Tuesday, November 30, 2010

15,000 Elderly Die Monthly in US Hospitals

Errors and unavoidable problems kill 15,000 aged US hospital patients each month, US government investigators reported last week. Over 13% of patients covered by Medicare, the government health insurance for the elderly, or about 134,000 per month, have an "adverse event" each month. These include oversights such as surgical errors or sometimes unavoidable problems like an infection spread in the hospital, or patients' blood sugar falling to abnormally low levels.

These new figures, which total about 180,000 deaths each year, were presented in a report by the Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Department. They support findings in a landmark Institute of Medicine report from 2000 that found that up to 98,000 Americans died each year because of medical mistakes. "An estimated 13.5% of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their hospital stays," the OIG said in the report. It said 44% of the problems were avoidable. The OIG team examined a nationally representative random sample of 780 Medicare beneficiaries discharged from a hospital in Oct 2008.

President Barack Obama has said his healthcare reform legislation will help reduce mistakes with measures such as more widespread use of electronic medical records. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, said patients needed ways to find out which hospitals make the most mistakes. "This report shows that hospital patients are being harmed by medical errors at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, most Americans have no way of knowing whether their hospital is doing a good job preventing medical errors," the group's Lisa McGiffert said. ~ Reuters, Nov 16

Monday, November 29, 2010

Malfeasance in the Gold Market

By Ron Robins, Founder & Analyst - Investing for the Soul

The increasing recognition and prominence of gold as a currency makes any discussion of gold price suppression disconcerting to numerous financial elites.

However, there is a long history of gold price suppression. In 1961, the London Gold Pool was established to maintain the gold price at $35 an ounce. The participants supplying gold to the Pool were the central banks of the US and some European countries. In 1968, the Pool dissolved due to the tremendous demand for gold that was created as monetary and currency conditions deteriorated in the US and Britain.

However, since about 1993—just like in the 1960s—mounting evidence again implicates a central bank and bank cartel attempting to suppress gold prices. It particularly affects the London physical gold market where about 90 per cent of the world’s gold is traded, and the ‘paper’ gold futures market of the NY Comex.

In London, the gold price is ‘fixed’ twice daily at GMT 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM by five big international banks dealing in bullion. In recent years a number of researchers studying the London gold price fixing data and the NY Comex gold futures markets have come to the conclusion that gold price suppression has existed for many years. Perhaps the first to indicate this was Dimitri Speck from Germany.

After performing detailed statistical gold price research, Mr Speck found that gold price suppression seems to have begun on August 5, 1993, when, “America's strong-dollar policy was first officially introduced… Since then [and until the end of his study September 2005], gold price manipulation has been characterised by a pattern of sharp drops in prices during the New York [Comex] trading session.” See his articles, “Price Anomalies in the Gold Market,” December 5, 2005, and “10 Years Gold Price Manipulation: A Retrospective Look and a Chart Update,” August 3, 2003.

Eric deCarbonnel, in studying the gold prices during 2009, found a similar pattern. In, “Excellent Opportunity to Buy Gold,” December 23, 2009, he says, “by looking at these charts of the 24-hour spot price of gold, [in] four out of five trading days over a one-year period the [NY] Comex closed lower than the London AM [gold price] Fix.”

The third piece of research showing a similar pattern, but more extensive and up-to-date, is by Adrian Douglas who published his findings in, “The Failure of the Second London Gold Pool,” on August 19. He stated, “that had a trader consistently bought gold on the London AM Fix and sold it the same day on the London PM Fix and repeated it every day from April 2001 through to today [August 14, 2010] the cumulative loss would be $500 per ounce. Yet gold has been in a bull market during that time and a ‘buy and hold’ strategy over the same time period would have returned a gain of $950 per ounce.”

Others who have found apparent malfeasance in the gold market include Reg Howe, James Turk, and Frank Veneroso. Mr Veneroso’s research suggests that actual, physical, global central bank gold holdings might be 30 to 50 per cent lower than reported.

Despite suppression efforts, the gold price has risen about five-fold since 2001, to over $1,300 today. According to the renowned gold trader Jim Sinclair and others, much of the reason for gold’s ongoing strength comes from physical gold buying in the Asian gold markets. Gold, incidentally, trades around the world on an almost 24-hour basis, Monday to Friday.

But who and why would anyone want to suppress gold prices today? In my article, Manipulated Markets Can Cause Ruin, I wrote, “gold is the ‘anti-dollar’ and barometer of confidence in the dollar.” Therefore—and noting Mr Speck’s observation that the most recent era of gold price suppression began with America’s declaration of a ‘strong dollar policy’—providing a possible clue as to who might be behind it. Also, such an entity would require incredible financial muscle.

The most likely candidate for leading a gold price suppression scheme is the US Treasury and various central banks who want to maintain the US dollar’s value. After all, US dollar denominated assets often form more than 60 per cent of most central bank assets and it is still the ‘global currency.’ Therefore they have powerful, strategic reasons to want a strong dollar.

Also, as recently as October 18, the US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner reiterated the US strong dollar policy by saying, “we're going to work very hard to make sure that we preserve confidence in the strong dollar.”

With the advent of investors and regulators acknowledging fraud in the silver markets, those behind the apparent gold price suppression must be incredibly worried as their scheming to suppress its price is no longer hidden.

Read it all here.
E-mail the writer: r.robins@alrroya.com

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quote of the Week - C.S. Lewis

"The moralities accepted among men may differ - though not, at bottom, so widely as is often claimed - but they all agree in prescribing a behavior which their adherents fail to practice. All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own." --C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)

UN Partners Push Abortion Access in Africa

ACCRA, GHANA, November 25 (C-FAM) Earlier this month, a UN office partnered with abortion heavyweights to push for widespread legal abortion at a conference in Ghana, Africa.

Conference participants insisted that access to “safe and legal abortion” is central to reducing maternal mortality, and attacked organized religion and restrictive laws as being obstacles to preventing maternal deaths.

Aissatou Gaye of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) delivered the keynote address. Gaye stressed that “restrictive policies” and laws were major contributors to unsafe abortion, since most unsafe abortions occur where abortion is illegal.

Gaye lamented the fact that many African countries still have restrictive abortion laws: “Despite the fact that the Beijing Platform for Action called on countries as long ago as 1995 to review laws that discriminate against women—which restrictive abortion laws clearly do, since men cannot get pregnant—very little change has happened in this arena.”

In addition to legal restrictions, some conference sponsors blamed religion and churches for putting a “stranglehold” on policymakers. Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah, Ipas vice-president for Africa, called restrictive abortion laws “archaic” and complained that attempts to liberalize laws “inherited from colonial administrations” have been circumvented by “anti-abortion churches.”

Gaye’s interpretation of the Beijing Platform for Action runs counter to conventional understanding at the UN where delegates have repeatedly stressed that the platform does not create any right to abortion and laws on abortion should be decided by states.

According to a UN factsheet, the legal status of abortion is the sovereign right of each nation and that the United Nations does not provide support for abortion or abortion related activities anywhere in the world.

UNECA's mandate is to promote the economic and social development in and among countries in the region and to promote international cooperation for Africa's development. While the UN is not supposed to take a position on abortion, in 2006 UN agencies including UNICEF and UNFPA came under fire for intervening in Nicaragua’s decision to ban abortion.

Gaye expressed her hope that the UN office could continue to partner with conference organizers and welcoming the results of the conference as a guide for UNECA’s work on “women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health.”

While conference organizers argued that legalizing abortion would lower maternal mortality, critics take issue with the abortion focus, pointing out that the lack of modern medicine and quality health care, not the prohibition of abortion, are the biggest contributors to high maternal mortality rates.

Entitled “Keeping Our Promise: Addressing Unsafe Abortion in Africa,” the conference was co-sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in collaboration with the Ghana Ministry of Health, Ipas, the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Africa office, Marie Stopes International, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, and the African Network for Medical Abortion.

At the end of the four-day conference, participants affirmed their commitment to expanding abortion access in Africa and called on governments of African nations to review laws that criminalize abortions.

From here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

US Now Has Official Presence in Pakistan

WASHINGTON, Nov 24: Pakistan has allowed the US military and its coalition partners in Afghanistan to maintain a presence in Quetta, says a Pentagon report to Congress.

The report, which was released to the media on Wednesday, also notes that tensions between India and Pakistan have a direct impact on Afghanistan and therefore, the United States must consider relations between South Asia’s two nuclear neighbours while making any strategy for Kabul.

“Pakistan Army General Headquarters recently approved a US Office of Defence Representative and Coalition presence at the Pakistan military’s 12 Corps HQ in Quetta,” the Pentagon tells Congress.

Earlier reports in the US media said that Pakistan also had allowed the CIA to expand its presence in the Balochistan capital.

“Yes, we have asked for that, and we continue to ask for that,” said a Pentagon official when asked if the United States wanted more actions against alleged militant sanctuaries in Quetta.

The Americans claim that senior Taliban leaders are hiding around Quetta and use their bases in that area to supervise attacks on US and allied forces in Afghanistan.

“While the US government recognises the tremendous effort” by the Pakistani military against the militants, “insurgent safe havens along the border will remain the primary problem to achieving a secure and stable Afghanistan”, the Pentagon warns.

One initiative towards this end, the report adds, is increasing the cooperation between Afghanistan, Isaf, and Pakistani forces along the border to provide a more comprehensive approach to eradicating the insurgency.

“There is still much work to be done, but there is a positive trend line towards achieving the overall strategic goals,” says the Pentagon while acknowledging that its relations with the Pakistani military have improved. Advocating a regional, rather than a country-specific approach to the Afghan problem, the Pentagon observes that “India’s presence in Afghanistan cannot be understood without considering the tense, fragile relationship between Pakistan and India”.

The report notes that the kind of developmental work that India has done in Afghanistan “is really vital” to the success of US efforts there, “at the same time, Pakistani perceptions of that – and they’re regularly voiced, both in formal and informal conversations by a wide range of people in Pakistan – is an area that is a continuing concern”.

Pakistan complains that India uses Afghanistan for stirring troubles in Balochistan and other places and has concentrated its presence in areas close to the Pakistani border.

“Certainly the perceptions of Pakistan are important as well as the perceptions of India,” said a Pentagon official while explaining how the US viewed the two neighbours’ complaints against each other.

“It has to be looked at in context, without trying to be judgmental that one side or the other’s perceptions are wrong, but it’s important to be aware of those perceptions,” he said.

India continues to be one of Afghanistan’s largest donors, providing $1.3 billion for major infrastructure projects like power transmission, power lines and roads. India also provides agriculture assistance and has increased access to degree scholarships and training programmes.

While the report to Congress does not talk about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations, the Pentagon official, who briefed the media on the report along with a representative of the State Department, noted that the LeT was part of “a broad syndicate of extremist groups” allegedly operating from Fata. The State Department official, however, said that the US had asked Pakistan to take ‘specific actions’ against the sanctuaries used for carrying out attacks inside Afghanistan and against Islamabad’s neighbours.

The US, he said, had asked Pakistan to take steps in North Waziristan and to go after more directly in the areas that were sanctuaries for the Afghan Taliban.

The Pentagon official, however, explained that in Swat, Pakistan not only destroyed the hideouts of Pakistani militants but also acted against those who wanted to participate in violent activities in Afghanistan.

“Now that the Pakistani government has control of Swat, that kind of export of fighters into Afghanistan from that area is sharply down,” the official added. He pointed out that Pakistan also had ‘suffered tremendously’, with over 30,000 casualties in the last two years.

“At the same time, we believe it’s important for Pakistan to go after insurgents and extremists and those who threaten their neighbours as well, and we’re working with them to that end,” the official added.

From here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How Accurate are Medical Research Findings?

Most people have set pragmatism as their default position on bioethics. If it works, why not use it? If human embryonic stem cells are reported to be effective, for instance, what harm can there possibly be in using them? In fact, it may be immoral not to use them after the incredible progress reported in this week’s issue of Nature (or Time or the National Inquirer)!

But in an era of science by press release, pragmatists should know how reliable such reports are. And respected studies into the credibility of all medical research – not just on stem cells – suggest that claims of incredible advances are precisely that: incredible. In fact, according to a leading medical statistician, Greek academic John Ioannides, “most claimed research findings are false”.

Dr Ioannides is not a crank or an enemy of science. On the contrary, his work has been published in leading journals and his claims are widely accepted among his colleagues. He has worked at Harvard University, Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University. His ground-breaking 2005 paper in the journal PLoS Medicine has become the most downloaded in its history. Every year he receives hundreds of invitations to speak at conferences. “You can question some of the details of John’s calculations, but it’s hard to argue that the essential ideas aren’t absolutely correct,” Doug Altman, the director of Oxford’s Centre for Statistics in Medicine, told Atlantic Monthly.

Ioannides’s claims are largely statistical and thus require much brain cudgelling for laymen. But his conclusions ought to rattle anyone: that “most research findings are false for most research designs and for most fields” and “claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias”.

Why is this?

There are a number of interlocking reasons. Many studies are too small to be reliable. The best ones involve several thousand subjects, but many studies, especially in genetics, are based on fewer than a hundred. Many studies are badly designed or are hard to compare to other studies of similar data.

Prejudice plays a role as well. It’s not necessarily ideological or financial; old-fashioned chest-beating, turf-protecting arrogance is just as effective. Scientists who are committed to a theory are less likely to find contradictory evidence. “Many otherwise seemingly independent, university-based studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure… Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma,” wrote Ioannides in his 2005 PLoS article.

And finally, “The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true.” Ioannides attributes this counter-intuitive effect to cutthroat competition among scientists to publish exciting research first. “This may explain why we occasionally see major excitement followed rapidly by severe disappointments in fields that draw wide attention,” he says. Isn’t this relevant to far-reaching claims made for embryonic stem cells?

Even more discouraging for medical researchers is that the gold-standard of medical research, double-blind randomised trials, are not altogether reliable either. In another 2005 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Ioannides examined 49 of the top science papers of the previous 13 years. They had appeared in the best journals and had been cited extensively. Yet between one-third and one-half of them were unreliable because they were later found to be either outright wrong or exaggerated.

None of this means that all scientists do shoddy work or that science itself is fatally flawed. Science is a slow slog towards the truth whose milestones are false intuitions and failed experiments.

But it does mean that politicians and voters ought to be wary of early findings until they are repeatedly confirmed by other researchers. Unfortunately, this is a process that may take years to work itself out – far too slow for journalists who are searching for sound-bites. But unless they convey the ever-tentative nature of progress in science, they are deceiving their readers. As science journalist Joann Rodgers, of Johns Hopkins University, says: “Part of the responsibility for publicly communicating science is to help the public understand that scientific truth is a journey.”

Although Ioannides’s analysis is widely accepted, some researchers fear that they might be misinterpreted and used to debunk science or to promote shonky alternative therapies. But he responds that the truth is the best medicine: “The scientific enterprise is probably the most fantastic achievement in human history, but that doesn’t mean we have a right to overstate what we’re accomplishing.” Sound advice for every pragmatist!
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. From here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Israel is Fighting Our War

“Israel is fighting our war”

Even a journalist from a friendly country such as Israel does not escape invasive hands of the security guards who protect Geert Wilders. At the entry point to the interview with Holland’s extreme politician, founder and leader of the anti-Islamic “Party for Freedom” [PVV], bodyguards do not hold back, and run extensive security checks. Time and again they recheck my identity, making sure that I possess nothing that could potentially turn into a weapon.

Wilders, on the other hand, looks disconnected from the security turmoil around him. It seems that he must be used to it. That’s the way it is if you are one of the most threatened persons in the world.

“To tell the truth, yes, I fear for my life,” he admits.

“I am just a man. The danger does not come only from Holland. It is outside too. There are very serious threats from various terror groups, and when one is aware of the extent of the danger, it is only human to think that something bad will happen. But I cannot allow these thoughts to affect my work. If I moderate my voice because of the threats, stop saying what is on my mind, or quit being a politician, those people will have used anti-democratic means, threats and murders to silence others. They will win. I am not going to let them”.

He has reason to fear. His statements against Islam, his demands to stop immigration of Muslims to his country, the building of new mosques or wearing the veil in public — all that did the job. Although in Europe he is recognized as the most prominent leader of the anti-Islam movement, imams in the Muslim world have sentenced him to death. Terror groups promise to murder him — a man who until recently was an obscure politician with hardly any influence, but now, thanks only to his support, a new Dutch government was formed a few weeks ago.

Wilders says aloud what many Dutch and EU citizens probably think, and he pays a very heavy price for that. He lives under around-the-clock tight protection in a “safe house” provided by the Dutch government. He is the only parliamentary representative with an “unknown” home address.

“It is sad that while fighting for my country’s freedom I lost my own,” says Wilders in a special interview for Yedioth. “I have only freedom of speech and thought. Threats to my life prove that my arguments are just. I am sure that if I spoke with criticism about Christianity or Judaism, there would be no such radical response. There would be no demonstrations in Vatican. The Dutch flag would not be burnt. A million and a half people who voted for us in the last elections do not see me as a fascist or a racist.”

In two weeks Wilders is coming for a visit to Israel as a guest of a parliament member Ariel Eldad. He is invited to participate in a conference against the two-state solution.

“Israel is the lighthouse and the only democracy in this backward and dictatorial part of the world,” he proclaims. “Israel is very close to us, to our European identity. Israel fights our war.”

It Is Not About Color

Just a few days ago Dutch court decided not to punish a Muslim rapper who wrote in one of his songs that he is going to attack Wilders. “Geert, this is not a joke. Last night I had a dream about taking off your head,” the rapper sings and promises “Anyone who talks about Muslims will be killed.”

There are many rumors about Wilders’ way of life. They say that he does not sleep in the same place twice in a row, that he does not see his wife for months.

At first, six years ago, when the government did not have “safe houses”, “My wife and I stayed for a few months in a prison,” he says. “The cells we lived in had been previously occupied by two Libyan agents, responsible for “Pan Am” plane slaughter. We were not there as prisoners, but as protected personas. We also slept on military bases around Holland and military planes took us, if need be, to our meetings. It was insane. There were times when I had to put on a wig, a false mustache, and a pair of sunglasses to prevent others from recognizing me.”

Wilders stands out as a leader of anti-Islamic movement in Europe. Six years ago he left the Liberal Party [VVD] and founded an independent fraction. His party’s unpredicted success in last year’s elections to EU Parliament stunned the political arena.

In last summer’s elections to the Dutch parliament, The Party for Freedom tripled its numbers and became the third largest party in The Hague’s House of Representatives [Tweede Kamer]. The latest polls show that if new elections were held today, his party would be the largest, with 31% of the vote.

The standoff between the two largest parties — Liberals [VVD] and Social-Democrats [PvdA]— left the coalition negotiations stranded until they decided in a surprising move to form a minority government that will be supported by the Party for Freedom. From now on Wilders is an officially recognized and accepted part of Dutch politics.

Extreme right? Racist? Fascist? “I am the direct opposite of all this,” protests Wilders. “We use democratic means only. We are definitely not racists; we do not care about the people’s skin color. It is ridiculous to claim that all of our voters are fascists. It is an insult — not just to me, but to them as well. There are not that many insane people in Holland. But the political elite, who failed to solve the problems we talk about openly — massive immigration, crime rates, Islam — still thinks that it is not politically correct to talk about that. They see us getting wide support and they demonize us in response.”

Wilders says that well-established parties around Europe have no idea how to treat parties like his. “They try to stick all kinds of labels on us and then they copy what we do. A few weeks ago I made a speech in Berlin. I told Germans “Please forget your past. New generations are not responsible for what happened. Get rid of your past, because it prevents you from speaking freely about problems created by mass immigration and Islam.

“Angela Merkel and half of the government ministers criticized my speech and stated that I had no right to say things like that. A few weeks later, when surveys showed that if a party similar to mine were to be founded in Germany, it would get 20% of the voters’ support, Merkel changed direction and proclaimed the failure of the multicultural society.”

By the way, Islam is not a religion, in Wilders’ opinion. “It is a totalitarian ideology. There is no place in it for anything but Islam itself. It wants to control not only one’s private life, but the society’s life as well. If you are an atheist, a Christian, or a Jew living in a society where Islam is dominant, your life is very difficult. That’s why comparisons must be made between Islam and other totalitarian ideologies like communism and fascism.

“I have nothing against Muslims as human beings. Most of them are law-abiding people like you and me. But I am against mass immigration from Muslim countries, because immigrants will bring their culture here, which, if permitted to be dominant, will change our society. Already in countries with a sizable Muslim minority, those changes for the worse can be seen.”

In your struggle, you find yourself in the company of some very problematic parties such as Party for Freedom of Austria or France’s National Front.

“We do not have and never will have anything in common with those extremist parties. They are very different from us. We are conservative on issues concerning our culture and liberals on many other issues. The majority of Holland’s gays vote for us — they would never do that if we were extremists.”

Ariel Sharon As An Example
Wilders (47) is one of the most ardent and loud of Israel’s supporters in Europe, and contrary to many others he does not bother to hide this. He had even insisted on including in the platform of the new Dutch government the intention to improve relations with Israel.

“I am very glad that Israel is the only country mentioned by name in the platform; this will get it the needed attention,” he said “We are Israel’s best friends and we will support it in any way possible.” He bursts out laughing when asked about allegations of his being an “Israeli agent”.

“Common!” he says “It is obvious that I am not an Israel’s spy. It is insane. I am a Dutch politician and I work for Holland and what is best for its citizens. But I am a friend of Israel, and I am not afraid to say so. Because of my open support of Israel, people who do not like me invent these stories. The Iranian press states that I am a Mossad agent. Jordanians call me Shabak’s man. It’s nonsense.”

His romance with Israel started when he was 17 years old and came here to work as a volunteer for a year. “I enjoyed it very much, and not only because of the beautiful Israeli girls,” he recalls. “I was not involved in politics back then at all. I worked in the tourist industry in Eilat, a bakery plant in Jerusalem, and the cooperative settlement Tomar in the Jordan Valley. I went through some tense times in Tomar because the border with Jordan was not very secure. We had to take shelter from time to time when terrorists managed to cross over. We saw the arrival of IDF helicopters — for someone from the south of Holland who went to Amsterdam just a few times, those were very impressive experiences.”

Over the years Wilders visited many Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia and Afghanistan. “I’ve met with some very friendly people over there, too,” he clarifies, “but the power in those countries is in the hands of the dictators. These people deserve better living conditions.”

He has many friends in Israel, and some of them are politicians. He had a very warm relationship with Ariel Sharon for example, whom he still admires. “Sharon was demonized in the West, too, but he was a great politician, and I take an example from him,” Wilders emphasizes.

“I believe that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not territorial. Anyone who claims otherwise has no idea what he is talking about. If you gave up Western Bank and East Jerusalem and let the Palestinians have it, that would not end the conflict. It will take some time — a month, a year, ten years — but they will demand the rest of your country, because it is an ideological conflict. The solution therefore could not be territorial; it has to be ideological.

“Palestinians believe — and this is the nature of Islam — that Israel is theirs, and through the struggle with Israel they fight the non-Muslim West. The fight against Israel is the fight against us. We are Israel. The reason for Dutch parents’ good night sleep with no worries for their children is that parents in Israel go through sleepless nights because their children are in the Army. It does not mean that Israel cannot be criticized, but I am not ashamed to fight for Israel.”

At the conference Wilders will try to convince the public that Palestinians already have a country of their own. “Jordan is Palestine,” he states. “This was true in the past after Sykes-Picot agreement, and thus it is a solution to the conflict. Even the Jordan kings, Abdulla and Hussein, said so in the past. Only after they realized that these statements could endanger their reign, because Palestinians are a majority in Jordan, did they change their minds. I am against the idea of transfer or ethnic cleansing, but if Jordan became Palestine, it would be possible to encourage Palestinians to move there. Of course I will not be the one who decides how to end this conflict. Israel is a democracy and will decide for itself which solution is best for it. It is your decision.”

What is your opinion on Israel’s debate concerning the “loyalty oath”? Could it be implemented in Holland too?

“I think it is a good idea. Even though the background in Holland is different, I think that a pledge of allegiance to the country is a good thing. We will not be able to pass such legislation with the current government in Holland. I talked in the past about an integration agreement between the state and the immigrants or a loyalty oath, which will show their commitment first of all to our country and our values, our constitution, and our culture. It would be a positive step to take. The people of Europe have no idea who they are anymore, that’s why they do not know what to fight for. We have to reinvent our identity. In France, for example, before every speech by the president, the French flag is displayed and the national anthem is played. If someone tried to do that in Holland, everyone would think that he was out of his mind. We do not have a flag even in Parliament. You are not a racist if you are proud of your national uniqueness and fight to preserve your culture. The idea that all cultures are equal was forced on us by the left and the liberals, and is in fact the Europe’s worst sickness. People cannot see any difference between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam anymore despite the fact that they are worlds apart and are different in a thousand ways. We are fighting this idea, and we are slowly winning.”

Europe Is Not a Friend
Wilders does not hide his support for military action against Iran. “Iran is the biggest geopolitical threat to Israel, to the stability of the Middle East region, Europe, and the whole world,” he says. “That country is ruled by insane, religious lunatics like Khamenei or other crazies like Ahmadinejad. We can see some changes over there these days. Even the Revolutionary Guard is voicing criticism. Iran could explode from the inside. The danger in countries that deal with such an internal threat is that their regime may react violently and unpredictably. I am afraid of that. Because of the growing internal unrest, we cannot allow them to implement any program that could potentially be put to a military use. They will look for the common external enemy, and Israel would be the first to pay the price. I hope that diplomacy will lead to a peaceful resolution, but if Israel decides it has no other option but to strike Iran militarily in order to defend itself against this existential threat, I will understand. The alternative is the destruction of Israel.”

Is Turkey on its way to becoming a new Iran?

“Turkey is a very complex country. We have good relations with Turkey. It is a respected NATO member. But at the same time it is a country which can easily turn to the ways of Islam. I am against the American pressure on the EU to grant membership to Turkey. Europe does not need such a large country, where Islam is dominant, as a member. A good neighbor is not the same as a family member. If Turkey were to become a EU member, it would be required to fulfill certain criteria, one of which is to dismantle the army. I am quite uneasy about this. The army is Turkey’s only balancing power. If the army is dismantled, people like Erdogan could accelerate the Islamization process, which will turn Turkey into the Trojan horse in the heart of Europe. I also would not want to have a common border with such criminal countries as Iran and Syria.”

And what is your opinion on Israel joining the union?

“I would advise my friends in Israel not to consider such an option. The Union has always supported Palestinians. Israel has a lot of friends in Europe, but Europe is not a friend to Israel."
From here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Killing Brain-Damaged Child is Murder

A British woman found guilty of murdering her brain-damaged son has lost her appeal after the court ruled that mercy killing is murder. Frances Inglis was originally given a life sentence with a minimum term of nine years, but the Appeals Court reduced that to five years.

After her son Thomas was seriously injured as a result of a brawl in 2007, Ms Inglis tried to kill him with an injection of heroin. However, he was revived and she was charged with attempted murder. While on bail, she succeeded in killing her son.

While acknowledging that this was a tragic case, the Lord Judge stated that "However disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person. "His life was protected by the law, and no one, not even his mother, could lawfully step in and bring it to a premature conclusion."

He added: "The latest statute to address the problem of mercy killing, currently in force, expressly includes as mitigation for the offence the offender's subjective belief that he or she was acting out of mercy, but that belief and motivation, however genuine, does not and cannot constitute any defence to the charge of murder." Furthermore, he said, "the law of murder does not distinguish between murder committed for malevolent reasons and murder motivated by familial love".

This is believed to be the first British case of mercy killing to reach the Court of Appeal. ~ Independent, Nov 12

Sunday, November 21, 2010

American Fable: Locke's Nightmare

Once upon a time, I was invited to the White House for a private dinner with the President. I am a respected businessman, with a factory that produces memory chips for computers and portable electronics. There was some talk that my industry was being scrutinized by the administration, but I paid it no mind. I live in a free country. There’s nothing that the government can do to me if I’ve broken no laws. My wealth was earned honestly, and an invitation to dinner with an American President is an honor I checked my coat, was greeted by the Chief of Staff, and joined the President in a yellow dining room.

We sat across from each other at a table draped in white linen. The Great Seal was embossed on the china. Uniformed staff served our dinner. The meal was served, and I was startled when my waiter suddenly reached out, plucked a dinner roll off my plate, and began nibbling it as he walked back to the kitchen. “Sorry about that,” said the President. “Andrew is very hungry.” “I don’t appreciate...” I began, but as I looked into the calm brown eyes across from me, I felt immediately guilty and petty. It was just a dinner roll. “Of course,” I concluded, and reached for my glass. Before I could, however, another waiter reached forward, took the glass away and swallowed the wine in a single gulp. “And his brother Eric is very thirsty.” said the President.

The President is testing my compassion, I thought. I will play along. I don’t want to seem unkind. My plate was whisked away before I had tasted a bite. “Eric’s children are also quite hungry.” With a lurch, I crashed to the floor. My chair had been pulled out from under me. I stood, brushing myself off angrily, and watched as it was carried from the room. “And their grandmother can’t stand for long.” I excused myself, smiling outwardly, but inside feeling like a fool. Obviously I had been invited to the White House to be sport for some game.

I reached for my coat, to find that it had been taken. I turned back to the President. ”Their grandfather doesn’t like the cold.” I wanted to shout- that was my coat! But again, I looked at the placid smiling face of my host and decided I was being a poor sport. I spread my hands helplessly and chuckled. Then I felt my hip pocket and realized my wallet was gone. I excused myself and walked to a phone on an elegant side table. I learned shortly that my credit cards had been maxed out, my bank accounts emptied, my retirement and equity portfolios had vanished, and my wife had been thrown out of our home. Apparently, the waiters and their families were moving in.

The President hadn’t moved or spoken as I learned all this, but finally I lowered the phone into its cradle and turned to face him. “Andrew’s whole family has made bad financial decisions. They haven’t planned for retirement, and they need a house. They recently defaulted on a subprime mortgage. I told them they could have your home. They need it more than you do.” My hands were shaking. I felt faint. I stumbled back to the table and knelt on the floor.

The President cheerfully cut his meat, ate his steak and drank his wine. I lowered my eyes and stared at the small grey circles on the tablecloth that were water drops. “By the way,” He added, “I have just signed an Executive Order nationalizing your factories. I’m firing you as head of your business. I’ll be operating the firm now for the benefit of all mankind. There’s a whole bunch of Erics and Andrews out there and they can’t come to you for jobs groveling like beggars.” I looked up. The President dropped his spoon into the empty ramekin which had been his crème brulee. He drained the last drops of his wine. As the table was cleared, he lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair. He stared at me. I clung to the edge of the table as if were a ledge and I were a man hanging over an abyss.

I thought of the years behind me, of the life I had lived. The life I had earned with a lifetime of work, risk and struggle. Why was I punished? How had I allowed it to be taken? What game had I played and lost? I looked across the table and noticed with some surprise that there was no game board between us. What had I done wrong? As if answering the unspoken thought, the President suddenly cocked his head, locked his empty eyes to mine, and bared a million teeth, chuckling wryly as he folded his hands he said: “You should have stopped me at the dinner roll”.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quote of the Week - Roger Scruton

"The man who tells you truth does not exist is asking you not to believe him. So don't." - Roger Scruton

Friday, November 19, 2010

Graham Power: Making Millions and Ethical

Business is business, or so the refrain goes. The subtext is that while Christian businessmen should pay their taxes, perhaps hide money in the Cayman Islands or a Swiss bank account, even tithe, under no circumstances should God be allowed to interfere in the running of a business. In short, the ethics of how a business should be run is not God's business. Business is about making money regardless of the cost to people. The name of the game is profits, profits, and more profits. If it means cutting a few corners here and there to enhance profits so be it.

For 27 years, that was the basic philosophy of Graham Power, 55, a South African businessman who was then a nominal Methodist. "I started making money and the first part of my life was about chasing success. I started numerous companies, saw more turnover, established more game farms bought more boats and had all the material things of life including a loving wife."

Power began his working career working inauspiciously at a construction company. He launched out on his own in 1983 and started what became one of the most successful highway construction and real estate development companies in South Africa, now doing approximately R1.5 billion Rand turnover per annum. No small achievement indeed.

Power discovered he had the Midas touch. Within a short space of time, he had 1,700 employees and was making money hand over fist. His business expanded across all the provinces in South Africa, and now expanding into Kenya, Ghana and other Southern African countries.

What hung over him as a white man was the changing political face of South Africa. Apartheid was drawing to an end, and, like many of his business friends, he felt it prudent to stash funds offshore in case South Africa collapsed. This involved millions of Rand.

By putting money in an offshore bank account beyond the allowable limit amid the snooping eyes of tax agents in South Africa, Power accumulated enough to buy a luxury home and a boat in Majorca.

It didn't. South Africa transitioned peacefully out of Apartheid. Life went on.

But something happened to Power. He found that the good life wasn't all it was cracked up to be. He had become enormously successful. He was rich, had a loving family and much more. But an emptiness gnawed away at him.

"I was a nominal Christian. My father was a Roman Catholic, my mother was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. I went to a Methodist Church, but my heart was not in it. Once married, I was merely a Sunday Christian."

All that changed one day in 1998 when he was invited to a Christian breakfast meeting to hear Michael Cassidy, a well-known South African evangelist, preach. Power was introduced to the Scriptures at a level he had never experienced. For the first time, he heard the Good News of God's salvation and, also for the first time, he heard about the power of the Holy Spirit.

"It was a sort of return to my spiritual life but at a deeper level. My life began to change. In Feb. 1999, I made a 24/7 commitment of my life, my family and my business to serving God.

"And so in my study, late one evening, I went down on my knees and surrendered my life to Christ."

It was a powerful and defining moment for the hard bitten, super successful businessman. His life and his business would never be the same again.

Power found himself transitioning in his thinking about how one should be a businessman who was now a deeply committed Christian. One day he discovered something he called Biblical Principles of Business. He came to believe you could have ethics in the work place and there was no need to cheat to win.

In 1999, he began to clean up his act. His highway construction and real estate development company was, by any definition, a success.

With his new found faith in hand, Power set about asking critical questions about how he should live. "I said the first thing in my business was how we would conduct ourselves ethically. I challenged all our company directors and told them we could not collude with competing contractors, price fixing and tax evasion.

"The second thing I did was to say to our competitors that we were no longer prepared to discuss these issues that involved in participating in any form of price fixing. That was not a popular thing to do at the time.

"I then challenged our Board that we would start our meetings with prayer and that we would pay our fair share of taxes. We would no longer put our personal gardening services through the business and many other smaller things. We had lots of debate and discussion and then I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. As a majority stock holding 80% of the company's stock I told them I would step aside if in the Board were not to agree to this new direction. I told them I was firm in my decision and there was no turning back."

The directors agreed to go along with Power even though some were skeptical that one could do business with such transparency. Power's honesty paid off.

Now, more than a decade later 8,400 individual signatories, and some 1700 companies have signed on to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign. People are doing business across the board across all racial divides in a biblically ethical fashion.

"Since 1999 when I committed my whole life to Christ in 1999 I had done my best to clean up everything that I was aware of that was sinful. With this done I still had one thing that I realised was illegal. I had established an overseas bank account during the Apartheid years. I had a fear of the country collapsing like Zimbabwe. I had bought a holiday home and boat on Majorca on the Spanish coast some 12 years earlier, and then I end up sitting at a gala dinner and we were doing a fund raiser for the Global Day of Prayer and sitting at this function was Bruce Wilkinson who was a keynote speaker. He challenged us to contribute funds for the event. I told my wife we needed to sell and contribute money to the Prayer Day if it meant so much to us.

"Some months later, at a similar dinner in Johannesburg, I felt convinced to share a challenge and testimony with the 600 people present, telling them how God had led me to clean up my act. I had taken $2 million out of the country illegally, and the Lord had convicted me to set that right.

On the Wednesday before the Friday function, the Minister of Finance announced an amnesty. They were giving South Africans an opportunity to bring back the money that we illegally taken out of the country, paying 10% and all would be forgiven.

"So, on that Friday night, we were at the gala dinner and I talked about accountability and about our overseas accounts. I wanted to challenge my business hearers to do the right thing, as I had already done. On Monday morning the headlines in the local newspapers screamed, 'Christian Businessman Rapes Country of Millions.'

"The deal was to pay 10% and keep the properties there, or pay 5% and sell everything up and bring the money back. My wife and I opted for the former and paid the 10%.

"It has become part of my testimony. Businessmen did not know what prompted us to come clean. Eight years later everyone knows why I did it."

From here.

Same Sex Marriages Deprive Children

Gays are not second-class citizens but a gay man certainly makes a second-class mother. Two lesbian women may be model citizens, but neither of them can be a Dad to a little boy. The most serious objection to gay marriage is that it means gay parenting, and gay parenting means depriving a child of either his mother or his father. The gay marriage debate, at its heart, is not about the rights and needs of the adults, but of the child.

There are already tragic situations where a child is deprived of a mother or a father – such as the death or desertion of a parent. Some broken families reform as a homosexual household, and nothing can or should be done about that. But such tragedy and brokenness should not be wilfully inflicted on a child by the law of the land.

A child needs at least the chance of a Mum and a Dad in her life, and same-sex marriage makes that impossible. This violation of the fundamental right and profound emotional need of a child means – from the child’s perspective – that gay marriage is deprivation, not liberation.

Marriage is a compound right and includes the legal right to obtain children by adoption or surrogacy. The normalising of same-sex marriage means that gay couples will have equal standing with male-female couples for adopting children. The “marriage” of two women would deprive an adopted boy of his role model for being a man, and the “marriage” of two men would deprive a growing girl of a mother to learn from and confide in.

The sentimental claptrap that passes for debate on gay marriage would have disgusted even that old atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell. Sentimental people speak of marriage as a right to a romantic ceremony, a right to have one’s deep personal commitments confirmed by society. Although Russell’s four marriages did not exactly make him an expert on the topic, he did have at least one good insight. He understood that society has no interest in passing laws about people’s private affairs – whether gay or straight - and that the primary reason for the public contract of marriage throughout history has been to bind the man to the woman for the long task of rearing their children. As he wrote in Marriage and Morals, “It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.”

Homosexual relations do not give rise to children, so such relations are of no institutional importance to society.

The biological triple-bond of man and woman and child is nature’s foundation for human life – as with other mammals – not a social fad to be cut to shape according to political whim. It is beyond the power of any parliament to repeal nature and equate same-sex relationships with the inherently male-female project of family formation.

Yet inner-city Greens and muddled MPs are so out of touch with nature that they think abolishing a mother will be of no consequence to the emotional development of the human cub.

They are wrong, and any such legislation would be moral vandalism. They are also going against common sense, with 86 percent of Australians affirming that ideally children should be raised by their own mother and father, according to a 2009 Galaxy poll. Opposition to gay marriage is all about the child, and no parliament has the right to impose a motherless life on a little child.

Dr David van Gend is a Toowoomba doctor and a committee member of the Family Council of Queensland, Australia. This article was first published in the Brisbane Courier Mail on November 16.

Anglo-catholics Responding the Pope's Gesture

The Establishment of a Personal Ordinariate in England and Wales

Much has been achieved over many years as a result of the dialogue and the fruitful ecumenical relations which have developed between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Obedient to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Heavenly Father, the unity of the Church remains a constant desire in the vision and life of Anglicans and Catholics. The prayer for Christian Unity is the prayer for the gift of full communion with each other. We must never tire of praying and working for this goal.

During his visit to the United Kingdom in September, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus: "…should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all."i

It is now just over one year since the Apostolic Constitution was published. The Pope’s initiative provided for the establishment of personal Ordinariates as one of the ways in which members of the Anglican tradition may seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As the Holy Father stated at that time, he was responding to petitions received "repeatedly and insistently"ii by him from groups of Anglicans wishing "to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately."iii Since then, it has become clear that a number of Anglican clergy and their faithful do indeed wish to bring their desire for full ecclesial communion with the Catholic Church to realisation within an Ordinariate structure.

Read it all here.

Proper Burial for Aborted Babies

This video shows a funeral service for the aborted babies whose remains were discovered in jars during the raid of an illegal abortion clinic earlier this year. You can read that grisly story at Life News.

In a similar story, we learned earlier this week that Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, Michigan, plans to provide a proper burial for 17 babies whose bodies were found in a dumpster outside an abortion clinic in Eaton County.

As sad and disturbing as these stories are, I am glad to see them getting news coverage, and I wish they would get still more attention in the press.

Many of us Catholics are accustomed to hearing these kinds of stories. As I read the details of these two cases, though, I can’t help but think about how they must look to people on the outside.

Who comes across as the most caring, compassionate, respectful, and reasonable group? Those who salvage the remains of human babies and attempt to give them a dignified burial? Or those who demand the “right” to destroy these recognizably human beings, preserve their body parts in jars, or toss them—like medical waste, only not quite so dignified as that—into dumpsters on the street?

What’s the humane thing to do? What’s the human thing to do? Which side are you on?

From here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skin Cells to Blood Cells

Canadian scientists have morphed human skin cells into blood cells, converting one kind of mature human cell into another for the first time, the journal Nature has reported.

The change was conducted without the intermediate step of rewinding the skin cells into flexible pluripotent stem cells. Researchers believe that skipping the pluripotent step dodges the risk that replacement cells might form dangerous tumours.

The report states the team produced blood progenitor cells, that is, mother cells that multiply to produce other cells, as well as mature blood cells. Both could be useful in medical treatments, according to study leader Mick Bhatia, a stem cell scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "There is a great need for alternative sources of human blood," Bhatia said. "Since this source would come from a patient's own skin, there would be no concern of rejection of the transplanted cells." ~ Los Angeles Times, Nov 7

Editor's Note: The implications of this are huge as we face blood donation shortages around the country and the risk of a patient rejecting transfused blood.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Afghan Christian Tortured in Jail

Said Musa (45), a father of six, was arrested in late May as part of a crackdown against Afghan converts to Christianity and was due to stand trial this week. Observers say he is likely to be charged with apostasy from Islam – a crime that is punished by death under Islamic law. Some leading political figures in Afghanistan called earlier this year for the execution of converts. (Read Afghan Christians Plead for Help as they are Exposed and Threatened with Execution – 18 June 2010)

In a heart-rending handwritten letter, which he passed to a Western supporter who visited him in jail last month, Said appealed for help and prayers from his brothers and sisters around the world.

He wrote:

The authority and prisoners in jail did many bad behaviour with me about my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, they did sexual things with me, beat me by wood, by hands, by legs, put some things on my head, mocked me ‘he's Jesus Christ', spat on me, nobody let me for sleep night and day... Please, please, for the sake of Lord Jesus Christ help me...  (View full letter here.)

Said was arrested following a television broadcast in Afghanistan on 27 May of a baptismal service, which led to a frenzied anti-Christian response including public demonstrations and government threats. Said, who has previously had a leg amputated, was one of around 25 believers subsequently detained. At least one other Christian may also remain in jail, possibly many more.

Barnabas Aid calls on Western governments to put pressure on the Afghan authorities to release Said and uphold the country's commitment to freedom of religion.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said:

The West can no longer turn a blind eye while the Afghan regime that it fought to put in place imprisons and tortures ordinary Christians and is calling for them to be killed simply because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please write to your elected representative and ask them to raise this as a matter of urgency with the relevant government department (for UK readers please ask your MP to raise it with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

From here.

Washington to Israel: No Guarantees

(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment Wednesday on whether Washington would accede to an Israeli request to provide new security guarantees in writing to help jump-start the stalled Middle East peace process.

Clinton, asked if she would put the new ideas in writing as Israeli officials have requested, said she could not reveal the contents of their discussion. "I can't get into details ... I can only repeat what I've said -- that we are in close touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're working intensively to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations that can lead to a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace," she said.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Omaba to Announce a 2-States Victory in Middle East?

Perhspa that's one of the things he is discussing on hiw world tour? There this:

Washington sources disclose that the three-month settlement construction freeze-for-incentives deal Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, Nov. 12, also included a commitment to hold Israel-Palestinian negotiations on the two states' final borders during that period. Assuming the talks collapse, the Obama administration will take the initiative of delineating those borders and present its own map to both sides before the three months are up.

Read it all here.

Medical Ethics in Radiology

Medical Ethics in the Field of Radiology
By Rachel Davis

Every profession has its own set of rules and regulations; some of them are explicit and breaking them brings the long arm of the law after you; and some others are implicit and adherence to them depends on the ethical sense of people in the profession. Ethical implications are more significant in some professions – like in the field of medicine where lives are at stake or in the field of finance and accountancy where livelihoods are at stake. Some ethical lines are clearly drawn and hence crossed rarely; others however are blurred and the distinction between right and wrong is not quite clear.

The field of radiology is an example of a profession where there are many blurred lines - some lines are clear enough, like those that dictate that patients must not be subjected to diagnostic tests that are unnecessary and which have already been performed on them; others however, are not clearly defined because the data is fuzzy and not conclusive.

We’ve known for long that radiation causes cancer and that radiological procedures increase the risk of cancer for radiologists and patients and that radiology causes 1 percent of all cancers in the U.S. Studies have shown that the higher the number of certain radiological procedures (like CT scans), the higher the risk of cancer. 1.5 to 2 percent of all cancers in the U.S. are caused by CT radiation exposure. So radiologists are ethically bound to inform their patients of the associated risks and also weigh the benefits of the procedure against the increased cancer risk.

The risk of cancer does not decrease as you grow older, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In fact, the cumulative risk of cancer increases above the age of 40. The procedures that involve the highest risks are CT scans of the neck, lung and pelvis, barium enemas, and X-rays of the pelvis and hip. The cancers that are most associated with radiography are leukemia and those that affect the colon, bladder and breast.

The risks to radiologists are much higher than that of patients; they are exposed to tiny doses of radiation as part of their work on a daily basis. While the amounts may be negligible when taken alone, their cumulative effect could have devastating consequences. However, the data available refers to radiologists studied before 1950, when radiation levels were higher and protection measures not as effective. Recent studies based on current levels of radiation exposure are not as conclusive; however, radiologists must keep tabs on their health because of the nature of their profession.

Radiologists are duty bound to perform diagnostic procedures on patients; they cannot refuse to do so simply because their cancer risk increases because they are ethically bound by the oath they take as doctors.

This guest post is contributed by Rachel Davis, she writes on the topic of Radiology Degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email id: racheldavis65[@]gmail[.]com.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ethical Reflections on Suffering in the Bible

Alice C. Linsley

All the heroes of the Bible suffered greatly. It appears that suffering was part of their divinely-appointed destinies as rulers among their people and as men through whom God brought deliverance to their people. Job, Joseph and Moses are but a few whose suffering led to good for many.

Their suffering raises ethical questions about God’s dealing with those He has destined to His purposes. Job, Joseph and Moses are suffering servants. Suffering Job demands that God make sense of his suffering, but God never gives Job an answer. The meaning of suffering isn't important. What matters is one's response to suffering. Each of these heroes responds differently, yet in each case he becomes a mediator between his kinsmen and God, or the means of divine rescue for their people.

Like his father Jacob, Joseph is a dreamer. His dreams foretell his future as a leader and ruler over his brothers. His skill in dream interpretation later secures him a place in Pharaoh’s court. Joseph suffers betrayal, slavery and prison before he is raised to a position of authority which he uses to rescue the very brothers that abused him.

Moses suffered when he had to flee his home and later when all his siblings turned on him for marrying a Kushite and for asserting his leadership. Moses uses his authority to deliver the same siblings who trouble him, except for Korah, who it appears died in the wilderness. Still, Moses sees that Korah's sons receive sacred duties at the tabernacle.

Job loses his family, lands, wealth, social standing and his health before God restores him and appoints him as a mediator for his kinsmen who troubled him.

After suffering, all three men gain new families as a result of their hardships.  Both Joseph and Moses marry the daughters of priests, high-ranking and chaste women.

The suffering of these men's lives  has so much in common that we must ask what God is trying to teach us about suffering and divine destiny. What conclusions are we to draw about the nature of God’s dealing with those He has called according to His purpose?

The destiny motif in these stories raises significant ethical questions, and by focusing these questions, we will be able to draw some conclusions. Here are some questions we should ask:

How can we regard Job as righteous when he himself recognizes that he crossed the line in his questioning of God?

How can we regard Moses as a righteous leader when he murdered a man and fled from justice?

Likewise, shouldn’t Joseph, the spoiled tattle-tale who rubbed his brothers’ faces in his grandiosity share some responsibility for what happened to him?

Do Moses’ years of toil in the wilderness atone for the murder he committed?

Aren’t enslavement and imprisonment of a young boy a stiff price to pay for youthful self-obsession?

Is Joseph playing God in hiding the diving cup and so terrorizing his brothers that they are speechless at the prospect of returning to Egypt? Does God play “cat and mouse” with us to terrorize us into repentance?

Moses was very reluctant to step up to his destiny. He begged God to send another. Where does human freedom come into play?

Was Joseph justified to excuse God’s treatment of him on the grounds that everything turned out for the good in the end? Are we to excuse God when things don’t turn out well?

Focusing these questions doesn’t help us to answer them, but it does help us to draw conclusions about God’s dealing with those He has destined to lead.

It appears that God overlooks grievous sins and youthful faults if He has designs on our lives.

It also appears that God is not willing to accept a “No” from those He has destined to lead.

It appears that years of toil, exile, and suffering are necessary to bring us to our destiny.

It appears that God terrorizes us into surrendering to, or complying with, His purposes.

And finally, regardless of how things turn out, God is to be excused for treating us this way.

The final ethical question is this: Does such a God as this deserve our worship?

The answer to that question is present in the stories of Job, Joseph and Moses.  It is also found in the individual's heart... a matter worth pondering.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christian Mother of 5 to Die for "Blasphemy"

LAHORE, Nov 11: A Christian mother of five has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, the first such conviction of a woman, sparking protests from rights groups on Thursday.

Asia Bibi, 45, was handed down the death sentence by a court in Nankana district in central Punjab on Monday.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Ms Asia’s case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Ms Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him). The cleric went to police, who opened an investigation.

Ms Asia was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295-C of the PPC, which carries the death penalty.

Husband Ashiq Masih, 51, said he would appeal her death sentence.

Human rights activists want the controversial legislation repealed, saying it was exploited for personal enmity and encourages extremism.

“The blasphemy law is absolutely obscene and it needs to be repealed in totality,” Human Rights Watch spokesman Ali Dayan Hasan said.—AFP

Madrid's Harassment of Moroccans Continues

(IFJ/IFEX) - 10 November 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) backed its Moroccan affiliate, the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM), which condemned Spanish officials in the city of Melillia over the treatment of two Moroccan journalists who were briefly detained on the border, questioned and denied entry in the city.

"Restricting movement of journalists on duty without a valid reason is a violation of their rights," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The events in Melillia matter to the Moroccan public and Spanish authorities should avoid unnecessary action which hinders the work of media covering the events in the city."

According to the SNPM, two cameramen of la Société nationale de radiodiffusion et de télévision (SNRT), Abderahim El Bouhedioui (2M) and Rachid Laâtabi (Al Oula), were arrested by border guards in Melillia and questioned at the police station on the reasons for their visit to the city. Three other journalists, Badiaâ Zekhnini (SNRT), Azzedine Lamrini (Al Ahdat Al Maghribiya newspaper) and Said Youssi (MAP press agency) had their passports confiscated by Spanish police. The group was later refused entry and returned to the Moroccan city of Nador.

One SNPM board member in the city reportedly said the actions of Spanish officials were designed to "frustrate the work of Moroccan journalists, particularly broadcast reporters, following their coverage of the Spanish forces' recent clampdown on the Moroccan population living in Melillia."

The IFJ says there is a need to facilitate media access to information in order to prevent rumors and distrust among the public. It also called on journalists' communities in both countries to work together in sharing information and mobilise their efforts to achieve greater press freedom for their members.

"We call for a thorough investigation into the police action in Melillia," added White.

For more information:

International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre, Residence Palace
Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155
1040 Brussels
Phone: +32 2 2352207
Fax: +32 2 2352219

Religion and Green Investing

Ron Robins

Religious and faith groups have huge investment portfolios representing the third largest category of investors globally, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. And their investments are increasingly focused on ethical and green investing.

Though religion’s main interest is spirituality, we also know it is concerned with ethics, morality and stewardship of our environment. In Christianity, Islam and Judaism, God has dominion over all creation and everyone is expected to be good shepherds of it. In Hinduism, the earth is divine and to be respected. Buddhism preaches compassion for all life forms and the unity of all creations. Similar sentiments are expressed in most other religions too.

Thus, it is not surprising to hear that it was probably religious groups who pioneered ethical investing. The foundations of Western ethical investing are traced to biblical times when directives were found on investing according to ethical values.

Increasingly, religious and faith groups focus on aspects of ethical investing that relate to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, sometimes referred to as ‘impact’ investing. In a 2010 study by 3iG, the Spain based International Interfaith Investment Group, found that, “more than 70 per cent of religious institutions.... practice some form of impact investing, in areas such as community development, micro-finance, affordable housing and fair trade, and not just negative and positive screening [for ESG issues].”

The 3iG organisation itself represents a growing awareness among religions to better reflect religious values in their investments. 3iG is “designed to assist the Faiths in facilitating and advancing their engagement in the area of faith-consistent investing and to provide high-level research and information to enhance its development. The great challenge is to integrate faith-based principles into the world of business, particularly via investing.”

Unfortunately, it is usually difficult to obtain information on investment portfolio holdings of many faith based organisations. And even when they are revealed, real estate holdings are often not included. Nonetheless, there are some examples of how large and important are religious ethical investment activities.

One example is the bank administered by the Roman Catholic Church, based in the Vatican and known as the Institute for Works of Religion (ICW). It has assets somewhere around €5 billion, (according to the Financial Times) and these are said to be second in size to those of the UN. Its focus is on ethical investments with profits going to charities and religious organisations around the world. (Note though, that the assets of Roman Catholic Churches globally are many times that of the ICW.)

Some other Christian churches, particularly in Britain and Ireland, are however, quite transparent with their investments. According to the Church Investors Group (CIG), British and Irish churches have assets of £12.6bln. The CIG organisation aims at helping make church “investment portfolios reflect the moral stance and teachings of the Christian faith.”

In the US the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has nearly 300 religious and faith groups with $100bln. in assets. The “ICCR and its members work with conscientious individual and institutional investors as well as advocacy organisations, who share all or part of ICCR's commitment to a just and peaceful world.”

Besides the above organisations, there are other international influential faith groups assisting and promoting ethical and green investing as well. Two of the better known ones are the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR).

The ARC “is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices... [it] now work[s] with 11 major faiths… These faiths and their networks embrace 85 per cent of the world's population: some 5 billion human beings.”

The ECCR “is a church-based investor coalition and membership organisation working for economic justice, human rights, environmental stewardship, and corporate and investor responsibility. ECCR's British, Irish and international members include representatives of many Christian denominations, faith-based investors, religious communities and orders, non-governmental organisations, [and] ethical investment managers.”

Religious investing by individuals has seen extraordinary rapid growth as well, especially in the US. According to David Kathman, a Morningstar analyst, there are now about 80 US Catholic, Protestant and Islamic-compliant mutual funds with about $29.8bln. in assets, up from around just $500 million. in 1997.

Similarly, among Muslims, there has been vigorous growth of Islamic financial products in many countries with institutional and private assets now exceeding $1 trillion. Islamic financial assets are mostly channelled into ethically screened investments, with some portion of their profits mandated for social and humanitarian causes.

Religion’s roots go deep into our psyches, relating to not only the caring of peoples’ spiritual welfare but to their material sustenance as well. To help fulfil their aspirations to provide the material sustenance of humanity, religious organisations are increasingly applying their staggering financial resources to ethical and green investments. They are thereby a huge and growing force in ethical and green investing.

E-mail the writer: r.robins@alrroya.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Newman and Anglicanorum Coetibus

Just weeks after the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the death knell may have been struck for his original idea of the Church of England as a middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism. This notion, which he subsequently disowned, became the basis of the Anglo-Catholic wing within the Church of England.

Newman himself realized that this experiment was impossible, hence his reception into the Catholic Church. And it now appears to be at an end. The announcement that five Church of England bishops are resigning to take advantage of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, indicates that fence-sitting is no longer an option.

Last year, Pope Benedict’s unprecedented initiative paved the way for Anglican ordinariates to be set up within the Catholic Church. As the accompanying note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made clear, the ordinariate will allow “former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.” Anglican clergy will be re-trained and re-ordained as Catholic priests on a case-by-case basis, a special dispensation being granted to those who are married, though they will not be allowed to be bishops. This provision allows for whole parishes and even dioceses to enter into unity with the Catholic Church. Such communities will be overseen by specially appointed ordinaries.
Read it all here.

College Students, Facebook and Drinking

College students make for an intriguing bunch to consider. Essentially living on a compound, surrounded by their peers in a halfway house between forced maturity in the real world and marginal responsibility in a campus bubble, college students often get away with behaviors that startle many researchers. While binge drinking, poor diets and little-to-no sleep could wreck the life of a middle-aged man, some college students are able to bounce back after a night involving all three and ace an exam in the morning. Others aren’t so lucky and suffer bad grades, nights in the hospital or even sexual or physical abuse as a result. Through these research studies, doctors and scientists examine all kinds of psychological factors, behaviors and environmental issues affecting college students, helping higher ed set new guidelines for safer, better campuses.

1.Facebook might lead to lower grades: Facebook — which started as a networking site exclusively for college students — gets a bad rap for Big Brother-like monitoring, tempting young people to sabotage their career prospects by posting scandalous photos, and for being a total time waster, and now it may be a scapegoat for bad grades, too. A study organized by graduate students at Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University found that, while the majority of Facebook users didn’t think logging onto the site hurt grades, students who participated in the study and did use Facebook had GPAs of .5 – 1.0 points lower than those who didn’t. Students who did not have a Facebook account maintained GPAs of 3.5-4.0. The biggest identifying factor in lower grades and poor academic habits was noted in terms of time spent studying: Facebook users only studied one to five hours per week, while those not on Facebook studied 11 to 15 hours per week. Undergraduates and graduate students were studied, but significantly less graduate students had Facebook accounts.

2.Online students perform better than students in a classroom: The New York Times reported in August 2009 the findings of a study conducted by SRI International on behalf of the Department of Education on the success of online students versus students who attended classes in an actual classroom. For 12 years, in K-12 settings and in colleges and adult continuing-education programs, researchers found that students with at least some online instruction generally performed in the 59th percentile, while those with no online learning scored in the 50th percentile. Researchers believe that the technology may not be the defining factor in the separation: the independent and customized learning programs that online learning tends to emphasize probably made the difference.

3.College students are less empathetic: This study garnered lots of media attention when it was released in 2010: college students are less empathetic than students were 30 years ago. Scientific American pointed to the study as a kind of proof for backing the "Generation Me" epidemic that has spread thanks to social media sites, which allow people to feel more disconnected to actual circumstances and people’s feelings. The 30-year study was presented at the Association for Psychological Science, and scientists found that levels of empathy had declined about 40% over the entire time period, with the most dramatic drop occurring in the last nine years.

4.Cyberbullying in college: Parents and kids across the country have seen a spike in bullying cases and cyberbullying episodes, but college students living on campus aren’t removed from the problem, either. Baylor University doctoral student Ikuko Aoyama conducted a study on sex differences in cyberbullying and bullying at the college level. Ikuko proposed that since so many middle and high schoolers participate in bullying — even as victims bullying back, a trend made easier thanks to social media and virtual websites — they will continue their behavior in college.

5.Women are underrepresented in academia: This 2004 study was actually the first ever "comprehensive national analysis of college faculty positions held by female and minority males at the nation’s top math, science and engineering departments," which makes the findings of the study less surprising. It seems that women and minorities weren’t even given enough attention or support to answer claims of prejudice or unfairness in hiring practices until the study was conducted. Led by University of Oklahoma chemistry professor Dr. Donna Nelson, the study concluded that between 3 and 15% of full professors at the nation’s top engineering and science departments were women. While the number of women who have been pursuing doctorate degrees in the last 20 years has increased dramatically, they’re not being rewarded with the top jobs in academia.

6.Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity: Alcohol has been a big problem for campuses, students, public health campaigns, and the higher education system in general, but a study conducted between 1998-2005 revealed some scary statistics about how deadly alcohol can be for college students. Conducted by doctors and scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the study found that alcohol-related unintentional injury deaths increased for the college set (ages 18-24) 3% per 100,000 from 1998-2005. Driving under the influence of alcohol increased between 7 and 9% proportionally, and between 1999-2005; the students who admitted drinking five or more drinks on one occasion within the last month increased from 41.7% to 44.7%. By age group, most increases occurred within the 21-24 set, within the legal drinking age.

7.STDs are most common college student threat: After some of the previous research studies we listed, you might think that bullying, binge drinking, or drinking and driving are the biggest threats to college students, but in fact, it’s STDs. A 2005 study conducted by Scholly, Katz, Gascoigne and Holck followed undergraduate students at four American universities. They found that 80% of the students they followed "had at least one sexual partner during the preceding year." Because another study — conducted by the department of Health Sciences at Columbia University — found that 20-25% of college students around the U.S. have or have transmitted an STD, the findings from Scholly, Katz, Gascoigne and Holck’s research are especially worrisome. If 80% of students are having sex, and nearly a quarter of them have STDs, you can imagine how fast HPV and chlamydia are spreading.

8.Students are more narcisstic: College students aren’t just less empathetic, they’re also way more full of themselves, this study found. San Diego State University Professor Jean Twenge led the study asked over 16,000 college students to fill out evaluations between 1982 and 2006. The forms, called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, found steady increases in the responses of students, but by 2006, "two-thirds of the students had above-average scores," meaning they responded very positively to statements like, "I think I am a special person." Credited culprits? Professors named everything from social media and YouTube to the popular nursery rhyme, "Frere Jacques."

9.Students don’t think binge drinking is a problem: While researchers found in one of our previously listed studies that more college students are binge drinking today, this study found that students don’t seem to get why it’s an issue. With participation and support from The Century Council and the Ad Council, researchers discovered that college students don’t "buy into the commonly used five drink/four drink definition" or even the idea of binge drinking, reports CampusSafetyMagazine.com. Students don’t tend to count standard drinks, either, and don’t respond to scare tactics or even peer messages in advertising: bad news for the councils that want to create effective campaigns to lower drinking levels.

10.Students estimate that they drink more than they really do: Another alcohol-related study actually found that students estimate that they drink more than they really do, or at least come closer to the actual amount than researchers previously gave them credit for. While some of the findings from the previous study seem to hold true here — that students don’t count standard drinks and generally pour drinks that "are way too big" — this 2005 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research discovered that students correctly estimated their BAC, which was then taken by breathalyzer for an exact calculation. One hundred four males and forty-eight females participated in the study, proving to researchers that college students are pretty good at understanding just how drunk they really are, no matter how many drinks — or drinks-and-a-half — they’ve had.

From here.

Quote of the Week - Os Guinness

“The Christian Church in the West has never seen such a level of apostasy and heresy as seen in the United States. The Episcopal Church is the greatest disgrace in Christian history and it is being led down the path by so called Christian leadership." - Os Guinness at Laussanne Congress

Why We Can't Legislate Morality

“You can’t legislate morality” has become a common turn of phrase. The truth, however, is that every law and regulation that is proposed, passed, and enforced has inherent in it some idea of the good that it seeks to promote or preserve. Indeed, no governing authority can in any way be understood to be morally neutral. Those who think such a chimerical understanding is possible could hardly be more wrong. For, in fact, the opposite is true: You cannot not legislate morality.

It is of course true that some laws will be better conceived than others, and many may fail entirely to achieve their purpose. But that they have a purpose, and that the purpose includes at least an implicit moral element, is incontrovertible. One need only ask of any law or action of government, “What is the law for?” The answer at some point will include a conception of what is good for the community in which the law holds. The inversion of the question makes the point even more clearly. What would provide a rationale for a law or governmental action apart from a moral purpose?

Read it all here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Little Girls Not Protected by Yemeni Marriage Law

SANA’A, Oct. 31 — Members of parliament from different political parties jumped at each other with sticks and shoes during a heated debate on the minimum age of marriage.

This debate took place during a parliamentary session on Wednesday Oct. 27 which was to vote on the controversial article No. 15 about the minimum age of marriage in the Personal Status Law.

“Now discussion of this issue is postponed indefinitely,” said MP Zaid Al-Shami of the conservative opposition Islah Party.

This article includes the latest amendments to the law which stipulates that girls can only be married after they reach puberty, but does not include penalties if the opposite occurs.

“Thank God the new amendment isn’t approved in the parliament,” said Hooria Mashhour, deputy chair of the Women's National Committee, the government body responsible for women’s issues.

She explained that the current amendment gives the authority to the father to have his daughter married off at any age, but gives her the right to cancel the marriage once she reaches puberty.

“They say it is only a marriage contract on paper and the actual consummating of the marriage will happen only if the girls are old enough for sexual intercourse. But what really happens is that the husband takes his wife to bed regardless of her age,” she said.

Al-Shami played down the issue of early marriage in Yemen, and said that these debates are only a distraction from the more important needs Yemeni women have such as education and health care.

“Around 70 percent of Yemeni women are illiterate, and 50 percent of primary health care services do not reach women. And in some villages women do not inherit which is against Islamic law,” he added. “Still all women of all ages should not be married unless they consent to the marriage according to Islamic jurisprudence, and consent should be the issue here not age.”

Yemen along with Saudi Arabia are the only Islamic countries who have not yet legislated a minimum age for marriage. Although like in Yemen, there have been debates in Saudi Arabia on this issue. According to a June 2010 BBC report, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has promised new measures after a series of high profile cases involving young brides.

In Yemen, the issue made international headlines when Nujood Ali was married off in 2008 when she was only nine years old.

Yemen signed The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1984. The CEDAW mentions the right to protection from child marriage in article 16, which states: "The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage.”

"While marriage is not considered directly in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child marriage is linked to other rights – such as the right to express their views freely, the right to protection from all forms of abuse, and the right to be protected from harmful traditional practices – and is frequently addressed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child,” continued the convention.

Although Yemen ratified this convention, Yemeni law doesn’t define a minimum age of marriage. Due to media hype on the issue of Nujood, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood proposed 18 as the minimum age for marriage for both boys and girls.

In February 2009, almost one year after Nujood’s case, the law went to the parliament for discussion. The Woman's National Committee, which is the government organization responsible for women’s issues, made new amendments on the article and has been promoting it in the parliament.

The proposal defines the minimum marriage age at 17 for men and women. The proposal also defines penalties for those who marry their daughters under 17, and for the husband as well. The Minister of Justice approved the proposal and passed it to the parliament for discussion.

“The Justice Minister approved the proposal as a whole, but when it reached the parliament the points about the penalties disappeared,” said Mashhour.

After debates in parliament the article was passed at 17 years old only to be cancelled the next day by 23 parliamentarians who complained that the voting process was not legal.

One of those is MP Al-Shami who said that a girl is ready to be married off right after reaching puberty if she has a “completely grown physique.”
From here.

Obama's Silence on Kashmir Angers JKLF

SRINAGAR, Nov 9: Leaders in Indian-held Kashmir on Tuesday accused US President Barack Obama of double standards for criticising India`s silence on rights abuses in Myanmar but ignoring oppression in the disputed Himalayan region.

“The US president should have also criticised Indians for killing innocent and unarmed protesters in Kashmir,” said Javed Mir, a senior leader of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

“Here we also have peaceful protests that have been met with brute force but Obama chose to remain silent on that,” said Mir, a militant-turned-politician.

During an address to India`s parliament on Monday, Obama chided his hosts for repeatedly having “shied away” from condemning rights abuses in countries like Myanmar. “When peaceful democratic movements are suppressed, as they have been in Burma (Myanmar), then the democracies of the world cannot remain silent,” he said.

“For it is unacceptable to gun down peaceful protesters,” he added.

Kashmiri leaders like Mir argued that Obama`s description was a perfect fit for the recent unrest in Indian-held Kashmir which saw 100 people killed in street protests — most of them shot dead by security forces.

“We are sad he chose to remain silent on grave human rights violations being committed by Indian troops in Kashmir,” said influential politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

From here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cardinals to Discuss Anglicanorum coetibus

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has convened a meeting of the world’s cardinals to discuss a wide range of topics, including clerical sex abuse and religious freedom around the world.

The “day of reflection and prayer” will take place at the Vatican’s synod hall Nov. 19, the day before the pope presides over a consistory to create 24 new cardinals, a Vatican statement said Nov. 8.

In the past, Pope Benedict has participated in such sessions, listening carefully and summarizing the main points at the end of the meeting.

The morning session will begin with discussion of the situation of religious freedom in the world and the new challenges being faced, with an introductory talk by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state. Recent problems faced by Christian minorities were a major topic at the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

The cardinals will then take up the question of “Liturgy in the life of the church today,” with introductory remarks by Cardinal Antonio Canizares, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The afternoon session will hear three reports. Cardinal-designate Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will speak on the 10th anniversary of “Dominus Iesus,” the doctrinal congregation’s 2000 statement that underscored the unique and universal salvation offered by Christ through his church.

Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will then address the topic, “The response of the church to cases of clerical sex abuse.” In the wake of new disclosures of sex abuse by clergy, particularly in Europe, Pope Benedict has called for the church to undergo a period of penitence, humility and “sincerity” to restore trust.

Cardinal Levada will also report on the 2009 document “”, which established a special structure under which groups of Anglicans can enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while preserving aspects of their Anglican spiritual and liturgical heritage.

From here.