Daily Archives: March 3, 2011

Peggy Noonan–The Internet Helps Us Get Serious

I was talking the other day with a new member of the U.S. Senate, and conversation turned to what had surprised him most in his first months on Capitol Hill. He said it was the number of people who still don’t seem to understand that we’re in crisis, that if we don’t move now on spending, it could do us in.

I’m always surprised when I hear this, yet I’ve heard it a lot. “There’s no sense of urgency up here.”

[Why is This?]

I think some of the answer has to do with what, for lack of a better word, I’ll call crisis-ism. This is a condition in which you don’t know you’re in crisis because you’re always in crisis, you’ve always been in crisis, and you’ve always gotten through, so what the heck. Crisis-ism is the inability to apprehend that this time it’s different, that this time the crisis is an actual crisis….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Thomas Friedman on Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Beyond–This Is Just the Start

Future historians will long puzzle over how the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, in protest over the confiscation of his fruit stand, managed to trigger popular uprisings across the Arab/Muslim world. We know the big causes ”” tyranny, rising food prices, youth unemployment and social media. But since being in Egypt, I’ve been putting together my own back-of-the-envelope guess list of what I’d call the “not-so-obvious forces” that fed this mass revolt. Here it is….

THE BEIJING OLYMPICS China and Egypt were both great civilizations subjected to imperialism and were both dirt poor back in the 1950s, with China even poorer than Egypt, Edward Goldberg, who teaches business strategy, wrote in The Globalist. But, today, China has built the world’s second-largest economy, and Egypt is still living on foreign aid. What do you think young Egyptians thought when they watched the dazzling opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics? China’s Olympics were another wake-up call ”” “in a way that America or the West could never be” ”” telling young Egyptians that something was very wrong with their country, argued Goldberg….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Africa, Asia, Bahrain, Blogging & the Internet, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Politics in General, Saudi Arabia, Science & Technology, Sports, Tunisia

(NPR) Yemen Unrest A Worry For Counterterrorism Experts

Ask counterterrorism experts what country in the Arab world worries them most and they say ”” hands down ”” that it is Yemen.

“I would put Yemen at the top of the list in part because there is so much direct concern about al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] trying to target and attack the United States,” says Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for terrorism. “The reality is that AQAP is a viable network and group. Even if the numbers aren’t in the thousands, just a few hundred of those types with the right kind of leadership training and inspiration can do quite a bit of damage.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Terrorism, Yemen

(Watershed Post) Judge: Town's treatment of pagans may be discrimination

A judge has found that a group of self-described witches may have gotten special treatment from the town of Catskill ”“ and not in a good way.

In a strongly-worded decision issued on Tuesday, Judge George J. Pulver, Jr. of the Greene County Supreme County ruled that the town’s denial of a property tax exemption for the Maetreum of Cybele smacks of discrimination.

“Consistent with [the Matreum’s] claim that it is being discriminated against, respondents’ counsel attempts to hold petitioner to a higher standard than other religious organizations,” Pulver wrote in the decision, a copy of which was obtained by the Watershed Post.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Alex Trimpe–The World Is Obsessed With Facebook

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Psychology, Science & Technology

(AP) Germany: Islamism behind attack on U.S. forces

The attack on a busload of U.S. Air Force troops at Frankfurt airport that killed two is being investigated as a possible act of Islamic terrorism, German federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Two airmen were also wounded late Wednesday when a man identified as a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo fired on the servicemen at close range. His family said the young man worked at Frankfurt airport and was a devout Muslim.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Germany, Islam, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Politico) Poll shows Americans confused by budget

Americans have no idea where the federal government spends its money, a new poll suggests.

Among likely voters surveyed late last month by the Tarrance Group, “[t]here are widespread misperceptions about the state of the federal budget,” the Republican pollsters concluded. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they believe the federal government spends more on defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security. In fiscal 2010, spending for those two social programs totaled more than $1.1 trillion, while the Pentagon’s budget was about $660 billion and the State Department’s total spending was just under $52 billion.

A majority of those surveyed by Tarrance also have “incorrect” views on how to cut the federal deficit, with 60 percent saying the federal budget’s problems can be ameliorated by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday released a report detailing several billion dollars’ worth of “duplication” in government spending that could be cut. But even if the totals reach the tens of billions of dollars, they would still be a drop in the bucket of President Barack Obama’s proposed $3.73 trillion in spending for fiscal 2012.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Guardian Datablog) EU arms exports to Libya: who armed Gaddafi?

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya

Time Magazine: How Germany Became the China of Europe

Germany’s revival has reversed its role in Europe. Less than a decade ago, Germany was a bumbling behemoth beset by chronic unemployment and pathetic growth. As its more aggressive neighbors such as Spain, Britain and Ireland rode the craze in global finance to stellar performances, they looked at Germany as their stodgy old uncle, unable to change outdated, socialist habits and adapt to a new world. But the financial crisis proved just the opposite. While Spain, Ireland and other former euro-zone highflyers tumble into debt crises, victims of excessive exuberance and risky policies, a steady but reformed Germany has emerged as Europe’s dominant economic power. According to the OECD, Germany accounted for 60% of the GDP growth of the euro zone in 2010, up from only 10% in the early 2000s. “We changed from the sick man of Europe to the engine,” says Steffen Kampeter, parliamentary state secretary at Germany’s Ministry of Finance in Berlin.

Germany’s engine, however, has spewed toxic fumes. As manufacturers rev exports, the rest of Europe has been unable to compete. Some 80% of Germany’s trade surplus is with the rest of the European Union. The more German industry excels, the more other Europeans feel that Germany’s success comes at their expense, cracking open schisms within the euro zone just when the region can least afford them. “There is frustration with Germany,” says André Sapir, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank. “Germany is moving ahead, but what are they doing for the rest of Europe?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Germany, Politics in General

(CNS) Christian roots of US called key to its model of religious freedom

The concept and practice of religious freedom is “one of America’s greatest qualities” but it cannot be appreciated or passed along to other nations without an understanding of its roots in Christian thought, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver told a symposium at Georgetown University March 1.

“It is impossible to talk honestly about the American model of religious freedom without acknowledging that it is, to a significant degree, the product of Christian-influenced thought,” the archbishop said in his keynote address to a daylong symposium on “Religion in American Politics and Society: A Model for Other Countries?”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A.S. Haley–Rushing to Judgment: a Spurious Defense of Title IV (Pt. II)

Thus, the justification offered by the “Task Force II” on Title IV has no historical basis in fact, and constitutes a misreading of the intent of those who enacted the language. And as argued at the outset of this post, there is no rational basis for dividing the power to establish courts from the power to define their jurisdiction, constitution, and procedures. Read in that way, Article IX becomes a mere fig leaf: the real power to create the courts, notwithstanding the language of Article IX, lies in General Convention.

And so to read Article IX, in a paper submitted by the authors of the revisions to Title IV, is to express everything that is wrong with the current views of the leadership of ECUSA as to its polity. In the state court lawsuits, over and over again, that leadership has beat the drum for ECUSA’s “hierarchical” polity, when — as shown in the first post in this series — there is no such hierarchy as between the dioceses themselves, or when assembled in General Convention. The proof of this point lies in the latest revisions to Title IV themselves. On the “Publications” page of General Convention may be found links to various documents regarding the revisions, including a set of “model” canons for the dioceses to enact in order to implement the revisions.

Without the dioceses enacting those (or similar canons) in their own separate conventions, the changes to Title IV approved at the national level in 2009 could never take effect….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

(Reuters) Q+A: What could trigger U.S. intervention in Libya?


Possibly a major jump in the death toll. Analysts say massacres of civilians, aerial bombing of civilian targets or a concerted military offensive by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to retake rebel-held territory could be possible triggers.

While the Obama administration is sensitive to criticism that it has been slow to respond more forcefully to Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown on opponents, it has made clear it will not be rushed into making any hasty decisions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Libya, Middle East, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

(NC Register) Catholic Pakistani Minister Killed for Protecting Christians

Christians, government officials and secular groups have condemned the brutal assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the young Catholic minister in charge of minority affairs in Pakistan’s federal cabinet.

Bhatti, 42, was shot by unidentified gunmen who pumped bullets into his car from automatic weapons as he was being driven from his residence to his office in Islamabad this morning.

Bhatti, bleeding profusely, was rushed to a nearby hospital by his driver in the same car. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley

Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Methodist, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, we beseech thee, Almighty God, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in thy mercy, and a sincere love to thee and to all our fellow men; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

–Matthew 7:7-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishops of Canterbury and York strongly condemn murder of Pakistan Minorities Minister

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Pakistan, Parish Ministry

Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz, Killed Today, Testifies to his Faith

Take the time to watch this video (at the top) made four months ago (it lasts a little over 1 1/3 minutes). When I saw it this morning on the BBC World News I burst into tears–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Yorkshire Post Editorial– Will Gaddafi go?

That the world is committed to isolating Libya and holding its ruling family to account does, indeed, send a very powerful message to those who are fighting ”“ literally ”“ to end Gaddafi’s four decades of tyranny. Yet, as the humanitarian crisis inside the North Africa country escalates, world leaders ”“ like David Cameron ”“ will note that the dictator is unlikely to take any notice of the EU, United Nations and others, despite the prospect of a no-fly zone being belatedly imposed to protect Libya’s citizens.

Their dilemma, if the bloodshed persists, is whether the West can justify military action to remove Gaddafi when considering the consequences that this could have across the wider Middle East, and for the war on terror.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Politics in General, Theology

(BBC) Bishop of Bath and Wells hits out against spending cuts

An Anglican Bishop has spoken out against government spending cuts, saying they will affect the “most vulnerable and poorest” in society.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Right Reverend Peter Price, said attention should be drawn to cuts which caused “suffering, hardship or deprivation”.

Bishop Price also said people should join protests against the cuts.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Boise County files for bankruptcy

In a move rare in the United States and perhaps unprecedented in Idaho, Boise County is filing for federal protection against a multimillion dollar judgment.

“This was not our first option. This was our last option,” said Jamie Anderson, chairwoman of the three-member Boise County Board of Commissioners. “This protects us so we can continue to operate.”

Chapter 9 protection, from a section of federal code expressly for financially distressed municipalities, means that creditors can’t collect while the county is developing a plan for reorganizing its debts.

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

(Guardian) Judith Maltby–Churches should celebrate bringing God into civil partnership ceremonies

Marriage is under threat, we hear from some church leaders. Not by heterosexuals with an ever-increasing divorce rate, but by gay and lesbian people who want to express their religious faith in their civil partnership ceremonies.

Some leaders in my own church, the Church of England, as well as the Roman Catholic church have described this as an assault on religious liberty ”“ and no doubt there is an aggressive secularist agenda to embarrass the churches, though aggressive secularists should note that we are pretty good at doing that ourselves without their help.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(CEN) Andrew Carey–Redefining what marriage means

When legislation creating civil partnerships was passing through Parliament the government was at pains to give reassurances that these were distinct from marriage. They undoubtedly righted an injustice that many dependent couples, not married, could face great hardship when partners died or were ill. Yet because they were limited to same-sex partners, rather than maiden aunts and siblings, they were a nod in the direction of a quasi-homosexual marriage. This was confirmed later when a Home Office press release, announcing the date on which the legislation would become law, stated that wedding bells would be ringing for
same-sex couples.

And now by allowing religious elements to be incorporated into civil partnerships in contrast it is clear that the government is pushing these civil partnerships to their limits as a form of marriage between homosexuals. And there is absolutely no doubt that the remaining distinctions between civil partnerships and matrimony, despite the usual empty government reassurances, will be tested in the years ahead. Firstly, when the dust has settled a legal test case will be brought against a church which has opted out of allowing a gay couple to use their premises for a civil partnership.

But whether or not such a case wins or loses, the pressure is already building for gay civil marriage, which will eventually become gay religious marriage. And before we know it, what was permissive will become coercive and compulsory.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology