Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurrricane Sandy and Nature's beauty and power

Sandy makes us pause and reflect.  Nature is beautiful and powerful. 

And let's remember to pray for those hurt by the storm.  Image of Hurricane Sandy Oct 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Are Some Bishops Saying You Can't Vote Democrat?

"In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God's truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election."

This quote is from "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" the official document of the U.S. Bishops.  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/

Read the document and compare to reports of some Bishops saying you can't vote for party "x" or candidate "y".

And listen to Pope Benedict

With regard to voting for a pro-choice candidate Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) stated: "When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for a candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons." (Ratzinger-Memorandum July 6, 2004)  http://www.catholicsforcommongood.org/election.htm 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Equal Justice Initiative. Check It Out!

Check Out this Website eji.org.  Fascinating and disturbing info here.  The Criminal "Justice" System needs mega reform.  See the US Bishops brilliant analysis "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice" (2000). http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-justice-restorative-justice/crime-and-criminal-justice.cfm

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

33% of adults under 30 have no church background

A third of adults less than 30 years old have no church background
The number of American citizens who have no religious affiliation is growing rapidly. One fifth of all Americans list no religious affiliation, and a substantial number of adults less than 30 years of age likewise remain unaffiliated with any church.
Popularly known as 'nones,' the growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by younger ones.
Popularly known as 'nones,' the growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by younger ones.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just fewer than 20 percent of all U.S. adults in just the last five years. More than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics, nearly six percent of the U.S. public, as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation at 14 percent.

These Americans are even less religious in conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.

The survey may be affected by a differing view of the words "religion" and "spiritual."

According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, the survey found that many of the country's 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way.

Two-thirds, or 68 percent of the respondents said that they believe in God. More than half, at 58 percent say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth, while more than a third, 37 percent classify themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious." One-in-five or 21 percent say they pray every day.

The unaffiliated, with few exceptions say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. They increasingly think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.

The lower the age group, the less likely people are to be affiliated.

Popularly known as "nones," the growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by younger ones.

A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32 percent), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9 percent). Young adults today are far more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives.

This report contains capsule summaries of some leading theories put forward by scholars in an attempt to explain the root causes of the rise of the "nones." These theories run the gamut from a backlash against the entanglement of religion and politics to a global relationship between economic development and secularization.

© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.

Friday, October 05, 2012

One kid takes all the toys, like the Rich

The New York Times 

October 3, 2012
Why Let the Rich Hoard All the Toys?
Imagine a kindergarten with 100 students, lavishly supplied with books, crayons and toys.
Yet you gasp: one avaricious little boy is jealously guarding a mountain of toys for himself. A handful of other children are quietly playing with a few toys each, while 90 of the children are looking on forlornly — empty-handed.
The one greedy boy has hoarded more toys than all those 90 children put together!
“What’s going on?” you ask. “Let’s learn to share! One child shouldn’t hog everything for himself!”
The greedy little boy looks at you, indignant. “Do you believe in redistribution?” he asks suspiciously, his lips curling in contempt. “I don’t want to share. This is America!”
And then he summons his private security firm and has you dragged off the premises. Well, maybe not, but you get the point.
That kindergarten distribution is precisely what America looks like. Our wealth has become so skewed that the top 1 percent possesses a greater collective worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
This inequality is a central challenge for the United States today and should be getting far more attention in this presidential campaign. A few snapshots:
The six heirs of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, own as much wealth as the bottom 100 million Americans.
• In 2010, 93 percent of the gain in national income went to the top 1 percent.
• America’s Gini coefficient, the classic measure of inequality, set a modern record last month — the highest since the Great Depression.
This dismal ground is explored in an important and smart new book, “The Price of Inequality,” by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton. It’s a searing read.
“We are paying a high price for our inequality — an economic system that is less stable and less efficient, with less growth,” Stiglitz warns.
The problem is not that the rich are venal or immoral, and I buy into the Chinese mantra of the reform era: “To get rich is glorious.” But today’s level of inequality is unusual by American historical and global standards alike, and, as Stiglitz notes, evidence is mounting that inequality at the levels we’ve reached stifles growth and employment.
As I see it, the best way to create a more equitable society wouldn’t be Robin Hood-style redistribution, but a focus on inner-city and rural education — including early childhood programs — and job training. That approach would expand opportunity, even up the starting line, and chip away at cycles of poverty. If the cost means forcing tycoons to pay modestly higher taxes, so be it. The economy wouldn’t suffer.
After all, the United States enjoyed strong growth in the 1950s when we were a more egalitarian country, even though the top income tax rate in that decade was always more than 90 percent.
Indeed, it was only in 1987 that the top income tax rate dropped below 50 percent in the United States. So the 15 percent rate that some tycoons pay because of the carried interest loophole is a recent, er, entitlement.
On this issue, Americans seem by intuition to be flaming lefties. A study published last year by scholars from Harvard Business School and Duke University asked Americans which country they would rather live in — one with America’s wealth distribution or one with Sweden’s. But they weren’t labeled Sweden and America. It turned out that more than 90 percent of Americans preferred to live in a country with the Swedish distribution.
Perhaps nothing gets done because, in polls, Americans hugely underestimate the level of inequality here. Not only do we aspire to live in Sweden, but we think we already do.
It’s also troubling that a considerable share of wealth today comes from the plutocratic version of welfare.
Mitt Romney, for example, became rich in private equity, as did many barons of finance. They’re smart, entrepreneurial and hard-working business executives. But private equity exists largely because of tax advantages for corporate debt that amount to a huge subsidy.
Likewise, the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington estimates that four major tax breaks that encourage excessive corporate pay cost taxpayers $14.4 billion last year. And 26 chief executives received more in pay last year than their companies paid in total federal corporate income taxes.
Often the best route to wealth isn’t competing in the marketplace but lobbying Congress for a tax break. That’s why there are six lobbyists for every member of Congress from the health care industry alone.
All this inequity would be unconscionable if it unfolded in a kindergarten. It should be more offensive when it defines our nation from womb to tomb.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Terry Williams saved from death penalty... for now.

Court spares Pa. inmate from Wednesday execution by denying prosecutors’ emergency petition

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 5:16 PM


PHILADELPHIA — The state’s high court on Wednesday halted Pennsylvania’s first scheduled execution in more than a decade, at least temporarily sparing the life of a man who says the two men he killed had molested him.
With hours remaining until Terrance “Terry” Williams’ death warrant expired, the state Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal by Philadelphia prosecutors to overturn a lower court ruling and proceed with the execution.
The 46-year-old Williams, of Philadelphia, killed two men in his teens.
A state judge found late last week that prosecutors withheld evidence from Williams’ capital murder trial in 1986, including evidence the victim in that case was molesting teen boys. Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina tossed out Williams’ death sentence on Friday but upheld his first-degree murder conviction.
But Philadelphia’s district attorney appealed her ruling and wanted Williams executed before the death warrant expired at midnight Wednesday.
Williams, 46, has been on death row for nearly three decades. He would have been the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 50 years who had not given up his appeals.
Williams’ lawyers spoke with him by phone Wednesday afternoon from outside the prison at Greene County, where he’s on death row. He was never moved to the Centre County facility where he would have been executed.
“He was very relieved,” said defense lawyer Shawn Nolan, one of several federal public defenders representing Williams. “Today was a very scary day for Terry because the stay could have been lifted, and he could have been taken to Rockview and executed.”
They argued that prosecutors had appealed only the stay of execution and not Sarmina’s decision to throw out the death sentence. If the state had executed Williams, it would have done so without a valid death sentence, they said in papers filed Wednesday morning.
District Attorney Seth Williams, no relation to the defendant, insists Terry Williams is the rare defendant deserving of the death penalty, and complained in a response Wednesday that his appeals have tied up the court system long enough.
“Since the sentence of death was imposed in 1986, vast resources have been expanded to give consideration to his every challenge to the judgment,” prosecutors wrote.
Williams was 17 when he fatally stabbed a 50-year-old high school sports booster during a sex-linked argument at the man’s apartment. He had turned 18 when he and a friend fatally beat the 56-year-old church deacon, Amos Norwood, in a cemetery five months later.
Williams, a gifted quarterback who led his high school to a city title, was having sex with homosexual men throughout his teens in exchange for money, gifts and clothes. He says Norwood had been sexually abusing him since he was 13. The jury heard only that Norwood was killed in a robbery. Sarmina relied on original police files she unearthed in ruling Friday that prosecutors had “sanitized” the real story, perhaps affecting the jury’s decision to sentence Williams to death.
The Supreme Court will now ask for briefs as prosecutors appeal her finding.
Only three people have been executed in Pennsylvania since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976.
Gary Heidnik was executed in 1999 for the murders of two women he had imprisoned in his Philadelphia home. The others were both executed in 1995: Leon Moser for the 1985 murders of his wife and two daughters in suburban Philadelphia; and Keith Zettlemoyer for the 1980 slaying of a friend who planned to testify against him in a robbery trial.
Associated Press writer Peter Jackson contributed to this report from Harrisburg, Pa.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
© The Washington Post Company