Daily Archives: September 7, 2009

(London) Times: Islamic extremists guilty of airline bomb plot

Three British Muslims were found guilty today of conspiracy to murder thousands of passengers and crew in an unprecedented airline bomb plot that could have proved as deadly as the 9/11 attacks.

After a retrial at Woolwich Crown Court, jurors found the ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed, and two other men, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain, guilty of plotting to use liquid bombs to blow up airliners en route from Heathrow to the United States.

Another defendant, Umar Islam, was found guilty of a more general charge of conspiracy to murder because jurors could not decide whether he knew of the specific targets in the plot three years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Terrorism

Houston Chronicle: Katy pastor uses virtual community to connect in church

While some preachers may frown upon the use of cell phones and laptops in church on Sundays, one Katy-area pastor is encouraging people to keep their wireless devises on so they connect through the Internet and social networking sites during a new service.

Starting Sept. 12, Church of the Holy Apostles, 1225 West Grand Parkway South, will kick off its first Saturday evening service called The Gathering Place. The 6 p.m. service will feature the same elements of traditional church including music, preaching, communion and prayer as well as an interactive component that will allow members and visitors to ask questions or make comments via the Internet.

“There’s a virtual community out there and we’re going to tap into how that might work for the church,” said Rev. Darrel Proffitt, the church’s lead pastor. “It’s more than just a virtual interactive service where you can ask questions through Twitter and Facebook, but will encourage people to develop a community throughout the week.”

Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have allowed people to stay in touch with friends and family, even celebrities and political officials, while keeping up with what they’re doing at the moment. By posting frequent updates to their sites, people stay connected and informed instantaneously.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

LA Times: Religious groups face financial crisis as donations diminish

With donations slowing, religious groups across the theological spectrum are reporting millions of dollars in reduced income that is resulting in staff layoffs and program cuts.

Jewish and Christian seminaries also are feeling the pinch. Eight seminaries for the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are undergoing staff reductions and budget cuts.

In Los Angeles, consideration was given this spring to closing the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a seminary serving the Jewish Reform movement. Ultimately, college officials opted to keep the campus open, but only after cutting staff and entering into cooperative arrangements with other institutions and seminaries.

But college officials confirmed there is ongoing discussion of how millions more could be saved, including preliminary talks about selling the campus to the adjacent USC and leasing it back.

Meanwhile, 69 long-term foreign missionaries and 350 short-term missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention will remain home this year because of reduced giving by local congregations to the denomination’s cooperative program. Southern Baptist officials also report a $29-million drop in an annual Christmas offering on which half the program’s budget depends.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Villainous Company on the VA and the medical Care Debate

In other words, the VA (a relatively small government health program which serves a small, well defined population) is not a terribly good proxy for a nationwide single payer health system that would have to provide universal health care to everyone. Bruce’s point, which Klein missed entirely in his haste to commence chest thumping, is that if two much smaller government health care programs (the VA and Army medical system) are riddled with inefficiency, waste, and bureaucratic bungling, what on earth makes Klein think a system many times larger is a good idea? Since I’m piling on, there’s a reason military families call TRICARE, “Try to get care”. To paraphrase the last president who tried to foist national health care on the American public, “It’s the Bureaucracy, Stupid”….

The Internet makes people lazy. They don’t bother to read posts carefully, nor do they read the supporting links in their entirety. We’ve all been guilty of doing that. I’ve done it on occasion. And when that was pointed out to me, I acknowledged it. Is Klein big enough to do that?

What [Ezra] Klein and many others who commented on these posts also don’t consider is an inconvenient little fact that blows his suggestion that the VA is an appropriate example for how national single payer might work right out of the water….

no single class of VA eligible veterans receives most of their health care through the VA. In other words, the bulk of their health care needs are met outside the VA system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

Got nuns? Anglicans can say yes

Q. Could you please tell me if there are any Anglican nuns in our area? Perhaps there would be convents in some of our larger neighboring cities. I remember many years ago seeing a picture of Queen Elizabeth’s mother-in-law in the habit of an Anglican nun, walking with her son, Prince Philip. I’m certain there are sisters in England belonging to these Church of England religious orders.

— R.C., of Trenton

A. Guess I had never really thought about it before, but it may surprise some to learn that the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t have a lock on convents and monasteries. Monasticism always has been a fixture of the Eastern Orthodox and Buddhism. The Lutherans have a monastery and retreat house in Oxford, Mich.

And, almost since the time that the Episcopal Church planted its Anglican roots in the United States, the church’s monastic communities started springing up around the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Labor Day

From here:

On this weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor””in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.

May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

Times-Union: Albany's Episcopal head pushed for answers on direction of local diocese

A grass-roots Episcopal group wants to question Bishop William Love on whether he intends to lead the Albany diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

Albany Via Media, a group of moderate to liberal Episcopalians, is lining up parishioners to attend Love’s seven meetings around the diocese in September and October.

“We are trying to have members asking the question at every meeting,” said Clair Touby of Saranac Lake, president of Albany Via Media.

Love will visit St. Paul’s Church, 58 Third St., Troy, at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday for evening prayer and to discuss the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in July in Anaheim, Calif.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Lowcountry Proud Georgetown County: Prince George Episcopal

Watch the whole video.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, TEC Parishes

Religious Intelligence: Archdeacon amongst 47 killed in South Sudan

An attack on the village of Wernyol in the Jonglei State in South Sudan has left 47 dead, including the Archdeacon of Wernyol, the Ven Joseph Mabior Garang.

On the morning of Aug 28 approximately 1,000 gunmen attacked the village “coming to take the cattle, and to loot and steal,” Maj Gen Kuol Diem Kuol of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) told Al-Jazeera.

“There was only a small police force based in Wernyol, and they were soon overrun, but nearby SPLA platoons heard the shooting and rushed to the area” and restored order, Gen Kuol said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Violence

After Punch, Blount Suspended for Season

The confrontation distracted from one of the hallmark victories in Boise State’s history. The No. 14 Broncos defeated the No. 16 Ducks, 19-8, a victory that is likely to place them in the top 10 next week and make the team a serious contender for a Bowl Championship Series game. The Ducks, meanwhile, face difficult games against Purdue and Utah the next two weeks. Blount struggled against Boise State, finishing with minus-5 yards on eight carries. Boise State’s Billy Winn had the night’s defensive highlight when he slammed Blount into the ground for a safety in the second quarter.

After the game, Winn called Blount’s punch a “cheap shot,” adding: “Their actions speak for their team. Something like that shows you what they’re being coached. If they were coached better than that, he wouldn’t have thrown that punch.”

William Friday, a longtime critic of the commercialization of college sports and the founding co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, said the altercation showed something else. “What you’re seeing here is an example of the pressure and the stress that comes in when you get this kind of tinder box,” he said. “It’s the pressure of winning at almost any price.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

Church's third act: mini-mall

“We’re so glad to see the clubs go, but I’m guardedly optimistic,” said Susan Finley, co-founder of the Flatiron Alliance, which long battled Limelight and its troubled replacement, Club Avalon. “We’ve been lied to so many times.”

Residents are worried that the mall is “one big dodge to get a club going there,” said Board 5 Landmarks Chairman Howard Mendes, whose committee recommended rejecting the proposal.

He pointed to a large empty space in the floor plan that would be “perfect for dancing,” and to the continued ownership of real-estate developer Ben Ashkenazy, who rented the 163-year-old former Episcopal church at Sixth Avenue and 20th Street to Gatien.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, TEC Parishes

Time Magazine: Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

For all the grumbling you do about your weekly grocery bill, the fact is you’ve never had it so good, at least in terms of what you pay for every calorie you eat. According to the USDA, Americans spend less than 10% of their incomes on food, down from 18% in 1966. Those savings begin with the remarkable success of one crop: corn. Corn is king on the American farm, with production passing 12 billion bu. annually, up from 4 billion bu. as recently as 1970. When we eat a cheeseburger, a Chicken McNugget, or drink soda, we’re eating the corn that grows on vast, monocrop fields in Midwestern states like Iowa.

But cheap food is not free food, and corn comes with hidden costs. The crop is heavily fertilized ”” both with chemicals like nitrogen and with subsidies from Washington. Over the past decade, the Federal Government has poured more than $50 billion into the corn industry, keeping prices for the crop ”” at least until corn ethanol skewed the market ”” artificially low. That’s why McDonald’s can sell you a Big Mac, fries and a Coke for around $5 ”” a bargain, given that the meal contains nearly 1,200 calories, more than half the daily recommended requirement for adults. “Taxpayer subsidies basically underwrite cheap grain, and that’s what the factory-farming system for meat is entirely dependent on,” says Gurian-Sherman. (See the 10 worst fast food meals.)

So what’s wrong with cheap food and cheap meat ”” especially in a world in which more than 1 billion people go hungry? A lot. For one thing, not all food is equally inexpensive; fruits and vegetables don’t receive the same price supports as grains. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips or 875 calories of soda but just 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. With the backing of the government, farmers are producing more calories ”” some 500 more per person per day since the 1970s ”” but too many are unhealthy calories. Given that, it’s no surprise we’re so fat; it simply costs too much to be thin.

Our expanding girth is just one consequence of mainstream farming. Another is chemicals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

Telegraph: Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes

Barack Obama is committing the same mistakes made by policymakers during the Great Depression, according to a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.

His policies even have the potential to consign the US to a similar fate as Argentina, which suffered a painful and humiliating slide from first to Third World status last century, the paper says.

There are “troubling similarities” between the US President’s actions since taking office and those which in the 1930s sent the US and much of the world spiralling into the worst economic collapse in recorded history, says the new pamphlet, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

In particular, the authors, economists Charles Rowley of George Mason University and Nathanael Smith of the Locke Institute, claim that the White House’s plans to pour hundreds of billions of dollars of cash into the economy will undermine it in the long run. They say that by employing deficit spending and increased state intervention President Obama will ultimately hamper the long-term growth potential of the US economy and may risk delaying full economic recovery by several years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

New Exotic Instruments Emerging on Wall Street

Please note the headline above is the one used in the print edition–KSH.

Financial innovation can be good, of course, by lowering the cost of borrowing for everyone, giving consumers more investment choices and, more broadly, by helping the economy to grow. And the proponents of securitizing life settlements say it would benefit people who want to cash out their policies while they are alive.

But some are dismayed by Wall Street’s quick return to its old ways, chasing profits with complicated new products.

“It’s bittersweet,” said James D. Cox, a professor of corporate and securities law at Duke University. “The sweet part is there are investors interested in exotic products created by underwriters who make large fees and rating agencies who then get paid to confer ratings. The bitter part is it’s a return to the good old days.”

Indeed, what is good for Wall Street could be bad for the insurance industry, and perhaps for customers, too. That is because policyholders often let their life insurance lapse before they die, for a variety of reasons ”” their children grow up and no longer need the financial protection, or the premiums become too expensive. When that happens, the insurer does not have to make a payout.

Read it all. This story, along with the preceding one, were on the front page of yesterday’s Times.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Stock Market

Surge in Homeless Pupils Strains Schools

In the small trailer her family rented over the summer, 9-year-old Charity Crowell picked out the green and purple outfit she would wear on the first day of school. She vowed to try harder and bring her grades back up from the C’s she got last spring ”” a dismal semester when her parents lost their jobs and car and the family was evicted and migrated through friends’ houses and a motel.

Charity is one child in a national surge of homeless schoolchildren that is driven by relentless unemployment and foreclosures. The rise, to more than one million students without stable housing by last spring, has tested budget-battered school districts as they try to carry out their responsibilities ”” and the federal mandate ”” to salvage education for children whose lives are filled with insecurity and turmoil.

The instability can be ruinous to schooling, educators say, adding multiple moves and lost class time to the inherent distress of homelessness. And so in accord with federal law, the Buncombe County district, where Charity attends, provides special bus service to shelters, motels, doubled-up houses, trailer parks and RV campgrounds to help children stay in their familiar schools as the families move about.

Still, Charity said of her last semester, “I couldn’t go to sleep, I was worried about all the stuff,” and she often nodded off in class.

Caught this one last night on the plane. I keep thinking of the boy in the story who takes the bus one and one half hours to school one way. That’s a long time. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Poverty