The Limits of Scripture
8 hours ago
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200 new Orthodox churches will be built in Moscow in the next 30 years, says a project considered by Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.Source
They discussed changes in Moscow's architecture which also includes building new churches.
According to Kirill, 90 percent of Muscovites are Orthodox and altogether they need some 590 new churches.
...By far the most dramatic was the declaration that China did not plan to buy any more US treasury securities or bonds. The person who made the statement does not make that decision, but he is closely connected to the China hierarchy. He explained that the $US2.5 trillion of China’s foreign reserves held in US dollars was burdensome because it limited the flexibility of monetary policy and any appreciation of the Chinese currency would cause loss. China would therefore not be a buyer of US dollars but would not sell. China would look to diversify its holdings and was a buyer of European and Japanese government bonds as well as other currencies.Read the rest here.
A statement along those lines in more normal times would have seen the Hayman phones running hot to sell US dollars.
But at the moment the US dollar, as the world currency, is gaining considerable support from the Middle East and other areas. In addition China is looking to increase imports and to reduce its surpluses. But longer-term when the main supporter of a particular asset says that they will withdraw their continued support, the value of the asset will fall. If China follows through on the Hayman declaration it is not good long-term news for the US currency...
30 August 2010.
Metropoltian Kallistos of Dioclea and Hieromonk Gabriel (Bunge) Concelebrate All-night Vigil with Metrpolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk in the Church of the Icon "Joy of All that Sorrow" on Bolshoy Ordinka Street.
On 27 August 2010, on the eve of the Feast of the Dormition of the most holy Theotokos, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrated the all-night vigil in the church of the Icon, "Joy of All that Sorrow" on Bolshoy Ordinka Street.
Vladyka Hilarion concelebrated with Metropolitan Kallistos of Dioclea, vicar of the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain of the Constantinople Patriarchate, chairman of the British benevolent society "Friends of Mount Athos"; the clergy of the church, and also the well known Swiss theologian and Hieromonk Gabriel (Bunge), who was received into holy Orthodoxy before the all-night vigil.
In the church were praying numerous parishioners, and also pilgrims from Great Britain, the USA, Greece, and other countries - members of the delegation of the benevolent society "Friends of Mount Athos". The aim of society is to disseminate knowledge of the Holy Mountain and the monastic tradition, helping to restore the monasteries of Mount Athos, and attracting pilgrims to Mount Athos. The delegation of the society is visiting Russia with the blessing of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. During the journey, the pilgrims visited Uglich, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov, Nizhny Novgorod, Gorodets, Kalyazin, and theTrinity-Sergius Lavra and venerated the holy places of the Russian Orthodox Church.
After the service, Metropolitan Hilarion delivered this with arch-pastoral homily:
"Your Eminence, Venerable Father, dear brothers and sisters!
I heartily congratulate you on the occasion of the Dormition of the most holy Theotokos. On this day, before the grave of our moust holy Lady and Ever-Virgin Mary, we celebrate her Dormition and at the same time think about our own life and death. Man is called to live on this earth a full life, a life that is spiritual and divine. The end of such a life should not be a tragic event, but a natural transition to eternal life - not death but falling asleep (dormition).
The most holy Theotokos, by her grave, which exudes grace, peace, and love, bears witness that it is possible for the dead to pass from death to life, from sin - to grace, from human life - to life divine.
The Church believes that the Mother of God never sinned, not only in deed, but even in thought. We with you are shown to be sinful people, but for us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven is not closed. This path leads through death, which may be a falling asleep, if our life is accordant with the commandments of God, and if we pray to the Lord and His Most Pure Mother that we be granted a blameless and peaceful end, which will be for us a transition into life eternal. "
Metropoltian Hilarion of Volokolamsk , chairman of the Department of External Church Relations (of the Moscow Patriarchate, the OVTsS or DECR), addressed Metropolitan Kallistos of Dioclea in particular:
"I offer a hearty welcome the Vladyka Kallistos, who is a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and for more than 40 years has been teaching at Oxford University in Britain. 15 years ago I had the good fortune to learn from him: Vladyka was supervisor for my work on a dissertation about Saint Symeon the New Theologian. Today, Metropolitan Kallistos is one of the most famous theologians of Ecumenical Patriarchate. In Moscow, he arrived at the head of the pilgrimage group, which includes clergy, professors, and ordinary laymen. For ten days this group has been traveling through the cities of Russia, venerating the holy places of our land, becoming acquainted with our spiritual culture. On the day of the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, Bishop Kallistos will concelebrate with His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
I welcome you not only as a hierarch and an outstanding theologian, but as my teacher and friend. It is my desire that your time in the Russian land was a blessing, and that the Lord will help you in both pastoral ministry and academic writing, and that He will preserve for many blessed years. "
In memory of the con-celebration, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk presented to Vladyka Kallistos the gift of a miter, made in the workshops of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Vladyka Hilarion also heartily welcomed hieromonk Gabriel (Bunge), who, for more than 30 years has lived a hermetical life in the mountains of Switzerland. "You were a Catholic, but in soul you were Orthodox" - Metropolitan Hilarion said to him - "Today, before the all-night vigil, you converted to Orthodoxy, which was a natural conclusion of a long spiritual journey. "
Metropolitan Hilarion warmly congratulated Father Gabriel on his reception into holy Orthodoxy, and gave him an icon of the Heavenly Queen, "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in memory of the fact that he was united to the Orthodox Church in this church, consecrated in honor of this icon.
In his response, referring to the chairman of the DECR, Metropolitan Kallistos of Dioclea said:
"Concelebrating with you on the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is, for me, a great joy and honor. For many years, I have kept fond memories of your stay in Oxford. It is particularly gratifying that over the ensuing years, we are in constant contact, and often encounter one another ... I believe that thanks to the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, the very significant ministry that you carry in this church, and in your labors for Universal Orthodoxy, will be aided by grace from the Lord.
I am also pleased to learn that today Father Gabriel is united to Orthodoxy in this church. We highly esteem his theological works, and I hope that the cross of the Orthodox Christian, which he has taken upon himself, will not be too heavy for him. I pray that the Most Holy Theotokos will fill your hearts with joy and consolation".
...His son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, later focused his father’s theological ideas around a single commandment: to settle all the land promised to the ancient Hebrews in the Bible. His disciples, energized by a burning messianic fervor, took Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 as confirmation of this theology and set out to fulfill its commandment. Religious enthusiasm made the movement subversive in a deep sense — adherents believed they had a divine obligation to build settlements and considered the authority of Israel’s democratic government conditional on its acceptance of what they declared to be God’s politics.Read the rest here.
Although religious settlers often describe themselves as heirs of the early Zionist pioneers, they are anything but. Herzl’s vision was about liberating people, while theirs is about achieving a mystical reunion between the people of Israel and the land of Israel. Herzl’s view stemmed from the ideals of the Enlightenment and the tradition of democratic national liberation movements, dating back to the American and French Revolutions; religious settlers are steeped in blood-and-soil nationalism. Herzl never doubted that Israeli Arabs should have full and equal rights. For religious settlers, Arabs are an alien element in the organic unity of Jews and their land.
The consequences of these differences are huge. If the settlers achieve their manifest goal — making Israel’s hold on the territories permanent — it will mean the de facto annexation of a huge Arab population and will force a decision about their status. In Israel proper, the Arab minority represents about a fifth of its 7.2 million citizens, and they have full legal equality. But between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, there are roughly equal numbers of Arabs and Jews today.
Even if Israel annexed only the West Bank, it would more than double its Arab population. With birthrates in the territories far exceeding those of Arabs and Jews within Israel, Jews would soon enough be a minority. This would void the very idea of a Jewish democratic state...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If building an Islamic center near ground zero amounts to the epitome of Muslim insensitivity, as critics of the project have claimed, what should the world make of Terry Jones, the evangelical pastor here who plans to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks with a bonfire of Korans?Read the rest here.
Mr. Jones, 58, a former hotel manager with a red face and a white handlebar mustache, argues that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s sacred book because “it’s full of lies.” And in another era, he might have been easily ignored, as he was last year when he posted a sign at his church declaring “Islam is of the devil.”
But now the global spotlight has shifted. With the debate in New York putting religious tensions front and center, Mr. Jones has suddenly attracted thousands of fans and critics on Facebook, while around the world he is being presented as a symbol of American anti-Islamic sentiment.
Muslim leaders in several countries, including Egypt and Indonesia, have formally condemned him and his church, the Dove World Outreach Center.
SYOSSET, NY (OCA) - On Thursday and Friday, August 26-27, 2010, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, several members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, and advisers met at the Chancery here to begin a series of broader discussions and reflections within the Orthodox Church in America regarding our participation in the Episcopal Assembly process.Read he rest here.
Having shed much of his dignity, core convictions and reputation for straight talk, Senator John McCain won his primary on Tuesday against the flat-earth wing of his party. Now McCain can go search for his lost character, which was last on display late in his 2008 campaign for president.Read the rest here.
Remember the moment: a woman with matted hair and a shaky voice rose to express her doubts about Barack Obama. “I have read about him,” she said, “and he’s not — he’s an Arab.”
McCain was quick to knock down the lie. “No, ma’am,” he said, “he’s a decent family man, a citizen.”
That ill-informed woman — her head stuffed with fabrications that could be disproved by a pre-schooler — now makes up a representative third or more of the Republican party. It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.
Take a look at Tuesday night’s box score in the baseball game between New York and Toronto. The Yankees won, 11-5. Now look at the weather summary, showing a high of 71 for New York. The score and temperature are not subject to debate.
Yet a president’s birthday or whether he was even in the White House on the day TARP was passed are apparently open questions. A growing segment of the party poised to take control of Congress has bought into denial of the basic truths of Barack Obama’s life. What’s more, this astonishing level of willful ignorance has come about largely by design, and has been aided by a press afraid to call out the primary architects of the lies.
So the "summer of recovery" swelters on, with Democrats sun-blistered, pestered by bottle flies, sand in their swimsuits, water in their ears. Jobless claims increase, Republicans lead the generic congressional ballot, and George W. Bush is six points more popular than President Obama in "front-line" Democratic districts that are most vulnerable to a Republican takeover. Still, Democrats hug the hope that Obama is really the liberal Ronald Reagan -- but without wit, humor, an explainable ideology or an effective economic plan. Other than that, the resemblance is uncanny.Source
Yet the Republican Party suffers its own difficulty -- an untested ideology at the core of its appeal.
In the normal course of events, political movements begin as intellectual arguments, often conducted for years in serious books and journals. To study the Tea Party movement, future scholars will sift through the collected tweets of Sarah Palin. Without a history of clarifying, refining debates, Republicans need to ask three questions of candidates rising on the Tea Party wave:
First, do you believe that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional? This seems to be the unguarded view of Colorado Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck and other Tea Party advocates of "constitutionalism." It reflects a conviction that the federal government has only those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution -- which doesn't mention retirement insurance or health care.
This view is logically consistent -- as well as historically uninformed, morally irresponsible and politically disastrous. The Constitution, in contrast to the Articles of Confederation, granted broad power to the federal government to impose taxes and spend funds to "provide for . . . the general welfare" -- at least if Alexander Hamilton and a number of Supreme Court rulings are to be believed. In practice, Social Security abolition would push perhaps 13 million elderly Americans into destitution, blurring the line between conservative idealism and Social Darwinism.
This approach undermines a large conservative achievement. Despite early misgivings about Social Security and the Civil Rights Act, Ronald Reagan moved Republicans past Alf Landon's resistance to the New Deal and Barry Goldwater's opposition to federal civil rights law, focusing instead on economic growth and national strength. A consistent "constitutionalism" would entangle Republicans in an endless, unfolding political gaffe -- opposing, in moments of candor, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, the federal highway system and the desegregation of lunch counters.
A second question of Tea Party candidates: Do you believe that American identity is undermined by immigration? An internal debate has broken out on this issue among Tea Party favorites. Tom Tancredo, running for Colorado governor, raises the prospect of bombing Mecca, urges the president to return to his Kenyan "homeland" and calls Miami a "Third World country" -- managing to offend people on four continents. Dick Armey of FreedomWorks appropriately criticizes Tancredo's "harsh and uncharitable and mean-spirited attitude on the immigration issue." But the extremes of the movement, during recent debates on birthright citizenship and the Manhattan mosque, seem intent on depicting Hispanics and Muslims as a fifth column.
There is no method more likely to create ethnic resentment and separatism than unfair suspicion. The nativist impulse is the enemy of assimilation. In a nation where minorities now comprise two-fifths of children under 18, Republicans should also understand that tolerating nativism would bring slow political asphyxiation.
Question three: Do you believe that gun rights are relevant to the health-care debate? Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle raised this issue by asserting that, "If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies." Far from reflecting the spirit of the Founders (who knew how to deal with the Whiskey Rebellion), the implied resort to political violence is an affectation -- more foolish than frightening. But it is toxic for the GOP to be associated with the armed and juvenile.
Most Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement are understandably concerned about the size and reach of government. Their enthusiasm is a clear Republican advantage. But Tea Party populism is just as clearly incompatible with some conservative and Republican beliefs. It is at odds with Abraham Lincoln's inclusive tone and his conviction that government policies could empower individuals. It is inconsistent with religious teaching on government's responsibility to seek the common good and to care for the weak. It does not reflect a Burkean suspicion of radical social change.
The Democratic political nightmare is now obvious and overwhelming. The Republican challenge is different: building a majority on an unstable, slightly cracked foundation.
A small gathering of 50 or 60 people; roughly 95 percent white, 90 percent male, a few blond-haired kids, average age 45, all nodding in assent as a series of speakers explains that our government is conspiring against us and fabricating massive lies in order to hide its own crimes and frighten us into giving up our constitutional rights and liberties.Read the rest here.
The Tea Party? Minutemen? Birthers? No, “Truthers,” left-wing conspiracy theorists who believe (among other things) that 9/11 was an inside job, that no plane hit the Pentagon, that Ted Olson did not receive a call from his wife, Barbara, shortly before she perished in the crash of Flight 77, that the anthrax scare was also a government hoax (although the anthrax was real and deadly), and that hurricane Katrina was the result of weather manipulation by racists or profiteers or both.
Like many others, I was aware of these theories and aware too that a significant percentage of Americans (about the same percentage that believes President Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya) was at least partly persuaded by them. But on Aug. 15 I got an up-close look at the phenomenon when I attended a meeting of Truthers that just happened to be held in Livingston Manor, a small Catskill town about 20 miles from my house.
Social Security just celebrated its 75th birthday. Love it or hate it, it has done its job and should retire. We need a new system, the Personal Security System, which retains Social Security’s best features, scraps the rest, and covers its costs.Read the rest here.
Social Security’s objective -- forcing people to save for retirement -- is legit. Otherwise millions of us would seek handouts in our old age.
But Social Security has also played a central role in the massive, six-decade Ponzi scheme known as U.S. fiscal policy, which transfers ever-larger sums from the young to the old.
In so doing, Uncle Sam has assured successive young contributors that they would have their turn, in retirement, to get back much more than they put in. But all chain letters end, and the U.S.’s is now collapsing.
The letter’s last purchasers -- today’s and tomorrow’s youngsters -- face enormous increases in taxes and cuts in benefits. This fiscal child abuse, which will turn the American dream into a nightmare, is best summarized by the $202 trillion fiscal gap discussed in my last column.
The gap is the present value difference between future federal spending and revenue. Closing this gap via taxes requires doubling every tax we pay, starting now. Such a policy would hurt younger people much more than older ones because wages constitute most of the tax base.
What about cutting defense instead? Sadly, there’s no room there. The defense budget’s 5 percent share of gross domestic product is historically low and is projected to decline to 3 percent by 2020. And the $202 trillion figure already incorporates this huge defense cut.
The 3-Year-Old Vote
Reducing current benefits, most of which go to the elderly, is another option. But such a policy is highly unlikely. The elderly vote and are well-organized, whereas 3-year-olds can neither vote, nor buy Congressmen.
In contrast, cutting future benefits is politically feasible because it hits the young. And that’s where Congress is heading, starting with Social Security. The president’s fiscal commission will probably recommend raising Social Security’s full retirement age to 70 from 67, for those who are now younger than 45. This won’t change the ages at which future retirees can start collecting benefits. It will simply cut by one-fifth what they get.
Mitch Daniels is not a communist, a socialist, or even a garden-variety liberal. On the contrary, he’s a conservative Republican who’s served at the pleasure of two Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush) and now occupies the Indiana governor’s mansion. He’s even seen in some GOP circles as a potential 2012 presidential nominee. And yet when I asked Daniels earlier this month whether the federal government might have to raise taxes at some point in the future—regardless of which party was in power—his answer was yes.Read the rest here.
“At some stage there could well be a tax increase,” he said. “If you believe our fiscal mess is republic-threatening, and if you have to take the third- or fourth-best approach, at the end of the day, I’d do it.”
Welcome to Grover Norquist’s worst nightmare. For the last 20 years, no one principle has united the Republican Party quite like its violent opposition to tax increases—except, perhaps, its equally ardent obsession with tax cuts. When liberal economist Paul Krugman described the GOP as a horde of “tax-cut zombies” just “shambling forward, always hungry for more,” he wasn’t far off; every election cycle, Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform forces candidates to sign a “no new tax” pledge, and holdouts risk being publicly ridiculed for not signing. But now there are indications that at least some Republicans, like Daniels, are awakening from their stupor. As the crippling recession and mounting long-term deficit projections inspire new calls for fiscal austerity, especially from the Tea Party types currently driving the GOP’s agenda, it’s worth asking whether we’re about to witness the biggest change in conservative politics since the rise of Reagan: the beginning of the end of the Tax Zombie Republican.
To get a sense of how such a staggering shift could be possible, let’s rev up our DeLoreans, restart our flux capacitors, and return to the roots of modern-day Republicanism. Among conservatives, Ronald Reagan is remembered as the tax-cutter in chief: the supply-side hero whose Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 slashed the top marginal tax rate by more than half. But the truth is that after his first year in office, Reagan was actually willing (if not always happy) to compensate for gaps in the government’s revenue stream by raising rates. In 1982, for example, he agreed to restore a third of the previous year’s massive cut. It was the largest tax increase in U.S. history. The Gipper also raised taxes in 1983. And 1984. And 1986. The party sainted him for his efforts.
That permissiveness ended with Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush. While campaigning for president in 1988, Bush made a solemn promise: “no new taxes.” But in 1991 he accepted a small tax hike as part of a major deficit-reduction package. Conservatives—who’d become militantly, monolithically antitax in the Gipper’s wake—were enraged. Never mind that the package paved the way for the booming economy and balanced budgets of the 1990s, much as Reagan’s apostasies coexisted peacefully with the steady growth of the previous decade. Bush lost the right, and then reelection. Ever since, only the rarest of Republicans has dared to deviate from GOP dogma on taxes—even as the party’s absolutism (see: Bush, George W.) spawned record deficits and squandered its reputation for fiscal responsibility.
MOSCOW, August 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The number of Russians who support either a full or partial ban on abortion has doubled in the past twelve years, according to a recent poll.Source
The independent, non-governmental polling and sociological research agency, Levada Analytical Center, reported that a recent survey of 1,600 Russians found 41 percent of those polled support introducing nationwide restrictions on abortion.
The number of those in favor of a complete ban on abortions has grown from 8 percent in 1998 to 16 percent in 2010, the report said.
Another 25 percent only approved of therapeutic, non-elective abortions, up from 13 percent earlier.
Forty-eight percent disapprove of a ban, down from 59 percent, while 11 percent were undecided, compared with 20 percent earlier.
Current law in the Russian Federation allows abortion on demand up to 12 weeks gestation, up to 22 weeks for social reasons, and at any point during the pregnancy for “medical necessity” and upon the woman’s consent, and is offered free of charge at all state clinics.
Russian Health Ministry figures show 1.2 million abortions last year compared to 1.7 million live births, with upwards of a quarter million women per year left infertile from abortion complications.
A leader in the Russian Orthodox Church said in June this year that Russia must enact pro-life laws or face demographic collapse.
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax news agency, "In Soviet times we got used to abortion and we got used to considering it an unavoidable part of our legal reality and that there is no way to the turn back the page. But we see today that it is possible to turn back a great deal.”
Between 1992 and 2008, Russia’s population dropped by more than 12 million.
They’ve been called McMansions, Starter Castles, Garage Mahals and Faux Chateaus but here’s the latest thing you can call them — History.Read the rest here.
In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of references made to the “McMansion glut” and the “McMansion backlash,” as more towns pass ordinances against garishly large homes, which are generally over 3,000 square feet and built very close together.
What sets a McMansion apart from a regular mansion, according to Wikipedia, are a few characteristics: They’re tacky, they lack a definitive style and they have a “displeasingly jumbled appearance.”
Well, count 2010 as the year the last nail was hammered into the McCoffin: In its latest report on home-buying trends, real-estate site Trulia declares: “The McMansion Era Is Over.”
Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 feet.
“That’s something that would’ve been unbelievable just a few years back,” said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia. “Americans are moving away from McMansions.”
In 1969, John Wayne played Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit" -- a grizzled, drunken U.S. Marshal hired by a 14-year-old girl to track down her father's killer. The role ended up winning the aging Western star his first and only Oscar, prompting him to make a rare sequel -- "Rooster Cogburn" -- opposite Katherine Hepburn in 1975. The image of Wayne's craggy, eye-patched visage from "True Grit" has become a cinematic icon.Read the rest here.
So film mavens everywhere were taken aback when it was announced last year that Joel and Ethan Coen would been making their own version of "True Grit." But don't expect a straight remake; this movie is based more closely on the Charles Portis novel. And Jeff Bridges, fresh off his Oscar win, was tapped to play Cogburn; that's right, the Duke has been replaced by the Dude.
LONDON -- The Obama administration might be reasserting the government's place in American life. But on this side of the Atlantic, the so-called Big Society vision of Britain's new Conservative prime minister is of a nation with minimal state interference.Read the rest here.
David Cameron's 100-day-old ruling coalition is launching an effort to reduce the role of government, seeking to vest communities and individuals with fresh powers and peddling a new era of volunteerism to replace the state in running museums, parks and other public facilities. Supporters and opponents describe the campaign as the biggest assault on government here since the wave of privatizations by Conservative firebrand Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
The idea, one with distant echoes of the "tea party" movement in the United States, is to pluck decision making out of the hands of bureaucrats. Groups of like-minded parents and teachers, for instance, are being invited to open their own taxpayer-funded schools. The groups -- not government school boards -- will be able to determine the curriculum at these "free schools," using their own discretion to make some subjects compulsory while omitting others they find objectionable or unnecessary, such as lessons on multiculturalism.
But the government's push is also about pinching pennies in an age of austerity in Britain, which, like many nations including the United States, is heavily indebted and increasingly broke. Through the toughest budget cuts in generations, the new coalition is moving quickly to shrink the size of the state, with some estimates indicating as many as 600,000 public-sector job losses -- or one in 10 -- by 2015. At the same time, Cameron is backing legislation that would allow communities to take over, for instance, post office branches, staffing them with volunteers instead of paid workers.
"The Big Society is about a huge culture change, where people, in their everyday lives, in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their workplace, don't always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face," Cameron said last month in a keynote speech on the issue.
In what it calls a "radical extension of direct democracy," the new government is moving to give citizens the right to veto property-tax increases above certain limits. In an effort to hold the public sector more accountable, it is also pressing forward with plans to have communities directly elect police commissioners while forcing the publication of more-detailed crime statistics to give residents a better picture of how local forces are doing.
The new coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is set to present legislation to dissolve the government health boards that once determined needs at public hospitals, which would allow doctors to become the ultimate deciders.
Cameron's critics say the proposed cuts risk fueling more unemployment and triggering another recession. And public outrage has already forced the government to backpedal on some attempts to trim public spending, including a plan to scrap a government-funded free milk program for needy children under 5.
LOS ANGELES — Two infant skeletons wrapped in 1930s newspapers and placed in doctor's bags were found inside an unclaimed steamer trunk by a woman cleaning out the basement of a 1924 building that's being converted to condominiums, authorities said.Read the rest here.
The skeletons, believed to be decades-old remains of fetuses or infants, were discovered late Tuesday in the 4-foot (1.2-meter) -tall green trunk inscribed with the initials JMB.
Other things found in the trunk included cigarettes, a green bowl, black and white photos, letters, a book club membership certificate inscribed Jean M. Barrie and ticket stubs from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
The remains were found in the four-story brick building near MacArthur Park, just a few miles west of downtown Los Angeles. The larger skeleton, the size of a newborn, was wrapped in a Los Angeles Times newspaper dated 1934.
A smaller skeleton was wrapped in newspaper dated 1932, said Gloria Gomez, property manager of the co-op for the last 10 years. She and friend Yiming Xing, 35, who has lived there for six years, had to force open the trunk with a screwdriver, she said.
Coroner's officials will try to determine how the babies died, check missing children reports and try to find relatives and neighbors who might know what happened.
It was Gomez's job to clean out the basement. Everyone in the building was given until Aug. 14 to get their things out. The condo board told Gomez she could have anything that wasn't claimed.
NEAR THE IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER — The last U.S. combat troops were crossing the border into Kuwait on Thursday morning, bringing to a close the active combat phase of a 7½-year war that overthrew the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, forever defined the presidency of George W. Bush and left more than 4,400 American service members and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.Read he rest here.
The final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., was about to enter Kuwait shortly after 1:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m. Wednesday ET), carrying the last of the 14,000 U.S. combat forces in Iraq, said NBC’s Richard Engel, who has been traveling with the brigade as it moved out this week.
Federal regulators accused the State of New Jersey of securities fraud on Wednesday for claiming it was properly funding public workers’ pensions when it was not.Read the rest here.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the action was its first ever against a state, and only its second against any government over the handling of a public pension fund. The city of San Diego was the first.
The S.E.C. settled its civil complaint with New Jersey by issuing a cease-and-desist order, which the state accepted without admitting or denying the findings.
The agency did not impose a financial penalty. The S.E.C.’s powers of enforcement against the states are tightly limited by states’-rights concerns and constitutional law, and it has standing to get involved only when there is a clear-cut case of fraud.
Nor did the S.E.C.’s order name the bond underwriters whose job it was to vouch for the state’s financial statements. That raised the possibility that investors might decide to file suit.
The action could also put pressure on other states and cities that have used various accounting maneuvers to portray their pension funds as healthier than they currently are. Actuaries have been raising questions, for example, about the plans Illinois has laid out for strengthening its pension funds.
The S.E.C. said in its cease-and-desist order that investors bought more than $26 billion worth of New Jersey’s bonds, without understanding the severity of the state’s financial troubles.
"The corporate donation has no impact on the reporting activities of our newsgathering organizations. There is a strict wall between business and editorial and the corporate office does not consult with our newsgathering organizations ... before making donations."-Spokesman Jack Horner commenting on News Corp's decision to donate $1 million to the Republican Party. Rupert Murdoch is the principal owner of News Corp which is the parent company of FOX News.
"Genuinely adverse debt dynamics were only expected to materialise in 15 to 20 years. The crisis has 'fast-forwarded' history, eroding all the time available to adjust, " said the group's quarterly Sovereign Monitor.Source
Moody's fears that the US will crash through its safety buffer by 2013 if growth falters (adverse scenario), with interest payments topping 14pc of tax revenues. The debt-to-revenue ratio has already doubled in three years to 430pc.
The US, UK, Germany, France, and Spain are all at risk of an "interest rate shock", either because they must roll over a cluster of short-term debt (US, France, Spain) or because deficits are so large.
Countries that "fail to demonstrate the level of social cohesion required to stabilise debt" will lose their AAA rating. "Intra-generational" conflict between young and old requires careful handling. States that delay pension reform risk spiralling downwards.
Moody's said the world had changed since Europe's debt crisis. None of the large sovereign states can still assume it is credit-worthy. "The burden of proof now falls on governments," it added.
Britain has the safety cushion of long debt maturities, but the structural deficit is causing debt "to grow an unsustainable rate": the UK is clearly one of the weaker countries in the AAA peer group.
Moody's expects Britain's public debt to reach 90pc of GDP within three years. It warned that any slackening in fiscal tightening by the Government squeeze would lead to a "sharp rise" in funding costs if growth also slowed, with a nasty effect on debt dynamics.
The warning appears to vindicate the Coalition's claim that immediate belt-tightening is needed to restore confidence and head off a gilts crisis where markets would impose harsher measures.
The current crisis differs starkly from the "one-off" debt spikes after the Second World War, when young economies were able to outgrow the debt burden. This time the threat lies ahead as the aging crisis drives up pension and health costs on a static tax base. "While the current stock of debt is large, it is dwarfed by the accumulation of future liabilities if policies do not change."
If you want to know what tyranny is like, look around.Read the rest here.
The national government — specifically the executive branch — can do pretty much what it wants. It could bomb Iran tomorrow without a declaration of war from Congress. It can — and does — conduct secret wars and covert operations against countries that have done nothing to us. Of course, they are secret only to the ignorant taxpayers who must finance them and perhaps suffer when the provoked retaliation occurs. It can have men behind PlayStation consoles in Nevada fire Hellfire missiles from aerial drones on people in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.
This tyrannical government can send any foreigner picked up anywhere in the world to third countries known for torturing prisoners. It can hold people accused of nothing indefinitely in prisons in Cuba and Afghanistan and torture them into making false confessions. It can conduct a war crimes trial in a military kangaroo court for a man, Omar Khadr, held captive for eight years after he was picked up at the age of 15 during a U.S. assault on villagers near Kabul. His torture-induced “confessions” will be admissible. All this is in violation of commitments under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict not to treat children in war as though they were adults.
It can assassinate even American citizens abroad without a scent of due process.
It is a government that can write its own warrants without judicial review — and call them national security letters — in order to conduct fishing expeditions in anyone’s electronic records. But that isn’t enough power for the present Progressive administration, which wants the freedom to examine our browser histories and email correspondents’ names. The Bill of Rights, like the Geneva Convention, has become “quaint” and obsolete.
How I wish that our diocese had this sae kind of spine to think through the implications of Neff Powell being our bishop and the President of Planned Parenthood, and lifting his hand to bless an abortion clinic in Virginia.Source
SAN FRANCISCO — Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, a fixture in Hollywood for six decades, asked that a priest read her the last rites on Sunday, following hospitalization two days earlier due to complications from hip surgery.Source.
The 93-year-old Gabor, whose string of movies, television shows and wealthy husbands dates to the 1950s, was visited by a priest at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, her husband Frederick Prinz von Anhalt, told Reuters.
Gabor was able to speak "very little," though she was conscious, he said.
Gabor was admitted on Friday to the hospital to treat two blood clots, only two days after being released for hip replacement surgery. Gabor broke her hip on July 17 when she fell out of bed while watching the television game show "Jeopardy," said her publicist John Blanchette.
"Her health has been up and down ever since," he said.
The Hungarian-born Gabor has appeared in more than 30 movies, and her penchant for calling everyone "dah-ling" in her Hungarian accent made her a well-known Hollywood personality.
She, along with her two glamorous sisters Eva and Magda made several appearances on radio and television shows in the 1950s in the 1950s and 1960s. Zsa Zsa's first starring role in the movies was in "Moulin Rouge," followed by "Lili" and later "Touch of Evil."
Married nine times to a string of husbands that included a Turkish diplomat and the hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, Gabor celebrated her 24th wedding anniversary to Von Anhalt in the hospital on Saturday, said Blanchette.
THOSE of us among the living all know New York City can be maddeningly expensive, whether one is shopping for a $40 million mansion on Fifth Avenue or a $2,500 studio walk-up in a former tenement on the Lower East Side.Read the rest here.
For the dead, however, virtually no amount of money will secure a final resting place in the heart of a city that is fast running out of graveyard space.
And in the parts of town where a burial plot is still available, the cost has in some cases more than tripled in less than a decade; aboveground mausoleums can fetch upward of $3 million. Cemeteries are scrambling to create more space, and as plot prices have soared, the number of cremations has also risen, with a quarter of New Yorkers choosing the less expensive alternative.
Trinity Church Cemetery in Washington Heights, the last operating graveyard in Manhattan, has stopped selling plots, offering burial only in the most “extraordinary circumstances,” or to people with long-held reservations.
The largest Jewish graveyard in Brooklyn, Washington Cemetery, ran out of land in the winter after tearing up roads and pathways to utilize every cubic inch of ground. Evergreens and Cypress Hills, also in Brooklyn, may sprawl, but not enough, and dozens of smaller cemeteries spread across the five boroughs are squeezed, too. The city’s largest Catholic cemetery, Calvary in Queens, is close to capacity. And even the most famous of them all, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, has only about five more years before it will be forced to stop selling plots.
Yevgeny Chichvarkin once took London by storm. Bounding onto the stage at the Russian Economic Forum four years ago in red sneakers, graffiti-sprayed jeans, and a top that proclaimed that he was MADE IN MOSCOW, the 34-year-old Russian businessman told the elite gathering how he’d grown his Evroset mobile-phone company into a billion-dollar empire in just five years, and that a “new generation of young businesspeople” was “ready to integrate Russia into the world economy.”Read the rest here.
Now Chichvarkin is back in London, no longer a poster boy for Russian investment but instead a fugitive. Two of his business partners are in jail, his company has been sold off after a series of raids by Russian police, and his mother died under mysterious circumstances in April. Chichvarkin himself is wanted on charges of kidnapping and extortion, which he insists were cooked up by a gang of “werewolves in uniform”—bureaucrats and police who use the law to shake down and steal businesses.
Chichvarkin has joined Russia’s Generation Exile, a tide of businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and bankers who have fled their country after being robbed and threatened by Russia’s corrupt law-enforcement officials. Transparency International, an NGO, estimates that fully one third of Russian businesses have been targeted in attempted corporate raids by police. An anti-raider hotline set up by the Moscow city hall reported a 10-fold jump in complaints, from 200 to more than 2,000, over the last year. And while it is hard to calculate exactly how many of the estimated 300,000 Russians living in London are the victims or beneficiaries of police-backed shakedowns, the number of business exiles afraid to return to their homeland for fear of arrest is certainly in the thousands. According to a survey last year by the Moscow-based Levada Center, many more may exit voluntarily: 13 percent of 1,600 respondents said they wanted to leave Russia, the same percentage as in 1992, a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary: After the Ascension of the Lord, the Mother of God remained in the care of the Apostle John the Theologian, and during his journeys She lived at the home of his parents, near the Mount of Olives. She was a source of consolation and edification both for the Apostles and for all the believers. Conversing with them, She told them about miraculous events: the Annunciation, the seedless and undefiled Conception of Christ born of Her, about His early childhood, and about His earthly life. Like the Apostles, She helped plant and strengthen the Christian Church by Her presence, Her discourse and Her prayers.Read the rest here.
The reverence of the Apostles for the Most Holy Virgin was extraordinary. After the receiving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles remained at Jerusalem for about ten years attending to the salvation of the Jews, and wanting moreover to see the Mother of God and hear Her holy discourse. Many of the newly-enlightened in the Faith even came from faraway lands to Jerusalem, to see and to hear the All-Pure Mother of God.
During the persecution initiated by King Herod against the young Church of Christ (Acts 12:1-3), the Most Holy Virgin and the Apostle John the Theologian withdrew to Ephesus in the year 43. The preaching of the Gospel there had fallen by lot to the Apostle John the Theologian. The Mother of God was on Cyprus with St Lazarus the Four-Days-Dead, where he was bishop. She was also on Holy Mount Athos. St Stephen of the Holy Mountain says that the Mother of God prophetically spoke of it: "Let this place be my lot, given to me by my Son and my God. I will be the Patroness of this place and intercede with God for it."
The respect of ancient Christians for the Mother of God was so great that they preserved what they could about Her life, what they could take note of concerning Her sayings and deeds, and they even passed down to us a description of Her outward appearance.
According to Tradition, based on the words of the Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), Ignatius the God-Bearer (December 20), St Ambrose of Milan (December 7) had occasion to write in his work "On Virgins" concerning the Mother of God: "She was a Virgin not only in body, but also in soul, humble of heart, circumspect in word, wise in mind, not overly given to speaking, a lover of reading and of work, and prudent in speech. Her rule of life was to offend no one, to intend good for everyone, to respect the aged, not envy others, avoid bragging, be healthy of mind, and to love virtue."
Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett shortened the duration of bonds held by his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. after warning that deficit spending could force inflation higher.Read the rest here.
Twenty-one percent of holdings including Treasuries, municipal debt, foreign-government securities and corporate bonds were due in one year or less as of June 30, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said in a filing Aug. 6. That compares with 18 percent on March 31, and 16 percent at the end of last year’s second quarter.
“It may be a sign that Buffett expects interest rates to start rising, maybe sooner than the conventional wisdom,” Meyer Shields, an analyst in Baltimore at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. who has a “sell” rating on Berkshire, said in an interview.
Inflation has fallen to a 44-year low even as the Federal Reserve more than doubled its balance sheet in two years to $2.33 trillion to help draw the economy out of recession. A U.S. jobs report last week showing that companies hired fewer workers than forecast in July pushed the two-year Treasury yield to a record low. Bill Gross, founder of Pacific Investment Management Co., advised investors to buy longer-dated maturities.
Buffett, 79, urged Congress last year to guard against inflation as the U.S. economy returned to growth. In an August 2009 op-ed in the New York Times, the Berkshire chief executive officer said government must address the “monetary medicine” that was pumped into the financial system after the 2008 crisis.
“The United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy -- greenback emissions,” Buffett wrote. “Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt.”
Historically low interest rates and the government’s preferred measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index, at 3.2 per cent means savers are already struggling to get an income.Read the rest here.
There are currently no accounts available to higher rate taxpayers that provide a real rate of return after tax and inflation, and just a handful available to basic rate taxpayers. But even these could be nudged off the savings landscape, financial experts warned.
They suggested that if CPI rises to above 3.8 per cent, there will be no point any taxpayer using a savings account to produce an income.
In this situation, savers would actually end up losing money and could end up being more than £300 out of pocket in a year on a £10,000 investment.
Darren Cook, of personal finance website Moneyfacts, said: “If inflation rises to 3.8 per cent, all savings accounts will effectively be totally obsolete.
MOSCOW, August 13, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The head of a large dairy company near Moscow has informed his 6000 workers that company policy will require all employees to closely follow the teachings and precepts of the Russian Orthodox Church.Source
Vasily Boiko-Veliki, director of Russkoe Moloko (Russian Milk), told Ekho Moskvy radio that the company was established to promote the Orthodox revival of Russia, and the rules were meant "to prevent future sins by employees."
"We have about 6,000 employees, most of whom are Orthodox, and I expect them to be faithful and to repent," Boiko-Veliki said.
Answering the question if he employs only Orthodox believers, Boiko-Veliki said, "There is no limitation, but baptized people mostly come, whose goals in life coincide with ours, the Orthodox transfiguration of Russia."
The new rules require all Orthodox Christian employees who are civilly married or living together to be married in Russian Orthodox Church ceremonies by October 14, the feast of the Protection (Pokrov) of the Mother of God, or face the possibility of dismissal.
Newly-hired Orthodox employees who had been married in civil ceremonies would be given three months to have a religious wedding.
Boiko-Veliki explained that those who are not baptized do not have to marry in the church, but all employees will be able to take an educational course on basic Orthodox culture.
The new rules also state that anyone procuring or counseling for abortion would face dismissal from work.
“Abortion is the murder of someone. We do not want to work with murderers,” Boiko-Veliki told Ekho Moskvy.
Vladimir Vigilyansky, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarchal press service, told the media that the Patriarchate was critical of Boiko-Veliki's methods of spiritual transfiguration at a private company, but noted that the church in Russia has undergone a marked revival since the collapse of Communism.
The Russian businessman commented on the prolonged heat wave and resultant forest fires that are plaguing the western part of the country, and said that a return to the practices of the faith, such as sacramental marriages, could improve things.
"This summer of abnormal heat and drought is a judgment upon Russia’s godless ways," Boiko-Veliki told Gazeta.ru. “Our prayers are probably too weak and there is no repentance in our hearts.”
A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).-Charles Krauthammer
When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.
That's why Disney's 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It's why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It's why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.
And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.
Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers "to show some special sensitivity to the situation." Yet, as columnist Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message or show "special sensitivity" to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely that Ground Zero is indeed unlike any other place and therefore unique criteria govern what can be done there.
Bloomberg's implication is clear: If the proposed mosque were controlled by "insensitive" Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, he would not support its construction.
But then, why not? By the mayor's own expansive view of religious freedom, by what right do we dictate the message of any mosque? Moreover, as a practical matter, there's no guarantee that this couldn't happen in the future. Religious institutions in this country are autonomous. Who is to say that the mosque won't one day hire an Anwar al-Aulaqi -- spiritual mentor to the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber, and onetime imam at the Virginia mosque attended by two of the 9/11 terrorists?
An Aulaqi preaching in Virginia is a security problem. An Aulaqi preaching at Ground Zero is a sacrilege. Or would the mayor then step in -- violating the same First Amendment he grandiosely pretends to protect from mosque opponents -- and exercise a veto over the mosque's clergy?
Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history -- perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.
Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi -- yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.
Which makes you wonder about the goodwill behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, "I'm not a politician. . . . The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.
These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz -- and no mosque at Ground Zero.
Build it anywhere but there.
The governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges, Rauf's ostensible hope for the structure, would accept the offer.
The U.S. economy is recovering and the Federal Reserve needs to raise interest rates, lest it leave in place a policy that will only fuel future financial imbalances, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig said Friday.Read the rest here.
“We need to get off of the emergency rate of zero, move rates up slowly and deliberately,” which will bring policy in better alignment “with the economy’s slow, deliberate recovery,” the official said. While the markets may like the current stance of monetary policy, Hoenig said “I wish free money was really free and that there was a painless way to move from severe recession and high leverage to robust and sustainable economic growth, but there is no short cut.”
Hoenig’s remarks — they came from the text of a speech to be delivered Friday before a meeting with the community in Lincoln, Neb. — came on the heels of his latest dissent against the consensus view of the Fed.
On Tuesday, the Fed decided to provide additional support to an economy whose recovery appears to be faltering, by deciding to maintain the size of its balance sheet, rather than letting it slowly shrink. The Fed will do this by reinvesting the proceeds of its vast mortgage holdings back into Treasurys.
The action is controversial. Its economic impact is uncertain and some felt the Fed took the step simply to show to markets they were willing to do something given the economy’s problems.
Hoenig has been a persistent critic of the Fed’s stance throughout his tenure this year as a voter on Federal Open Market Committee. He has fretted that the current stance of policy could give way to fresh financial imbalances. His confidence in the recovery has led him to advocate raising interest rates, as well.