Posts tagged with: The New York Times

crane collapse meccaLongtime Acton University lecturer (and author of “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”) Mustafa Akyol discusses the recent tragic deaths at Mecca in The New York Times. More to the point, Akyol talks about the fatalism which seems inherent in Islamic theology.

More than 100 people died when a crane collapsed in Mecca earlier this month. While Saudi Arabian authorities spoke of negligence on the part of the crane operators, the company itself seemed to be absolved of guilt:

The technicians that operated the crane, the Saudi Binladen Group, had an easy way out. One of them spoke to the press and simply said: ‘What happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God.’


city lightsWhat’s the purpose of lighting in a large city? That may seem like the a fine example of a stupid question, but it’s not. While we could answer that question with suggestions like safety, allowing for extended commercial hours and ease of travel, lighting may now be used as a way to collect data on private citizens.

Using a combination of LEDs and big data technology, public lighting is the potential backbone of a system that could use billions of fixtures to collect data about traffic congestion at an intersection or a consumer walking down the cereal aisle, to name just a couple of applications.

What’s being called “intelligent environment” means lighting won’t simply be hardware but software, collecting data on everything from traffic congestion to gunshots to tracking a particular shopper in a grocery store. (more…)

Speaking to the New York Times, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, Acton Institute president and co-founder, addresses the potential political fallout from the Pope’s encyclical statements on climate change:

From the moment he steps into that chamber and talks about climate change, it’s going to be taken as a political statement,” said the Rev. Robert Sirico, executive director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a policy group that endorses free-market economics. “For the conservatives, it’s going to be very uncomfortable. Republicans are going to have a hard time on the environment.

Read “Pope’s Views on Climate Change Add Pressure to Catholic Candidates” in the New York Times.

poorbox1For those in poverty, or those simply facing tough times, churches are often places they turn to for help. It may be organized aid: soup kitchens and food pantries. It may be a gas card given to a single mom who is struggling to get from one pay day to another. But if that help comes with merely a handout, and no spiritual support, is the church failing the poor?

Ross Douthat says so. In his May 16 column for The New York Times, Douthat first takes to task the “progressive” claim that churches are too focused on hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and not enough on really helping people.

Over the last 30 years,” Harvard’s Robert Putnam told The Washington Post, “most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for … It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”

President Obama’s version, delivered when he shared a stage with Putnam at Georgetown University, was nuanced but similar in thrust: “Despite great caring and concern,” the president remarked, when churches pick “the defining issue” that’s “really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians,” fighting poverty is often seen as merely “nice to have” compared to “an issue like abortion.”

It would be too kind to call these comments wrong; they were ridiculous.


exploding xmas puddingWe all know it’s easy to get unhinged this time of year. It can be the overload of “How am I ever going to get everything for everybody on my list between now and Christmas and still sleep?” to “Which side of the family are we going to anger this year, since we can’t be everywhere at once?” to “You need HOW MANY cookies for the school party tomorrow?”

Christmas – the day Christians celebrate the coming of the God-Made-Man, Emmanuel – can turn very quickly from revelry to unraveled.

What to do? If you’re Arthur Brooks, you talk to a guru in India. (more…)

Blog author: ehilton
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

doctor bagMy mother, a registered nurse, worked for years for our small town doctor. She would drive around the countryside, going to check on elderly folks or those who didn’t drive. We had a number of people who came to our house regularly for things like allergy shots. She kept their vials of medication, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls and syringes in our kitchen cupboard. The doctor (who was the sort to exchange his services for things like eggs and fresh meat) gave me my kindergarten physical in his living room.

While this might seem like Norman Rockwell, misty-eyed nostalgia, there’s one thing for sure: this doctor and my mom knew their patients really well. They knew their concerns, their histories: not just medical, but in all aspects of their life. Given a choice, isn’t this the kind of medical care most of us would choose for ourselves and our families? (more…)

jerusalem-synagogue-attackWhat just happened in Jerusalem?

Two Palestinian men armed with axes, meat cleavers, and a pistol, entered a synagogue complex in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday morning and killed four rabbis, one from the UK and three from United States (all had dual-citizenship in Israel). Israeli police killed the assailants in a gun battle that critically wounded one officer. 

According to the New York Times, relatives identified the attackers as two cousins, Odai Abed Abu Jamal, 22, and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, 32.

What was the motive for the attack?

According to the relatives of the killers, they were motivated by what they saw as threats to the revered plateau that contains al-Haram al-Sharif (known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism) and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Orthodox Jewish campaigners in Israel have increasingly been challenging the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the Temple Mount. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site.

too many childrenSandra Fluke, the young woman who testified before Congress that she needed someone (you) to pay for her birth control, lost her bid for Senate in California. She was pushing for “progressive change,” which meant, in part, that someone (you) would be paying for lots of birth control. No one should be without. No questions asked.

Unless, of course, you want to have children – more than  your fair share. Or if you’re poor. Or not American. In these cases, there’s a problem.

Nicholas Kristof, in The New York Times, is throwing around words like “bewildered” and “nuts” when it comes to keeping certain people from getting pregnant. We simply aren’t doing enough to stop them. Globally, he says, we’re under-investing in getting birth control to the developing world. Here in the U.S., Kristof says, we need to get long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) into young people, fast. (Never mind that LARCs are more expensive in the long run and have hideous side effects for many women.) (more…)

eparulesThe New York Times has a new articled titled “Religious Conservatives Embrace Proposed E.P.A. Rules” that raises the question: are the Times’ editors irredeemably biased or are they just not all that bright?

Presumably, you have to be smart to work for the Times, right? So it must be another example of what my friend and former Get Religion boss Terry Mattingly calls “Kellerism.” Mattingly coined the term Kellerism in homage to former Times editor Bill Keller, who said that the basic rules of journalism no longer apply to coverage of religious, moral, and cultural issues.

Unabashed Kellerism can be the only explanation for using a headline about religious conservatives embracing EPA rules on a story in which not a single religious conservative is quoted as supporting the proposed new EPA rules.

Let’s look at who they try to pass off as “religious conservatives”:

smart piggyChristopher Blattman, an associate professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, thinks giving cash to the poor is a good idea. Not free meals, not tickets to redeem for food, but cash. And it just might work.

Blattman writes in The New York Times of the experience of giving cash to the poor. The knee-jerk reaction to this idea is, “Well, they’re just gonna waste it.” But Blattman finds evidence to the contrary.

Globally, cash is a major tool to fight extreme poverty. The United Nations is handing out ATM cards to Syrian refugees alongside sacks of grain. The evidence suggests these cash programs work. There have been randomized trials of cash grants to poor Mexican families, Kenyan villagers, Malawian schoolgirls and many others. The results show that sometimes people just eat better or live in better homes. Often, though, they start businesses and earn more.