Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Episcopal Church Canons Made Easy

Hot Rod Anglican has called our attention to a great new release in the "For Dummies" series.

This is a book you don't want to miss! Finally, a manual explaining the corkscrew reasoning and meandering minds of TECs leaders.

There is an exceptionally helpful glossary at the back which includes definitions of words and phrases such as "living into" and "fiduciary responsibility" and "inclusion".

This book isn't for readers with an understanding of the principles of Law, Justice and Fairness, as these folks will only be frustrated by the circuitous legal definitions.

Anglican Laity Push for New North American Province

Remain Faithful, one of the Anglican Communion’s largest lay-led organizations proclaiming the traditional, orthodox Faith as set forth in Holy Scripture and in the historic Creeds, believes that alignment with a remote Anglican Province does not offer a permanent solution for traditional, orthodox Anglicans in North America.

BE IT RESOLVED, that Remain Faithful calls for and supports the immediate establishment of a new North American Anglican Province, in conjunction with Common Cause Partners and comprised of Dioceses constitutionally and canonically bound to preach, teach and practice the true orthodox and traditional Faith proclaimed in Holy Scripture and in the historic Creeds of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Remain Faithful calls for the recognition of the above-described North American Anglican Province by thosePrimates in attendance at the Global Anglican Futures Conference, as well as by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by all other bishops, priests andLaypersons in communion with the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

RESOLVED this 26th day of September, 2008, by unanimous vote of the Executive Committee of Remain Faithful, at Fort Worth, Texas.

Cora S. Werley, Secretary

Hat tip to Stand Firm.

British Pro-Life Groups Challenge MPs to Draw the Line in the Sand

Matt Cresswell has important news at Religious Intelligence. Here is a portion of what he reports:

British pro-life groups are upping their campaign as a highly controversial embryology bill comes to its final stages. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (HFE) will reach the report stage this autumn in parliament.

In recent months a whole raft of new amendments have been tabled by back benchers wanting to either further liberalise abortion or make abortion less available in the UK.

To help raise awareness, the All Party Pro-Life Group is giving away thousands of post cards to its supporters which can be sent to individual MPs.

The cards, which picture children’s feet standing just behind a line drawn in the sand, call for MPs to vote against any further liberalisation of abortion laws.

Read it all here.

Pressure on Canterbury to Form New Anglican Province in USA

TimesOnline - Ruth Gledhill

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is facing growing pressure to create a new Anglican province for conservatives after a leading evangelical was effectively defrocked in the US.

Six senior Church of England bishops have come out in support of deposed US bishop Bob Duncan, declaring themselves “deeply saddened and shocked.”

Headed by the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishops of Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Exeter and Rochester joined in declaring their belief that the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh remains “a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion.”

In an interview with The Times, the Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said the time had now come for Dr Williams to create a new province for conservatives in the US.

Another senior bishop, a former primate of the Southern Cone province in Latin America, also wrote an open letter to Dr Williams demanding the immediate suspension of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion and for the recognition of a new conservative province.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Goes Forward

After a meeting on September 23, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, acting as the Ecclesiastical Authority after Bishop Duncan's purported deposition, issued this statement.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh unanimously commits itself to our Annual Convention going forward on October 4th in an orderly and grace-filled manner.

We ask that all members of the Diocese would join us in praying and working toward this end.

The Rev David D. Wilson, President
St. David's Church, Peter's Twp PA

The Rev. Dr. James Simons
St. Michael’s of the Valley, Ligonier PA

The Rev. Karen B. Stevenson
Trinity Church, Washington PA

The Rev. Geoffery W. Chapman
St. Stephen's Church, Sewickley PA

Mr. Wicks Stephens, Secretary
Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh PA

Dr. Theresa T. Newell
St. Stephen's Church, Sewickley PA

Mrs. Gladys Hunt-Mason
St. Stephen's Church, McKeesport PA

Mr. Kenneth Herbst
St. Peter's Church, Butler PA

Read it all here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Assisted Suicide Group Targets Washington

The Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC), along with Compassion & Choices (the former Hemlock Society), devised a plan in 2005 called "Oregon plus One" to break the logjam. It is based on the premise that, if just one more state follows Oregon's lead, then other states will fall in line.

The plan was put into effect in early 2006. In its 2007 annual report, the DDNC noted that it had spent a year "researching and collecting data to determine that state which is most likely to adopt a Death with Dignity law...Through these efforts we have identified Washington as the state." (Note that the assisted-suicide group chose Washington. Washingtonians were not in on the selection.)

After choosing Washington as the target state, the DDNC reported, "[W]e have never had such great odds of success as we have in Washington in 2008. That is why we will be directing $1.5 million over the next year and a half to the efforts....Our organization is providing leadership, political strategy, and financial resources to this monumental effort."

The political campaign was formally announced in late 2007 and, in mid-July 2008, Initiative 1000 (called the "Washington Death with Dignity Act," a measure virtually identical to Oregon's law) qualified for the 2008 general election ballot. Its advocates contend that Oregon's ten-year experience demonstrates that a Death with Dignity law not only works well, but is actually a benefit to patients. As proof they point to Oregon's annual official reports, to the law's "safeguards," and to studies in professional journals.

However, their claims are at best misleading. For example, under Oregon's law doctors participating in assisted suicide must file reports with the state. So the only physicians providing data for official annual reports are those who actually prescribe lethal drugs for patients. First, they help the person commit suicide and, afterwards, they report whether their actions complied with the law. Then, that information is used to formulate the state's official annual reports.

However, according to American Medical News, Oregon officials in charge of issuing the reports have conceded that "there's no way to know if additional deaths went unreported." (The official number of reported assisted-suicide deaths in Oregon is 341.)

Indeed, the official summary accompanying one annual report noted that there is no way to know if information provided by the physicians is accurate or complete. But, it stated, "[W]e, however, assume that doctors were being their usual careful and accurate selves." The reporting agency also acknowledged that it has no authority or funding to investigate the accuracy of those self-reports.

It would be nifty if the Internal Revenue Service allowed such unverified and unverifiable self-reporting.

The Oregon law's safeguards are equally problematic. They contain enough loopholes to drive a hearse through them. The safeguards certainly do have the appearance of being protective. They deal with requests for assisted suicide, family notification, and counseling or psychological evaluation. However, those safeguards are about as protective as the emperor's new clothes:
The oral requests, which must be separated by fifteen days, do not need to be witnessed. In fact, they don't even have to be made in person. They could be made by phone - even left on the physician's answering device. The written request must be witnessed, but it could be mailed or faxed to the doctor.

The law states that the physician is to "recommend that the patient notify next of kin," but family notification is not required. It is entirely possible that the first time family members find out that a loved one was contemplating suicide could be after the death has occurred.

Doctors can facilitate the suicides of mentally-ill or depressed patients without any prior counseling being provided. A psychiatric evaluation is required only if the physician believes that the mental illness or depression is causing impaired judgment. According to Oregon's latest official report, not one patient who died after taking the lethal drugs was referred for counseling prior to being given the prescription.

Additionally troubling are omissions in both Oregon's law and the Washington proposal. For instance, doctor shopping is not prohibited. If one physician refuses to prescribe assisted suicide because, for example, the patient is not competent to make an informed death request, that patient or a family member can go from doctor to doctor until finding one who will write the prescription.

Moreover, neither Oregon's law nor Washington's proposal has any type of protection for the patient once the prescription is written. While the requests for assisted suicide are to be made knowingly and voluntarily, there is no provision that the patient must knowingly and voluntarily take the lethal drugs. Dr. Katrina Hedberg, the lead author of most of Oregon's official reports, acknowledged that there is no assessment of patients after the prescribing is completed. She said that the "law itself only provides for writing the prescription, not what happens afterwards."

Read it all here.

Anglican Bishop Contests Illegal Demolition of Church Properties

PAKISTAN: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday issued notices to Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights and Federal Minority Commission in a writ petition seeking registration of first information report (FIR) against four bishops for ‘illegally’ allowing a contractor to demolish old construction of Afghan Mission Hospital and construct a commercial plaza there.

A PHC two-member bench consisting of Justice Shahjehan Khan and Justice Mussaddiq Hussain Gilani heard the writ petition.

Church Properties Bachao Tehreek Pakistan coordinator Bishop Ijaz Inayat had filed the writ petition in the PHC in which he stated that defunct Lahore Diocesan Trust Association (LDTA) chairman, Development Secretary Humphrey Peters, LDTA chairman’s representative, and Bishop of Peshawar Munawar Romal Shah ‘illegally’ leased out a portion of Afghan Mission Hospital situated in Dabgari Garden to a contractor Shahid Khan who demolished the old construction and started work on the site to build a huge commercial plaza there. The petitioner lawyer Ameenur Rehman Yousafzai contended that the LDTA chairman and Bishop of Peshawar had got the approval from Cantonment Board Peshawar (CBP) chief executive officer but he was (allegedly) kept in dark regarding the law and prescribed rules. He informed the court that the petitioner being a senior representative of the Church Properties Bachao Tehreek was approached by various welfare organisations of the Christian community and public at large to expose the ‘illegal transaction’.

He said the petitioner through various press releases published in newspapers countrywide brought the contract in the notice of the quarters concerned.

The lawyer submitted that the petitioner when contacted the Federal Minority Commission of Pakistan regarding leasing out of the hospital, he came to know that the contractor had neither applied for no objection certificate (NOC) nor the commission had issued it.

He said that the petitioner brought the matter in the notice of CBP chief executive officer and he stopped construction work on June 07, 2006. The lawyer informed the court that the petitioner wanted to register an FIR against four bishops involved in the case under Section 5 of the Presidential Ordinance-5 of 2002, but it was not explained in the ordinance that from which court he could get orders for filing of FIR against the respondents.

He contended that grabbing valuable properties in custody of LDTA is a threat to the minority community and the respondents needed to be prosecuted in accordance with law.

He said in the ordinance the law and justice department fixed seven years imprisonment sentence in fraud cases but it was not explained in the law that which court will issue orders for registering of FIR in this regard.


Source: Daily Times of Pakistan

Please pray for Pakistani Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih. He is a friend, and his life and the lives of his flock, are always on the line.

US Antiquities Act of 1906

Antiquities Act of 1906
Reproduced from Archaeological Method and Theory: An Encyclopedia, edited by Linda Ellis, pp.33-35, Garland Publishing Co., New York and London, 2000.Francis P. McManamon

The Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. 431-433) was the first United States law to provide general protection for any general kind of cultural or natural resource. It established the first national historic preservation policy for the United States (Lee 1970:1 ff.) Section 2 of the statute gives the President the authority to set aside for protection "...historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States..." These protected areas were then designated as "national monuments" and the federal agencies assigned to oversee them were required to afford proper care and management of the resources. This section of the statute provided an additional tool for Progressive politicians and their supporters to determine the uses of public lands and resources in the rational, conservation-oriented manner they favored (see Rothman 1989:52-71). Prior to the Antiquities Act, specific areas had been set aside as national parks or reserves, for example Yellowstone National Park (1872) and Casa Grande Ruin in Arizona (1892). However, each of these parks or reserves required an act of Congress as well as Presidential approval. Section 2 of the Antiquities Act made the establishment of national monuments an administrative action that was quicker and far more easy to execute.

Section 3 of the Antiquities Act required that "...the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, or the gathering of objects of antiquity..." on lands administered by the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, or War be carried out only after a permit to do so had been issued by the Secretary of the department responsible for the land in question. The permits were to be issued only to institutions "...properly qualified to conduct such examinations, excavations, or gatherings..." Furthermore, the objective of these permitted activities was to be "...for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects." Finally, Section 3 required that the collections of materials from these investigations be placed in public museums for preservation and public benefit.

Enactment of the Antiquities Act required 25 years of work by individuals and organizations concerned about the preservation of American archeological sites. Interest in the archeological remains of the United States grew throughout the 19th century. As the final quarter of the 1800s began, much of the interest in American archeological sites was focused on the Southwest. Some of the interested parties were those who plundered the prehistoric ruins for ancient artifacts and other materials, including building stone and roof beams, to put to modern uses. Others, such as investigators from museums and other archeological organizations who wanted to examine and study the ruins, as well as make collections for their institutions and the public they served. Investigators who began to visit and report on the condition of prominent ruins noted the destruction that was occurring. Their descriptions moved the early advocates of government action to protect the archeological sites. One notable success along the path to the Antiquities Act was the setting aside of Casa Grande Ruin as the first national archeological reservation in 1892. During the 1890s major public exhibitions, the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, exposed more of the American public to United States antiquities. Municipal and university museums in large cities throughout the country featured American Indian antiquities in their displays and investigators of the Southwestern ruins and archeological sites in other parts of the country and hemisphere published popular accounts of the sites and their exploits. The growing popular appeal of American archeology was accompanied by a commercial demand for authentic prehistoric antiquities which lead to substantial rise in the looting of archeological sites, especially in the increasingly accessible Southwest. Efforts to protect specific archeological sites, such as Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, became more frequent and widespread. Finally these efforts culminated in President Theodore Roosevelt signing the Antiquities Act into law on June 8, 1906.

Read it all here.

Early Efforts to Preserve Antiquities in the USA

A. The "Washington slept here syndrome": Historical buildings associated with important figures or periods of American history, especially the Revolutionary War. Examples: Old State House, Philadelphia (purchased from state by city in 1816); Hasbrouck House (Washington's headquarters in Newburgh, NY, bought by state in 1850); Mount Vernon, VA (private preservation effort by Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union).

B. Frederick Ward Putnam rescues the Serpent Mound in Ohio by purchase in 1885. Title given to Peabody Museum at Harvard, transferred in 1900 to the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society.

C. Archaeological organizations: Bureau of Ethnology created by Congress 1879 as part of Smithsonian. The Anthropological Society of Washington was founded in the same year (a spinoff in 1902 would become the American Anthropological Association). Also in the same year, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) was founded; among its early concerns were surveys of Pueblo Indian sites in the Four Corners Area and Pecos.

D. 20th-Century Trends:
1) Preservation for aesthetic reasons, not just historical associations (e.g., the Paul Revere House in Boston, owned by the historical personage but restored to original 17th-century appearance).
2) Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities founded in 1910.
3) Colonial Williamsburg founded in 1926; led to first interdisciplinary training program for historic preservation professionals, including historical archaeologists.
4) National Trust for Historic Preservation chartered in 1949.

II. The Antiquities Act of 1906
A. Looting of Southwest sites reported by archaeologists like Adolf Bandolier leads to lobbying efforts for protection. In 1892, Casa Grande in New Mexico becomes the first federal archaeological reservation set aside by the president.

B. Beginning in 1899, the AIA and American Association for the Advancement of Science work together to promote a bill to set aside archaeological and scenic sites of value. Several bills fail to win support in Congress; finally the Antiquities Act of 1906 is passed and becomes the first federal preservation law.

C. Elements of the Antiquities Act:
1) President may set aside archaeological objects, structures, and sites on federal lands as national monuments.
2) Damage or destruction to any historic or prehistoric object or site located on federal lands is prohibited and violators are subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both.
3) Investigations of sites on federal lands, including collection of objects and excavation, requires a permit.

D. Importance of the Antiquities Act:
1) The authority to set aside national monuments was used by many presidents; in fact, the Antiquities Act is the authority of more than a quarter of the units of today's National Park Service. This authority is still in effect.

2) The punitive provision of the Antiquities Act was successfully challenged in the case of U.S. v. Diaz, 368 F.Supp. 856 (D. Ariz. 1973), reversed in 1974, 499 F2d. 113 (9th Cir. 1974). The uncertainties resulting from this decision led to efforts to create a new, comprehensive law to protect archaeological resources on federal lands. The result was the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.

Read it all here.

US Joins 121 Nations in Protection of Antiquities

Archaeological Institute of America Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation U.S. Committee for the Blue Shield

The Archaeological Institute of America, the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and the U.S. Committee for the Blue Shield announce that the United States Senate voted on September 25 to give its advice and consent to ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The United States now joins 121 other nations in becoming a party to this historic treaty which establishes the principles for protecting cultural sites, monuments and collections during both armed conflict and military occupation. By taking this significant step, the United States demonstrates its commitment to the preservation of the world’s cultural, artistic, religious and historic legacy.

The Statement of the Archaeological Institute of America, the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and the U.S. Committee for the Blue Shield urging Senate ratification, joined by twelve other cultural preservation organizations, is available at: http://www.culturalheritagelaw.org/advocacy.

For further information, contact:
Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation: Patty Gerstenblith, President: 312/362-6175; pgers...@depaul.edu U.S. Committee for the Blue Shield: Corine Wegener, President: 612-870-3292.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Miller/Coors Waffles on Sponsorship of Gay Event

SAN FRANCISCO, September 22, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Last year, after horrified Americans bombarded the beer company with complaints, decision makers at the Miller Brewing Company chose to pull the company logo from an offensive advertisement for the Folsom Street Fair, an event which includes full nudity and public sadomasochistic sex acts.

Miller, however, has now flip-flopped on their decision and is once again endorsing the homosexual event, having paid for a full-page advertisement in the 2008 Folsom Street Fair Program Guide.

The brewers landed themselves in hot water last Fall after their logo appeared on the highly controversial front page of the 2007 program guide. The cover photograph was an obvious reenactment of Leonardo da Vinci's famous "Last Supper" painting, except with 13 scantily, leather clad men and women representing Christ and the apostles seated around a table cluttered with sex toys - two of which took the place of the bread and wine. A nationwide boycott of Miller ensued. In response Miller released a statement of apology and had their logo removed from the guide.


The latest word is that Miller/Coors has decided to pull their advertizing for the Folsom Street Fair this year. Readers are urged to contact Miller to confirm this and to encourage them not to support this event.

The Episcopal Church's De Facto Polity

Brad Drell has posted a message from Bishop MacPherson about the dangerous precedent set by the unlawful depostion of Bishop Robert Duncan. Here is a portion of that communication, sent while Bishop MacPherson was still in Salt Lake City:

There was much debate over the rightness of this entire allegation, and considerable opposition to the charge against Bishop Duncan. The resistance to the action being taken was centered more on what was seen as pre-emptive action pertaining to the interpretation of Constitution and Canons of General Convention (2006) and failure to provide due process. Without going into tremendous depth at this stage, I will state the pre-emptive action as applied to the canons, and failure for proper process, rest in the fact that Bishop Duncan was never Inhibited, nor did he have the right of trial made available to him. There is much more to be shared, and will be done later.

In the course of the session during which the charge was addressed, the Presiding Bishop’s ruling to depose was challenged, and I was amongst those to support this challenge, and this being based upon the irregularities stated above. This action failed as a two-thirds vote of the House was required to overturn. This was subsequently followed by a request for a roll call vote was asked for by nine bishops, myself included.

A question now is where this will lead, and this is unknown at the moment. What we do know is the Diocese of Pittsburgh will face many challenges, and sadly, challenges that will be disruptive to the ministry of the Church and proclamation of the Gospel in word and action. Our prayers for Bishop Duncan, his family, and the people of the diocese, are important and urged.

I must stop for now as I the remainder of the meeting is before me, and my flight home to follow shortly thereafter. I will however, close with a concern. The concern that I have is the fact that by this action, a dangerous precedent has been established as applied to the interpretation and execution of the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The danger in this is that it can, and unless terminated, will lead to the living out of a polity and governance in a manner that is not a part of our heritage nor the intent of the Canons as established by General Convention.

May we hold one another in prayer today and always, and not permit distraction to the ministry to which God has called us.

Faithfully in Christ Jesus,
+Bruce MacPherson

The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson
Bishop of Western Louisiana
and President of Province VII

Swiss Direct Democracy Needs Tweeking

Lawrence B. Solum has posted the abstract on Johannes Reich's An Interactional Model of Direct Democracy - Lessons from the Swiss Experience. Reich is on the Law Faculty of the University of Basel. Here is the abstract:

Direct democratic decision-making has often been associated with populism, irrationality, and oppression of minorities as it requires allegedly "cognitive overstrained" citizens to decide on complex political issues often brought forward by special interest groups. The usage of popular initiatives in particular in the State of California seems to provide conclusive evidence for all of these shortcomings. Due to its constitutional arrangement and its diverse structure, Switzerland - which historically served as a blueprint for introducing instruments of direct democracy at the state-level during the progressive area in the United States - offers a unique case to assess these claims: More than half of the world's referenda held at the national level during the 20th century have taken place in Switzerland. At the same time, the Swiss Federal Constitution provides for limited constitutional review only, excluding Federal statutes and international law from judicial control. Based on the lessons from the Swiss experience, this paper argues not only for a more realistic approach to popular decision-making but for a more differentiated understanding of the general term "direct democracy" by pointing at the often neglected importance of the interface between institutions of direct and indirect democracy. At the same time, it cautions against simplistic demands for "popular constitutionalism". In sum, this paper champions what I call an interactional model of direct democracy.

Keywords: democracy, direct democracy, tyranny of the majority, political system of Switzerland, power sharing in multicultural societies, Swiss constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, judicial review, constitutional review, popular constitutionalism, direct democracy in California

Read it at Legal Theory Blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where to Call If you Need Help

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

You might also call a pastor in the community who you have heard is a caring person.

For statistics on suicide and suicide prevention, go here.

For help in cases of spousal abuse, go here.

For information on alcoholism and/or local meetings of AA, go here.

For help with gambling addictions, go here.

Elites Express Scorn Toward African's Prayer

September 25, 2008

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments today on news reports that an African minister once asked God to protect Sarah Palin from witchcraft:

“In 2005, Sarah Palin went to church and found that a visiting minister from Kenya, Bishop Thomas Muthee, was doing the service. He offered a prayer asking Jesus to keep her free from ‘every form of witchcraft.’ Palin said nothing—she simply kept her head bowed throughout the blessing. Why this is newsworthy is one issue, but why it has quickly become the subject of scorn is another.

“For the past two decades, Americans have been lectured by educators and the chattering class that we must respect cultural, religious, racial and ethnic diversity. It seems that exceptions to the creed of multiculturalism are only made when it suits the ideological agenda of the left. Enter Keith Olbermann: He exploited this incident last night as a club to paint Palin as an extremist. Moreover, he used this single blessing to unfavorably contrast the African minister to Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The MSNBC commentator incredibly said that Wright—who spewed hate speech before Obama for 20 years—‘seems pretty mainstream’ by comparison.

“Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee’s blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that—Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed?

“We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects which most Americans hold dear?”

- end -

Source: Catholic League

Atheists Moral but Not Charitable

Atheists often claim to be “just as moral” as religious believers. Christopher Hitchens, for instance, in God Is Not Great, offers his rather vague and subjective assertion that no statistic will ever find that atheists “commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful.”

Yet, when comparing the morals of believers and nonbelievers, neo-atheist authors are careful to tiptoe around the issue of charitable activity. The reason that atheists studiously avoid the question of generosity is that study after study shows an overwhelming difference between believers and non-believers. Not surprisingly, the believers come out on top every time.

In the year 2000, researchers at U.S. universities and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut undertook the massive Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, drawing 30,000 observations from 50 communities across the United States. The survey questioned individuals about their “civic behavior,” including their giving and volunteering during the year preceding the survey.

Analyzing the data, professor Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University divided respondents into three groups. He referred to the respondents who reported attending religious services every week or more often as “religious.” This group made up 33% of the sample. Brooks called those who reported attending religious services less than a few times per year or explicitly saying they have no religion as “secular.” These people made up 26% of the sample, leaving those who practice their religion occasionally to make up the remaining 41% of the sample.

Brooks found the variance between “religious” and “secular” giving to be dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91% to 66%) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67% to 44%). In real dollars, this translates into an average annual giving of $2,210 among the religious as compared to $642 among the secular. Regarding hours volunteered, religious people were found to volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33% of the population, but they make 52% of donations and 45% of times volunteered. Secular people make up 26% of the population, but they contribute 13% of the dollars and 17% of the times volunteered.

Interestingly, these data show that the determining factor in predicting charitable behavior is not so much one’s particular religion, but rather the seriousness of one’s religious commitment. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92% of Protestants give charitably, compared to 91% of Catholics, 91% of Jews and 89% from other religions.

Another indicative finding of the study relates to giving to nonreligious charities. It turns out that religious people are more generous than secular people with nonreligious causes as well as with religious ones. While 68% of the total population gives (and 51% volunteers) to nonreligious causes each year, religious people are 10 points more likely to give to these causes than secularists (71% to 61%) and 21 points more likely to volunteer (60% to 39%). As examples, religious people are 7 points more likely than secularists to volunteer for neighborhood and civic groups, 20 points more likely to volunteer to help the poor or elderly, and 26 points more likely to volunteer for school or youth programs. Across the board, religious practice is directly correlated to generosity with both time and money.

Read it all here.

President Bush Joins Muslims for Iftar

Ritual Ramadan Dinner Becomes an Opportunity for Muslims to Reach Out
By Nathan Guttman
Sep 25, 2008

IFTAR is the meal that ends each day of Ramadan fasting. It provided an opportunity for Muslim leaders to meet with President Bush.

Washington — It has been a busy month for some Muslim Americans. According to Muslim tradition, the holy month of Ramadan is marked by fasting from dawn to dusk, ending each day with a festive meal known as Iftar. According to an emerging American tradition, Iftar is a great opportunity to show respect to the Muslim community. The result: an increasing number of official Iftar dinners held by government agencies, local communities, universities and interfaith groups.

Ziad Asali, who heads the American Task Force on Palestine, has been to three such events already — at the White House, the State Department and the Department of the Treasury. Last year he had to choose between two government Iftar events taking place at the same time.
“It’s become a tradition,” Asali said, “but why not? This country accepts Christmas, it accepts Hanukkah, so why not add Iftar?”

Within less than a decade, Iftar dinners have become a popular way to reach out to the Muslim community at a time when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have deepened the need for dialogue. “It’s an easy symbol and a way to show how Muslims are part of the American fabric,” said Marshall Breger, a law professor at The Catholic University of America. “Just as World War II brought the notion of a Judeo-Christian civilization, now we see the emerging notion of the Abrahamic civilization, which includes Christians, Jews and Muslims,” said Breger, who served as an adviser during the Reagan administration.

Read it all here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tamils Demand Sanctions Against Sri Lanka

Tamils protested Wednesday, Sept. 24, in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York to draw attention of the United Nations, demanding sanctions against Sri Lanka, and advocating to invoke the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a means to halt what the protesters alleged "genocide of Tamils." The protesters also denounced the visit to the UN by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

About 20 Sri Lankan Government supporters, including Buddhist monks, showed up briefly for a counter protest.

Weeks before his visit to the UN the Rajapaksa government expelled all NGOs including the UN from the areas of conflict. Food and medicine to the trapped Tamil population was blocked while the Government armed forces emboldened by Iranian and Chinese funding were engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery shelling of heavily populated Tamil enclaves, killing innocent civilians and displacing over 200,000.

The protesters chanted "Rajapaksa, don't come to the UN, go to The Hague." Speaking at the rally, Dr. Ellyn Shander, a US physician who volunteered in Sri Lanka after the Asian Tsunami, drew parallels to the Nazi holocaust with the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and accused the Sri Lankan government of committing genocide against Tamils.

Read it all here.

Rwanda Report Implicates France in Genocide

PARIS -France condemned yesterday as "unacceptable" allegations by Rwanda it had played an active role in the 1994 genocide as Kigali said it hoped French officials would be indicted for war crimes.

"This report contains unacceptable accusations made against French political and military officials," Romain Nadal, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in France's first official reaction.

He also cast doubt on the "objectivity" of the Rwandan commission that produced it, noting it was explicitly asked to "gather evidence showing the implication of the French state in the genocide carried out in Rwanda in 1994."

Source: Agence France - Presse

C. of E. Bishops State Support for Bishop Duncan

As bishops in the Church of England, we are deeply saddened and shocked by the proposed deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan in the Episcopal Church, USA. We declare that we continue to believe that Bishop Bob is a bishop in the Church of God and a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion. We continue to pray for him and for his diocese of Pittsburgh.

+Nicholas Blackburn [The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Stewart, Diocese of Blackburn]
+Peter Cestr [The Rt. Rev. Peter Forster, Diocese of Chester]
+John Cicester [The Rt. Rev. John Hind, Diocese of Chichester]
+Michael Exon [The Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, Diocese of Exeter]
+Michael Roffen [The Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael James Nazir-Ali, Diocese of Rochester]
+Michael Winton [The Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Diocese of Winchester]

Hat tip to BabyBlueOnline.

Archbishop Sentamu Calls Bankers "hyenas"

Yesterday the Archbishop of York spoke to the Worshipful Company of International Bankers in London. According to Ruth Gledhill, who received a copy of the Archbishop's speech, he "gave them a good insight into the fiery furnace that awaits those who fail to understand how the love of money is the root of all evil. "

Here are two faithful Anglicans' responses to the Archbishop of York's criticism of usury and greed among British bankers.

Good on the Archbishop of York! I live in a state that actively promotes and protects usury... our lone member of Congress, pretty liberal on many things, was the ONLY Democrat to vote against a bill to limit credit card interest and fee hikes!
Posted by Timothy Fountain of Northern Plains Anglican

The archbishop is right when he speaks about money,power and greed. Perhaps he should look first in his own Anglican communion. TEC is all about greed, power and money. They will spend more money suing Christians than they give to MDG's. Rowan prefers to sit and have yaba daba doo sessions because he needs the TEC Money. That is what is running the communion instead of faith in Christ and his Holy Word. So please take the plank out of your own eye first !
Posted by David Crawford

Gledhill on Bishop Duncan

Ruth Gledhill has written a good piece on how TEC's deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan has turned him into a martyr. Here is how she begins:

Have we come so far from our Catholic tradition that we have forgotten the power of martyrdom, on which the Western church is built?

Does no-one in TEC understand any more the meaning of sacrifice?Because a martyr is what Bob Duncan now is.

Read it all here.

Laos Fails to Defend Human Rights of Christians

DUBLIN, September 25 (Compass Direct News) – The chief of Boukham village in Savannakhet province, Laos, on Friday (Sept. 19) called a special community meeting to resolve the “problem” of eight resident Christian families who have refused to give up their faith. The meeting concluded with plans to expel all 55 Christians from the village. Although all adult members of a village are usually invited to such meetings, on this occasion the Christians were deliberately excluded, according to rights group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

Pastor Sompong Supatto, 32, and two other believers from the village, Boot Chanthaleuxay, 18, and Khamvan Chanthaleuxay, also 18, remain in detention in the nearby Ad-Sapangthong district police detention cell. HRWLRF earlier reported that police have held the men in handcuffs and wooden foot stocks since their arrest on Aug. 3, causing numbness and infection in their legs and feet due to lack of blood circulation. Authorities have said they will release the three only if they renounce their faith.

Iran 's Death Sentence for Leaving Islam

LOS ANGELES, September 23 (Compass Direct News) – Without international pressure there is little to stop the Iranian government from ratifying a bill that will make “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, a capital crime, say human rights groups and experts.

On Sept. 9 the Iranian parliament approved a new penal code by a vote of 196-7 calling for a mandatory death sentence for apostates, or those who leave Islam. The Christian and Baha’i communities of Iran are most likely to be affected by this decision.

“Unless there is a coordinated and very strong effort from the international community to place pressure on Iran for this, I don’t think there will be anything stopping the Iranian government from passing this legislation,” Joseph Grieboski, founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, told Compass.

Read it all here.

China Set to Launch Astronauts

MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - China's launch later this week of a manned spacecraft will be geared toward economic and scientific goals with no military implications, the Xinhua news agency quoted the launch center's director as saying on Tuesday.

The Shenzhou-7 spacecraft with three astronauts on board is set to lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, in the northwest of China, on September 25.

"China's space program is not pursuing any military goals but serves the country's scientific and economic development," the agency quoted Cui Jijun, commander-in-chief of the ground operation team, as saying.

One of the astronauts will make a spacewalk during the mission.

China, which has recently unveiled comprehensive space exploration plans, is only one of three countries in the world capable of independently launching manned spaceflights, along with the United States and Russia.

The country plans to build its own orbital space station and create a space laboratory before 2020.

In 2003 and 2005 the Shenzhou-5 and Shenzhou-6 spacecraft carried three Chinese astronauts into space.

Source: Global Security.org

Acropolis Museum to Open in 2009

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday presented Greek authorities with a small piece of sculpture from the Parthenon kept in a museum in Palermo, Sicily, for the past 200 years.

The 2,500-year-old marble fragment was one of the works Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the ancient Acropolis in the early 19th century. Elgin gave it to a friend in Sicily during a stop on his trip back to London, where the rest of his collection is still displayed in the British Museum — despite repeated Greek requests for its return.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias thanked Napolitano for the return of the fragment, which will stay in Athens on permanent loan from the Antonio Salinas Museum.

"As you know, Greece is seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles (from the British Museum), so you are aware of the importance and the symbolism of this gesture," Papoulias said after talks with Napolitano Tuesday. "This gesture is especially appreciated."

The 14-by-13-inch artifact is a foot from a sculpture of Artemis, ancient goddess of the hunt, and originally stood above the entrance to the Parthenon as part of a 520-foot frieze that ran round the temple.

"When we opened the crate, the marble just shone ... like a gem," said Vivi Vassilopoulou, a senior Culture Ministry archaeologist.

It comes from a broken block, larger pieces of which survive in Athens and London, and will be displayed at a new museum designed to host all the Acropolis finds — including the Elgin Marbles.

An Italian official said a museum in The Vatican has agreed to follow up the gesture next month by returning two pieces of the Parthenon sculptures in its collections.

"I hope this will at least open the way (for the return of the Elgin Marbles)," said archaeologist Louis Godart, Napolitano's cultural adviser.

Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said the loan from Palermo was a boost to Greece's campaign to reunite all the Parthenon works at the new museum at the foot of the Acropolis.

"The positive responses we received in our international efforts encourage us to continue until we have achieved our target," he said.

The British Museum argues it legally acquired the Elgin Marbles, which form an integral part of its collections and are easily accessible to visitors from all over the world

The Palermo piece is the second fragment of the Parthenon marbles returned to Greece: The University of Heidelberg in Germany sent back a tiny fragment of the frieze two years ago.

The Parthenon was built between 447 and 432 B.C. in honor of Athena, ancient Athens' patron goddess, and was decorated with hundreds of sculpted figures of gods and participants in a religious procession. The marble temple survived virtually intact until 1687, during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, when a Venetian army besieging the Acropolis blew it up with cannon fire.
The Venetians started the plunder that was continued by later Western visitors, culminating in Elgin's visit.

About half of the surviving works are now in London, while museums in France, Germany, Austria and Denmark also own small fragments.

The $190 million Acropolis Museum is set to open early next year. Designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece's Michalis Photiadis, the glass and concrete building will contain more than 4,000 ancient works.

Read it here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diamonds or Water?

Botswana's Bushmen have been forbidden from fetching water from their own borehole reserve after several water boreholes were sunk in preparation for a diamond mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The exploratory boreholes were created as part of the environmental assessment which precedes the construction of Gem Diamonds' US $2.2 billion diamond mine at Gope, a traditional Bushman community within the reserve. The mine will require several wells to supply it with enough water to operate, in addition to the vast volumes of water that will be extracted from the mine pit itself.

As a result, Bushmen from the reserve have petitioed the government of Botswana to allow them to re-open a single borehole at Mothomelo, within the reserve, ever since the government dismantled it to 'encourage' people to relocate in 2002. Until their unlawful eviction from the reserve, Mothomelo had been the Bushmen's main source of water. The Bushmen won the legal right to return to their homes in December 2006, but the government continues to make this "almost impossible by refusing to allow them to operate a water borehole in what is an extremely arid and inhospitable environment," said Survival International.

"There is only one reason behind the government allowing the diamond miners to sink unlimited boreholes and preventing the Bushmen from using just one - the cruel vindictiveness of a government determined to keep the Bushmen out of their ancestral lands, and intent on making them pay for their victory in the high court," Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival International, said.

"The diamonds from this mine will be tokens of hate, not love," he said.

Source: Afrol News

Energy Prices Falling

Mark Perry over at Carpe Diem says "One more reason that inflation's not a problem: energy prices are plummeting. Natural gas has fallen by more than 42% in two months, and gasoline was spotted for $2.99 per gallon this morning in Mississippi."
Mark Perry is an economics professor in the School of Management at the University of Michigan (Flint). He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from George Mason University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

"A Perverse Economic Indicator"

We've discovered something more effective than a wall and workplace raids at discouraging illegal immigrants from trying to enter the U.S. and encouraging those already here to leave -- a bad economy.

The raids of low skilled workplaces like slaughterhouses and selective local crackdowns on sites where the illegal visitors gather to seek work have helped, but there's nothing like a 6.1 percent unemployment rate and an economy that's shed hundreds of thousands of jobs to tell would-be economic refugees, "Stay home!"

The Census bureau said about 500,000 immigrants, legal and illegal, came here in 2007 down from 1.8 million the year before and half the annual average of 1 million a year going back to 2000. Fourteen states actually lost immigrant population. And it's a good bet those trends have accelerated in 2008, a worse year economically -- 600,000 jobs lost through August -- than 2007. Particularly hard hit has been the home building industry where low-skilled immigrants typically seek work.

The estimated population of 12 million illegal immigrants may actually decrease as they face increasing difficulty finding jobs and coming up with the paperwork to keep them.

There is another indicator that the flow of illegal immigrants has tapered off. Immigration, supposedly the hot button issue of campaign 2008, is rapidly receding in the rear view mirror as more pressing issues -- chaos in the credit markets, home foreclosures, gas prices -- intrude.

And therein lies a perverse economic indicator: When the politicians feel it's once again productive to get the populace steamed up about the menace of illegal immigrant workers, we'll know the good times are back.

Source: Scripps Howard News

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Russian Navy Drills With Venezuelan Navy

MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian naval task force departed Monday on a tour of duty in the Atlantic Ocean, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November, a Navy spokesman said.

"A naval task force from the Northern Fleet, comprising the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, the large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support ships, left the Severomorsk base early Monday to conduct training exercises in the Atlantic," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.

Pyotr Velikiy is a Kirov (Orlan) class nuclear-powered guided missile heavy cruiser, which has practically unlimited operational range and carries 20 SS-N-19 Shipwreck surface-to-surface missiles with either nuclear or high-explosive warheads and about 500 surface-to-air missiles of different types, supplemented by a large number of other weaponry.

Dygalo said that during the tour of duty the Russian warships would participate in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan navy on November 10-14, in line with the 2008 training program and in order to expand military cooperation with foreign navies.

"During the exercise, ships and naval aircraft will practice coordinated maneuvering, search-and-rescue, and communications," Dygalo said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier confirmed that Venezuela would hold joint naval exercises with Russian warships in the Caribbean and said the Russian navy would receive a warm welcome in the Latin American country.

Russia announced last year that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans.

A task force from the Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class large AWS ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

Al-Qaeda Calls for Jihad in North Africa

afrol News, 23 September - Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing chief has urged all Muslims to join jihad (holy war) and slammed governments in the region where group has claimed frequent attacks, United States monitoring service said.

The group has also issued new threats against Western interests, including France, Spain and US States.

Threat comes close on heels of last week's deadly suicide-bomb attack on heavily fortified US embassy in Yemeni capital Sana'a, claimed by terrorist outfit Islamic Jihad in Yemen.

"Unite around holy war that is the only alternative power to apostate regimes that dominate over our lands," Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, leader of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said in an audio speech posted on Sunday on Islamist militant websites, said SITE Intelligence Group.

Mr Abdul Wadud blasted regimes in Mauritania, Algeria and other North African countries, charging that Mauritania has become a nest of foreign intelligence at its forefront Mossad, and has become a station of crusader colonial ambition," he said, according to a SITE transcript."

History will continue to mention that this is first Arab country, outside of Tawq (Arab nations surrounding Israel) that recognised state of Israel and exchanged ambassadors with it," he said.

SITE said the remarks came in a 29-minute video titled "A message to our ummah (nation) in the Islamic Maghreb."

Mr Abdul Wadud also claimed that former colonial power France continues to impose its authority in Algeria, using the Algiers government as a proxy. “Algeria is threatened not only by France, but also by United States which seeks to install military bases there,” he charged.

Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb has repeatedly claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Algeria, including an increase of bombings in July and August, and also been blamed for an ambush on a Mauritanian patrol last week that killed 12 Mauritanians and found 11 soldiers and one civilian.

Mr Abdelmalek Droukdel, leader of al-Qaeda's North African warned Algerian officials that if they sought refuge there as the confrontation with al-Qaeda increases it would be a mistake, implying that French territory could also be targeted.

An Algerian authorities was Mr Droukdel's main target, he accused them of fighting a proxy war against Islam in the name of US and French interests. He cited as proof US plans for military bases in Sahara Desert to fight trafficking and terrorism, and a French-backed effort to create an alliance between European Union and countries south of Mediterranean Sea.Mr Droukdel's group is a militant faction left over from a civil war in 1990. It joined Osama bin Laden's terrorist network in 2006. Since then, violence has dramatically increased with more than 100 people killed in August alone.

Source: Afrol News

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why Are You Still Episcopalian?

If you are still sitting in a pew in The Episcopal Church, think about this.

Bishop John Chane is suing in a DC court to overthrow the gift of property to a Christian ministry that helps the poor and homeless. He is doing this on the grounds that he supports the separation of church and state. (Maybe he should stay out of politics.)

If you are still Episcopalian, think about this:

Your church leaders have deposed an internationally recognized man of God in Bishop Bob Duncan, an action which is regarded as "invalid" by Archbishops more educated and cultured than your leaders.

They have defrocked faithful clergy (See #13), inhibited Bible-believing priests, and persecuted faithful laity.

They have sued congregations and dioceses, seeking to bear false witness against God's saints.

For appearances, they have created fanthom parishes and dioceses.

They have ignored reasoned pleas by Anglican primates around the world.

They have turned deaf ears to the needy on the Dakota reservations.

They have listened only to arrogant self-serving voices and to financially comfortable gay activists, and they have violated their own canons.

Tell me, How can one remain Episcopalian and claim any integrity with leaders like these?

Money Talks in TEC

The Anglican Curmudgeon (A.S. Haley) has written an terrific analysis of the recent Episcopal Church House of Bishops vote to depose Bishop Robert Duncan. I recommend that you read it all, but here is a snippet:

The numbers really start to get interesting, however, when one looks at the geographical spread of the data, and considers the level of each diocese's 2007 contribution to the TEC budget. Here is where the data starts to be telling: it shows that Bishop Duncan was deposed by a combination of the dioceses that are the biggest contributors overall to TEC, as well as by those that are in what has been called, in the political arena, the "blue-county corridors." (Click here for an animated map of how these areas have changed in the presidential elections from 1960 to 2004. Are we surprised?)

Total contributions to TEC by "Yes" dioceses: $20,593,549 (72%)
Total contributions to TEC by "No" dioceses: $ 6,237,162 (22%)
Total contributions by unrepresented dioceses: $ 1,621,881 (6%)

Do you begin to see how TEC is run by the wealthiest players? Only fifty-four percent of the dioceses voted to depose Bishop Duncan, but they contribute 72% of the funds coming to TEC from all the dioceses.

Read it all here.

(Editor's Note: Crew roosters about TEC's victories as one obsessed with a single cause. Talk about narrow-minded!)

Bogus Cancer Cures Sold Online

Last week the Federal Trade Commission disclosed actions it had taken against several companies that promoted online cancer cures.

The actions were the result of a project started last year to identify websites making unsubstantiated cure claims."We found all of these claims to be nothing short of breathtaking, and not in a good way," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

She announced law enforcement actions against 11 companies. Six already had reached settlements with the agency; the rest will be litigated.

Eleven sites is a pittance considering the number of online cancer cure claims that can be readily found.Putting the words "cancer," "cure" and "miracle" in a Google search resulted not only in hundreds of thousands of hits (some of which were about legitimate scientific procedures), but also a list of sponsored links paid for by companies that wanted their supposed cures on the first page of results.

There was the "Miracle Water for Cancer" website, advertising a treated water that allegedly could curb the disease, plus also aid in weight loss and slow down the aging process.

There was also a site offering a miracle cure "the drug companies hope you never find out" that supposedly is also a vitamin that "will virtually eliminate the chance of getting cancer."

Parnes acknowledged that there was no lack of sites that "sell snake oil to consumers," as she put it.

The project originally identified 112 websites making non-medical cancer-cure claims. They each were sent warning letters "telling them they must have adequate substantiation for any health claims they make about their products," Parnes said. Within two months, about 30% of these sites had closed down or removed unsubstantiated claims, she said.

Read it all here.

Cheney Ordered to Preserve Records

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Saturday ordering Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Archives to preserve all of his official records.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's order came in response to a lawsuit filed this month by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group, joined by several historians and open-government advocates, warned that Cheney might destroy or withhold important documents as the Bush administration winds down if he interprets the Presidential Records Act of 1978 as applying to only some of his official papers.

That, in turn, could deprive historians and the general public of valuable records that illustrate Cheney's role. He is widely considered to be the most influential vice president in history because of how he has helped to form U.S. policy in the last 7 1/2 years, they said.

Kollar-Kotelly, who was appointed by President Clinton, issued her order despite assertions from Cheney's representatives that he was preserving all the records he is required to under the 1978 law.

"It's a pretty strong opinion," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the watchdog group. "They will be prevented from destroying anything. It basically means they have to preserve everything in the broadest possible interpretation of what the law requires -- not their narrow interpretation."

A spokesman for Cheney said the vice president's office would not comment on pending litigation.

Read it all here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Global Support for Bishop Bob Duncan

The Episcopal Church, dominated by 5 very liberal dioceses, succeeded in deposing Bishop Bob Duncan last Thursday, but it is an empty victory. The Episcopal Church will soon regret this action as it clears the decks for the last stage of realignment that will bring to reality a united Anglicanism in the United States.

Bishop Duncan is likely to head up that new entity, especially given the support that he has received from Anglican Primates around the world. Statements of support for Bishop Duncan began to appear yesterday from Archbishops Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Drexel Gomez of the West Indies and Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya. All said they considered Bishop Duncan's deposition "invalid."

"We continue to recognize the fidelity and validity of Bishop Duncan's orders, role, and ministry," they wrote.

Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East hailed Bishop Duncan as a martyr. "It is with great joy that I welcome you alongside the ranks of St. Athanasius, who, as Bishop of Alexandria, was deposed and exiled from his see. St. Athanasius did not waver and stood firm. History proved that his stance for orthodoxy was not in vain. I trust it will do the same for you! So please count it as honor my brother."

Bishop John Fulham, Chairman of Forward in Faith International, made this statement, "Forward in Faith deplores the deposition by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert William Duncan. Bishop Duncan is a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and a respected leader of faithful Anglicans both in and beyond The Episcopal Church. His summary deposition shows scant respect for due process and calls into question both the political wisdom and Christian charity of the Presiding Bishop. We welcome Bishop Duncan’s admission to the College of Bishops of the Southern Cone, and call upon all other orthodox bishops to assert their solidarity with him as a bishop in good standing in the Communion."

Support came from closer to Bishop Duncan's diocese in Pittsburgh as well. Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said he was "very sorry" to learn of the action against Bishop Duncan. Bishop Zubik said, "My heart aches for the Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. Any time there is division in the church it hurts not only the Episcopal Church, in this case, but all Christians. I have profound respect for Bishop Duncan. He is a good friend and a courageous leader."

How TEC Railroaded Bishop Duncan

At his blog TitusOneNine, one of Kendall Harmon's blogging elfs examined the voting at the recent Episcopal House of Bishops meeting and discovered who put Bob Duncan on the train. Here is what the venerable Elf wrote:

I'm working on putting the roll call vote data into spreadsheet format, and adding in information about absent diocesan bishops, and reviewing the total number of eligible bishops, etc. I made several startling discoveries.

1. If I correctly understand Louie Crew's House of Bishops data, there were 290 TOTAL bishops that were entitled to vote at the HoB meeting. Only 127 bishops attended the HoB meeting, not even 50% of eligible bishops.

2. ONLY 56 TEC diocesan bishops (or "acting" diocesans, see note below) -- representing exactly 50% of the 112 TEC dioceses -- voted YES to depose Duncan. In the remaining 56 dioceses, the diocesan bishop either voted No, abstained, was absent, or the see of the diocese was vacant. The breakdown is as follows:

29 Diocesans / Acting Diocesans Voted NO

4 Abstained

17 diocesans were absent (TEC only counted 15 as absent, I'm not sure why there is a discrepancy)(among the absent diocesans are at least 4 who would almost certainly have voted No (Ackerman, Iker, Duncan, Wimberly)

6 sees are vacant with no acting bishop (including PA since Bennison is inhibited and couldn't vote)

Among "Acting Diocesans," I've counted Lamb (San Joaquin), Frey (Rio Grande), MacDonald (Navajo), Buchanan (S. Virginia) all of whom attended the meeting.

3. Finally, something else is very striking. A few dioceses had extraordinary clout in the vote. A mere 6 dioceses (Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Chicago, North Carolina and Maine) accounted for 21 of the 88 YES votes (nearly 1/4 of the total Yes votes). Wow.

Bishop Ackerman Responds to Duncan's Deposition

September 19, 2008

The deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh is a very sad day for the Episcopal Church and consequently the worldwide Anglican Communion. The way in which this was executed is contrary to everything that was discussed at the Lambeth Conference.

The initial reactions to this deposition by worldwide Anglican leaders indicate how deep the wound has become. This action leaves me speechless and drives me to my knees.

Blessings in His Holy Name,

Bishop Keith L. Ackerman SSC
President of Forward in Faith North America

Forward in Faith Deplores TEC's Deposition of Duncan

Forward in Faith deplores the deposition by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert William Duncan. Bishop Duncan is a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and a respected leader of faithful Anglicans both in and beyond The Episcopal Church. His summary deposition shows scant respect for due process and calls into question both the political wisdom and Christian charity of the Presiding Bishop. We welcome Bishop Duncan’s admission to the College of Bishops of the Southern Cone, and call upon all other orthodox bishops to assert their solidarity with him as a bishop in good standing in the Communion.

+John Fulham
Forward in Faith International

Read it here.

Province of Southeast Asia Supports Bishop Duncan

Most Rev’d Dr John Chew
Primate of the Anglican Province of Southeast Asia

In a statement issued on September 22, the Anglican Province of Southeast Asia expressed continuing recognition of Robert Duncan as a Bishop and expressed support for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Here is a portion of the statement:

We received with great distress the news of the deposition of the Rt Revd Bob Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, by the House of Bishops (HOB) of The Episcopal Church (TEC).

The Communion has repeatedly asked TEC to make pastoral provisions and avoid steps that will alienate further those within TEC who wish to live by the Anglican faith which they believe to be true and remain in fellowship within the Anglican Communion. Even as recent as at the recent Lambeth, the great majority of Bishops present, including those from TEC, have expressed sincere desire for healing and reconciliation and to observe restraints on contentious issues for the Windsor-Covenant process to proceed.

The HOB has instead proceeded to depose a faithful bishop of the Gospel and the diocese under his care. This raises serious questions yet again, and more strikingly so soon after Lambeth, as to how sincere TEC and some of its bishops are in wanting to bring reconciliation, healing and resolution to the Communion crisis at hand.

The Province of Southeast Asia will continue to support, remain in full communion and prayerfully explore steps to strengthen our shared life with Anglican leaders like Bishop Bob Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh as well as other TEC bishops who respect the mind of the Communion and remain faithful to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the tradition and life of the Church. We urge those who have not chosen to ‘walk apart’ to work actively and sincerely with the Windsor-Covenant Process and other measures agreed at the Communion level…

Read it all here.

Ethics of Trading in Troubled Times

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Now, the financial crisis: more failures, fears, realignment, layoffs on Wall Street, with consequences around the world. Is anyone to blame? We explore the ethical issues underlying the financial meltdown with Rebecca Blank, an economist, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and co-author of the book "Is the Market Moral?" Dr. Blank, welcome.

REBECCA BLANK (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Co-author, "Is the Market Moral"?): Thank you.

ABERNETHY: So in the movie "Wall Street" we were told that "greed is good." If that's true, to what extent was greed responsible for all that's happened?

Dr. BLANK: Greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. But greed is good to most economists. It's greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow.

ABERNETHY: Greed is good even though it's a sin?

Dr. BLANK: Yeah, well greed has certain economic advantages. It's hard for an economist not to say that. But there's a level beyond which greed can go too far, and I, being greedy for more goods and to make another buck, can stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you, and that is when greed clearly becomes sinful even, I think, in the economic books and can lead to the sort of situation that we're in right now.

ABERNETHY: And that's what happened in these cases. People were, traders were encouraged to take big risks and not pay attention to all the costs that there would be for people down the line if those risks didn't pay off.

Dr. BLANK: That's certainly true in part, but I will also say that there was also a culture where what those traders were doing was what everyone in all the cubicles next to them were doing. And, you know, there's always the question of to what extent is that an excuse -- and a justifiable excuse? There were also a lot of people at the very beginning of this, the whole sub-prime crisis that started this off, who saw themselves as providing more funds for low-income families. They were doing a good thing. So motives here are very mixed. I think it's hard to say this is all about greed.

ABERNETHY: What about justice? Was there injustice involved?

Dr. BLANK: So, you know, we love a world in which the people in the white hats get rewarded, and the people in the black hats pay the price, and that I have to say doesn't happen very often, particularly in a very complex economy. We're in a time of panic right now where people have lost trust in what the banks are doing, what the investment firms are doing -- lost trust beyond a level of reasonableness, to be honest, and it's got to be stopped. And, you know, taking account of that fear and panic in many ways is more important than assigning blame one way or the other.

ABERNETHY: We all do want to assign blame, though.

Dr. BLANK: Yes, we sure do.

ABERNETHY: We look for villains. Are there no villains in this?

Dr. BLANK: Yes, I do think there are a few villains, but it's probably too strong a word. There is, as you say, there are leadership particularly in some of these banks that were not open at all about what they were doing and how they were bundling . . .

ABERNETHY: Did they understand what they were doing? Is there a question of competence here?

Read it all here.

Cheating to Get Into Business Schools

Top U.S. business schools canceled the admissions-test scores of 84 applicants and students -- including two enrolled at the University of Chicago and one who has graduated from Stanford University -- who allegedly supplied or accessed live exam questions posted on a Web site.

In June, the Graduate Management Admission Council, which represents the business schools and oversees the GMAT admissions test, obtained a federal court order that shut down the Web site Scoretop.com and won a $2.3 million judgment against its operator. The site had been selling questions from recent exams to subscribers who paid a $30-a-month subscription. The operator of the Web site, believed to be in China, didn't defend itself in court, and it wasn't known where any representatives could be reached.

The latest episode has rattled the schools, and it comes as they have been trying to increase security.

Read it all here.

Related reading:  Harvard's New Honor Code; Academic Integrity: What's That?

Luban on Legal Ethics and Human Dignity

David Luban has a new book titiled Legal Ethics and Human Dignity. It is published as part of the Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Law (ISBN-13: 9780521862851)

Luban, a law professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC, is a recognized authority on legal ethics. This book is a collection of his most significant papers from the past twenty-five years. It represents a wide range of ethical exploration and combines philosophical argument, midrash and legal analysis, drawing on cases in actual law practice.

Luban defends a legal ethics that stress the lawyer's role in upholding human dignity and rights. The volume includes two previously unpublished papers, including a detailed critique of the US government lawyers who produced the notorious ‘torture memos’.

The Book includes: Lawyers as upholders of human dignity (when they aren’t busy assaulting it); The Jurisprudence of Legal Ethics; Natural law as professional ethics: a reading of Fuller; The torture lawyers of Washington; Moral Complications and Moral Psychology; Contrived ignorance; The ethics of wrongful obedience; Moral Messiness in Professional Life, and A midrash on Rabbi Shaffer and Rabbi Trollope.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fordham Ethics Award Stirs Controversy

A Fordham University legal ethics center’s decision to award an ethics prize to the pro-abortion rights Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer is drawing criticism for apparently ignoring the justice’s participation in a Supreme Court decision that struck down laws restricting the practice of partial-birth abortion.

Fordham University’s Stein Center for Law and Ethics recently announced Justice Breyer’s selection as the 2008 winner of the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. According to the prize’s charter, it recognizes an individual who "exemplifies outstanding standards of professional conduct, promotes the advancement of justice, and brings credit to the profession by emphasizing in the public mind the contributions of lawyers to our society and to our democratic system of government."

William Michael Treanor, dean of Fordham Law, praised the jurist.

"Justice Breyer has devoted his life to the public good,” he said in a press release. “He was a brilliant, influential, and path-breaking scholar. His government service before taking the bench was of the highest quality. As a jurist, his opinions have been marked by thoughtfulness, balance, rigor, and a commitment to justice and liberty. He has been an eloquent and forceful champion of judicial integrity, as we saw this spring when he participated in a forum on judicial independence at Fordham Law together with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In every facet of his extraordinary career, he has embodied the great ideals of the Fordham-Stein Prize, and he is a superb honoree."

Bruce Green, co-director of Fordham Law’s Stein Center, also praised Justice Breyer.

"In every phase of his professional life, as a lawyer in government service, as a scholar, as a judge and justice, Stephen Breyer has exemplified the values that the Fordham-Stein Prize honors,” he said.

"Justice Breyer is clearly an attorney whose career has been unwaveringly committed both to excellence and to upholding the integrity of the profession."

Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion in the 2000 Supreme Court decision Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck down state laws against partial-birth abortion. In his opinion, Breyer wrote: “this Court, in the course of a generation, has determined and then redetermined that the Constitution offers basic protection to the woman’s right to choose.”

Breyer’s colleague Justice Antonin Scalia, writing a dissent in the case, compared the injustice of the majority decision to both the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision which provoked the U.S. Civil War and the Korematsu v. United States which permitted the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.

“The method of killing a human child . . . proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion,” Scalia wrote.

Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly criticized the Jesuit-run university, saying in a statement that the awarding of the prize “amounts to nothing less than Fordham University thumbing its nose at the US Bishops, whose opposition to such honors is clear.”

Read it all here.

The New Face of Globalization

One sign of the times is the growing number of companies from emerging markets that appear in the Fortune 500 rankings of the world’s biggest firms. It now stands at 62, mostly from the so-called BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, up from 31 in 2003 (see chart 1), and is set to rise rapidly. On current trends, emerging-market companies will account for one-third of the Fortune list within ten years, predicts Mark Spelman, head of a global think-tank run by Accenture, a consultancy.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of emerging-market companies acquiring established rich-world businesses and brands (see chart 2), starkly demonstrating that “globalisation” is no longer just another word for “Americanisation”. Within the past year, Budweiser, America’s favourite beer, has been bought by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate. And several of America’s leading financial institutions avoided bankruptcy only by going cap in hand to the sovereign-wealth funds (state-owned investment funds) of various Arab kingdoms and the Chinese government.

Read it all here.

Bishops who Voted YES to Duncan's Deposition

The list of the (idiot) Episcopal bishops who voted to depose Biship Bob Duncan is here. May God have mercy upon them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bishop Duncan's Response

September 18, 2008

It is a very sad day for The Episcopal Church. It is a sad day for me, a faithful son of that church.

Nevertheless it is also a hopeful day, hopeful because of the unstoppable Reformation that is overtaking the Christian Church in the West. It is also a hopeful day for me personally as I am unanimously welcomed into the House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, an act applauded by Anglican archbishops, bishops, clergy and people all around the world.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will move forward under its new Ecclesiastical Authority, its Standing Committee. That body will carry the diocese through to our realignment vote on October 4. With the success of that vote, it will be possible that we be joined together again as bishop and people.

I offer my deepest thanks to the company of saints all around the globe who have sustained me, my work and all who are dear to me in these days.

Robert Duncan

Read related stories here.

Support Bishop Duncan

Christians around the world are asked to send your letters of encouragement and support to Anglican Bishop Robert Duncan. Here is the site that tells you how to do that.

Archbishop Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East to Bishop Duncan

My Dear Bishop Duncan,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It is with great sadness that I have learnt of your deposition by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

It is with great joy that I welcome you alongside the ranks of St. Athanasius who, as Bishop of Alexandria, was deposed and exiled from his see. St. Athanasius did not waver and stood firm. History proved that his stance for orthodoxy was not in vain. I trust it will do the same for you! So please count it as honor my brother.

I don’t know what to call it, a tragedy or comedy, for the faithful to be disciplined by those who tear the fabric of our Anglican Communion. Please be assured of my support and that the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa will continue recognize you as a faithful bishop. You are faithful to Jesus Christ, to the Church catholic, to the Anglican Communion, to the Windsor Process, and to your diocese. I find no fault in this. I trust that you will continue the ministry to which God has called you.

The true test of orthodoxy is not in the leader you may follow (1 Cor. 1:12), it is in the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3), the faith founded in Jesus Christ, the faith you were baptized into, catechized through and the faith you live out. Thank you for your faithful witness to Jesus Christ in spite of the opposition. Please be assured of my prayers and my love to you and Nara, and to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,
+Mouneer Egypt

Two New Prime Numbers!

My math geek daughter wants everyone to know that two new prime numbers have been discovered! Not only that, they are Mersenne Primes, (she reports) meaning they can be expressed as 2^n -1. This is a pretty big deal as it takes about two months to test a number for “primeness.” Read more about it in the latest issue of Scientific American. Here is some of what is reported there:

Now, the distributed-computing consortium that discovered the six largest known primes is set to unveil two more—including, possibly, a $100,000 prize–winning whopper. (We reported on the preliminary findings last month.) The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), started in 1996, looks for prime numbers of the form 2n – 1, known as Mersenne primes, of which 44 have been identified so far (the new additions would be numbers 45 and 46). The search, powered by hundreds of member computers around the world, is slow going: GIMPS estimates that testing a single number for primality on a 2-GHz Pentium 4 can take two months. So after two years of silence, the emergence of a pair of new Mersenne primes nearly simultaneously—one on August 23, one on September 6—is an unexpected burst of productivity. (A call to GIMPS founder George Woltman was not immediately returned.)

There’s a good chance that one of the new arrivals will qualify for a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to be awarded to the first discoverer of a prime number with at least 10 million digits. (The current record holder, 232582657 – 1, discovered in 2006, fell just short at 9,808,358 digits.) In any case, the two new additions are sure to rank in the top seven of all known primes once revealed—it’s already been shown that there are no unknown Mersenne primes smaller than the current holder of sixth place. And whatever the result, GIMPS is sure to soldier on: the EFF offers an even bigger prize—$150,000—for a prime of 100 million digits or more.