Daily Archives: July 24, 2010

Britain Plans to Decentralize National Health Care

Perhaps the only consistent thing about Britain’s socialized health care system is that it is in a perpetual state of flux, its structure constantly changing as governments search for the elusive formula that will deliver the best care for the cheapest price while costs and demand escalate.

Even as the new coalition government said it would make enormous cuts in the public sector, it initially promised to leave health care alone. But in one of its most surprising moves so far, it has done the opposite, proposing what would be the most radical reorganization of the National Health Service, as the system is called, since its inception in 1948.

Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Wales Online: American woman bishop visits Wales

Women should be represented at all levels of the church, the most powerful Anglican in the US has said during a visit to Wales.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has been a personal guest of Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan, whose conviction that church leadership should not be a male-only preserve she shares.

The US church’s support for bishops in homosexual relationships has sparked conflict with traditionalists and the communion, which has adherents in more than 160 countries, is threatened with schism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Gregory Mankiw: Crisis Economics

The administration’s second assumption, meanwhile, is a matter of academic theories about the sizes of the relevant economic multipliers. Textbook Keynesian economics tells us that government-purchases multipliers are larger than tax-cut multipliers. And, as we have seen, the Obama administration’s economic team consulted these standard models in deciding that spending would be significantly more effective than tax cuts.

But a great deal of recent economic evidence calls that conclusion into question. In an ironic twist, one key piece comes from Christina Romer, who is now chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. About six months before she took the job, Romer teamed up with her husband and fellow Berkeley economist David Romer to write a paper (“The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes”) that sought to measure the influence of tax policy on GDP. Crucial to the Romers’ method was their effort to identify changes in tax policy made during times of relative economic stability, and driven by a desire to influence economic behavior or activity (to encourage growth, say, or reduce a deficit), rather than those changes made in response to a recession or crisis. By studying such “exogenous” tax-policy changes, the Romers could be more confident that they were in fact measuring the effects of taxes and not those of extraneous conditions.

The Romers’ conclusion, which is at odds with most traditional Keynesian analysis, was that the tax multiplier was 3 ”” in other words, that every dollar spent on tax cuts would boost GDP by $3. This would mean that the tax multiplier is roughly three times larger than Obama’s advisors assumed it was during their policy simulations.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

NY Times' Florence Journal: A Museum Display of Galileo Has a Saintly Feel

The Galileo case is often seen starkly as science’s first decisive blow against not only faith but also the power of the Roman Catholic Church. It has never been quite that simple, though. Galileo was a believer, devastated at being convicted, in 1633, of heresy for upending the biblical view of the universe.

Now a particularly enduring Catholic practice is on prominent display in, of all places, Florence’s history of science museum, recently renovated and renamed to honor Galileo: Modern-day supporters of the famous heretic are exhibiting newly recovered bits of his body ”” three fingers and a gnarly molar sliced from his corpse nearly a century after he died ”” as if they were the relics of an actual saint.

“He’s a secular saint, and relics are an important symbol of his fight for freedom of thought,” said Paolo Galluzzi, the director of the Galileo Museum, which put the tooth, thumb and index finger on view last month, uniting them with another of the scientist’s digits already in its collection.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, History, Italy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Derek Thompson: This Ain't Your Granpa's Debt

When budget experts take our debt’s temperature, the statistic they rely on is the debt to GDP ratio. Like banks or families, richer countries can borrow more, safely.

Now take a look at the graph of debt-to-GDP throughout American history below. If you draw a straight line across the picture at 30 percent, you touch some of the most wrenching periods in American history: 1) The American Revolution; 2) The Civil War; 3) WWI; 4) The Great Depression and WWII; 5) The early 1980s recession and the end of the Cold War…

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, History, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

The Tablet–Newly Released Roman Catholic norms are silent on abuse cover-ups

The Vatican has finally issued a long-anticipated revision of its 2001 norms for dealing with priests who sexually abuse youngsters, but they fail to address the issues that surround the cover-up of abuse by senior clergy.

Critics have been quick to point out that the revised norms lack mechanisms to hold accountable those bishops or other church officials who have covered up abuse, refused to act on complaints or knowingly reassigned serial abusers. Instead of adopting new and stricter guidelines, the up-dated rules ”“ published on 15 July ”“ are effectively a consolidation of already existing legal measures that have been adopted successively over the course of the past nine years.

There are only two significant new developments. A priest accused of possessing or distributing child pornography (i.e. of children under the age of 14) or of sexually abusing a “developmentally disabled” adult over the age of 18 is to be dealt with just as if he were accused of sexually abusing a minor.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Who are the current Anglican Consultative Council – Standing Committee members?

From here:

Abp Rowan Williams (President)
Bp James Tengatenga (Chair)
Canon Elizabeth Paver (Vice-Chair)
Mrs Philippa Amable
Abp Phillip Aspinall
Bp Ian Douglas
Dr Anthony Fitchett
Dato Stanley Isaacs
Bp Kumara Illangasinghe
Abp Barry Morgan
Bp Paul Sarker
Bp Katharine Jefferts Schori
Canon Janet Trisk

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

ACNS–The Anglican Consultative Council-Standing Committee Daily Bulletin ”“ Day 1

There was an opportunity for members of the Committee to express their views and ask questions about the decision to remove or alter the status of members from one province serving on the Anglican Communion’s ecumenical dialogues and IASCUFO. The Archbishop of Canterbury and Secretary General Kenneth Kearon explained the rationale behind this decision. In particular the Committee was assured that the Archbishop had not acted unilaterally but with the support of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion; that they had acted within their powers; and that the action had not been punitive in intention. Rather it had been taken””following the breaking of the agreed moratoria””in response to the needs of the Communion in respect to ecumenical dialogues and faith and order bodies. Committee members were told that other Provinces were under consideration.

Please take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques

Important: The Anglican Consultative Council’s New Articles of Association

Read it through carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

Adrian Pabst–The 'big society' needs religion

David Cameron’s “big society” speech on Monday called for more “people power” and “a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action”. The trouble is that this requires not only an end to top-down, command-and-control state sovereignty but also civic limits on free-market capitalism. By viewing human associations and intermediary institutions as more fundamental than either state or market, religious traditions are indispensable to a vibrant civil society.

Much of secular politics still views the voluntary sector either as extension of the state or a sub-section of the market. This subordinates social bonds either to uniform state law or to proprietary market relations or both. Indeed, state and market collude by subjecting the whole of society to formal standards that abstract from real, embodied relations of family, friendship, community, habit, ritual and celebration ”“ as Archbishop Rowan recently argued.

Moreover, the purpose and scope of voluntary, civic activity is severely constrained: it merely compensates for state and market failures, rather than supporting the autonomy of the communities, groups and associations that compose civil society.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Iran plans to build nuclear fusion reactor

Iran said today it planned to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, state television reported, at a time when the West is demanding that Tehran suspend sensitive nuclear work.

In 2006, Iran said it was pressing ahead with research tests on nuclear fusion, a type of atomic reaction which has yet to be developed for commercial power generation, but this was the first mention in years that the work was continuing.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

The Onion:God Hinting At Retirement

At a press conference Tuesday, God Almighty, our Lord and Heavenly Father, gave his strongest indication yet that he might soon step down from his post as the supreme ruler of all things.

Don’t miss the rest.

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

John Backman: A third way on the Anglican Covenant?

Instead of debating the covenant, then, I believe we would better spend our time rebuilding the foundation — laying aside our rigid positions and stereotypes of the “other side” in favor of authentic dialogue. Then, when we have made significant progress in that direction, we can reconsider the covenant, this time as an affirmation of our restored bonds of affection.

Could not yet have any traction? I hear a lot of impatience in the communion these days: a desire to “get over it and move on.” Yet short of outright division, how exactly do we “move on” without rebuilding the foundation of trust?

Rebuilding, in turn, calls for another word that generates impatience: listening. The whole idea of a listening process — particularly its failure to take place on a wide scale — has generated cynicism, and justifiably so. But there’s no other way to build trust. As we listen, we discover that our adversaries are not precisely who we thought. Subtle variations of belief and character come to the fore. Common ground emerges. We start to revise, and often discard, our preconceptions. In the process, we wonder what else we’ve misperceived, what else we have in common, and that drives up deeper into dialogue.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC)

BBC–Deepwater Horizon safety alarm 'shut off' before fire

An alarm aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that could have alerted workers to fire and explosive gas had been silenced before the 20 April explosion, a senior rig technician has said.

Mike Williams told a hearing that managers wanted warning sirens and lights silenced because they did want workers disturbed by false alarms.

He said the alarm had been partially shut off months before the blast.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, --The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

RNS–Battle lines drawn on N.J. same sex marriage debate

With same-sex marriage legislation defeated in the state Senate, Gov. Chris Christie on record opposing it, and a proposal to put the question to voters going nowhere fast, hundreds of supporters and opponents of gay marriage squared off Tuesday (July 20) to prepare for the next expected front in the battle: the state Supreme Court.

What originally was supposed to be a small rally by the National Organization for Marriage turned into competing protests after Garden State Equality, the state’s largest gay rights organization, brought in a larger crowd to counter it.

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown said his group stopped in New Jersey as part of its 19-state bus tour because he was afraid the state would legalize gay marriage by judicial fiat.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government