Daily Archives: December 17, 2009

C. Fred Bergsten–The Dollar and the Deficits: How Washington Can Prevent the Next Crisis

Major procedural reforms will be needed as well. One essential step is the implementation of “pay-as-you-go” rules, which require that all increases in spending or tax cuts be financed by savings elsewhere in the budget. The statutory creation of a “fiscal future commission”””modeled on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, a federal body whose recommendations are subject to an up-or-down vote in Congress””could represent a major breakthrough. It might even be time to reconsider passing a balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution, a provision that exists in nearly all US states and is now being pursued in a somewhat analogous form by the European Union. Whatever the specific policy approach, the underlying objective should be to create a system that will achieve a balanced budget over the course of the economic cycle.

A responsible fiscal policy would permit the Federal Reserve to run a relatively easy monetary policy, which would hold down interest rates and prevent overvaluation of the dollar. If the Obama administration is looking for a historical model, it should aim to replicate the Clinton-Greenspan policy of the late 1990s (a mix of budget surpluses and low interest rates) rather than the Reagan-Volcker policy of the early 1980s (a mix of large deficits and high interest rates).

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Remembering the Advent season

The Rev. Timothy Paul Jones kept hearing one thing when — four weeks before Christmas — he brought a wreath and some purple and pink candles into his Southern Baptist church near Tulsa, Okla.

And all the people said: “Advent? Don’t Catholics do that?”This prickly response wasn’t all that unusual, in light of the history of Christmas in America, said Jones, who now teaches leadership and church ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“In the dominant American, Protestant traditions of this country, we’ve never had a Christian calendar that told us anything about Advent and the 12 days of Christmas,” explained Jones, author of “Church History Made Easy.”

“We went from the Puritans, and they hardly celebrated Christmas at all, to this privatized, individualized approach to the season that you see all around us. … If you mention the church calendar many people think you’ve gone Papist or something. They really don’t care what Christians did through the centuries.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, America/U.S.A., Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Rudolf the Dog Leads the Way to Learning

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Education

St. Luke’s Anglican Church in California files Writ of Certiorari with Supreme Court

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Wyoming Episcopal bishop finalist list shrinks

The list of finalists to be Wyoming’s new Episcopal bishop has shrunk to four after one of the nominees withdrew his name last weekend.

The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming didn’t give a reason why the Very Rev. Robert “Bob” Neske, dean of St. Mark’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Hastings, Neb., took his name off the shortlist to succeed Bishop Bruce Caldwell, who is retiring next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

DARPA Tasks Social Networkers To Find Balloons

Here in the United States, an office of the Pentagon held an unusual contest earlier this month. Researchers wanted to see how thousands of people around the world could compete and collaborate to solve a problem that was too big for any one individual. The task was to find balloons scattered around the U.S. Competitors posted information and misinformation on Twitter and other social networking sites. Dr. Peter Lee is with DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which sponsored the contest.

Dr. LEE: On December 5, we, in 10 public but undisclosed locations in the continental U.S., hoisted big red eight-foot wide weather balloons, about 50 to 100 feet in the air. And we challenged the world to find them. And the first person to report the locations – latitude and longitude of all 10 – would win a $40,000 prize.

[ARI] SHAPIRO: What was the point of this?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. LEE: There were several reasons we did this. I think the most fundamental is we wanted to create the conditions that would allow researchers to understand something more about how information flows on the Internet and on social networks. But we also wanted to create an adversarial situation.

Caught this one yesterday via podcast on the morning run–fascinating. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Economy, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

Laws are just only if they protect human life, pope says

A law is just only if it protects human life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The only laws that can be considered just “are those laws that safeguard the sacredness of human life and reject the acceptance of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experiments (and) those laws that respect the dignity of marriage between one man and one woman,” the pope said Dec. 16 during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Pope Benedict dedicated his audience talk to the writings of the 12th-century British philosopher and theologian, John of Salisbury. A close associate of St. Thomas Becket, John went into exile with him when, as the pope said, King Henry II tried “to affirm his authority over the internal life of the church, limiting its freedom.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Kara Martin: Books for 2010

Greetings all! I am wondering if we could experiment with some lists this week.

I am hoping that some of you would care to share the list of books to be considered by your reading groups for 2010.

My reading group met last Friday for our annual feast and book choosing. We also finally discussed Jane Eyre, and “that Potato book”, as one of the members referred to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

In choosing our books, we each bring along our copies of books we are interested in, or copies of reviews. We also have lists of book prize winners. We like to do some Australian novels, some young adult fiction, and a classic.

Take a look at her list and then please give us some of yours.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Books

Down Under, Elderly in suicide pill Christmas gift swaps

Elderly couples are buying each other suicide kits as Christmas presents, says controversial euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke.

Speaking at Tweed Heads yesterday on a new “peaceful pill” suicide method being developed overseas, Dr Nitschke’s comments sent right-to-life campaigners and church groups into a frenzy.

Asked whether it was in the spirit of the season to be publicising ways of ending life just a week before Christmas, Dr Nitschke said he was always going to attract criticism.

“Our main opposition is from religious groups who would still be getting outraged at Easter, or any other time of year for that matter,” he said.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Religious Intelligence: Sudan ”˜on brink of civil war’

US Special Envoy Lt Gen Scott Gration has also vowed to make saving the CPA a top priority of the Obama administration. However, the “inter-ethnic violence currently witnessed across much of Southern Sudan, the ongoing violence against civilians in Darfur, and the violent attacks on civilians being perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-west of the country,” was destabilizing the region, the church warned.

The escalation of violence “will make registration and voting in the elections and referendum very difficult,” the church warned. “The conclusion that is drawn is that this violence is intended to negatively affect the elections and referendum,” it concluded.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Foreign Relations, Sudan, Violence

An Analysis of Mark Lawrence’s Clergy Address & Its Possible Impact On Isolated Episcopal Laity

Needless to say — once spelled out like that, the goals that Bishop Lawrence lays out are ambitious. He wants to both protect and educate more thoroughly his own diocese, mobilize his laity, differentiate the diocese strikingly from TEC’s heretical actions, and reach out to others throughout TEC and the Anglican Communion, building strategic clusters of individuals, parishes, dioceses, and provinces.

To do that, as nearly as I can see, he will need to accrue some significant funding and allies, as well as producing 1) some excellent communication tools [for more Internet, video, and email communication, along with ads and direct mail pieces with excellent mailing lists], 2) event planning throughout the country, and 3) discipleship tools for laity. All of those things help to circumvent the “information gatekeepers” whether they be rectors in his own diocese, bishops in other dioceses, or ENS and 815.

But do his proposals offer any glimmers of hope to folks trapped in dioceses ruled by heterodox bishops and clergy?

I believe they do, for people both in excellent parishes [but not dioceses] and people in not so great dioceses or parishes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

RNS–Obama's Muslim Outreach Named Top Religion Story of 2009

President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world has been ranked by the nation’s religion journalists as the top religion story of the year.

The June speech in Cairo, in which the president quoted from the Quran and said America will “never” be at war with Islam, was ranked as the No. 1 religion story by members of the Religion Newswriters Association.

Evangelical leader Rick Warren, whose invocation at Obama’s inauguration was greeted by protests from gay-rights groups, was named the 2009 Religion Newsmaker of the Year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Media, Religion & Culture

South Carolina State budget crisis deepens

South Carolina’s budget woes got even worse Tuesday when government spending was slashed by another 5 percent, leaving agency directors to decide between layoffs, employee furloughs and turning away the state’s downtrodden.

The Budget and Control Board voted 3-2 to cut $238.2 million from the state budget, which has fallen from $6.7 billion to $5.1 billion in less than two years.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Thomas Friedman on the Threat of Virtual Afghanistan

Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever threat the real Afghanistan poses to U.S. national security, the “Virtual Afghanistan” now poses just as big a threat. The Virtual Afghanistan is the network of hundreds of jihadist Web sites that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in jihad against America and the West. Whatever surge we do in the real Afghanistan has no chance of being a self-sustaining success, unless there is a parallel surge ”” by Arab and Muslim political and religious leaders ”” against those who promote violent jihadism on the ground in Muslim lands and online in the Virtual Afghanistan.

Last week, five men from northern Virginia were arrested in Pakistan, where they went, they told Pakistani police, to join the jihad against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They first made contact with two extremist organizations in Pakistan by e-mail in August. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday: “ ”˜Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online,’ a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official said. … ”˜Increasingly, recruiters are taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers because places like that are under scrutiny. So what these guys are doing is turning to the Internet,’ said Evan Kohlmann, a senior analyst with the U.S.-based NEFA Foundation, a private group that monitors extremist Web sites.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.

–Psalm 50:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture