Daily Archives: September 8, 2014
Greece’s government has caved in to demands by the Orthodox Church, affording tax breaks to monks, monasteries and members of the clergy despite crippling austerity measures hitting much of the rest of the country.
Under the surprise provision, retired monks earning annual pensions of up to â‚¬9,500 will be cleared of their obligation to file taxes while hundreds of monasteries, controlling priceless plots and ancient treasures, will be exempt from declaring their assets to the state.
For a nation still reeling from four years of brutal budget cuts, plus a new land levy that hikes taxation by as much as 75 per cent for Greece’s five million property holders, the freebie has enraged taxpayers and stoked social tension even further.
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Can the U.S. compete internationally? Its companies can. Its workers cannot.
That is the key finding from a new survey of Harvard Business School alumni that delves into their views of the U.S. business environment to see where the nation thrives and where it falters.
The survey shows the business executives see, on one hand, an uncompetitive K-12 education system, a poor tax code and a broken political system. On the other hand, they see high-quality capital markets, sophisticated management systems, pathbreaking universities and a vibrant environment for entrepreneurs.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to lead mourners at the televised funeral of King Richard III, found buried under a Leicester car park.
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, confirmed The Most Reverend Justin Welby would attend Leicester Cathedral for the King’s funeral in March next year.
He will be joined by his equivalent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and representatives of other faiths to bury the Last Plantagenet King with “dignity and honour”, Bishop Tim said.
”˜On behalf of the people of the Church of Ireland I ask God’s blessing and every happiness for Cardinal SeÃ¡n Brady in his forthcoming retirement. He has been a good friend to successive Archbishops of Armagh and to the wider Church of Ireland throughout his archiepiscopate, and we are grateful to him for this unaffected generosity of spirit. And, on a personal note, I wish to thank SeÃ¡n for real kindness and warm friendship over many years. We all hope that he will enjoy both true fulfilment and good health in the years ahead.
It has taken more than 100 years, but a North Oxford church looks set to be finally finished.
A decision was made when St Michael and All Angels’ Church, in Lonsdale Road, was built in 1909 to cut short its nave and erect a temporary west wall due to lack of funds.
Since then the Grade II listed church has never been “finished”, with succesive vicars feeling it was not necessary ”“ until now.
Now Rev Gavin Knight has taken on the project as he wants to expand the church’s role in the community and felt he could combine this with completing the 105-year-old buidling.
DREW HINSHAW: That’s right. What they’ve been able to do here is empty out an entire countryside. The very far northeast part of Nigeria. Town after town after town is abandoned and Boko Haram has been able to do that just by sort of constantly, like you said, starting with hit and run attacks and eventually moving entire units into these towns scaring lots of people out.
You hear over and over again when you talk to people from these towns, the only people left in those towns are basically the elderly people, who don’t really want to move, or can’t move and don’t really pose a threat to Boko Haram. What’s interesting is they are raising their flags in some places, not all places. They’re not really sticking around and governing them, like you had in northern Mali.
They kind of go in, they make some weak effort to impose Sharia law, they tell women how to dress and then they go back into the caves and mountains and forests where they’re camped out. They don’t want to be sitting ducks in these towns.
Islamic State (IS) continues its rampage through Iraq. The US air force has done its best to attack their onslaught from the sky. In particular they have targeted preventing IS from reaching the Haditha Dam. The Dam generates power for much of the country and is only 150 miles from Baghdad. Destruction of this Dam would destroy much of Baghdad and this is what the US Air force has been trying to prevent.
Iraqi society continues its daily life despite great opposition, if you move to the North of the country things remain very different. There are still hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced People who have been forced to move from Mosul and Nineveh. A large number of these people are Christians. Our work supporting these people providing relief has been huge. We have provided food, medical care, wheel chairs, baby’s cots and much more.
Mr Putin’s first choice was to suborn Ukraine without invading it, but by demonstrating his willingness to use force, he has sown fear””and, for Mr Putin, fear is the basic currency of politics. A puny, divided response has emasculated the West, which he thinks is bent on weakening and encircling Russia. For him, Russia’s post-Soviet history has been a catalogue of American-inflicted humiliation, which it is his mission to reverse. He wants his neighbours to be weak more than he wants Russians to be prosperous; he prefers vassals to allies.
This world view””a noxious compound of KGB cynicism and increasingly messianic Russian nationalism””propelled him into Ukraine. The idea that his adventurism will end in the Donbas is as naive as the theory that he would be satisfied when his troops wrenched Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008. This week Mr Putin rattled his sabre at Kazakhstan, still ruled by the elderly Nursultan Nazarbayev: any succession squabble would be an opportunity. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, small, ex-Soviet countries, have Russian-speaking minorities of the kind Mr Putin has undertaken to “protect”. These Baltic states joined NATO in 2004. But what if a Russian-financed separatist movement sprang up, a Baltic government claimed this amounted to an invasion and its NATO allies refused to help? The alliance’s bedrock””its commitment to mutual self-defence””would be shattered.
Mr Putin’s revanchism must therefore be stopped in Ukraine.
I don’t often hear myself say this but boy am I on the same page as the Archbishop of Canterbury. For when it comes to formulating new and exciting ways to knock the whole gap year phenomenon on the head, the Most Rev Justin Welby has come up with a doozy: Monk Year….
Point being, there is nothing to miss, and everything to gain. Because if you were a potential employer looking to hire the best of youth, and faced with two newly returned gap year graduates, which one would you choose?
Read it all (requires subscription).
Scottish independence increasingly looks like an iceberg that could sink Prime Minister David Cameron’s government and the opposition Labour Party. And like the passengers on the Titanic, they never saw it coming.
Yesterday’s YouGov Plc (YOU) poll putting the Yes vote on 51 percent sparked a fresh effort from supporters of the union to urge Scots to come back from the brink. About 100 Labour lawmakers will travel to Scotland this week to campaign for a No vote, while Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne offered more powers over taxes and spending to the Scottish Parliament — if voters opt to stay part of the U.K.
Cameron was staying with Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in northeast Scotland when he learned that the independence campaign had moved into the lead.
Enrich our lives, O Lord, with the fruit of the Spirit; that being filled with love and joy and peace, we may live together in patience and kindness, in goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, ever exercising the grace of self-control; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Blessed is he who considers the poor!
The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.
Campaigners in the battle for Scotland’s future say the referendum result is too close to call with less than two weeks until the vote.
The Yes camp claims to have the “big momentum” behind it, while opponents of independence insist they will win.
It comes as one poll put Yes Scotland narrowly ahead for the first time.
Father Christian Mondor marched across the sand Sunday morning toward the roaring Pacific followed by dozens of disciples, some carrying surfboards and others with bikini strings peeking out of shirt collars. The 89-year-old removed his white vestments and brown Franciscan habit to reveal a black wetsuit.
The crowd hooted and clapped. “Go Father Christian!” shouted Pedro Castagna, 47, clutching a dripping surfboard.
It was reasonable attire for the “Blessing of the Waves,” an annual tradition that now attracts more than 1,000 people to a loose, multidenominational ocean-appreciation service, including Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Tongan singers. Sumo Sato, the burly, white-bearded Hawaiian pastor of the H2O Community Church, also made an appearance.
LAWTON: Across the nation, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased one hundred and eighteen percent since 1999, with more than one hundred people dying from overdoses every day. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, those numbers represent a dramatic spike in the abuse of opioid drugs, including prescription pain killers and increasingly, heroin.
MICHAEL BOTTICELLI (White House Office of National Drug Control Policy): We have more people in the United States dying of drug related overdoses than we do motor vehicle fatalities and gunshots. And so from a public health perspective, we know that we have a huge epidemic on our hands.
[KIM] LAWTON: Michael Botticelli is acting director of the White House office, a job often known as the “drug czar.” He says the vast majority of heroin users started after abusing pain medicine.
BOTTICELLI: We know that the availability of very cheap, very pure heroin, has been on our streets. We know that addiction is a progressive disorder and that people often move from one substance to another in essence to basically maintain their addiction.
ike many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage””though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree.
I triumphantly quoted J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, and cited Socrates in Plato’s Apology, about the limits of religious views on civic matters and the growth of our national wisdom, respectively. The arguments seemed clear. I agreed with Jon Meacham, “society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.”
Then something changed. As I entered college, I found myself being drawn from social democratism to conservatism thanks to Roger Scruton, and from skepticism back to the Catholic Christianity of my upbringing thanks to Pascal, Chesterton, and David Bentley Hart. But I still held to the consent-based or revisionist view of marriage, rather than the conjugal view defended by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George. The turning point came when I read a paper by Scruton and Phillip Blond. They distinguished how a romantic union between two individuals of the same sex could have the same level of intensity as that between two individuals of the opposite sex. Yet they said that the conjugal view of marriage did not see exclusivity of romance as the telos of marriage. Rather, it “extends beyond the individuals who marry to the children they hope to create and the society they wish to shape.”
I came to realize the institution of marriage is not merely a private contract between two partners….
Slow Church joins a host of movements inspired by the Slow Food revolt begun in the 1980s, a global coalition that resists the industrializing of all aspects of food. Not all churches have been seduced by what Smith and Pattison call “Franchise faith” or “McDonaldization.” Still, the authors say, at least some fast-food, consumer-culture values””an obsession with efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control””have unwittingly crept into many houses of worship.
Smith and Pattison contrast the dominant “attractional” church model with the “incarnational” model, described by missiologists Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, who founded the Forge Mission Training Network 15 years ago. Up to 95 percent of Western churches, they estimate, function essentially as mission outposts luring unbelievers to their doors through imported, prepackaged programs and services. They tend toward top-down leadership structures and dualistic thinking about the church and the world. Because the church is often far from its commuting congregants, it can feel not only disembodied but also displaced, even “placeless.” This model sees people as “in or out,” belonging or not.
A Slow Church, in contrast, attempts to be “incarnational,” focusing less on attracting outsiders and more on the quality of its common life. The authors’ congregations work at “cultivating together the resurrection life of Christ,” not through a Sunday “consumerist experience,” but by the daily discipline of “deeply and selflessly loving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and even our enemies.”