Daily Archives: December 20, 2009

Catholic Herald: Get ready to be sued, Government Minister tells Christians

A government Minister has predicted that the Equality Bill will create a torrent of hostile legal actions against the Church.

Michael Foster, the Minister for Equalities, admitted that the legislation would open the floodgates to a tide of sexual and religious discrimination cases. He advised the Church to start preparing to defend itself in the court from such people as ideological secularists who seek to squeeze religion from the public sphere.

“Both sides [the Church and the secularists] need to be lining up [their lawyers] by now,” he told journalists. “Government is used to the fact that its legislation should be challenged. People feel very strongly about these issues. We can’t do anything about this and we wouldn’t want to.”

He added: “I would like to see the churches being more bold. I would like to see the faith groups stand up and be counted for what they think and to challenge secularism, if that’s what they want to challenge. The secularists should have the right to challenge the Church and if the Church’s argument is good enough ”“ which I believe it is ”“ then the Church should win through.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Much progress made, but many challenges face a post-genocide Rwanda

It’s almost unimaginable.

Fifteen years ago, Rwandans killed nearly 1 million of their own.

Today, the country’s economy is starting to pick up steam. Tourism has become the top industry. Residents acknowledge the genocide, but go about their business. Some live doors away from the person who killed their family members.

Contradictions pervade Rwanda as the government tries to pull off ambitious plans to modernize the nation with an eco-friendly economy. This country, where a collection of Iowans is investing expertise, money and passion, appears poised to become one of Africa’s great success stories, but the view on the ground shows it won’t be easy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Rwanda, Violence

Obama Camp Predicts Health Bill Will Pass Soon

David Axelrod, an adviser to President Barack Obama, predicted health-care legislation would pass “soon,” after Senate Democrats on Saturday secured the 60 votes needed to clear a path for quick Senate passage of the measure.

“We’re right on the one-yard line” with Senate Democrats reaching a deal, Mr. Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union” which aired Sunday. “I believe this is going to happen soon”¦. People understand we’re on the doorstep of doing something really historic that will help the American people and strengthen our country for the long run.”

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid secured the pivotal 60th vote after a late-night deal on abortion coverage locked in the support of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. The agreement capped weeks of negotiations aimed at building consensus on the White House-backed initiative.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Negotiating to 60 Votes, Compromise by Compromise

Thirty million people without health insurance stand to gain coverage under a deal announced on Saturday by Senate Democrats.

To get the 60 votes needed to pass their bill, Democrats scrapped the idea of a government-run public insurance plan, cherished by liberals, and replaced it with a proposal for nationwide health plans, which would be offered by private insurers under contract with the government.

The legislation also includes a proposal that would limit insurance coverage of abortion. The provision, which was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place, was negotiated by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to win the support of Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who is an opponent of abortion.

Under the agreement, states could choose to prohibit abortion coverage in the insurance markets, or exchanges, where most health plans would be sold.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Senate

Martyn Drakard: Is an Anglican schism in the offing?

We are about to enter the second decade of the third millennium. In ten years’ time, shall we find the world-wide Anglican Communion still one, or broken up into a group of splinter churches?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

Sunday Times: Police expect Mumbai-style terror attack on City of London

Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack on the capital.

In a briefing in the City of London 12 days ago, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said: “Mumbai is coming to London.”

The detective said companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices”.

The warning ”” the bluntest issued by police ”” has underlined an assessment that a terrorist cell may be preparing an attack on London early next year.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Terrorism

Traditionalist Anglicans in Scotland celebrate Christmas

Traditionalist Anglicans in Scotland are setting up a new community in Edinburgh. This is being made possible because of a generous offer from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh to provide a place of worship for their first service this Christmas Eve.

Canon Len Black, Regional Dean of Forward in Faith Scotland, the organisation which represents orthodox Anglicans world-wide, said, “This move has come about because of the rapid drift of the Scottish Episcopal Church away from the traditional faith, morals and practices of the universal Church. We are most grateful to Cardinal Keith O’Brien for the generosity he has shown us in making a place of worship available, not just for Christmas but in the months ahead, as we seek to serve those Episcopalians who look to us for spiritual and sacramental support.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, England / UK, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church

Christian Century Book Recommendations: Theology

See what you make of their list.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Theology

SMH: Controversial New Zealand billboard by Anglican Parish removed

AN INNER-CITY Auckland church, trying to promote debate over Christianity, has given up on a controversial billboard which made international headlines.

The billboard, featuring a dejected Joseph and a quizzical Mary in bed, with the message, ”Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow”, has been attacked four times since it was erected outside the Anglican church on Thursday.

After the latest attack, by an elderly woman with a knife, the church said the billboard would not be replaced.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Media

AP: Abortion coverage battle on health bill continues

A Senate compromise toughening abortion restrictions drew criticism from activists on both sides of the issue Saturday, prolonging rather than settling the controversy as Democrats try and complete work on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Critics included Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, who said the compromise is “light years removed” from the restrictions in the House bill and creates a series of new problems. Johnson warned that the new Senate language would not pass in the House, where anti-abortion Democrats control a crucial bloc of votes.

On the other side of the divide, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the deal “unacceptable” and said it was “outrageous” that senators would accept it. It would create too many hurdles for women seeking coverage of a legal medical procedure, she complained.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics

ENS: Anglican covenant sent to provinces for consideration, adoption

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury

Jonathan Sacks: Thank God for the Courage to live with uncertainty

As the new year approaches, with the recession still in force, I find myself giving thanks to God for all the things that cost nothing and are worth everything.

I thank Him for the love that has filled our home for so many years. Life is never easy. We’ve had our share of pain. But through it all we discovered the love that brings new life into the world, allowing us to share in the miracle of birth and the joy of seeing our children grow.

I thank Him for the blessing of grandchildren. I don’t know why it is I was so surprised by joy, but in their company my constant thought is that I didn’t know that life could be that good. I thank Him for the friends who stood by us in tough times, for the mentors who believed in me more than I believed in myself, and for the teachers who encouraged me to think and question, teaching me the difference between truth and mere intellectual fashion.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Remembering Their Sacrifice During the Holidays

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

LA Times–Climate summit ends with major questions: 'Breakthrough' or 'cop-out'?

An international climate summit officially ended here today with an agreement among the world’s largest economies to take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, no formal consensus from the 193 nations present, and major questions over what comes next in the global negotiating process.

Conference attendees merely acknowledged — and did not vote to adopt — the so-called Copenhagen Accord, which stemmed from an eleventh-hour deal cut Friday evening between President Obama and leaders of four fast-growing nations.

Obama had hailed the deal as an “unprecedented breakthrough” in climate talks, but it was denounced by critics as too weak to avert the harshest effects of global warming.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Climate Change, Weather, Denmark, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Globalization

Bloomberg: Senate Bill Boosts Medicare Taxes, Drops Plastic Surgery Levy

The U.S. Senate’s health-care overhaul plan would almost double a proposed increase in Medicare payroll taxes for high-earners and impose a new tax on indoor tanning, replacing an earlier levy on plastic surgery.

The new version of the bill announced today by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid contains a 0.9 percentage-point increase in the Medicare tax for individuals who earn more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. The increase would start in 2013.

That would generate $86.8 billion over six years, up from about $50 billion that would have been generated by an earlier proposed increase of 0.5 percentage point. Those affected would pay a Medicare tax rate of 2.35 percent, while their employers would continue to pay 1.45 percent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government