Daily Archives: January 17, 2010

Morality offers solutions without impeding progress, says pope

Christian moral values do not infringe upon freedom and scientific research; rather they offer honest, concrete answers to biomedical questions facing the world today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In today’s secularized world, many people consider religion to be a series of “prejudices that reject any objective understanding of reality” and that hinder freedom and scientific progress, he said in a speech Jan. 15 to members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who were having their plenary meeting at the Vatican.

The common mentality today, however, “tends to substitute truth with consensus, which is fragile and easily manipulated,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Google denies leaving China, seeks negotiations

Google Inc enters a second week of high stakes brinkmanship with China’s government, amid speculation the firm has decided to pull out of the world’s biggest Internet market over cyber-spying concerns.

Google, the world’s most popular search engine, said last week it was thinking about quitting China after suffering a sophisticated cyber-attack on its network that resulted in theft of its intellectual property.

The company has said it is no longer willing to filter content on its Chinese language google.cn engine, and will try to negotiate a legal unfiltered search engine, or exit the market.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

Bloomberg: Health Bill Can Pass Senate With 51 Votes, Van Hollen Says

Even if Democrats lose the Jan. 19 special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator, Congress may still pass a health-care overhaul by using a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.

That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.

“Even before Massachusetts and that race was on the radar screen, we prepared for the process of using reconciliation,” said Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Getting health-care reform passed is important,” Van Hollen said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “Reconciliation is an option.”

Read it all.

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

Congratulations to the Saints and the Colts

Both won convincingly in yesterday’s NFL playoff games.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Charles Krauthammer–One year out: President Obama's fall

It’s inherently risky for any charismatic politician to legislate. To act is to choose and to choose is to disappoint the expectations of many who had poured their hopes into the empty vessel — of which candidate Obama was the greatest representative in recent American political history.

Obama did not just act, however. He acted ideologically. To his credit, Obama didn’t just come to Washington to be someone. Like Reagan, he came to Washington to do something — to introduce a powerful social democratic stream into America’s deeply and historically individualist polity.

Perhaps Obama thought he’d been sent to the White House to do just that. If so, he vastly over-read his mandate. His own electoral success — twinned with handy victories and large majorities in both houses of Congress — was a referendum on his predecessor’s governance and the post-Lehman financial collapse. It was not an endorsement of European-style social democracy.

Hence the resistance. Hence the fall. The system may not always work, but it does take its revenge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Intrade on the Special Massachusetts Election for Senate: Will the Democrat Win?

Price for Winner of Massachusetts Special Election (to replace Ted Kennedy) at intrade.com

The last price (at present) is 47, -14 on the day.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Senate

All Eyes on Haiti: An Interview With Cardinal Cordes of Cor Unum

ZENIT: What is the immediate need?

Cardinal Cordes: Every natural catastrophe is unique, but our long experience of previous disasters (e.g. Tsunami, Katrina) shows two distinct phases:

— Short-term: manpower is needed to save lives, provide the basic necessities (water, food, shelter, prevention of disease), restore order;

— Long-term: reconstruction, offering spiritual and psychological help, especially when media attention fades away.

Benedict XVI has called on all people of good will to be generous and concrete in their response in order to meet the immediate needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in Haiti (General Audience, Jan. 13, 2010). It is important that we are giving tangible help through the charitable agencies of the Catholic Church. Much is being organized and encouraged in this regard throughout the world.

For example, the episcopal conference of Italy has set Jan. 24 as a day of prayer and charity for the people of Haiti. The national embassies to the Holy See are organizing the sacrifice of the Holy Mass to be offered for our suffering brothers and sisters. We must remember to intercede through prayer and not only money for the suffering of Haiti.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Sarah Dylan Breuer argues for sequential ordination (first deacon, then priest)

The argument for direct ordination meets its biggest challenge, I think, on grounds of tradition, which are strong. In contrast, “it works for me” is prone to counter-examples of “it doesn’t work for me,” “this other way could work for me,” and “if transitional ordination is your call, that’s great, but it isn’t mine.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Savannah Morning News Profiles the Bishop-elect of Georgia: 'A different way of being Christian'

Throughout his career as an Episcopal priest, [Scott] Benhase has entered parishes in which a heated issue has members at odds.

Bridging the spiritual divide requires patience, he said.

“When we’re in dilemmas, the worst thing we can do is try to force a resolution before one appears,” Benhase said. “I think God’s m.o. (modus operandi) and the holy spirit’s m.o. throughout this for the church is that if we remain faithful and stay together and bare one another’s burdens long enough, the holy spirit almost always has a tendency to provide a way forward.”

Soon, the Ohio native will apply that strategy on a larger scale.

On Jan. 23, Benhase will be consecrated as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia in a formal ceremony taking place at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

Jillayne Schlicke: The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is Interviewing the Wrong People

If the Commission really does want to learn WHO knew what, when, then they’re interviewing the wrong people.

They need to interview the line workers. Mortgage loan processors, managers, escrow closers, underwriters from the banks, private mortgage insurance companies as well as wholesale lending, loan servicing default and loss mitigation workers and even consumers. Seasoned mortgage industry veterans who have proof in the form of saved memos or emails, that they informed senior management of the red flags, predatory lending, and the insane relaxation of underwriting guidelines that started to pop up as early as 2001 and 2002 yet were ignored or whose concerns were dismissed.

I am willing to bet that if the commission opened up a public comment period for testimony, they would have all the evidence they need to prove all these hoocoodanode banksters definitely did know but their own pay and bonus structure set up an external incentive to keep the dice rolling. Who wants to be a Debbie Downer CEO and be the first banker to take away the punch bowl when the money party is still going full on? Anyone? Anyone”¦Buehler?

Read it all (hat tip: Calculated Risk).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government

Mort Zuckerman: How to Get Americans Working Again

There is no silver lining to the dark cloud that has enveloped America. A slight decline in the rate of job losses at the end of last year, coupled with a rise in the gross domestic product, gave hope that we were at the beginning of a sustained recovery from the Great Recession. The December jobs report has doused that hope.

Unemployment has graduated from being a difficulty, a headache, a setback, a worry. Now it is nothing less than a catastrophe. The true measure of it is that nearly a million Americans have become so demoralized that they are no longer even trying to find work. No fewer than 929,000 men and women who want a job haven’t looked in the past year. That is nearly 50 percent more than the number who felt it was a hopeless quest a year ago (642,000 in 2008). With 15.3 million out of work in the longest and deepest downturn in our economy since the Great Depression, the unemployment rate managed to hold at 10 percent in December only because of an extraordinary shrinkage in the labor force: Some 661,000 gave up their searches for work. (Job losses totaled 85,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ nonfarm payroll data; the bureau’s household survey indicated a loss of 589,000 jobs.)

Roughly 40 percent of the unemployed, or a total of 6.1 million, have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. The average period of unemployment exceeds 26 weeks, the highest level in postwar history; the previous peak, in July 1983, was just 21.2 weeks. The better and more comprehensive measure of both the unemployed and underemployed, the household survey, edged up to 17.3 percent, up from 8.4 percent two years ago and just a shade below the all-time record.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Google Users in China Fear Losing Important Tool

At the elite Tsinghua University here, some students were joking Friday that they had better download all the Internet information they wanted now in case Google left the country.

But to many of the young, well-educated Chinese who are Google’s loyal users here, the company’s threat to leave is in fact no laughing matter. Interviews in Beijing’s downtown and university district indicated that many viewed the possible loss of Google’s maps, translation service, sketching software, access to scholarly papers and search function with real distress.

“How am I going to live without Google?” asked Wang Yuanyuan, a 29-year-old businessman, as he left a convenience store in Beijing’s business district.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology