Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 17, 2015
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Havana’s U.S. flag no victory for pope
Nicholas G. Hahn III, USA Today

Francis should deny Castro communion at Mass in the same way Castro denies freedom to the Cuban people.

Air pollution causes nearly one in five deaths in China—and over 4,000 per day
Richard Macauley, Quartz

China has long known it has a problem with air pollution, but a recent study has attributed a startling new death toll to the issue. Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that studies climate change and related issues, says 1.6 million deaths in China are caused by air pollution every year. That’s well over 4,000 per day, or 17% of all deaths.

Hey Christians, Say Goodbye To Religious Freedom
David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Incredibly, the court acknowledged in its decision that it would have looked at the First Amendment arguments more closely had the gay couple ordered a cake with some explicit messaging that advocated for gay marriage.

Clerk’s Office Defies Order; No Same-sex Marriage Licenses
Claire Galofaro and Adam Beam , Associated Press

A clerk’s office turned away gay couples who sought marriage licenses on Thursday, defying a federal judge’s order that said deeply held Christian beliefs don’t excuse officials from following the law.

Highly recommended reading today comes from Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal. His essay, “The Green Scare Problem,” rebuts environmentalist Cassandras from Rachel Carson to the present day, exposing the rampant hyperbole ecological warriors employ to sell their global warming and anti-genetically modified organism policies to an unsuspecting public. Ridley goes even further to show how these policies harm the world’s poorest.

Ridley begins by quoting President Obama, who reduces the opposition of his climate-change agenda as nothing more than the “same stale arguments.” Ridley’s response is priceless:

The trouble is, we’ve heard his stale argument before, too: that we’re doomed if we don’t do what the environmental pressure groups tell us, and saved if we do. And it has frequently turned out to be really bad advice.

Making dire predictions is what environmental groups do for a living, and it’s a competitive market, so they exaggerate. Virtually every environmental threat of the past few decades has been greatly exaggerated at some point. Pesticides were not causing a cancer epidemic, as Rachel Carson claimed in her 1962 book “Silent Spring”; acid rain was not devastating German forests, as the Green Party in that country said in the 1980s; the ozone hole was not making rabbits and salmon blind, as Al Gore warned in the 1990s. Yet taking precautionary action against pesticides, acid rain and ozone thinning proved manageable, so maybe not much harm was done.

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Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996)

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996)

At The Catholic World Report, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg examines the use of the expression “a consistent ethic of life” — a phrase which has been used by Roman Catholic bishops as far back as a 1971 speech delivered by then-Archbishop Humberto Medeiros of Boston. More recently, Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich used the phrase in a Chicago Tribune article about the scandal of Planned Parenthood selling body-parts from aborted children. Elaborating, Cupich said “we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.”

The phrase “a consistent ethic of life” — also known as the “seamless garment” approach to ethics — won widespread currency during the episcopate of another Chicago archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Gregg observes that in approximately 15 addresses delivered between 1983 and 1986, Bernardin “called for the development of such an ethic and outlined how it might inform the way in which Catholics—lay and clerical—approached public policy issues.” Gregg goes on to outline the theological framework for this approach and how it has been applied, or misapplied, in recent decades: (more…)

Relatives of a Palestinian woman, who medics said was killed in an Israeli air strike, mourn during her funeral in Khan YounisA year ago this month, Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL) began a systematic program of capturing women and girls for the purposes of rape, forced marriage, and sexual slavery. Yesterday, the New York Times brought renewed attention to the war crimes in an article examining how IS enshrines a theology of rape.

Here are five facts you should know about how IS views and justifies the practice of sexual slavery: 

1. IS considers rape of sex slaves to be a form of worship — In the New York Times article, a Yazidi girl was was enslaved by IS claims:

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.

“He kept telling me this is ibadah,” she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship. 

2. IS has an eschatological justification for sex slavery   
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Blog author: bwalker
Friday, August 14, 2015
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Pope Francis and the Republican Presidential Hopefuls: A Widening Divide
Stephen Seufert, The Huffington Post

During the first Republican presidential debate, candidates repeatedly mentioned the path towards economic growth is through tax cuts, deregulation, and smaller government. With regards to tax cuts bringing on economic growth to the middle class and poor — commonly called trickle down economics — Pope Francis has unequivocally rejected such a theory.

Our Sunday Visitor Promotes Laudato Si’
Mark Silk, Religion News Service

On the other hand, the pope will have more American Catholics paying attention to him than God when he shows up in New York, Washington, and Philadelphia next month. To say nothing of everyone else in the country. And you can be sure he’ll be pitching Laudato Si’.

In Response: Cherry-picking data won’t make climate change go away
David Gerhart, Duluth News Tribune

A lengthy commentary critical of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change was published in the News Tribune on Aug. 8 as half of a “Pro/Con” feature (“Should we heed the pope’s warning about climate change? No: It misreads science and will doom billions to poverty”).

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In an interview with Reason TV, Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey answers a range of questions about why so many intellectuals are opposed to the free market, whether throughout history and to this today.

“Is it a misunderstanding of what business does?” asks Nick Gillespie. “Is it envy? Is it a lack of capacity to understand that what entrepreneurs do or what innovators do?”

Here’s a sample:

Intellectuals have always disdained commerce. That is something that tradesmen did; people that were in a lower class. And so you had minorities, oftentimes did it, like you had the Jews in the West. And when they became wealthy and successful and rose, then they were envied, then they were persecuted and their wealth confiscated, and many times they were run out of country after country. Same thing happened with the Chinese in the East. They were great businesspeople as well. So the intellectuals have always sided kind of with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down. You might say that capitalism was the first time that businesspeople kinda caught a break, because of Adam Smith and the philosophy that came along with that, and the industrial revolution began this huge upwards surge of prosperity.

Mackey does a nice job summarizing the historical and practical forces, but another dynamic worth noting is Thomas Sowell’s notion of the “unconstrained vision” (or the “vision of the anointed”), which one finds among many intellectuals. When Sowell talks about “visions” he’s speaking less to our particular position (vocationally or otherwise) and more to how we perceive the basic nature and destiny of man —“not simply his existing practices,” Sowell writes, “but his ultimate potential and ultimate limitations.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, August 14, 2015
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Christian Baker Must Make Cakes Celebrating Gay Marriage, Appeals Court Rules
Ken McIntyre, The Daily Signal

A custom cake baker in suburban Denver can’t cite his religious convictions in declining to make a wedding cake for two men, a Colorado appeals court ruled today.

For Catholic Relief Services’ Carolyn Woo, capitalism isn’t all bad
Michael O’Loughlin, Crux

Make no mistake about it: Carolyn Woo is a Pope Francis fan. She has met him several times, even traveling to Rome earlier this summer to help him unveil his major work on the environment. But when it comes to economics, the former business school dean and head of one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs winces a bit when the pope rails against capitalism — as he’s done on more than a few occasions.

To fix the US prison system, give every inmate the daily newspaper
Chandra Bozelko, Quartz

Newspapers were different for me, at least while the prison library at Connecticut’s York Correctional Institute still carried them. Better than any book, newspapers were lifesavers that pulled me closer to shore because each new edition marked a new day, an invitation to rejoin a world that kept moving while I was inside.

The Stakes of Free Exercise
Michael Stokes Paulsen, Public Discourse

The Free Exercise Clause creates a unique type of constitutional liberty—a substantive freedom that limits the extent to which government can interfere with religious freedom.

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Fr. Michael Crosby

You can’t really take fossil fuel divestment seriously unless you ignore a lot of inconvenient truths. These would include such things as Al Gore’s carbon footprint or the fuel bill for the dozens of private jets flown to any UN climate summit. On a more mundane level, we might point to benefits of abundant and affordable resources of coal, natural gas and crude oil that power modern industrialized economies and will continue to dominate as future energy sources. Alas, according to the World Bank, around 730 million people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on solid biomass for cooking, which – when used indoors with inefficient cookstoves – causes air pollution that results in nearly 600,000 premature deaths in Africa each year. The fossil fuel divestment movement hasn’t really taken off in Africa, for some reason.

Which leads me to the potent term of “hypocrite” when talking about the liberal nuns, priests and other clergy and religious behind divestment campaigns, which currently are all the rage for shareholder activists of the progressive spiritual stripe. What is so strange is that most if not all of the same sort of social justice warriors have vowed to assist the poor.

Journalist Richard Valdmanis notes this strange moral disconnect in a recent Reuters article:

 Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of “highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

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PNG 0316N homeless 008While being homeless is not a crime, cities across America are increasingly making activities associated with a lack of shelter against the law. A survey of 187 cities found that 34 percent impose city-wide bans on camping in public and 18 percent impose city-wide bans on sleeping in public.

In 2009, a group of homeless plaintiffs challenged the city of Boise, Idaho over its ordinance banning sleeping and camping in public places. This week the Department of Justice issued a statement of interest in the case arguing that making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places, when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless:
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Seattle Minimum WageLast year when Seattle announced it was raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, I made four predictions about how the policy would affect the city over the next three years. One of the predictions was that,

Unemployment will increase for low-wage workers — It’s true that economists disagree about the effects of the minimum wage on employment and the living standards of minimum wage earners. But almost all of the disagreement is about relatively small increases—less than 20 percent. Seattle is about to increase the minimum wage by 61 percent — over three times the detrimental rate. Almost all economists agree that significant increases to the minimum wage or attempts to bring it in line with a “living wage” (e.g., $12-15 an hour) would lead to significant increases in unemployment.

The full effect of the wage increase won’t take effect for two more years. But there is already evidence that this prediction is coming true.

In January the state of Washington increased its minimum wage to $9.47 an hour, the highest in the country. Then on April 1, Seattle’s first increase kicked in, raising the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour. The result: Seattle lost 1,300 restaurant jobs from January to June. As Mark Perry explains,
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