September 20, 2018

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092018)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: This 87-year-old woman feeds the homeless in Chile every week

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Santiago, Chile:

Sep 18, 2018 / 12:06 am

Every Wednesday night, 87-year-old Elena Donaire goes out onto the streets of Santiago, Chile, to meet the homeless and attend to their needs.

For 40 years, Donaire has taken part in the “Street Route” of the Hogar de Cristo (Christ’s Home), an organization that includes numerous outreach programs and facilities to help the poor.

Donaire starts her evening by fixing sandwiches, boiling water and organizing the warm clothing that she will give to the people she encounters on the streets. When everything is ready, the volunteers leave in their van.

Donaire is often the first to get out of the van to begin serving. Many of the homeless people on the streets of Santiago know her and greet her by the affectionate title “Dear Mama.” The other volunteers call her by the nickname “Grandma.”

In an interview with the Archdiocese of Santiago’s communications office, Donaire explained that her mission has its origin in her friendship with Saint Alberto Hurtado.

Known in Chile as Padre Hurtado, the Jesuit priest, author and lawyer founded Christ’s Home, a network of homeless shelters that also included trade schools, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities to serve the poor.

He was beatified in 1994 by Pope John Paul II and canonized in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Before Hurtado died in 1952, Donaire said she had “promised him to continue serving the people just as he did.”

“That’s the biggest reason I have to continue helping – it’s a joy for me,” Donaire said. “I am going out on the street until he calls me from above. I know that if he were alive, he would be here on the street helping along with me, I would like to be at his side.”

Remembering the Jesuit saint, Donaire said that “he didn’t smile a lot, but when it was an occasion for smiling, he was always there with us. He enjoyed sharing with the people, especially the children, he treated them with such love and affection that it still moves me to this day to remember those moments. I have never met a person as good and committed as he was.”

For Donaire, who lives alone in a small house and works selling clothes in a street market, “It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or cold, there are no excuses for not going out on Wednesdays.”

“I anxiously wait for [the other volunteers] to come and pick me up for the simple reason that I want to be with these people. I like them and they make me happy. I know their stories and they tell me them.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 19, 2018

Wedneday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091918)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

September 18, 2018

‘Blue Wave’ Update: Texas State Senate Seat Flips to GOP For First Time 139 Years

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:15 pm

It was “only” a race for a state senate seat, so I guess the press will say it doesn’t mean anything.

Horse manure:

Flores defeats Gallego in Senate District 19

Voters elected political newcomer Pete Flores to the Texas Senate on Tuesday, flipping a Democratic district red for the first time in 139 years and further bolstering Republicans’ supermajority in the chamber ahead of the November elections.

… “This district has not been Republican since Reconstruction. And in September of 2018, it’s Republican once again,” Flores told supporters. “The work starts tomorrow.”

Flores’ win marked an incredible upset in a district that political observers said shouldn’t have been competitive for Republicans. Low turnout in special elections and high-level GOP interests in preserving a Senate supermajority helped push Flores across the line, they said.

Democrats should have been just as interested preventing that supermajority — and didn’t. Flores won by six points. That’s pretty amazing, because in the August 2 election which caused Tuesday’s runoff between Flores and Gallego, Democrat candidates took 59 percent of the vote, while Republicans took only 40 percent. Tuesday’s result was a 25-point swing (from -19 to +6).

For some reason (we know what it is), the linked article provide no vote-count specifics. I had to go to another website to find the out about Flores’s 53-47 victory margin.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091818)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Mystic and religious founder Mother Alphonse Marie beatified in Strasbourg, France

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Strasbourg, France:

Sep 14, 2018 / 08:45 am

A personal encounter with Mother Alphonse Marie Eppinger inspired “conversions which were far more miraculous than the raising of the dead,” recounted her spiritual director, Father Jean-David Reichard. The nineteenth century French mystic and religious founder was beatified this week in her native Strasbourg after a miraculous physical healing through her intercession was confirmed.

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Causes of the Saints, celebrated the beatification Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Sept. 9 in Strasbourg, France.

Mother Alphonse Marie had “the gift of seeing people, what is in their souls,” wrote Abbe Glöckler, who knew Eppinger personally and later wrote her biography.

“She had a right word and advice for everyone. God gifted her with a good mind and right judgment. Many left her with the decision to change their lives and to walk the right path.”

Eppinger was able to “scrutinize human hearts” and “reveal things that were hidden,” using these spiritual gifts to advise the priests who would “visit her in abundant numbers” seeking counsel.

“God gave her a specific commission for priests,” Glöckler continued, “She told them about dignity and the grandeur of the priesthood. She prayed a lot for priests, the Holy Father, and the Diocesan Bishop.” Eppinger also composed many several prayers for confessors.

Speaking at the Mass of beatification, Cardinal Becciu called the occasion a “providential opportunity to rediscover, 150 years after her death, … the testimony of an authentic Christian life and a deep spirituality.”

The eldest of eleven children, Elizabeth Eppinger, was born into a peasant family on Sept. 9, 1814, in Niederbronn, France.

Her devotion to Christ’s passion stemmed from an episode in her childhood, which Cardinal Becciu recounted in his homily:

“As a child – when she was still called Elizabeth – one day on the way to a station of the Stations of the Cross, she asked her mother, ‘Why did they crucify Jesus?’”

“‘My little one, he was killed because of our sins,” he replied her mother.”

“‘But what is a sin?” insisted Elizabeth. ‘It’s an offense to God …’”

“‘Well, I do not want to offend him anymore!’” she replied.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 17, 2018

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091718)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Algerian martyrs to be beatified in December

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Oran, Algeria:

Sep 14, 2018 / 06:01 pm

The Algerian bishops’ conference has announced that the beatification of Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, who were martyred in the country between 1994 and 1996, will be held Dec. 8.

The beatification will take place at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran.

The new blesseds “have been given to us as intercessors and models of the Christian life, of friendship and fraternity, of encounter and dialogue. May their example aid us in our life today,” the Algerian bishops wrote.

“From Algeria, their beatification will be for the Church and for the world, an impetus and a call to build together a world of peace and fraternity.”

In January Pope Francis had authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the martyrdoms.

Claverie was a French Algerian, and the Bishop of Oran from 1981 until his Aug. 1, 1996 martyrdom. He and his companions were killed during the Algerian Civil War by Islamists.

In addition to Claverie, those being beatified are: Brother Henri Vergès, Sister Paul-Hélène Saint-Raymond, Sister Esther Paniagua Alonso, Sister Caridad Álvarez Martín, Fr. Jean Chevillard, Fr. Alain Dieulangard, Fr. Charles Deckers, Fr. Christian Chessel, Sister Angèle-Marie Littlejohn, Sister Bibiane Leclercq, Sister Odette Prévost, Brother Luc Dochier, Brother Christian de Chergé, Brother Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Brother Bruno Lemarchand, Brother Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville.

The best known of Claverie’s companions are the seven monks of Tibhirine, who were kidnapped from their Trappist priory in March 1996. They were kept as a bartering chip to procure the release of several imprisoned members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, and were killed in May. Their story was dramatized in the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 16, 2018

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091618)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Archbishop Chaput — When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Spokane, Washington:

Sep 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm

When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said on Friday.

Chaput gave his Sept. 14 address at the Faith and Reason Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, to mark the 20th anniversary of the encyclical Fides et ratio by St. John Paul II, which he recommended reading in tandem with Veritatis splendor.

Both encyclicals teach that the only way to discover the truths about man is through both faith and reason, which rely upon each other, Chaput said. Because the two are inseparable, when man loses his faith, as he is doing today, he loses much of what it means to be human.

“Today, at least in much of the developed world, theology is a backwater. Metaphysics is a museum piece. Politics, not religion, shapes our public discourse and monopolizes our zeal. The sexual revolution has crippled our institutions of marriage and family,” he said.

The catechism, he notes, has been replaced by “American advertising and entertainment.”

While there are signs of hope in regards to faith in the United States, which is still the most faithful country in the developed world, the country is also “bleeding out” when it comes to people who identify as religious, especially among the young, he said.

This hemorrhaging of faith is what makes the current scandals in the Church all the more difficult to bear, Chaput said.

“Our country and the world need a pure voice speaking the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a response. And this is what makes the current sex abuse crisis in the Church so damaging and dangerous, like a lit match in a roomful of kindling,” he said.

“The leaders tasked with witnessing Christian truth to the world as bishops and religious superiors are exactly the men who have too often failed their people, failed in their ministry, and even actively betrayed their vocation. We bishops and the Vatican itself are now seen as the problem. We need to face that fact honestly, and work to change it by our actions.”

The loss of faith also has a detrimental impact on three areas – sex, technology, and basic premises – that can shape or mis-shape society, Chaput added.

When man loses faith in God, he said, sex becomes little more than base instinct.

“Sex in today’s popular culture is mainly about impulse and desire, limited only – and sometimes not at all – by mutual consent. Rational self-mastery has little to do with it. Modesty is seen as a form of self-inflicted repression,” he said.

Technology then serves to drive the sexual revolution, which has forgotten God, Chaput said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 15, 2018

Positivity: Kid Pulls Knife on Woman and Demands Sex, So Man Pulls Gun on Kid and Teaches Lesson

Filed under: 2nd Amendment,Positivity — Tom @ 9:15 pm

Note that the gun didn’t need to be fired for it to accomplish its use to defend.

From Fleming Island, Florida (video at link):

SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 AT 4:29PM

A Florida woman says she was saved by a good guy with a gun after a teen pulled a knife on her in a store and demanded sex.

WJAX-TV reported that a 14-year-old was arrested after the incident at a Walmart in Fleming Island, about 20 miles southwest of Jacksonville, earlier this week.

“I am convinced that I would’ve been stabbed had it not been for the divine timing of another customer walking by who just happened to have a concealed carry license,” Alis Muntain wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“I was making a quick run to get cat food and litter. My arms were so full that I was sitting in the aisle contemplating whether I wanted to put it down and search for a cart when a teenager (15-17) approached me. I thought he was going to see if I needed help, but then he asked how old I was.

“A bit confused by the question, I just assumed he needed help himself and wanted to verify that I was an adult. I hesitantly replied with my age. He then said ‘I want you to have sex with me. I have a knife in my pocket.’, proceeding to pull out his pocket and show me that there was indeed a knife there. I blinked, paused, and then said ‘Are you aware that we’re on camera?’”

He said he was. Muntain told him she wanted to make him “aware that I have a husband and a THREE year old son waiting in my car for me. They will be looking for me soon.”

Even after all this, she said, the teen continued to insist that she follow his orders.

“RIGHT at that moment, a man walked across the end of the aisle behind the teenager,” Muntain wrote.

Do you think that concealed carry saved this woman?
“I have no idea how I had remained (at least visibly) calm to this point. Keeping my voice light, I called out ‘Excuse me sir, could you help me?’ as the boy turned to see who was behind him.

“Thinking I was talking about my still full arms, he said ‘sure’ and turned towards me. As soon as he took a step, I stated: ‘This boy has a knife and is threatening to use it on me if I don’t have sex with him.’”

After confirming what was happening, the man told Muntain to get help, she said.

“By this point, I was about 8-10 feet away, so I turned and RAN, screaming for help. I didnt know the man had a concealed weapon that he pulled on the boy, who then proceeded to run after me. At the end of the aisle, I veered left. running into an entire display of plastic bins and losing my glasses, but he went right. He ran out of the store, but eventually was caught by police after pulling a knife on them as well,” she wrote.

“I firmly believe that if that man hadn’t walked by when he did and had his gun on him, things could’ve gone VERY differently. It still doesn’t feel real. I’m so grateful that he was placed in my path at that moment, and that he was exercising his right to bear arms. I always figured that was a slim possibility at my school, but never at a Walmart in Fleming Island. You literally never know …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091518)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

September 14, 2018

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091418)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

September 13, 2018

August 2018 Monthly Treasury Statement: Record Income Tax Collections, Out-of-Control Spending

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:00 pm

The good news in today’s Monthly Treasury Statement for August is that year-to-date income tax collections, with just one month left in Uncle Sam’s fiscal year, are up by $100 billion, or 7 percent. (Go to Pages 5 and 6 at the link for the figures discussed in this post.)

Yes, the increase in individual income tax collections has largely been offset by lower corporate tax receipts (-$71 billion). But that’s still a net gain. The overall net pickup in receipts has been $19 billion.

What was that about last December’s tax cuts blowing a hole in the deficit?

The bad news is that spending, aka “outlays,” in August alone totaled $433 billion. That annualizes to $5 billion. Year-to-date total outlays of $3.88 trillion are $240 billion, or 6.6 percent, higher than the same time last year. That’s just ridiculous.

If September’s collections exceed September 2017′s $348 billion by about 1.2 percent, full-year receipts will match the $3.338 trillion full-year total the Congressional Budget Office projected in April. (Click on the first April 2018 link here for the downloadable spreadsheet with this data.) The problem is that full-year spending is on track to exceed the CBO’s April prediction of $4.142 trillion by about $100 billion.

Out-of-control spending is the entire reason why fiscal 2018′s deficit will be higher than CBO projected in April.

So now you know that anyone blaming last year’s tax cuts for this year’s deficit is being fundamentally dishonest.


Initial Claims: Another 49-Year Record Low

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:26 pm

From the Department of Labor:

In the week ending September 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 204,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 203,000 to 205,000. The 4-week moving average was 208,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 6, 1969 when it was 204,500. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 209,500 to 210,000.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 161,892 in the week ending September 8, a decrease of 11,665 (or -6.7 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 10,655 (or -6.1 percent) from the previous week. There were 211,923 initial claims in the comparable week in 2017.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent during the week ending September 1, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 1,492,538, a decrease of 107,457 (or -6.7 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 94,117 (or -5.9 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.2 percent and the volume was 1,699,145.

The link to the complete history of weekly claims is here.

  • A year ago (week ended September 9, 2017):
  • Single-week seasonally adjusted initial claims were 267,000. This week’s 204,00 figure is a mind-boggling 24 percent lower.
  • The four-week seasonally adjusted figure was 258,750. This week’s reported four-week average of 208,000 is 20 percent lower.
  • Unadjusted claims came in at 211,923. This year’s 161,892 is 24 percent lower.

Most people thought that the figures from a roughly a year ago (excluding the impact of last year’s hurricanes) were about as low as they would ever go. Nope. In the entire history presented at the linked table, we have never seen the four-week average of initial claims at a lower percentage of the covered workforce than what was reported today (0.0.14653 percent).

Hurricane Florence will likely change all of this temporarily, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from celebrating the fact that on the whole, we are in the best of times for those who want a job and who are willing to work to get one and work diligently to keep it.