Daily Archives: October 30, 2010

Time to Gear up for Tuesday's Elections

A number of you know I (a) like politics and (b) follow it quite closely. From time to time it crops up as an element of focus on the blog, and the midterm elections 2010 is one of those times. There is no flawless indicator, but my favorite as some of you may remember is Intrade, since it involves real people and real money (and it has a very fine track record). By far the most revealing graph I have found is this one:

The chances the Republicans will take back the House of Representatives over time–check it out.

What does this mean? Think anti-incumbency and a disgust with business as usual in Washington at a minimum–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Economics, Politics, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, State Government

CNS–Israelis not happy with synod statement, angry over bishop's remarks

Several prominent Israelis expressed concern over a statement by the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which said Jews cannot use the Bible to justify injustices.

But tensions increased when a U.S. bishop told reporters at the synod that Jews could no longer regard themselves as God’s “chosen people” or Israel as “the Promised Land,” because Jesus’ message showed that God loved and chose all people to be his own.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said Oct. 25 that the final message of the Synod of Bishops reflected the opinion of the synod itself, while the remarks by Melkite Bishop Cyrille S. Bustros of Newton, Mass., were to be considered his personal opinion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

Mideast Catholic bishops urge Israel not to use the Bible ”˜to justify injustices’

Bishops from the Middle East, summoned by the pope to the Vatican, ended their two-week meeting with a statement that called on Israel to end its “occupation” of Arab lands and to stop using the Bible to defend injustices.

The dwindling numbers of Christians living in the Middle East was to be the principal reason for the meeting called by Pope Benedict XVI, but the joint communiqué also warned Israel about “injustices” against Palestinians.

The synod’s message said that “re course to theological and biblical positions which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable,” in an apparent reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

Columbia, South Carolina's Trinity Cathedral reopens after $7 million renovation

The doors of the historic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will open once more Sunday for worship following a three-year, $7 million restoration project of the downtown church.

There will be no splashy dedication ceremony of the Gothic church that has anchored a city block next door to the State House since 1847. The cathedral will simply begin its new fall worship schedule with four Sunday services, including a new 4 p.m. choral evensong and Eucharist, said Doak Wolfe, Trinity’s director of communications and associate for liturgy and music.

Morning services will be at 8, 9 and 11:15 a.m., with the Rev. Charles M. Davis Jr., acting dean of the cathedral, presiding. The Rev. Robert G. Riegel will preach at the 9 and 11:15 services.
“There is no big celebration planned,” said Wolfe. “We are just going to live into this reopening of the cathedral.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

Deborah Tannen–Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier

So maybe it’s true that talk is the reason having a sister makes you happier, but it needn’t be talk about emotions. When women told me they talk to their sisters more often, at greater length and about more personal topics, I suspect it’s that first element ”” more often ”” that is crucial rather than the last.

This makes sense to me as a linguist who truly believes that women’s ways of talking are not inherently better than men’s. It also feels right to me as a woman with two sisters ”” one who likes to have long conversations about feelings and one who doesn’t, but who both make me happier.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Women

Explosives Could Have Downed Plane, British Say

A package shipped from Yemen and bound for the United States on a cargo jet that was intercepted in Britain on Friday contained an explosive device powerful enough to bring down the plane, British authorities said on Saturday.

“I can confirm the device was viable and could have exploded,” British Home Secretary Theresa May said. “The target may have been an aircraft and had it detonated the aircraft could have been brought down.”

A day after two packages containing explosives addressed to synagogues in Chicago were discovered, one in Britain and the other in Dubai, setting off a broad terror alert, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, said that the plot “has the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.” Officials on three continents, meanwhile, continued to search for other potentially dangerous packages shipped from Yemen.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Terrorism, Yemen

Reuters Special Report–A Marshall Plan for America's housing woes

(Please take a careful look at this graphic to see the extent of banks exposure to this problem–KSH)

Even before some of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders were forced to suspend foreclosure proceedings because of faulty paperwork, it was becoming clear that the Obama administration’s year-old effort to pump life into the housing market was falling short.

The federal government just reported that 4.2 million homeowners are “seriously delinquent” on their mortgages and some 10.9 million borrowers are underwater, meaning their loans exceed the value of their homes.

To make matter worse, there is the threat of protracted litigation between banks and borrowers because lenders might not have followed the letter of law in processing foreclosure paperwork.

An even bigger source of worry is the $426 billion in so-called second liens — home equity loans, second mortgages and other loans “junior” to the primary mortgage — that sit on the balance sheets of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

In Canada A Saint, and an Inquiry Into the Sins of His Brothers

At least 50,000 Quebecers are expected to gather Saturday for something most rarely do: attend a religious service.

But the Mass at the Olympic Stadium to celebrate the elevation of Brother André, a school porter and faith healer who died 73 years ago, to sainthood is one of many contradictions surrounding religion, and Roman Catholicism in particular, in Quebec.

By most measures, the province is the most secular in Canada. Only 15 percent of Catholics regularly attend church and Quebecers have long rejected the church’s teachings on birth control, marriage and homosexuality….

“In Quebec, people are not specifically anti-Catholicism, but they are anti-clericalism,” said Gilles Routhier, a professor of theology at Laval University in Quebec City. “Brother André doesn’t particularly represent the church’s power. He was a simple, illiterate, modest person. People recognize themselves in Brother André.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

David Brooks: The Next Two Years

Over the next two years, Obama will have to show that he is a traditionalist on social matters and a center-left pragmatist on political ones. Culturally, he will have to demonstrate that even though he comes from an unusual background, he is a fervent believer in the old-fashioned bourgeois virtues: order, self-discipline, punctuality and personal responsibility. Politically, he will have to demonstrate that he is data-driven ”” that even though he has more faith in government than most Americans, he will relentlessly oppose programs when the evidence shows they don’t work.

… Obama will need to respond to the nation’s fear of decline. The current sour mood is not just caused by high unemployment. It emerges from the fear that America’s best days are behind it. The public’s real anxiety is about values, not economics: the gnawing sense that Americans have become debt-addicted and self-indulgent; the sense that government undermines individual responsibility; the observation that people who work hard get shafted while people who play influence games get the gravy. Obama will have to propose policies that re-establish the link between effort and reward.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Theology

U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents

Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

The new position was declared in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Department of Justice late Friday in a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

“We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” the brief said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(ENS) Virginia Seminary chapel fire ruled accidental

The Oct. 22 fire that quickly destroyed the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary has been ruled accidental.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced its findings Oct. 28. ATF’s National Response Team, along with ATF special agents from Falls Church, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., worked with the Alexandria Fire Department to investigate the cause of the fire. The federal response is routine when a fire of this size occurs in a house of worship, the seminary and the ATF said.

The fire began in a trash can left near a heater in the sacristy, Susan Shillinglaw, VTS director of communication, told ENS.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Loren Fox–Engaging with Islam’s Various Faces

We have heard about Islam, mosques, and freedom of religion a whole lot lately. Much of that conversation has been energized with passions and fears. In light of it all, I find myself really torn by the whole discussion about Islam and the Church’s response. Let me be clear it is fair to be confused by Islam, even concerned by it.

Most of us do not know the difference between Sunni, Shia and Sufi Muslims, or how to read the Quran or each Hadith. In the midst of the current conversation, I offer my own perspective. My experience of Islam is very different than what I most often see in the media here in the US–for two key reasons. First, my experience with Islam really began in Southeast Asia where the Muslims see themselves differently than those in the Middle East.

Second, and more importantly, my focus in Southeast Asia was to share the Good News of Jesus with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Freethinkers alike. As a result, I am fascinated by the variety of expressions of Islam. There the three main schools, Sunni, Shi’ite and Sufi””which have protestant, catholic and charismatic qualities. They also have their own progressives, secularists, fundamentalists, off-shoots, and cults.

Furthermore, I have a deep assurance that Islam does not stand up well to the witness of Jesus Christ.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

BBC–Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

An apparent plot to send two explosive-laden packages by cargo plane from Yemen to the US has focused new attention on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The network was formed in January 2009 by a merger between two regional offshoots of the international Islamist militant network in neighbouring Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The US president’s counterterrorism adviser John Brennan has called it: “the most active operational franchise” of al-Qaeda beyond Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Led by a former aide to Osama Bin Laden, the group has vowed to attack oil facilities, foreigners and security forces as it seeks to topple the Saudi monarchy and Yemeni government, and establish an Islamic caliphate.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Terrorism, Yemen

President Obama Says Explosives Were U.S.-Bound

Two packages containing explosive devices originating in Yemen and bound for two places of Jewish worship in Chicago set off a global terror alert on Friday. One package was found at a FedEx facility in Dubai, and another was found early Friday morning at an airport in Britain, sparking a day of dramatic precautionary activity in the United States.

Speaking at the White House Friday afternoon, President Obama called the packages a “credible terrorist threat against our country,” and confirmed that they “did apparently contain” explosives. Earlier reports had said that the device found in Britain did not.

The wide-scale alert spread to the United States on Friday morning, when officials isolated two cargo planes at airports in Newark and Philadelphia and searched them for packages originating in Yemen, and New York police searched a delivery truck in Brooklyn. None of the shipments reaching the United States from Yemen were found to contain explosives.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism, Yemen

Executive Council Writes to Group in South Carolina Upset with the Diocesean Direction

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council