Daily Archives: May 4, 2013

Richard Sia–Audit casts doubt on number of Afghan troops U.S. has trained

….as the Obama administration prepares to pull 34,000 U.S. troops out of the country by next February and most of the remaining troops by the end of 2014, estimates of the size of the Afghan force trained to take over this lead security role suddenly have grown fuzzy and possibly unreliable.

A new report made public this week by the government’s top watchdog over U.S. spending in Afghanistan casts doubt on whether the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government met a goal set in 2011 of enlisting and training a total of 352,000 Afghan security personnel by October 2012. Pentagon officials have said that target was meant to strike a balance between what was needed and what America and its allies could deliver in concert with the Afghan government. Earlier this year, in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the White House declared that the goal had been met.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Canada Condemns the Ongoing Violence in Syria

Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns the ongoing violence in Syria in light of the rise in attacks on religious groups over the last few weeks….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Muslim Antiterrorism

BOB ABERNETHY, host:….The president referred to self-radicalizing. What””how does that work, and what can the Muslim community do to prevent it?

HARIS TARIN (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Well, the phenomenon of self-radicalization is where individuals who do not find a place in mainstream Muslim institutions, places like mosques and organizations, they don’t find a place for their fiery rhetoric, for their violent, extremist rhetoric, so they go online, and they listen to sermons, and they listen to individuals like Anwar al-Awlaki or Adam Gadahn or other folks who misinterpret the religion to give it a violent, violent ideology, and they fall prey to these individuals who are basically online predators, and they get influenced by these individuals to address their grievances through violence….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence, Young Adults

Iowa Town Named for Muslim Hero Extols Tolerance

ELKADER, Iowa–Amid an expanse of undulating farmland, deep in the steep valley carved by the Turkey River, the town of Elkader sits most of the year in remote obscurity. Population 1,200 and gradually shrinking, it is the seat of a county without a single traffic light.

Improbably enough, this community settled by Germans and Scandinavians, its religious life built around Catholic and Lutheran churches, bears the name of a Muslim hero. Abd el-Kader was renowned in the 19th century for leading Algeria’s fight for independence and protecting non-Muslims from persecution. Even Abraham Lincoln extolled him.

This weekend, for the fifth year in a row, Elkader will welcome a delegation of Arab dignitaries to celebrate this rare lifeline of tolerance, spanning continents and centuries. Coming less than three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, which the authorities say were committed by two Muslim brothers, the Abdelkader Education Project’s forum stands more than ever for an affirming encounter between the United States and Islam.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

(Marine Corps Times) Freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion

Call it freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion: The Defense Department was engulfed in a firestorm over religious expression last week, caught in the middle of a tit-for-tat fight between Mikey Weinstein, the former Air Force officer and lawyer at the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a senior official with the conservative Family Research Council.

Weinstein met with Air Force officials April 24demanding that the Air Force take stiffer action to stop the intrusion of religion in the work place. The only way to do that, he contends, is to slap offenders with nonjudicial and judicial punishment ”” including courts-martial.

That was enough to light up the opposition….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture

Alva Noë –Is Massively Open Online Education A Threat Or A Blessing?

In fall 2011, Sebastian Thrun, a research professor at Stanford, and Peter Norvig, the top scientist at Google, teamed up to develop and teach a free, online course on artificial intelligence. Their aim, as Norvig said in , was to develop a course at least as good as, if not better than, the course they teach together at Stanford. They’d put the result online and make it available to everyone, for free.

Over a 160,000 students signed up. About half that many, he explains, participated in some way through to the end. And 20,000 finished the course.

This is an astonishing example of the way MOOCs ”” massively open online courses ”” may be able to transform education as we know it, changing it from the privilege of an elite into a shared commons that is open and free to everyone.

There are grounds for concern, though….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Second Global Anglican Future Conference officially Announced

The Second Global Anglican Future Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 21st-26th October 2013. The focus will be on our shared Anglican future, as we engage with the missionary theme, ”˜Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.’

The first conference, GAFCON 2008, was held in Jerusalem. GAFCON gave birth to a movement, the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. The aims of the GFCA are to proclaim and defend the apostolic gospel within and beyond the Anglican Communion and to recognise and share fellowship with orthodox Anglicans globally, especially those who have been disaffiliated by false teaching and behaviour.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization

(NY Times) Israeli Airstrike in Syria Was Directed at Missiles From Iran, U.S. Officials Say

The airstrike that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese organization, American officials said Saturday.

It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Monnica

O Lord, who through spiritual discipline didst strengthen thy servant Monnica to persevere in offering her love and prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine their son: Deepen our devotion, we beseech thee, and use us in accordance with thy will to bring others, even our own kindred, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name”; and again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; and again, “Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; and further Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

–Romans 15:7-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

AS Haley–Judge's Ruling in St. James Case Puts Cloud on Many Former TEC Properties in California

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Departing Parishes

An Anglican Ink Article on the Newport Beach, California, TEC/Anglican Property case

Judge Kim Dunning of the Orange County Supreme Court handed down on May 1 a surprise ruling in the case involving the property of St. James’s parish in Newport Beach, and held that St. James could not retain title to its property after it voted in 2004 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church (USA). But due to the bizarre reasoning she used to reach that conclusion, the ruling — if upheld on appeal — would put a cloud on the title of every previous sale or disposition of any Episcopal parish property in the State since 1980.

The wrinkle in the St. James case — a feature which distinguished it from the cases of two other parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles (St. David’s Hollywood; and All Saints, Long Beach) which Judge Dunning ruled last September could not retain their properties either — was that St. James had been given an explicit letter from the Diocese in 1991 prior to purchasing the property at issue here, and undertaking the multi-million-dollar expense of developing it….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(Google CEO) Eric Schmidt: television is 'already over'

Speaking at a gathering of digital advertisers in New York City last night, Mr Schmidt refused to forecast when internet video would displace television, instead declaring: “That’s already happened.”

“It’s not a replacement for something that we know,” he added. “It’s a new thing that we have to think about, to program, to curate and build new platforms.”

YouTube recently surpassed the milestone of a billion unique users a month. Only the Google search engine and social network Facebook are frequented more often by those browsing the internet worldwide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Movies & Television, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Job Gains Calm Slump Worries

Employers kept hiring at a steady pace in April and the government revised up job tallies for February and March, easing fears that the economy is tumbling into a spring slump and propelling blue-chip stocks to record highs.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 165,000 last month and the jobless rate ticked down to 7.5%, the lowest level since December 2008. The Labor Department also significantly raised hiring estimates for the two prior months, by a combined 114,000 jobs.

But the job gains in April, which were tilted toward the retail and business-services sectors, come alongside mixed signals for the economy almost four years into the recovery. While the housing and auto sectors are accelerating after years of industry turmoil, other major sectors are showing signs of trouble. In short: The Federal Reserve is looking for more broad-based and sustained job growth before easing up on its easy-money policies.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government