Daily Archives: December 29, 2009

Hard Choice for a Comfortable Death: Sedation

Mr. Oltzik received what some doctors call palliative sedation and others less euphemistically call terminal sedation. While the national health coverage debate has been roiled by questions of whether the government should be paying for end-of-life counseling, physicians like Dr. Halbridge, in consultations with patients or their families, are routinely making tough decisions about the best way to die.

Among those choices is terminal sedation, a treatment that is already widely used, even as it vexes families and a profession whose paramount rule is to do no harm.

Doctors who perform it say it is based on carefully thought-out ethical principles in which the goal is never to end someone’s life, but only to make the patient more comfortable.

But the possibility that the process might speed death has some experts contending that the practice is, in the words of one much-debated paper, a form of “slow euthanasia,” and that doctors who say otherwise are fooling themselves and their patients.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Jeffrey Simpson: The stakes just got higher in our dealings with Iran

What has happened, however, makes next year more fraught with challenges and danger than ever in dealing with Iran.

First, Iran was caught (again) cheating and lying about its nuclear program, especially when U.S. and other intelligence agencies revealed a new undeclared uranium enrichment facility near Qom, an installation the Iranians had tried to keep secret. So persistent has been the Iranian policy of deceit and of on-again, off-again co-operation that Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, lost his legendary patience with Iran and denounced the country’s approach.

Second, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election was obviously a rigged affair. The result has been an even greater grip on government and the economy of the Revolutionary Guards and the special police, the Basij, both under the control of the Supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A mixture of political thuggery, institutionalized corruption, religious inflexibility and a morbid suspicion of the West now permeates the Iranian government.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

AP: Rhode Island football field fight highlights church-state issues

A fight over athletic fields in this city goes beyond who gets to play soccer where and raises thorny questions about separation of church and state and public aid to religious institutions ”” divisive issues that have flared repeatedly in heavily Catholic Rhode Island.

Parents of public school students accuse the city of favoring Saint Raphael Academy ”” a prominent Catholic school and alma mater of city and state power brokers ”” by granting its football team exclusive use of a public field. They say it’s unconstitutional to give a religious school priority access to a field meant for public use.

“It’s a long-standing and troublesome issue,” said Maggi Rogers, whose two children played tennis for a public high school here and is among the parents suing the city. “I have a strong belief in public education, and I know that public education suffers when public resources are diverted into private education.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents

We remember this day, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by the order of King Herod. Receive, we beseech thee, into the arms of thy mercy all innocent victims; and by thy great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish thy rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Washington Post: As college costs rise, loans become harder to get

When Daniel Ottalini entered the University of Maryland in 2004, his family had an array of choices to cover the cost — cheap student loans, a second mortgage at low rates, credit cards with high limits and their own soaring investments.

By the time his younger brother, Russell, started at the University of Pittsburgh this fall, the financial crisis had left the family with fewer options. Russell has had to juggle several jobs in school, and the money he could borrow came with a much higher interest rate that could climb even further over time.

The upheaval in financial markets did not just eliminate generous lending for home buyers; it also ended an era of easy credit for students and their families facing the soaring cost of a college degree.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Local Newspaper Editorial: Wake-up call on air terror

The attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 from the Netherlands as it prepared to land in Detroit on Christmas Day was mercifully aborted by good luck — and the brave intervention of Dutch passenger Jasper Schuringa and the flight’s crew. But while the incident had a happy ending, it raised a number of troubling issues, starting with the stunning failure of the U.S. terrorist watch program to identify the suspect in this case as a threat despite ample evidence.

The suspect’s father, a prominent and wealthy Nigerian banker, had warned U.S. officials about his son’s radical religious views (see Cal Thomas’ column on today’s Commentary page).

The London Times reports that in May the suspect was refused re-entry to Britain, where he had been a university student and resident until November 2008. The New York Times reports that the alleged bomber’s name was recently added to a list of people to be investigated for terrorist ties. That list has 550,000 names, whereas the list of people who must have additional screening at airports has only 13,000 names and the “no fly list” has only 4,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Terrorism, Travel

CEN: The Episcopal Church backs abortion funding

The Episcopal Church has endorsed a letter to members of the United States Senate endorsing taxpayer funding of abortions.

On Dec 4, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice released a letter endorsed by the Episcopal Church, Catholics for Choice and other liberal religious groups expressing their opposition to an amendment to the health care reform bill before Congress that would remove abortion funding from the proposed legislation.

“We believe that it is our social and moral obligation to ensure access to high quality comprehensive health care services at every stage in an individual’s life,” the RCRC letter said, noting that “affordable and accessible care for all” was “necessary for the well-being of all people in our nation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Theology

Notable and Quotable

Modern liberalism is both authoritarian and antinomian at the same time: it wants to use the hammer blows of the courts and other instruments of state power to achieve its ideals, which treat the human person as an abstraction.

R.R. Reno in the First Things blog First Thoughts.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

George Monbiot: US is culprit for Copenhagen failure but shifts blame to China

The last time global negotiations collapsed like this was in Doha in 2001. After the trade talks fell apart, the World Trade Organisation assured delegates that there was nothing to fear: they would move to Mexico, where a deal would be done. The negotiations ran into the sand of the Mexican resort of Cancun, never to re-emerge. After eight years of dithering, nothing has been agreed.

When the climate talks in Copenhagen ended in failure, Yvo de Boer, the man in charge of the process, urged us not to worry: everything will be sorted out ”in Mexico one year from now”. Is Mexico the diplomatic equivalent of the Pacific garbage patch – the place where failed negotiations go to die?

We can live without a new trade agreement; we can’t live without a new climate agreement. One of the failings of the people who have tried to mobilise support for a climate treaty is that we have made the issue too complicated. So here is the simplest summary I can produce of why this matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Climate Change, Weather, Denmark, Europe, Globalization

Collin Hansen: Counting down the events, debates, and books that shaped evangelical theology in 2009

Here is one:

5. Manhattan Declaration Prods Culture, Invites Pushback Despite disconcerting cultural trends, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox leaders united around a statement declaring their fidelity to biblical morality. But the Manhattan Declaration produced an unintended consequence by pitting allies against one another and reigniting a fierce debate over whether evangelicals should engage in ecumenical dialogue and joint social activism.

Guess the other nine and then check it out

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

Administration Won’t Estimate Total Losses of Fannie and Freddie

This is the culmination of an unprecedented policy disaster, inflicted on the American taxpayer by congressional supporters of Fannie and Freddie who refused over many years to approve new and tougher regulations for the two GSEs. Now that many of these folks are in charge of the House and Senate committees that deal with financial reform, they have suddenly found new respect for regulation and are trying to apply it to the entire financial system. Perhaps the American taxpayers, acting as voters in 2010, will decide that one disaster per career is all they should be allowed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Christianity Today: Top 10 News Stories of 2009

The events, people, and debates of the past year that have shaped, or will significantly shape, evangelical life, thought, or mission.

See how many you can guess before you look.

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

From the You Cannot Make This Stuff Up Department

In the nation’s capital, where $12.1 trillion of national debt looms and Democratic President Barack Obama’s projected 2010 budget shortfall is expected to hit $1.26 trillion, a bill is pending to establish up to $3,500 in annual tax deductions for the family pet.

The legislation is known as the HAPPY Act – Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years – and it has some support.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Economy, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes

Airline Bomb Suspect's Motives Baffle Family, Friends

“The father ”” Alhaji Umaru Mutallab ””- who is a responsible and respected Nigerian, has already expressed deep shock and regret over his son’s action,” Akunyili said. “We want to reiterate that Nigeria as a nation abhors all forms of terrorism. Nigerian security agencies are working hand in hand with international security agencies on this matter.”

In its statement today, Abdulmutallab’s family said that before cutting ties, the suspect had never displayed any behavior to give them concern. Mike Rimmer, his history teacher for three years at the exclusive British School of Lome in the west African nation of Togo, said he couldn’t believe his ears when he heard the news.

“I was absolutely shocked,” Rimmer said. “I was expecting great things from Umar. I certainly wasn’t expecting this. He was a great lad. He was a model student ”” very keen, very enthusiastic.”

Rimmer told the BBC that it hadn’t occurred to him then, but perhaps there were early signs that he had missed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Young Adults