Monday, December 30, 2019

New Archbishop of York: ‘Bible has to fit the current culture’

The incoming Archbishop of York believes biblical teaching on sexuality should come second to 21st century Western cultural beliefs.

Stephen Cottrell is currently the Bishop of Chelmsford and will take over from Dr John Sentamu next year to become the second most senior clergyman in the Church of England.

Bishop Cottrell made his comments on the Bible in 2017 as he welcomed the Archbishops of Canterbury and York’s plea for a “radical new Christian inclusion”.


He said it would be wrong to ignore the “damage” that is done by rejecting Western society’s current view of human sexuality.

“I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.”

Read the rest here.

Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents According to the Orthodox Western Rite

Friday, December 20, 2019

Christianity Today: Trump Should Be Removed from Office

It’s time to say what we said 20 years ago when a president’s character was revealed for what it was.

In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.

The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.

That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.

Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Beef Over Red Meat

 Just one more week (for most of us)

In case you haven’t consumed any health news recently, there is a big beef over research showing red meat is not bad for you. A huge study has contradicted decades of anti-red-meat advice, and the experts who gave that advice are red-faced and livid.

The new research was a systematic review of existing research, conducted by a team of interdisciplinary researchers with no conflict of interest. After eliminating many poorly done studies, and studies done on animals (which have unknown application to humans), the team concluded, “The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).”

The problem is that this contradicts decades of research saying that meat, especially red and processed meat, is bad for health, allegedly causing heart disease and cancer. Virtually every medical organization has been telling people to stop eating meat for health reasons.

What are all these experts going to do now that the research studies they were relying on for their recommendations were flawed and biased? Experts hate to be told they are wrong. After all, they are the experts, so who can trump them?

This study did. And the response has been anger from the medical community, a very unscientific response.

In a story on the findings, and the reaction from the embarrassed and defensive medical community, the New York Times wrote, “Already [the study authors] have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”

The Times explains, “While the new findings are likely to please proponents of popular high-protein diets, they seem certain to add to public consternation over dietary advice that seems to change every few years. The conclusions represent another in a series of jarring dietary reversals involving salt, fats, carbohydrates and more.”

Clearly, the Emperor never likes to be told he has no clothes. This is a major rebuke, not only of medicine, but of nutrition research and public policy. As the Times article continued, “Some [medical experts] called for the journal’s editors to delay publication altogether. In a statement, scientists at Harvard warned that the conclusions ‘harm the credibility of nutrition science and erode public trust in scientific research.’”

Harvard doesn’t want the public to realize that its public health recommendations are based on bad science. The public may lose trust. We can’t allow the public to realize that medical advice is sketchy, at best.

Some medical groups don’t like the implications of the study, since they philosophically oppose meat consumption. According to the Times, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group advocating a plant-based diet, on Wednesday filed a petition against the journal with the Federal Trade Commission.”

Realize that these groups are calling for censorship of scientific information that goes against policy.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 15, 2019


St. John's N.F. Dec 14.- Sengor Marconi announced tonight the most wonderful scientific discovery of modern times, in stating that he had received electric signals from across the Atlantic Ocean from his station in Cornwall, England. He explains that before leaving England he had made his plans for accomplishing the result, for, while his primary object was to communicate with ocean liners in mid ocean, he also hoped to succeed in attaining the wonderful achievement of wireless telegraphy across the Atlantic.

Sengor Marconi's station in Cornwall is most powerful. He possesses an electric force generated there a hundred times greater than at his ordinary stations. Before he left England he arranged with the electrician in charge of the station, which is located in Poldhu, to begin sending signals daily after a certain date, which Sengor Marconi would cable him upon perfecting his arrangements here. Sengor Marconi arrived here a week ago Friday, and selected Signal Hill, at the entrance of the harbor, as an experimenting station, and moved his equipment there. Last Monday he cabled the Poldhu station to begin sending signals at 3 p. m. daily, and to continue them until 6 p. m., these hours being respectively 11:30 a. m. to 2:30 p. m. St. John's time. During these hours Wednesday Sengor Marconi elevated a kite with an aerial wire, by means of which signals are sent or received. He remained at the recorder attached to the receiving apparatus, and, to his profound satisfaction, signals were received by him at intervals, according to the programme arranged previously with the operator at Poldhu. These signals consisted of repeating at intervals the letter "S," which, in Marconi's code, is made by three dots, or quick strokes. This signal was repeated so frequently, and according to the detailed plan arranged to provide safeguards against possibility of a mistake, that Sengor Marconi was satisfied that it was a genuine transmission from England. 

Read the rest in the Sunday December 15, 1901 edition of the New York Tribune here.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Blue Wave Sweeps Britain (well... except Scotland)

Boris Johnson won a general election by one of the widest margins in recent history. In doing so the Conservatives inflicted a stunning defeat on the Labour Party, which suffered losses projected to rival those of the 1935 election. The Liberal Democrats also suffered heavy losses including their leader who lost her seat to the SNP, which alone among the opposition parties, did well. Though their gains were of course, entirely north of the border. Mr. Corbyn, the head of the Labour Party announced he will stand down as his party's leader after "a period of reflection."

The leader of the Scottish National Party has already begun trumpeting her demands for another independence referendum, which will likely be approved by the new Conservative government somewhere around noon on the day after the Second Coming.

News coverage here, here and here or pretty much anywhere you choose to look on Google.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Meanwhile in Germany

The German Catholic bishops have agreed that their church has been wrong about a few things.

But not to worry. There are no doctrinal differences between Orthodoxy and Rome.

Brazil's Imperial Heir Slams Amazon Synod

Brazil's Catholic royalty is condemning the Amazon Synod's final document as an "enormous conspiracy" of emergent pantheism against Catholic tradition, Western civilization and the conservative government of President Jair Bolsonaro.   

In a scathing attack, His Imperial Highness Prince Dom Bertrand said that the end product of the synod was not Catholicism, but pantheism seeking "a complete change of the Roman Catholic apostolic Church and the Christian civilization that had existed through the Church's history."
"They want to extinguish all the progress that happened in the last 2,000 years thanks to Christian civilization," Dom Bertrand of Orleans and Braganza asserted in a video statement released Friday.

The traditionalist Catholic royal singled out paragraph 10 for a blistering critique, arguing that it would threaten Brazil's borders and the "soul of the Brazilian people," since the document was calling for "the complete transformation of Brazil and everything related to the Brazilian population and the indigenous population."

Paragraph 10 claims that "the Amazon today is a wounded and deformed beauty, a place of pain and violence."

Prince Bertrand hits back in the video: "The Amazon is a forest. The forest doesn't suffer. But this is part of a pantheistic vision that claims the forest can suffer because nature is Mother Nature or Pachamama or whatever."

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Germany's hard-Left 'Corbyn problem' is only just beginning

Germany has a giant "Corbyn problem" of its own. The Social Democrat base has been captured by hard-Left youth activists and has repudiated the core policy positions of the party leadership and Germany’s post-war consensus.

The difference is that the venerable SPD is not in opposition. It is for the time being the second pillar of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, with "co-determination" powers over economic policy and the strategic direction of Europe.

The weekend "revolution" of the SPD congress saw vows to reverse the free-market Hartz IV labour reforms of the Gerhard Schroder era and embrace a 2pc wealth tax, doubling down on a tax experiment abandoned in the 1990s as unworkable and economically destructive.

The SPD delegates voted for a rent freeze in the big cities, a stretch in unemployment benefits to 36 months, a 30pc rise in the minimum wage, and a much higher carbon tax.

They want to abandon the "black zero" straightjacket of a balanced budget and launch a fiscal blitz of 1.5 million units of social housing, with €45bn of extra infrastructure and investment spending (1.2pc of GDP) every year for the next decade.

Peter Ramsauer from the Bavarian Social Christians (CSU) called it a “fantasy socialist wishlist” that renders the coalition effectively impossible. “A wealth tax will drive productive capital out of the country. The SPD will ruin itself first, and then the German economy,” he said.

Read the rest here.

Investors are buying insurance against 2020 electoral chaos

Stock investors are hedging in a big way against something scary coming at them this time next year and it could be related to the outcome of the presidential election.

The price of buying downside puts, meaning a negative bet on the S&P 500 is at a historical level compared to the price for upside calls, or an opposite bet in the option markets for higher prices, according to Julian Emanuel, head of equity and derivatives strategy at BTIG.

By this time next year, the Nov. 3 election will have been over for a little over a month.

“To hedge out past the election, the price of downside puts relative to upside calls is literally pricing an election apocalypse,” said Emanuel. “We have said it forecasts either a less business friendly attitude or a civilizational conflict with China after the election.”

Emanuel said it’s unclear which way investors think the election would go. “The left, the right and the center are all worried about highly unstable electoral outcomes,” said Emanuel.

Read the rest here.

I don't blame them. In 2016, Trump repeatedly warned he might not recognize the legitimacy of an election where he lost.

RIP Paul Volcker

 Paul Volcker testifying before Congress

He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987 and is remembered chiefly as the man who took the heroic (and brutal) steps required to break the high inflation that had dogged the country through the 1970's and early 80's. He gained a reputation for being the guy who said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done even if it was deeply unpopular. And jacking short term interest rates deep into double digit territory, thereby all but wiping out credit markets and plunging the country into two recessions (that could probably be classified as a minor depression) in order to arrest inflation was hugely controversial. But it worked and history has generally been kind to Volcker.

A staunch advocate of fiscal conservatism; he had a personal aversion to debt and spending that was legendary. He was so frugal that he was still driving an old Nash Rambler when the driver's seat collapsed. Rather than break down and buy a new car (or even a newer used one), he jammed a small chair under the driver's seat to prop it up and continued to drive the Nash for years. His only extravagance was his love of cigars, though even there he stuck to the cheap generic brands commonly found behind the checkout counter in gas stations and convenience stores.

Mr. Volcker died at the age of 92.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Leaked report alleges widespread anti-Semitism in UK Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of leading an “institutionally anti-Semitic” party as a leaked dossier argued he had been involved in a “cover up” of the problem in Labour.

A devastating submission of evidence to the equality watchdog compares the Labour Party to the Metropolitan Police in the 1990s, when the Stephen Lawrence inquiry found it was riddled with racism.

Whistleblowers have claimed that allegations of anti-Semitism were made to “disappear” following interventions by Mr Corbyn and his senior staff.

They also claim they were told to bypass the supposedly independent complaints process by taking cases directly to Labour high command then “told to lie” about what they were doing...

In a 53-page submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been affiliated to the party for almost a century, said Mr Corbyn has made Labour “a welcoming refuge for anti-Semites” by protecting those accused of racism against Jews.

The dossier was described as “utterly damning” by one of Labour’s most senior figures...

The dossier - which includes evidence from 70 serving and former Labour officials - describes a “relentless” level of racial hatred experienced by Jewish members of the Labour Party “on a daily basis”.

It describes one incident at last year’s Labour Party Conference at which a Jewish member allegedly shared a breakfast table with two other delegates who agreed that Jews were “subhuman” and  should “be grateful we don’t make them eat bacon for breakfast every day”.

It also gives details of insults allegedly hurled at Jewish members during local party meetings. One man listed 22 different verbal attacks on him including “Zio scum”, “child killer” and being told “Hitler was right”.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

New York state government in three sentences

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on the state's looming $6B budget deficit.

“When there is a concern about having enough money, the two options always are: Do you cut spending or do you raise revenue? And for us in the Assembly, we always believe in raising revenue.”


Monday, December 02, 2019

The Democrats may be in trouble

First the inevitable caveat: We are eleven months out from the general election and that is close to eternity in politics. Polls this far out tend to pick the winning party about 50% of the time. So toss a coin, your odds are about the same. And of course, we all know that when you are dealing with the chaos president, anything can happen right up to election day.

With that out of the way, there are two warning signs for Democrats, that all is not well. The first is that the public hearings on impeachment have thus far fallen flat. To the extent that public opinion has moved, it may actually have done so in Trump's favor. I would note that the moves are within the margin of error. But still this cannot be encouraging when considering the prospect of a Senate trial. At the moment it's extremely doubtful that they will get a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate. More worrying is that a large number of moderate Democrats may vote against impeachment. That would be a political disaster for Democrats going into a national election year.

But the news may be even worse.

Two recent polls, one by Emerson College and one from Rasmussen, put black support for Trump above 30 percent. This produced shock waves discernible in every state in the Union and caused some political pundits to issue tsunami warnings. Assuming those polls are even remotely accurate, their significance cannot be overstated.

African Americans have been the Democratic Party's most reliable constituency since the 1960's. And it is one that they have come to rely on more and more as the party has alienated working class whites. Let me spell this out in very blunt language.

I don't care which candidate you are talking about. There is no realistic path for any Democrat to the White House that does not require around 90 percent of a heavy black voter turn out. If Donald Trump carries anything much over 15 percent of the black vote, it's game over.

Predictably, these polls have precipitated a variety of responses within the political left, ranging from denial ("fake news" was heard more than once) to despondency to some sober analysis of what may be going wrong.

On the latter point here are few thoughts. First, blacks are benefiting from the best economy since the 1920's. African American unemployment is at it's lowest level since reliable records have been kept. At slightly over five percent it's still higher than the national average, but by historical standards, it's not just good. It's really really good. Just who should get credit for the economy is a perfectly fair subject for debate. But Trump has been in office for three years and most Americans are giving him that credit, fairly or not.

Another factor may be that Democrats in their mad rush to the extreme left may have inadvertently alienated some of their supporters. The black community is nowhere near as liberal as some of the Democrats running for president. Polls have consistently shown that most blacks are uncomfortable with abortion on demand, and there is serious resistance to the left's victim group du jour. Namely those whom Dave Chappelle refers to as "the alphabet people."

It may surprise some to read this, but African Americans have one of the highest rates of religiosity of any demographic in the United States. (And at 87% self identifying with a religious church or denomination it is by far the highest among groups who traditionally vote Democratic.) I have long wondered how blacks can keep voting for a party that repeatedly and in so many ways disparages people of faith.

In any event, Democrats still have some time. But when a man like Robert Johnson (BET founder and the first black billionaire), a lifelong Democrat, warns they are on the path to defeat because they are abandoning the political center, you know things are not going according to plan.