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Meet the New Faith – Same As The Old Faith March 30, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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Ultimately, Calvinism’s contrast with chummier, Jesus-is-my-friend forms of evangelicalism may highlight a more fundamental change in the world of faith. Bestselling religion writer Phyllis Tickle sees the interest in Calvinism as the first phase of a backlash against the dominant religious trend of today: the rise of “Emergence Christianity.”

Emergence Christianity, which she identifies as a once-every-500-years religious shift, is less a doctrine or a movement than a postmodern attitude toward religion itself. Loosely organized, it values experimentation over traditional rules and Christian practice.

“When things go through this upheaval,” Ms. Tickle says, “there’s always those who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation.”

Or, as Ms. Hagopian puts it with uncompromising Calvinistic clarity: “The dominant philosophy of American Christianity is so far removed from biblical truth. Life is not hunky-dory.”

Christian faith: Calvinism is back / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com.

Another Problem With Deforestation March 30, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Humor.
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Boob Bombs March 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in In The News.
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The shocking new al-Qaeda tactic involves radical doctors inserting the explosives in women’s breasts during plastic surgery — making them “virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanning machines”.

Terrorist expert Joseph Farah claims: “Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaeda are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery.”

The lethal explosives called PETN are inserted inside plastic shapes during the operation, before the breast is then sewn up. Explosive experts allegedly told MI5 that a sachet containing as little as five ounces of PETN could blow “a considerable hole” in an airline’s skin, causing it to crash.

via Radical’s deadly ‘booby trap’ | The Sun |News.

What Conservative David Frum Wrote That Caused A Furor March 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in News and politics.
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No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?

When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

via Waterloo | FrumForum.

Divorced at 10 in Yemen March 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, Religion.
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Nujood is a Yemeni girl, and it’s no coincidence that Yemen abounds both in child brides and in terrorists (and now, thanks to Nujood, children who have been divorced). Societies that repress women tend to be prone to violence.First, those countries usually have very high birth rates, and that means a youth bulge in the population. One of the factors that most correlates to social conflict is the proportion of young men ages 15 to 24.

Second, those countries also tend to practice polygamy and have higher death rates for girls. That means fewer marriageable women — and more frustrated bachelors to be recruited by extremists.

Consider Bangladesh. After it split off from Pakistan, Bangladesh began to educate girls in a way that Pakistan has never done. The educated women staffed an emerging garment industry and civil society, and those educated women are one reason Bangladesh is today far more stable than Pakistan

via Op-Ed Columnist – Divorced Before Puberty – NYTimes.com.

Wiil China Develop Like US or Japan Did? March 25, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Is China like the US in 1890? Or is it more like Japan in 1980? If the parallel with America is right, China is likely to be the dominant power of the next century. If the Japanese comparison is more accurate, then the Chinese challenge to American hegemony could prove ephemeral.

The current mood in the US certainly feels like an exaggerated version of the “declinism” that set in towards the end of the 1980s, when the US was transfixed by the rise of Japan. A recent Pew opinion survey showed that a majority of Americans now believe that the Chinese economy is larger than that of the US. This is plain wrong. At the time the poll was taken, the Chinese economy was around half the size of America’s.

It was this kind of scare that took hold in the late 1980s. Japanese investors provoked angst by buying the Rockefeller Centre in New York – and it was Japan that was the world’s largest creditor nation. (more…)

Pot Growers Bemoan Legalization March 23, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Lifestyle.
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A Shelter Cove, Ca. resident, Anna Hamilton said she is “intimately involved” with the marijuana industry and has seen the market get worse over time due to changing marijuana laws. ”I’ve lived here 20 years and every time there’s been a discussion, an open discussion, about marijuana, it has emboldened people to grow more pot with less fear,” she said. “As it’s become more widely grown, the prices dropped. The effect on our local economy is harsh.”

Hamilton believes it will be “devastating” to the North Coast region — or, what is referred to as the Emerald Triangle — and would displace thousands of people who grow, process and distribute marijuana. ”We have to embrace marijuana tourism, marijuana products and services — and marijuana has to become a part of the Humboldt County brand.

In addition to ballot measures aiming to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a bill for legalization is also being promoted as a way to save the state’s ailing economy.

A 2009 analysis from the State Board of Equalization cites a 2006 report that estimates that California produced $13.6 billion in marijuana in 2006.

via ‘What’s after pot?’ Local businesses, community leaders, marijuana industry reps to meet about a post-pot economy – Times-Standard Online.

Moderate Muslim Leaders Beat Extremists March 22, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
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In 2005 a man of wisdom and moderation, King Abdullah, formally ascended to the throne and inaugurated a large-scale political and intellectual effort aimed at discrediting the ideology of jihadism. Mullahs were ordered to denounce suicide bombings, and violence more generally. Education was pried out of the hands of the clerics. Terrorists and terror suspects were “rehabilitated” through extensive programs of education, job training, and counseling. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus said to me, “The Saudi role in taking on Al Qaeda, both by force but also using political, social, religious, and educational tools, is one of the most important, least reported positive developments in the war on terror.”

Perhaps the most successful country to combat jihadism has been the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia. In 2002 that country seemed destined for a long and painful struggle with the forces of radical Islam. The nation was rocked by terror attacks, and a local Qaeda affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah, appeared to be gaining strength. But eight years later, JI has been marginalized and main-stream political parties have gained ground, all while a young democracy has flowered after the collapse of the Suharto dictatorship.

Moderate Muslim Leaders Beat Extremists – Newsweek.com.

Why Teenagers Can’t Learn March 22, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle.
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…this temporary learning deficit could be traced to a remarkable change that occurs at puberty in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is involved in remembering places and integrating other kinds of learning. The change affects the GABA neurotransmitter system. GABA, which is present in all mammals, inhibits or down-regulates nerve signals, as opposed to exciting them; this calming, relaxing system is activated by tranquilizers like Valium and the popular sleep drug Ambien, which attach to GABA receptors and act similarly to GABA. But at puberty, female mice experience a 700% increase in an unusual GABA receptor that helps calm the nervous system, except when under stress.

GABA is not the only neurotransmitter system that goes out of whack at puberty, Giedd notes. Recent studies at Harvard suggest that dopamine receptors also temporarily proliferate, a change that might be related to the impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviors seen in teens. These bursts of brain changes seem to be connected to developmentally sensitive periods, says Giedd.

(See “Secrets of the Teen Brain.”)

Surfing Alpaca March 17, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor, Sports.
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Pianezzi, who teaches surfing to kids and has competed before at international contests for people and their surfing dogs, came up with the idea of hitting the waves with an alpaca while visiting Australia.

“I’ve surfed with a dog, a parrot, a hamster and a cat, but when I was at a competition in Australia I saw people surfing with kangaroos and koalas,” said Pianezzi, who trains the alpaca in the Peruvian beach town of San Bartolo.

“So I thought that, as a Peruvian, it would be interesting to surf with a unique animal that represents Peru.”

via Photos: Cowabunga! Peruvian hits waves with surfing alpaca.

Video: Surfing 64′ Wave March 17, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Sports, Video.
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Federal pay ahead of private industry March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

via Federal pay ahead of private industry – USATODAY.com.

Trashing Alabatross Chicks March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

via current work.

There’s a new Red Scare. But is China really so scary? March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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This new Red Scare says a lot about America’s collective psyche at this moment. A nation with a per capita income of $6,546 — ensconced above Ukraine and below Namibia, according to the International Monetary Fund — is putting the fear of God, or Mao, into our hearts.

Recent reports about how China is threatening to take the lead in scientific research seem to ignore the serious problems it is facing with plagiarism and faked results. Projections of China’s economic growth seem to shortchange the country’s looming demographic crisis: It is going to be the first nation in the world to grow old before it gets rich. By the middle of this century the percentage of its population above age 60 will be higher than in the United States, and more than 100 million Chinese will be older than 80. China also faces serious water shortages that could hurt enterprises from wheat farms to power plants to microchip manufacturers.

And about all those engineers? In 2006, the New York Times reported that China graduates 600,000 a year compared with 70,000 in the United States. The Times report was quoted on the House floor. Just one problem: China’s statisticians count car mechanics and refrigerator repairmen as “engineers.”

via There’s a new Red Scare. But is China really so scary? – washingtonpost.com.

The Rising Sovereign Debt Crisis March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Bond giant PIMCO spoke of a “sovereign debt explosion” that has taken the world into uncharted waters and poses a major threat to economic stability. “Our sense is that the importance of the shock to public finances in advanced economies is not yet sufficiently appreciated and understood,” said Mohamed El-Erian, the group’s chief executive.

Mr El-Erian said most analysts are still using “backward-looking models” that fail to grasp the full magnitude of what has taken place in world affairs since the crisis. Some 40pc of the global economy is in countries where governments are running deficits above 10pc of GDP, with no easy way out.

Italy has to refinance 20pc of its entire debt – the world’s third largest after Japan and the US – tapping the bond markets for a total €259bn this year. Belgium has to roll over 22pc of its substantial debt.

via Eurozone could risk ‘sovereign debt explosion’ – Telegraph.

Globilization’s Religious Revival March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
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Here’s the indisputable reality: All of the world’s major religions were formed during the Malthusian era of human economics, before the Industrial Revolution shifted Western societies from a subsistence paradigm to questions of how to deal with abundance.

Survival economies demand a strict code, but abundance offers a choice: Do I adapt the ancient rules to this economic liberation or do I reject it as a socially driven moral evil?

Once the “go forth and multiply” logic is disrupted, then long-held strictures regarding marriage, family, sex, homosexuality, and other social institutions are suddenly put in jeopardy. This is where globalization’s economic connectivity generates revolutionary social change, unleashing personal freedom that by historical standards is stunning — even perverse.

The upside, of course, is the commensurate unleashing of personal creativity and innovation, something we’ll need in superabundance for the many resource-utilization challenges that lie ahead.

Globalization divides societies into short-term economic winners and losers, for the simple fact that some people adapt faster than others. The temptation for those who come out on the losing end is an end-times ideology that promises deliverance from these unacceptable circumstances. Such fundamentalism pursued peacefully presents no problem. The faithful simply live apart from the “evil world.”

This is how religion’s fundamentalist variants came to replace communism as the worldwide organizing principle for violent resistance to capitalism’s continued evolution and expansion around the planet.

via WPR Article | The New Rules: West Must Bridge Globalization’s ‘God Gap’.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner March 15, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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At first, some people on Wall Street feared that the Obama Administration was simply seeking a pretext for taking over embattled firms like Citigroup and Bank of America, as liberal Democrats had urged. But Geithner was resolutely opposed to such an option, at least at that stage. He and Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, intended to use the stress tests to bolster banks’ finances rather than nationalizing them. “That would have been a deeply transforming policy mistake,” he said to me. “The country would have suffered for decades. We’d have spent hundreds of billions of dollars more that we didn’t need to spend, and would have been stuck in those institutions for years.”

In fact, some commentators agreed that the Treasury and the Fed were being too tough on banks.  One of these skeptics was Richard Bove, an analyst at Rochdale Securities, who has been following the financial industry since 1965. He has since changed his mind. “Geithner recognized that the system needed overkill on security and soundness to rebuild the confidence that was lacking,” he said. According to Bove’s calculations, U.S. banks now have more capital as a percentage of assets than in any year since 1935. “He built in that safety and soundness throughout the industry. As time goes on, I’m getting more and more respect for him.”

Between March 9th and May 7th, when the results of the stress tests were announced, the Dow rose by almost two thousand points, and the spread between AAA and BAA bonds—a reliable indicator of financial distress—fell sharply

Read more: via Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner : The New Yorker.

Goodbye America, Hello China? Think again! March 14, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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About a quarter of the world's economic output is produced by the United States, whose population is less than a fourth of China's 1.3 billion. So there's a very long way to catch up for a country beset by a variety of Third World problems, from lack of paved roads in many rural areas to water pollution so severe that 700 million people have to drink contaminated water every day, according to the World Bank.

via Goodbye America, Hello China? Think again!- International Business-News-The Economic Times.

For many in Haiti, there’s nowhere to call home March 8, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Geopolitics.
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With the looming rainy season and housing proposals coming to disaster-prone Haiti, both government officials and relief workers are in a race against nature to relocate hundreds of thousands of quake victims living in squalid camps prone to flooding. But in their fervent pursuit of rain-resistant shelter, they are finding an old problem quickly becoming a new one: lack of suitable land.

Even before Haiti’s biggest disaster leveled more than 200,000 homes and buildings, land was already a problem in this densely populated nation where the Champs de Mars camp now boasts one person per 53 square feet, instead of the international norm of one person per 484 square feet.

Illegal squatters living on private and government land, often in substandard conditions with nothing more than dirt for a floor, are as much a norm as people spending their life savings in corruption-ridden legal battles over land title.

via For many in Haiti, there’s nowhere to call home – Haiti – MiamiHerald.com.

What The Tea Party And Hippies Have In Common March 5, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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About 40 years ago, a social movement arose to destroy the establishment. The people we loosely call the New Left wanted to take on The Man, return power to the people, upend the elites and lead a revolution.

About 40 years ago, a social movement arose to destroy the establishment. The people we loosely call the New Left wanted to take on The Man, return power to the people, upend the elites and lead a revolution.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Wal-Mart Hippies – NYTimes.com. (more…)

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