Thursday, July 31, 2014

CIA Admits it Spied on Congress

CIA employees improperly searched computers used by Senate investigators involved in a multiyear probe of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation measures on terrorism suspects, according to the findings of an internal agency inquiry that prompted CIA Director John Brennan to apologize to lawmakers this week.

Ten agency employees, including two lawyers and three computer specialists, surreptitiously searched Senate Intelligence Committee files and reviewed some committee staff members’ e-mails on computers that were supposed to be exclusively for congressional investigators, according to a summary of the CIA inspector general’s report released Thursday.

The document criticizes members of the computer team for a “lack of candor about their activities” when they were questioned by investigators working for CIA Inspector General David Buckley.
Read the rest here.

A Volley of Criticism for the New York Times

Via T-19 ...
The Times is taking an online shellacking for its grossly biased coverage of a number of social and religious issues, especially relating to gay rights. See...

Here - Terry Mattingly

Here - Andrew Walker & Owen Strachan

Here - Alan Jacobs.

Here - Rod Dreher

and here - T:19

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Prayers please

In your charity I beg your prayers for someone close to me who has been diagnosed with a very serious illness.

Europe steps up sanctions on Russia

LONDON — The European Union on Tuesday approved a package of expanded sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow has been widely accused of supporting separatist rebels.

The new sanctions target Russia’s state-owned banks, and will restrict sales of arms, some kinds of technology and some equipment used by the oil industry. European diplomats also drew up a list of Russian oligarchs who will face individual sanctions.

European governments were moving in lock step with the United States on the new round of sanctions, despite concerns that they would pay an economic price for confronting the Kremlin more aggressively.
Read the rest here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

DC Gun ban is struck down

D.C. police were told Sunday not to arrest people for carrying handguns on the street in the wake of a judge’s ruling that overturned the city’s principal gun-control law.

However, the D.C. attorney general’s office said it would seek a stay of the ruling while the city decides whether to appeal.

In an order approved by Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, police were told that District residents are permitted to carry pistols if the weapons are registered. Those who had not registered their handguns could be charged on that ground, the instruction said.

The number of registered pistols is thought to be low.

Lanier’s instructions to police also said that residents of other jurisdictions without felony records would not be charged under the ban on carrying pistols. 
Read the rest here.

100 Years Ago

The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia.

Friday, July 25, 2014


  • Austria presents ultimatum to Servia [sic] requiring acceptance of demands by 6pm today
  • Russia demands that Austria abandon the time limit on her ultimatum under threat of "extreme measures"
  • Entry of Russia into dispute brings Germany into field under terms of Triple Alliance
  • Great Britain and France work to find modus vivendi, but thus far in vain
  • All offers of mediation declined by Austria and threats of intervention unheeded
  • Austria's fighting force estimated at 810,000 men
  • Servia's military strength is estimated at 195,000 men
  • The Russian Army is in round numbers 1,500,000 strong
  • Germany's peace strength is minimum 672,000 men. On a war footing the German Army is the largest in the world i.e. 2,250,000 men
100 Years ago today, and seemingly out of the blue, the end of Western Civilization is announced.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Russia: Conspiracy theories and a doubtful grip on reality

MOSCOW—Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has already shined a spotlight on the Russian public’s somewhat, um, unique views. Russian media are running with conspiracy theories: that MH17 was shot down by NATO to spark a conflict with Russia, that MH17 wasn’t full of innocent civilians but week-old corpses, or that MH17 was shot down because it was mistaken for Vladimir Putin’s personal jet (as if anti-aircraft missiles weren’t aimed with radar but with a really large pair of binoculars). The only theory missing is the right one: that Russian-backed separatists accidentally shot down the plane when they mistook it for a Ukrainian military transport.

This may seem like the entertaining sideshow to a tragedy, but actually it’s just a window into a hugely dangerous problem. I recently moved to Moscow, and it’s hard to miss the extent to which Russian society exists in an alternate universe. Even well-educated, sophisticated people who have traveled widely in Europe and North America will frequently voice opinions that, in an American context, would place them alongside people wearing tinfoil hats. Russia is not living in the reality-based community.
Read the rest here.

The cited example of the common Russian take on Syria is unfortunate, since it is almost certainly more accurate than the naive views held by most Westerners. That said, Russia does have a long history of xenophobia and subscribing to weird versions of history or conspiracy theories to explain or refute inconvenient facts. But then again are they that different from us?

Consider the huge numbers of Americans who subscribe to bizarre conspiracy theories. 9-11 Truthers make up a much larger number than most people want to admit here, overwhelmingly from the ranks of the moonbat left. And of course there are the far right's version in the form of Birthers. Setting aside politics we still see incredible numbers of people who think FDR engineered Pearl Harbor although pretty much all reputable historians ridicule the idea. The number of people who are convinced that Jack Kennedy was murdered as part of some elaborate plot has been slowly declining, but still remains embarrassingly high, despite the mountain of evidence pointing to Oswald coupled with the complete lack of credible evidence of conspiracy, and the exposure of most of the early purveyors of these theories as cranks and con-men. Shall we discuss how many Americans think the moon-shot was faked, or that professional wrestling is real?

So, are the Russians a little overly fond of alternative realities? Yep. But that appears to be a point that we have in common.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Horrific Execution

Arizona executed convicted murderer Joseph R. Wood on Wednesday, a lethal injection that lasted for nearly two hours as Wood snorted and gasped, witnesses said.

The drawn-out process prompted the governor to order a review and drew renewed criticism of lethal injection, the main method of execution in the United States, just months after a high-profile botched execution in Oklahoma.

“I’ve witnessed a number of executions before and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Dale Baich, one of Wood’s attorneys, told The Washington Post in a phone call. “Nor has an execution that I observed taken this long.”
Read the rest here.

Related Story: Federal Judge calls for more  primitive, but effective methods of execution...

NY Times: Gov. Cuomo's office repeatedly interfered with anti-corruption panel

...But a three-month examination by The New York Times found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.

Ultimately, Mr. Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through what he had indicated would be an 18-month life. And now, as the Democratic governor seeks a second term in November, federal prosecutors are investigating the roles of Mr. Cuomo and his aides in the panel’s shutdown and are pursuing its unfinished business.

Before its demise, Mr. Cuomo’s aides repeatedly pressured the commission, many of whose members and staff thought they had been given a once-in-a-career chance at cleaning up Albany. As a result, the panel’s brief existence — and the writing and editing of its sole creation, a report of its preliminary findings — was marred by infighting, arguments and accusations. Things got so bad that investigators believed a Cuomo appointee was monitoring their communications without their knowledge. Resignations further crippled the commission. In the end, the governor got the Legislature to agree to a package of ethics reforms far less ambitious than those the commission had recommended — a result Mr. Cuomo hailed as proof of the panel’s success.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Second Appeals Court Supports Obamacare

Two same day rulings appear to directly contradict one another. Details here

Appeals Court Ruling a Blow to Obamacare

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the government could not subsidize premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange, a ruling that could upend President Obama’s health care law.

The 2-to-1 ruling could cut off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the court said, subsidies are available only to people who obtained insurance through exchanges established by states.
Read the rest here.

The Telegraph: Life on the Eve of Calamity

A month before the outbreak of war Henley Regatta opened in “brilliant fashion”, The Daily Telegraph reported, with record crowds and “perfect” weather. It presents an image of Edwardian Britain as we fondly imagine it to have been, before the sudden cloudburst of August 1914.

Of course, the reality was far different for the 99 per cent of people who did not own land, collect rents or vacation at Biarritz and Marienbad. Most Edwardians worked in dark, noisy factories, cut hay in fields, toiled down dirty and dangerous mines; had bones bent by rickets and lungs racked by tuberculosis. Life expectancy then was 49 years for a man and 53 years for a woman, compared with 79 and 82 years today. They lived in back to back tenements or jerry-built terraces, wore cloth caps or bonnets (rather than boaters, bowlers and toppers) and they had never taken a holiday - beyond a day trip to Brighton or Blackpool - in their entire lives.

The country was a seething mass of social tension and violent confrontations. It was a land torn and dislocated by the struggle of increasingly militant suffragettes; strikes in mills, mines and on the railways; the constitutional battle between Lords and Commons; and the threat of civil war in Ireland.

Readers of the Telegraph - as a glance at the archives will reveal - were far better informed about the true state of their nation and the world than our sugary sentimental view allows us. In a dramatic scoop, the paper had published an exclusive interview with Kaiser Wilhelm II in October 1908 in which the Kaiser had expressed alarmingly frank - and hostile - views about his mother’s native land (the Kaiser’s mama, Empress Victoria, was Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter). In this interview the Kaiser accused “you English” of being “mad, mad, mad as March hares” for fearing that the construction of Germany’s High Seas Fleet was aimed at challenging the Royal Navy’s command of the world’s oceans. Implausibly, he claimed that Germany’s real target was the rising sun of Japan.

As the new year of 1914 opened, the Telegraph’s pages were dominated by stories about strikes and worries about whether Britannia could continue to rule the waves (reflected in a feature comparing the Royal Navy with its rival fleets - Germany’s above all). The biggest political story was the looming crisis over the demand for Home Rule in Ireland. It gave more coverage, at least initially, to the sinking of the liner “Empress of Ireland” in Canada’s St Lawrence seaway on June 1 than to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at the end of the month - a “dastardly crime which has filled the whole civilised world with consternation”. On the second day after the event the Telegraph’s leader suggested that the murder would “exasperate Teutonic feeling against the Slav nationality”, but of course it got nowhere near what actually happened. What is so unnerving reading the Telegraph in those days after the assassination was the way life carried on as normal. People continued to browse dress patterns, plan weekend drives, tear out recipes and queue at cinemas, quite oblivious to what was coming. This is the life they were about to leave behind forever.
Read the rest here.

For those who might be interested in a glimpse of life on this side of the Atlantic, the complete archive of the New York Tribune up to 1922 is available free online here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Statement of the Moscow Patriarchate on the Decision by the Church of England to Allow Female Bishops

At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.

Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.

In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.

Letter from the Council of Bishops of The Society on the Women Bishops Vote

The approval of the Women Bishops legislation brings to an end a decade of debate about what provision should be made for those who are unable, for theological reasons, to receive the ministry of women as priests and bishops.

In the earlier stages of that debate we offered the Church of England a vision of how provision could be made with full ecclesiological integrity not just for us but also for the Church of England as a whole. It is now clear that the reality will be shaped differently, and will fall short of our ideal.

None the less, we believe that we can have confidence in our future as catholics who are called to live out our Christian vocation in the Church of England, maintaining a distinctive witness to the quest for the unity of the Church. The House of Bishops’ Declaration embodies a commitment to enabling us to flourish within the Church of England’s life and structures. It does so because our theological convictions about ministry and ordination remain within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition. As Resolution III.2 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference stated, ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.
Read the rest here.
HT: T-19

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Rising Generation of Libertarian Democrats

...Although a majority of younger voters today are reliably Democratic, there are key issues on which they differ notably from their elders within the center-left coalition. The July Pew survey identifies two predominantly white core Democratic constituencies: the “solid liberals” of the traditional left, which is 69 percent white, with an average age of 46, who exhibit deep progressive commitments on both economic and social issues; and younger voters, 68 percent white, with an average age of 38, which Pew calls the “next generation left.”

The two groups were asked to choose whether “most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard” or whether “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.” A decisive majority of the older “solid liberal” group, 67 percent, responded that hard work is no guarantee of success, while an even larger majority, 77 percent, of the younger “next generation left” believes that you can get ahead if you are willing to work hard.

According to Pew, the older group believes, 73-20, that “government should do more to solve problems.” Only 44 percent of the younger group agrees — and of younger respondents, 50 percent believe that “government is trying to do too much.”
Read the rest here.

And now for some comic relief

Stuff like this is all the more hilarious when you know that, incredibly, it is not satire.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day

Bastille Day or, as the comic singers who take it seriously prefer to call it, the Fete de la Federation, is the embarrassing event that exposes the cultural, moral and constitutional bankruptcy of what was once the greatest civilisation in Europe.

When you are reduced to celebrating the murder by the canaille of Paris in 1789 of the French equivalent of the Chelsea Pensioners, you are inadvertently advertising the sinister origins of the dysfunctional state you are trying to prop up with a mythology as grotesque as it is pathetic. The Umpteenth French Republic is the one entity whose absorption by the European Union is not to be regretted.

Pompous parades will today celebrate the event that triggered the French Revolution, that is to say, the most appalling bloodbath anterior to the Russian Revolution. Seven prisoners were released from the Bastille – four counterfeiters, an accomplice to murder and two lunatics - whose return to the community was hardly beneficial. The attack on the prison, reserved for the well-off, was orchestrated by the Marquis de Sade and Camille Desmoulins on behalf of the Nine Sisters masonic lodge.

There followed the September massacres, the marriages republicains in which people of opposite sexes were stripped naked and lashed together in obscene postures before being drowned, mothers forced to watch their children being guillotined and the massacre of 400,000 Catholic royalists – the majority of them women and children – in La Vendee. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a celebratory knees-up.
Read the rest here.
HT: The Young Fogey

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I am probably the last one to get the memo

But yes, Damian Thompson has parted ways with the Telegraph. I was wondering why his blog had not been updated for weeks. If anyone gets word on where he has moved to or any new blog, please drop me a line.

I guess we now know which one has the real juice

Friday, July 11, 2014

Some food for thought, perhaps for those of us who blog or comment on blogs...

The gift of speech was also given to us that we might understand one another, not through instinct, like the dumb animals, but through intellect. Thus we verbally [or on the internet/blogs?] express our ideas, which are abundantly and clearly opened to us by our God-enlightened mind, the source of thought and word, in order that we might conduct intelligent, mutual, brotherly conversation on the aim of daily life and its regulation, for mutual edification and benefit, in support and consolation of each other, and the like. It was not given to us that we might talk idly; or judge, slander, and condemn our neighbors, pronouncing judgments on them like unmerciful judges and torturers rather than considering ourselves as their brothers, weak and sinful as they, if not still worse. Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, says the Apostle, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Rom. 2:1, 3) He that ... judgeth his brother, says another Apostle, ...judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge (James 4:11). And what great evil results from empty and idle conversations and gossip! Sometimes one heedlessly spoken word causes a whole storm of unpleasantness and fills the heart of the one referred to with indignation and hatred. So even a word that was not ill-intentioned, one we counted as nothing, can strike a mortal sin, just as a small spark often turns into a great fire burning whole villages. How great a matter a little fire kindleth, says the Apostle James. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things (cf. James 3:5); it is a fire, a world of iniquity:... it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (James 3:6). The tongue is an untamable evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God and therewith curse we men, which are after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing an d cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be! Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (James 3:8-11) Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge ... let him show this out of his works, through good conduct, and not by condemning others. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth (i.e., don't consider yourself wise). This is not the wisdom that descends from above, but is earthly ... devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (cf. James 3:13-16). Behold the harm from all our idle talk and gossip! 
-St. John of Kronstadt

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Some Doubts on Unrestricted Immigration from Unlikely Sources

Via Anti-Gnostic some people one would not expect are starting to raise some tough questions about unrestricted immigration. The great lefty Howard Kuntsler for one has had enough of the dissembling from the usual suspects on this subject. On the other end of the spectrum, well known anarchist Lew Rockwell seems to be hedging just a bit in his customary carte blanche support for immigration.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

First Things: How Sex is Derailing Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue

...A year earlier, the election of a woman as head bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) brought a quick rebuke from the Russian Orthodox Church. “We planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our dialogue with the Lutheran Church in Germany in late November or early December,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk noted at the time. “The 50th anniversary of the dialogue will become the end of it.” The EKD eventually canceled celebrations altogether when Metropolitan Hilarion decided not to attend.

Not long after that declaration, Metropolitan Hilarion summarized the problems at play in Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue in an interview with Der Spiegel. “Many Protestant churches have liberalized their notions of ethics, giving a theological justification to homosexuality and blessing same-sex couples,” he said. “Some refuse to consider abortion to be a sin. We do not share the understanding of the Church and church order, especially as the Protestants, unlike the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, ordain women.”

Likewise, a 2011 Inter-Orthodox evaluation of dialogue between the Orthodox and the LWF on the global level noted similar issues straining relations. “The ordination of women on all levels of clerical orders,” it wrote, “is a clear deviation from Christian practice,” as is “the emergence of a new moral-code concerning human sexuality and especially homosexual relations.” “In the eyes of most Orthodox,” the report continued, “these new ecclesiological and controversial anthropological innovations in the Lutheran world constitute radical challenges and serious obstacles to the Orthodox-Lutheran theological dialogue and to its original aim, namely, the promotion of mutual ecclesial rapprochement and, eventually, of Church unity.” While the report recognized much good had come from discussion with the LWF, it nevertheless concluded that issues like women’s ordination and innovative teachings on human sexuality “call into question the value of much that we have achieved in our dialogue.” “Lutherans should understand,” the report continues, “that these issues are major difficulties in our dialogue and may jeopardize its continuation and success.”
Read the rest here.

Of course it is not "sex" that is derailing the dialogue, but rather the obstinate and determined embrace of heresy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Louisiana Supreme Court: Catholic priest can be forced to testify about confessions

Wow! This is very serious and needs to be immediately appealed o the Federal Courts.

A Company Liberals Could Love

FOR a generation now, liberals have bemoaned the disappearance of the socially conscious corporation, the boardroom devoted to the common good. Once, the story goes, America’s C.E.O.s recognized that they shared interests with workers and customers; once wages and working hours reflected more than just a zeal for profits. But then came Reagan, deregulation, hostile takeovers, and an era of solidarity gave way to the age of Gordon Gekko, from which there’s been no subsequent escape.

There are, however, exceptions: companies that still have a sense of business as a moral calling, which can be held up as examples to shame the bottom-liners.

One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”

Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1, for its successful suit against the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and potential abortifacients.
Read the rest here.

This thoughtful article has been getting a lot of attention on the blogosphere, but I thought I'd bump it for the benefit of anyone who missed it.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Welcome to the Everything Boom (or Bubble?)

In Spain, where there was a debt crisis just two years ago, investors are so eager to buy the government’s bonds that they recently accepted the lowest interest rates since 1789.

In New York, the Art Deco office tower at One Wall Street sold in May for $585 million, only three months after the going wisdom in the real estate industry was that it would sell for more like $466 million, the estimate in one industry tip sheet.

In France, a cable-television company called Numericable was recently able to borrow $11 billion, the largest junk bond deal on record — and despite the risk usually associated with junk bonds, the interest rate was a low 4.875 percent.

Welcome to the Everything Boom — and, quite possibly, the Everything Bubble. Around the world, nearly every asset class is expensive by historical standards. Stocks and bonds; emerging markets and advanced economies; urban office towers and Iowa farmland; you name it, and it is trading at prices that are high by historical standards relative to fundamentals. The inverse of that is relatively low returns for investors.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Memory Eternal!

Metropolitan Volodymyr, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the real one), has reposed after a long illness. May his memory be eternal!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Many Years....

To Archbishop Joseph who was elected to be the new Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America. He replaces the late (and controversial) Metropolitan Philip.

Supreme Court Backs Christian College on Contraception Sparking Sharp Dissent

The three female justices of the Supreme Court sharply rebuked their colleagues Thursday for siding with a Christian college in the latest battle over providing women with contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, saying the court was retreating from assurances offered only days ago.

In a short, unsigned opinion, the court said that Wheaton College in Illinois, at least temporarily, does not have to comply even with compromise provisions in the law that the college says still violate its religious beliefs.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the action cast doubt on the very accommodation the court’s majority seemed to endorse Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which concerned businesses that objected to providing birth control that offends the owners’ beliefs.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” wrote Sotomayor, who was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. “Not so today.”

She said Thursday’s order “evinces disregard for even the newest of this court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution.”
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Feast of St. John Maximovitch

Some Perspectives on The Great War

AG has posted links to several reflections on the Great War that are well worth a read. It is quite impossible to understand modern history without grasping the catastrophe of 1914-18. Nor is it an exaggeration when we say that almost all of the evils of the last century can be traced to this calamity.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

BIS Sounds Cautionary Note to Central Bankers

The Bank for International Settlements — the Swiss-based financial institution that acts as a counterparty to national central banks — has declared that stock markets are in a "euphoric" state and has urged central banks globally to begin tightening interest-rate policies now while economies are growing rather than wait for another recession, when it will be too late.

Those are scary words coming from a set of economists whose job it is to monitor how capable central banks are of responding to economic conditions with flexible monetary policy.

The subtext (and not so subtext) of BIS's annual report is that, because many central banks have reduced interest rates to zero — the U.S. and Japan included — they are without weapons to boost the economy should another crisis hit. You can't go lower than zero, basically.

These words from the BIS ought to terrify anyone who thought central banks were unprepared for the last recession in 2007, when U.S. interest rates were "high" at about 5.3%:

Financial markets are euphoric, but progress in strengthening banks’ balance sheets has been uneven and private debt keeps growing. Macroeconomic policy has little room for manoeuvre [sic] to deal with any untoward surprises that might be sprung, including a normal recession.
Read the rest here.