Daily Archives: April 28, 2009

Arlin Specter says he's switching from GOP to Democrats

Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania abruptly switched parties Tuesday, a move intended to boost his re-election chances that also pushed Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement was expected at mid-afternoon.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Senate

*DJ NYC Health Chief:'Many Hundreds' Of School Kids Have Suspected Swine Flu-MSNBC

Ugh.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Supreme Court ruling outlaws broadcast expletive outbursts

A divided Supreme Court Tuesday upheld a federal prohibition on the one-time use of expletives in a case arising partly from an expletive uttered by Cher at a Billboard Music Awards show in 2002.

The ruling, by a 5-4 vote and written by Justice Antonin Scalia, endorsed a Bush administration Federal Communications Commission policy against isolated outbursts of, as Scalia said from the bench, the “f-word” and “s-word.”

The ruling does not resolve a lingering First Amendment challenge to the 2004 policy that is likely to be subject to further lower court proceedings.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Recent Testimony of the Episcopal Bishop of Maine on a proposed Bill

The Episcopal Church, long ago, concluded and publicly proclaimed through its own legislative body that gay and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church. We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church, as long as the particular requirements of that office or ministry are met. And we have repeatedly affirmed our support for the human and civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. In many of our congregations, both here in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are participating in the life of the church and sharing in the work of ministry and service to their communities.

If we, as Mainers, believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, then it is in our interest to extend the rights and obligations of civil marriage to all Maine citizens. To deny those rights to certain persons on the basis of sexual orientation is to create two classes of citizens and to deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

ENI: New Kenyan archbishop will 'keep stand' against same-sex unions

Eliud Wabukala of Bungoma, who becomes the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya in July, will not likely reverse his predecessor’s opposition to same-sex unions.

This is the view of bishops and church leaders who spoke to Ecumenical News International after Wabukala was on April 24 elected to replace Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, who retires on June 30.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Same Sex Marriage Bill Poses a Test of Loyalties: Church vs. State

“I don’t care what the politicians think,” Mr. [Floyd] Flake, a former Democratic congressman and one of the city’s most influential religious leaders, thundered last week during a Sunday service at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Queens. “Ain’t nothing perfect about laying down and signing a license with somebody who got the same body parts you got.”

Mr. Flake went on for about two minutes, much to the delight of many in the pews, who cheered and applauded as the church organist punctuated the reverend’s words with notes from “I’ve Got a Woman,” by Ray Charles.

The sentiment, shared in many churches, would normally warrant little notice. Mr. Flake is the pastor of a predominantly black congregation in a community with a socially conservative tilt ”” hardly an unlikely spokesman for those opposed to same-sex marriage.

But Mr. Flake is also a mentor to the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith, who is among a handful of political leaders in Albany who will be responsible for the fate of same-sex marriage in New York.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, State Government

Stephen Jewell in The New Zealand Herald on Richard Holloway

While they might seem like odd bedfellows, [Richard] Holloway actually has much in common with [Richard] Dawkins, who is famous for his outspoken views about the non-existence of a supreme being and the irrational nature of religious faith. Holloway has written 12 books, including Godless Morality, which was controversially denounced by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey after its publication in 1999 for daring to suggest it is not necessary to be religious to be moral.

Holloway left the church in 2000 after suffering a crisis of conscience. Although he now refers to himself as a “Christian agnostic”, he still keeps some ties with his erstwhile profession.

I’m still a member of the Christian community as it carries many beautiful values, tropes, metaphors and narratives. I’ve changed my mind so many times in the past that I now handle what I say with a certain provisionality. I’m not done yet – who knows where I’ll end up? – but one of the things I have learned is the virtue of uncertainty. If you absolutely know the mind of that mystery you call God then it leads you to do terrible things because, of course, God is on your side.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture

Ephraim Radner responds to the Chicago Consultation on the Covenant

Since I am the only person indicated by this statement (despite the use of the plural “leader(s)”, let me respond briefly, in hopes that someone from the Consultation is reading. The Consultation’s statement is, taken as a whole, completely disingenuous. Since I have been long and ublicly committed to the view that partenered homosexuals should not, on Scriptural, traditional, and moral reasons, be ordained or have their partnerships affirmed by the Christian Church, my commitments have always been, in the Consultation’s view, “sinful”. This is not news to the Constulation members, and brings no revelatory instruments to bear in their reading of the CP Bishops’ statement. But it really has nothing to do with the Anglican Covenant. This is logical hooey, and at best an indirect form of ad hominem diversion. The various drafts of the Covenant have had nothing to do with the issues of sexuality (much to the chagrin of some), and the Consultors know it. If the “full intent of the documents” is based not on their content, however, but on the people involved in drafting them, then the the Consultors are rather slow in figuring out what is going on. After all, about half of the Covenant Design Group shares my “sinful” perspective and has shared it long before the Covenant was even a gleam in Canterbury’s eye.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Assessing the Danger of New Flu

Sorting through the “marquee flus” of recent years ”” SARS, avian flu and now swine flu ”” is complicated.

The three come from different viruses and carry different kinds of danger, depending on ease of transmission and virulence. As a benchmark, the deadliest influenza pandemic in the past century, the Spanish influenza of 1918 to 1919, had an estimated mortality rate of around 2.5 percent but killed tens of millions of people because it spread so widely.

The new swine flu cases are caused by an influenza strain called H1N1, which appears to be easily passed from person to person. Mexican health authorities have confirmed 149 deaths from that flu and are investigating the illnesses of 1,600 people, and the United States, Canada, Spain and other countries have confirmed or are investigating cases.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine

Shortage of Doctors an Obstacle to Obama Goals

The need for more doctors comes up at almost every Congressional hearing and White House forum on health care. “We’re not producing enough primary care physicians,” Mr. Obama said at one forum. “The costs of medical education are so high that people feel that they’ve got to specialize.” New doctors typically owe more than $140,000 in loans when they graduate.

Lawmakers from both parties say the shortage of health care professionals is already having serious consequences. “We don’t have enough doctors in primary care or in any specialty,” said Representative Shelley Berkley, Democrat of Nevada.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said, “The work force shortage is reaching crisis proportions.”

Even people with insurance have problems finding doctors.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Obama Aims To Change World Perceptions Of U.S.

President Obama started putting his mark on U.S. foreign policy from his very first hours in office. He quickly and deliberately presented a more conciliatory, multilateral approach to world affairs, analysts say.

While trying to grapple with a global economic meltdown, the new president initiated immediate reviews of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. He started to open diplomatic channels with previous enemy states such as Cuba and Iran. He reached out to Europe and sought to thaw U.S.-Russia relations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Daily Nation: Why diocese is reluctant to let go of new Anglican Church of Kenya head

…[During his time in the diocese Bishop Eliud Wabukala] initiated the Wycliffe Centre for Theology and Mission and Development in Bungoma, an affiliate of St Paul’s Theological College, Limuru.

Eight medical clinics were set up.

“Many of these projects got funding from Peterborough in England, an indicator that the bishop could create links,” said Rev Mechumo, adding that the greatest challenge Bishop Wabukala had to contend with was lack of training among the clergy.

Now Bungoma Diocese has several priests with degrees and diplomas.

“This is no mean achievement for a bishop.” Rev Mechumo added: “But now we have to release him. He has now become the leader of the province.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

The Bulletin: Group Looks To Form New Conservative Anglican Church

A group of conservative Anglicans in Canada and the United States has finalized plans to begin forming an alternate church in North America.

Leaders of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a collection of 12 Anglican organizations that began to unify last November, approved applications for the creation of 28 new dioceses in the church. The new church’s leaders also finalized a draft constitution and church laws ahead of its provincial assembly.

“It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years’ work,” said the Right Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church in North America and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. “Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

A Wall Street Journal Editorial: Busting Bank of America

The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It’s a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government

BBC: More countries confirm swine flu

New cases of the deadly swine flu virus have been confirmed as far afield as New Zealand and Israel as the UN warns it cannot be contained.

The US, Canada, Spain and Britain confirmed cases earlier but no deaths have been reported outside Mexico, where the virus was first reported.

Mexico has raised the number of probable deaths to 152, with 1,614 suspected sufferers under observation.

UN inspectors are to examine reports that pig farms spread the virus.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine