Daily Archives: March 27, 2009

A 99 year old Veteran visits the White House and makes up for lost time

Watch it all–John Finn is an amazing man.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Blue Book's reports posted on Episcopal Church's General Convention's website

If you follow the links there is a lot of material to sift through.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

David Gibson on the Pope in Africa: Is One Man's Faith Another's Superstition?

At a Mass on Saturday in Luanda, Angola, Pope Benedict tried to warn his listeners of the dangers of belief in witchcraft. Though he never used that word, his implication was clear when he suggested that African Catholics should offer Christ to their fellow citizens because “so many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers.” He worried aloud about many Africans: “In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers?”

Who indeed? The statement reflects a real and tragic problem in many parts of Africa, even among people who identify as Christians. Many still consult shamans and use talismans or potions for everything from fertility problems to exorcisms, while others take things a horrifying step further: Children, especially those with a physical deformity or afflicted with a disease like AIDS, are often brutalized or killed in the belief that they are possessed by evil spirits. The elderly, especially women, are also common targets. Earlier this month, Amnesty International reported that more than 1,000 people were rounded up in Gambia in a government-sponsored witch-hunt, and in Tanzania alone, at least 45 albinos have been murdered since 2007 because popular superstition holds that they are witches.

No wonder church leaders who praise the explosion of faith across Africa as the future of Christianity — the Christian population has gone to 360 million today from eight million in 1900 — also take pains to try to purge superstition and witchcraft from the continent. And they regularly fail, or offend.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Great Story of one Woman Giving Haircuts for free to help in This Tough Economy

Wonderful stuff–watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Warwick, Rhode Island Beacon: St. Mary's to close, merge with St. Barnabas

After over 126 years, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church will hold its last service this Sunday.

The church, located on Warwick Neck Avenue, which has close to 100 members, is merging its congregation with St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Post Road in Apponaug.

The two parishes will officially become one during this Sunday’s mass, which will begin at St. Mary’s and proceed to St. Barnabas where it will be completed. Episcopal Bishop Geraldine Wolfe will preside over the mass.

During an interview on Tuesday, church elders from St. Mary’s said the decision was made strictly due to financial reasons. The church has seen a steady decrease in parishioners over the years and despite a drive two years ago to modernize their service, attendance didn’t increase enough for the church to survive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

U.S. sees Chinese military rise

China is seeking technology and weapons to disrupt the traditional advantages of American forces, and secrecy surrounding its military creates the potential for miscalculation on both sides, according to a Pentagon study released Wednesday.

The annual report from the Defense Department to Congress, “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009,” catalogs efforts by China to supply its armed forces with weapons that can be used to intimidate and attack Taiwan and blunt the superiority of American naval and air power, at least near its territory.

“We have advocated time and again for more dialogue and transparency in our dealings with the Chinese government and military, all in an effort to reduce suspicions on both sides,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Military / Armed Forces

Europe, aided by safety nets, resists stimulus push

Last month Frank Koppe gathered together all 50 of his employees at Koppe-Apparatebau for coffee, cake and the kind of bad news that has lately become all too familiar. He told them the small company’s business, designing and manufacturing custom equipment for industrial plants, had been sliced nearly in half.

But rather than resorting to layoffs, Mr. Koppe asked half his employees to come in every other week. The government would make up roughly two-thirds of their lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.
The program ”” known as “Kurzarbeit,” which translates as “short work” ”” and others like it lie at the heart of a heated debate that has erupted on the eve of next week’s Group of 20 meeting of industrialized and developing nations and the European Union, creating a rift between the Obama administration and European governments. The United States is pressing for a coordinated package of stimulus plans by member countries to encourage economic growth, something that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek of the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, has called “a way to hell.”

But virtually all European governments, led by budget-conscious Germany, are resisting the American pitch, saying the focus should be on stricter regulation of financial markets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Church Times: Why Lambeth 2008 had to look for a bail-out

The Anglican Consultative Coun­cil had a constitutional obligation towards the costs of the Conference, but had stopped putting money aside for the Conference since 2004, spending it instead on new offices.

The £1.6 million left over from 1998 and from setting money aside up to 2004 did not cover the ex­pected £2.5-million rise in the cost to £6.1 million. In the event, because of the shortfall in the number of bishops who attended, the final cost was £5.2 million.

“To commit expenditure in ad­vance of secure income was a practice that the directors of an entirely stand-alone company might have regarded as too risky. In doing so, it appears therefore that those involved have proceeded on the expectation that the Anglican Com­munion and in particular Church of England bodies . . . would not ultimately let the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Conference fail to pay its bills.”

The Commissioners were worried as early as May 2006 that they would be landed with the bill.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Lambeth 2008, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame

Jimmy Carter came to Notre Dame in 1977. So did Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush in 2001.

The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. But this year’s selection of President Barack Obama has been met by a barrage of criticism that has left some students fearing their commencement ceremony will turn into a circus.

Many Catholics are angered by Obama’s planned appearance at the May 17 ceremony because of his decisions to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups that provide abortions or educate about the procedure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Roman Catholic Bishop Decries Proposal of UK Advertising Authority

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue explained in a statement released today that the proposal originated from the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, and “therefore comes from the heart of the abortion industry — threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this country.”

“I am appalled that this proposal will result in the deaths of many more preborn children and cause untold harm to women,” he continued. “As a society, we need to wake up and stop treating abortion as a quick-fix solution to pregnancy and offer compassionate and practical support to women facing crisis pregnancies.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Life Ethics, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Will toxic-asset bailout plan work?

An interesting array of editorial opinion on the subject.

Update: in yesterday’s Financial Times Jeffrey Sachs did not like the plan:

The idea of “private sector price discovery” is therefore flim-flam. There would be price discovery if the government’s loan had to be repaid whether or not the asset paid off in full. In that case, the investor would bid $360,000. But under the Geithner-Summers plan the loan is precisely designed to be a one-way bet, for the purpose of overpricing the toxic asset in order to bail out the bank’s shareholders at hidden cost to the taxpayers.

The banks could be saved without saving their shareholders ”“ a better deal for taxpayers and without the moral hazard of rescuing shareholders from the banks’ bad bets. Most simply, the government could provide loans to buy the toxic assets on a recourse basis, therefore without the hidden subsidy. Alternatively, the plan could give the taxpayers an equity stake in the banks in return for cleaning their balance sheets. In cases of insolvency, the government could take over the bank, the much dreaded nationalisation, albeit temporary. At the end of the Bush administration, Congress voted for the $700bn (€517bn, £479bn) troubled asset relief programme (Tarp) on the assurance the taxpayer would get fair value for money (for example, by taking equity stakes in the rescued banks). The new plan does not offer that.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

USA Today: Economy influences college choices

Nearly seven in 10 high school students say the struggling economy has affected where they applied to college this year, a survey out today shows.

And yes, they are stressed about it. Most students will find out this month where they have been accepted. The biggest concern: that they will get admitted into the school they most want to attend but won’t be able to for financial reasons.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Teens / Youth, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Still more on the New Roman Catholic Bishop of Charleston

Evangelization will be his primary focus, he said after a press conference Saturday, citing the 2000 Apostolic Letter by Pope John Paul II in which the late pontiff urged his church “to take up her evangelizing mission with fresh enthusiasm.”

[Robert] Guglielmone said that reiterating the message of Jesus Christ was the “challenge of the century.”

He is leaving the sixth-largest U.S. diocese, with about 1.4 million Catholics, for one whose population is approximately 176,000. Before he became rector of Rockville Centre’s St. Agnes Cathedral, Guglielmone was the diocesan director of clergy personnel, overseeing 450 priests and 300 deacons, he said. By contrast, South Carolina has a total of about 130 priests and 100 deacons.

“I am both humbled and grateful that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI would entrust this awesome ministry to me,” he said Saturday morning. “I must admit that I am a bit anxious about leaving Long Island where I have spent almost my whole life. However, I do trust in the Lord and am very encouraged by the wonderful sense of Southern hospitality I have already experienced.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Internet Industry Is on a Cloud — Whatever That May Mean

Ever since Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt publicly uttered the term “cloud computing” in 2006, a storm has been gathering over Silicon Valley.

Companies across the technology industry are jockeying to associate themselves with clouds. Amazon.com Inc., better known for peddling books online, began selling an Elastic Compute Cloud service in 2006 for programmers to rent Amazon’s giant computers. Juniper Networks Inc., which makes gear for transmitting data, dubbed its latest project Stratus. Yahoo Inc., Intel Corp. and a handful of others recently launched a research program called OpenCirrus.

While almost everybody in the tech industry seems to have a cloud-themed project, few agree on the term’s definition.

“I have no idea what anyone is talking about,” said Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison, when talking about cloud computing at a financial analyst conference in September. “It’s really just complete gibberish. What is it?” He added: “When is this idiocy going to stop?”

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

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

Frank Skinner: Even if God isn't watching you, Google is

I think this ever-growing hysteria about the invasion of privacy in Great Britain might be a direct result of the secularisation of our society. As a Roman Catholic, I’ve spent my whole life believing that my every move is being monitored. God, after all, is the ultimate CCTV. There have been many occasions when this sense of being watched has led me to do the right thing rather than the easier or more pleasurable wrong one. We hate those intermittent yellow boxes on modern roads but they do, generally speaking, cause us to drive more safely.

Maybe, now that God doesn’t feature in most people’s lives, society need things like Street View and surveillance cameras to make people behave better. I don’t suppose the citizens whose sins were exposed by Google fear they’ll end up sizzling on Satan’s griddle as a result but all this fuss about images of drunkenness, crime and lust does suggest a certain sense of shame.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Lambeth’s £288,000 deficit due to incompetence

Poor planning, inexperienced management, and weak financial controls contributed to a £288,000 deficit for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a report released last week by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners has concluded.

The management team, conference structure and business practices were not up to the job, the report found, stating that the “arrangements in place for the 2008 conference were less robust than they needed to be.”

The conference’s opaque management structure had left no one in charge, with the result that there had been a “disconnect between design on the one hand, and capacity and execution on the other.” The lack of clear lines of authority had led to cost overruns, with the financial team “not always aware” of the commitments made by conference management staff. Two examples cited by the report were the “failure to recognise a commitment for expenditure of £411,000 on the Big Top” the blue tent that served as the principle venue for conference meetings, and IT support.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Lambeth 2008, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

New Roman Catholic bishop for the Diocese of Charleston

In a solemn, lengthy ceremony full of pageantry and peppered with bursts of enthusiastic applause, the Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone was installed as the 13th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston on Wednesday at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Before the ceremony began, a group of Hispanic Catholics assembled on the Cathedral steps to sing and welcome the new bishop to South Carolina. Inside, the pews were full of diocese officials, members of the Knights of Columbus, seminary students, monks and nuns and Boy Scout troops.

Guglielmone has been involved in Scouting since 1974, serving in various capacities, including the Vatican-appointed National and World Chaplain.

Read it all and take the time to look through the gallery of photos.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Impressive Dambisa Mayo on the Tragedy of Aid and Africa

CHARLIE ROSE: Your thesis in [your new book] “Dead Aid” is?

DAMBISA MOYO: My thesis is two parts. Essentially first of all a critique of the billion dollar government to government aid packages that have gone to Africa, now totaling over a trillion dollars in the past 60 years. But the second half of the book which I consider actually more important, is, are the prescriptions for actually getting Africa on track to achieve long-term economic development and become an equal partner in the global stage.

CHARLIE ROSE: And aid is preventing that?

DAMBISA MOYO: Absolutely. The types of aid that I’m talking about, I’m not talking about humanitarian or emergency aid, sort of the aid that goes for tsunami, for example. Nor am I talking about NGO or charitable aid which is relatively small beer. I myself sit on the board of a number of charities. But I think it’s important where charities are concerned to understand what they can and cannot do. So they can provide Band-Aid solutions. So we can send a girl to school for example, but they cannot deliver long-term economic development growth and growth or alleviate poverty on the level that we want to see across the continent.

Read it all or if you prefer you may watch the video here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Poverty

Scientific American: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

* Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent””and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed””leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.
* Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.
* Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology