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« Reply #120 on: Nov 28, 2013, 07:28 AM »

Pope Francis understands economics better than most politicians

By Heidi Moore, The Guardian
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 14:20 EST

Pope Francis is a pontiff who has constructively broken all the rules of popery – so far to widespread acclaim. He’s faulted the Catholic church for its negative obsession with gays and birth control, and now he has expanded his mandate to economics with a groundbreaking screed denouncing “the new idolatry of money“.

As the Pope wrote in his “apostolic exhortation“:

The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings.

His thoughts on income inequality are searing:

How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.

The pope’s screed on “the economy of exclusion and inequality” will disappoint those who considers themselves free-market capitalists, but they would do well to listen to the message. Francis gives form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded. There has been a growing chorus of financial insiders – from the late Merrill Lynch executive Herb Allison to organizations like Better Markets – it’s time for a change in how we approach capitalism. It’s not about discarding capitalism, or hating money or profit; it’s about pursuing profits ethically, and rejecting the premise that exploitation is at the center of profit. When 53% of financial executives say they can’t get ahead without some cheating, even though they want to work for ethical organizations, there’s a real problem.

Unlike Occupy, which turned its rage outward, Pope Francis bolstered his anger with two inward-facing emotions familiar to any Catholic-school graduate: shame and guilt, to make the economy a matter of personal responsibility.

This is important. Income inequality is not someone else’s problem. Nearly all of us are likely to experience it. Inequality has been growing in the US since the 1970s. Economist Emmanuel Saez found that the incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% in the three years after the financial crisis, while the majority of people struggled with a disappointing economy. The other 99% of the population grew their incomes 0.4% during the same period.

As a result, federal and state spending on social welfare programs has been forced to grow to $1tn just to handle the volume of US households in trouble. Yet income inequality has been locked out of of the mainstream economic conversation, where it is seen largely as a sideshow for progressive bleeding hearts.

In the discussions of why the US is not recovering, economists often mention metrics like economic growth and housing. They rarely mention the metrics that directly tell us we are failing our economic goals, like poverty and starvation. Those metrics of income inequality tell an accurate story of the depth of our economic malaise that new-home sales can’t. One-fifth of Americans, or 47 million people, are on food stamps; 50% of children born to single mothers live in poverty; and over 13 million people are out of work. Children are now not likely to do as well as their parents did as downward mobility takes hold for the first time in generations.

The bottom line, which Pope Francis correctly identifies, is that inequality is the biggest economic issue of our time – for everyone, not just the poor. Nearly any major economic metric – unemployment, growth, consumer confidence – comes down to the fact that the vast majority of Americans are struggling in some way. You don’t have to begrudge the rich their fortunes or ask for redistribution. It’s just hard to justify ignoring the financial problems of 47 million people who don’t have enough to eat. Until they have enough money to fill their pantries, we won’t have a widespread economic recovery. You can’t have a recovery if one-sixth of the world’s economically leading country is eating on $1.50 a day.

It’s only surprising that it took so long for anyone – in this case, Pope Francis – to become the first globally prominent figure to figure this out and bring attention to income inequality.

Income inequality is the issue that will govern whether we ever emerge from the struggling economy recovery and it determine elections in 2014. The support for Elizabeth Warren to rise above her seat in the US Senate, for instance, largely centers on her crusade against inequality. The White House’s chirpy protestations that the economy is improving are not fooling anyone.

Into this morass of economic confusion steps Francis with clarifying force:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

It’s a historic and bold statement, mainly because it’s rarely heard from clergy. Money has always been at odds with religion, going back to the times when God had a fighting chance against Mammon. Moses grew enraged by the golden calf, Jesus by moneychangers in the temple, Muhammad by lending money at interest, or usury. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, the Bible tells us.

There have been criticisms from prominent men of religion before, but they didn’t stick. In 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed Marx against the forces of “unbridled capitalism“, and the Archbishop of York disdained traders as “bank robbers and asset strippers”, but those cries went unheeded in the subsequent flood of corporate profits.

At the time, those criticisms seemed extreme, throwing pitchforks into frozen ground. Francis is speaking at a when the ground has been thawed. Outrage against the financial sector is lurking so close to the surface that the US government can extract a $13bn fine from the nation’s largest bank, throwing it into its first financial loss in nine years, and find significant approval.

Still, popes have been largely content to leave these particular issues of economic inequality behind in favor of focusing on social issues. There was, after all, a problem of throwing stones. The church’s rich trappings and vast wealth, as well as its scandal-plagued Vatican bank, made an ill fit to preach too loudly about austerity.

Pope Francis, in his simple black shoes and unassuming car and house, is the first pontiff in a long time to reject flashy shows of power and live by the principle of simplicity. That makes him uniquely qualified to make the Vatican an outpost of Occupy Wall Street. His message about spiritual salvation applies mainly to Catholics but it would be sensible for economists and lawmakers to recognize his core message about the importance of income inequality applies to those even those who have no belief in religion.

Capitalism has always seen itself as an amoral pursuit, where the guiding stars were not “good” or “bad”, but only “profit” and “loss”. It’s going to be harder to sustain that belief over the next few years.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013


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« Reply #121 on: Nov 30, 2013, 06:52 AM »


FROM AMERICA ...

November 29, 2013 08:30 AM

Pope Francis: Culture of Prosperity Deadens Us

By karoli
CrooksAndLiars

In all my years on this earth, I do not recall one Pope speaking as plainly and sharply as Pope Francis about inequality, faith, and the responsibility of everyone to consider themselves their sister and brother's keeper. Indeed, the Pope does not spare the wealthy and privileged at all in his recently published 84-page "apostolic exhortation" to the church worldwide.

Conservatives who wear the mantle of a Christian should pay close attention. (Yes, I'm looking at you, John Boehner.) Here's what the pope has to say about conservative economic policies, after first arguing that society now treats human beings as part of a "disposable culture," discarding people at the will of the "haves".

The excluded are still waiting

    In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

A new tyranny is born

He didn't stop there, but took dead aim at economic inequality and those who worship the markets as the One True Arbiter of Everyone's Fate:

    While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

Inequality as threat to national security

    Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Pope Francis' heart for the poor

Much farther into the document, the Pope discusses the poor in far more detail with a pointed edge that calls not just for individuals to fight for social justice, but entire governments.

    As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for any of the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

Politics, rhetoric and priorities

    The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development. How many words prove irksome to this system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference is made to protecting labour and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a god who demands a commitment to justice. At other times these issues are exploited by a rhetoric which cheapens them. Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning.

His prayer for politicians

    I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world! Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.

    [...]

    I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.

Memo to American politicians wrapping themselves in self-righteous piety: Perhaps you should try internalizing Pope Francis' exhortations and stop the horrible cuts to food stamps, blocking poor people from getting access to health care, and have some compassion for those fearing deportation while you let the solution languish "on the table."

That would be a start.

*******************

Rush Limbaugh Calls Pope a 'Marxist' For Critique Of Inequality

By Heather
CrooksAndLiars
November29 2013

I'm sure everyone saw this one coming a mile away as well. El Rushbo couldn't let the talking heads on Fox be the only ones getting in on the Pope bashing after he dared to speak out against unfettered capitalism and the idolatry of money.

Rush Lashes Out At The Pope Over Critique Of Inequality:

    LIMBAUGH: I mentioned, last night -- I was doing show prep last night -- usual routine. And I ran across this -- I don't actually know what it's called -- the latest papal offering, statement from Pope Francis. Now, up until this -- I'm not Catholic. Up until this, I have to tell you, I was admiring the man. I thought he was going a little overboard on the "common man" touch, and I thought there might have been a little bit of PR involved there. But nevertheless, I was willing to cut him some slack. I mean, if he wants to portray himself as still from the streets of where he came from and is not anything special, not aristocratic, if he wants to eschew the physical trappings of the Vatican -- OK, cool, fine.

    But this that I came across last night -- I mean, it totally befuddled me. If it weren't for capitalism, I don't know where the Catholic Church would be. Now, as I mentioned before, I'm not Catholic. I admire it profoundly, and I've been tempted a number of times to delve deeper into it. But the pope here has now gone beyond Catholicism here, and this is pure political. Now, I want to share with you some of this stuff.

    "Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as 'a new tyranny.' He beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. In it, Pope Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the 'idolatry of money.' "

    I've gotta be very caref-- I have been numerous times to the Vatican. It wouldn't exist without tons of money. But, regardless, what this is -- somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. There's no such -- "unfettered capitalism"? That doesn't exist anywhere.

*****************

November 29, 2013 12:30 PM

Stuart Varney Admonishes Pope Francis

By scarce
CrooksAndLiars

You just knew this was coming the moment Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as a form of tyranny, his critique of the idolatry of money, that someone from Fox News would step up to challenge that heretical notion (heretical to them anyway). Stuart Varney of Fox Business News stepped up to the plate for the obligatory chest-thumping defense of capitalism, although at least he kept his remarks brief and without animus towards a Pope he called "a wonderful man". Stuart Varney's impersonation of Kent Brockman was, as usual, bang on.

    STUART VARNEY: Capitalism, in my opinion, is a liberator. The free choice of millions of people is the essence of freedom. In my opinion, society benefits most when people are free to pursue their own self-interest. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it is not. When individuals are free, we collectively are better off in every way, financially and spiritually.”
    ...

    “I go to church to save my soul. It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

One wonders what will happen though if Pope Francis goes beyond his remarks thus far, although passages such as this one in his Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel, will continue to ruffle feathers.

    In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

******************

Conservative activist: Pope Francis exposed the ‘Marxist problem’ inside the Catholic Church

By Eric W. Dolan
RawStory
Friday, November 29, 2013 12:39 EST

Pope Francis’ recent publication highlights the “troubling” influence of Marxism within the Catholic Church, according to Accuracy in Media director Cliff Kincaid.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not here to beat up on the pope,” he said in a video recently uploaded to YouTube. “That’s not my job. But I can read. I can read this document. I can see what he is saying, and I can tell you right now that this is a very, very disappointing document, and it makes me wonder about the future of the Roman Catholic Church in this world and what they’re heading towards.”

The pontiff released his Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel, on Tuesday. The document attacked trickle-down economics as a “naive” theory that has “never been confirmed by the facts” and warned that unfettered capitalism “tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits.”

Kincaid said that his website, religiousleftexposed.com, had reported on Marxism inside the Catholic Church.

“There is a Marxism problem here, and we’ve got lengthy reports and documents that go into that… I’ve got videos up on that website… demonstrating where the Roman Catholic Church is headed.”

He warned that the Catholic Church supported one world government and said Pope Francis used “camouflaged and flowery language.” Kincaid claimed the Evangelii Gadium was consistent with other Catholic documents that endorsed “what we might euphemistically call a new world order, a new world economic order.”


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« Reply #122 on: Dec 01, 2013, 06:51 AM »


Contesting Saint Andrew: Arguments over an apostle

The Economists
Nov 30th 2013, 18:00 by B.C.

TODAY is a big feast day for Scotland, Romania, Cyprus, the Greek port of Patras and for Christians in Istanbul; in 13 days' time, the same feast will be celebrated in places where the old church calendar is kept, such as Russia and Ukraine. And whenever it is observed, the annual feast day of Saint Andrew brings reminders that the first apostle of Jesus Christ, one of two fisherman brothers, can still create political waves.

Take Scotland. Andrew has been that country's official patron saint since 1320, and he was venerated there for centuries before that. The diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew was flying defiantly in Edinburgh today, although yesterday's helicopter crash in Glasgow cast a pall over the commemorations. Alex Salmond, head of the Scottish Nationalists, used the national holiday to stir patriotic feeling ahead of next year's independence ballot. Even his reaction to the helicopter crash mentioned the saint; he said today was a good moment to take pride in Scotland's resilience. Meanwhile David Cameron has hoisted the Scottish emblem over his prime-ministerial residence in London and issued a Saint Andrew's message with the opposite intention: to remind the Scots of how well they have done as Brits.

Move further east and competition over Andrew gets hotter. Who was he and where did he go? Written evidence about his life is fragmentary, but a church historian, Eusebius, says he preached among the Scythians, north of the Black Sea. Among Slavs, there is a strong tradition that he sailed up the river Dnieper and foresaw that Kiev would be a great Christian city. He is also credited with founding the first church on the shores of Bosporus (ie, modern Istanbul) and it is agreed that he met a martyr's death in Patras. He was stretched out on an X-shaped cross, so the tradition says, because he did not want to die on a cross exactly like the one associated with his master.

At the Patriarchate of Constantinople, an institution which sees Saint Andrew as its founder and protector, grand services were held today; guests included a Catholic cardinal who will have the chance to fine-tune plans for Orthodoxy's senior hierarch, Patriarch Bartholomew, to visit Rome next year.  But Saint Andrew's legacy is also claimed by influential people in Moscow. The Apostle Andrew Fund, an NGO run by Russia's powerful railway boss, Vladimir Yakunin, arranged this summer for a wooden cross, believed to be the one on which the saint was martyred, to be brought from Patras to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus where national leaders, and vast crowds, venerated the holy object. It was an eye-catching affirmation of the bonds between the three Slavic Orthodox lands. At a time when Ukraine's geopolitical destiny is in the balance, the celebrations were a way of emphasising Ukraine's eastern links. But remember, there are followers of Andrew to the west of Ukraine too: Romania claims a special link with the saint, and his feast is an old folk festival in Poland.

On Cyprus, too, people feel a bond with the saint, and the name "Andreas" is common. A great monastery in the Turkish-held north of the island is said to mark a spot where the saint landed after his ship went off course; only recently, after years of bitter deadlock, has a deal been struck between the UN, the Greek-Cypriot church and a Turkish agency to carry out urgent repairs on the monastery. But the whereabouts of an ancient likeness of Saint Andrew, one of the mosaics hacked away from the wall of the nearby Kanakaria church in the 1970s, remain a mystery despite the recent restitution to Cyprus of some important pieces of stolen art.

For all his ubiquity, the biblical Andrew is a shadowy figure. In one of a handful of scriptural references, he is the apostle who tells Jesus that five loaves and two fishes won't feed 5,000 people; a miracle soon proves otherwise. Like other widely honoured saints, Andrew himself defies the laws of finitude by appealing to so many people in so many places.


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« Reply #123 on: Dec 03, 2013, 06:57 AM »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks tough on Iran ahead of Vatican talks

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 2, 2013 12:16 EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Pope Francis on Monday as part of a visit to Rome during which he restated his firm opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran.

Netanyahu was received for the first time for a short audience by the pontiff, who is expected to travel to the Middle East next year.

Francis and Netanyahu met for 25 minutes for closed-door talks in the presence of an interpreter.

The Israeli PM gave the pope a Spanish translation of his father Benzion Netanyahu’s book “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain”.

The dedication was made out to “Pope Francis, a great shepherd of our common heritage”.

Netanyahu and Francis had been expected to discuss negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which resumed in July after a three-year hiatus but have faltered due to Israeli plans for new settlement building.

Israeli sources say Francis’s visit to the Middle East could take place before Israeli President Shimon Peres ends his term in July.

Although no date has been made official, sources on both sides say it is likely to take place on May 25-26.

Israel and the Vatican first established full diplomatic relations in 1993, but have been engaged in years of thorny diplomatic negotiations over property rights and tax exemptions for the Catholic Church, which have yet to be fully resolved.

Netanyahu is set later Monday to hold a meeting with his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, and a joint press conference is expected at around 1400 GMT.

On Sunday, the Israeli premier attended a candle-lighting ceremony in Rome’s main synagogue, restating his firm opposition to an international nuclear deal with arch-foe Iran.

“It is very easy to receive a pat on the shoulder from the international community, to bow one’s head,” Netanyahu said.

“I would like to dispel any illusions. Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb. It would thus threaten not only Israel but also Italy, Europe and the entire world,” he was quoted as saying on his website.

“There should be no going astray after the attack of smiles. Today there is a regime in Iran that supports terrorism, facilitates the massacre of civilians in Syria and unceasingly arms its proxies,” he said.

Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear programme for the next six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief following marathon in Geneva last month.

But Israel has slammed the deal as an “historic mistake” and US Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Israel this week to try to ease tensions.

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements toward the Jewish state, and Israel — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power — has warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat.

“The most dangerous regime in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapon in the world,” Netanyahu said on Sunday, adding that the sanctions regime on Iran was “liable to collapse”.

US President Barack Obama’s administration has argued that the preliminary deal will help ensure the security of the Middle East region as it seeks to nail down a comprehensive settlement with Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected earlier this year, has promised a more diplomatic approach to the West after eight years of stalled talks and escalating sanctions under his hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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« Reply #124 on: Dec 03, 2013, 07:01 AM »

From America: Where sadistic greed prevails ....

Tea party activist: ‘Jesus Christ is weeping in heaven’ over pope’s criticism of capitalism

By Travis Gettys
RawStory
Monday, December 2, 2013 14:52 EST

Yet another conservative has taken issue with critical comments made by Pope Francis on capitalism and “trickle-down” economics.

Tea party activist Jonathon Moseley published a World Net Daily column Sunday that challenged the pope’s interpretation of the Bible, saying that Jesus had addressed his comments about helping the poor to individuals, not the government.

Moseley, a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney, supports his claim with a verse from the Book of Luke in which Jesus declines to act as arbitrator when someone asks him to compel a brother to divide their family inheritance.

“In just one verse, we see that God rejects the left-wing ‘Jesus Christ supported socialism’ heresy,” Moseley writes. “When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth — to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other — Jesus refused.”

Moseley says Jesus would never support a government or church “stealing property by force” to give to someone else because he wouldn’t even intervene with the family dispute described in the Bible.

He dismisses claims by those who say the pope’s Spanish-language Apostolic Exhortation was mistranslated, because Pope Francis himself had not disputed the translations and corrected translations differ little from the original.

But Moseley says the pope is wrong to argue for government intervention in the distribution of wealth, and he defends the pope’s American conservative critics.

“One truth shines out from the Bible: Jesus spoke to the individual, never to government or government policy,” Moseley writes. “Jesus was a capitalist, preaching personal responsibility, not a socialist.”

Moseley mangles the definition of socialism to make it seem synonymous with totalitarianism and defines capitalism as synonymous with freedom, and proceeds with his arguments from there.

“Would Jesus endorse the violence needed for government intervention?” Moseley argues.

He says that capitalism necessarily benefits society because businesses rely on consumers to choose their products or services.

“The consumer is king,” Moseley argues. “Consumers won’t buy unless the purchase benefits them. To reinforce that central pillar of capitalism, laws against lying and fraud are proper and necessary.”

Moseley, who cohosts the “Conservative Commandos” radio show and serves as executive director of American Border Control, says the pope has got it all wrong on the free market.

“In teaching us how we should live, Jesus agrees that a man who traded with investment capital and earned profits is praised and rewarded by his master, a type for God, and given increased authority,” Moseley writes.

By contrast, he notes, Pope Francis specifically rejects the “invisible hand” of the free market as a “poison.”

He says the pope has directly contradicted Jesus’ strategy of changing individual hearts one at a time by calling on political leaders to help improve the lives of the poor and to address the issue of wealth inequality.

“Jesus Christ is weeping in heaven hearing Christians espouse a socialist philosophy that has created suffering and poverty around the world,” Moseley writes. “It is impossible to love one’s neighbor as yourself without fighting against socialism, meaning government meddling in private lives.”

[Image via Agence France-Presse]
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« Reply #125 on: Dec 05, 2013, 07:10 AM »

FROM AMERICA: CAPITALISM OF SADISTIC GREED ....

Perspectives
December 04, 2013 06:00 PM

Pope Francis' Rerun Novarum

Karl Marx famously said that historical events occur twice, first as tragedy and then as farce. So it would seem with the reaction of American conservatives to Evangelii Gaudium, the new 85-page apostolic exhortation issued by Pope Francis. Just days after Sarah Palin fretted that some of the Pope's statements "sound kind of liberal," Rush Limbaugh called Francis' critique of income inequality and trickle-down economics "pure Marxism." Meanwhile, Stuart Varney of Fox News branded the Pope's teachings on social justice "neo-Socialism."

As it turns out, the critics of Pope Francis could have lifted their talking points from any gathering of Gilded Age robber barons 122 years ago. When Pope Leo XIII issued his influential Rerum Novarum in 1891, the defenders of unfettered and unburdened capitalism denounced the Holy Father using much of the same language.

A quick glance back at Leo's "Of New Things" shows that Francis' teachings on social justice are not. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops highlights the critical role Rerum Novarum played in the growth of the American labor movement by encouraging millions of Catholic workers to join unions. As the UCCSB explains:

    This groundbreaking social encyclical addresses the dehumanizing conditions in which many workers labor and affirms workers' rights to just wages, rest, and fair treatment, to form unions, and to strike if necessary. Pope Leo XIII upholds individuals' right to hold private property but also notes the role of the state in facilitating distributive justice so that workers can adequately support their families and someday own property of their own. He notes the poor "have a claim to special consideration."

Over a century before Pope Francis warned that trickle-down economics "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system," Leo XIII cautioned:

    The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.

It wasn't Marx but Leo who explained that "the labor of the working class--the exercise of their skill, and the employment of their strength, in the cultivation of the land, and in the workshops of trade--is especially responsible and quite indispensable" before concluding:

    It may be truly said that it is only by the labor of working men that States grow rich.

When Pope Leo XIII spoke on the rights of capital and labor, his words were not well-received by the union-bashers of his day--or ours:

    Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.

Like Francis, Leo emphasized both the moral priority of caring for "the least of these" while reminding all of Jesus' guidance that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

    Therefore, those whom fortune favors are warned that riches do not bring freedom from sorrow and are of no avail for eternal happiness, but rather are obstacles;(9) that the rich should tremble at the threatenings of Jesus Christ - threatenings so unwonted in the mouth of our Lord(10)...

    Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others.

Almost 125 years and three papal encyclicals later, Pope Francis has reiterated Pope Leo's counsel that workers must not be left "isolated and defenseless" in the face of "the callousness of employers and the greed of unrestrained competition." As he put it last week:

    "In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

Waiting, that is, for social justice.

**************

Rush Limbaugh: Obama is ‘having an orgasm’ because the pope is ‘ripping America’

By David Edwards
RawStory
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 16:08 EST

Rush Limbaugh suggested on Wednesday that President Barack Obama was “having an orgasm” after Pope Francis called unfettered capitalism the “new tyranny,” which the radio host said was the same as “ripping America.”

After the president mentioned the pope’s condemnation of economic inequality on Wednesday, Limbaugh said Obama “just can’t wait to rip this country apart.”

“This is the president citing the pope, his new best friend, because the pope is ripping America, the pope ripping capitalism,” the radio host explained. “And Obama’s having an orgasm. Jeremiah Wright is beside himself. Jeremiah Wright thought he was Obama’s preacher, now pope somehow has co-opted Obama.”

“This guy can’t wait to rip this country apart, every day, whenever there’s an opportunity to criticize this country, he’s the first in line,” Limbaugh said of the president. “And that is just an outright falsehood that the increasing inequality — income, wealth, whatever — is most pronounced in our country.”

“And I tell you the way he means that, ‘We’ve got too many rich people, we need more people who are poor and lower middle class, that’s the only way we can have equality and fairness.’ This is just — people have got to be cringing that they ever voted for this guy.”

Limbaugh also noted that the pope had asked why it was “not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

“How could it not be a news item when four people die in Benghazi?” Limbaugh quipped. “How did that not end up being a news item? Four people!”


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« Reply #126 on: Dec 05, 2013, 07:13 AM »

Vatican gives ‘a slap in the face’ to sex abuse victims by stonewalling UN panel

By Lizzy Davies, The Guardian
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 16:32 EST

The Vatican has refused to give a United Nations panel information it requested on clerical sex abuse, in a move that it said was part of its confidentiality policy but which was criticised as “a slap in the face” for victims.

In a series of questions asked in the runup to a public hearing scheduled for January, the UN committee on the rights of the child had requested the Holy See provide details of abuse cases and specific information concerning their subsequent investigation and handling.

But, in its response, the Holy See said that although it had answered the questions in a general way, it was not its practice to disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.

In the 24-page document, the Holy See said it had been “deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse” and regretted the involvement of some members of the Catholic clergy.

It added that it had “amended norms” regarding the suitability of candidates for the priesthood, and had taken other steps including the revision of some canon law rules “to ensure that clerics and religious are properly disciplined”.

But it did not give all the details requested by the committee in a lengthy, multi-part question on the “sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world”.

The Holy See was asked to provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse that had been committed by members of the clergy or brought to the attention of the Holy See over a certain period.

As a whole, the document included responses on issues from child sexual abuse to gender stereotyping in Catholic schoolbooks and the abandonment of infants in church “baby boxes”.

In a cover note, the Holy See said that the committee had in many instances asked it to respond on “concrete situations that fall outside the direct control of the Holy See, since they concern matters for which Catholic persons and institutions present in other countries are responsible”.

The Holy See, which signed the convention on the rights of the child in 1990, argues that while it encourages the rights recognised on a global basis, it can only implement them on the territory of the Vatican city state.

Campaigners reacted angrily to the response on sexual abuse, with Keith Porteous Wood of the UK’s National Secular Society branding it “a brazen failure”.

“Many will be disappointed and surprised by this slap in the face to the tens if not hundreds of thousands of suffering victims and to a United Nations body,” he said in a statement.

“It is both shameless and unacceptable for [the Holy See] to undermine the UN’s efforts, made in the interest of protecting past and future victims, by refusing to provide the information that the UN seeks.”

The US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the response marked one of the Holy See’s “most explicitly disingenuous and misleading positions on the issue to date”.

“The response is vague and general, where the committee sought concrete data and facts,” it added in a statement.

In May, Pope Francis said the Congregation of the Faith – the Vatican department that includes the office of the sex crimes prosecutor – should continue to act decisively on abuse allegations, “promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past and the necessary procedures against those who are guilty”.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013
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« Reply #127 on: Dec 06, 2013, 07:53 AM »

December 5, 2013

Pope Setting Up Commission on the Sexual Abuse of Children by Priests

By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO, ALAN COWELL and RICK GLADSTONE
IHT

VATICAN CITY — In his first concrete step to address the clerical sexual-abuse problem in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis will establish a commission to advise him on protecting children from pedophile priests and on how to counsel victims, the Vatican said Thursday.

The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the Vatican of the enduring problem of abusive priests, and fit with Francis’ pattern of willingness to set a new tone in the governance of the church nine months into his tenure.

Whether the new commission portends a significant change in how the Vatican deals with abusive priests and their protectors remains to be seen, experts on the church said. Yet the timing of the announcement, two days after a United Nations panel criticized the Vatican over its handling of abuse cases, suggested that the pope and his closest advisers wanted to at least be seen as tackling the issue with greater firmness.

Soon after he became pope, Francis directed the Vatican last April to act decisively on abuse cases and punish pedophile priests, in a meeting with subordinates at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s enforcement arm. But he had said little about the sexual abuse problem since.

“Francis is great on a lot of stuff but hasn’t really done anything about sex abuse cases,” said John L. Allen Jr., the senior correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, an American weekly, who frequently reports from the Vatican.

“A lot of people most focused on this issue said that Francis needs to game up,” Mr. Allen said in a telephone interview. “So the P.R. thing to say was, ‘We’re doing something.’ ”

The announcement elicited a mixed reaction, reflecting some skepticism, particularly among victims and their advocates, over whether a new commission would be more than cosmetic.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the coordinating body of bishops in the United States, called the pope’s move “a most welcome initiative.” In a statement, the group said: “Abuse of minors is a sin and a crime, and every step must be taken to eradicate this blight. Such abuse is especially grave when committed by anyone in ministry in our church.”

At the same time, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, the leading United States-based support group for clergy abuse victims, called the news a disappointment that reflected badly on the new pope. David Clohessy, executive director of the group, said the announcement suggested that the Vatican remained strongly resistant to making sexually abusive members of the clergy and their church protectors accountable to external criminal prosecution.

“A new church panel is the last thing that kids need,” Mr. Clohessy said in a telephone interview. “Church officials have mountains of information about those who have committed and those who are concealing horrible child sex crimes and cover-ups. They just have to give that information to the police.”

BishopAccountability.org, an organization that has amassed an enormous collection of documents on the abuse problem in the church, gave a cautious welcome to the announcement, but also expressed skepticism.

“It’s good that the Vatican will be giving this terrible problem high-level and focused attention,” Anne Barrett Doyle, the group’s co-director, said in a statement. “But we are concerned that the commission will be toothless and off-target.”

The suggestion to establish a commission came from the group of eight cardinals brought together by the pope a month after his election in March to advise him on reforming the Vatican’s labyrinthine bureaucracy.

Precisely who will serve on the advisory commission and what authority it will have remained unclear. But Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the only American among the eight cardinals advising the pope, said it would include priests, men and women from religious orders and laypeople with expertise in safeguarding children, and that it would offer advice on pastoral care rather than judicial functions. That seemed to signal that it would not make proposals for exposing or punishing abusive clerics.

The commission will have a broad mandate including the development of “norms, procedures and strategies for the protection of children and the prevention of abuse of minors,” the Vatican said in a statement.

It could also develop guidelines for cooperating with civil authorities, reporting of crimes and compliance with civil law, the Vatican said. Procedures for “screening and checking of previous offenses” and “the state of action of requests for psychiatric evaluation” could also be examined.

“Up to now, there’s been so much focus on the judicial parts of this, but the pastoral response of the church is very, very important, and the Holy Father is concerned about that,” Cardinal O’Malley said at a news conference at the Vatican. “And so we feel as though having the advantage of a commission of experts that would be able to study some of these issues and bring concrete recommendations for the Holy Father and the Holy See will be very important.”

The cardinal’s diocese in Boston was the center of the sexual abuse scandal in the United States a decade ago. The cardinal also is known to be among the most proactive advisers to Francis in pushing to address the abuse issue more assertively.

While the commission’s powers, precise composition and influence are not yet known, Mr. Allen said, Cardinal O’Malley’s role “suggested that it’s substantive.”

Other Vatican experts expressed caution. John Thavis, the author of “The Vatican Diaries,” a best-selling book about how the Vatican works, said the commission was a “positive step.” But he expressed doubt that it would “revolutionize anything” in how the church deals with sexual abuse cases.

“This is an advisory commission to the pope, and doesn’t have any authority on how its recommendations would be implemented or on issues of how bishops report to local civil authorities,” he said.

This week, the Vatican sidestepped a request from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for information about its handling of abuse cases, saying that the responsibility for such cases rested with individual bishops.

Sexual abuse of children has haunted the Vatican, particularly during the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, who often seemed overwhelmed by scandals involving cover-ups of pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse that undermined the church’s moral authority and stature.

In June 2010, Benedict addressed the abuse issue in public, telling priests in St. Peter’s Square, “We, too, insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again.” In 2012, he approved a symposium to discuss ways of preventing the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy.

An aloof theologian, Benedict resigned in February, the first pope to relinquish the Roman Catholic Church’s highest office voluntarily in nearly 600 years. Francis has sought to project a more down-to-earth image, blending personal humility with a readiness to embrace new thinking.

Even as Cardinal O’Malley announced the commission, parts of the church were bracing for new disclosures. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis told its priests that a new report would illuminate the prevalence of abuse in its parishes.

Cardinal O’Malley said the new advisory commission would study existing measures and proposals for “new initiatives” to safeguard children, as well as guidelines for the personal conduct of priests and the creation of safe environments to limit the likelihood of abuse.

Under Benedict, the Vatican asked the bishops of every country to produce a policy on handling abuse cases, and to submit the policies to the Vatican for approval. But not all of them did so; bishops in some parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America said they had little experience or expertise on the issue. By contrast, the church has been calling bishops and officials from English-speaking countries to meetings in Rome for decades to discuss the abuse problem and share their best practices.

The new emphasis on pastoral care for abuse victims may present challenges for the Vatican. Many victims of abuse by priests say they want nothing more to do with the church, and would not feel comfortable receiving counsel or spiritual care from a professional affiliated with the church.

Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Vatican City, Alan Cowell from London, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Laurie Goodstein contributed reporting from Salt Lake City.


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« Reply #128 on: Dec 07, 2013, 06:07 AM »

FROM THE EPICENTER OF SADISTIC CAPITALISM: AMERICA....

All,

It is very interesting to note that Pope Francis has his natal Saturn in Pisces in the 8th House in opposition to his Neptune in Virgo in the 2nd. His natal Lucifer is also in Virgo in his 2nd. His Saturn is conjunct all of the five planets that Jesus had in Pisces. The Pope's Saturn squares his Nodal Axis, as does his Neptune. This is so perfectly mirrored in his teachings about the idolatry of money. And now, from America, we are hearing all these voices of evil attacking him for this. It is interesting to note that the Pope has his natal Moon and Venus conjunct in Aquarius in the 7th which is also his S.Node of Neptune, his core teaching about equality of all peoples, yet this is conjunct the USA's chart Moon in it's 10th, and it's LUCIFER which are also conjunct the S.Node of Neptune. We can see the perfect symbolism of the evil that is America's capitalism now attacking this Pope because of the threat that he poses to their world that is defined by their Zarathustra's.

December 06, 2013 12:00 PM

Fox Columnist: Pope Francis A 'Disaster' for Catholic Church

By John Amato
CrooksAndLiars

Fox News editor Adam Shaw is quite cross with Pope Francis. In fact he's so incensed that he equated Pope Francis' popularity with that of President-elect Barack Obama, and not in a very nice way.

    Pope Francis is undergoing a popularity surge comparable to the way Barack Obama was greeted by the world in 2008. And just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.

    My fellow Catholics should be suspicious when bastions of anti-Catholicism in the left-wing media are in love with him.
    --
    Just like President Obama loved apologizing for America, Pope Francis likes to apologize for the Catholic Church, thinking that the Church is at its best when it is passive and not offending anyone’s sensibilities.

    In his interviews with those in the left-wing media he seeks to impress, Francis has said that the Church needs to stop being ‘obsessed’ with abortion and gay marriage, and instead of seeking to convert people, “we need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”

    This softly-softly approach of not making a fuss has been tried before, and failed. The Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s aimed to “open the windows” of the Church to the modern world by doing just this.

    The result was the Catholic version of New Coke. Across the West where the effects were felt, seminaries and convents emptied, church attendance plummeted, and adherence to Church doctrine diminished.

    John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard to turn this trend around, but now Pope Francis wants the bad old days to resume.

Shaw is actually calling Pope Francis a Catholic apologist to the left like conservatives called President Obama an American apologist to the Muslim brotherhood. This man is very sick and angry. Where's the outrage from the religious right over all these nasty comments that are erupting from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Stuart Varney and many others? Bill O'Reilly has been pretty mute on the topic of pope bashing and he's never stopped trashing liberals if he thought they were being unkind to Catholics. Where's Bill Donohue of the Catholic League? Remember when Donohue's group attacked a Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as being anti-Catholic which resulted in them having to leave the Edwards campaign? Howard Kurtz was all over that story.

Shaw is saying that the new Pope will destroy the Catholic church and I'd say attacking the a sitting Pope like this has been unheard of since the religious right took over the GOP.

John Cassify of the New Yorker has an interesting read on what Pope Francis said in his papal exhortation and what it means. POPE FRANCIS’S CHALLENGE TO GLOBAL CAPITALISM

Here's some of it.

    In asserting the primacy of the underdog, and the need to interpret scripture from the underdog’s perspective, Pope Francis was echoing arguments made by left-leaning Latin American priests during the nineteen-seventies, such as the Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez, and Leonardo Boff, of Brazil. But the pontiff also goes beyond old-school liberation theology. The poor aren’t the only victims, he argues. The system’s prosperous winners also get dehumanized and debased, albeit in a more subtle way.

        To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

    This is incendiary stuff, especially in a country like the United States, where moral assaults on the market are rare in mainstream discourse. Even the tribunes of Occupy Wall Street rarely rose to the rhetorical heights of the new Pope, who goes on:

        While the earnings of the minority are growing exponentially, so, too, is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. The imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules…. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything that stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

    With the Pope bandying about phrases like “a new tyranny,” I am not surprised that Limbaugh and other defenders of the established order have labeled him a Marxist. In its recognition of the universality and power of the market, its self-sustaining ideology, its association with rising inequality, and its dehumanizing aspect, parts of the Pope’s analysis do resemble those of the man his friends called the Moor, and his cohort Friedrich Engels. But the Argentine Pope isn’t just a priest who swallowed bits of “The Communist Manifesto”—the more acute bits. Parts of his argument also hark back to the anti-growth and anti-consumerism movements of the sixties and seventies, which have recently seen a rebirth in many parts of the advanced world, particularly among the young.The core of the Pope’s critique is moral and theological rather than economic, and that is what gives it its power. Referring once again to the idolatry of money, he writes:

        Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of Ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it threatens the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, Ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace.

    What might that response be? Once again, the latest heir to St. Peter doesn’t hold back:

        Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect, and promote the poor. I exhort you to a generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.


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« Reply #129 on: Dec 07, 2013, 07:34 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
12/06/2013 05:37 PM

Climate Summit Trap: Capitalism's March toward Global Collapse

An Essay by Harald Welzer

The Warsaw conference demonstrated that the "climate summit" model is broken and, more importantly, that capitalism itself is driving us to the brink. Protests are not the solution -- it's time to fight the system using its own weapons.

The municipal utility company in the city of Potsdam is currently wooing new customers with a special "BabyBonus" offer. The slogan reads, "We value little energy robbers! Welcome to the world!" Every newborn receives a credit of 500 kilowatt hours of electricity, allowing him or her to revel from the start in a world where everything, especially energy, will always be available in abundance. These babies may later find they're in for a surprise.

When the United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up in Warsaw the weekend before last, it did, despite what most observers and disappointed NGO representatives believe, yield a result. It just wasn't officially announced: the termination of the at-least symbolic general agreement that urgent action must be taken to counter global warming. In other words, climate change has been definitively removed from the global policy agenda.

The intense concern over climate change triggered by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports in 2007 and widely popularized by Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" -- a concern that led even Angela Merkel to make an appearance in the Arctic as the "climate chancellor," decked out in a red all-weather jacket -- actually dissipated a while ago, but no one wanted to say so out loud.

The United States' lack of interest in an international treaty is dressed up by its argument that gas extracted by fracking is more climate-friendly than coal, while in Japan, the Fukushima disaster and resulting phase-out of nuclear power has provided those responsible with an excellent argument for why the country now needs to burn more coal in order to stay economically competitive. Hannelore Kraft, governor of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, feels much the same way about her own state. And Australia, Canada, Poland and Russia have never really grasped why global warming should stop anyone from burning everything the oil rigs, mines and pipelines have to offer in the first place.

Capitalism Triumphant

To put it another way: The primacy of economics has prevailed. It no longer seems to matter how we're supposed to get through the rest of this century if the world grows warmer by three, four or five degrees Celsius. National economies require an ever-growing dose of energy if their business models are to continue functioning, and, in the face of this logic, all scientific objections to the contrary are just as powerless as the climate protest movements, which are, in any case, marginal.

At this point, we could act as if we've seen it all and argue that in the course of human history many cultures failed because they did not adapt their success strategies to new conditions. The Vikings left Greenland in part because they clung to animal husbandry despite practically having to carry their cows out to pasture in the spring, because the lack of winter feed had left the animals too weak to walk. The Vikings would have just needed to come up with the idea of eating fish instead, but to them that seemed as inconceivable as renouncing the idea of growth does to nations today. The Vikings believed they could not live without cows, just as we believe that a high quality of life rests on expansion.

Those babies in Potsdam are being hooked on this concept from birth. True, babies born today will still get to experience a bit of this wonderful world of fossil fuels and miraculous growth. For two decades, perhaps? Three?

New Race for Survival

The economy's refusal to set limits has set off a new race: that of which society in this world of limitless resource exploitation and unchecked pollution will be able to remain within its comfort zone the longest. Economically powerful societies will have a considerable head start over those who embraced capitalism later or have the misfortune of being located in the wrong part of the world or are so-called "failed states" who do not have legal protection for their citizens or obstacles to the appropriation of land, water and raw materials of all kinds. The late sociologist Lars Clausen spoke presciently of "failed globalization."

We have to assume that expansive strategies will intensify as scarcities increase -- and as these scarcities are economically desired. The scarcer a resource, the greater the unmet demand for it, and thus the higher the asking price. And the more the balance shifts to the disadvantage of the consumers, the more favorable the conditions become for the suppliers. Scarcity is thus, in principle, good for business.

The capitalist economy, in fact, had great success with this principle. No other economic system in history has generated and distributed more wealth in such a comparatively short a span of time. But when expansion is the central problem-solving strategy of an economic and societal system, and when that system is finite, it will eventually encounter a fatal trap when it begins to consume that which it itself requires.

Existing Strategies Have Been Powerless

The task then becomes to extract as much out of it as possible, while we still can. In this sense, the alarmism of environmental activists and climate researchers actually adds fuel to the fire, because it calls attention to the fact that the party may soon be over. Perhaps this solves the puzzle of why "Earth Summits" and climate conferences to save the planet take place incessantly, even though none of these have ever lead to real change, let alone to a reversal of the trend.

It demonstrates the utter powerlessness of the intervention strategies which have been employed so far. It couldn't be otherwise, in fact, in a system organized around the division of labor. Any form of protest that doesn't interfere with the existing business models, and which is able to perform well in the economy of attention, quickly establishes its own economic segment. To put it cynically, such protest creates its own "concern industry," with its own experts and industry professionalization, its own career paths and PR divisions.

A science that produces troubling findings, as climate research does, differentiates itself as its own discipline, experiences booms in the creation of institutes, commissions and councils, yet in practical terms hardly disrupts the economic metabolism that is responsible for the troubling findings in the first place. We could even say that neither climate research nor climate conferences reduce CO2 emissions, but rather blithely contribute to their annual increase, because they are part of the larger system.

'Economy for the Common Good'

This means we need a method of searching for new strategies that can't be coopted by the sleek, but unfortunately destructive, principle of capitalism. Imagine, for example, what might happen if a large number of businesses make the improvement of the common good -- instead of an increase in their profits -- the goal of their commercial efforts.

There are in fact already more than 1,400 companies, if small ones, in German-speaking countries that have made a commitment to the concept of the "economy for the common good," an idea developed a few years ago by Christian Felber, the Austrian co-founder of Attac. Around one third of these companies have annual balance statements to show it.

In the medium term, the "economy for the common good" movement aims to make such accounting legally binding. The principle is that the more common-good "points" a business achieves, the more legal benefits it should enjoy. For example, companies with a positive common-good balance could benefit from lower taxes, obtain loans from national banks at lower interest rates and be given priority in public purchasing and the awarding of contracts. This reversal of the existing incentive system would serve to make products and services that are produced and traded fairly, and are environmentally sustainable, cheaper than ethically problematic products and nondurable, disposable items.

The appeal of this approach lies in the fact that -- as with the many energy and consumption cooperatives, ethical banks, swapping platforms and venues for giving things away that have sprung up in recent years -- there is no longer a reason to generate additional surplus, once enough has already been produced. This counters capitalism's logic of valuation far more effectively than any sort of symbolic act, because such experiments in alternative economic practices intervene directly in the economic metabolism. Rather than continuing to generate more and more arguments, they generate new facts.

The Argument for Divestment

Another, even more effective, instrument for creating this sort of change is the "Fossil Free" divestment campaign launched last year by American environmental activist Bill McKibben. This movement is based on the simple idea that entire industries' commercial foundation can be destroyed if funds are withdrawn from them. Private financial investment alone already amounts to a considerable sum. But serious clout could be achieved if the endowments of American colleges and universities, the assets of church organizations and city budgets, were no longer invested in companies that destroy the foundations of future human survival.

Such initiatives are now active at nearly 400 American schools, colleges and universities. Four colleges and 10 cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, have made the decision to divest. The campaign has also spread to Europe, where University College London just joined the movement.

We only need to think of the wealth of assets held by foundations here in Germany to see just how much capital could be divested from the wrong purposes. This is especially true if we follow a traditional capitalistic mode of thinking and further consider that the businesses affected by this divestment would no longer present good investment opportunities even for those investors who don't care how their returns are generated.

Seen from this angle, Warsaw's cold termination of the existing agreement can also serves as an opening for more effective counterstrategies. Perhaps even those determined to believe the best will understand that governments can't be counted on to effect this change, and that domination-free discourse is not the adequate mode for addressing the destruction of the foundations of human survival.

Welzer, 55, teaches social psychology at Flensburg and St. Gallen Universities. He is director of the "FUTURZWEI" foundation in Berlin, an international affiliate of which will shortly be launched under the name of "FUTUREPERFECT". His most recent book is "Selbst denken. Eine Anleitung zum Widerstand" ("Think for yourself: A Handbook for Resistance").

Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein
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« Reply #130 on: Dec 08, 2013, 06:34 AM »


This is exactly what the Pope is talking about relative to the affects of unregulated capitalism ....

David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show'

The creator of The Wire, David Simon, delivered a coruscating speech about the divide between rich and poor in America, and how capitalism has lost sight of its social compact. This is an edited extract

David Simon   
The Observer, Sunday 8 December 2013        

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We've somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you're seeing this more and more in the west. I don't think it's unique to America.

I think we've perfected a lot of the tragedy and we're getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx.

I'm not a Marxist in the sense that I don't think Marxism has a very specific clinical answer to what ails us economically. I think Marx was a much better diagnostician than he was a clinician. He was good at figuring out what was wrong or what could be wrong with capitalism if it wasn't attended to and much less credible when it comes to how you might solve that.

You know if you've read Capital or if you've got the Cliff Notes, you know that his imaginings of how classical Marxism – of how his logic would work when applied – kind of devolve into such nonsense as the withering away of the state and platitudes like that. But he was really sharp about what goes wrong when capital wins unequivocally, when it gets everything it asks for.

That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.

We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we're supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?

And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we're going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed.

Capitalism stomped the hell out of Marxism by the end of the 20th century and was predominant in all respects, but the great irony of it is that the only thing that actually works is not ideological, it is impure, has elements of both arguments and never actually achieves any kind of partisan or philosophical perfection.

It's pragmatic, it includes the best aspects of socialistic thought and of free-market capitalism and it works because we don't let it work entirely. And that's a hard idea to think – that there isn't one single silver bullet that gets us out of the mess we've dug for ourselves. But man, we've dug a mess.

After the second world war, the west emerged with the American economy coming out of its wartime extravagance, emerging as the best product. It was the best product. It worked the best. It was demonstrating its might not only in terms of what it did during the war but in terms of just how facile it was in creating mass wealth.

Plus, it provided a lot more freedom and was doing the one thing that guaranteed that the 20th century was going to be – and forgive the jingoistic sound of this – the American century.

It took a working class that had no discretionary income at the beginning of the century, which was working on subsistence wages. It turned it into a consumer class that not only had money to buy all the stuff that they needed to live but enough to buy a bunch of shit that they wanted but didn't need, and that was the engine that drove us.

It wasn't just that we could supply stuff, or that we had the factories or know-how or capital, it was that we created our own demand and started exporting that demand throughout the west. And the standard of living made it possible to manufacture stuff at an incredible rate and sell it.

And how did we do that? We did that by not giving in to either side. That was the new deal. That was the great society. That was all of that argument about collective bargaining and union wages and it was an argument that meant neither side gets to win.

Labour doesn't get to win all its arguments, capital doesn't get to. But it's in the tension, it's in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional, that it becomes something that every stratum in society has a stake in, that they all share.

The unions actually mattered. The unions were part of the equation. It didn't matter that they won all the time, it didn't matter that they lost all the time, it just mattered that they had to win some of the time and they had to put up a fight and they had to argue for the demand and the equation and for the idea that workers were not worth less, they were worth more.

Ultimately we abandoned that and believed in the idea of trickle-down and the idea of the market economy and the market knows best, to the point where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It's astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don't need anything but my own ability to earn a profit. I'm not connected to society. I don't care how the road got built, I don't care where the firefighter comes from, I don't care who educates the kids other than my kids. I am me. It's the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar.

That we've gotten to this point is astonishing to me because basically in winning its victory, in seeing that Wall come down and seeing the former Stalinist state's journey towards our way of thinking in terms of markets or being vulnerable, you would have thought that we would have learned what works. Instead we've descended into what can only be described as greed. This is just greed. This is an inability to see that we're all connected, that the idea of two Americas is implausible, or two Australias, or two Spains or two Frances.

Societies are exactly what they sound like. If everybody is invested and if everyone just believes that they have "some", it doesn't mean that everybody's going to get the same amount. It doesn't mean there aren't going to be people who are the venture capitalists who stand to make the most. It's not each according to their needs or anything that is purely Marxist, but it is that everybody feels as if, if the society succeeds, I succeed, I don't get left behind. And there isn't a society in the west now, right now, that is able to sustain that for all of its population.

And so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.

We have become something other than what we claim for the American dream and all because of our inability to basically share, to even contemplate a socialist impulse.

Socialism is a dirty word in my country. I have to give that disclaimer at the beginning of every speech, "Oh by the way I'm not a Marxist you know". I lived through the 20th century. I don't believe that a state-run economy can be as viable as market capitalism in producing mass wealth. I don't.

I'm utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument's over. But the idea that it's not going to be married to a social compact, that how you distribute the benefits of capitalism isn't going to include everyone in the society to a reasonable extent, that's astonishing to me.

And so capitalism is about to seize defeat from the jaws of victory all by its own hand. That's the astonishing end of this story, unless we reverse course. Unless we take into consideration, if not the remedies of Marx then the diagnosis, because he saw what would happen if capital triumphed unequivocally, if it got everything it wanted.

And one of the things that capital would want unequivocally and for certain is the diminishment of labour. They would want labour to be diminished because labour's a cost. And if labour is diminished, let's translate that: in human terms, it means human beings are worth less.

From this moment forward unless we reverse course, the average human being is worth less on planet Earth. Unless we take stock of the fact that maybe socialism and the socialist impulse has to be addressed again; it has to be married as it was married in the 1930s, the 1940s and even into the 1950s, to the engine that is capitalism.

Mistaking capitalism for a blueprint as to how to build a society strikes me as a really dangerous idea in a bad way. Capitalism is a remarkable engine again for producing wealth. It's a great tool to have in your toolbox if you're trying to build a society and have that society advance. You wouldn't want to go forward at this point without it. But it's not a blueprint for how to build the just society. There are other metrics besides that quarterly profit report.

The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?

If you watched the debacle that was, and is, the fight over something as basic as public health policy in my country over the last couple of years, imagine the ineffectiveness that Americans are going to offer the world when it comes to something really complicated like global warming. We can't even get healthcare for our citizens on a basic level. And the argument comes down to: "Goddamn this socialist president. Does he think I'm going to pay to keep other people healthy? That's socialism you know. HBO contract. Motherfucker."

What do you think group health insurance is? You know you ask these guys, "Do you have group health insurance where you …?" "Oh yeah, I get …" you know, "my law firm …" So when you get sick you're able to afford the treatment.

The treatment comes because you have enough people in your law firm so you're able to get health insurance enough for them to stay healthy. So the actuarial tables work and all of you, when you do get sick, are able to have the resources there to get better because you're relying on the idea of the group. Yeah. And they nod their heads, and you go "Brother, that's socialism. You know it is."

And ... you know when you say, OK, we're going to do what we're doing for your law firm but we're going to do it for 300 million Americans and we're going to make it affordable for everybody that way. And yes, it means that you're going to be paying for the other guys in the society, the same way you pay for the other guys in the law firm … Their eyes glaze. You know they don't want to hear it. It's too much. Too much to contemplate the idea that the whole country might be actually connected.

So I'm astonished that at this late date I'm standing here and saying we might want to go back for this guy Marx that we were laughing at, if not for his prescriptions, then at least for his depiction of what is possible if you don't mitigate the authority of capitalism, if you don't embrace some other values for human endeavour.

And that's what The Wire was about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow.

That's the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people that we've managed to marginalise? It was kind of interesting when it was only race, when you could do this on the basis of people's racial fears and it was just the black and brown people in American cities who had the higher rates of unemployment and the higher rates of addiction and were marginalised and had the shitty school systems and the lack of opportunity.

And kind of interesting in this last recession to see the economy shrug and start to throw white middle-class people into the same boat, so that they became vulnerable to the drug war, say from methamphetamine, or they became unable to qualify for college loans. And all of a sudden a certain faith in the economic engine and the economic authority of Wall Street and market logic started to fall away from people. And they realised it's not just about race, it's about something even more terrifying. It's about class. Are you at the top of the wave or are you at the bottom?

So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody's going to get left behind. We're going to figure this out. We're going to get the banks open. From the depths of that depression a social compact was made between worker, between labour and capital that actually allowed people to have some hope.

We're either going to do that in some practical way when things get bad enough or we're going to keep going the way we're going, at which point there's going to be enough people standing on the outside of this mess that somebody's going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there's always the brick. I hope we go for the first option but I'm losing faith.

The other thing that was there in 1932 that isn't there now is that some element of the popular will could be expressed through the electoral process in my country.

The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what's a good idea or what's not, or what's valued and what's not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

Right now capital has effectively purchased the government, and you witnessed it again with the healthcare debacle in terms of the $450m that was heaved into Congress, the most broken part of my government, in order that the popular will never actually emerged in any of that legislative process.

So I don't know what we do if we can't actually control the representative government that we claim will manifest the popular will. Even if we all start having the same sentiments that I'm arguing for now, I'm not sure we can effect them any more in the same way that we could at the rise of the Great Depression, so maybe it will be the brick. But I hope not.

David Simon is an American author and journalist and was the executive producer of The Wire. This is an edited extract of a talk delivered at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney.


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« Reply #131 on: Dec 11, 2013, 10:30 AM »

December 11, 2013

Pope Francis Is Time's Person of the Year

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church's new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time.

The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927.

The former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in March as the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. Since taking over at the Vatican, he has urged the Catholic Church not to be obsessed with "small-minded rules" and to emphasize compassion over condemnation in dealing with touchy topics like abortion, gays and contraception.

He has denounced the world's "idolatry of money" and the "global scandal" that nearly 1 billion people today go hungry, and has charmed the masses with his simple style and wry sense of humor. His appearances draw tens of thousands of people at a clip and his @Pontifex Twitter account recently topped 10 million followers.

"He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way," said Nancy Gibbs, the magazine's managing editor.

The Vatican said the honor wasn't surprising given the resonance in the general public that Francis has had, but it nevertheless said the choice was a "positive" recognition of spiritual values in the international media.

"The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. "But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the Gospel — a message of God's love for everyone — he will certainly be happy about that."

It was the third time a Catholic pope had been Time's selection. John Paul II was selected in 1994 and John XXIII was chosen in 1962.

Besides Snowden, Time had narrowed its finalists down to gay rights activist Edith Windsor, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Time editors made the selection. The magazine polled readers for their choice, and the winner was Egyptian General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who didn't even make the top 10 of Time's final list.

___

Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.
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« Reply #132 on: Dec 12, 2013, 06:31 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
12/11/2013 05:06 PM

Radio Vatican: Unpredictable Pope Challenges Journalists

By Fiona Ehlers in Rome

Each day, Radio Vatican translates the pope's words into 44 languages. The station's staff of 400 are some of the best and brightest from some 60 countries. But Pope Francis is very unpredictable, making a tough job even harder.

Much has changed since Pope Francis came into office. Wednesday, the day of the pope's weekly general audience, is a case in point. Each time, Francis is taken to St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile at 9:30 a.m., one hour earlier than his predecessor. It is clear that both the pope and the pilgrims enjoy the unofficial portion of the audience the most.

A carabiniere blows Francis a kiss. Three schoolchildren grab his white cap and try it on. The pope accepts Argentine football jerseys, kisses 14 children and approaches a man who has no nose. He places his forehead against the man's forehead and says: "Pray for me."

Less than 500 meters (1,640 feet) away, Anne Preckel of Radio Vatican is sitting in front of a TV screen in a nondescript building, watching the live broadcast. The 34-year-old native of Germany's Westphalia region is responsible for the daily broadcast on this Wednesday. Preckel, who characterizes herself as a critical Catholic, has been in Rome for five years. Her computer rests on a stack of books. The thickest book is called "The Pulpit in East Germany." The sermon begins, with the pope speaking in Italian, and Preckel listens attentively.

Francis is talking about the importance of confession. He says that he too goes to confession, and that he too is a sinner. This is familiar territory for Preckel. Francis says these things often, and there is no cause for alarm -- yet.

A Tough Job Gets Even Tougher

Then he looks up into the crowd, and his voice becomes deeper and stronger. He asks questions and improvises dialogs to engage his audience. For Preckel, these are the dangerous parts, because this pope is very fond of free, spontaneous speech. Every word matters at this point. A sentence taken out of context can have devastating consequences, as was the case in 2006, when then Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in the southern German city of Regensburg, quoted from a text that was interpreted as being critical of Islam. A spontaneous comment can also cause an uproar. In July, after returning from a trip to Brazil, Francis spoke to Preckel's colleagues about gays, finance and women in the church.

Preckel is one of 400 employees from 60 countries working at Radio Vatican, a United Nations of sorts within the papal state. Every day, they translate the pope's words into 44 languages and broadcast them around the globe on 39 different radio programs. It isn't an easy job, especially since this new, unpredictable pope came into office. Put simply, no one knows what Francis will say next.

Preckel is now listening to Francis say: "Don't be ashamed to confess your sins. It's better to blush once than to turn yellow a thousand times." She smiles, for the first time on this morning. It's a typical sentence for Francis, seemingly banal and yet highly authentic.

A Pope of Strong Verbs

"This pope delivers his morning homilies every day, he likes to make jokes and he has a low opinion of manuscripts that were reviewed by the Secretariat of State," says Preckel's boss, Jesuit priest Andrzej Koprowski. "Sometimes it really makes us sweat, because we have to think about things like: Does the joke make sense in Mandarin? Is the translation into Swahili correct? Will they understand him in Senegal?"

Koprowski, the program director of Radio Vatican, is a dignified older man who speaks Italian with a Polish accent. Former Pope John Paul II brought him to Rome in 1983. At the time, he was essentially a translator of radical change: Poland's Solidarity movement, perestroika and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now he has his hands full with Francis's revolutions. The pope's down-to-earth style is too superficial for some, says Koprowski. "They miss the baroque, the gravity that they associate with the importance of the papal office. But I don't miss it at all."

Francis is a pope of strong verbs, a Milan newspaper discovered when it analyzed the speeches of his first seven months in office. He often uses the verbs camminare (to walk) and ascolare (to listen), and his speech is peppered with the word avanti (forward). His gaze is directed outward, or fuori, to the fringes of society. The frontrunners among the 106,000 words the pope has used in his speeches are tutto and tutti (everything and everyone). Three words that hardly ever appear in his active vocabulary are punishment, discipline and power.

Funnier than Benedict?

"He makes us work harder than his predecessor did, but he's also funnier," says Preckel. The employees at Radio Vatican don't simply translate the pope's words. They also have to select, categorize and interpret, more so with Francis than with Benedict.

What happens to the pope's words and how they reach the faithful couldn't be more varied. In China, for example, persecuted Christians listen to his speeches in secret, while African programs accompany them with a lot of music. The German, French and Polish programs are considered especially liberal and sophisticated.

On this particular Wednesday, Francis's audience lasts until lunchtime. He is admiring the pictures children have painted of a man in white robes. "Who is this ugly man?" the pope asks, and the children screech: "But it's you!"

Even these words are recorded and archived, as is everything that the pope utters. The collected papal words are stored in a secret passageway between Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican. The employees at Radio Vatican joke that if the pope keeps talking at his current rate, they could eventually run out of space there.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan


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« Reply #133 on: Dec 12, 2013, 06:33 AM »

From America ..

Glenn Beck: The pope is Person of the Year because ‘progressives are fascists’

By David Edwards
RawStory
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 16:28 EST

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday reacted to Pope Francis being named Time‘s 2013 Person of the Year by naming Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as his “Man of the Year.”

“It makes me nervous about the pope, quite honestly,” Beck said, drawing a comparison between the head of the Catholic Church and President Barack Obama.

“He makes me a little concerned on his Marxist tendencies,” he explained. “When you’re not on prepared remarks, Marxism starts to creep into your language. When you’re asked questions by people, you start to say, ‘Look, I don’t want to hurt you, I just think that redistribution of wealth isn’t so bad.’”

Beck argued that both Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Cruz would have made better choices because the implementation of the president’s health care reform law would affect “every life on the planet.”

“The reason why they didn’t pick Ted Cruz is because they don’t want to give him any more power,” he opined. “I mean, they’ll put Hitler on — they did make Hitler and Mussolini the Man of the Year.”

As Right Wing Watch noted on Wednesday, Mussolini was never named Man of the Year by Time magazine.

“Remember, progressives are fascists, they are for fascism. Congratulations,” Beck added. “I can tell you right now that they may have put Ted Cruz in the little pool to have his name looked at but nobody considered him.”

“That’s why The Blaze has selected — unbeknownst to The Blaze — Man of the Year, Ted Cruz.”


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« Reply #134 on: Dec 13, 2013, 06:58 AM »

Pope Francis calls for a ‘rethinking of our models of economic development’

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, December 12, 2013 13:01 EST

Pope Francis on Thursday urged governments around the world to show more solidarity and strive for equality following a period of economic crisis, a day after being declared “Person of the Year” by Time magazine.

“The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles,” Francis said in his message for New Year’s Day, which is World Peace Day.

“Effective policies are needed to promote the principle of fraternity, securing for people… access to capital, services, educational resources, healthcare and technology,” he said in a written text which will be read out in Catholic churches on January 1.

Governments have a “duty of solidarity” towards poorer nations and a “duty of social justice” towards their citizens, while individuals should also practice fraternity by “sharing their wealth”, he said.

He also said disarmament accords were not “sufficient to protect humanity from the risk of armed conflict”.

“A conversion of hearts is needed which would permit everyone to recognise in the other a brother or sister,” he said.

Francis called for “a culture of solidarity” and said the biblical story of Cain and Abel showed “the difficult task to which all men and women are called, to live as one, taking care of each other.”

“Rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that ‘throw away’ mentality which leads to a contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest,” he said.

He also reiterated his critique of financial speculators saying they were often “both predatory and harmful for entire economic and social systems, exposing millions of men and women to poverty”.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s pontifical council for justice and peace, explained the pope’s message at a press conference and drew an analogy with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

“By his example and leadership, Nelson Mandela facilitated the conversion of hearts away from fratricide,” said Turkson, who represented the Vatican at this week’s memorial service for Mandela in Soweto.

“Conversion of minds and hearts is what Pope Francis is pursuing daily,” he said.

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