Acton Institute President and Co-Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico was in Argentina last week for Acton’s conference in Buenos Aires on Christianity and the Foundations of a Free Society, which is part of a series of Acton conferences being held around the world on the relationship between religious and economic freedom. While he was there, he was interviewed on Infobae.tv and spoke about the problems of poverty that Argentina is struggling with, and also addressed the relationship between Pope Francis and the media and politicians, and the security arrangements that are in place to keep the pope safe.

A columnist for Al-Monitor who writes under the pseudonym Edward Dark visited Siryan Adeemeh, or Old Siryan, an elevated area in the regime-controlled west of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria. Dark wanted to “gauge the sentiment” of this area, which he describes as a working-class neighborhood home to Christian Arabs of several denominations and also inhabited by a sizable Muslim and Kurdish population. “It’s one of the few areas of Aleppo where churches outnumber mosques, and communal relations had always been jovial and friendly, as could be seen while strolling its maze-like narrow streets, lined with markets, cafes, sandwich shops, bars and liquor stores,” Dark, a resident of Aleppo, recalls.

He interviews Abu Fadi, “a middle-aged man, tanned with silver hair and sharp dark eyes — a striking appearance to match his striking personality. He was the de facto mayor of his neighborhood, the go-to guy for news, stories and gossip, a figure much liked and respected by his Christian community and beyond.”

I asked him how he felt about the warring camps in Syria, whom he supports and why. He answered, “There is no question at all about whom we support: the government, of course. It is the only force protecting us from the jihadists and extremists.” (more…)

nepotismIt ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no
“Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

What do Al Gore, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Barry Bonds, Peyton and Eli Manning, Aage Bohrs, and Michael Douglas all have in common? Each of them reached the same level of success as their fathers in a highly competitive field.

We like to think that the U.S. is a meritocracy, a nation where—with gumption and grit—you can rise to the level of your talent. But as history has shown, you can rise much faster and much higher if you can stand on your successful daddy’s shoulders.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz used the methods of data science to determine the odd that a male Baby Boomer would succeed in various competitive areas. His findings are that if the father reached the achievement first, then the son is:
(more…)

Rembrandt The Hundred Guilder Print.jpg

Rembrandt The Hundred Guilder Print” by Rembrandt – www.rijksmuseum.nl : Home : Info. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“No, those who labor and are heavy-laden do not all look the way Rembrandt drew them in his ‘Hundred Guilder’ picture—poverty-stricken, miserable, sick, leprous, ragged, with worn, furrowed faces. They are also found concealed behind happy-looking, youthful faces and brilliantly successful lives. There are people who feel utterly forsaken in the midst of high society, to whom everything in their lives seems stale and empty to the point of nausea, because they can sense that underneath it all, their souls are decaying and rotting away. There is no loneliness like that of the fortunate.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan interviewed Iraqi Christians for a report that aired March 22. There will be a commercial embedded at the start off the video, but just get past it. Logan’s interview, and the images of the destruction wrought by ISIS, vividly illustrate what this persecution means for more than 125,000 of Iraq’s Christians who have abandoned homes, villages and churches in the face of this barbaric assault.

She interviewed Nicodemus Sharaf, archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, who was among 10,000 Christian who fled the city. He showed Logan an Aramaic manuscript that he said was written 500 years ago, one of hundreds of church manuscripts left behind when his community fled ISIS. “I think they burn all the books,” Sharaf said. “And we have books from the first century of the Christianity.”

You can read the entire transcript of the Logan report here.

Christina Hoff Sommers, of American Enterprise Institute, takes on the idea of men being obsolete. Civilization now needs empathy, social intelligence, emotional knowledge – right? And that’s where females excel. So do we still need men?

pj-orourkeAn amicus brief is a learned treatise submitted by an amicus curiae (Latin for “friend of the court”), someone who is not a party to a case who offers information that bears on the case but that has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist a court. The amicus brief is a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case.

Typically, amici are serious—and dull—documents. You won’t find many that include references to “Full House (ABC 1987-1995),” Vladimir Putin, Torquemada, “Gilmore Girls (Warner Bros. 2000-2007),” Chris Rock, Salman Rushdie, and “The Avengers (Marvel Studios 2012).” And you’re likely to find even fewer that recommend the state of Texas be declared “unconstitutional.” But all of that was included in a brief submitted by humorist P.J. O’Rourke (and friends) in a case heard yesterday by the US Supreme Court.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), argued before the court its free-speech rights were violated when the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles rejected its proposal for a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate flag. In their amicus brief supporting SCV, O’Rourke, et al argued that the state of Texas had “empowered the State Department of Motor Vehicles to prevent people from being offended by license plates.”

(more…)

cake topperThere is a lot of talk about “privilege” in our nation: white privilege, the privilege of the “1%,” privilege of living in one school district versus another. Yet, the greatest “privilege” in America is hardly ever mentioned. It’s a privilege that creates happy, healthy, smart kids, a privilege that helps ensure economic stability for everyone involved, a privilege that keeps our neighborhoods and cities safer and more productive.

It’s marriage. (I was going to say “mah-widge” and give a Princess Bride reference, but I’ll skip that.)

In yesterday’s National Review, writers Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven call the results of the “marriage privilege” startling:

In a report last year entitled “Saving Horatio Alger,” which focused on social mobility and class in America, Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution discovered that the likelihood of a child raised by parents born into the lowest income quintile moving to the top quintile by the age 40 was a disastrous 3 percent. Worse, 50 percent of those children stay stuck in the bottom quintile. And the outlook for the children of those marriage-less children is equally stark.

That’s bad news for the country, and the American dream, such numbers. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
By

Greektown meters to bring change for homeless
Kim North Shine, The Detroit News

Whatever change is deposited into the meters will go to a charity that helps the homeless, including the regular Greektown panhandlers. The cause has special connection for Agee, the artist who was once homeless in Detroit.

How Asia, U.S. Can Help End Human Trafficking
Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

Of the nearly 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, an estimated two-thirds are from Asia. Many factors contribute to the severity of the problem in Asia, but one stands out among the rest: the lack of rule of law.

An ancient technology is helping India’s “water man” save thousands of parched villages
Devjyot Ghoshal, Quartz

On March 20, Singh was awarded the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, sometimes described as the Nobel prize for water.

The dam of self-restraint bursts for Pakistan’s Christians
Pamela Constable, Washington Post

This working-class neighborhood for generations. But the comity vanished in a matter of hours after a rumor spread that someone at a Christian wedding had torn up a copy of the Koran.

Common-Core-math-messI taught high school for a number of years, but as a religion teacher, I escaped most of the trials and tribulations my fellow teachers went through annually as new teaching methods were rolled out. Even private school teachers seem to get a new set of rules each year: teach this way, not that; use these techniques, not those. However, few teaching restrictions seem to be as questionable as Common Core.

What about teachers? What are their thoughts on Common Core? Here are a few reasons some of America’s best teachers do not like Common Core.

Nancy Atwell, Maine:

Public-school teachers are so constrained right now by the Common Core standards, and the tests that are developed to monitor what teachers are doing with them. It’s a movement that’s turned teachers into technicians, not reflective practitioners.

(more…)