Monday, January 30, 2012

Soros on the Future

Well, isn't he a little bundle of joy.  Excerpts:
“At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.” Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”...

Soros draws on his past to argue that the global economic crisis is as significant, and unpredictable, as the end of communism. “The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening.” To Soros, the spectacular debunking of the credo of efficient markets—the notion that markets are rational and can regulate themselves to avert disaster—“is comparable to the collapse of Marxism as a political system. The prevailing interpretation has turned out to be very misleading. It assumes perfect knowledge, which is very far removed from reality. We need to move from the Age of Reason to the Age of Fallibility in order to have a proper understanding of the problems...”

Soros insists the key to avoiding cataclysm in 2012 is not to let the crises of 2011 go to waste. “In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible. The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution.” Nor has he quite given up hope that the central bankers and prime ministers gathering in Davos this week have got what it takes to rally round and prove him wrong. This time, being wrong would make him happy indeed.
Gee. He sounds a lot like this guy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life and Love

The value of sidewalk counseling--literally measured in lives saved.  Excerpts:
...After a 10-year hiatus born of frustration and too many encounters with ugliness, Yanta decided in January of 2011 to return to sidewalk counseling. She prayed, "Okay Lord, I have a better perspective now, and I'm going to go back out there for you now—I'm not expecting warm fuzzies like I did years ago, because I know I'm not going to get them—but I want to do this for you."

Going out to the sidewalk on a brutally cold day, bundled up against the snow, she felt that ugliness return. She thought, "Oh man, I didn't know I would feel this way again, I hate this place—I don't want to be here! Lord, you are going to have to help me, because anything that comes out of my mouth is going to be wrong, and I feel totally inept. Empty me out, and fill me up so that anyone who drives in here will see you—not me, and everything will be okay."

As the first couple drove up she felt, as she described it, a "whoosh of joy" filling her up that she could only explain as being from the Lord. She smiled at them, and felt truly happy to see them. Yanta signaled for them to roll down their window, and then handed the driver—the boyfriend—a model of a 12-week old fetus. He passed it to his girlfriend, who gasped: her baby was twelve weeks along.

At that point, Yanta introduced to the audience this young woman and her sweet little 3-month-old daughter...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Reality of Fallen Human Nature

Get ready for Lent! Excerpts:
...As I mentioned earlier, in my youth as I reviled those in opposition to the truth, my Father would give gratitude for the mercy of God. I have learned many things as I have aged, chief among them is that there is nary a sin conceived in the mind of the devil of which I would not be capable were it not for the mercy of a good God. I need that mercy.

So I understand my father now, when he prayed to be forgiven as he forgave, he knew what that meant. He, like me, was a sinner in need of a mercy he could not merit.

So what have I learned in all these years? I have learned what the dumbest phrase in the English language is…

“I would never do that.”

Mercy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Abortion Disproportionately Kills Black People

Some really screwed up statistics.  Excerpts:
...It was supposed to be a country of greater equality; it became a country in which the fantasies of those who believed that America was for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants only, with emphasis on “white,” were realized beyond the wildest imaginings of the most crazed racists and eugenicists of the 1920s.

These hard truths have too often been hidden, especially where abortion is widely prevalent. Thus it is to the immense credit of the New York-based Chiaroscuro Foundation that it has compelled the New York City Department of Health to itemize separately abortion and pregnancy statistics in its annual reports. The 2010 numbers, just released, would make both the Psalmist and Ezekiel blanch:

Of the 208,541 pregnancies in New York City in 2010, 83,750 were terminated by abortion: 4 in 10. Among non-Hispanic blacks, there were 38,574 abortions and 26,635 live births: thus for every 1,000 African-American babies born, 1,448 were aborted. Those numbers were even more chilling among non-Hispanic black teenagers: for every 1,000 African-American babies born to teenagers, 2,630 were aborted. The overall teenage abortion rate was 63 percent in a city where 16 percent of all pregnancies were teen pregnancies...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nigel Farage

No matter what you might think of the man, he gives a heck of a show on the floor of the Europarliament.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Cost an iDevice?

A high cost, indeed.  Excerpts:
...the low prices of our iPhones and iPads — and the super-high profit margins of Apple — are only possible because our iPhones and iPads are made with labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.

...Last week, PRI's "This American Life" did a special on Apple's manufacturing. The show featured (among others) the reporting of Mike Daisey, the man who does the one-man stage show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," and The NYT's Nicholas Kristof, whose wife's family is from China.

You can read a transcript of the whole show here. Here are some details:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The State of the Union and Religious Freedom

What is the connection between this:


and this:


Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan on HHS Conscience Regulation from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.
Answer: There are Catholics in both pieces of media. Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner are both Catholic, while Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York (now Cardinal-designate Dolan) is the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The 2012 State of the Union focused on unity, on an America of liberty and equality for all. Yet on Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a set of regulations that cuts directly against the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom in ways that will directly impact almost all Catholic organizations in America--regulations announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, also a Catholic. That was last week, just before the State of the Union Address. Monday was the 2012 March for Life, an event that is, once again, mostly ignored by the press.

This has got to be one of the most schizophrenic sorts of sidelining an unwanted class of people in the history of humanity. Here are Catholics announcing and implementing the regulations that will strike directly at the free operation of our Church in this country, Catholics holding some of the highest positions in the land sitting behind the President who, as Cardinal Mahoney said, must have known and been personally involved in the decision, at a speech where he reiterated a message of unity, common cause, and caring for the least among us.

Congressman Boehner and Archbishop Dolan addressed the March for Life crowds. Vice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius did not. The one issue which can reliably bring together Catholics across the political spectrum is abortion. The one issue which caused unprecedented fragmentation in Catholic life in America was contraception. The current challenge to religious freedom focuses not on the first, but on the second. Perhaps the fact that it is Catholics who are closest to the President under whom these decisions are being taken indicates that they chose their target in light of such considerations. Ignore the March for Life. Drop the issue of FOCA, or pass a healthcare bill whose implementation by the states may pave the way for state-by-state versions of FOCA. Instead, aim at the apparent weakest link of contemporary Catholic teaching--at contraception.

What the heck are we doing to ourselves?

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