Daily Archives: May 3, 2009

Chris Sugden: Report from ACC-14: Day One

Bishop John Paterson of Auckland New Zealand, the chair of ACC -14, hoped that the conference would “build on the experience of how people worked together to achieve understanding if not a common mind on everything at Lambeth 2008 and… come to some decisions in the best interests of the Communion.” The management of ACC-14 is hoping for a common mind at the conference that will help the delegates make critical decisions. However, it is ironic that the managers of the Lambeth Conference, a three-week Conference designed to make no decisions, will be the same ones overseeing the processes of the 10 day meeting of the ACC. How they make the shift from a process designed not to make decisions to one that does will be interesting to see. It is also interesting that, according to its managers, the ACC can make decisions while we note that Lambeth Bishops were not allowed to.

The conference will also consider the report of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). While organizers did not say what the delegates would be considering, Canon Kearon said that the report’s view of the three moratoria was that the moratorium on the consent to the consecration of a bishop in a same sex relationship had held, that the moratorium on the public rites of same-sex blessings had held by and large, but that cross-border interventions had not ceased but had gotten worse. It was not expected that the meeting would consider the development of a new Anglican province in North America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Consultative Council

The Independent An invention that could change the internet for ever

The biggest internet revolution for a generation will be unveiled this month with the launch of software that will understand questions and give specific, tailored answers in a way that the web has never managed before.

The new system, Wolfram Alpha, showcased at Harvard University in the US last week, takes the first step towards what many consider to be the internet’s Holy Grail ”“ a global store of information that understands and responds to ordinary language in the same way a person does.

Although the system is still new, it has already produced massive interest and excitement among technology pundits and internet watchers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

U.S. Panel: Religious Freedom Ebbing In Russia, Turkey

A congressionally backed panel said today that religious freedoms were deteriorating in Russia, Turkey and four other nations that were added to a watch list of countries where people’s rights to worship as they please or not to worship at all are at risk.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also named Nigeria as a “country of particular concern,” joining 12 other countries that the commission considers the world’s worst violators.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Religion & Culture, Russia

Archbishop of Sydney in rallying call to Church of Ireland evangelicals

Archbishop Jensen, who said he had recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his conversion at a Billy Graham crusade, told his audience that this was a “solemn time” for Anglicans, as the Anglican Communion was facing a crisis over the authority of Scripture. Dr Jensen said that the Anglican Communion was “a very significant body of Christians” in today’s world and that anything that divided it was bad. The Communion enabled a sharing of resources, the delivery of aid and important networking across the globe.

However, he said that the 2003 consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, a practising gay man, had deeply torn the Communion. Bishop Robinson’s consecration, he added, had been the culmination of years of liberal teaching and had taken place despite the guidance of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the view of which had been “set aside” by the US Episcopal Church.

Since 2003, there had been attempts to “put the Communion together again”, but a fundamental issue concerned the “locus of authority”. By contrast, however, he said that the policy of liberals in the Communion was to delay decisions because they thought people would eventually agree with them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland

Why can't our public schools teach students to read?

Ridge Smith hunches over a newspaper article, harnesses his concentration and focuses on the words.

He wants to prove how well he can read.

His wide, luminous smile disappears. His mouth slowly forms the words he knows. He stops again and again, tripped up on words such as “awkward,” “August” and “local.”

Seconds stretch into minutes.

Ridge is 16. He spent more than 10 years in some of Charleston County’s inner-city, low-performing schools. His teachers and principals learned early on that he had an average IQ and could learn to read. Many of them latched on to the quiet, well-behaved and kind child, but no one taught him to read well.

Ridge reads at a third-grade level.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina

Flu pandemic still likely but Mexico cases easing

Mexico’s swine flu outbreak appeared to be easing on Saturday with a decrease in serious cases, the government said, but world health officials warned the unpredictable virus could still become a pandemic.

“Each day there are fewer serious cases and the mortality has been decreasing,” Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told a news conference in Mexico City, where millions were heeding government advice to stay at home.

Of the more than 100 suspected deaths from the new H1N1 virus that have emerged in the Latin American nation, 19 had been confirmed, Cordova said. Mexico had already scaled back from its original estimate of 176 suspected deaths.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Jack Kemp, Star on Field and in Politics, Dies at 73

Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73.

The cause was cancer, said his son Jimmy Kemp. Jack Kemp’s Washington consulting and lobbying firm, Kemp Partners, announced in January that he had cancer but did not disclose the type.

Mr. Kemp was secretary of housing and urban development under the first President George Bush and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1996. But his greatest legacy may stem from his years as a congressman from Buffalo, especially 1978, when his argument for sharp tax cuts to promote economic growth became party policy, one that has endured to this day.

Mr. Kemp, having embraced a supply-side economic theory, told the House that year that the nation suffered under a “tax code that rewards consumption, leisure, debt and borrowing, and punishes savings, investment, work and production.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Sports

LA Times: In California Firing teachers can be a costly and tortuous task

It’s remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.

Not only is the process arduous, but some districts are particularly unsuccessful in navigating its complexities. The Los Angeles Unified School District sees the majority of its firings overturned, and its administrators are far less likely even to try firing a tenured teacher than those in other districts.

The Times reviewed every case on record in the last 15 years in which a tenured employee was fired by a California school district and formally contested the decision before a review commission: 159 in all (not including about two dozen in which the records were destroyed). The newspaper also examined court and school district records and interviewed scores of people, including principals, teachers, union officials, district administrators, parents and students.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Iraq bloodshed rises as US allies defect

IRAQ is threatened by a new wave of sectarian violence as members of the “Sons of Iraq” ”“ the Sunni Awakening militias that were paid by the US to fight Al-Qaeda ”“ begin to rejoin the insurgency.

If the spike in violence continues, it could affect President Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw all combat troops from Iraqi cities by the end of June. All US troops are due to leave the country by 2012.

A leading member of the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance, which represents six Sunni militant groups, said: “The resistance has now returned to the field and is intensifying its attacks against the enemy. The number of coalition forces killed is on the rise.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Mine That Bird, a 50-1 Shot, Surges to Kentucky Derby Victory

In the second-biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history, Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot, ran away from the field along the rail down the stretch to win by six and three-quarter lengths Saturday.

That was one happy jockey! Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Britons Debate Cost of Hospital Chaplains

A British secularist group has called on the government to end public support for hospital chaplains, saying the government has no business in paying the salaries of religious clergy.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has sent a report to Britain’s Health Minister, Alan Johnson, calling for a review of hospital chaplaincy services with a view to ending taxpayer funding for them.

“People are shocked to learn from us that chaplaincy services are costing the hard-pressed (publicly funded) National Health Service more than 40 million pounds ($60 million) a year,” Keith Porteous Wood, chief executive of the NSS, told Ecumenical News International.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

After 341 Years, British Poet Laureate Is a Woman

The writer Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Britain’s poet laureate on Friday, becoming the first woman to take a 341-year-old job that has been held by, among others, Dryden, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Cecil Day-Lewis and Ted Hughes.

Ms. Duffy, 53, is known for using a deceptively simple style to produce accessible, often mischievous poems dealing with the darkest turmoil and the lightest minutiae of everyday life. In her most popular collection, “The World’s Wife” (1999), overlooked women in history and mythology get the chance to tell their side of the story, so that one poem imagines, for instance, the relief that Mrs. Rip Van Winkle must have felt when her husband fell asleep, finally giving her some time for herself.

Announcing the decision, the culture secretary, Andy Burnham, called Ms. Duffy “a towering figure in English literature today and a superb poet” who has “achieved something that only the true greats of literature manage ”” to be regarded as both popular and profound.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Poetry & Literature

Robert Mickens: Tension builds in Holy Land ahead of visit

As Pope Benedict XVI makes final preparations to embark on 8 May on a week-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land to pray for peace in the Middle East, his planned visit to the region has already become the latest trigger for new Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Various reports in the last few days said Israeli authorities and Palestinian Christians were embroiled in disputes over security issues surrounding at least two papal events.

The first has concerned the location of the platform the Pope is to stand on when he visits the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem on 13 May. According to an Associated Press report last week, Israel was demanding that Palestinian organisers stop building the platform and an amphitheatre because they were too close to the large cement wall that is part of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. Israeli authorities said the Palestinians had not acquired the necessary permits to build the structures. They said their proximity to the wall posed a security threat.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

100 Rabbis Prepare to Welcome Pope to Holy Land

More than a hundred rabbis of various denominations will sign a message welcoming Benedict XVI to the Holy Land and encouraging dialogue between Jews and Christians.

The presidents of the International Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Education, Adalberta and Armando Bernardini, told ZENIT that the message is due to be published on the Web site of an Israeli newspaper, “Ha’Arezt.”

The initiative is being promoted by one of the foundation’s members, Rabbi Jack Bemporard, also director of the New Jersey based Center for Interreligious Understanding.

From May 8 to 15 the Pope will visit the Holy Land, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, in a visit described by the government of Israel as a “bridge for peace.”

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Global warming strongly divides Christian clergy

When the Rev. James Merritt wants to talk about the environment, he does what any good Baptist preacher would do. He picks up the Bible.

“The first assignment that God gave to Adam was to take care of the Garden,” said Merritt, who was president of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention from 2000-02. “As far as I know, that job has never been revoked.”

While most Christian ministers agree that human beings are to care for creation, they disagree on the details. That’s especially true about the topic of global warming.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Hong Kong hotel quarantine move stirs controversy

Travellers quarantined in a Hong Kong hotel for a week after a Mexican guest tested positive for the H1N1 flu expressed dismay on Saturday at the tough steps, while an infectious disease expert said the authorities had over-reacted.

Police wearing surgical masks sealed off the Metropark hotel on Friday night after test results on the 25-year-old Mexican man were confirmed, ordering approximately 200 guests and 100 staff to stay in the hotel for the next seven days.

The measures taken by the authorities in Hong Kong underscore the concern here about the new flu and the confirmed case, Asia’s first. Hong Kong was badly hit by the SARS virus in 2003 and has had many episodes of H5N1 bird flu for more than a decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Health & Medicine