Sermons, Liturgies, Prayers, and Articles from a progressive/post-liberal theological perspective.
Click HERE to see the interview full size and read Peter Kirkwood’s article on eureka.com out of Australia
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Conservative Christian Teenagers Prepare for Politics Generation Joshua, a program run by homeschooling advocates, aims to get young people working to “help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations.”
By ROBERT KUNZMAN
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Posted: 07/10/2012 8:03 pm Updated: 07/10/2012 11:43 pm
Sixteen years after first allowing gays and lesbians to become priests and nine years after electing its first gay bishop, the Episcopal Church on Tuesday became the largest Christian denomination in the U.S. to offer religious blessings to same-sex couples.
The monumental decision, approved by a thick margin at the church’s triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, means that priests in the 1.9 million-member church can officiate blessings to same-sex couples who are in long-term relationships beginning in December.
The church’s House of Deputies voted 171 to 41, with nine people saying they were divided, to support a same-sex blessings liturgy that will be used during a three-year trial before the church meets again and decides if it should be permanent. The deputies’ vote was done in two parts, with lay members approving the blessings by 78 percent and clergy members approving by 76 percent.
The vote followed Monday’s decision by the church’s House of Bishops supporting the measure by a 111 to 41, with three abstentions. Both groups have to approve new legislation.
Some Episcopal bishops currently allow same-sex blessings in their dioceses, but many have said they will not allow them unless the church has an official liturgy — the words exchanged between a couple and a priest during the ceremony.
The new liturgy will not be mandatory. Bishops who do not approve of same-sex relationships will be allowed to bar its use in their dioceses. Priests who choose to not perform same-sex ceremonies will not face discipline.
The liturgy does not represent a religious marriage — the church defines marriage as being between a man and a woman — though some clergy in states that allow civil marriage officiate secular marriages in their churches.
During debate on Tuesday, many members of the church spoke in favor of same-sex blessings, while fewer spoke against them.
Church could see women ordained as bishops by 2014, but critics warn draft legislation contains a compromise too far
Lizzy Davies, The Guardian, 6 July 2012The Venerable Rachel Treweek, archdeacon of Hackney, will leave east London for York tomorrow with mixed feelings and a heavy heart. This weekend’s gathering of the General Synod was supposed to be historic: the moment at which the Church of England would finally, after decades of struggle and division, pass legislation that permitted women to become bishops.
Instead of rejoicing, however, Treweek and many other supporters of the cause now find themselves in a very peculiar position. The legislation they fought so hard for is due to be presented for final approval and, if it is passed, the church could see women consecrated to the episcopate by 2014.
But Treweek is hoping for an adjournment and is dreading the possibility that the final vote will be held. Because, if it comes down to it, she will vote against.
“I cannot tell you – even sitting here now, I can feel it – how painful that feels,” she says, in the low-lit quiet of St Anne’s church in Hoxton. “I feel I have to hold the line of my integrity. It would be very easy to say: ‘Oh, let’s all just vote in favour and get this through.’… But I think it’s very unlikely that I would press the yes button because of that place of integrity.”
Until May, the draft legislation on female bishops met with the approval of people such as Treweek. A two-clause measure that sought to open the episcopate to women at the same time as providing for those who remain adamantly opposed to the idea, it had been approved by 42 of 44 dioceses (although not, to her chagrin, Treweek’s own: the diocese of London voted against).
Although a compromise, it was viewed by many to be the least bad one in a church where fudges are a standard vehicle for change.
Then it all started to unravel. In May, the House of Bishops made two amendments to the legislation, one of which supporters say would enshrine discrimination against women in law. It is this clause – the now infamous 5(1)c – which prompted a group of senior female clergy to write to members of the General Synod expressing their “deep dismay” and hope that an adjournment would be reached that would allow for the offending passage to be looked at again.
“I’ve spent quite a long time trying to make myself feel it was voteable for so that we could just get on with things,” said the Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, chaplain at University College, Durham, of 5(1)c. “For the last few weeks, I’ve been really very upset – prone to bursting into tears.
“But I feel a bit calmer now. I’ve realised I just can’t do that; I haven’t got that dilemma any more. It’s just completely unacceptable to institutionalise discrimination against women in that way.”
CAMPBELL CLARK, The Globe and Mail, Jul. 04 2012A group of nine senators has warned the United Church of Canada that it could spark a rift with the Jewish community if it approves the boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in occupied lands.
The senators, all United Church members and from both the Conservative and Liberal parties, have waded publicly into a controversial issue before it comes to a vote in mid-August.
It’s a debate in which the lines between church and state have already been crossed several times as the United Church considers a new foray into the electrified world of Mideast politics.
A working group established by the church has issued a report that proposes a boycott of all products from Jewish settlements in occupied lands, arguing the settlements are illegally eating away Palestinian lands and the hope for a two-state solution. But it also rejects a wholesale boycott of all Israeli goods.
The nine senators have warned in a letter to United Church moderator Mardi Tindal that the distinction drawn with the narrower boycott will “be lost upon” Israelis and Canada’s Jewish community.
“What will be made clear to them is that the United Church has chosen sides, declaring Israel guilty and the Palestinians the only injured party,” the senators wrote.
Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth noted that she has no objection to the church wading into weighty international politics, but fears that members of the Jewish community will see itself as being singled out by an anti-Israel-sentiment.
“I’d say it’s a matter of diplomacy,” she said. “I don’t think it will be helpful for Jewish-Christian relations.
The church’s working group said it struggled with that issue. But its report maintained that arguments about the complexity of affairs in the Middle East are not an excuse for silence.
Staff, July 3, 2012 by Common Dreams“This is just the beginning,” warns Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, of what life with the impacts of climate change will look like. His message follows a week in which 2000 heat records were matched or broken and the month of June in which over 3200 heat records were matched or broken.
Yet during that time, with little exception, there was no mention of climate change during weather broadcasts in which viewers were told to expect little relief from steamy temperatures.
Speaking on Democracy Now! on Tuesday, Masters said, “I think it’s important for the public to hear that what we’re seeing now is the future. We’re going to be seeing a lot more weather like this, a lot more impacts like we’re seeing from this series of heatwaves, fires and storms. And we better prepare for it. We better educate people what’s going on, give the best science that’s out there on what climate change is doing and where it’s likely to head. I think we’re missing a big opportunity here—or our TV meteorologists are—to educate and tell the population what is likely to happen. This is just the beginning, this kind of summer weather we’re having.”
Like Masters, scientist and former TV host Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” connected the dots of extreme weather and climate change on The Ed Show on Monday. “The last 16 years have been the hottest ever, and so this is consistent with models of climate change. The big hurricanes are consistent with models of climate change. The big storms. The dehydration of the forest in Colorado and the forest fires are consistent with models of climate change.”
“This is a chance for us all to pull together and address climate change,” said Nye.
Last week, even before record heat and storms struck much of the nation this weekend, several scientists confirmed — this is what we’ve been telling you would happen with climate change.
“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”
LES PERREAUX, The Globe and Mail, Jul. 03 2012The announcement was described as a national embarrassment, the crass political manoeuvre of a desperate Quebec government trying to hold on to a Liberal seat at the cost of public health.
Critics lined up with speed and in number on the long weekend to blast Premier Jean Charest for green-lighting a $58-million loan to Canada’s last asbestos mine late on the Friday of the unofficial start of summer vacation season.
The loan stunned environmentalists, the medical community and cancer-fighting groups while promoters of the controversial relaunch of the Jeffrey Mine were more difficult to find. Even the province’s own public-health doctors are outraged.
Mr. Charest “has good reason to be ashamed,” said Yv Bonnier Viger, head of Quebec’s association of public-health specialists. “He is relaunching the exploitation of an extremely dangerous material that will cause the suffering and death of thousands of people in poor countries, at only marginal benefit to a desperate community.”
The province, led by retiring minister and local Liberal member of the legislature, Yvon Vallières, announced the loan and reopening before hundreds of thrilled residents of the economically depressed town of Asbestos.
Bernard Coulombe, the mine’s president and tireless promoter, had worked for years to find private investors willing to put in the balance of the $83-million start-up cost. “It was not easy to convince partners to work with us,” he said, adding that the mine will run 20 years on the investment.
Kathleen Ruff, an activist who has fought against government funding for the mine for years, said there was good reason for the difficulty: “The marketplace had spoken, this mine can only survive with artificial government life support.”
GENEVA Scientists working at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have gathered enough evidence to show that the long-sought “God particle” answering fundamental questions about the universe almost certainly does exist.
But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, say they aren’t quite ready to say they’ve “discovered” the particle.
Instead, experts familiar with the research at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson — all but proving it exists — but doesn’t allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed.
It appears to be a fine distinction. Senior CERN scientists say that the two independent teams of physicists who plan to present their work at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border on July 4 are about as close as you can get to a discovery without actually calling it one.
“I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, ‘It looks like a discovery,’” British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King’s College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. “We’ve discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs.”
CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to help them understand suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.
For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed.
By Frank Cocozzelli, Talk to Action, 25 June 12In recent weeks we’ve watched the Vatican try to stifle a vital part of the Catholic Church: the nuns. Indeed, the Church fathers seem to have become quite unhinged in their efforts to quiet women who have dedicated their lives not only to Catholicism, but to betterment of all.
Why is this? Its simply because the good Sisters have the ability to redirect the Church to a place where conservative men do not want to go.
Chris Hedges once wrote “faith is how we treat each other.” Perhaps no other group of Catholics embodies Hedges’ definition of faith than the various orders of Catholic nuns. The women’s orders and individual nuns perform a wide range of services; from teaching in parochial schools; to providing health care; to making great contributions in theology. It has often been nuns who reported their suspicions of priestly pedophilia and forced transparency in how these matters were handled.
Nuns have also been at the forefront of a potential Catholic remonstrance. Is it any wonder that the hierarchy and their friends on the Catholic Right are trying to reign them in?
The Vatican has revealed itself in the current spectacle as more reactionary than conservative. Even the suggestion of discussing progressive takes on dogma is often denounced as heresy. Arguably, moderate and liberal Catholics live in a new reign of terror whose principal players are Bernard Law, disgraced former Boston Cardinal; Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; and well-placed, movement conservative-friendly bishops and cardinals in cities such as Madison, Wisconsin, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
These clerics apparently recognize that the nuns could become a rallying point and potential leadership for reform for those of us unhappy with the turn away from Vatican II’s Aggiornamento – “bringing up to date” that has occurred since the ascendancy of Pope John Paul II.
In fact, that is exactly how many of us who oppose the reactionary doctrine and culture trickling down from the hierarchy see the nuns’ potential for leadership. They are not a dissident lay group such as Call to Action, but part of the institutional Church. It would be a change from within.
While many in the hierarchy are courting reactionary movements such as Opus Dei and SSPX, groups that seek a more insulated, doctrinaire – and smaller Church.
But the sisters toil in the real world; rubbing elbows with everyday people; dealing with the grey issues of life. This provides them with perspectives sorely missing in the Vatican, notably women’s points of view. The nuns understand pregnancy; they understand glass ceilings; they live with being marginalized by gender. And they see how related injustices play out in the lives of real people.
Post by ANDREW AGHAPOUR, Religion Dispatches, June 6, 2012Two recent events portray creationism debates in very different settings. First, Nature reports that a creationist organization in South Korea has successfully campaigned to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks. The Society for Textbook Revise (STR) petitioned South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to make these revisions, and ministry allegedly deferred judgment to textbook publishers who yielded to the demands.
The petition was just one in a series of public campaigns by the creationist movement in South Korea. In 2008, for example, the Korea Association for Creation Research created an exhibition at a popular South Korean amusement park which, they claim, attracted more than 116,000 visitors in three months. More recently, the STR began an effort to publically contest evolutionary theory by highlighting scientific discord over the lineage of particular species, such as Archaeopteryx. Nature noted that this is indicative of a larger trend:
In a 2009 survey conducted for the South Korean documentary The Era of God and Darwin, almost one-third of the respondents didn’t believe in evolution. Of those, 41% said that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support it; 39% said that it contradicted their religious beliefs; and 17% did not understand the theory.
Interestingly, a recent survey of trainee teachers indicates that 40% of South Korean biology teachers agreed with the statement that “much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs.”
These numbers are within range of the United States, where creationism is even more popular. According to a poll released Friday by Gallup, 46% of Americans agree with the statement that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” 32% believe that human beings evolved with God’s guidance; 15% say that humans evolved and that God had no part in the process.
Good News Clubs’ evangelism in schools is already subverting church-state separation. Now they justify murdering nonbelievers.
The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.
The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:
“Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.
The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. “In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors,” writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (HarperCollins).
This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly “Bible study” course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.
There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.
The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that “the Amalekites were completely defeated.” In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:
“You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.”
“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.
Many of the country’s leading companies have taken contradictory actions when it comes to climate change science while pumping a tremendous amount of resources into influencing the discussion, according to an analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
The science advocacy group examined 28 companies in the S&P 500 that participated in climate policy debates over the past several years. All of them publicly expressed concern about climate change or a commitment to reducing emissions through websites and public statements, but half (14) also misrepresented climate science in their public communications. Many more contributed to the spread of misinformation about climate science in less direct ways, such as through political contributions, trade group memberships, and think tank funding.
“Corporations’ increased ability to influence policy should come with an increased responsibility to let the public know how they are doing so,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program and a contributor to the report. “Companies may play a role in policy discussions, but right now, it’s simply far too easy for them to get away with misrepresenting science to achieve their goals.”
Utilizing an array of publicly available data, the report systematically examines how corporate influence fosters confusion on climate change. The analysis found that some American companies, including NRG Energy, Inc., NIKE, Inc. and AES Corporation, accept the findings of climate science and have taken actions in support of science-based policy. Other corporations, including Peabody Energy Corporation, Valero Energy Corporation, and FMC Corporation, have worked aggressively to undermine climate policies and have misrepresented climate science to do so.
Several companies stand out for taking contradictory actions on climate change. Caterpillar Inc., for instance, highlights its commitment to sustainability and climate change mitigation on its website. But the company also serves on the boards of two trade groups that regularly attempt to undermine public understanding of climate science: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Caterpillar also funds the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, two think tanks that have misrepresented climate science.
Similarly, ConocoPhillips says on its website that it recognizes human activity is “contributing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that can lead to adverse changes in global climate.” But in comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, the company criticized scientific evidence on the ways climate change can harm public health.
“The difference between what many of these companies say and what they actually do is quite stark,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst in the Scientific Integrity Program and a report contributor. “And because we know only limited amounts about their activities, it’s relatively simple for companies to show one face to the public and another to policymakers.”
Timothy Dolan, cardinal of New York and head of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, had his prime-time career launched by the pedophile priest scandal. Now, despite efforts to distance himself, his role in pedophile protection may come back to bite him. Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee admitted that, during Dolan’s tenure, pedophiles were paid to simply disappear.
In June of 2002, Dolan was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee after his predecessor, Rembert G. Weakland, admitted a confidential settlement of $450,000 to a man who accused Weakland of sexually assaulting him in 1979. In contrast to Weakland, Dolan was a known theological conservative with the trust of the Vatican and, despite questionable management of sexual abuse scandals in his previous position in Saint Louis, he was tasked with cleaning up the mess.
From the start, Dolan positioned himself as a victim’s advocate: “… [i]t is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation, and the suffering that victims feel, because I’ve spent the last four months being with them, crying with them, having them express their anger to me.” His response to those tears and anger, however, foreshadowed events of this winter, when Dolan had consistently argued that the church is above the law.
In the case of the pedophile priests, Dolan almost immediately set about exploring financial incentives that would encourage them to step down and fade away into the community. He emphatically denied in 2006 that this was the case. But during subsequent bankruptcy proceedings for the Milwaukee archdiocese, public documents showed that Dolan had discussed payout options with his finance committee as early as 2003. Now email from Julie Wolf, communications director for the archdiocese, confirms that pedophiles were paid up to $20,000 apiece in exchange for quietly relinquishing their positions in the church.
50 Presenters, 3 Legendary Parties, a Ton of Inspiration
ideacity, also known as ‘Canada’s Premier Meeting of the Minds’, is an eclectic gathering of artists, adventurers, authors, cosmologists, doctors, designers, entertainers, filmmakers, inventors, magicians, musicians, scientists and technologists.
Fifty of the planet’s brightest minds converge in Toronto each June to speak to a highly engaged audience. Only 600 are privileged to attend.
Produced and presented by Moses Znaimer, ideacity is not themed around any one topic, issue or business. There are no scripted speeches, breakout or parallel sessions. Rather, everyone is in one place and experiencing the same narrative.
With extra-long schmooze breaks between sessions, and legendary parties each night, attendees have had an unprecedented opportunity to mingle with such notable speakers as Conrad Black, Barbara Gowdy, Michael Ignatieff, Douglas Coupland, Pamela Wallin, Pete Seeger, Robert Kennedy Jr., John Ralston Saul, Daniel Libeskind, Clayton Ruby, Romeo Dallaire and the late Peter Jennings.
Gretta Vosper will be speaking on June 13, 2012 at 2:45pm
Climate-heating carbon emissions set a record high in 2011, in a 3.2 percent increase over the previous year, the International Energy Agency reported this week. The main reason for this dangerous increase is that governments are failing to implement policies to prevent catastrophic increases of global temperatures.
By Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service, 29 May 12
A new report released on the last days of international climate talks in Bonn, Germany this week reveals that the planet is heading to a temperature rise of at least 3.5 degrees Celsius, and likely more, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), despite an international agreement to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.
Not only are pledges inadequate, but countries are unable to fulfill even those pledges, a new CAT analysis shows. CAT is a joint project of Dutch energy consulting organisation Ecofys, Germany’s Climate Analytics, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“When we compared the emission reduction pledges of countries like Brazil, Mexico and the U.S., we found they did not have the policies in place to meet those pledges,” said Niklas Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at Ecofys.
Höhne told IPS that they looked only at the policies of a few countries, but no country’s policies were enough to meet their targets.
While Mexico introduced a solid new framework climate legislation, it has yet to implement actual policies and measures to reach its pledge, the report found. At the moment, Mexico is set to achieve only 12 percent of its pledged 30 percent reduction from business-as-usual by 2020.
Brazil has an ambitious target but a proposed new forest code, if adopted, could reverse this trend. “Scientific analysis shows that the code could increase its emissions gap substantially,” the report said.
The United States pins many of its hopes on having lower emissions by 2020 due mainly to effects of the recessions and a shift from coal to gas driven by low gas prices.
Yet regulations on coal-fired power plants and on fuel efficiency in vehicles would still leave the United States “some 350 million tonnes of CO2 short of its already inadequate pledge, a gap that is the size of half of Canada’s annual emissions,” the report found.
“We haven’t looked at Canada yet but it’s pretty clear they do not have the policies they need,” Höhne added.
Climate Talks Deadlocked
The Bonn climate talks this week saw little appetite for increasing pledges. “No country wants to move. This is not a positive trend,” Höhne said.
“The Bonn meeting underscores the deep divisions that remain between key countries on how to meet the climate challenge,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“It’s clear we have the technology, know-how, and ability to meet this challenge, but we’re missing the political will, which was in short supply during these last two weeks in Bonn,” said Meyer in a statement from Bonn. Meyer has attended nearly every climate negotiation since they began 18 years ago.
In fact, commitments to reduce emissions have been deadlocked since the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. Even if governments implemented the most stringent reductions they have proposed, world emissions would still need to decline another 9 billion tonnes by 2020 and every year after.
Meanwhile, 2011 emissions are one billion tonnes greater than 2010.
The YouTube video of 12-year-old Victoria Grant speaking at the Public Banking in America conference last month has gone viral, topping a million views on various web sites.
Monetary reform – the contention that governments, not banks, should create and lend a nation’s money – has rarely even made the news, so this is a first. Either the times they are a-changin’, or Victoria managed to frame the message in a way that was so simple and clear that even a child could understand it.
Basically, her message was that banks create money “out of thin air” and lend it to people and governments at interest. If governments borrowed from their own banks, they could keep the interest and save a lot of money for the taxpayers.
She said her own country of Canada actually did this, from 1939 to 1974. During that time, the government’s debt was low and sustainable and it funded all sorts of remarkable things. Only when the government switched to borrowing privately did it acquire a crippling national debt.
Borrowing privately means selling bonds at market rates of interest (which in Canada quickly shot up to 22 percent), and the money for these bonds is ultimately created by private banks. For the latter point, Victoria quoted Graham Towers, head of the Bank of Canada for the first twenty years of its history. He said:
Each and every time a bank makes a loan, new bank credit is created – new deposits – brand new money. Broadly speaking, all new money comes out of a Bank in the form of loans. As loans are debts, then under the present system all money is debt.
Towers was asked, “Will you tell me why a government with power to create money, should give that power away to a private monopoly and then borrow that which Parliament can create itself, back at interest, to the point of national bankruptcy?” He replied, “If Parliament wants to change the form of operating the banking system, then certainly that is within the power of Parliament.”
In other words, said Victoria, “If the Canadian government needs money, they can borrow it directly from the Bank of Canada.
Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie
Fri May 25 2012
All schools, including those in the Catholic system, would be forced to allow anti-homophobic clubs to be called gay-straight alliances” under dramatic changes to a proposed anti-bullying law.
The change of heart on the minority Liberal government’s Accepting Schools Act — which had allowed school principals a veto on names for any student club — was announced Friday afternoon by Education Minister Laurel Broten.
“We believe it’s up to the students,” she told reporters, saying it’s “important for students to have the freedom.”
The move, which has the support of the NDP, comes as an amendment to the government’s anti-bullying bill — which Broten hopes to pass before the legislature rises for its summer break June 7.
Her amendment follows legislative committee hearings on the controversial legislation, which has been a flashpoint at Queen’s Park since it was proposed following the suicides of two students last year — one gay and another with muscular dystrophy.
In a bid to curb bullying with more clout for schools to expel students who pick on others, the bill requires school boards to support student groups for “people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”
That language gave schools an escape clause when it came to naming clubs, which can be formed for any common interest or need for mutual support that students identify.
The Progressive Conservatives and some parents and religious leaders have urged the government to remove any reference to gays, lesbians or transgendered students in the bill, saying the mention infers a special status not available to other children who might be victims of bullying for other reasons.
Foreign Minister John Baird told a U.S. audience that Canada went soft on defending fundamental rights like religious freedom some time after the Second World War, but he argued the Harper government is showing a stiffer spine now.
In a speech promoting Ottawa’s plans to open an Office of Religious Freedom in the Foreign Affairs department, Mr. Baird spoke of the “moral call” that people like his grandfather answered in fighting the Second World War.
“And yet, after the war, some decision makers lost sight of our proud tradition to do what is right and what is just,” he said in a draft of the speech. “Some decided it would be better to paint Canada as an honest broker. I call it being afraid to take a clear position, even when that’s what’s needed.”
Mr. Baird was speaking to the Religious Liberty Dinner, an annual fixture on Washington’s busy political dinner schedule organized by religious-liberty associations and the Seventh Day Adventist Church – and for the first time ever, hosted at Canada’s Embassy.
Mr. Baird was invited, according to government officials, as a nod from organizers to Canada’s plans to open a $5 million-a-year Religious Freedom Office, inside Foreign Affairs, some time this year.
The plans for the office, with a projected budget half as big as its U.S. counterpart, has been criticized by some as an attempt to appeal to religious conservatives in Canada.
Mr. Baird said the office will “help our diplomats around the world support religious freedom.”
His speech argued that defending religious freedoms cannot be separated from defending other basic human rights.
Mr. Baird’s speech mentioned the persecution of religious groups including Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, Ahmadiyya Muslims, and Baha’i. But it dealt most extensively with the targeting of Jews and Christians.
By Gwynne Dyer, May 25, 2012, Embassy
Last weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago was mostly about how to get NATO troops out of Afghanistan without causing too much embarrassment to the Western governments that sent them, and a little bit about how to ensure that the Taliban don’t take over again once the Western troops leave.
The timetable for NATO’s withdrawal is now graven in stone: all Western troops will be withdrawn from actual combat by the end of 2013, and they will all be out of the country by the end of 2014 (except the French, who will all leave by December of this year).
This timetable will be adhered to no matter how the situation on the ground develops—or more likely, degrades—in the next two years. After that, it’s entirely in the Afghans’ hands.
There was some pretty rhetoric to soften this harsh fact: “As Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone,” declared President Barack Obama. But alone is exactly where they will be, although NATO is promising to send the Afghan government $4 billion a year to enable its army to stand up to the Taliban.
The Western alliance has finally accepted that if the foreign troops cannot defeat the Taliban in 11 years, they are most unlikely to do so in 13 or 15 years.
The Russians could have told them that. “Our soldiers are not to blame,” General Sergei Akhromeyev told the Soviet Politburo in 1986. “They’ve fought incredibly bravely in adverse conditions. But to occupy towns and villages temporarily has little value in such a vast land where the insurgents can just disappear into the hills.”
According to the Pentagon’s own numbers, each American soldier in Afghanistan costs about $1 million a year. Pashtun teenagers, eager to show their worth fighting against the foreigners, can be had for about $200 a month each—and there is an almost inexhaustible supply of young Pashtun males. The war was unwinnable from the start.
It may also have been unnecessary.