Daily Archives: April 9, 2009

Rasmussen: Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General

Police hunting for bombs after alarm raised over Pakistan's link to terror raids

Gordon Brown is asking Pakistan for help after the arrest of 12 al-Qaeda terrorist suspects in Britain last night.

The results of Operation Pathway, the co-ordinated raids brought forward to yesterday after a security breach by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief, have raised considerable alarm because ten of those arrested were Pakistanis who have been staying in Britain on student visas. There are fears that they came to the country as genuine students before plotting to mount a terrorist attack, or even that they arrived under that guise with the intention of forming a terrorist sleeper cell.

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

Thomas Friedman: Show Us the Ball

Advocates of cap-and-trade argue that it is preferable to a simple carbon tax because it fixes a national cap on carbon emissions and it “hides the ball” ”” it doesn’t use the word “tax” ”” even though it amounts to one. So it can get through Congress. That was true as long as no one thought cap-and-trade could ever pass, but now that it might under Mr. Obama, opponents are not playing hide the ball anymore.

In the past two weeks, you could hear a chorus of Republicans, coal-state Democrats, right-wing think tanks and enviro-skeptics all singing the same tune: “Cap-and-trade is a tax. Obama is going to raise your taxes and sacrifice U.S. jobs to combat this global-warming charade, which many scientists think is nonsense. Worse, cap-and-trade will be managed by Wall Street. If you liked credit-default swaps, you’re going to love carbon-offset swaps.”

Some of the refrains from this song have a very catchy appeal. They could easily kill this effort. So, if the Obama team cares about the “ends” of a stronger America and a more livable planet, as much as the “means,” I hope it will consider an alternative strategy, message and messenger.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government

The April/May Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina's Newspaper

There are several articles in here that will be of interest.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Reconciliation in Communion: A Word to the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

We, the undersigned laity and clergy of the Episcopal Church, offer the following as a testament to our concern for the life and witness of our church and its membership in the Anglican Communion. The God-given bonds of affection that unite us to one another are based in the prior unity of love that is God’s own Trinitarian life; for this reason, our corporate life should continually strive to be an icon of this same love. At the present moment, we are particularly mindful that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself” (II Cor. 5:19), and that because of this we have been given a “ministry of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:18). It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will give the Episcopal Church a renewed awareness that at the heart of our common mission lies the ministry of reconciliation, which endeavors “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” (BCP Catechism, p. 855).

To that end, we

Affirm that evangelism lies at the heart of the Church’s mission, understanding evangelism to subsist in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls all people to repent from sin, to be united in the Body of Christ through baptism, and to be continually discipled in the communion of the Church.

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

Virginia: Diocese, Episcopal Church ask state Supreme Court to review property rulings

(ENS) The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church each asked the state Supreme Court April 7 to review a Fairfax County Court judge’s rulings in a series of church property lawsuits.

The diocese said in a news release that is appealing for the review on a number of grounds, including a challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s one-of-a-kind “Division Statute” (Section 57-9(A)), which dates to the Civil War and is triggered when there is a so-called “division” of a church or religious society, and the rulings of the Circuit Court in applying the law.

The litigation involves nine Episcopal parishes of the diocese which the majority of members and clergy left to form congregations of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The case originally involved members of 11 congregations of the Virginia diocese who left the Episcopal Church to form CANA congregations. The departing members of nine of those congregations then filed claims to parish property under the Division Statute.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Hawaii, suffering tourism drop, appeals to Obama

Hawaii has suffered one of the worst winters for tourism in recent years and has appealed to the state’s most famous native son — President Obama — to help turn its fortunes around.

Hotel occupancy rates in the winter were the lowest in at least five years, and in February — traditionally the state’s busiest month — the rate dropped to 75%. That was the lowest level since 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, when it fell to 69.7%, according to Smith Travel Research.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

U.S. Imagines the Bailout as an Investment Tool

During World War I, Americans were exhorted to buy Liberty Bonds to help their soldiers on the front.

Now, it seems, they will be asked to come to the aid of their banks ”” with the added inducement of possibly making some money for themselves.

As part of its sweeping plan to purge banks of troublesome assets, the Obama administration is encouraging several large investment companies to create the financial-crisis equivalent of war bonds: bailout funds.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Nathan Englander: The Passover Song

What I most remember, though, what stays most vivid, is the Haggadah itself ”” the words and the rhythms, rendered here in the translation I’ve been working on:

Were it our mouths were filled with a singing like the sea,

And our tongues awash with song, as waves-countless,

And our lips to lauding, as the skies are wide,

And our eyes illumined like the sun and the moon,

And our hands spread-out like the eagles of heaven,

And our feet as fleet as fawns,

Still, we would not suffice in thanking You, Lord God-of-us…

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

Poland Searches Its Own Soul

Mr. [Michal] Bilewicz, the psychologist, agreed. He described two interesting studies he conducted not long ago. In one, he said, different groups of Israeli and Polish teenagers, brought together, were told either to chat only about their lives today or to discuss only the war and Shoah. The first group forged easy bonds. The second talked at cross purposes. “Both sides need to learn to empathize more,” Mr. Bilewicz concluded.

The other study surveyed residents of what used to be the Warsaw Ghetto, where virtually no remnants of the Jewish past remain, aside from street names and the memorial. To the surprise even of the researchers, many residents said the Jewish history of their district was crucial to their own sense of pride and home. The study found that the monuments, museums and other cultural reminders of the past were essential to sustaining the neighborhood’s collective memory.

“History is being rewritten here every day,” as Mr. Bilewicz put it. “How come you in America believe that you can change, but Poles always remain the same?”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Poland, Religion & Culture

USA Today: Mayors to explore roots of mass violence

A recent spate of mass murders is prompting some criminal justice analysts and government officials to call for a renewed national focus on the violence.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ top staffer says much of the public has grown “numb” to a mounting body count. At least nine mass killings this year have claimed 57 lives, including the fatal shootings last week of 13 people at an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y.

“As a country, we seem to be more interested in the origin of tainted pistachios, peanuts and ice cream than the people who are being killed in our cities,” says Tom Cochran, executive director of the mayors’ group. He has scheduled a “national conversation” on the shootings when the group meets in June in Providence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

AP: Jews prepare for Passover in Israel, USA and worldwide

Jews around the world made last-minute preparations Wednesday ahead of the spring festival of Passover, cleaning houses, cars and offices, cooking furiously and getting ready for a week without leavened bread.

The holiday, which marks the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt as recounted in the Bible, begins Wednesday night with a special meal known as the seder.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

Washington Post: A Celebration of the Sun, and the Earth

What would 3rd-century Jewish sage and astronomer Shmuel have thought yesterday at sunrise, watching dozens of young Jews play guitar, dance and pray on the Lincoln Memorial’s grand steps, transforming his ancient solar calculations into a chance to sing folk songs and do yoga?

The scene at daybreak was unusual, as is the ritual that prompted it.

Birkat HaChamah, a Jewish blessing service honoring the sun, happens only once every 28 years. It occurs when the sun makes its biannual stop over the equator, the vernal equinox, on the fourth day of the Jewish week — the same day the Old Testament says God created the sun.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

An Editorial from the Local Paper: The incredible growing debt

Five days ago, a prominent congressman wrote on The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion page that Washington must “get our deficit back under control.” He wasn’t a Republican decrying President Barack Obama’s record budget plan.

He was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Rep. Hoyer voted for the $3.53 trillion House budget plan that passed Thursday (the Senate passed a $3.55 trillion version Thursday night). But his words of warning about our rapidly growing national debt offer hope that at least a few of the people now running Capitol Hill understand the fiscal catastrophe lurking if trillion-dollar deficits become the norm.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

An LA Times Debate: Does America need more gun control?

Do the recent mass shootings in New York state and Pittsburgh suggest a need for more stringent firearms laws? The Brady Campaign’s Paul Helmke and ‘Ricochet’ author Richard Feldman debate….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

A Trustworthy, Transparent and Truthful Ministry – Bishop Lawrence Preaches at Renewal of Vows

Transparency is the watch word for anyone in leadership today. Whether he or she is a CEO, a politician, an educator or a preacher there is a cry from the bottom to the top for transparency. “Today anyone with a cell phone and access to a computer has the power to bring down a billion dollar corporation or even a government.” [I’m indebted to a recent book by Warren Bennis, Transparency for some of the details in this section.] We do our ministry in the world of blogs and Facebook. What we write and post “will be in the ether longer than a plastic bag in a landfill.” Fortune magazine noted that 23,000 new blogs appeared online everyday in early 2005. By mid 2007 there were an estimated 70 million blogs””there are even more today and all are looking for something to talk about. Just ask Michael Phelps. He learned the hard way that after thousands of photographs and TV cameras documenting his Olympic gold medal performances in the public arena, a single photo from a cell phone in a private moment can threaten one’s career. Remember, in today’s world nothing is reliably off the record. You can never assume you are alone. I walked into a fast-food restaurant in Statesburg while on my way to the House of Bishops and noticed a camera was watching my every move. Just imagine an argument with a sales-clerk, who was taking my hamburger order, it would be taped for all the world to see. You’ll be glad to know no argument was even thought of or took place.

But far in advance of the whistle blowers and this new enforced culture of candor, long before the high tech transparency was foisted upon us, St. Paul taught us that the only truly legitimate way to conduct one’s ministry is with transparency in your life. Our lives and ministry should be an open statement of the truth. How else, as he writes in verse 2, could we “commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”? This is the ultimate transparency ”” that we practice our ministry in the presence of God. You know well the words in the Collect for Purity, “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid”¦.” Do we find such words threatening or comforting?

We commend God’s truth with candor and with open statements of God’s word””therein speaking truth to power. Such is rarely as easy as it sounds. During FDR’s presidency there were few in his cabinet who dared to challenge him. He apparently could be more than a little bullying. The one who did, however, was General George Marshall. On more than one occasion he stood firm. “I am sorry, Mr. President, but I don’t agree with that at all.” Without his steadfastness the U.S. military would have been even less prepared than it was after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Transparency speaks truth to power. We get the courage to do this from the Holy Spirit. As Paul encouraged Timothy””“for God has not given us a Spirit of fear; but of power, love, and of self control.” Or as he puts it in this morning’s text, the light of Christ has shined in our hearts. Paul was on his way to Damascus when the same God who at the creation said “Let there be light” made his light shine in his heart. And he, Paul, became a new creation. As he puts it in chapter five of this same letter, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation””the old has passed away, behold the new has come”¦.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

David Brooks: The End of Philosophy

The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

Finally, it should also challenge the very scientists who study morality. They’re good at explaining how people make judgments about harm and fairness, but they still struggle to explain the feelings of awe, transcendence, patriotism, joy and self-sacrifice, which are not ancillary to most people’s moral experiences, but central. The evolutionary approach also leads many scientists to neglect the concept of individual responsibility and makes it hard for them to appreciate that most people struggle toward goodness, not as a means, but as an end in itself.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Christian Century: Mainline called uncounted force for change

The White House has an oft-overlooked religious ally for solving the country’s social problems through greatly expanded government programs, if a new survey of senior pastors in mainline Protestant churches is a good indication.

Republican politicians and commentators have opposed President Obama’s economic stimulus initiatives and proposals to improve health care, education and the budgets of middle-class Americans as an overly expensive shift to “big government” bordering on socialism. But three-quarters of pastors in seven mainline denominations agreed in the mid-2008 survey that the federal government “should do more to solve social problems such as unemployment, poverty and poor housing.”

Most of the queried clergy accepted the likely price of such reforms. Some 67 percent favored government-guaranteed health insurance “for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes.” Moreover, 69 percent said that more environmental protection is needed, even if it raises prices and costs jobs.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Presbyterian, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

A Picture is worth 1000 words

Check it out (hat tip: CT)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology