30 luglio 2009

The US-China Ponzi scheme

By unwittingly tying together their fortunes as they pursued their own interests, the 2 nations have put themselves on an economic path of mutually assured destruction.

By Jon Markman, MSN Money 7/17/2009 12:01 AM ET

Imagine becoming so successful at your job that you stack up $2 trillion in income, which you conservatively place in short-term U.S. Treasury bonds for safekeeping.

Now imagine that when you try to cash in those bonds to buy a few things for your kids, the clerk at the bank abruptly shuts her window and tells you to go away.

That is essentially the situation faced by China these days as it wonders whether its plan to manufacture goods for U.S. consumers over the past two decades in exchange for a pile of credit slips was really such a hot idea.

The answer is coming up as a big, fat "uh-oh" as the U.S. deficit and debt obligations balloon to levels never before contemplated, and Beijing is denied requests to buy U.S. and Australian mines and oil properties. And as Beijing leaders talk openly, if obliquely, about their angst, they are unsettling world credit, currency and stock markets, which don't know what to make of the idea that the world's largest Ponzi scheme might be coming to an abrupt end.

This is a good time to assess the chilling possibilities, as the resolution of this pending crisis will afflict investors, workers and business owners alike.

What's so Ponzi about the Chinese-U.S. relationship? Basically everything. Look at it this way:

After a currency debacle in 1998 left its economy in tatters, Beijing decided to radically restructure its financial relationship with the West. Policymakers pegged the value of China's currency to the dollar, which had the effect of keeping it artificially low.

The cheap renminbi made it irresistibly inexpensive for U.S. companies to manufacture goods in China, even after shipping costs. As more companies shifted their operations to China, the U.S. manufacturing base was hollowed out in the name of globalization and profitability. Americans who once enjoyed high-paying factory jobs moved on to lower-paying service jobs.

China didn't need much of anything made in America, so instead of buying cars from Detroit and furniture from North Carolina with its factory profits, it bought Treasury bills. The purchase of all those bills drove down U.S. interest rates. So as middle-class and blue-collar Americans saw their wages stagnate or decline, they discovered they could still keep their old lifestyles by borrowing.

Over the past decade, Americans were able to outspend their incomes by easily rolling their debts forward through serial home refinancing. The situation was never ideal, but it worked as long as the value of their collateral -- their homes -- kept rising.

As long as China kept buying Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Treasury credits, the scheme worked in a strange and beautiful way: Our driveways filled up with cars and boats, shopping malls spread out across the suburban landscape, and the retailer with the closest ties to China, Wal-Mart, became the United States' largest company.

Land-mine economics
Was that so bad? Well, now think about this in the context of a Ponzi scheme such as the one perpetrated by disgraced financier Bernie Madoff.

Madoff's clients for years thought they were rich because he sent them brokerage statements that said so. But that scheme worked only as long as new money kept coming in. When international money flows seized up last year and too many people wanted to redeem their accounts at once, Madoff's $50 billion game fell apart. Then his victims suddenly discovered that their brokerage statements were worthless pieces of paper. Madoff clients' households crashed, and now one-time millionaires are broke. The reality is that they were always broke; they just didn't know it yet.

The credit that has kept American families afloat for the past 10 years is similar to those Madoff-produced brokerage statements. The credit is good only so long as China keeps recycling funds through the Ponzi scheme. But if Beijing leaders ever decide that it's just too risky to own U.S. dollars and debt, then the system is going to come crashing down.

Of course, it is not really in China's interest to stop the scheme, even if it wanted to, because its own economy would likewise blow up. Satyajit Das, a credit derivatives expert in Australia, likens this to stepping on one of those land mines that are activated by the weight of a victim's body. As soon as the weight is lifted, the mine explodes, and the person's leg is blown off.

China is thus frozen in place, damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. It's a classic Catch-22. China's cache of U.S. bonds isn't worth anything unless the bonds are sold. But selling them on any kind of scale will gut their value.

"People need to realize that China doesn't actually have any real U.S. money," Das says. "Unless they can turn in their bonds and exchange them for something else, they're only paper assets. Yet if they try to exit the position, they'll destabilize the dollar, and the value of the rest of their assets will plunge. And that's not even their biggest problem. It's that they also need to keep buying Treasurys, or interest rates will go up and their capital losses will be terrible."

In short, Das says, Beijing thought it had discovered the perfect scheme for establishing independence from the West, yet it has instead made its dependence worse than ever. And he observes that one unspoken reason that China has gone whole-hog on its massive, $650 billion fiscal stimulus program -- creating more factory capacity in a country that is already reeling from overcapacity -- is that the effort gives it cover to stockpile copper, oil, iron ore and other hard assets that it considers to be better stores of value than dollars.

The long, unwinding road
Now here's why this affects all of us: China and the U.S. together built the most monstrous liquidity bubble in world history as each pursued what it believed to be logical self-interest without any regulator, such as a stern global central banker, telling them that they were on a path of mutually assured destruction.

Now it's reached the point where global capital markets will impose their own discipline. Because most money generated over the past decade was spent on consumption rather than investment -- it's as if Madoff's clients blew their fake money on chartering jets rather than buying real property as a store of wealth -- there are few new buyers of goods. This has killed U.S. retail sales, crushed employment, lifted the foreclosure rate, stymied homebuilders and undercut loan demand.

There are no good solutions. The Chinese need to open their markets and let their currency float on the open market, but they won't for political reasons. And the U.S. needs to either halt its runaway deficit spending so that the world is not even more flooded with our debt, or swallow its pride and issue Treasurys denominated in Chinese currency. That probably won't happen either. Which means there is only one solution left: a long, slow, boring, lonely, soul-crushing process of digging out from under the piles of debt that got us into this mess.

You might even say that the bursting of the credit Ponzi scheme has left us all in jail now with Madoff. Let's hope that our sentence is shorter than his.


28 luglio 2009

Vietnamese Police Maul 2 Priests

500,000 Protest Anti-Catholic Violence

HANOI, Vietnam, JULY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Catholics organized protests in several Vietnamese cities after two priests and other laypeople were savagely beaten by police and thugs.

AsiaNews reported today that Father Paul Nguyen Dinh Phu and Father Peter Nguyen The Binh are in critical condition after the attacks.

The former has broken ribs and head injuries, and the latter was beaten into a coma and then thrown from a 2nd floor window.

The Diocese of Vinh released a statement condemning the police violence against the priests and other Catholics over the past week.

On July 20, hundreds of Catholics were attacked at the church of Tam Toa, where they had gathered to erect a cross and altar.

The 120-year-old church, damaged after an American bombing in 1968, was seized in 1996 by the government to create a "U.S. war crimes memorial."

The people were too poor to rebuild their church immediately, but they still regard it as the seat of their parish and come together there for ceremonies.

After repeated requests for the return of the land, Bishop Paul-Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen of Vinh celebrated a Feb. 2 Mass at the parish, which was attended by 14 priests and thousands of faithful.

Last week, when the faithful gathered again to bring a cross and an altar, police launched tear gas bombs at them, and then began to beat them with sticks and stun guns.

Many were injured, and others were carried away in police vans.

Prayer and appeal

A protest was planned for Sunday, joining people in different cities to denounce this violence and request the return of imprisoned Catholics.

Some 500,000 people, along with 170 priests and 420 religious, joined in the peaceful march, praying the rosary through the streets of cities in the Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh regions.

Father Dinh Phu Nguyen was on his way to the Tam Toa parish that morning, to celebrate Mass along with five other priests before the demonstration, when he was attacked.

He had been trying to intervene to protect three women being beaten by a group of men.

He said that the gang recognized him as a priest and turned to beat him "with brutality" instead, while some 30 uniformed policemen watched.

A group of laypeople came to save him and take him to the hospital.

The diocese issued a public complaint to People's Committee of Quang Binh province, and asked Father Nguyen The Binh, the pastor of a nearby parish, to visit the hospitalized priest, along with the vice governor, Tran Cong Thuat.

However, the gang who beat the first priest was surrounding the hospital, armed with clubs.

Thuat fled, and the thugs attacked the abandoned pastor, beating him unconscious and then throwing him from an upper level of the building.

Protests against this violence have arisen in many cities. Monday evening in Ho Chi Minh City, over 2,000 Catholics attended a prayer vigil to appeal to the Vietnamese government to stop this persecution.

Last Friday, the Vinh Diocese publicized a statement calling for the government to "stop immediately the distortion of truth, the defamation of religion, and the instigation of hatred between Catholics and non-Catholics."

Zenit: http://www.zenit.org/article-26577?l=english

23 luglio 2009

Today’s forecast: yet another blast of hot air

Why I would rather be called a heretic on global warming

by David Bellamy October 22, 2007, the Times Online

Am I worried about man-made global warming? The answer is “no” and “yes”.

No, because the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction has come up against an “inconvenient truth”. Its research shows that since 1998 the average temperature of the planet has not risen, even though the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has continued to increase.

Yes, because the self-proclaimed consensus among scientists has detached itself from the questioning rigours of hard science and become a political cause. Those of us who dare to question the dogma of the global-warming doomsters who claim that C not only stands for carbon but also for climate catastrophe are vilified as heretics or worse as deniers.

I am happy to be branded a heretic because throughout history heretics have stood up against dogma based on the bigotry of vested interests. But I don’t like being smeared as a denier because deniers don’t believe in facts. The truth is that there are no facts that link the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide with imminent catastrophic global warming. Instead of facts, the advocates of man-made climate change trade in future scenarios based on complex and often unreliable computer models.

Name-calling may be acceptable in politics but it should have no place in science; indeed, what is happening smacks of McCarthyism, witch-hunts and all. Scientific understanding, however, is advanced by robust, reasoned argument based on well-researched data. So I turn to simple sets of data that are already in the public domain.

The last peak global temperatures were in 1998 and 1934 and the troughs of low temperature were around 1910 and 1970. The second dip caused pop science and the media to cry wolf about an impending, devastating Ice Age. Our end was nigh!

Then, when temperatures took an upward swing in the 1980s, the scaremongers changed their tune. Global warming was the new imminent catastrophe.

But the computer model – called “hockey stick” – that predicted the catastrophe of a frying planet proved to be so bent that it “disappeared” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s armoury of argument in 2007. It was bent because the historical data it used to predict the future dated from only the 1850s, when the world was emerging from the Little Ice Age. Little wonder that temperatures showed an upward trend.

In the Sixties I used to discuss climate change with my undergraduates at Durham University. I would point to the plethora of published scientific evidence that showed the cyclical nature of change – and how, for instance, the latest of a string of ice ages had affected the climate, sea levels and tree lines around the world. Thank goodness the latest crop of glaciers and ice sheets began to wane in earnest about 12,000 years ago; this gave Britain a window of opportunity to lead the industrial revolution.

The Romans grew grapes in York and during the worldwide medieval warm period – when civilizations blossomed across the world – Nordic settlers farmed lowland Greenland (hence its name) and then got wiped out by the Little Ice Age that lasted roughly from the 16th century until about 1850.

There is no escaping the fact that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been rising for 150 years – and very uniformly since the 1950s. Yet the temperature has not increased in step with CO2. Not only have there been long periods of little change in temperature, but also the year-to-year oscillations are totally unrelated to CO2 change. What is more, the trend lines of glacial shortening and rise in sea level have shown no marked change since the big increase in the use of fossil fuels since 1950.

How can this be explained unless there are other factors at work overriding the greenhouse effect of CO2? There are, of course, many to be found in the peer-reviewed literature: solar cycles, cosmic rays, cloud control and those little rascals, such as El Niño and La Niña, all of which are played down or even ignored by the global-warming brigade.

Let’s turn to Al Gore’s doom-laden Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. First, what is the point of scaring the families of the world with tales that polar bears are heading for extinction? Last year Mitchell Taylor, of the US National Biological Service, stated that “of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”

Why create alarm about a potential increase in the spread of malaria thanks to rising temperatures when this mosquito-borne disease was a major killer of people in Britain and northern Russia throughout the Little Ice Age?

Despite the $50 billion spent on greenwashing propaganda, the sceptics and their inconvenient questions are beginning to make their presence felt.

A recent survey of Klaus-Martin Schulte, of Kings College Hospital, of all papers on the subject of climate change that were published between 2004 and February of 2007 found that only 7 per cent explicitly endorsed a “so-called consensus” position that man-made carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming. What is more, James Lovelock, the author and green guru, has changed his mind: he recently stated that neither Earth nor the human race is doomed.

Yes, melting sea ice around Greenland has recently opened up the fabled North West passage. And, yes, the years 2006 and 2007 have seen massive flooding in Europe. However, a quick dip into the records of the Royal Society – which ranked alongside Dr Lovelock as arch doomsters, before his change of mind – shows that dramatic fluctuations happened long before the infernal combustion engine began spewing out carbon dioxide.

The year 1816 went down in history as the “year without a summer”, thanks to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia that veiled much of the world with dust, screening out the Sun. Yet in 1817, while still in the grip of the Little Ice Age, the Royal Society was so worried that 2,000 square leagues of sea ice around Greenland had disappeared within two years, and massive flooding was taking place in Germany, that its president wrote to the Admiralty advising of the necessity of an expedition to find out what was the source of this new heat.

Perhaps, when similar things are happening 190 years later, the Royal Society should accept that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is unlikely to be the main – or only – driver of “global warming”.

Priest's Last Words: "I Forgive You"

Friend Tells of Spaniard Slain in Cuba

SANTANDER, Spain, JULY 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The last words of Father Mariano Arroyo Merino expressed his forgiveness for the would-be robbers who knifed and burned him.

The Spanish priest, 74, was murdered July 13 at his parish of Our Lady of Regla, in Havana, Cuba. Father Arroyo was the second Spanish priest to be assassinated in Cuba in less than a year. Father Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 59, was killed Feb. 14.

Father Isidro Hoyos, another Spaniard who carries out his ministry in Cuba, was a friend of them both. In Santander for vacation, Father Hoyos was interviewed by the Diario Montañés. He recounted that Father Arroyo's last words were "I forgive you."

This revelation came from the suspect who has admitted to killing the priest.

Father Hoyos met Father Arroyo in 1970 in Spain. At the urging of his friend, Father Hoyos left for Cuba in 2001, having reached the age of retirement in Spain, to continue with his priestly ministry on the island. "Yes," he explained, "it happened that that summer (of 2000), Mariano was here (in Spain). He had already spent many years in Havana. I told him (I'd go to Cuba), it seemed a good idea to him and I went. We lived together for four years and then they assigned me to the barrio of Alamar in Havana."

There, he carries out his mission among a population of 100,000 people. "It is a village that was created after Castro's revolution, but a village of 100,000 inhabitants. Actually it's a city-dormitory" and it has just one parish.

The priest described it: "It's a little house with a patio -- a few grains of sand among this immense multitude. On Sunday we have the (Eucharistic) celebration and some 300 people participate. That's not many, but before there was nothing."

Father Hoyos said being a priest in Havana is not difficult. "People treat you very well," he explained. "I wasn't accustomed to the adoration that is felt there for the figure of the priest. The Cubans are very reverent with sacred things."

He said he supposes that the investigations are correct in presuming the motive for Father Arroyo's murder was an attempted robbery.

"Mariano had a big safe but he didn't have much of value there -- only a crown for Our Lady that had more sentimental than monetary value. It was very old," he noted. "If he had money, it wouldn't have been much. Mariano had just finished doing some work in the parish because it was in very poor conditions. And if he had money from donations, he didn't keep it in the house but in the bishopric. In any case, if the robber would have given him the choice between the money and his life, undoubtedly Mariano would have given him the money without resistance."

The two suspects under arrest for the murder have confessed, Father Hoyos noted, "and the one who killed Mariano revealed that his last words were, 'I forgive you.'"

And that would be characteristic of Father Mariano, his friend contended. "He was a profoundly religious man. He was very coherent, very austere."

Father Hoyos added that it was no surprise multitudes attended the funeral. "I imagined that would happen," he said. "Mariano was very well-known there. I think that it was the biggest gathering Havana has seen, not counting Castro's manifestations."

For his part, Father Hoyos will be returning to Cuba next month, and reported that he is not frightened by this prospect. "I don't think (the two slayings) are going to become an unending chain," he said. "I have a commitment to those people and I am going to fulfill it. It seems cowardly to not return. I am not saying that I'm indispensable, but I feel obligated to return."

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-26523?l=english

22 luglio 2009

My Book List

I've compiled a list of every book I can ever remember reading. I am posting it here so I don't lose it!



1989 [2-3]
1. Ramona the Brave ~ Beverly Cleary
2. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 ~ Beverly Cleary
3. Ramona and Her Father ~ Beverly Cleary
4. Ramona and Her Mother ~ Beverly Cleary
5. Ramona Forever ~ Beverly Cleary
6. Beezus and Ramona ~ Beverly Cleary
7. Ramona the Pest ~ Beverly Cleary
8. Dear Mr. Henshaw ~ Beverly Cleary
9. Henry Huggins ~ Beverly Cleary
10. The Mouse and the Motorcycle ~ Beverly Cleary
11. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH ~ Robert C. O'Brien
12. Where the Sidewalk Ends ~ Shel Silverstein
13. A Light in the Attic ~ Shel Silverstein
14. The Giving Tree ~ Shel Silverstein
15. Charlotte's Web ~ E.B. White

1990 [3-4]
16. Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
17. Superfudge by Judy Blume
18. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler ~ E.L. Konigsburg
19. The Call of the Wild ~ Jack London
20. White Fang ~ Jack London
21. A Christmas Carol ~ Charles Dickens

1991 [4-5]
22. Island of the Blue Dolphins ~ Scott O'Dell
23. Sideways Stories from Wayside School ~ Louis Sachar
24. Wayside School is Falling Down ~ Louis Sachar
25. Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger ~ Louis Sachar
26. James and the Giant Peach ~ Roald Dahl
27. Danny, the Champion of the World ~ Roald Dahl
28. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks ~ Lynne Reid Banks
29. The Return of the Indian ~ Lynne Reid Banks
30. The Secret of the Indian ~ Lynne Reid Banks
31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ~ Roald Dahl
32. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ~ Roald Dahl

1992 [5-6]

33. Tom Sawyer ~ Mark Twain
34. Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain
35. A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag ~ Gordon Korman
36. The House of Dies Drear ~ Virginia Hamilton
37. My Brother Sam is Dead ~ James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier

1993 [6-7]
38. The Last of the Mohicans ~ James Fenimore Cooper
39. The Deerslayer ~ James Fenimore Cooper
40. The Pathfinder ~ James Fenimore Cooper
41. The Giver ~ Lois Lowry
42. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court ~ Mark Twain
43. Exodus ~ Leon Uris
44. Night ~ Elie Wiesel
45. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ~ C.S. Lewis
46. Voyage of the Dawn Treader ~ C.S. Lewis
47. Prince Caspian ~ C.S. Lewis
48. The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis
49. The Last Battle ~ C.S. Lewis
50. The Horse and His Boy ~ C.S. Lewis
51. The Magician's Nephew ~ C.S. Lewis

1994 [7-8]
52. The Red Badge of Courage ~ Stephen Crane
53. Romeo and Juliet ~ William Shakespeare
54. The Prince and the Pauper ~ Mark Twain
55. Sacred Clowns ~ Tony Hillerman
56. To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee
57. Ivanhoe ~ Sir Walter Scott
58. Skinwalkers ~ Tony Hillerman
59. Thief of Time ~ Tony Hillerman
60. Talking God ~ Tony Hillerman

1995 [8-FR]
61. The Tao of Pooh ~ Benjamin Hoff
62. The Grapes of Wrath ~ John Steinbeck
63. To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee
64. Gilgamesh ~ ancient
65. Never Cry Wolf ~ Farley Mowatt
66. Hunting Badger ~ Tony Hillerman
67. The First Eagle ~ Tony Hillerman
68. Dark Wind ~ Tony Hillerman
69. The Wailing Wind ~ Tony Hillerman
70. Skeleton Man ~ Tony Hillerman
71. The Blessing Way ~ Tony Hillerman

1996 [FR-SO]
72. Hamlet ~ William Shakespeare
73. Canterbury Tales ~ Geoffrey Chaucer
74. Beowulf ~ ?
75. Pride and Prejudice ~ Jane Austen
76. Wuthering Heights ~ Emily Bronte
77. MacBeth ~ William Shakespeare
78. Dance Hall of the Dead ~ Tony Hillerman
79. People of Darkness ~ Tony Hillerman
80. Coyote Waits ~ Tony Hillerman

1997 [SO-JR]
81. The Patriot Chiefs ~ Alvin M. Josephy
82. The Great Gatsby ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
83. The Scarlet Letter ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
84. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ~ James Joyce

1998 [JR-SR]
85. A Century of Dishonor ~ Helen Hunt Jackson
86. The Sun also Rises ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
87. The Awakening ~ Kate Chopin
88. Joseph Andrews ~ Henry Fielding
89. Nectar in a Sieve ~ Kamala Markandaya

1999 [SR-FR]
90. The Odyssey ~ Homer
91. The Rainbow ~ D.H. Lawrence
92. The Kitchen God's Wife ~ Amy Tan
93. The Last of the Mohicans ~ James Fenimore Cooper
94. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ~ C.S. Lewis
95. Voyage of the Dawn Treader ~ C.S. Lewis
96. Prince Caspian ~ C.S. Lewis
97. The Invisible Man ~ H.G. Wells
98. The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis
99. The Last Battle ~ C.S. Lewis
100. The Horse and His Boy ~ C.S. Lewis
101. The Magician's Nephew ~ C.S. Lewis
102. The Kongolese Saint Anthony ~ John Thornton

2000 [FR-SO]
103. Black Elk Speaks ~ John Gneisenau Neihardt
104. Sundiata ~ D.T. Niane
105. Life at Great Zimbabwe ~ Peter Garlake
106. Reefer Madness: The History of Marijuana in America ~ Larry Ratso Sloman
107. The Talented Mr. Ripley ~ Patricia Highsmith
108. Coercion ~ Douglas Rushkoff
109. Lies My Teacher Told Me ~ James Loewen
110. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol. 1 ~ Lo Kuan-Chung
111. How to Overthrow the Government ~ Ariana Huffington
112. History of the Inca Empire ~ Fr. Bernabe Cobo
113. Breaking the Maya Code ~ Michael D. Coe
114. Agamemnon ~ Aeschylus
115. Eumenides ~ Aeschylus
116. The Persians ~ Aeschylus
117. The Libation Bearers ~ Aeschylus
118. Lysistrata ~ Aristophanes
119. The Frogs ~ Aristophanes
120. On the Life of the Caesars ~ Seutonius

[SO-JR] 2001
121. 1984 ~ George Orwell
122. Fast Food Nation ~ Eric Schlosser
123. Band of Brothers ~ Stephen Ambrose
124. The Good War: An Oral History of World War II‎ ~ Studs Terkel
125. An Intimate History of Killing ~ Joanna Bourke
126. The Silmarillion ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
127. The Hobbit ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
128. The Fellowship of the Ring ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
129. The Two Towers ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
130. The Return of the King ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
131. The Everlasting Man ~ G.K. Chesterton
132. The Professor and the Madman ~ Simon Winchester
133. Beowulf ~ ?
134. La dama del alba ~ Alejandro Casona
135. Rosaura a las diez ~ Marco Denevi

[JR-SR] 2002
136. Clan of the Cave Bear ~ Jean Auel
137. The Ball and the Cross ~ G.K. Chesterton
138. Democracy in America ~ Alexis deTocqueville
139. The Communist Manifesto ~ Karl Marx
140. Introduction to the Philosophy of History ~ Hegel
141. Leviathan ~ John Locke
142. The Tempest ~ William Shakespeare
143. Oroonoko ~ Aphra Behn
144. Go Phish ~ Dave Thompson
145. Leaf, by Niggle ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
146. Smith of Wooton Major ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
147. Mr. Bliss ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
148. The Man Who Was Thursday ~ G.K. Chesterton
149. El viejo que leía novelas de amor ~ Luis Sepúlveda
150. Heart of Darkness ~ Joseph Conrad
151. Darwin Awards ~ Wendy Northcutt
152. Run Like an Antelope: On the Road with Phish ~ Sean Gibbon

[SR] 2003
153. What's Wrong with the World? ~ G.K. Chesterton
154. The Lamb's Supper ~ Scott Hahn
155. Hail, Holy Queen ~ Scott Hahn
156. Why I am Not a Hindu ~ Kanchan Iliah
157. Catholicism and Fundamentalism ~ Karl Keating
158. Oedipus Rex ~ Sophocles
159. Medea ~ Euripides
160. Electra ~ Euripides
161. Mere Christianity ~ C.S. Lewis
162. The Screwtape Letters ~ C.S. Lewis
163. Autobiography of Malcolm X ~ Malcolm X
164. Who's Looking Out for You? ~ Bill O’Reilly
165. The Souls of Black Folk ~ W.E.B. DuBois
166. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ~ C.S. Lewis
167. Voyage of the Dawn Treader ~ C.S. Lewis
168. Prince Caspian ~ C.S. Lewis
169. The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis
170. The Last Battle ~ C.S. Lewis
171. The Horse and His Boy ~ C.S. Lewis
172. The Iliad ~ Homer
173. The Odyssey ~ Homer
174. Le avventure di Pinocchio ~ Carlo Collodi
175. The Magician's Nephew, The ~ C.S. Lewis
176. The Fellowship of the Ring, the ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
177. The Two Towers ~ J.R.R.Tolkien
178. The Return of the King ~ J.R.R.Tolkien

179. Every Young Man's Battle ~ Stephen Arterburn
180. Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox ~ G.K. Chesterton
181. Wild at Heart ~ John Eldredge
182. Dark Star ~ Robert Greenfield
183. What Catholics Really Believe ~ Karl Keating
184. The Great Divorce ~ C.S. Lewis
185. The Power of Babel ~ John McWhorter
186. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ~ J.K. Rowling
187. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ~ J.K. Rowling
188. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ~ J.K. Rowling
189. The Lotus and the Cross ~ Ravi Zacharias
190. Dune ~ Frank Herbert
191. Dune Messiah ~ Frank Herbert

192. Confessions ~ St. Augustine of Hippo
193. Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words ~ Rod Bennett
194. Not So Funny When It Happened ~ Tim Cahill
195. Hold the Enlightenment ~ Tim Cahill
196. Manalive! ~ G.K. Chesterton
197. Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic ~ David Currie
198. The Evidential Power of Beauty ~ Fr. Thomas Dubay
199. How Firm a Foundation ~ Marcus Grodi
200. The Last Disciple ~ Hank Hanegraaf
201. The Barbarian Way ~ Erwin McManus
202. Crossing the Tiber ~ Stephen K. Ray
203. The Soul After Death ~ Fr. Seraphim Rose
204. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ~ J.K. Rowling
205. Committed ~ Mark St. Amant
206. The Everlasting Man ~ G.K. Chesterton
207. The Man Who Was Thursday ~ G.K. Chesterton

208. Closing of the American Mind ~ Allan Bloom
209. Angels and Demons ~ Dan Brown
210. Orthodoxy ~ G. K. Chesterton
211. Godless ~ Anne Coulter
212. Walking to Emmaeus ~ Eamon Duffy
213. Baudolino ~ Umberto Eco
214. Foucault's Pendelum ~ Umberto Eco
215. Introduction to Government and Binding Theory ~ Liliane Haegeman
216. Doing Our Own Thing ~ John McWhorter
217. Blue Like Jazz ~ Donald Miller
218. Joe Namath ~ Joe Namath
219. John Paul the Great ~ Peggy Noonan

220. Tiki ~ Tiki Barber
221. The GM ~ Tom Callahan
222. I, Claudius ~ Robert Graves
223. The Godfather ~ Mario Puzo
224. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ~ J. K. Rowling
225. Lawrence Taylor ~ Lawrence Taylor
226. The Draft ~ Pete Williams
227. Belief or Nonbelief? ~ Umberto Eco & Cardinal Martini

228. The Alchemist ~ Paulo Coelho
229. The Fifth Mountain ~ Paulo Coelho
230. The Warrior of the Light ~ Paulo Coelho
231. The Last Kingdom ~ Bernard Cornwell
232. The Pale Horseman ~ Bernard Cornwell
233. The Lords of the North ~ Bernard Cornwell
234. Sword Song ~ Bernard Cornwell
235. The Draft ~ Will Mara
236. Serendipities ~ Umberto Eco
237. Mexico ~ James A. Michener
238. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus ~ Charles C. Mann
239. Inside the Helmet ~ Michael Strahan
240. Twilight ~ Stephenie Meyer
241. New Moon ~ Stephenie Meyer
242. Eclipse ~ Stephenie Meyer
243. Breaking Dawn ~ Stephenie Meyer

244. The Billion Dollar Game ~ Allen St. John
245. Giant: The Road to the Super Bowl ~ Plaxico Burress and Jason Cole
246. Christ Stopped at Eboli ~ Carlo Levi
247. Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters ~ Larry Alexander
248. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ~ Jean-Dominique Bauby
249. The Mole People ~ Jennifer Toth
250. Glenn Beck’s Common Sense ~ Glenn Beck [AUDIO]
251. Common Sense ~ Thomas Paine [AUDIO]
252. The Four Loves ~ C.S. Lewis [AUDIO]

In Progress/ Unfinished:
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Lilith - George MacDonald
A Canticle for Liebowitz – Walter M. Miller
The Aeneid – Virgil
The Coming of the Third Reich – Richard J. Evans
How I Found Dr. Livingstone in Central Africa – Henry Morgan Stanley
Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss

20 luglio 2009

Killing Those Deemed Unworthy of Life

Eugenic Mentality Shows Little Signs of Dying Out

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, JULY 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The idea that some people are genetically inferior, and need to be eliminated or prevented from reproducing, is a mentality that still persists, despite the battering it took after the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.

In a revealing interview published July 12 in the New York Times Magazine Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States was asked about abortion, among other topics.

Referring to the Supreme Court decision that opened the doors to abortion, Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions about abortion funding, Ginsburg commented: "Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

This amazing statement was not elaborated on, and there was no explanation of which groups might fall into the sectors "we don't want to have too many of."

In an opinion article published July 14 by the Los Angeles Times, Jonah Goldberg admitted that the text could be interpreted as a mere description of the mentality behind the decisions, and so we are not certain if Ginsburg endorses this approach.

Nevertheless, he continued, it certainly is true that the push for abortion owed a lot to a desire to eliminate those seen as unfit. It's well known, he said, that the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, "was a racist eugenicist of the first order."

Forced Sterilization

Just last month the sad history of forced sterilizations was commemorated in North Carolina.

An aluminum sign was unveiled in Raleigh as a memorial to the thousands of people who were sterilized from 1933 to 1973 because they were considered mentally disabled or genetically inferior, reported the Associated Press, June 22.

According to the article, North Carolina's program targeted the poor and people living in prisons and state institutions, among others. Some were simply victims of rape. The state Eugenics Commission still continued until 1977, after which the mentally ill were placed under the court system.

Sterilization programs are not only a matter of historical interest. On June 22, the Guardian newspaper reported that women in Africa with HIV are being coerced into being sterilized.

Apparently, they are told that the procedure is a routine treatment for AIDS. The International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS is preparing a court case against the Namibian government on behalf of a group HIV-positive women in Namibia who were sterilized against their will.

The Guardian also reported that campaigners say there is coerced sterilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and South Africa.

The eugenics mentality is very widespread, albeit in a subtler form, when it comes to those who are handicapped or suffer from genetic defects. Often these people are simply eliminated before they have a chance to be born.

Scientific developments promise to intensify the threat to these handicapped. On July 1, the London-based Times newspaper reported that researchers are developing a universal genetic test for embryos that will be able to screen for almost any inherited disease.

Trials will begin shortly and Professor Alan Handyside, of the Bridge Clinic in London, explained to the Times that the test will be capable of identifying any of the 15,000 known genetic disorders. Currently only 2% of genetic defects can be picked up by embryo screening.

Designer babies

The article commented that this technique, known as karyomapping, will deepen the controversy over "designer babies." It appears that the test could also be used to select an embryo with a particular eye color, or with genes that affect height.

Nevertheless, checking for the many genes that control the diverse facets of development would be difficult to carry out in practice as hundreds of embryos would be needed to guarantee the desired profile.

It's already common practice to eliminate embryos or fetuses that suffer from Down Syndrome. Dominic Lawson criticized this tendency in an opinion article published by the British newspaper, the Independent, last Nov. 25.

Lawson, who has a child of his own with Down Syndrome, noted, however, some signs of change. He quoted Carol Boys, the chief executive of the Down Syndrome Association, who said that about 40% of mothers who test positive for Down Syndrome are not refusing to terminate the pregnancy.

In part, Boys explained, this is linked to the fact that women are tending to have children later in life. This means they are more conscious that they may not be able to have any other children. As well, these women have an established career of their own, that gives them more confidence in standing up to the pressures from doctors to have an abortion.

According to Lawson, doctors in general have "a visceral bias in favor of eugenic termination."

"This is not based on a realistic and up-to-date assessment of the possibilities open to those with Down Syndrome, still less of the happiness which such people can and do bring to families, and even communities as a whole," Lawson added.

The cause of such an attitude is based on the fact that people with Down Syndrome are going to be more costly for the health system, he accused.

New genetic tests are looming for Down Syndrome too, an article in the online section of the American Spectator announced on June 8. Sequenom, a company that makes genetic analysis products, has developed a new genetic test for Down syndrome.

The test, called SEQureDX, is supposed to be safer and more accurate than any previous prenatal genetic test.


"Though the new tests are safer for both mother and child, they will create a profoundly unsafe environment for babies who test positive for genetic abnormalities," the article stated.

At least three other companies are developing similar genetic tests and hope to have them on the market by the end of the year, the article noted.

The promise of more accurate tests points to a fact not often given prominence, namely that sometimes perfectly healthy babies are aborted due to errors in genetic testing. According to a May 16 article from the Guardian newspaper, Dr. Anne Mackie, the head of screening programs for the U.K.'s National Health Service, estimated 146 healthy babies a year in England who do not have any abnormality are lost as a result of inaccurate test results.

According to Mackie, 70% of hospitals in England still use tests that are more likely to give a "false positive," that is, assessing women wrongly as at high risk.

On Feb. 21, Benedict XVI spoke to participants in a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life on the theme "New Frontiers of Genetics and the Danger of Eugenics."

Every human being, the Pontiff affirmed, "is far more than a unique combination of genetic information that is transmitted by his or her parents."

We must beware of the risks involved in eugenics, the Holy Father warned. He observed that today there are "disturbing manifestations of this odious practice" that are appearing.

There is, he explained, "a tendency to give priority to functional ability, efficiency, perfection, and physical beauty, to the detriment of life's other dimensions which are deemed unworthy."

"The respect that is due to every human being, even bearing a developmental defect or a genetic disease that might manifest itself during life, is thus weakened while children whose life is considered not worth living are penalized from the moment of conception," the Pope commented.

Benedict XVI urged that any form of discrimination be rejected as an attack on the whole of humanity. A call to action that should awaken consciences around the world.

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-26495?l=english

15 luglio 2009

The Economic Impact of the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill

Testimony before the Senate Republican Conference

June 22, 2009

My name is Ben Lieberman, and I am the Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.

I would like to thank the Senate Republican Conference for extending me the privilege of participating in today's hearing. I'll be discussing the costs of the cap-and-trade approach to addressing global warming and The Heritage Foundation's economic analysis of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey). As you know, the House is currently considering this bill, which is similar to but has more stringent targets and timetables than the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill that was rejected by the Senate last June.

It is clear that cap-and-trade is very expensive and amounts to nothing more than an energy tax in disguise. After all, when you sweep aside all the complexities of how cap and trade operates--and make no mistake, this is the most convoluted attempt at economic central planning this nation has ever attempted--the bottom line is that cap and trade works by raising the cost of energy high enough so that individuals and businesses are forced to use less of it. Inflicting economic pain is what this is all about. That is how the ever-tightening emissions targets will be met.

The only entities directly regulated by Waxman-Markey would be the electric utilities, oil refiners, natural gas producers, and some manufacturers that produce energy on site. So, the good news for the rest of us--homeowners, car owners, small-business owners, farmers--is that we won't be directly regulated under this bill. The bad news is that nearly all the costs will get passed on to us anyway.

What are those costs? According to the analysis we conducted at The Heritage Foundation, which is attached to my written statement, the higher energy costs kick in as soon as the bill's provisions take effect in 2012. For a household of four, energy costs go up $436 that year, and they eventually reach $1,241 in 2035 and average $829 annually over that span. Electricity costs go up 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent by 2035. The cumulative higher energy costs for a family of four by then will be nearly $20,000.

But direct energy costs are only part of the consumer impact. Nearly everything goes up, since higher energy costs raise production costs. If you look at the total cost of Waxman-Markey, it works out to an average of $2,979 annually from 2012-2035 for a household of four. By 2035 alone, the total cost is over $4,600.

Beyond the cost impact on individuals and households, Waxman-Markey also affects employment, and especially employment in the manufacturing sector. We estimate job losses averaging 1,145,000 at any given time from 2012-2035. And note that those are net job losses, after the much-hyped green jobs are taken into account. Some of the lost jobs will be destroyed entirely, while others will be outsourced to nations like China and India that have repeatedly stated that they'll never hamper their own economic growth with energy-cost boosting global warming measures like Waxman-Markey.

Since farming is energy intensive, that sector will be particularly hard-hit. Higher gasoline and diesel fuel costs, higher electricity costs, and higher natural gas-derived fertilizer costs all erode farm profits, which are expected to drop by 28 percent in 2012 and average 57 percent lower through 2035. As with American manufacturers, Waxman-Markey also puts American farmers at a global disadvantage, as other food-exporting nations would have no comparable energy-price raising measures in place.

Overall, Waxman-Markey reduces gross domestic product by an average of $393 billion annually between 2012 and 2035, and cumulatively by $9.4 trillion. In other words, the nation will be $9.4 trillion poorer with Waxman-Markey than without it.

It should also be noted that the costs are not distributed evenly. Low-income households spend a disproportionate share of their incomes on energy, and thus would be hit harder than average by Waxman-Markey. Of course, the bill has provisions to give back some revenues to low-income households, but it is likely that these rebates will amount only to some portion of each dollar that was taken away from them in the first place in the form of higher energy costs and higher costs for other goods and services. Waxman-Markey also disproportionately burdens those states, especially in the Midwest and South, that still have a substantial number of manufacturing jobs to lose, as well as those that rely more heavily than others on coal for electric generation. In addition, because the bill raises energy costs, it hurts rural America much more than urban America. Rural Americans, farmers and non-farmers, spend an average of 58 percent more on energy as a percentage of income than their urban counterparts, and those costs would go up.

In conclusion, it's not surprising that support for Waxman-Markey is heaviest in those parts of the country, the urban centers in the West Coast and Northeast, that are least harmed by it. Even there, the economic damage would be bad enough, but the citizens in the rest of the country and their representatives should really be asking many tough questions about the economic impact of cap and trade. Thank you.

Source: The Heritage Foundation

The Cap and Tax Fiction

Democrats off-loading economics to pass climate change bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put cap-and-trade legislation on a forced march through the House, and the bill may get a full vote as early as Friday. It looks as if the Democrats will have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done.

Despite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's many payoffs to Members, rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose crushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers. The leadership's solution to this problem is to simply claim the bill defies the laws of economics.

Their gambit got a boost this week, when the Congressional Budget Office did an analysis of what has come to be known as the Waxman-Markey bill. According to the CBO, the climate legislation would cost the average household only $175 a year by 2020. Edward Markey, Mr. Waxman's co-author, instantly set to crowing that the cost of upending the entire energy economy would be no more than a postage stamp a day for the average household. Amazing. A closer look at the CBO analysis finds that it contains so many caveats as to render it useless.

Associated Press

Henry Waxman
For starters, the CBO estimate is a one-year snapshot of taxes that will extend to infinity. Under a cap-and-trade system, government sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that can be emitted nationally; companies then buy or sell permits to emit CO2. The cap gets cranked down over time to reduce total carbon emissions.

To get support for his bill, Mr. Waxman was forced to water down the cap in early years to please rural Democrats, and then severely ratchet it up in later years to please liberal Democrats. The CBO's analysis looks solely at the year 2020, before most of the tough restrictions kick in. As the cap is tightened and companies are stripped of initial opportunities to "offset" their emissions, the price of permits will skyrocket beyond the CBO estimate of $28 per ton of carbon. The corporate costs of buying these expensive permits will be passed to consumers.

The biggest doozy in the CBO analysis was its extraordinary decision to look only at the day-to-day costs of operating a trading program, rather than the wider consequences energy restriction would have on the economy. The CBO acknowledges this in a footnote: "The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap."

The hit to GDP is the real threat in this bill. The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.

When the Heritage Foundation did its analysis of Waxman-Markey, it broadly compared the economy with and without the carbon tax. Under this more comprehensive scenario, it found Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill's restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.

Note also that the CBO analysis is an average for the country as a whole. It doesn't take into account the fact that certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others -- manufacturing states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more of their disposable income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families.

Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won't pinch wallets, behind the scenes they've acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.

The reality is that cost estimates for climate legislation are as unreliable as the models predicting climate change. What comes out of the computer is a function of what politicians type in. A better indicator might be what other countries are already experiencing. Britain's Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years.

Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can't repeal that reality.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Glenn Beck: Who Else Needs a Bailout?

July 14, 2009 - 20:08 ET

Another Bailout?

Conservatives have warned about a Fairness Doctrine, but I don't think it's going to happen. Remember: It's all about misdirection — watch the other hand. They're not going to do the Fairness Doctrine; it'll be 1,000 tiny paper cuts.

Let's start with our favorite topic: another bailout. A group of minority broadcasters asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for a bailout on Monday. Broadcasting is pretty similar to the financial and auto industries, so it's no biggie, right?

Well, dig a little deeper and you'll see the web of connections that no one else wants to show you. Which lawmakers signed the letter? None other than our old pals Barney Frank, Charlie Rangel and House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

Wait a minute. Clyburn, Clyburn... why is that name familiar? Oh yeah, he's the civil rights hero and Democratic Party heavyweight whose support and eventual endorsement of candidate-Obama helped get him into the White House.

On a completely unrelated note, Clyburn's eldest daughter, Mignon, a former weekly newspaper publisher, was nominated to be a member of the FCC. That's the same FCC that regulates broadcasters, including the 7.7 percent of minority-owned radio stations and 3.2 percent of minority-owned TV stations that just asked for a bailout.

Can you say "conflict of interest"? Nope, in community organizer-in-chief Obama's world that's called "transparency."

Oh, by the way, the minority groups may not get a bailout. But mark my words, it will be easier to find funds for "alternative programming" to get radio stations out of the hands of mean white people.

That's Stimulating

Pretend you are the CEO of a company. How many jobs do you think you could create with $413 million? Now how many jobs do you think the government stimulus can create with $413 million? In New Hampshire, the answer is 34 full-time jobs.

No, not 34,000 — just thirty-four. That works out to $12,147,059 of your tax dollars for every job the state has created.

With that kind of fantastic production, it's no wonder that the state will eventually get between $500-750 million in stimulus funds. Taking the higher number, that would get the great state of New Hampshire a whopping 62 jobs created or saved.

Who said states don't know how to stretch a dollar?

Don't Count Out Palin

The only people counting Sarah Palin out are those who believe only in party politics, those who hated her anyway (mainly the cast of "Saturday Night Live") and those who don't understand the paradigm will shift. But don't you count her out.

You'll remember she announced she would stepping down as Alaska's governor later this month. While her critics have said the move amounts to political suicide, there's some encouraging news for her supporters. Her political action committee received $200,000 in donations since her July 3 announcement, in addition to the more than $700,000 in the first half of the year. Of that money, 57 percent came from donors who contributed less than $200.

That sounds like a lot of grassroots support. But is anyone reporting that?

Compare that to the gads of reporting about the great grassroots movement of candidate Obama. According to The Washington Post, only a quarter of the money Obama raised came from small donors — which I may point out was a smaller percentage than George Bush raised in 2004.

Separately, you'll remember that a lot of the Obama donors were big donations cut up and disguised as a bunch of smaller ones. But you know, that is the real grassroots, where you'll find lots of little acorns scattered.

Summer Reading

How much would you pay to read Senator Ted Kennedy's memoir? Think it's worth 1,000 bucks? Well, that's what his publisher wants to charge for one leather-bound limited edition of the book.

Yes, really.

Source: Glenn Beck

Firehouses give chilly reaction to Sotomayor hearing

Firefighters around the country weren't paying much attention to the Sotomayor hearing, but almost all of them had strong feelings about the lawsuit that senators are asking her about.

Rene Archambault, a firefighter for 27 years in Lawrence, Mass., said he hopes Sotomayor's confirmation is derailed because she ruled against white firefighters who had accused New Haven, Conn., of racial bias.
That ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court.

"I hope she doesn't get confirmed, rendering those types of decisions,"said Archambault, a white firefighter in a heavily Hispanic city. "If you were an astronaut, would you want to fly on the shuttle built by the lower bidder? ... I think you would want the best candidate."

Patrick Driscoll, president of the Lawrence Firefighters Union, Local 146, said he disagreed with her decision but doesn't think it will affect her confirmation.

"Everybody should be held to the same standard and accountability," he said. "If she's trying to turn things around because of race or origin, I don't know if that kind of person being appointed is the right way to go."

The white firefighters challenged New Haven's decision to scrap the results of a promotion test because too few minorities scored high enough to qualify.

"I couldn't say it was fair or not," said Malik Mtima, a black firefighter in Atlanta. "It's not likely that black firefighters just weren't smart enough."

Chief Franklin Lockwood leads a department of 12 white firefighters in St. Francis, Wis. He read the headlines, but didn't think much about the case.

"Those guys are from New Haven. It's not a problem in my back yard."

-Errin Haines in Atlanta, Denise Lavoie in Boston, Dinesh Ramde in St.Francis, Wis.

Source: Yahoo News

09 luglio 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: On the 3rd Encyclical

"A Better Future for Everyone Is Possible"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in Paul VI Hall. He reflected on his third encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," which was released Tuesday.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

My new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," which was officially presented yesterday, was fundamentally inspired in a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, in which the apostle speaks of acting according to truth in charity: "Rather," we have just heard, "living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ" (4:15).

Charity in truth is, therefore, the principal propelling force for the true development of each person and all of humanity. Because of this, the whole of the Church's social doctrine revolves around the principle "caritas in veritate." Only with charity, enlightened by reason and faith, is it possible to achieve objectives of development with a human and humanizing value. Charity in the truth "is the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action" (No. 6).

In the introduction, the encyclical immediately refers to two fundamental criteria: justice and the common good. Justice is an integral part of this love "in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18), to which the Apostle John exhorts us (cf. No. 6). And "to love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society. … The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them." Therefore, there are two operative criteria: justice and the common good. In this second element, charity acquires a social dimension. Every Christian, the encyclical says, is called to this charity and, it adds, "This is the institutional path … of charity" (cf. No. 7).

Like other documents of the magisterium, this encyclical also takes up again and goes deeper into the analysis and reflection of the Church on social issues of vital interest to humanity in our times. In a special way, it is linked to what Paul VI wrote now more than 40 years ago in "Populorum Progressio," the cornerstone of the Church's social teaching, in which the great Pontiff outlined certain decisive and ever relevant ideas for the integral development of man and of the modern world. The world situation, as the chronicle of recent months amply demonstrates, continues presenting not a few problems and the "scandal" of outrageous inequalities, which remain despite commitments made in the past. On one hand, signs of grave social and economic inequalities are evident; on the other hand, peoples from all over are calling for reform that will overcome the discrepancy of development among peoples, and this cannot wait.

The phenomenon of globalization can, in this sense, be a real opportunity, but for this, it is important to undertake a profound moral and cultural renewal and responsible discernment of the decisions that must be made for the common good. A better future for everyone is possible, if it is founded on the discovery of fundamental ethical values. A new economic plan is needed that will reshape development in a global way, basing itself on the fundamental ethics of responsibility before God and before man as a creature of God.

The encyclical certainly doesn't look to give technical solutions to the great social problems of the world today -- this is not the role of the Church's magisterium (cf. No. 9). It recalls, however, the great principles that show themselves to be indispensable for building human development in the coming years. Among these: In the first place, attention to the life of the person, considered as the center of all true progress; respect for the right to religious liberty, always closely linked to the development of the person; rejection of a Promethean vision of the human being, which considers him the absolute author of his own destiny. An unlimited trust in the power of technology in the end shows itself to be illusory.

Upright people are needed as much in politics as in the economy, people who are sincerely attentive to the common good. In particular, looking at world emergencies, it is urgent to call the attention of public opinion to the drama of hunger and food security, which affects a considerable portion of humanity. A drama of such proportions piques our consciences: It must be decisively confronted, eliminating the structural causes that bring it about and promoting agricultural development in the poorest countries.

I am sure that this path of solidarity toward the development of the poorest countries will certainly help to elaborate a solution to the current global crisis. Undoubtedly, the role and political power of the state should be attentively re-evaluated, in an age in which limitations to its sovereignty exist as a result of the new economic-commercial and international financial situation.

And on the other hand, the participation of citizens in national and international politics should not be lacking, thanks as well to a renewed commitment from the associations of workers called to establish new synergies at the local and international level. The means of social communication also have a primary role in this field, to advance dialogue among cultures and distinct traditions.

In wanting to make a plan for development that is not tainted by the malfunctions and distortions amply present today, serious reflection on the very meaning of the economy and its goals is required from everyone. The ecological state of the planet demands it; the cultural and moral crisis of man that is apparent in every corner of the globe requires it. The economy needs ethics for its correct functioning; it needs to recover the important contribution of the principle of gratuitousness and the "logic of gift" in the economy of the market, in which the norm cannot be personal gain.

But this is only possible thanks to a commitment from everyone, economists and politicians, producers and consumers, and presupposes formation of the conscience that gives strength to moral criteria in the elaboration of political and economic projects. Rightly so, many places pay recourse to the fact that rights presuppose corresponding duties, without which rights run the risk of becoming arbitrary.

It is said more and more that it is necessary for all of humanity to have a different style of life, in which the duties of everyone toward the environment are united with those of the person considered in himself and in relation with others. Humanity is one family and fruitful dialogue between faith and reason cannot but enrich it, making the work of charity more effective in society, moreover establishing the appropriate framework to stimulate collaboration between believers and non-believers, in the shared perspective of working for justice and peace in the world.

As guidelines for this fraternal interaction, in the encyclical I indicate the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, which are interconnected. I have indicated, finally, faced with such vast and deep problems in the world of today, the need for a world political Authority regulated by law, which abides by the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity already mentioned and which is firmly oriented toward the fulfillment of the common good, in respect of the great moral and religious traditions of humanity.

The Gospel reminds us that man does not live on bread alone: not just with material goods can he satisfy the deep thirst of his heart. The horizons of man are undoubtedly higher and broader. Because of this, every development program should have present, together with the material, the spiritual growth of the human person, who is gifted with soul and body.

This is integral development, to which the Church's social doctrine constantly refers -- development that has its guiding criteria in the propelling strength of "charity in truth." Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray so that this encyclical too can help humanity to feel that it is one family committed in bringing about a world of justice and peace. Let us pray that believers who work in economics and politics realize how important is the coherence of their Gospel testimony in the service they offer society.

In particular, I invite you to pray for the leaders of states and governments of the G-8 who are meeting during these days in L'Aquila. That from this important world summit might come decisions and useful guidelines for the true progress of all peoples, especially of the poorest. Let us entrust these intentions to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church and of humanity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I wish to reflect on my Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Some forty years after Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Populorum Progressio, it too addresses social themes vital to the well-being of humanity and reminds us that authentic renewal of both individuals and society requires living by Christ’s truth in love (cf. Eph 4:15) which stands at the heart of the Church’s social teaching. The Encyclical does not aim to provide technical solutions to today’s social problems but instead focuses on the principles indispensable for human development. Most important among these is human life itself, the centre of all true progress. Additionally, it speaks of the right to religious freedom as a part of human development, it warns against unbounded hope in technology alone, and it underlines the need for upright men and women -- attentive to the common good -- in both politics and the business world. In regard to matters of particular urgency affecting the word today, the Encyclical addresses a wide range of issues and calls for decisive action to promote food security and agricultural development, as well as respect for the environment and for the rule of law. Stressed is the need for politicians, economists, producers and consumers alike ensure that ethics shape economics so that profit alone does not regulate the world of business. Dear friends: humanity is a single family where every development programme -- if it is to be integral -- must consider the spiritual growth of human persons and the driving force of charity in truth. Let us pray for all those who serve in politics and the management of economies, and in particular let us pray for the Heads of State gathering in Italy for the G8 summit. May their decisions promote true development especially for the world’s poor. Thank you.

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present today, including the university and school groups from America, Canada, and England. May your visit to Rome be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon you all I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Father Schall: Encyclical Reconnects Rights and Duties

"Caritas in Veritate" Is a Guide For Temporal Life

By Father James V. Schall, SJ

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's new social encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," takes its place in the Church's on-going effort accurately to state the fundamentals of human living. It is not what our eternal life is about, but what our temporal life is about, seen in the light of our eternal life. We do not de-emphasize one or the other, but take them according to their own truth as related to each other.

Though it repeats many of the matters that were dealt with in "Deus Caritas Est" and "Spe Salvi," Benedict's two previous encyclicals, this new document is not really intelligible without the profound analysis of modern ideology and the last things that were found in the earlier encyclicals on love and hope.

In "Spe Salvi," the Pope stated that politics could not be politics if it confused itself with eschatology. That is, if we think that our political life is our transcendent life, we in effect lose the proper dimensions of both. In the present encyclical, Benedict XVI basically states what we can and should do in this world seen now as the arena of the actions that form our souls.

The title of this encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," is significant. Of the three basic kinds of love -- philia, eros and agape -- none is safe if it is not pursued according to the truth of things, of the proper object of love. Just as we cannot love something that is not loveable, so we cannot love something unless we know what it is, which is saying the same thing in other words. The separation of truth and love in the name of love or "kindness" is the characteristic of our times. Love, it is said, covers a multitude of sins. In the modern world, it eliminates them altogether if truth is not a component of love. "Two loves built two cities," very opposite cities, as Augustine said.

One of the first things to note in this encyclical is that everything is seen against a metaphysical and theological background. Much is made of justice; even more of "gift." Our very existence is a "gift." We do not create ourselves, nor does God need to create us for some completion in himself.

The encyclical, distantly following Aristotle on friendship and benevolence, is quite aware that more is needed and expected of us than just what is our "right" or what is "due." An ancient criticism of Christians was that they were so interested in the next world that they did not have time for this world. This encyclical suggests the opposite is true. Only if we have the next world right will we act rightly and nobly in this one.

The encyclical is also a reflection on Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio," written just over 40 years ago. Benedict rethinks the notion of "development," a word that relates to the old Aristotelian notion of habits and how we acquire them. Benedict XVI follows a fine line that seeks to accept everything in modernity that is good and defensible, while at the same time pointing out its real problems. He is a natural law thinker.

But on the other hand, he always begins from where we are. Whether he speaks of business, finance, tourism, political structures, world poverty or economics, he begins with human beings already having acted in their public lives to make themselves into a certain kind of being based on what they are given to be in nature. Catholic social thought is not utopian, even when it insists that things can and ought to be better.

Particularly pleasing was the way in which Pope Benedict finally came to terms with the ambiguity from modern political philosophy in the word "rights." In many ways, nothing has been more destructive to Catholic social thought than its uncritical use of the word "rights." Benedict admonishes us that we first begin with "duties." We can use the word "rights" provided it has a fixed content and does not mean -- what it in fact means in modern philosophy -- whatever we want or legislate.

When it comes to essentials, "Caritas in Veritate" is frank and to the point -- that is, what it means to be "charitable," what it means to be "truthful."

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Jesuit Father James V. Schall is a professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University and a prolific author. He most recent book is The Mind That Is Catholic (CUA Press).

Gabriel Martinez: New Encyclical Reflects Common Sense

Pope Takes Business Ethics to Transcendent Level

By Gabriel Martinez

NAPLES, Florida, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As I read the latest encyclical by Benedict XVI, a thought arose: No one understands an encyclical on Catholic social teaching.

When prominent people in authority speak on the economy, politics, or society, we expect to express themselves in the categories of political parties. When they fail to toe the line, we find ways to discount or ignore we do not like.

The key insight of the free-marketeer is that voluntary exchange must be mutually beneficial. The key insight of the left-liberal is that fair outcomes must be deliberately planned for.

The key double insight of Catholic social teaching, on the other hand, is that we are created in the image of God and that we are sinners. That is, we build an economy, politics, or culture that is human, if we remember that we are creatures who received our being as a gift, called by God to be like him and with him; and that our economy, our politics, and our culture are inhuman insofar as we forget it.

This position is often refreshingly commonsensical. Instead of, say, "idealizing technical progress, or contemplating the utopia of a return to humanity's original natural state," the Pope naturally mistrusts what comes from the hand of man, but also relies on the "human capacity to exercise control over the deviations of development." Capacity implies responsibility, but it also implies that this responsibility is often abdicated in the name of a system, an idea, or a vice.

Or take another example. Some thinkers give the benefit of the doubt to the forces of the market and strive to protect it from the depredations of religion, custom or the state. Common sense and Catholic social teaching tell us that it requires a special kind of faith to assume that what is personally vicious can be socially virtuous.

Other thinkers instinctively trust in the capacity of social deliberation and rational planning to achieve desirable outcomes, which are not defined in relation to nature, blind to the obvious point that even well-intentioned, law-abiding people can make mistakes. Good intentions are not enough, common sense and Catholic social teaching tell us: action unmoored from the truth is ultimately wasteful and always soul-destroying.

In one of its most lucid passages, the encyclical points out that the exclusive pursuit of shareholder-value maximization is a risk for businesses. Maximization of shareholder value encourages faceless management, distance from stakeholders, and a short-term focus. But the benefits are only temporary.

Over the long haul, business benefits from permanence and from social ties. Skeptical of outsourcing (and doing honor to his name), Benedict XVI insists on geographical stability: cultivating stakeholders and making long-term profits are not substitutes, but complements.

Even more, Benedict XVI insists on the need to create a space for "the logic of gift" (which I wish he had explained more). This idea is one example of why encyclicals, like "Populorum Progressio" and "Caritas in Veritate," often sound appallingly naïve.

We are taught, from first grade to business school, that grown-ups with their feet on the ground look out for themselves -- and that they ought to look out for themselves, either to protect that fragile beauty called capitalism or because no one else looks after you anyway. We are taught that we should not care about the other fellow, unless it yields quantifiable results. We are fanatically brainwashed, and so we do not understand.

Accepting an "economy of communion" requires a dramatic expansion of the set of goods that one values, a huge increase in the virtue of patience, a drastic acceptance of uncertainty and unknowability, and a jarring openness to faith and hope. The human being so described is radically different from the human being of the business school, from what one would be taught in a Corporate Finance class. The "return on investment" is the fruit of not seeking the return, but of seeking the Kingdom of Heaven and its justice (and all the rest will be added unto you).

How different this is (and how hard it is to see the difference) from the nauseating insistence to follow our heart, to do what feels right, because there's no such thing as truth! We are told that any non-selfishness not only sounds naïve, but that it should sound naïve and as unmoored from common sense as possible.

While politicians give us slogans and pretty words, without reference to the truth of the human person, the Pope sounds the warning note: "On this subject the Church's social doctrine can make a specific contribution, since it is based on man's creation 'in the image of God' (Genesis 1:27), a datum which gives rise to the inviolable dignity of the human person and the transcendent value of natural moral norms.

"When business ethics prescinds from these two pillars, it inevitably risks losing its distinctive nature and it falls prey to forms of exploitation; more specifically, it risks becoming subservient to existing economic and financial systems rather than correcting their dysfunctional aspects."

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Gabriel Martinez is chair of the Economics Department at Ave Maria University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, and has worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., and at the Ministry of Government in Ecuador.

Father Barron: A First Look at "Caritas in Veritate"

Encyclical Connects "Life Ethics" With "Social Ethics"

By Father Robert Barron

SKOKIE, Illinois, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- I've just finished a first reading of Benedict XVI's new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate." It is a dense and complex text, deeply in continuity with the mainstream of the Catholic social teaching tradition, but also fresh, filled with new ideas and proposals.

Let me highlight just a few of the major themes. Very much in line with his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI insists on the tight connection between love and truth. In a telling phrase, the Pope says that love without truth devolves into sentimentality, and truth without love becomes cold and calculating. The coming together of the two, which is the structuring logic of the Church's social teaching, is grounded in the God who is, simultaneously, Agape (love) and Logos (reason).

A real innovation of this letter is the connection that Benedict XVI makes between "social ethics" and "life ethics." He argues that Pope Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" -- whose 40th anniversary "Caritas in Veritate" celebrates -- is best read in tandem with that Pope's controversial encyclical "Humanae Vitae." The radical openness to life, which Paul VI defended in "Humanae Vitae," should be the inspiration for the Church's social doctrine, which is intended to foster the full flourishing of communal life at all levels. Benedict XVI makes this point even clearer when he comments that societies that de-emphasize life, even to the point of fostering artificial contraception and abortion, suffer quite practical economic hardships.

Another "novum" in this remarkable text is the Pope's insistence that, alongside of the contractual logic of the marketplace (one gives in order to receive), and the legal logic of the political realm (one gives because one is obliged to give), there must be the logic of sheer gratuity (one gives simply because it is good to do so). Without this third element, both the economic and political devolve into something less than fully human.

As many have already commented, Benedict XVI places special emphasis on the obligation to care for the environment. In fact, nowhere else in Catholic social teaching is there such an extended discussion of this issue. He makes the helpful clarification that, as believers in creation, we must avoid both an idolization of nature and an exploitation of it. As created, the world is not divine, but it is a kind of sacrament of God; hence it shouldn't be seen as absolute, but it should be cared for in a spirit of stewardship.

What might prove most controversial in the encyclical is Benedict XVI's call for a kind of world government, a truly international political entity with the requisite power to preside over world political and economic affairs. In saying so, he echoes Pope John XXIII's praise of the United Nations in "Pacem in Terris." One might be forgiven for suspecting that this proposal, given political realities on the ground, might be a bit utopian.

A final note concerning style. I must say that much of "Caritas in Veritate" didn't "sound" like Benedict XVI. Joseph Ratzinger is a very gracious writer, and his style is marked by a deep Scriptural and patristic sensibility. I must say I found this literary and theological élan missing in large sections of this letter.

Nonetheless, there is much to learn from this wonderful text -- a worthy addition to the impressive collection of papal letters that constitute the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

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Father Barron is the Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He is also the founder of Word on Fire Ministries and is currently producing a 10-part documentary series called The Catholicism Project.

Codex Sinaiticus

4th Century Bible Offered Online

LONDON, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Bible written between the years 325 and 360 was digitized and compiled online for public viewing.

The "Codex Sinaiticus" is a Bible manuscript written in Greek on animal skin, or vellum.

It is believed to have been written by order of Roman Emperor Constantine after he embraced Christianity.

Divided among several countries for a century, the pages were reunited online Monday and offered to the world for viewing and study.

Along with the "Codex Vaticanus," a slightly older manuscript that is housed in the Vatican, this Bible offers an opportunity for studying the text of the Old and New Testaments in their Greek version.

Originally some 1,400 pages long, now only 800 pages and fragments remain.

For many centuries the manuscript was housed in St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, in Egypt.

In the 19th century the pages were divided, and now reside in the British Library in London, St. Catherine's Monastery, the Leipzig University Library in Germany, and the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

The reunification project was initiated in 2005 with the cooperation of several countries, and made possible by digital technology.

The digital Bible can be viewed free in its original form, with modern Greek translations, as well as some English translations.

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On the Net:

Codex Sinaiticus: http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/

Article: http://www.zenit.org/article-26407?l=english

07 luglio 2009

Recession Also Strikes Vatican Finances

for the next time someone comes along with one of those "The Vatican has more money than anyone in the world" arguments....

Recession Also Strikes Vatican Finances
Show $1.3M Loss in '08

VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is not immune to the global economic crisis; Holy See accounts show a loss of $1,275,121 (€911,514) in 2008.

The state of the Vatican's economic affairs was reported in a Saturday communiqué from the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Questions of the Apostolic See. The council had their 63rd meeting last Wednesday through Friday.

In 2008, the Holy See received $355,281,462 (€253,953,869) and spent $356,556,670 (€254,865,383), for a loss of $1,275,208 (€911,514).

Spendings are due above all to the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See, which employ 2,732 people, of whom 761 are ecclesiastics, 334 religious and 1,637 lay.

The Governorate of Vatican City State, which runs on a separate budget, also finished in the red, with a deficit of more than €15 million.

The governorate employs nearly 2,000 people. It also had some significant spendings in 2008, including a study of an integrated communications infrastructure with telephone and internet services, the installation of photoelectric panels on the roof of Paul VI Hall, and projects of protecting, evaluating and restoring the artistic heritage of the Holy See (restoration of the Pauline Chapel and work on the papal basilicas of St. Paul's Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major).

The panels on Paul VI Hall, however, are an economic investment: The 2,400 solar panels replace the deteriorating concrete roof panels, and the photovoltaic cells will convert sunlight into electricity, and generate enough power to light, heat or cool the 6,000-seat hall.

A third account was also considered: the annual Peter's Pence collection. This fund consists of donations from local Churches for the charitable activities of the Holy Father.

In 2008 a total of $76,088,411 (€54,387,714) was donated and, although the number of donations went up, the total sum fell slightly "due to the general economic situation," the group reported.

The Pontiff visited the cardinals during the meetings, listened to the presentations of the three accounts, and offered some pastoral suggestions. He also thanked them for their work.

For the first time since 2003, the Holy See also finished in the red in 2007, marking a deficit of more that $14 million (€9 million, with the currency rate of the dollar then). However, Vatican City State closed 2007 with a net gain of about $10.5 million (€6.7 million).

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-26377?l=english

02 luglio 2009

New Encyclical Out July 7 - "Caritas in Veritate"

"Caritas in Veritate" to Cover Social Themes

VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's new encyclical, titled "Caritas in Veritate," will be released Tuesday, the Vatican announced.

The Vatican press office confirmed today that the Pope's first social encyclical, which is expected to offer an analysis of the current economic crisis, will be presented at a press conference in the late morning July 7. The text will then be released to the public at midday, local time.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will present the encyclical at the press conference.

The Vatican also noted that Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, will speak, as will Stefano Zamagni, professor of political economy at the University of Bologna, Italy and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The encyclical's release is one day before the Group of Eight will begin an international summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

The Holy Father signed the encyclical Monday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

That same day, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI explained that the encyclical is a reflection on the conditions necessary for "integral development." He added that it returns to social themes found in "Populorum Progressio," written by Pope Paul VI in 1967.

He explained that it "aims to go deeper in certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity in truth."

"I entrust to your prayer this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in its commitment to sustainable progress, in full respect of human dignity and the real needs everyone has," Benedict XVI said.

"Caritas in Veritate" is the first social encyclical to be written in almost two decades. Pope John Paul II penned "Centesimus Annus" in 1991, a century after Pope Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum."

The encyclical will be released in English, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.

01 luglio 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

"Resist Being Conformed to the Mentality of This World"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we solemnly celebrate the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, special patrons of the Church of Rome: Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, "the first to confess the faith … [who] gathered the earliest Church from among the flock of Israel"; Paul, the former persecutor of Christians who "proclaimed [the faith's] deepest mysteries […] the teacher and doctor who announced salvation to all people" (cf. Preface of the Mass for today).

In one of his homilies to the community of Rome, Pope St. Leo the Great affirmed, "These are your fathers and true pastors, who have established you so that you would thus be inserted into the heavenly kingdom" (Sermo I in Nat. App Petri et Pauli, c I, PL 54,422). On the occasion of this feast, I would like to direct a particularly warm greeting, joined to my fervent wishes of congratulations, to the diocesan community of Rome, which Divine Providence has entrusted to my care as the Successor of the Apostle Peter. It is a greeting that I happily extend to all the inhabitants of our city and the pilgrims and tourists who are visiting us during this time, which also coincides with the closing of the Pauline year.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless you and protect you through the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul! As your pastor, I exhort you to remain faithful to your Christian vocation, to resist being conformed to the mentality of this world -- as the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote precisely to the Christians of Rome -- and always to allow yourselves to be transformed and renewed by the Gospel, to follow what is truly good and pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:2).

I pray constantly for this, so that Rome will keep alive its Christian vocation, not only conserving unaltered its immense spiritual and cultural patrimony, but also so that its residents can turn the beauty of the faith they have received into concrete ways of thinking and acting, and thereby offer to those who arrive to this city for various reasons, an atmosphere full of humanity and Gospel values. Therefore -- in the words of St. Peter -- I invite you, dear brothers and sisters, disciples of Christ, to be "living stones," packed together around him who is the "living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in the sight of God" (cf. 1 Peter 2:4).

Today's solemnity also has a universal character: It expresses the unity and catholicity of the Church. That's why every year on this date, the new metropolitan archbishops come to Rome to receive the pallium, the symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter. I renew my greeting to these brothers in the episcopate for whom this morning in the basilica I have performed this gesture, and the faithful who accompany them.

I also warmly greet the delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has come to Rome, like every year, for the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul. May the common veneration of these martyrs be a pledge for a communion among Christians from every part of the world that is ever more complete and heartfelt. For this, let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of the one Church of Christ, with the customary recitation of the Angelus.

[After the prayer, the Holy Father continued in Italian:]

The publication of my third encyclical is near. [It] is called "Caritas in Veritate." Taking up again the social themes in "Populorum Progressio," written by the Servant of God Paul VI in 1967, this document -- dated in fact today, June 29, feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul -- aims to go deeper in certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity in truth. I entrust to your prayer this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in its commitment to sustainable progress, in full respect of human dignity and the real needs everyone has.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[Then the Pope greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus, including the new Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the pallium, accompanied by their relatives and friends. I also extend a warm welcome to the Delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, present for this joyous celebration. May the Apostles Peter and Paul inspire all Christians, and especially our new Archbishops, to continue to bear clear and generous witnesses to the Gospel. God bless you all!

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