Archived Posts May 2013 » Page 4 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

AllAfrica.com published a press release from the Guttmacher Institute, the research division of Planned Parenthood, summarizing a new study that “the poorest countries are lagging far behind higher-income developing countries in meeting the demand for modern contraception. Between 2003 and 2012, the total number of women wanting to avoid pregnancy and in need of contraception increased from 716 million to 867 million, with growth concentrated among women in the 69 poorest countries where modern method use was already very low.”

Around the developing world, “Roughly three-quarters (73%) of the 222 million women in developing countries who want to avoid a pregnancy but are not using a modern method now live in the poorest countries, compared with 67% in 2003,” according to the report. “Furthermore, women in the poorest countries who want to avoid pregnancy are one-third as likely to be using a modern method as those living in higher-income developing countries.” Thankfully, between 2003 and 2012, “there was a shift away from sterilization (declining from 47% to 38% of all modern method use in developing countries) toward methods with higher failure rates, namely barrier methods (increasing from 7% to 13%) and injectables (from 6% to 9%).”

For those who value human dignity, this is actually good news. The “lagging behind” of birth control availability and success is the greatest hope for the developing world. In addition to the rule of law and sustained property rights, what Africa needs is more people, not less, in order for many countries to build the types of sustainable economies that allow real needs to be met in the long-run. In Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II explains why:
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As part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) “Fortnight For Freedom” campaign, the USCCB has enumerated a number of threats to Americans’ religious liberty. Besides the on-going battle with the Obama Administration regarding the HHS mandate and the gutting of funding to Catholic programs that fight human trafficking, the bishops want us to be aware of these perils to religious liberty:church-state[1]

    • Catholic foster care and adoption services.  Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the State of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services—by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
    • State immigration laws.  Several states have recently passed laws that forbid what they deem as “harboring” of undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and pastoral care to these immigrants.
    • Discrimination against small church congregations.  New York City adopted a policy that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for many other uses.  Litigation in this case continues.

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    IRS-300x300Adopting a child can be a laborious, time-consuming, and expensive process. So why is the IRS trying to make it even more laborious, time-consuming, and expensive? As David French notes, in 2012, the IRS requested additional information from 90 percent of returns claiming the adoption tax credit and went on to actually audit 69 percent:

    So Congress implemented a tax credit to facilitate adoption – a process that is so extraordinarily expensive that it is out of reach for many middle-class families — and the IRS responded by implementing an audit campaign that delayed much-needed tax refunds to the very families that needed them the most. Oh, and the return on its investment in this harassment? Slightly more than 1 percent.

    This audit wave got almost no media coverage, but what was the experience like for individual families? In a word, grueling. Huge document requests with short turnaround times were followed by lengthy IRS delays in processing, all with no understanding for the unique documentation challenges of international adoption.

    Read more . . .

    (Via: HotAir)

    People with autism frequently have a difficult time socially: they don’t always pick up on social “cues” most of us take for granted such as vocal inflections, facial expressions, gestures and maintaining eye contact. In terms of finding suitable jobs, this can be an obstacle. However, there are entrepreneurs who actively seek out the autistic as employees.autism ribbon

    Thorkil Sonne of Denmark is the founder of a software testing company, Specialisterne. His company

    uses their special skills to out-perform the market and offer an often isolated group of people opportunities for active, productive lives. Attention to detail, precision, and unerring focus are qualities that come bundled with the disabilities of autism and make autistic people particularly adept in certain fields. Autistic individuals have markedly different vocational needs than other developmentally disabled people, and Thorkil is providing a working environment where their skills are capitalized upon and it is “normal” to have autism.

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    Blog author: jcarter
    posted by on Thursday, May 23, 2013

    State Dept. urged to list key rel. liberty violators
    Tom Strode, Baptist Press

    The U.S. State Department disappointed religious freedom advocates by again failing to designate in its latest annual report the world’s worst violators of the human right.

    Prager University Debunks Myths Surrounding Separation of Church and State Meme
    Christian Toto, Breitbart.com

    The so-called “separation of Church and State” is invoked so often it might as well appear on the dollar bill.

    Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun
    Fr. Gregory, Koinonia

    While recognising war as evil, the Church does not prohibit her children from participating in hostilities if at stake is the security of their neighbours and the restoration of trampled justice.

    No More Church Evictions from Public Schools, Says New York City Council
    Jeremy Weber, Christianity Today

    Long-running legal standoff over churches renting Sunday worship space in schools has been on hold since last June.

    What a sweet spectacle it is to observe Rome’s pastel-colored cityscape and glowing white marble churches from above St. Peter’s Basilica just before sunset. But this is not what one Italian entrepreneur had in mind late Monday evening and years since experiencing any kind of dolce vita in his native land.

    According to local press reports, around 6:00 pm on May 20, Vatican police and tourists discovered a businessman from Trieste, Marcello Finizio, atop the massive dome of St. Peter’s, the one famously redesigned by Michelangelo to awe the millions of visitors to Rome each year.

    Clinging to an upper window ledge and support cable, he unfurled a white banner with Italian and English words of protest and plea:
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    Alejandro Chafuen, board member of the Acton Institute and a contributor to Forbes.com, has recently written an op/ed asking, “Will think tanks become the universities of the 21st century?” He says that “think tanks and the academy in all likelihood, were united at birth.” and that “Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs, are affecting universities as few other developments in the history of education. [He] would not be surprised if taking advantage of this technology some of the major think tanks, especially those with outstanding scholars on their staff, will soon develop into small boutique universities.” Chafuen also lists several U.S. think tanks that are working on university type programs, including Acton University:

    • The Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, has been hosting their Mises University since 1986.  The one week course focuses on Austrian economics.
    • Cato Institute has its Cato University, usually taking place at the end of July.
    • A recent entrant to this market, the Acton University, organized by the Acton Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Last year it attracted close to 800 students and professors from approximately 80 countries.   It is the most international free society educational program in history.
    • The Atlas Network hosts a Think Tank MBA course for talented intellectual entrepreneurs, as well as a “leadership academy”  as an online course to help enhance think tank talent.

    He concludes with this thought:

    The new global scene and the new technologies are changing the optimum size of educational institutions.   The lessons from Plato’s Academy, which took place in a garden grove near Athens, had an enormous impact on civilization.  The evolving scene in higher education and the growth of think tanks will lead to new educational offerings that will have a major impact on the quality and quantity of policy studies and public policy education.

    Unfortunately registration for Acton University is closed, but you can check out AU Online.  The foundational courses are free!

    Even before America became a republic, Americans have opened public meetings with prayer. The Supreme Court even acknowledged this fact thirty years ago in the case of Marsh v. Chambers. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Burger said, “From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.”

    But the “ever since” may soon be coming to an end.
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    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal government’s “food stamp” program, is symptomatic of America’s current view of the role of government, says Elise Hilton. It is there to take care of our every need. Hilton notes that the government is actively recruiting people for SNAP, in a heady mix of money, entitlement, and big government. The full text of her essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

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    The plight of Syrian Christians is well-documented, and includes the kidnapping of two Syrian bishops. In an address to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this week, Dr. Mary Mikhael of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria, said Syrian Christians are “exhausted” from the strain of life in that nation.

    She said there was no Arab Spring for the people of Syria but ‘only a stormy dark winter’. In particular, she expressed concern that there would soon be no Christian presence in the country. ‘The tragedy is getting bigger day by day … Now the big question is about our future.’

    Dr Bernard Sabella, executive secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches reminded those at the synod that Christians were not the only religious group facing persecution, and expressed concern that religious groups would flee the area all together.

    Read “Syrian churches are ‘exhausted’ ” at Christian Today.