Daily Archives: March 23, 2012

US Inches Toward Goal of Energy Independence

Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production, reversing two decades of decline. Using new technology and spurred by rising oil prices since the mid-2000s, the industry is extracting millions of barrels more a week, from the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the prairies of North Dakota.

At the same time, Americans are pumping significantly less gasoline. While that is partly a result of the recession and higher gasoline prices, people are also driving fewer miles and replacing older cars with more fuel-efficient vehicles at a greater clip, federal data show.

Taken together, the increasing production and declining consumption have unexpectedly brought the United States markedly closer to a goal that has tantalized presidents since Richard Nixon: independence from foreign energy sources, a milestone that could reconfigure American foreign policy, the economy and more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Naomi Schaefer Riley: Defining the 'All-American Muslim'

Earlier this month, the TLC network announced that it will cancel the reality show “All-American Muslim” due to low ratings. Critics had complained that the show whitewashed the problem of Islamic radicalism in the U.S. by not portraying Muslim extremists, which led major sponsors such as the retailer Lowe’s to drop their support.

But the show’s producers were closer to portraying reality than critics asserted. The story of Islam in America today is a story of rapid assimilation and even secularization, not growing radicalism.

Jihad Turk, director of religious studies at LA’s Islamic Center of Southern California, says that of the roughly 750,000 Muslims living in Southern California, just 30,000, or about 4%, regularly attend Friday prayer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Zenit) Transhumanism and the Perfection Imperative

A few examples of what’s coming might be instructive. Research is presently underway into the prospect of the genetic enhancement of physical strength (we’ve already mentioned muscle enhancement through the use of drugs). Science has identified the genes that regulate the proteins that mediate muscle growth. If we insert these genes, synthetically produced, directly into muscles we could stimulate the production of these muscle growth proteins. Or, we could introduce the genes directly into human embryos, created in the lab, with the hope that they (the genes) would be incorporated into the functional genome of the growing person. Both types of insertion experiments have proved successful in studies with rats: muscle growth was increased in healthy adult rats and muscle decline was deferred in rats of advanced age.

Since we already treat elderly patients with drugs for increasing muscle mass and strength (a seemly legitimate therapeutic practice), why not enhance muscle strength through genetic engineering? Why not open these treatments to younger persons before they grow old in order to prevent or defer the effects of aging, called in the literature “age retardation”?

This raises the question of the morality of life extension research…

Part one is there and part two is here.

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

In Cuba, Church’s Uneasy Balancing Act

“This is a very risky moment,” Father Betancourt said of the church’s need to balance its roles as diplomat and guardian of the people’s rights, “because it is the moment on which the future of our mission with the Cuban people will depend.”

Benedict faces an odd paradox in what is the first visit by a pope since John Paul II’s in 1998. The church’s profile as an institution has risen sharply in recent years amid a burst of religious tolerance not seen since the 1959 revolution, with church leaders advocating for political and economic freedoms, negotiating the release of dozens of political prisoners in 2010 and counseling the government on plans for re-engineering the economy.

At the same time, the church has struggled to attract more worshipers and faces criticism that it has grown too cozy with Cuba’s tight circle of decision makers.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A French Killer's Path to Jihadist Rampage

In his alleged attacks, Mr. Merah appeared to follow al Qaeda’s founding cause of killing “Jews and crusaders.” He is suspected of having shot dead three soldiers from regiments that had dispatched troops to Afghanistan, and of having opened fire on a Jewish school in Toulouse, leaving four dead, including three children.

On Wednesday, police say he told his interlocutor that he had “brought France down on its knees,” expressing regret that he had failed to kill more people.

“He appears to have drifted into a parallel world where he picked and chose elements to build himself a new identity,” said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor in the Middle East department at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Terrorism

(Church Times) Canterbury: a few to watch

A key factor in the choice of Dr Williams’s successor is age. Prepara­tions for the 2018 Lambeth Confer­ence must start soon. Thus the next Archbishop will be expected to re­main in office for at least the next six years.

Dr Williams was appointed at the age of 51, and will have held office for a decade, as were his two pre­de­cessors. This time, however, there is no immediately outstanding candi­date among the younger generation of bishops. The Crown Nominations Commission might, therefore, choose a senior bishop to serve a shorter period.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)

Statement by Phil Ashey and the AAC on the resignation of Dr. Rowan Williams

In my opinion, there have been three instances when Rowan Williams had an opportunity to do something about The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada and chose not to. Number one was at the gathering of archbishops of the Anglican Communion in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 2007 where the archbishops agreed that some discipline needed to be taken against these rogue churches. However, Rowan Williams took matters into his own hands, didn’t do what his fellow archbishops asked him to do and as a result, many of them decided not to come to future gatherings. They seemed to be thinking, “what’s the point in going if the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to overturn our decisions and take matters into his own hands anyway?”

Secondly, in a gathering of Anglican leaders, bishops, clergy and laity, in Jamaica, 2009, Rowan Williams intervened in the debate about the Anglican Covenant. The Covenant was designed to try and hold the Communion together around some kind of a confession of faith and discipline. His interventions during that debate, which I was present for, were bewildering. He seemed to undermine the very Anglican Covenant he’d been championing and cast doubts about his own leadership behind it.

Thirdly, in response to the crisis in the Communion, instead of giving more authority to those archbishops who were faithful to the Gospel, the Archbishop of Canterbury attempted to centralize power in his own Anglican Communion office and in the creation of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. These actions undermined the legitimacy and respectability of the other existing instruments of communion, unity and governance-and especially the Primates’ meetings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC)

(Church Times) Archbishop Williams resigns after ten years of ”˜crisis management’

The Archbishop of Canterbury will step down at the end of the year, Lambeth Palace announced last Friday. Dr Williams is to become the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, from January 2013.

Rumours began to circulate early on Friday morning that an announcement from Lambeth Palace was imminent. A statement was issued shortly before 10.30 a.m. by Dr Williams’s press officer. It said that Dr Williams’s intentions had been conveyed to the Queen, and that he would continue to carry out duties until the end of the year….

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Posted in Uncategorized

Erwin Chemerinsky and Eric J. Segall–The Supreme Court should lift its TV blackout

Why the U.S. Supreme Court continues to hold its oral arguments away from television cameras remains a mystery and a national shame. On Monday, the court will begin hearing six hours of arguments over three days in a lawsuit brought by more than half of the states in the nation to challenge the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one of the most important pieces of economic legislation passed by Congress since the New Deal. The stakes of the litigation could not be higher. How the court rules is likely to affect healthcare in this country for generations and could even affect the outcome of the presidential election.

Who will get to witness this historical event? Only the justices, the lawyers, a few reporters and 250 lucky individuals whose tenacity and financial ability will allow them to camp out in front of the court ”” perhaps for days ”” before the hearing begins. The court has said it will provide same-day (not live) audio coverage of the oral arguments. There will be no television at all, not even on tape.

We should be outraged by this decision….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Gregory the Illuminator

Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy saints, and didst raise up thy servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth thy praise, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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, in whose presence is fullness of joy, and whose power is made perfect in our weakness: Grant us so to dwell in thy presence, that we may ever be glad of heart; and so to rest on thy strength, that we may have victory over evil; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Mid’ian; and he sat down by a well.

–Exodus 2:9-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Time) Fareed Zakaria on the New Healthcare Law and Lessons Thereon from around the Globe

The centerpiece of the case against Obamacare is the requirement that everyone buy some kind of health insurance or face stiff penalties–the so-called individual mandate. It is a way of moving toward universal coverage without a government-run or single-payer system. It might surprise Americans to learn that another advanced industrial country, one with a totally private health care system, made precisely the same choice nearly 20 years ago: Switzerland. The lessons from Switzerland and other countries can’t resolve the constitutional issues, but they suggest the inevitability of some version of Obamacare….

Twenty years ago, Switzerland had a system very similar to America’s–private insurers, private providers–with very similar problems. People didn’t buy insurance but ended up in emergency rooms, insurers screened out people with pre-existing conditions, and costs were rising fast. The country came to the conclusion that to make health care work, everyone had to buy insurance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Asia, Budget, Economy, Europe, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Politics in General, Switzerland, Taiwan, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government