Daily Archives: June 15, 2009

The Independent: A List of some of the Best Urban Legends

See how many you recognize.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Obama Is Pressed to Tax Health Benefits

The White House is caught in a battle within its own party over how to finance a comprehensive overhaul of America’s health-care system, as key Democrats advocate a tax plan that could require President Obama to break his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

Sensitive to voter anxiety about a soaring federal deficit, Obama and congressional leaders have vowed to pay for a sweeping expansion of the health-care system — expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade — without additional borrowing.

Much of the money is likely to come from reining in spending on federal health programs for the elderly and the poor. Obama has proposed trimming more than $600 billion from Medicare and Medicaid by 2019 — including more than $300 billion in cuts unveiled in his Saturday radio and Internet address — which could fulfill the promise to curb the growth of federal health spending.

The rest of the cash will probably come from new taxes.

Read it all.

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

Pope Benedict Urges a New Vision of the Modern Economy

In his address, Benedict XVI called for a rethinking of predominant economic models.

“The financial crisis that has struck the industrialized nations, the emergent nations and those that are developing, shows in a clear way how the economic and financial paradigms that have been dominant in recent years must be rethought,” he said.

The Pope lauded his listeners’ consideration of the “interdependency between institutions, society and the market.”

Drawing from the 1991 encyclical by his predecessor, after which the Centesimus Annus foundation is named, the Holy Father noted how “the market economy, understood as ‘an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector’ can only be recognized as a way of economic and civil progress if it is oriented to the common good.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

California Anglican congregation reviewing its options

The Rev. Rob Holman reminded Anglican parishioners to practice love and forgiveness Sunday morning as they reeled from the state Fourth District Court of Appeals’ decision last week to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is the legal owner of the St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church property on Foothill Boulevard.

Reacting to comments made by the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, to the News-Press regarding the court decision and the church’s future, Holman told parishioners Bruno had been misleading and dishonest.

“God’s timing is kind of interesting to begin 40 Days of Love with the court’s appeal,” Holman said. “This week taught me it’s hard to be loving.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Iran's supreme leader orders probe of vote fraud

Iran’s supreme leader today ordered an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country’s most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

State television quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directing a high-level clerical panel, the Guardian Council, to look into charges by pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has said he is the rightful winner of Friday’s presidential election.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

Reaction to Netanyahu speech creates strange bedfellows

Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech on the future of the Middle East peace process may have been the first time the Israeli Prime Minister publicly acknowledged a Palestinian state, but its lack of specific details prompted a bewildering array of responses, locally and internationally.

The United States and the European Union found themselves agreeing with the Yesha council, which represents Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in welcoming the Prime Minister’s address at a Tel Aviv university, while Hamas joined with the Israeli far-right in condemning it.

Most Israeli commentators poured scorn on the talk ”“ short on detail, and placing strict limits on any future Palestinian sovereignty ”“ but agreed its main audience had been President Obama, who has bluntly told the right-wing Israeli Government to accept a two-state solution and stop settlement building.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Anglican Diocese of Quincy prepares to replace retired bishop

The Anglo-Catholic Diocese of Quincy based in Peoria has announced plans to elect its next bishop.

The diocese has been led by the diocesan standing committee since the retirement of Bishop Keith Ackerman last fall.

“We’ve begun the process of assessing the needs and vision of our diocese and forming a search committee,” said the Rev. John Spencer, president of the standing committee. “We’ll begin receiving nominations on July 1 and will move forward with interviews through the late summer. We plan to elect at our annual synod in October.”

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

One Colorado Town goes to the Elk–Literally

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This is worth watching just to hear the elk call alone–KSH.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Andrew Newberg: This is your brain on religion

Virtually every religion ”” including the most conservative sects ”” preaches positive concepts, such as “love thy neighbor” and “to forgive is divine.” Religions often encourage us to seek positive emotions such as joy, peace and hope. But we must always be aware of the eternal battle between those parts of the brain that are prone to push others away, and the parts that are inclined to build cooperative alliances with our fellow human beings in times of need.

In this sense, whether we embrace spiritual or secular values, the ultimate goal is the same. For as Albert Einstein stated when he described the similarities between spiritual and scientific epiphanies, it is the overwhelming awe and beauty of the universe and the deep sense of connectedness to the world that we all seek, if not crave. At their best, both science and religion can evoke inspirational meaning in our lives, and when this occurs, God and science are great.

But we always have to watch out for the times when God, religion, or science can turn a blind eye toward others. We have a brain that is filled with both loving and hateful ideas. We can turn to religion and spirituality as a way to foster the good in us, except, of course, when we don’t.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Town sets off on healthy path practicing 4 keys to longevity

[Dan] Buettner and his colleagues now are taking what they’ve learned from these bucolic locations to the cozy Midwestern town of Albert Lea, Minn. The aim of non-profit organization AARP, sponsor of the project with Buettner’s guidance, was to help the residents there “live longer, better,” as the Vitality Project’s tagline espouses.

The project’s strategies are simple: eat more fruits and vegetables, walk instead of drive, stay productive and social well into old age, and seek inner fulfillment ”” things we all know will improve our quality of life, but we don’t always do, he says.

“Optimizing where you spend most of your day, minimizing the opportunity to eat unhealthy food, and helping people find meaning and purpose is tied to healthier, longer living,” he says.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Lakers are champions again

Seven years after their last championship, five years after a series of humbling losses in Detroit, and 362 days after a futile Finals effort against Boston, the Lakers were back, in a big way.

A victory parade will proceed through Los Angeles on Wednesday, the celebration becoming official after the Lakers thumped the Orlando Magic on Sunday, 99-86, to win the NBA Finals, four games to one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Obama Open to Reining in Medical Suits

The American Medical Association has long battled Democrats who oppose protecting doctors from malpractice lawsuits. But during a private meeting at the White House last month, association officials said, they found one Democrat willing to entertain the idea: President Obama.

In closed-door talks, Mr. Obama has been making the case that reducing malpractice lawsuits ”” a goal of many doctors and Republicans ”” can help drive down health care costs, and should be considered as part of any health care overhaul, according to lawmakers of both parties, as well as A.M.A. officials.

It is a position that could hurt Mr. Obama with the left wing of his party and with trial lawyers who are major donors to Democratic campaigns. But one Democrat close to the president said Mr. Obama, who wants health legislation to have broad support, views addressing medical liability issues as a “credibility builder” ”” in effect, a bargaining chip that might keep doctors and, more important, Republicans, at the negotiating table.

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

Gout: Disease of the Rich Extends Its Pain to the Middle Class

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

An Emboldened Leader Seals Unity of Iran’s Elite

The jokes among Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s detractors are legion. In one, he looks in the mirror and says, “Male lice to the right, female lice to the left.” In the West, one American tabloid rarely misses a chance to refer to him as “Evil Madman” and in the days before his re-election here he was taunted as a “monkey” and as a “midget.”

But the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was announced winner of a second four-year term this week is no cartoon character.

Whether his 63 percent victory is truly the will of the people or the result of fraud, it demonstrated that Mr. Ahmadinejad is the shrewd and ruthless front man for a clerical, military and political elite that is more unified and emboldened than at any time since the 1979 revolution.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

The Economist's Lexington Column: Children are exceptions to the country’s work ethic

But when it comes to the young the situation is reversed. American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year.

American children also have one of the shortest school days, six-and-a-half hours, adding up to 32 hours a week. By contrast, the school week is 37 hours in Luxembourg, 44 in Belgium, 53 in Denmark and 60 in Sweden. On top of that, American children do only about an hour’s-worth of homework a day, a figure that stuns the Japanese and Chinese….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Globalization