Saturday, November 12, 2011

Devotional: The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ...

The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ. ...William Barclay image

Officials crack down on Occupy Wall Street camps around the country

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement, now into its third month, has seen incidents of recent violence. With some public spaces turning unsafe and unsanitary, many officials say it’s time for them to control the situation.
By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer
November 12, 2011

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement, now into its third month, has seen incidents of recent violence, including deaths related to drug use, street fights, and suicide as well as sexual and other assaults. As health and safety concerns grow, city officials around the country are moving to break up protest encampments.

Given the widespread nature of the protests, incidents of violence have been relatively few. And in some cases, these appear to have nothing to do with the organized protests related to economic issues.

But with winter coming and some public spaces turning unsafe and unsanitary, many officials say it’s time for them to gain more control of the situation. the rest

Turkey: Ancient church, site of 7th ecumenical council, turned into a mosque

November 11, 2011

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second Council of Nicaea, held in the Aghia Sophia of Nicaea in 787, declared the orthodoxy of icons and images. It was the last meeting of all the world's bishops that included representatives of both the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, the leaders of Western and Eastern Christianity, respectively. The church was turned into a mosque when Islamic jihadists conquered Nicaea in the fourteenth century; then, like its more famous namesake in Constantinople, it was made into a museum by the secular Turkish regime. Now that Turkey is rapidly re-Islamizing, it is a mosque again. "Erdogan's religious acrobatics: Nicaea council church back to being a mosque," by NAT da Polis for Asia News, November 11 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The specter of Aghia Sophia continues to plague the Islamic world of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Not the most famous symbol of the church of Constantinople, but another church, Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (now Izmit), which predates the Constantinople church, having been built in the fourth century. It passed into history in 787 AD, when it was the last church to host a united Christendom drawn to discuss the iconoclastic question, in a truly ecumenical synod, before the fatal schism of 1024 [actually 1054 -- ed.].
the rest image

Two Classics, One Car

After six decades, Margaret Dunning still breezes down the road in her creamy 740 Packard roadster.

Hackers may have spent years crafting Duqu

Gang customized attack files for each target, says Kaspersky LabBy Gregg Keizer
November 11, 2011

The hacker group behind Duqu may have been working on its attack code for more than four years, new analysis of the Trojan revealed Friday.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab published some findings today from a recent rooting through Duqu samples provided by researchers in the Sudan, saying that one driver included with the attack payload was compiled in August 2007, extending the timeline of the gang's work.

"We can't be 100% sure [of that date], but all the compiled dates of other files seem to match to attacks," said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher with Kaspersky, in an interview today. "So we're leaning towards that date as correct." the rest

Israeli Children Suing for Their Own “Wrongful” Lives

Friday, November 11, 2011
Wesley J. Smith

This is so awful and tells us the state of discrimination and loathing faced by people with disabilities. Apparently so-called “wrongful life” lawsuits are epidemic in Israel–wherein parents sue in the name of their child because a disability went undetected in utero, and hence, no abortion was performed. From the Bionews story:
Increasing numbers of Israeli children with birth defects are suing medical professionals for failing to detect abnormalities and allowing them to be born, says the New Scientist. The magazine reports that such is the Israeli Government’s concern over the rise in ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits it has launched an investigation into the validity of the claims. New Scientist says the Israeli medical profession has estimated there to have been 600 ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits since the first case in 1987. ‘There is an entire system fuelled by money and the quest for the perfect baby ‘, said human rights lawyer Dr Carmel Shalev of the University of Haifa in Israel. ‘Everyone buys in to it – parents, doctors and labs. Parents want healthy babies, doctors encourage them to get tested, and some genetic tests are being marketed too early. Genetic testing has enormous benefits but it is overused and misused’.
Medical malpractice is one thing, wrongful life another. Won’t this lead to a “when in doubt, abort” mentality? the rest

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vanishing Act Creates a Stir in the Nanotech World

Sheets Made of Microscopic Carbon Fibers Seem to Disappear When Heated
Oct. 25, 2011

Dr. Ali Aliev, a research scientist at UT Dallas, and his colleagues recently demonstrated that transparent carbon nanotube sheets, which can have the density of air and the specific strength of steel, can be used to make objects invisible.

This invisibility for light oblique to the nanotube sheets is caused by the mirage effect, in which a thermally generated refractive index gradient bends light array from a hidden object. The paper was published in a recent issue of the journal Nanotechnology.

The findings created a flurry of press coverage, including stories in CNN, ABC and Wired magazine. the rest

Study: Why Young People Leave the Church

Mission Network News

A recent study conducted by the Barna Group provides explanations as to why young American Christians are leaving the church. Reasons include a general idea that the church is overprotective, and that Christianity is too exclusive.

The Barna Group conducts studies on spirituality—especially Christianity in the United States today. This particular study was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors and senior pastors.

There is not one overwhelming reason that young Christians leave the church determined, the Barna Group reports. Six significant themes were uncovered as to why three out of every five young Christians leave the church temporarily or permanently.

Young people were reported to leave the church for the following reasons: (1) The church is overprotective. (2) Teens' and 20-somethings' experience of Christianity is shallow. (3) Churches come across as antagonistic to science. (4) Young Christians' church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental. (5) They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity. (6) The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt. Click here to read research findings with fuller explanations of these concerns.    the rest

Shrinking Jesus and Betraying the Faith

The following article was submitted by the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, XII Bishop of South Carolina, Retired

What caused the crisis now being faced not only by the Diocese of South Carolina but by the entire western Christian Church? It’s more than an issue of sexuality. It’s one of pandering to the secular culture, of shrinking Jesus and betraying the faith.

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan are two remarkably popular theologians who teach a version of Christianity that reduces the Christian faith to contemporary secular assumptions. For Crossan, Jesus was an illiterate Jewish cynic. No Incarnation no Resurrection. The Easter story is “fictional mythology” (p. 161, Jesus a Revolutionary Biography). Borg claims that Jesus was only divine in the sense that Martin Luther King and Gandhi were divine. Borg dismisses the creeds (p.10, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time) Jesus was a “spirit person,” “a mediator of the sacred,” “a shaman,” one of those persons like Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, et al. (p. 32)

Recently Borg and Crossan have collaborated on a book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem. Their Jesus is a semi-revolutionary leader of peasants and outcasts against the priestly elite and those who accommodate to the dominant system of Roman coercive authority. It was not our sinful condition that demanded his crucifixion but this elite. Borg and Crossan’s Jesus does not come from God to take away sin but arose from among the innocent to teach us how not to be a part of the dominant systems. They fail to understand the depth of sin in all of us at all times, including peasants, as well as the elite. More importantly they lose the assurance of ultimate mercy and forgiveness.

Speaking of elites these two “scholarly authorities” purport to tell us, “What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus.” They pander to an increasingly secular culture and to the human itch to find some undemanding simplicity that now finally explains everything. And they do this while ignoring, and without reference to, the multitude of superior contemporary scholars such as Richard Bauckham, Raymond Brown, Luke Timothy Johnson, N. T. Wright, Richard Hays, Leander Keck, Christopher Bryan, and scores of others whose works reflect the faith of scripture and the creeds. the rest

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

'Family Circus' creator Bil Keane dies at 89

by Scott Craven
Nov. 10, 2011

While other comic strips based their jokes on sarcasm or cynicism, Bil Keane's "Family Circus" revolved around the heart.

Keane once said he would rather have readers react with a warm smile, or a lump in the throat, as they watched the adventures of his cartoon children - Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ - and recalled the same things in their own families.

When he died Tuesday in his Paradise Valley home at age 89, he left behind the real-life family that was the inspiration for those cartoon exploits, decades of the tender comics and another lump in the throats of his many fans. the rest

Albert Mohler: The Tragic Lessons of Penn State — A Call to Action

What would prevent this scandal at your school or church?
Thursday, November 10, 2011

No one thought it would end this way. Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach at Penn State University heard of his firing by the school’s board of trustees by phone last night. Just two weeks after achieving the most wins of any NCAA Division One football coach in history, Paterno was fired. His firing — a necessary action by the Penn State board of trustees — holds lessons for us all.

Almost a decade ago, a graduate assistant told Coach Paterno that an assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had been observed forcing a young boy into a sexual act in the school’s football locker room showers. Sandusky was himself a big name in Penn State football, and he was considered a likely successor to Paterno if the head coach had retired. Sandusky also ran a non-profit organization for boys, and he brought the boys onto the Penn State campus. He continued to do so even after his own retirement from Penn State’s coaching staff.

After hearing the report, Paterno informed university officials of the accusation. At that point, little or nothing seems to have happened. The scandal broke into public view last Saturday, when Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 felony counts of sexual abuse involving young boys. Penn State had been harboring a serial child sex abuser. Also arrested were the university’s athletic director and its senior vice president of business and finance. Both were charged with failure to report the abuse and with perjury. the rest
We all need an immediate reality check. I discovered yesterday that the policy handbook of the institution I am proud to lead calls for any employee receiving a report of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to contact his or her supervisor with that report. That changes today. The new policy statement will direct employees receiving such a report to contact law enforcement authorities without delay. Then, after acting in the interests of the child, they should contact their supervisor.

DA Who Never Charged Sandusky Has Been Missing Since 2005

Arab Christians, minorities, reshaping US enclaves

posted November 10, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jordanian immigrants take Communion at an Arabic-language Mass in Albuquerque. Lebanese-Americans help raise nearly $2 million for major improvements to a West Virginia church. Iraqi refugees who practice an ancient religion that views John the Baptist as their teacher hold baptisms in a Massachusetts pond popular for rowing regattas.

As war, the economy and persecution by Muslim extremists push Arab Christians and religious minorities out of the Middle East, the refugees and immigrants are quietly settling in small pockets across the U.S. They are reviving old, dormant churches, bringing together families torn apart by war and praying collectively in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Religious experts say their growing presence in the U.S. is all about survival as Christians and religious minorities continue to get pushed out of the Holy Land.

And religious leaders said if violence continues, more can be expected to seek safety in the U.S. while disappearing in lands where they're lived for 2,000 years. the rest

First euthanasia in Netherlands of severe Alzheimer’s patient performed

Nov 9, 2011

THE HAGUE — A woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease has been euthanized in the Netherlands, a first in a country that requires patients to be fully mentally alert to request to die, activists said Wednesday.

The 64-year-old woman died in March after being sick “for a very long time,” said a spokesman for the Right to Die-NL (NVVE) group.

She had insisted “for several years” that she wanted to be euthanized, added spokesman Walburg de Jong.

“It is really a very important step — before, patients dying by euthanasia were at really very early stages of dementia, which was not the case with this woman,” de Jong said. the rest

Tuberculosis Breaks Out At Occupy Atlanta’s Base

November 10, 2011

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – The home base for Occupy Atlanta has tested positive for tuberculosis.

The Fulton County Health Department confirmed Wednesday that residents at the homeless shelter where protesters have been occupying have contracted the drug-resistant disease. WGCL reports that a health department spokeswoman said there is a possibility that both Occupy Atlanta protesters and the homeless people in the shelter may still be at risk since tuberculosis is contracted through air contact.

"Over the last three months were have been two persons who have resided in this facility who have been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected infectious tuberculosis (TB),” said Fulton County Services Director Matthew McKenna in a written statement to CBS Atlanta. “One of these persons was confirmed to have a strain of TB that is resistant to a single, standard medication used to treat this condition. All person(s) identified as positive have begun treatment and are being monitored to ensure that medication is taken as directed.” the rest

Man Arrested for Breaking EMT's Leg at Occupy Wall Street

Surfer rides 90 foot wave.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Alaskans brace for huge storm to strike western coast

By Yereth Rosen
Tue Nov 8, 2011

(Reuters) - An "epic" storm was bearing down on western Alaska on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, warning that it could be one of the worst on record for the state.

The storm, moving inland from the Aleutian Islands, was expected to bring hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, heavy snowfall, widespread coastal flooding and severe erosion to most of Alaska's west coast, the National Weather Service warned.

"This will be an extremely dangerous and life threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced," the service said in a special warning message on Tuesday. the rest image

Biggest asteroid in 35 years swings close to Earth

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES — An asteroid as big as an aircraft carrier zipped by Earth on Tuesday in the closest encounter by such a massive space rock in more than three decades. Scientists ruled out any chance of a collision but turned their telescopes skyward to learn more about the object known as 2005 YU55.

Its closest approach to Earth was pegged at a distance of 202,000 miles at 6:28 p.m. EST. That's just inside the moon's orbit; the average distance between Earth and the moon is 239,000 miles.

The last time a large cosmic interloper came that close to Earth was in 1976, and experts say it won't happen again until 2028.  the rest

NASA video released:

Being Human in an Age of Unbelief

Four points in defense of human dignity. Adapted from an address delivered last night at the University of Pennsylvania.
by Charles J. Chaput
November 8, 2011

This leads to my third point. God also is absent from the U.S. Constitution—but not because he’s unwelcome. In effect, God suffused the whole constitutional enterprise. Nearly all the Founders were religious believers, and some were quite devout. Their writings are heavily influenced by biblical language, morality, and thought.

America could afford to be secular in the best sense, precisely because its people were so religious. The Founders saw religious faith as something separate from government but vital to the nation’s survival. In his Farewell Address, Washington famously stressed that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” for political prosperity. He added that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” For John Adams, John Jay, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Carroll, George Washington, and most of the other Founders—including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin—religion created virtuous citizens. And only virtuous citizens could sustain a country as delicately balanced in its institutions, moral instincts, and laws as the United States.

Here’s my purpose in mentioning this. The American Founders presumed the existence of natural law and natural rights. These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by a Creator; by “nature’s God,” to use the words of the Declaration of Independence. Such ideas may be out of fashion in much of legal theory today. But these same ideas are very much alive in the way we actually reason and behave in our daily lives.

Most of us here tonight believe that we have basic rights that come with the special dignity of being human. These rights are inherent to human nature. They’re part of who we are. Nobody can take them away. But if there is no Creator, and nothing fundamental and unchangeable about human nature, and if “nature’s God” is kicked out of the conversation, then our rights become the product of social convention. And social conventions can change. So can the definition of who is and who isn’t “human.” the rest image

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia

American Optimism is a Strange God

Nov 8, 2011
Elizabeth Scalia

There are probably ten thousand articles to be found on the Internet all fleshing out their theories of what is behind America’s swift collapse. Curiously, most of them will touch—all without realizing it—on the seven deadly sins; Capitalist Greed; Spiritual Sloth; Physical Lust; Nationalist/Military Pride; Consumer Gluttony; Partisan Wrath; Class Envy. Good arguments can be made blaming some are all of these sins for our current dire straits and for the sense that we are standing upon a precipice.

But I wonder if it is not the first and greatest sin named by Yahweh and given to Moses, that is most at fault: the sin of idolatry. We have loved ourselves so well; we have denied ourselves nothing and placed too much of what we love between ourselves and God; we have cherished mere things or other people; over-identified with ideas or ideologies and made an afterthought of God, who will not be mocked.

Make no mistake, America is not only on a precipice, she is watching the supporting ground below as it shifts and cracks and bits of edging break loose and fall—and a nation tumbles quickly once the foundations are fragmented. Nations fall all the time, of course, but America was supposed to be special—the “exceptional nation” or, as Madeleine Albright called it, “the indispensable nation”—the “last best hope” for the world.

But the last best hope for the world was always the Triune God of Creation. And even some religiously minded Americans seem to have forgotten that. the rest  image

U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

Written by John Daly
Tuesday, 08 November 2011

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.


In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as “fracking.” While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking’s capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies – that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

As the U.S. natural gas industry mounts an unprecedented and expensive advertising campaign to convince the public that such practices are environmentally benign, U.S. government agencies have determined otherwise. the rest

Massachusetts School District Marks Muslim Holiday

November 07, 2011

Some Massachusetts public school students have a day off this week, but it has nothing to do with power outages or snow.

The Cambridge school system is believed to be the first in Massachusetts to give all students a day off for a Muslim holiday.

Students are getting Tuesday off for Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, the Boston Globe reports.

"We’re ecstatic about this," Atif Harden, interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, told the newspaper. "This is the first year that it’s going to occur. This sort of recognition of our existence and the population we have, we feel very good about." the rest

UK: Catholic church can be held responsible for wrongdoing by priests

High court ruling will make it easier for victims of clerical sex abuse to bring compensation claims against the church
Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
Tuesday 8 November 2011

Victims of clerical sexual abuse will find it easier to bring compensation claims against the Catholic church after a judge ruled it can be held responsible for the wrongdoings of its priests.

In a test case heard at the high court, Mr Justice Macduff gave a decision in favour of a woman, known as JGE, who claims she was sexually assaulted by a Portsmouth priest at a children's home in Hampshire.

The judge said although there had been no formal contract between the church and the priest, the late Father Baldwin, there were "crucial features" that should be recognised.  the rest

Albert Mohler: A Tale of Two Colleges

November 8, 2011

Shorter University and Mercer University are institutions of higher education in Georgia, and both have been historically related to the Georgia Baptist Convention — the state’s largest Baptist group. Both schools have been in the news in recent days over the issue of homosexuality. Seen together, the actions taken by the schools point backwards to critical decisions made in the past, forward to issues that will be faced by every college, and directly to the present, where the future is taking shape before our eyes.

At the end of October, the trustees of Shorter University, located in Rome, Georgia, adopted a series of statements intended to protect the Christian commitments of the university. Faculty are to operate within the guidelines, which include both articles of faith and a “personal lifestyle statement” that includes an affirmation that the Bible forbids “premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.” Shorter President Donald Dowless said that the statements represent “a continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission.”

Within days of that decision, the administration of Mercer University, located in Macon, Georgia, announced that it was changing its personnel policies to allow for coverage of domestic partnerships involving homosexual employees. Mercer President Bill Underwood said that the new policy “brings Mercer into line with other leading private universities in our region, including Emory, Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Tulane, Furman, Rollins, Elon, and Stetson.”  the rest

St Paul's staff have to clean up human waste INSIDE the cathedral

Protesters 'use it as a latrine'. Cleric: 'This is desecration of a very holy place'
By Craig Mackenzie
7th November 2011

Staff at St Paul's have been forced to clear up human waste inside the cathedral, it emerged today.

They have made several trips with mops to remove the mess found on a carpet inside the church near the West Steps - just yards from the anti-capitalist protest camp.

One cleric furious at the use of the building 'as a latrine' said: ' This is desecration of a very holy place. it hurts me and it hurts the staff.' 
the rest
Meanwhile, vandals have spray painted '666' next to the main entrance.The provocative 'number of the beast' was daubed in silver paint on a wall to the left-hand side of the Christopher Wren masterpiece.

Boston “Occupiers” Mooching Services for the Homeless

Monday, November 07, 2011

Devotional: God has given us two hands...

God has given us two hands -- one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving.  ...Billy Graham
image by Falk Lademann

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Why Royal family must stay Anglican’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, raises concerns about David Cameron's plans to allow the monarch to marry a Roman Catholic.
Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden
05 Nov 2011

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has found common cause with the Left-wing agitators camping outside St Paul’s, but he is less enamoured of a radical move by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that the Government planned to scrap “outdated” laws which ban the spouse of a Roman Catholic from taking the throne.

Now, however, Dr Williams has raised concerns that allowing a future monarch to marry a Catholic could bring into question his or her role as the supreme governor of the Church of England.

“The constitutional question, of course the tough one, is the upbringing of any heir to the throne in an Anglican environment, given that the heir to the throne will be the supreme governor, under law, of the Church of England,” says the Archbishop in an interview with Vatican Radio.  the rest

Dozens killed in Islamist attack on churches in Nigeria

by Andrew Clark
Monday, November 7, 2011

Churches are among the targets in a series of bombs attacks that have left 63 people dead in the northeastern Nigerian town of Damaturu.

Christians are among the scores of people killed as churches were blasted. Yobe state police HQ was also among the targets hit.

The bombings follow extensive attacks against Nigerian security forces near Maiduguri City by the Islamist group Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”.

A BBC correspondent in Lagos said people were reporting the death toll could be as high as 92, and AFP reported that hundreds are being treated in hospitals as a result of the attacks.  the rest

Nike, Microsoft, Google support striking down Defense of Marriage Act

by Christine Dhanagom
Mon Nov 07, 2011

 November 7, 2011

 ( - A lawsuit that could nullify the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has received the support of major U.S. corporations, who filed a brief opposing the law in federal court this week.

A friend-of-the-court brief filed last Thursday in the case of Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services argues that DOMA, which protects marriage as between a man and a woman in federal law, imposes crippling burdens on employers.

Seventy employers are represented in the brief, including Microsoft, Starbucks, Google, NIKE, Levi Strauss and Co., CBS, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass., Time Warner Cable, Xerox, Zipcar, and Stonyfield Farm. The cities of New York, Boston, and Cambridge are also represented.

The document charges that DOMA causes “unnecessary cost and administrative complexity” for employers located in states where same-sex “marriage” is recognized by law.  the rest

Public pension pain

November 6, 2011

THE ELECTORAL map turned redder in 2010, as Republicans swept not only the U.S. House of Representatives but also statehouses across the country. But there were big exceptions: Voters in deep-blue California, Illinois and New York once again picked Democratic governors to run some of the most populous — and financially troubled — states in the union.

Republicans won by promising to restore fiscal stability — and set about taking on public-employee unions to make it happen. There was no political hesitation for them; to the contrary, in some states they relished the chance to weaken the Democratic Party’s key constituency. Democratic governors, by contrast, faced a special challenge. They would have to show that they could cut costs despite their ties to unions. And a central issue would be states’ huge public-employee pension obligations.

There’s been some progress. In Illinois, where state public-employee pension plans have a worst-in-the-nation $80 billion unfunded liability, Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democratic legislature raised the retirement age to 67 and limited the maximum salary on which pensions can be based to $106,800. But Illinois pension funds still rely on an unrealistic average 8.25 percent projected rate of return. the rest

49.1 million Americans live in poverty, new Census estimates reveal

Estimate is higher than September's official 2010 poverty rate of 15.1 percent, or 46.2 million
BY The Associated Press
Monday, November 7 2011

WASHINGTON — New census estimates show the number of Americans living in poverty is higher than previously known — reaching a new level of 49.1 million, or 16 percent.

The numbers released Monday are a new supplemental poverty measure aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty of America. They are higher than the official 2010 poverty rate of 15.1 percent, or a record 46.2 million, that was reported in September.

Much of the increase in the new measure comes from rising everyday costs, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, that aren't factored into the official rate. Americans 65 or older had the biggest poverty jump — 15.9 percent, versus 9 percent under the official formula.   the rest

Aborting my daughter with Down syndrome ruined my life, destroyed my marriage

by John Jalsevac
Mon Nov 07, 2011

“A nurse said not aborting my baby would cause it to suffer, and she’d only become a burden on society if I went ahead,” says Marie. “She even said: ‘Ninety-nine per cent of women in your situation wouldn’t want the baby.’”

So heavy was the pressure put on the couple, that ultimately they decided to go ahead with the abortion.

Marie was given a pill to start the abortion that same day.

“I felt numb as I swallowed the tablet. This wasn’t how I imagined this pregnancy ending, but looking back, I was in shock, just operating on autopilot,” she says.

Three days later Marie gave birth to her dead daughter, and, she says, her life has never been the same since. the rest

Pope lectures German ambassador on abortion, prostitution, porn

November 07, 2011
Vatican City

(AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI received the new German ambassador to the Holy See on Monday, lecturing him about abortion, pornography and prostitution..

"Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society," Benedict told Reinhard Schweppe, the new German ambassador.

The pope then criticised discrimination and sexual exploitation of against women in Western countries like his native Germany.

"It is a critical problem which, due to materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, seems to be on the increase, above all in the Western world". the rest

A.S. Haley: Statement by Bede Parry Posted...

...Jefferts Schori Was Informed about His Past
November 7, 2011

The Website of Patrick Marker which delves into sexual misconduct (and murder!) at Conception Abbey in Missouri has posted a .pdf copy of a two-page statement signed by former priest Bede Parry on May 7 of this year. The statement sets forth a full chronology of Bede Parry's sexual misconduct with young male students at both Conception Abbey and St. John's, in Minnesota, while he was a student there. 

Of particular interest to Episcopalians, and in light of the previous posts I have put up on this topic (here, here and here), Bede Parry's statement contains this unequivocal declaration about what was communicated to the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, when she was the Bishop of Nevada:
"Also in 2000, I considered joining the Prince of Peace monastery in Riverside, California. Prince of Peace had me undergo a series of psychological tests. After the testing, Prince of Peace’s Abbot Charles Wright informed me I was no longer a candidate. The psychological evaluation had determined that I had a proclivity to reoffend with minors. Abbot Wright called Conception Abbey’s Abbot Gregory Polan with this information."

"Abbot Polan would later share the information with Robert Stoeckig from the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas, Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the human resources department at Mercy Ambulance in Las Vegas. Bishop Daniel Walsh, Monsignor Ben Franzinelli, Bishop Joseph Pepe, Archbishop Robert Sanchez and Rev. Bob Nelson were also made aware of my previous misconduct."

the rest

Graham, America's most famous preacher, turns 93

Monday, November 7, 2011

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — For the Rev. Billy Graham, America's most famous evangelist across a career that lasted some six decades, the prospect of old age and death was for a long time something he tried not to think about, despite his convictions about the eternity that awaits human beings.

"I fought growing old in every way," Graham, who turns 93 on Monday, writes in the newly-published "Nearing Home," a book that ranges from Scripture quotations about the end of life to basic advice on financial planning. "I faithfully exercised and was careful to pace myself as I began to feel the grasp of Old Man Time. This was not a transition that I welcomed, and I began to dread what I knew would follow."

Graham's book, his 30th, comes not only as he reaches another year, but as America's huge Baby Boom generation moves into old age, its senior members now eligible for Social Security and retirement. And although in recent years Graham has stepped away from active public ministry, his willingness to be frank about the trials as well as the pleasures of growing old may still have an effect on the millions of Americans whose lives coincided with his time as the country's most famous preacher. the rest  image

80,000 Muslims pray on the street in Moscow

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MOSCOW (AP) — Tens of thousands of Muslim men knelt shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer on the freezing streets of Moscow on Sunday to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Estimates of the number of Muslims living or working in the Russian capital run from 2 million to as high as 5 million, but the city only has a few mosques.

Police said 170,000 people celebrated the holiday in Moscow, including 80,000 who gathered on the street outside what was once the main mosque. The 100-year-old pastel green Cathedral Mosque was torn down in September and a new mosque being built next to it is still under construction.
the rest

Transgendered Girl Scouts

Mon, Nov. 07 2011
By Chuck Colson

“What are little boys made of?” the old-fashioned rhyme asks. “Snakes and snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails.” And what are little girls made of? “Sugar and spice and everything nice.”

I know it’s not exactly scientific, and there are wide ranges of personality and interests among boys and girls. But this little ditty speaks to a basic truth that used to be taken for granted - that boys and girls are well, different.

I say “used to be taken for granted” with a heavy heart, because our morally confused culture is rapidly losing the ability to tell the difference between the sexes. And we all know who the losers will be. the rest

Anglican Unscripted Episode 17

November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Holy Trinity Syracuse: Ordination and Confirmations

November 6, 2011

CANA Bishop Julian Dobbs visited Church of the Holy Trinity in Syracuse today to officiate at the ordination of Deacon Christopher Paul Moellering to the priesthood and to confirm four congregants. 


Fr. Jeffrey Altman presents the candidate.

Prostrate during Litany for Ordination

"First to serve, and only then to lead"