Daily Archives: September 24, 2012

17 states see higher poverty rates

States saw little relief from poverty in the past year, especially among children, the unemployed and those in the lowest income brackets.

The latest Census figures show that 17 states had increases in the number of people living in poverty between 2010 and 2011. Only one state, Vermont, had a decrease; the other 32 showed no change.

Although the national poverty rate has been steady at 15.9%, the Census data show pockets of increases by geography and among demographic groups. The data reflect the economy’s slow recovery and anemic job growth, policy analysts say.

“The problem is high unemployment,” says Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

City of York Fairness Commission To Present Final Report

The York Fairness Commission will present its Final Report to the leaders of City of York Council on Thursday 27th September at an event at Bishopthorpe Palace.

The presentation of the report will be the culmination of months of work to see how inequality and unfairness can be tackled across York, in the face of a difficult economic situation nationally.

Whilst research shows two fifths of York residents are relatively well off, living in the best 20% of places in the country, around 13,000 residents in the City live in the most deprived 20% of the country. In addition , City of York Council must make £19.7m worth of savings over the next two years due to cuts imposed by central government.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, City Government, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General

Battle over numbers in debate over expansion of Medicaid in South Carolina

Would an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health-care law help or hinder South Carolina’s finances? Depends who you ask.

Strains of disagreement are building against the backdrop of a campaign by Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration to build opposition to an expansion.
Generally opposed by Republicans and favored by Democrats, the debate over whether to expand the Medicaid program in the states is set to play out in many statehouses across the country. That’s because a June Supreme Court ruling made the extension of coverage optional.

In the Palmetto State, advocates for the expansion contend Haley’s administration is emphasizing the costs and underselling offsetting economic benefits of an expansion.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government, The U.S. Government

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–Great story about one Doctor who urged the disabled to choose life

[Ludwig ] Guttmann was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Born into an orthodox Jewish family, by 1933 he was Germany’s leading brain surgeon. Then Hitler came to power and in 1939 he came to Britain where his skill in neurology led to his being asked by the government to set up the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital, which he did in 1943.

At that time it was assumed that paraplegics would never be able to live any kind of normal life. The best that could be done for them was to keep them sedated by high doses of drugs, and left hospitalized and bed-ridden until they died.

Guttmann was appalled. He believed that they each had a life ahead of them, not just behind them. With faith and determination, they could leave their beds, go out into the world, have jobs, marry,find happiness and the dignity of achievement. The film tells how, by sheer will and unshakable obstinacy, he gave paraplegics back their life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Life Ethics, Other Faiths

CS Lewis on Christian Stewardship and the Call to Give

In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason “in order that he may have something to give to those in need.” Charity-giving to the poor-is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of “charities” in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbours or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear-fear of insecurity. This must often be recognised as a temptation.Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.

Mere Christianity (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), Book III, Chapter 3 [emphasis mine]

Posted in Uncategorized

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda–Religion Not a Business

While addressing over 50 religious leaders at the Democracy and Peace Week dialogue, Rwaje said some members of the public shun going to church due to disappointment of messages relayed.

“Religious leadership is a calling from God and it is about teaching the word of God, but not looking for money from the faithful. There are biblical principles urging churchgoers to give offerings and tithes, but it should not be used as a platform to squeeze money out of believers,” Rwaje advised.

He added: “Religious leaders are allowed to have their personal business ventures besides performing their church duties; therefore, they should act faithfully and please God by keeping the two positions independent of each other. They must separate God’s work from their personal work”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Rwanda, Stewardship, Theology

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Faith-Based Voters

[BOB] ABERNETHY: Our managing editor Kim Lawton has been covering the campaigns. Kim, what do we know so far from the polls about how faith-based people are dividing?

KIM LAWTON (Managing Editor, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly): Well, of course, it’s just a snapshot for right now but there were some new numbers this week that suggested that evangelicals, that all important group for Republicans, do seem to be supporting Mitt Romney at around the same levels they supported John McCain, which is very high, so that’s good news for Governor Romney. Catholics seem to be more divided as they were last time around although some new numbers this week suggest that they are leaning more towards Obama as they did in the last election. I was surprised to see this week numbers suggesting that mainline Protestants, who went principally for John McCain last time around or slightly more for John McCain, are, more of them are leaning towards Obama this time around.

ABERNETHY: Is there anything at all in the data to suggest that Romney’s religion is making any difference?

LAWTON: Well, in these snapshots that we have right now it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Read or watch it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Local paper) VA Reaches out to veterans behind bars

A decade after his military service, McLean faces 15 years to life in prison if he’s convicted of first-degree burglary. He makes no excuses for the addict he’s become.

Six months in jail awaiting a court date have provided him some quality detox time. Abusing alcohol and crack cocaine, McLean was homeless when he was arrested.

“I’ve never gotten into trouble except when drugs and alcohol were involved,” he says.

He admits he needs help.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Alcoholism, Defense, National Security, Military, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Iraq War, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Jennifer Fulwiler–The Virtual World Is a World Without Memories

When I think back to the Summer of ’92, for example, I picture meandering around the town square with my best friend. The hostess at the corner cafe got used to seeing us, and would sometimes catch our attention to motion us in for free glasses of freshly-squeezed lemonade. We’d see familiar cars rolling down the street and wave at them when they passed by. We’d say hi to the owner of the clothing boutique as she swept off the entryway of her building, and gaze at the new titles on display at the used books store nextdoor. Each of these small moments is like a brush stroke on a canvass, and together they form a richly colored picture that will remain with me for the rest of my life…but I was only able to experience them because I was fully present to the world around me.

I compared that to a memory of a recent event that I attended. I had some childcare issues come up, and ended up moving to a back corner of the room so that I could send text messages to my mother and husband to get the situation worked out. I made every effort to pay attention to the event, and was genuinely interested in it, but I don’t remember it well. I had one foot in the physical world around me, and another in the virtual world inside of my phone. My memories of that summer 20 years ago are far more vivid than my memories of this event two months ago.

It says something about the ultimate hollowness of virtual activities that they’d don’t leave us with memories. With rare exceptions, nobody remembers what texts they sent last month, or the status updates they read and posted last year.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, History, Psychology

Clubs and fans pay their respects to Hillsborough victims in a meeting between rivals at Anfield

Fans and players of both Liverpool and Manchester United paid their respects at Anfield to the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989.

Flowers, shirts and cards were placed outside the Shankly Gates and the by the memorial to the victims of the tragedy 23 years ago.

And as both teams emerged wearing tracksuits bearing the number 96, while United legend Sir Bobby Charlton presented flowers to Liverpool counterpart Ian Rush before respective skippers Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons.

Take the time to look at the pictures–deeply moving.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Parish Ministry, Sports

(WSJ) Marty Makary–How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us

As doctors, we swear to do no harm. But on the job we soon absorb another unspoken rule: to overlook the mistakes of our colleagues. The problem is vast. U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. Roughly a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error of some kind. If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America””just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer’s. The human toll aside, medical errors cost the U.S. health-care system tens of billions a year. Some 20% to 30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary, according to research done by medical specialists, surveying their own fields. What other industry misses the mark this often?

It does not have to be this way. A new generation of doctors and patients is trying to achieve greater transparency in the health-care system, and new technology makes it more achievable than ever before.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

(Washington Post) India slowly confronts epidemic of missing children

Every six minutes, a child goes missing in India.

They are boys like Irfan, drugged and abducted at the age of 9 by two men on a motorbike as he walked home one day after playing with friends.

“It was living hell these past two years, trying to figure out where we could find him,” said his father, Iqbal Ali. “I used to run a biscuit bakery, but from the day he disappeared, I got so caught up trying to meet politicians, police and people who claim to do magic to get children back, that I had to shut down my bakery. I had no time for it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, India, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, who by precept and example hast taught us that the greatest of all is the servant of all, and that the humble shall be exalted: Make us content to take the lowest place; and if it shall please thee to call us higher, do thou preserve within us a simple and lowly spirit; to thy great glory.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock which thy right hand planted.

–Psalm 80:14-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Courtesy of Michael Yon) Billy Birdzell–Embassy Security: The Strategic Context

On the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, al Qaeda affiliates staged a series of attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East. Inciting protests against the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” or possibly taking advantage of existing demonstrations, militants with alledged links to Al Qaeda burned the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith and two contracted American security personnel. Within days, violent protests sprung up in over two dozen countries across the Muslim world. In Sana’a, Yemen, protestors forcibly entered the U.S. Embassy compound and burned the American flag, replacing it with a black flag bearing the Islamic shahada.

Since the Benghazi attack, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities. In light of Ambassador Stevens’ death, and remembering the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days by “protestors” in Iran, there is growing concern about the ability of Americans to protect themselves inside diplomatic missions. While Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Teams (FAST) have been deployed to Yemen, questions remain as to why Marines or other U.S. military forces have not been sent to other embassies. Before we discuss the operational details of what U.S. forces are available, it is imperative that we understand the political context in which our military is used to protect U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

WCC General Secretary–European churches are called to confront current financial crisis

Citing the European churches’ “strong commitment over the past century to the ecumenical movement and fellowship in Europe,” WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit urged their direct engagement in the current financial and social crisis in and beyond Europe.

Their past commitment “has changed the realities of Europe. It has borne much fruit on other continents. That can, and should, happen again,” he added.

Tveit shared this message at the General Assembly of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) on 21 September in Florence, Italy.

Read it all and note the link to the full text of his remarks at the bottom.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology