Daily Archives: March 27, 2011

(McClatchy ) Poster of homeless inspires

A Charlotte businessman created a poster of homeless people holding up words to The Lord’s Prayer, which inspired a Winston-Salem surgeon to create a similar poster with words to a Bible verse, which in turn inspired a former teacher from Thomasville to create a poster.

Sales of the three posters have brought more than $14,000 to help the homeless.

And there’s no telling where Brian Hadley’s idea may turn up next.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Poverty, Religion & Culture

The State (Columbia, S.C.) Editorial: Overhaul broken South Carolina tax system

[South Carolina]… legislators seem convinced that there are only three things they can do about taxes: Raise them, slash them, or ignore the issue. But there’s a fourth option, and it works and is desperately needed whether they ultimately raise taxes, lower them or leave them just where they are: Fix them.

Our tax code was built on the tried-and-true “three-legged stool” formulation, deriving roughly equal revenue from the sales, income and property taxes. But that balance has become skewed, as we rely far too heavily on the sales tax, making our tax system much too volatile. And there are significant problems within each major tax ”” as well as with the minor taxes ”” that create gross inequities and prevent revenue growth from keeping pace with economic growth.

The most obvious, smack-you-in-the-face problem is our 85 sales tax exemptions, which result in more goods being untaxed than taxed and are the target of a lawsuit pending in the state Supreme Court. And the grossest example of bad exemption policy is the $300 tax cap on automobiles, which means people who buy clunkers pay the same tax as those who buy luxury cars ”” and boats and planes.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes

High Tech Flirting Turns Explicit, Altering Young Lives

Around the country, law enforcement officials and educators are struggling with how to confront minors who “sext,” an imprecise term that refers to sending sexual photos, videos or texts from one cellphone to another.

But adults face a hard truth. For teenagers, who have ready access to technology and are growing up in a culture that celebrates body flaunting, sexting is laughably easy, unremarkable and even compelling: the primary reason teenagers sext is to look cool and sexy to someone they find attractive.

Indeed, the photos can confer cachet.
“Having a naked picture of your significant other on your cellphone is an advertisement that you’re sexually active to a degree that gives you status,” said Rick Peters, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for Thurston County, which includes Lacey. “It’s an electronic hickey.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Irwin Stelzer–Full Steam Ahead for US Spending, Despite Huge Budget deficit

The President’s difficulties in positioning himself as the champion of a jobs renaissance were compounded by two new reports on the nation’s fiscal condition, one by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), another by the General Accountability Office (GAO).

The CBO analysed the President’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year and estimates the federal deficit over the next decade will clock in at $9.5 trillion (£5.8tr), a mere $2.3 trillion (£1.4tr) higher than the White House estimate. And the GAO, re-assessing the nation’s long-term outlook, concluded that the fiscal situation has deteriorated. If the nation’s debt is to be stabilised at 62% of GDP, an immediate tax increase of 15%, or a spending cut of 13%, or some combination of the two is needed.

The Peter G Peterson Foundation, a sort of budget watchdog and nag, concludes that even under a set of optimistic assumptions, “large and persistent deficits still lead to an unsustainable growth in debt… and a steady growth in net interest payments to service this growing debt”. By 2030, unless the President and Congress come to grips with the fiscal situation, net interest payments and entitlements (pensions, healthcare costs) will consume almost the entire budget, leaving nothing for spending on defence, education and other programmes.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

ACNS–The 2011 Standing Committee Daily Bulletin – Day 1

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

James Dao–The Endgame in Afghanistan

The American strategy for handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan government rests on a similar strategy: putting local militias on the government payroll. Such “recruits” are supposed to be vetted. But in the months it will take to complete that process, American commanders are counting on ragtag militias like Rozeboi’s to fight the Taliban.

Many of the militias are controlled by strongmen who traffic in drugs and weapons and pay their soldiers by taxing the locals, as the Taliban do. Indeed, several militias in Kunduz fought alongside the Taliban before switching to the government’s side.

Can the Karzai government provide the food, clothing and salaries needed to keep those militias friendly? “If they do not have income, they will return to their old bosses,” the mayor of Imam Sahib, Sufi Manaan, warned American officers in February. He should know. Some American commanders believe that he has links to a militia that fought against their soldiers last fall.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, War in Afghanistan

In Cuba, a Bishop with a gardener’s heart

On a warm and windy afternoon, the bishop of Cuba is inspecting tomatoes. Dressed in a crisp purple shirt, she bends into a garden patch and finds a tomato as big as her hand. She weighs it, plucks it, and holds it up””the first fruit of a new crop.

This community garden in Itabo, Cuba, is second home to Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, Cuba’s first female diocesan bishop. Before her installation in November 2010, she led this parish of Santa Maria Virgen for 22 years.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Cuba, Episcopal Church (TEC)

States Pass Budget Pain to Cities

The state budget squeeze is fast becoming a city budget squeeze, as struggling states around the nation plan deep cuts in aid to cities and local governments that will almost certainly result in more service cuts, layoffs and local tax increases.

The cuts are widespread. Ohio plans to slash aid to Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other cities and local governments by more than a half-billion dollars over the next two years under the budget proposed last week by its new Republican governor, John R. Kasich. Nebraska passed a law this month eliminating direct state aid to Omaha and other municipalities. The governors of Wisconsin and Michigan have called for sending less money to Milwaukee, Detroit and other local governments.

And it is not only Republicans who are cutting aid to cities: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, decided not to restore $302 million in aid to New York City that was cut last year, while Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, another Democrat, has called for cutting local aid to Boston and other cities by some $65 million.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(FT) John Lloyd: The art of darkness

The first page of the first chapter of Henning Mankell’s latest (and apparently last) Wallander novel The Troubled Man is sheer misery. Inspector Kurt Wallander, divorced for 15 years, lives in a flat “where so many unpleasant memories were etched into the walls”; he “reminded himself over and over again of his father’s lonely old age … now it seemed as if his father was taking him over … he had no religious hopes of anything being in store for him … nothing but the same darkness he had once emerged from … he would be dead for such a long time … he had seen far too many dead bodies in his life”.

Wallander novels might be prefaced by the sign Dante imagined above the gates of Hell ”“ “lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’ intrate”: “all hope abandon, ye who enter here”: for in these books, the descent is often through deepening layers of horror. The same could be said for much of rest of the now enormously popular, critically acclaimed school of Scandinavian noir ”“ for noir they are, set in the bleakness of towns and forests, dark for much of the year. The cult BBC hit of the year so far, the Danish-made Copenhagen-set The Killing, which ends this weekend, is shot almost wholly at night….

…the most striking commercial success in novel writing in the past five years has come from Marxists who write of people beset with misery who either commit or must deal with acts of extreme sadistic violence. It is not a development that a publisher or an agent would naturally have arrived at as a formula for success. So what explains its extraordinary appeal?

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Denmark, Europe, Norway, Sexuality, Sweden, Theodicy, Theology, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O almighty Father, giver of every good and perfect gift, who hast made the light of thy truth to shine in our hearts: Make us to walk as children of light in all goodness and righteousness, that we may have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–William Walsham How (1823-1897)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.

–Mark 5:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

In India, Religious groups put faith in business: Study

Indian religious organizations across all major faiths are diversifying their “business model” to maintain the loyalty of their followers and attract new devotees. This is the finding of a Cambridge University study, carried out over two years surveying 568 Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jain religions in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat.

Cambridge, one of the world’s leading seats of learning, constituted a group drawn from its faculty of economics and Judge Business School, which discovered that cow-lending, computer-based learning, sewing and aerobics classes are some of the innovative non-religious services being offered by religious bodies to stay ahead of the game.

The survey is believed to be one of the first in India with researchers finding that although India is becoming more powerful and wealthy, rising social inequality ”” especially in the poorer states ”” means religious groups often fill the breach left by the lack of social welfare, especially in education and healthcare. In total, 272 Hindu religious groups were interviewed, along with 248 Muslim, 25 Christian and 23 Sikh and Jain religious organizations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, India, Religion & Culture

(TEC Off. of P.A.) House of Bishops Daily Account for Saturday, March 26, 2011

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina from March 25 to March 30. The following is an account of the activities for Saturday, March 26.

The session was opened by Emcee of the Day Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts.

Following Morning Prayer and Bible Study, the bishops surprised Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on her birthday with rousing singing.
The topics and focus for the day was Proclamation of the Gospel to/with Young Adults: How can we be church in the 21st Century. Presenters were Lisa Kimball of Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Arrington Chambliss and Jason Long from the Diocese of Massachusetts.

Lisa shared personal vignettes which illustrated work needed to be done with the Episcopal Church and young adults. Defining “young adults” is very complex and depends on context, but she focused on 19 -35 years old. She shared stats and facts about this age group.

Lisa presented discussion questions for the bishops: What are the challenges facing the young adults you know? What are their strengths? To what extent is the Church in your diocese reaching people like this? The bishops shared reactions and comments.

Lisa noted: there is a deep need in the church for faith formation in the home; “sadly” young adults are missing from our worship service; and those in 20s and 30s want to be in relation with the Episcopal Church.

Noon Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan. Preacher was the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Massachusetts and one of the chaplains for HOB.

In the afternoon session, Jason spoke about the Episcopal Service Corps. He shared his story of being evangelized, which was a transformational experience that also transformed the worshiping community. In speaking about Episcopal Service Corps he identified programs that will exist in Massachusetts and 16 other dioceses by this fall.

Arrington spoke about evangelism, and believes that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are poised to be the most transformative institutions in the 21st century. Arrington stated that evangelism is not a program, it’s a spiritual practice; it’s not institutional but individual; it doesn’t start with telling but starts with listening.

She led a meditation on remembering a time when someone took you and your gifts seriously.

Small group discussions allowed bishops to explore themes and needs, and to brainstorm on what might occur in the next year to partner with young adults in creating fresh expressions of Church.

The bishops concluded the session with Evening Prayer.

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

The Archbishop of York Welcomes Government Opt In on EU Trafficking Directive

The Archbishop said:

“I am delighted that the Government has finally reached the right decision and will now opt in to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking. For some time I have been raising the matter with the Home Secretary calling on her to opt in to the EU Directive to ensure we have a united front across Europe tackling the evil of human trafficking.

“I am pleased the Government now acknowledges that ‘opting in would send a powerful message to traffickers that Britain is not a soft touch’. Our Government should be ensuring Britain leads the way on tackling slavery, just like it did in the days of William Wilberforce. Sex trafficking is nothing more than modern day slavery.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Women, Young Adults

(TEC Off. of P.A.) A statement by the SCLM concerning inconsistencies in Holy Week Liturgies

The 2006 General Convention resolved that “the Revised Common Lectionary shall be the Lectionary of this Church, amending the Lectionary on pp. 889-921 of the Book of Common Prayer,” but did not deal with the resultant inconsistencies of pages within the Book of Common Prayer itself.

In anticipation of Holy Week 2011, the first year that the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) is required for use in The Episcopal Church, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music recommends that congregations use the RCL lections during Holy Week 2011. In our report to the 77th General Convention, the SCLM will formally propose a resolution to remove the inconsistencies between the RCL and BCP.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship