Daily Archives: January 18, 2012

Satellite photo of the Costo Concordia

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Travel

(ENI) South Sudan, agencies aid victims of inter-ethnic fighting

Christian humanitarian agencies are delivering relief aid to thousands of people displaced in inter-tribal conflict in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.

The assistance is targeting nearly 60,000 people in Jonglei State where a cycle of violence between two pastoralist communities is continuing. The Lou-Nuer and the Murle have a history of raiding each other’s cattle, women and children, but Christian leaders want the communities to give up arms.

“I urge the government to disarm the two communities (whose members posses illegal arms), simultaneously. The action should also be extended to other armed communities in the state,” Anglican Bishop Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel of Rumbek told ENInews in a telephone interview from South Sudan on 16 January.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Sudan, Violence

(WSJ) Politics, Tax Code Said to Stymie U.S.

What’s dragging down U.S. economic vigor?

According to Harvard Business School graduates, political gridlock, faltering schools, and a convoluted tax code are making American companies less competitive in the global marketplace.

A new survey of the business school’s alumni found that nearly three-quarters of respondents expect the U.S. to be less competitive over the next three years. They said the U.S. is losing ground to emerging economies, where low wages, increasingly skilled workers, growing markets and proximity to customers frequently trump traditional American strengths such as sophisticated infrastructure, a reliable legal system and effective macroeconomic policy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, Taxes

Delaware lawsuit delves into Lord's Prayer

A hearing… in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Sussex County Council from reciting the Lord’s Prayer before each meeting delved into the theological meaning and history of the prayer’s title and whether it is explicitly a Christian prayer.

Four county residents want U.S. District Court Judge Leonard P. Stark to rule that council’s recitation of the Lord’s Prayer violates the establishment cause of the First Amendment, which prohibits government from favoring one religion over others. They have asked the judge to rule the practice unconstitutional and order the council to cease reciting any sectarian prayers.

“It affiliates the county government with one single faith ”” Christianity ”” and sends a message to the county residents that their county government favors one religion,” said Alex Luchenitser, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group that has taken on the case for the plaintiffs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) A California City Tries Bird Songs and Calming Music to Lessen Crime

Crime is down in this city on the desert fringe of Los Angeles County, and Mayor R. Rex Parris is sure he knows one reason: It’s the chirping….

The chirps subconsciously discourage criminality, Mr. Parris says: “Everybody is now in a better mood, a better place.”

Those chirps aren’t from here. The mayor bought them in recordings from England, and for the past 10 months he has had his city play them over 70 speakers along a half mile of Lancaster Boulevard, blended with mellow synthesizer tones, five hours a day.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Music, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Boko Haram bomb suspect escapes from Nigeria police

A key suspect in the Christmas Day bombing which killed at least 38 people in Nigeria has escaped from custody, police have admitted.

Kabiru Sokoto – believed to be a member of the Islamist sect Boko Haram – was arrested on Saturday in the capital Abuja after police trailed him.

But the very next day he escaped as police attempted to search his house outside the capital.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Why the Wikipedia founder is Protesting Strongly against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

The founder of Wikipedia is leading calls for search engines and social media sites including Google, Facebook and Twitter to take themselves offline for an entire day in protest against a controversial bill winding its way through the US Senate that could have profound implications for the internet.

Jimmy Wales has called for a “public uprising” against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa), which critics say will have a “chilling effect on innovation” by forcing websites to keep a much closer tab on what is posted by users on their pages….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(NC Register) Steven Greydanus–Best Films of 2011

2011 was a good year for film, and particularly for depictions of faith in film ”” but not in the Hollywood mainstream on either count.

This year, in one Hollywood film after another, religion was strikingly absent in tragic or crisis-filled times. George Clooney was widowed in The Descendants; Matt Damon widowed in both Contagion and We Bought a Zoo; Nicole Kidman bereaved of a child in Rabbit Hole (which had a limited opening in December 2010); all suffered bereavement with scarcely any acknowledgment of religion (except, in Kidman’s case, to reject it). Contagion, in particular, depicted all sorts of social consequences of a global pandemic except the role of faith in times of crisis. The black Baptist church in The Help was a rare exception.

Outside the Hollywood mainstream, it was another story. The French drama Of Gods and Men (easily my favorite film of the year) and the English documentary No Greater Love offered remarkable depictions of monastery life. Passion plays featured in two art films: Polish artist Lech Majewski’s The Mill & the Cross and Milanese architect Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Bloomberg) Electricity Declines 50% as Shale Spurs Natural Gas Glut

A shale-driven glut of natural gas has cut electricity prices for the U.S. power industry by 50 percent and reduced investment in costlier sources of energy.

With abundant new supplies of gas making it the cheapest option for new power generation, the largest U.S. wind-energy producer, NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), has shelved plans for new U.S. wind projects next year and Exelon Corp. (EXC) called off plans to expand two nuclear plants. Michigan utility CMS Energy Corp. (CMS) canceled a $2 billion coal plant after deciding it wasn’t financially viable in a time of “low natural-gas prices linked to expanded shale-gas supplies,” according to a company statement.

Mirroring the gas market, wholesale electricity prices have dropped more than 50 percent on average since 2008, and about 10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a Jan. 11 research report by Aneesh Prabhu, a New York-based credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

Attacks on Christians in Nigeria disturbing, says Archbishop of Canterbury

[Rowan] Williams said he has been discussing with the UK government on how to support those living in fear because of the sect’s activities.

In a letter to the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, which was read by his representative, the Bishop of Durham Rt. Revd Justin Welby, in Abuja, Williams said: “I write to assure you of my continuing prayers for you and for the work and ministry of the Anglican Church in Nigeria as unrest continues in many parts of Nigeria, both as a consequence of the national strikes and the continuing campaign by Boko Haram.

“The Rt Revd Justin Welby, newly enthroned as Bishop of Durham, comes to you, my brother in Christ, as my trusted emissary, and brings assurances of my prayers and concern for you and for your people. In addition to his time in Abuja he hopes to travel to Jos and to Kano. I have asked Bishop Welby to deliver my greetings to you in person when he meets with you as part of our continuing dialogue and mutual support.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Confession of St. Peter

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Church of South India

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

–Hebrews 6:11-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Robert Samuelson–Difficult Choices Remain on Spending and Health Care

Against these downward [price] pressures stand three powerful counter-forces: a reviving economy that eases people’s anxieties about elective spending; an aging society that raises the need for health care; and the start of Obamacare’s insurance mandates in 2014 that expand coverage by 30 million people or more. Those with insurance routinely use more health care than do the uncovered.

Health care poses a dilemma. On the one hand, we all want ”” for our families and ourselves ”” the best care available without artificial limits imposed by government regulations or private insurers. On the other, we don’t want soaring health spending to crowd out other government programs or depress take-home pay. The latest spending figures delude if they suggest we’ve overcome that dilemma. The Neanderthal Cure is an ugly stop-gap, nothing more…

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Politics in General, State Government, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Ireland: Bishops' Conference on Human Sexuality in the context of Christian Belief

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland will host a conference on the subject of ”˜Human Sexuality in the context of Christian Belief’ at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan on Friday the 9th and Saturday 10th March 2012, beginning at 4.00pm on Friday and concluding at 5.00pm on Saturday.

The bishops believe that it will be helpful to the church for members of General Synod to explore and discuss issues of human sexuality in the informal setting of a conference.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Globe and Mail) Eric Morse–A website hacked, a lesson learned

On Jan. 11, nearly three weeks after the Great Christmas Eve Stratfor Hack, the Texas-based strategic analysis website came back online with limited service. And none too soon ”“ some of us were starting to show signs of withdrawal.

If you haven’t been following, Strategic Forecasting Inc., better known as Stratfor, probably the most reputable privately owned open-source intelligence firm in the world, suffered a massive hacker attack on Dec. 24. The hackers proceeded to publish the credit-card information and passwords of many of Stratfor’s subscribers (4,000 alone beginning with the letter “A”) and proceeded to use said information to make unauthorized donations to every major charity in sight….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy