Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
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Regulating people out of jobs
Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner

Single mother Tameka Stigers figured that she could use her skill at braiding hair to support her family. She soon discovered it wasn’t that easy: Missouri required that she get a cosmetology license before she could do it professionally.

The Rich Roots and Spoiled Fruits of Liberal Toleration
Jeremy Neill, Public Discourse

After decades of efforts to be emancipated from religious influences, the toleration of political liberals is still only an impoverished relative of its classical cousin.

There’s a global war for internet freedom. And the U.S. is losing.
James Poulos, The Week

Uually, grand geopolitical scares are a little overblown. The fact is that America’s powerful economic, cultural, and political advantages have proven to be more than enough to prevent darkness from sweeping over the globe. Until, maybe, now.

Mama Maggie Gobran Serves Children in Egypt’s Slums
Merrit Kennedy , AP

The Coptic Christian, who focuses on education for Egypt’s trash collectors, has drawn comparisons to Mother Theresa.

7figuresThe United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women recently released a report that includes data on gender-based violence. Here are seven sets of figures on violence against girls and women that are based on their data:

1. Recent global estimates show that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. While there is some variation across regions, all regions have unacceptably high rates of violence against women.

2. Almost half of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partner or family members (the figure for men is just over 1 in 20 homicide victims).

3. Data from developing countries show that 21 percent of women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she argues with him. Similarly, 27 percent of women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she neglects the children.

4. Women account for between 55 percent and 60 percent of all trafficking victims detected globally, and women and girls together account for some 75 percent. Moreover, the trafficking of children remains a serious problem, as 27 percent of all victims are children and, of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.

5. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated in 2013 that more than 125 million girls and women had undergone some form of female genital mutilation/cutting in 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East. Another 30 million girls were estimated to be at risk of being cut in the next decade.

6 Approximately one quarter of girls aged between 15 and 19 are victims of physical violence from the age of 15,149 and 120 million girls under 20, about 1 in 10, are subjected to sexual violence.

7. Early childbearing is commonly linked to non-consensual sex in contexts of sexual violence, exploitation and child, early and forced marriage. More than 16 million girls aged between 15 and 19 and some 1 million girls under the age of 15 give birth annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, the highest rate being in sub-Saharan Africa.

Members of  the “Acton Club” of West Catholic High School

Members of the “Acton Club” of West Catholic High School

Culture has either an overly optimistic view of youth culture, or an overly dour and depressing one. However, neither view is entirely true, nor are such disparate opinions very helpful.  The unavoidable truth is this: younger generations will have to bear increasingly more difficult levels of financial, and societal responsibility in the coming years. To put it mildly their future will not be an easy walk in the park.

However, in my experiences at Acton, I am witnessing a renaissance, a flowering of maturity in which young men and women are not waiting for someone to offer them a free hand-out, but rather are seeking a better version and a more compelling vision for their future. Certainly the root of this renaissance has been occurring over the past ten years with college students at Acton University, but the flowering I am talking about is happening amongst high school students.

In the spring of 2014, a group of students from West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids made an appointment to tour our offices and to learn more about Acton’s work. After the tour, I expected the students to simply say, “thank you” and then depart, but the leader of this intrepid band said, “Mr. Cook, we have a core group that are serious about our Christian faith, and we want to be successful, ethical and virtuous business leaders. We want to learn how we can live our faith as Christian business leaders in our world today.” Then he said something really amazing.

“Do you think it’s possible for us to start an ‘Acton Club’ in our high school?’

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robot 2When arguing about the merits of a free economy, its defenders often give way to a peculiar line of reasoning that goes something like this:

“Socialism would be wonderful if it actually worked, and it could actually work if only men were angels.”

Such claims are meant to frame socialists as foolish idealists obsessed with their silly utopias. But for those of us who believe there’s a certain idealism to the free society, it’s a rather appalling concession. Indeed, the fundamental problem with socialism isn’t so much that its aims are unrealistic — though they most certainly are — but rather that its basic assumptions rely on a view of humanity that is, in so many ways, unreal.

If we let the lofty levelers have their way, we shall inherit a world where humanity is robbed of its dignity and originality, discouraged from creativity and innovation, and restrained from the collaboration and relationship found in free exchange. Even if such a system were to be filled with morally superior know-it-alls and somehow achieve material prosperity, it would still be a society of serfs, submissive to their overlords’ enlightened plans for social “equity,” and thus, servile in all the areas where God intended ownership.

Is a land wherein humans are guided by mere robotic efficiency really something that’s all that wonderful, even if it actually “works”? In whose mind and through what sort of contorted imagination is this considered an “ideal” or “utopia”? (more…)

Terezinha Silva and her water purifying system

Terezinha Silva and her water purifying system

It’s no secret that much of the world has a hard time accessing clean drinking water. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, it is estimated that 36 million people have no regular access to clean water. This doesn’t just mean people are thirsty; unclean water leads to a host of health problems. Water.org states that somewhere in the world, a child dies every minute because of a water-borne illness.

In São Paulo, Brazil, about 12 million people have a difficult time accessing clean water. Terezinha Silva wanted to do something about that. And she did it with four simple steps. (more…)

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

If I were to publicly announce a Bible study meeting at the local public library, one can imagine the hue and cry from secularists fretting about a looming right-wing theocratic takeover of America. Change the subject to Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on climate change, however, and all you hear are crickets chirping from the separation of church and state crowd. (See comments on the encyclical here from Acton’s Kishore Jayabalan)

It’s interesting to note that – when not attempting to eliminate religious considerations altogether from the public square – progressive groups leap at the opportunity to embrace a religious leader when he or she shows sympathy for their pet causes. Already one can anticipate the swoon of secularists in anticipation of Pope Francis weighing in on climate change, a document they’ll more than likely never read in full but will selectively quote to buttress their liberal interpretations.

The fact remains that no one – outside the Vatican at least – yet knows what Pope Francis will say about climate change in his upcoming encyclical. But that hasn’t stopped the Citizens Climate Lobby, a national astro-turfing outfit with local “grassroots” chapters throughout the United States, including one in your writer’s own backyard in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Last weekend, CCL local chapters gathered to listen to national broadcast presentations by Lonnie Ellis, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, and Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt, the book upon which the recently released film documentary is based. The CCL chapter in my hometown congregated in the local public library annex to listen to the podcast recorded earlier that afternoon. I’m pleased to report our Republic has yet to establish a religion, but I’m not of the sort who worries about such things. (more…)

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The Schiebel CamCopter S-100 Drone

Drones can be used for great evil, but they can also save lives. In the past decade, more than 20,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Desperate people work with smugglers and board overcrowded and hazardous boats, attempting to escape war-torn and dangerous countries in the Middle East. Christopher Catrambone, an American living in Malta has decided to use one of the most controversial tools of the 21st century to try and save these people.

Forget the politics for a second, these are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children taking to the sea aboard what are often unsafe, overcrowded vessels that catch fire and sink and on which they may have inadequate access to food, drinking water and medical supplies.

Catrambone and his wife, Regina, purchased a ship, inflatable boats, and drones and put them in the hands of former government and military officials and medical experts, creating the operation: Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). They believe that “no one deserves to die at sea.” The drones scan the common routes of smugglers, going up to 150 mph and searching for 6 hours before needing to re-charge. If the drones find vessels that need help either the main ship, the Phoenix I, responds or the Italian Coast Guard is called. From the MOAS homepage: “It is dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing assistance to migrants who find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels.”

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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The Mobility Crisis
Yuval Levin, Commentary

We Americans have always prided ourselves on the extraordinary degree of mobility this country has long made possible for its citizens—the idea that, with hard work and a little luck, an immigrant or a child of poor parents can start out with nothing and end up successful and rich.

Hope International Fights Poverty With Entrepreneurship
Danny Huizinga, Opportunity Lives

HOPE International isn’t just another nonprofit. Instead of handouts, the organization focuses on encouraging saving and entrepreneurship in countries around the world – helping people build their own success rather than simply trying to give it to them.

Being Charitable for the Right Reasons
Dusty Gates, Crisis Magazine

Despite the recent upward trend in charitable giving, history suggests giving over the next several months will be comparatively low. According to the Blackbaud Index, almost one-fifth of all charitable giving is done during the month of December.

How Sex Trafficking Became a Christian Cause Célèbre
Ruth Graham, Slate

Human trafficking—and sex trafficking in particular—has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries.

Psalms I, Frans van DeursenChristian’s Library Press has now released Psalms I, the fourth primer in its Opening the Scriptures series, and the first in a two-part release on the book of Psalms.

Written by Dutch Reformed minister Frans van Deursen, and newly translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to Psalms, a book which serves as “the oldest songbook that God’s people possess,” as well as the “oldest breviary or prayer book,” the author writes.

Like other volumes in the series, Psalms I is neither a technical commentary nor a collection of sermons, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer. In this case, the author hopes we learn lessons on both theory on practice when it comes to the great tasks of honor and worship, prayer and praise.

The book includes a good deal of theological and historical set-up on how we are to understand the Psalms as a whole, proceeding to provide more detailed summaries and analyses on the deeper meaning and Biblical context of the individual psalms themselves. (more…)

Today Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation making Wisconsin the nation’s 25th right-to-work state. Here is what you should know about right-to-work laws:

What is a right-to-work law?

right-to-work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment.

righttoworkWhy are right-to-work laws considered a matter of economic freedom?

Economic freedom exists when people have the liberty to produce, trade, and consume legitimate goods and services that are acquired without the use of force, fraud, or theft. Mandatory unionism violates a person’s economic freedom since it forces them to pay a portion of their income, as a condition of employment, to a third-party representative—even if they disagree with the aims, goals, or principles of the representative group.

What’s wrong with being forced to pay for union representation?
In many countries that have a state religion citizens are forced to pay a portion of their income to support the activities of the state-approved church. Most Americans recognize that being required to directly finance the sectarian and dogmatic activities of a religious organization they may not wish to be associated with is a violation of their freedom of association.

Similarly, Americans should not be forced to financially support unions that claim to their economic interest if they believe such organizations are engaging in activities (such as political campaigning) they disapprove of.

Aren’t right-to-work law anti-union?
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