opm-hackLast month the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that because of a cybersecurity breach, the records of 4 million citizens had been stolen by unknown hackers. Yesterday, the OPM released its official damage assessment, and it turns out the number is much, much larger: 21.5 million, or 1 in every 15 Americans.

Despite the colossal failure, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told reporters she will not resign and won’t fire her chief information officer. In fact, the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to be holding anyone—other than the perpetrators—responsible for a leak that exposed even the records of the FBI Director James Comey. (UPDATE: Today, Archuleta decided that she will resign after all.)

“I’m sure the adversary has my SF-86 now,” said Comey. “My SF-86 lists every place I’ve ever lived since I was 18, every foreign travel I’ve ever taken, all of my family, their addresses. So it’s not just my identity that’s affected. I’ve got siblings. I’ve got five kids. All of that is in there.”

Here is what you need to know about what some have called the “cyber Pearl Harbor.”

(more…)

FLOW-house-evanAs the Acton Institute’s latest film series continues to reach churches, colleges, and communities, the positive reviews continue to pour in. Andy Crouch calls it “the best treatment of faith & culture ever put on a screen.” Byron Borger calls it “artfully expressed” and “thoughtfully inspiring.” The Gospel Coalition ranks it in the top 10 best resources of 2014.

Today on BreakPoint radio, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center calls For the Life of the World “quirky and yet compelling,” “entertaining and yet thought-provoking,” answering the basic question of whole-life stewardship and cultural restoration “better than any other resource I know”: (more…)

Soviet-era Moscow apartments

Soviet-era Moscow apartments

When it comes to urban planning, nobody beats the Soviets. First, they wanted to plan: no mish-mosh, haphazard cities, towns and burgs sprouting up like in the decadent West. Of course, structures had to address equality. No fancy neighborhoods in one area, and low-rent housing in another. And then there was functionality. Workers needed to be close to work. This eliminated the need for unnecessary and costly transportation. Soviet academic Alexei Gutnov described the planning this way:

Ideal conditions for rest and privacy are offered by the individual house situated in the midst of nature. But this is an expensive kind of well-being. . . . The villa
is the traditional retreat of the leisured minority at the top of the bourgeois society. The attempt to make the villa available to the average consumer means
building a mass of little houses, each on a tiny piece of land …’

In their rejection of the American model of suburban sprawl, Gutnov’s team specifically notes its unfeasibility in a society premised on equality.

(more…)

1849692183_Unum_xlargeFrom devastating racially-motivated murders in Charleston, South Carolina, to a contentious SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, to heightened partisan rhetoric from presidential contenders, the constant discord at all levels of society has never been more apparent. Even the a superficial analysis of the news demonstrates that much of this controversy is born out of people’s unwillingness – or alarming inability – to step into another’s shoes, understand his unique perspective, motivations and challenges, and then work together to formulate a productive response.

This lack of meaningful connections among citizens is a complex problem. It contributes to the crippling partisanship that paralyzes government, to the violence that rips apart cities from Chicago to Baltimore, and to staggering disparity between impoverished nations and those that can provide aid.

Robert Brownstein sums it up well in his recent National Journal article, noting that in many ways, America is “inverting the e pluribus formula.” Instead of “out of many, one,” he writes, “a national motto that more accurately describes our modern disaggregation would read: ‘out of one, many.’

“What binds a nation now woven with so many distinct threads? The fault lines in our diversifying society are obvious. Less apparent is our continuing convergence around shared aspirations (that each generation should live better than its predecessor) and values (among them family, community, and personal responsibility). Except during the Civil War, what unites America has always been greater than what divides us. The tragedy in Charleston offers one especially ominous measure of the risks we face if we can’t remember that powerful truth. Far more than the Founders anticipated (and perhaps preferred), we are now truly ‘many.’ That has complicated, but only made more urgent, the challenge of finding enough common cause to unite this kaleidoscope of a society as ‘one.’”

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 10, 2015
By

Vatican: ‘Communist crucifix’ sign of dialogue, not ideology
Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Bolivian President Evo Morales‘ controversial gift of a “Communist crucifix” to Pope Francis threatened to overshadow the pope’s visit to Bolivia on Thursday, with the Vatican and Bolivia both insisting that no offense was intended or taken.

Senate Dems Divided Over Revoking Charitable Tax Status of Religious Schools
John Mccormack, The Weekly Standard

On Wednesday, Richard Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, said he was unsure if he would support revoking the charitable tax status of religious schools.

Obama lets Malaysia off the hook on human trafficking to achieve free trade deal
Marc A. Thiessen, AEI Ideas

In the Washington Post last month, I pointed out that the Obama Administration and Congressional Republicans were shamefully preparing to let Malaysia off the hook for its dismal record on human trafficking in order to advance a free trade agreement. Now, Reuters reports, that prediction is coming true.

Employee Theft
David Henderson, EconLog

Harry told me that after that year, Sunoco asked him if they could hire him to write a manual telling how to run a gasoline station successfully. Harry turned them down, pointing out that the manual would be very brief. In fact, it would be four words: “Guard against employee theft.”

Martin Luther: Inventor of Austerity?

Martin Luther: Inventor of Austerity?

On the The Economist’s religion and public policy blog, the writer Erasmus pokes holes in a theory put forth by Giles Fraser, a left wing Anglican priest, who sees conflicting theories of the atonement of Christ as one of the causes of so much misunderstanding in the European Union. Erasmus explains:

… traditional Protestant and Catholic teaching has presented the self-sacrifice of Christ as the payment of a debt to God the Father. In this view, human sinfulness created a debt which simply had to be settled, but could not be repaid by humanity because of its fallen state; so the Son of God stepped in and took care of that vast obligation. For Orthodox theologians, this wrongly portrays God the Father as a sort of heavenly debt-collector who is himself constrained by some iron necessity; they prefer to see the passion story as an act of mercy by a God who is free. Over-simplifying only a little, Mr Fraser observed: “the idea that the cross is some sort of cosmic pay-back for human sin [reflects] a no-pain-no-gain obsession with suffering,” from an eastern Christian viewpoint.

Erasmus rightly describes this sort of thinking as a gross simplification. He quotes the Anglican priest, who said that “capitalism itself was built upon this western model of redemption” and that Angela Merkel is, in a sinister twist, is the daughter of a Lutheran minister. Erasmus: (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 9, 2015
By

Laudato Si’ ignores real gains for the environment and the poor
Steven Mosher, LifeSite News

But having carefully read through Laudato Si, I am amazed at how pessimistic it is about the current state of the world and mankind, leaving out much of the great progress we have made in both care for the environment and the poor. Many of its strong claims about the dire state of the world don’t take into account positive change reported even in UN documents, which themselves tend to magnify environmental and other global problems as a fundraising ploy.

In Andes, Pope’s Ecological Line Faces Resistance
John Otis and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

Pope Francis faced a delicate mission in his first major speech on global warming on Tuesday: how to balance his advocacy for a new model of development with a poor region’s yearning to exploit its natural resources. The pontiff, on the first leg of a three-country Andean trip, emphasized in a speech the themes of his papal encyclical blaming global warming on human activity, saying mankind must take steps to reverse it.

True to his encyclical, Pope Francis’ travels for global change in a world of debt, drought
Anne-Gerard Flynn, MassLive

When the Vatican released Pope Francis encyclical letter, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home” on June 18, the 184-page document on capitalism, consumerism and human-induced climate change made global headlines. It combines, in a remarkably readable framework, information from a variety of disciplines to address what Francis calls “the present ecological crisis. In it, Francis seeks to advance a moral premise for sustainable development that exploits neither the Earth nor the humans that inhabit it.

Francis on climate change: ‘We can no longer turn our backs on reality’
Reuters

The pope has said he wanted the encyclical to influence a United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December and has now effectively taken his campaign to convince governments on the road. In September he takes his message to the United States and the United Nations.

(more…)

hist-ff-first-amendment-7195911Thirty-three percent of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

That’s a startling finding in the 2015 State of the First Amendment Survey, a project sponsored by the Newseum Institute. Since the question was first asked in 2000, the percentage of citizens who can’t name a single right protected by First Amendment has ranged from 27 to 40 percent.

Many of us might be tempted to shake our head in despair at the ignorance of our fellow citizens. After all, we can probably name several of the rights, particular freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But how many of us can name and explain all five fundamental freedoms protected by the first amendment in the Bill of Rights?

To get everyone up to par, here is a five-minute exercise on the First Amendment.
(more…)

MG-C1026-32A.JPG

Are Naomi Kleins and Bill McKibbens the cool kids at Green Earth High School?

The unfortunate fallout of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si continues apace. One wishes the pontiff would’ve released it in four separate installments to avoid misinterpretation and seeming – to this reader, at least – contradictions throughout a somewhat unwieldy 180-some pages in which he alternately praises and disparages human technological improvements over the past two centuries. On one hand, he admires mankind’s ingenuity as an example of God’s blessing, but, on the other hand, he doth protest too much methinks those technological advancements and the markets that served as their midwife as somehow hurting rather than benefiting the poor (not to mention most of humanity).

To read Laudato Si as Pope Francis tells it, humanity is rushing like lemmings over a cliff constructed from air conditioners to intentionally despoil the earth for the poorest and, as a matter of fact, everyone else in the future. Except, of course, when it’s empirically untrue.

As anticipated, liberal media have seized upon the elements of Laudato Si embracing as settled science theories of human-caused climate change. At the same time, they ignore the inconvenient Catholic Truths of the text regarding the value of human life. (more…)

Over the past decade, fair trade products, such as coffee, chocolate, and fruit, have become an increasingly popular option for helping the global poor. But while the intentions are noble, does buying fair trade have the intended effect? Does it actually help the poorest workers?

Economist Donald Boudreaux explains why it usually doesn’t, and why there are better ways to improve living standards in developing countries.