Daily Archives: May 20, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury's CARA Lecture

The academic refugee is not of course invariably a victim of direct persecution because of his or her convictions; but it is clear from the records of the thirties that racial repression was inseparable from ideological repression ”“ as it is clear from experience today that in so many countries the life of academic institutions is deeply vulnerable to political pressure, so that scholars of the ‘wrong’ ethnic group or political allegiance cannot assume that they are safe in their work even if that work is not openly critical of government. The conviction that a healthy and workable society is one in which all groups and individuals have access to public discussion of the public good, and that this entails patience with the expression of diverse perspectives and aspirations, is not universally shared. There are places where it is openly denied and at least as many where it is affirmed in public rhetoric and denied in practice. It is denied by the kind of policies that prevailed in Germany and its satellites in the 1930’s, by the extraordinary abuses of psychiatric medicine to suppress dissent in the USSR in the sixties and seventies, by any regime in which populist pressure, religious or racial, sometimes both, drives government decisions about what can be safely said in public.

But in another sense, it is denied by the sheer facts of a context where the state is either powerless in restraining violence or complicit in it, so that murderous disruption goes unchecked, both urban disorder and communal strife. A substantial number of those who are now recipients of the assistance offered by CARA are less likely than at some past periods to be victims of openly ideological persecution ”“ though this is not unknown: there have been and still are places like Afghanistan under Taliban rule where anything resembling dissident opinion, even in imaginative literature, was prohibited. The most urgent presenting problems seem to be belonging to the wrong ethnic or territorial group (as in Nazi Germany years ago and in parts of Africa and Asia today) and, very significantly, defending the rule of law in such a way that a regime is challenged. The exposure of abuse within legal systems is ”“ as many here tonight know all too well ”“ a major area of mortal risk. Any intellectual in flight from such environments as these acts as a forcible reminder of what human society looks like when the life of the mind is seen as a luxury at best and a threat at worst.

So the refugee intellectual brings into our insular discussion the knowledge that justice is vulnerable and has to be defended against the silencing of discussion and the silencing of particular classes or racial groupings. It is not something that steadily emerges into light as reason advances through the course of history. And there are two interconnected issues that come into focus as a result of this recognition. One is about the need to sustain a culture in which genuine and strong disagreements over the shape of the ‘good’ society are given space to unfold and interact ”“ the need for a robust public intellectual life, supported by a university culture which is not simply harnessed to productivity and problem-solving.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK

Nicholas Kristof–Poverty and the Pill

Here in Kinshasa, we met Emilie Lunda, 25, who had nearly died during childbirth a few days earlier. Doctors saved her life, but her baby died. And she is still recuperating in a hospital and doesn’t know how she will pay the bill.

“I didn’t want to get pregnant,” Emilie told us here in the Congolese capital. “I was afraid of getting pregnant.” But she had never heard of birth control.

In rural parts of Congo Republic, the other Congo to the north, we found that even when people had heard of contraception, they often regarded it as unaffordable.

Most appalling, all the clinics and hospitals we visited in Congo Republic said that they would sell contraceptives only to women who brought their husbands in with them to prove that the husband accepted birth control.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Children, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Women

BBC–'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium’s “genetic software” and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species “dictated” by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Richard Cross–Does Celibacy Contribute to Clerical Sex Abuse?

The John Jay Report indicated that 4.0% of all priests in the US between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of sexual abuse of a minor. This datum, and the numerous commentaries surrounding the horrific news of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, have been cited as evidence against the discipline of celibacy in the Roman Catholic clergy. Prominent psychotherapists, such as Richard Sipe, have argued that celibacy has been a factor contributing to criminal sexual conduct by clerics over the last half-century. Even Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna recently suggested that the issue of priestly celibacy should not be ignored in discussions of the sex-abuse scandals in Europe.

The argument against priestly celibacy– the argument that celibacy is a contributing factor in sexual abuse– has never been examined in the context of statistics showing abuse rates in other clerical populations that do not require celibacy. Such a comparison between clergy populations is critical, because if celibacy were a major factor in the abuse over the last half-century, then one would expect to see much lower abuse rates in the clergy of other communions. If on the contrary celibacy were unrelated (or even a safeguard against abuse) then the other clergy groups would likely show comparable or even higher levels of abuse.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

FT–Europeans scramble to restore unity

Europe’s leaders scrambled to restore unity in the face of the sovereign debt crisis after Germany dismayed allies with a unilateral ban on naked short selling.

The ban, introduced with no warning to other European nations, knocked global stock markets and sent the euro tumbling to fresh four-year lows against the dollar. An unrepentant Angela Merkel, German chancellor, told parliament in Berlin on Wednesday that the eurozone crisis was the greatest test for the European Union since its creation.

“It is a question of survival,” she said. “The euro is in danger. If the euro fails, then Europe fails. If we succeed, Europe will be stronger.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Germany, Greece, The Banking System/Sector

Hospital Attracts Patients With Doctor 'Speed Dating'

In a room that looks like a cafe with colorful tablecloths and vases of lilies, speed dating is about to begin.

But the 20 people attending this Tuesday afternoon rendezvous aren’t looking for romance. The Dallas-area hospital running the event hopes to hook up people needing doctors with physicians looking for new patients. It’s a tool hospital administrators use to recruit doctors ”” critical drivers of revenue ”” and consumers.

Physicians and parents pair off for five minutes, then rotate into new conversations.

Read or listen to it all. I caught this via podcast on the morning run–had no idea it was going on–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine

Study: Boeing will mean billions to South Carolina's Economy

A study says South Carolina’s new Boeing Co. plant will mean about $6 billion a year to the state economy, once it’s up and operating.

The study released Thursday was compiled by Harry Miley. The Columbia economist was chief economic adviser to the late Gov. Carroll Campbell.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

RNS–Evangelicals Call for Prison-rape Reforms

Evangelicals are calling on the Obama administration to enact long-promised prison reforms, saying the incarcerated deserve protection from violence and rape.

In 2003, former president George W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which aimed to lower the estimated 13 percent of inmates sexually assaulted each year.

The bill called for the Department of Justice to research prison rape and requires prisons to establish prevention programs.

Now, the National Association of Evangelicals is urging the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission to follow up on the standards proposed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Prison/Prison Ministry, Violence

CEN–”˜A split would be better than this squabbling,’ say some Anglican leaders

A split in the Anglican Communion would be better than constant squabbling over sexuality, British Anglican leaders believe. In the wake of the Episcopal Church consecrating the Rev Mary Glasspool last Saturday, the prevalent mood is that decisive action is needed from the Archbishop of Canterbury. ”˜Sitting on the fence’ will only prolong the fallout, leaders warn.

Ms Glasspool, 56, was ordained as assistant Los Angeles bishop and is the first homosexual woman bishop to be ordained in the USA. She will work alongside Diane Jardine Brice, who was consecrated the same day. They will serve LA Bishop J Jon Bruno. A statement from the UK LGBT Anglican Coalition said it welcomed the consecrations. “We rejoice that two more women will become bishops in the Anglican Communion. We send them our congratulations and welcome them as bishops with the many gifts that each will bring to the Church.”

Speaking to the CEN, the coalition’s spokesperson, Rev Canon Giles Goddard, said the dispute over homosexuality was damaging the Church. “I hope that we are making progress and I hope that it won’t be long before we can get past this argument and get back to preaching love and justice.” He added: “However, it maybe that some people in the communion will never accept the diversity of practice in the Anglican Communion.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(London) Times: Euro in danger: Germans trigger panic over future of single currency

Shocked European ministers are preparing for emergency talks to shore up the euro after markets fell in reaction to panic measures in Germany.

Angela Merkel stunned EU capitals by warning that the euro was in danger and triggered fears of a fresh financial meltdown by announcing a ban on risky trading practices by speculators. The German Chancellor’s actions opened up new cracks in the single currency, drawing sharp criticism from France and prompting Brussels to issue an appeal for unity.

Shares in London plunged by nearly 3 per cent, with similar falls in Paris, Berlin and Madrid. The euro plummeted to a new low against the dollar before making a slight recovery.

European finance ministers, who have just hammered out a massive rescue plan for Greece, will hear controversial calls from Germany at a meeting tomorrow for changes to the Lisbon treaty to give Brussels powers to co-ordinate national budgets.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Germany, Greece, Politics in General

Pakistan blocks YouTube in ”˜sacrilege’ row

Pakistan blocked access to YouTube today because of “growing sacrilegious content” on the video-sharing website. It is the latest twist in an escalating international row over Islam and freedom of speech online.

The move came a day after the Pakistani Government responded to a court order by temporarily blocking Facebook over a page advertising a contest to draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Everyone Draw Muhammad Day page and several spin-offs invite users to send in caricatures of the Prophet today ”“ infuriating many Muslims who regard any image of him as blasphemous.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority did not say specifically which material on YouTube was deemed sacrilegious, but there are several clips relating to Everyone Draw Muhammad Day.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Pakistan

Toughest test comes after graduation: Getting a job

This past Sunday, hundreds of Siena College graduates donned lightweight black gowns and placed tasseled caps on their heads for their 9:45 a.m. commencement.

Given the bleak national outlook for post-collegiate hiring, perhaps they should have suited up in sturdier combat attire: They and their fellow graduates nationwide face a fierce battle just to secure a job interview, let alone full-time employment.

About 2.4 million students will graduate with bachelor’s and associates degrees as part of the Class of 2010, says the National Center for Education Statistics.

Those job-seekers will go head-to-head not only with fellow classmates but also with laid-off workers, financially strapped retirees and still-unemployed 2009 and 2008 grads. There are more than five job seekers for every opening, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures analyzed by outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Young Adults

AP: Women protest as French Cabinet gets veil ban bill

One runs her own company, another is a housewife and a third, a divorcee, raises her children by herself. Like nearly 2,000 other Muslim women who freely wear face-covering veils anywhere in France, their lives will soon change and they are worried.

On Wednesday, French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie presented a draft law to the Cabinet banning Muslim veils that cover the face, the first formal step in a process to forbid such attire in all public places in France. It calls for euro150 ($185) fines and, in some cases, citizenship classes for women who run afoul of the law.

“Citizenship should be experienced with an uncovered face,” President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Cabinet meeting, in remarks released by his office. “There can be no other solution but a ban in all public places.”

Although the Interior Ministry estimates there are only 1,900 women who cover their faces with veils, the planned law would be another defining moment for Islam in France as the nation tries to bring its Muslim population ”” at least 5 million, the largest in western Europe ”” into the mainstream, even by force of law.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Women

USA Today–Hurricane season may make spill worse

As hurricane season looms, forecasters, scientists and residents along the Gulf Coast worry that a major storm could make the oil spill worse.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a hurricane, or a succession of them, may bring oil up from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico and then push it ashore. Forecasters say a season with multiple storms could send oil farther inland and spread it as far as Cape Hatteras, N.C.

“To think a storm surge could resuscitate a huge sum of oil (from the deep) and deposit it on land is truly catastrophic,” says Joe Jaworski, mayor of Galveston, Texas, a city hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Energy, Natural Resources, Weather

Kagan, abortion, and the Supreme Court’s coming moment of truth on Roe v. Wade

Abortion, as always, will be one of the most contentious issues in the upcoming confirmation hearings over President Obama’s nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for a position on the US Supreme Court.

The hearings come just weeks after the Nebraska legislature passed the strictest abortion laws in the country when it prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This new law will probably be challenged in court, and proponents of the measure hope that the Supreme Court will eventually agree to take the case and use the opportunity to redefine life.

However, instead of simply redefining life once again, the court should consider what happened with segregation as a model for acting on the abortion debate.

In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that states could ban some abortions because they “have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman [and] still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology