Daily Archives: February 11, 2010

College gender gap has far-reaching consequences

As colleges nationwide review freshman applications over the next several weeks, many will face lopsided numbers of male and female candidates. Some colleges maintain a gender balance, but national data in recent years show a 57%-43% split favoring women, both in enrollments and graduation rates. Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail and a former USA TODAY editorial writer, talks to reporter Mary Beth Marklein about how we got there, why we should care, and what should be done about it.

Q: Why do boys fail, and how do we turn that around?

A: The reforms launched by the nation’s governors more than 20 years ago to get more students college-ready had an unintended consequence: Most girls adjusted nicely to the intensified verbal skills demanded in the early grades; most boys didn’t. We have to figure out a way to keep boys on track with reading and writing skills. Boys are failing because the world has gotten more verbal and they haven’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Men, Women, Young Adults

Notable and Quotable (II)

Of the 30-odd attempted terrorist plots against the United States or American installations abroad that have been foiled since 9/11, roughly a third have been uncovered in the past year alone. What is new, and particularly frightening, about these recent attempts is that the budding perpetrators were initially indoctrinated inside the United States, with help from extremist websites or Islamic preachers. It was only after they had been brought some ways along the road to holy war that at least some of these would-be jihadists sought training and logistical support from al-Qaeda and others overseas. . . .

While they come from diverse ethnic and regional backgrounds, most of the men involved in homegrown plots fit a similar profile: they are middle class and well-educated. The same can be said of many, if not most, Islamist terrorists, whether it be the son of the former Nigerian finance minister who attempted to bring down a plane on Christmas Day near Detroit; the seven British doctors (and one medical technician) who plotted to carry out car bombings in 2007; or Osama bin Laden himself, whose family operates a massive construction empire worth billions of dollars. This reality contradicts the trendy, post-9/11 contention, as wrong then as it is now, that terrorism is caused by poverty.

–James Kirchick, “The Homegrown Terrorist Threat,” Commentary (February 2010), pp.17-18

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

Notable and Quotable (I)

…What`s so interesting at the same time is that what I think people…find so jarring about Omar Hammami is how familiar he is. When most people think about jihadists, they have this image of these people who are alien, otherworldly….People you can`t imagine knowing, who are at odds with the West. And Omar Hammami just turns that on his head, because he`s really straddling the divide. And not just him, but also a lot of these guys from Minneapolis. They get to Somalia and they continue to maintain contact with their friends and family via Facebook, via cell phones, via e-mail. All of the tools — this is a new generation, this is a generation that has come of age with the Internet. And so they remain connected to this wider modern world, while at the same time embracing this vision of utopia that goes back centuries. And while also seeing America as the enemy. And so, it`s the juxtaposition of those two things that I think people find so alarming, especially with Hammami, because, I mean, he could be the kid next door. For a lot of people who grew up with him, he is the kid next door. So he brings this home.

–Andrea Elliott of the New York Times in a recent Charlie Rose interview

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Other Faiths, Somalia, Terrorism

Catholic and Anglican bishops say Sri Lankan elections broke laws

The recent presidential elections in Sri Lanka violated democratic boundaries through “willful violations” of election laws and did not address the concerns of the Tamil minority, Catholic and Anglican bishops in the country have said in a joint statement.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a landslide victory over former army chief Sarath Foneska in January’s “acrimonious” elections, according to Caritas. The election followed the government victory over the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels.

Since the elections, Foneska has been arrested, parliament has been dissolved and parliamentary elections have been called for April. Riots have occurred in the capital and a journalist has disappeared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sri Lanka

Vancouver Tries To Polish 'Skid Road' For Olympics

The Winter Olympics tends to be heavy on glitz and fanfare, but this year much of the pageantry is taking place unusually close to one of the bleakest neighborhoods in North America.

Vancouver’s “Skid Road” is just a few blocks from the site of Friday’s opening ceremony, and the host city has found that proximity awkward, to say the least.

East Hastings Street is the main drag of a neighborhood often referred to as “Canada’s poorest postal code.” But it’s not just poverty that sets this area apart.

“It’s where a lot of people get their drugs; it’s a lot of dealing around here,” says Tillman Doiron, who lives nearby.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Sports

Google to launch turbo-speed Internet trials

Google, the world’s biggest online search engine, wants to turbocharge your Internet connection.

The company said Wednesday it is getting into the broadband service business with trials for fiber networks that will deliver Internet access speeds that are 100 times faster than what most Americans are getting today.

With its announcement, the Internet juggernaut added to a fast-growing list of industries it has barreled its way through. Tuesday, it announced a social networking feature directly aimed at Facebook. Late last year, it got into the cellphone business with a smartphone to rival Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry. The list goes on: The book, music, video, newspaper and map businesses have all been shaken by Google’s steady march to place its marker on those industries for the Web.

Read it all.

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

CSM–Change in Pakistan requires respect, reconciliation, and religious freedom

Victory or defeat in Afghanistan will be determined by how the United States engages Pakistan this year.

In particular, the US counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan hinges on whether or not the “Afghan Taliban,” a Pashtun movement, maintains sanctuary and support from outside the country.

Currently, the Pakistani government is not denying that sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban, or the “Pakistan Taliban” (also Pashtun). I spent 10 days last month in Islamabad and Peshawar speaking with leaders from across society, including those with direct access to the Taliban.

Conversations revealed that there are three things that the US must understand in order to end the Taliban insurgencies on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border: respect, reconciliation, and religious freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

An ENS Story on the Church of England general Synod Debate on the ACNA Motion

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

In pictures: New 9/11 photos released

Important viewing I think.

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

Reuters–Church of England laments drop in religious TV programmes

he Church of England voted on Wednesday to express “deep concern” about a drop in religious programmes on British television but drew back from solely targeting the BBC for criticism.

The Church’s General Synod, or parliament, had been asked by one of its members to pinpoint the publicly funded BBC for marginalising religion and treating religious shows on its non-core channels as “freak shows..”

But the Synod instead voted on an amendment which expressed its “deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

Living Church– Bishop Stanton: Dallas ”˜Not Leaving Anything’

Historian Robert Prichard of Virginia Theological Seminary described General Convention’s call, in the early 20th century, for more business-like models of management, which led to organizing dioceses into provinces; changing the Presiding Bishop from the longest-serving bishop to an elected executive; and establishing a national council, now known as Executive Council.

Dr. Prichard noted that The Living Church was the first publication, in response to those changes, to apply the courtesy title “the Most Rev.,” normally reserved for archbishops, to the Presiding Bishop.

The 20th century also led to greater ties with the Anglican Communion, Dr. Prichard said, including the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Stephen Bayne as the first executive officer of what is now the Anglican Communion Office.

The Episcopal Church’s two major trends of the 20th century ”” greater centralization and stronger ties with the Anglican Communion ”” are now at odds with each other, Dr. Prichard said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

ABC Nightline: March of the Penguins

I caught this one on yesterday morning’s run–really wonderful stuff.

Update: There is also a penguin slideshow here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources

"Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity" by Robert Gagnon

It is worth a careful look.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Judith Maltby–Synod: messy, imperfect, but ours

Years ago I was visiting friends in the Episcopal Church in the United States. The diocese had just elected a new a bishop and my friend had been an elector in the House of Laity of the diocesan synod. What did he think of the new man? I asked. “Well”, he said, “he’s a bit of jerk but he’s our jerk”. This layman, in other words, responded like a grown-up, taking responsibility for decisions and acknowledging his accountability.

In the Church of England, unlike most of the Anglican Communion, we do not elect our bishops, but we are governed by a synodical structure in which the three “estates” of the church are represented in three houses: laity, clergy and bishops. This model is replicated in every diocese as well. That it is a cumbersome and often frustrating decision-making system is beyond dispute. What is less acknowledged is that lay participation and a (somewhat) democratic authority is nothing new and has been inherent in our structures since at least the Reformation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Iran to Suspend Google's Email

Iran’s telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.’s email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out.

It wasn’t clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Gmail services in Iran, or even if Iran had implemented its new policy. Iranian officials have claimed technological advances in the past that they haven’t been able to execute.

Google didn’t have an immediate comment about the announcement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Iraq, Middle East