Daily Archives: September 6, 2010

BBC–Sussex vicar Alex Brown jailed for sham marriages

A vicar has been jailed for four years for carrying out hundreds of fake marriages to bypass immigration law.

The Reverend Alex Brown conducted 360 sham marriages during a four-year period at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, East Sussex.

Co-defendants Vladimir Buchak, 33, and solicitor and pastor Michael Adelasoye, 50, were also jailed for four years.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was thought to be the largest sham marriage case yet brought to court.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

NPR–'Phantom Tollbooth' Creators Reunited By An 'Ogre'

Fans of a boy named Milo, a watchdog called Tock and a pompous Humbug had reason to rejoice on Wednesday ”” the day that a picture book called The Odious Ogre was released. Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, the book marks the first time that Juster and Feiffer have collaborated since creating The Phantom Tollbooth together in the early 1960s.

That initial alliance was, at least in part, a matter of circumstance. “We were sharing a duplex in the wrong end of Brooklyn Heights,” Juster tells NPR’s Liane Hansen. At the time, the writer had a $5,000 grant to write a book on urban design. Instead, he dreamed up The Phantom Tollbooth. Each time he wrote a chapter, he would run to Feiffer’s half of the house and excitedly read it to him. Feiffer began to scribble drawings inspired by the story.

The rest is kid-lit history.

Though Ogre has fewer pages and more pictures than Tollbooth, Juster is wary of labeling it a book for younger readers: “I’m not sure it’s for younger kids,” he says. “I’m not sure it’s for older kids or even adults. I think it’s just a good story.”

Read or listen to it all and make sure not to miss the spectacular illustration of the ogre throwing a tantrum.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Art, Books, Children

American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?

For nine years after the attacks of Sept. 11, many American Muslims made concerted efforts to build relationships with non-Muslims, to make it clear they abhor terrorism, to educate people about Islam and to participate in interfaith service projects. They took satisfaction in the observations by many scholars that Muslims in America were more successful and assimilated than Muslims in Europe.

Now, many of those same Muslims say that all of those years of work are being rapidly undone by the fierce opposition to a Muslim cultural center near ground zero that has unleashed a torrent of anti-Muslim sentiments and a spate of vandalism. The knifing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City has also alarmed many American Muslims.

“We worry: Will we ever be really completely accepted in American society?” said Dr. Ferhan Asghar, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Cincinnati and the father of two young girls. “In no other country could we have such freedoms ”” that’s why so many Muslims choose to make this country their own. But we do wonder whether it will get to the point where people don’t want Muslims here anymore.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Christopher Caldwell (In the FT)–Mistweeted and misunderstood

So much for press solidarity. “Here’s your moron of the week” is the way The Daily Beast website described Washington Post journalist Mike Wise after he played a practical joke that blew up in his face. Mr Wise has built a reputation as one of America’s top basketball reporters. He has a radio show. He does interviews. And ”“ fatefully ”“ he stays in contact with his readers through Twitter. On Monday, Mr Wise “tweeted” three fake news stories. One concerned how long a suspension Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would receive for alleged off-field misconduct. Mr Wise wrote: “Roethlisberger will get five games, I’m told.” The Miami Herald, The Baltimore Sun and NBC’s Pro Football Talk blog all cited the tweet.

Mr Wise then revealed that the story was a hoax ”“ or, to put it charitably, a piece of freelance sociological fieldwork. Mr Wise had been critical of online “aggregators” who do not source their own stories or check facts independently. He explained, in an apology posted on Twitter, that he had been trying to “test the accuracy of social media reporting”. The Post, having suffered enough from his mistweetment, suspended him for a month.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Science & Technology

RNS–Court: University Should Have Funded Student Group’s Worship

The University of Wisconsin should not have prohibited the use of student funds for the worship-related activities of a Catholic campus group, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison distributes funds from student fees for activities of registered student groups but rejected paying for worship, religious instruction and proselytizing by Badger Catholic.

“A university cannot shape Badger Catholic’s message by selectively funding the speech it approves, but not the speech it disapproves,” wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Wednesday (Sept. 1) decision.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Bloomberg–Prescription Drug Use Rose to Include Half of Americans in 2008

Almost half of Americans took at least one prescription drug per month in 2008, an increase of 10 percent over the past decade, a U.S. study found.

One of every five children ages 11 or younger took at least one medication each month in 2008, led by asthma and allergy treatments, according to the survey released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those ages 60 or older, 37 percent used five or more prescriptions per month.

U.S. spending for prescription drugs more than doubled to $234.1 billion over the 10 years covered by the report, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The two biggest-sellers last year were Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor for high cholesterol and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s clot-buster, Plavix. The rise of such medicines may continue as insurers add as many as 32 million customers through the U.S. health-care overhaul, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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

LA Times–For many unemployed workers, jobs aren't coming back

The U.S. economy will eventually rebound from the Great Recession. Millions of American workers will not.

What some economists now project ”” and policymakers are loath to admit ”” is that the U.S. unemployment rate, which stood at 9.6% in August, could remain elevated for years to come.

The nation’s job deficit is so deep that even a powerful recovery would leave large numbers of Americans out of work for years, experts say. And with growth now weakening, analysts are doubtful that companies will boost payrolls significantly any time soon. Unemployment, long considered a temporary, transitional condition in the United States, appears to be settling in for a lengthy run.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

A Local Newspaper Editorial: On Labor Day 2010 The living's not easy

Seldom has a Labor Day looked bleaker for U.S. workers. Then again, at least those Americans still have jobs.

Woeful numbers cast a heavy shadow on this national holiday. Nearly 15 million job-seeking Americans are counted in the 9.6 percent unemployment rate — and another two million have given up on finding work for now.

Here in South Carolina the situation is even worse, with official unemployment at 10.8 percent.

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

A Prayer for the Unemployed

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–Book of Common Prayer

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Prayer for Labor Day

My God, Father and Savior, since you have commanded us to work in order to meet our needs, sanctify our labor that it may bring nourishment to our souls as well as to our bodies.

Make us constantly aware that our efforts are worthless unless guided by your light and by your hand.

Make us faithful to the particular tasks for which you have bestowed upon us the necessary gifts, taking from us any envy or jealousy at the vocations of others.

Give us a good heart to supply the needs of the poor, saving us from any desire to exalt ourselves over those who receive our bounty.

And if you should call us into greater poverty than we humanly desire, save us from any spirit of defiance or resentment, but rather let us graciously and humbly receive the bounty of others.

Above all, may every temporal grace be matched by spiritual grace, that in both body and soul we may live to your glory.

John Calvin

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Churches, Reformed, Spirituality/Prayer

A prayer for Labor Day

Loving Father,
on this weekend, when we rest from our usual labors,
we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor””
in the marketplace, in factories and offices,
in the professions, and in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work;
may our efforts always be pure of heart,
for the good of others and the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment
and those who work to defend the rights and needs
of workers everywhere.

May those of us who are now retired
always remember the valuable contribution we make
to our Church and our world
by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting give you praise
until the day we share together in eternal rest
with all our departed in your kingdom
as you live and reign
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

–The Archdiocese of Detroit

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

–Acts 13:52

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Boss Is Robotic, and Rolling Up Behind You

For years, the military and law enforcement agencies have used specialized robots to disarm bombs and carry out other dangerous missions. This summer, such systems helped seal a BP well a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Now, with rapidly falling costs, the next frontiers are the office, the hospital and the home.

Mobile robots are now being used in hundreds of hospitals nationwide as the eyes, ears and voices of doctors who cannot be there in person. They are being rolled out in workplaces, allowing employees in disparate locales to communicate more easily and letting managers supervise employees from afar. And they are being tested as caregivers in assisted-living centers.

“Computers are beginning to grow wheels and roll around in the environment,” said Jeanne Dietsch, a veteran roboticist and co-founder of MobileRobots Inc., a robot maker in Amherst, N.H., and a division of Adept Technologies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Abstinence program in China a milestone for U.S. evangelicals

If all goes according to plan, this fall a girl somewhere in China’s Yunnan province will tell her boyfriend she can’t have sex with him. And he’ll have an abstinence program from the United States to thank.

In Yunnan schools this year, teachers are being trained with a sex education curriculum created by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. The agreement with the Yunnan ministry of education is a milestone for Focus on the Family, which has struggled for four years to make inroads on abstinence in China.

It is also the result of a narrow confluence of interests: Evangelical Christian groups want an entree into China. And Chinese authorities, despite the country’s official atheism, want help with controlling population growth and managing the society’s rapidly shifting values.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow–Why God Did Not Create the Universe

In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed “in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design.”

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat””now the entire observable universe””is just one of many.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology