I have already experienced.”
Ever since Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt publicly uttered the term “cloud computing” in 2006, a storm has been gathering over Silicon Valley.
Companies across the technology industry are jockeying to associate themselves with clouds. Amazon.com Inc., better known for peddling books online, began selling an Elastic Compute Cloud service in 2006 for programmers to rent Amazon’s giant computers. Juniper Networks Inc., which makes gear for transmitting data, dubbed its latest project Stratus. Yahoo Inc., Intel Corp. and a handful of others recently launched a research program called OpenCirrus.
While almost everybody in the tech industry seems to have a cloud-themed project, few agree on the term’s definition.
“I have no idea what anyone is talking about,” said Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison, when talking about cloud computing at a financial analyst conference in September. “It’s really just complete gibberish. What is it?” He added: “When is this idiocy going to stop?”
I think this ever-growing hysteria about the invasion of privacy in Great Britain might be a direct result of the secularisation of our society. As a Roman Catholic, I’ve spent my whole life believing that my every move is being monitored. God, after all, is the ultimate CCTV. There have been many occasions when this sense of being watched has led me to do the right thing rather than the easier or more pleasurable wrong one. We hate those intermittent yellow boxes on modern roads but they do, generally speaking, cause us to drive more safely.
Maybe, now that God doesn’t feature in most people’s lives, society need things like Street View and surveillance cameras to make people behave better. I don’t suppose the citizens whose sins were exposed by Google fear they’ll end up sizzling on Satan’s griddle as a result but all this fuss about images of drunkenness, crime and lust does suggest a certain sense of shame.