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US adults are dumber than the average human

WASHINGTON — It’s long been known that America’s school kids haven’t measured well compared with international peers. Now, there’s a new twist: Adults don’t either.

In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.

Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.

Not only did Americans score poorly compared to many international competitors, the findings reinforced just how large the gap is between the nation’s high- and low-skilled workers and how hard it is to move ahead when your parents haven’t.

In both reading and math, for example, those with college-educated parents did better than those whose parents did not complete high school.

The study, called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, found that it was easier on average to overcome this and other barriers to literacy overseas than in the United States.

Researchers tested about 166,000 people ages 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries and subnational regions. The test was developed and released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of mostly industrialized member countries. The Education Department’s Center for Education Statistics participated.

Read the rest here: http://nypost.com/2013/10/08/us-adults-are-dumber-than-the-average-human/

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – October 8, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on October 8

4:00 – By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
In a newly updated, expanded version of his popular testimony, By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, Mark Sheapresents a lively and entertaining look at his conversion to Catholicism from Evangelicalism and his discovery of Christian tradition. As an Evangelical, Shea accepted the principle of “sola scriptura” (Scripture alone) as the basis of faith. Now as a Catholic convert, he skillfully explains how and why Sacred Tradition occupies a central role in Divine Revelation. He joins us today to tell that story.

5:00 – Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative
Engagingly, writing as if to old friends and foes, in his memoir, Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative, Michael Novak shows how Providence (not deliberate choice) placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time: a month in wartime Vietnam, the student riots of the 1960s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton’s welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, Václav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape—and reshape—his political views. Yet through it all his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant; he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy-free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies. Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail. Free societies need three liberties in one: economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty of spirit. Michael tells us his story.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – October 7, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on October 7

4:00 – Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing
Over the past fifty years, increasing numbers of American Catholics have abandoned the economic positions associated with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and chosen to embrace the principles of economic freedom and limited government: ideals upheld by Ronald Reagan and the Tea Party movement but also deeply rooted in the American Founding. This shift, alongside America’s growing polarization around economic questions, has generated fierce debates among Catholic Americans in recent years. Can a believing Catholic support free markets? Does the Catholic social justice commitment translate directly into big government? Do limited government Catholic Americans have something unique to contribute to the Church’s thinking about the economic challenges confronting all Catholics around the globe? Samuel Gregg draws upon Catholic teaching, natural law theory, and the thought of the only Catholic Signer of America’s Declaration of Independence to develop a Catholic case for the values and institutions associated with the free economy, limited government, and America’s experiment in ordered liberty. 

4:40 – Kresta Comments – Is the Pope Catholic? Two Columnists Say “No”

5:00 – Helping Disabled Catholics Access the Fullness of the Faith
The National Catholic Partnership on Disability is an organization that works collaboratively and effectively with the USCCB, dioceses and archdioceses and Catholic ministries across the country.  The mission is to help create access to faith for Catholics with disabilities.  This work is broad and deep, and includes creating specialized resources for faith formation and sacramental preparation, outreach to Hispanic families, as well as a vibrant program to support families facing an unexpected prenatal diagnosis, among many others.  NCPD estimates there are about 14 million Catholics with some kind of a disability that need more access to the faith. Executive Director Jan Bentonjoins us. 

5:40 – Kresta Comments – Is the Pope Catholic? Two Columnists Say “No”

Let’s All Panic Over Franciscogenic Papal Change!!!!!!!

This morning, I read Dolan confirms error in Scalfari interview in the National Catholic Reporter. It confirms that there was at least one factual error in Scalfari’s interview: he suggests that Francis, upon hearing of his election, left the Sistine Chapel, panicked, wanted to decline, then got his head together, felt better, and went out to get dressed. But
As veteran Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli has pointed out, however, there is no room next to the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, which is located in the middle of a long hallway, raising doubt about the literal accuracy of the quotation.
In any event, Dolan said, the sequence put on the pope’s lips by Scalfari is out of order.
Francis did not hesitate before accepting his election, Dolan said, although there was a moment later when he paused in prayer before stepping out onto the balcony for the “Habemus Papam” announcement.

Okay, not such a big deal, right? We’re still weathering this huge FRANCIS CRISIS, which is going to spell DOOM AND DISASTER for everybody and everything, and the SEA LEVELS WILL RISE and there will be GIRL CARDINALS, and puppy dog cardinals, and Benedict’s name will be chiseled off all the walls, and the speaking of Latin will be punished with excommunication, and there will be dogs and cats living together, and so on.
Then there’s this:

Respected French Vatican writer Jean-Marie Guénois confirmed with Scalfari that he didn’t tape the interview, nor did he take notes, so the text was an after-the-fact reconstruction.

He didn’t tape the interview. He didn’t take notes.

He didn’t tape the interview. He didn’t take notes.

He didn’t tape the interview. He didn’t take notes.

Read the rest here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher/2013/10/05/lets-all-panic-over-franciscogenic-papal-change/

The deafening silence on the slaughter of Christians overseas

Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:07 EST
Oct. 4, 2013 (Breakpoint) – On September 22, suicide bombers connected to the Pakistani Taliban entered All Souls Anglican Church in Peshawar during services. The resulting explosion killed 78 men, women and children.

It was only the most recent attack on Pakistani Christians, who make up just two percent of the country’s population. Apparently, even that tiny percentage is too high for some there.
What’s happening in Pakistan is, in turn, part of a larger global pattern. As we’ve said on BreakPoint, Christians around the world are often “harassed, arrested, jailed, tortured, raped, beaten, and killed.” Christian “churches and homes are bombed or burned to the ground.” Children are even “taken from their Christian parents lest they become too tainted with faith in Jesus.”

Yet the vast majority of Americans, and American Christians, would be surprised to hear we’re living in what’s been called “the age of martyrs.”

Kirsten Powers of the Daily Beast has had enough of what she calls the “deafening silence” on this issue, especially from American Christians. The lead to her recent column reads like an indictment: “Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so.”

In addition to the Peshawar attack, she points to the recent attack in Nairobi in which, according to eyewitnesses, the gunmen said “if you are Muslim you are on the safer side, but if you are Hindu or Christian you will be killed.”

She introduces readers to an ominous Jihadist slogan: “First comes Saturday, then comes Sunday.” It means “On Saturday we kill the Jews; on Sunday we kill the Christians.”

This is the world in which millions of Christians live.

Read the rest here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/the-deafening-silence-on-the-slaughter-of-christians-overseas?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f1a9b8b2c8-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_06_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-f1a9b8b2c8-397516873

Teen Pregnancies Drop as Planned Parenthood Leaves

Study shows dramatic drop in teen pregnancy rate as Planned Parenthood leaves communities

Fri Oct 04, 2013 14:39 EST


Advertisements for Planned Parenthood’s adolescent-oriented sex education website.
 
Oct. 4, 2013 (STOPP) – As a part of American Life League’s just-released meta-study of Planned Parenthood, Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) researchers analyzed the teen pregnancy rate in 16 counties of the Texas Panhandle. In those counties, over an 11-year period, closures of Planned Parenthood facilities were ongoing in the face of strong community opposition to the abortion giant’s presence.

Our study of teen pregnancy rates in the Amarillo area was prompted, in part, by news reports that Texas Department of Health State Services statistics for 2010 showed that the teen pregnancy rate is lower in Potter and Randall Counties of Texas—where Planned Parenthood’s business was focused and headquartered—than it has been since records have been kept.

The TDH statistics reflect the status of teen pregnancy two years after the last two Planned Parenthood centers in the service area of Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle disaffiliated from Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

While many things factor into the teen pregnancy rate (TPR), the fact that the TPR continually declined as Planned Parenthood facilities closed, and reached its lowest point in recorded history two years after disaffiliation of the last two remaining facilities, was a significant confirmation that Planned Parenthood’s presence and its “evidence based” sex education programs are not a necessary component to reducing teen pregnancy.

Read the rest here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/study-shows-dramatic-drop-in-teen-pregnancy-rate-as-planned-parenthood-leav?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f1a9b8b2c8-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_06_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-f1a9b8b2c8-397516873

Military Priests Face Arrest for Celebrating Mass in Defiance of Shutdown



military-chaplains-celebrate-EASTER-575x299

Our government is out of control.

First, it was the World War II veterans who had to break down barriers to see the open air, un-attended memorial erected in their honor. A memorial which is on public land but is supported – including the National Park Service fee – with private funds. This week there was more security surrounding this memorial — just to keep elderly veterans out — than there was at our embassy in Benghazi the night it was attacked.

And for what? To inflict as much pain as possible through this government shutdown. It’s called Washington Monument Syndrome, and it’s pure political theater.

But now there’s a story just coming to light that takes things even further. According the Archdiocese for Military Services, GS and contract priests (who are paid by the federal government as independent contractors in places where there aren’t enough active-duty priests to meet the needs of Catholics in military service) are being forbidden from celebrating Mass, even on a volunteer basis.
If they violate this restriction, they face possible arrest. FOR CELEBRATING MASS.

From John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese:

There is a chronic shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains. While roughly 25% of the military is Catholic, Catholic priests make up only about 8% of the chaplain corps. That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests. The temporary solution to this shortage is to provide GS and contract priests. These men are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present. With the government shutdown, GS and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer. During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.
As an example, if a Catholic family has a Baptism scheduled at the base chapel at Langley AFB this weekend, unless they can locate a priest who is not a GS or contract priest, they should consider it cancelled. Likewise, a Marine who attends Sunday Mass at the Quantico Chapel will have to go elsewhere this weekend. If you are a Catholic stationed in Japan or Korea and are served by a Contract or GS priest, unless you speak Korean or Japanese and can find a church nearby, then you have no choice but to go without Mass this weekend. Until the Federal Government resumes normal operations, or an exemption is granted to contract or GS priests, Catholic services are indefinitely suspended at those worldwide installations served by contract and GS priests.
At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform. Why not?

Read the rest, including updates at: http://www.catholicvote.org/military-priests-face-arrest-for-celebrating-mass-in-defiance-of-shutdown/

On the feast of St. Francis: Peace comes by embracing the cross, Pope says at Assisi

 
By Elise Harris
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Piazza San Franchesco in Assisi Oct. 4, 2013 Credit: Andrea Gagliarduci/CNA.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Piazza San Franchesco in Assisi Oct. 4, 2013
Credit: Andrea Gagliarduci/CNA.
 

.- During his visit to Assisi, Pope Francis told Mass attendees that true peace can only be attained by drawing close to the crucified Lord, stressing the importance of having a relationship with him.

“What is the peace which (Saint) Francis received, experienced and lived, and which he passes on to us? It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross,” he said.

Pope Francis celebrated his Oct. 4 Mass for the pilgrims who joined him in the town of Assisi to celebrate the feast of his patron, St. Francis of Assisi.

At the beginning of his pontificate, the Holy Father revealed in a special audience with journalists that he chose the name “Francis” because of remarks made to him immediately after his election, in which some of his brother cardinals urged him not to forget the poor.

The pontiff began his reflections on the life of the Saint, who was born the son of a wealthy fabric merchant, by recalling how his encounter with Jesus inspired him to resign his inheritance and to embrace a life of poverty.

“In all of Francis’ life,” the Pope noted, “love for the poor and the imitation of Christ in his poverty were inseparably united, like the two sides of a coin.”

Deepening his reflection into the life of the saint, the Pope urged those in attendance to question what sort of witness Francis gave, not just in his words, but more importantly in his life.

Read the rest at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/peace-comes-by-embracing-the-cross-pope-says-at-assisi/

Jihad story of the day: Alberta high school dropout explains why he, and many others, have gone to fight in Syria

 National Post
| | Last Updated: 26/09/13 4:15 PM ET
 
Damian Clairmont of Calgary converted to Islam following a suicide attempt at age 17. He is now known as Mustafa Al-Gharib. After he left Canada last November, CSIS officers told his mother he had gone to Syria and was part of an extremist group they had been monitoring for two years.
Damian Clairmont of Calgary converted to Islam following a suicide attempt at age 17. He is now known as Mustafa Al-Gharib. After he left Canada last November, CSIS officers told his mother he had gone to Syria and was part of an extremist group they had been monitoring for two years.
TORONTO— “I am where I am because I believe in something,” Damian Clairmont wrote from Syria, where the Alberta high-school dropout has spent the past ten months helping bring down the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.
A Muslim convert who now calls himself Mustafa Al-Gharib, the 22-year-old is one of dozens of Canadians participating in the protracted conflict in Syria, which is now being called “the new Afghanistan” and the “epicentre of jihad.”

Also among those who made the trek there was Ali Dirie, a Somali-Canadian and former member of the Toronto 18 terror group that plotted to bomb downtown Toronto and storm the Parliament buildings to behead MPs in 2006.

A gun smuggler with a high school education who once called white people the “number one filthiest people on the face of the planet,” Dirie had claimed at his sentencing that he no longer believed in terrorism or violence.

Several sources confirmed, however, that after he was released from prison, Dirie left for Syria. He is suspected of having joined the al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusrah Front. Rumors he was recently killed have been circulating in Toronto but remain unverified.

Ray Boisvert, a former counter-terrorism chief at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said the large number of Western fighters in Syria is partly a factor of communications technology, which has helped spread images of atrocities and heroic depictions of armed groups.

“Ten years after the invasion of Afghanistan by Western forces, we now have people with even greater access to the details of what’s going on, and have easier travel access to a conflict hot spot,” said Mr. Boisvert, President of the consulting firm I-SEC Integrated Strategies.

“And, frankly, because of the nature of this conflict, which will likely run for years, we’ll see a lot of ‘veterans’ likely return, just like the Afghan conflict. It simply has a lot of ‘ugly’ that will cause repercussions in the years to come, at home and abroad.”

Mr. Clairmont left Alberta for Syria last November. The RCMP and CSIS are investigating, his mother said. In exchanges with the National Post, he explained his decision in wholly religious terms, saying he was working towards the afterlife.

“The benefit for myself in terms of the worldly life is most certainly back in Canada where I could see my family, indulge in fornication and infidelity legally and limitlessly and stagger around poisoned on intoxicants and then lie to myself and the world about ‘Freedom’ and how fantastic it is,” the Nova Scotia-born Acadian wrote.

“After all that is what we were conditioned to believe since our school days, was it not?” he added. “Challenging those learned assumptions, questioning them and actually being willing to change yourself is always much harder to do. My doing so caused a search for truth and ended in a conclusion that Islam was the answer. With that came Islam’s concept of working for an afterlife that never ends … An eternity in Paradise cannot to traded for 70 years (if that) of this place.”

Read the rest here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/09/26/alberta-high-school-dropout-explains-why-he-and-many-others-have-gone-to-fight-in-syria/

QUINNIPIAC POLL IS FLAWED

October 4, 2013

Bill Donohue comments on a Quinnipiac poll released today:
quinnipiacThere are more than 78 million Catholics in the U.S. and Quinnipiac interviewed 392 of them. The actual number of Catholics who go to Mass on a weekly basis that they interviewed was 153. Most polls ask self-identified Catholics if they “attend church weekly”; “attend church nearly every week or monthly”; or “seldom or never attend church.” Not this one—there were just two choices: “attend weekly” or “less.” In other words, the poll does not distinguish between those who attend monthly and those who have stopped going—they’re lumped together.
They are lumped together for a reason, and it is a dishonest one: Every poll ever taken shows that the more practicing the Catholic is, the more in line he is with the Church’s teachings. In this poll, 60 percent of the Catholics questioned said they do not attend church weekly. Keep in mind that many of these never attend! To what extent can a person be considered a Catholic if he never practices his religion? About as much as a teetotaler can be considered a boozer.
Last March, Quinnipiac interviewed 497 Catholics; this poll is even worse. The margin of error in the poll released today is plus or minus 5 percent; this is worse than the 4 percent figure in the March poll.
The data on abortion are particularly interesting. It is being reported that 36 percent of Catholics think abortion should be legal in most cases. But the figure drops to 20 percent for Catholics who attend church weekly; it is 45 percent for those who do not. Fully 61 percent of practicing Catholics think abortion should be illegal in most cases, while only 29 percent of non-practicing Catholics think this way. These differences are huge, but don’t look for the media, or Quinnipiac, to trumpet them.
Maurice Carroll, the director of the poll, delights in saying how Catholics differ with the “pulpit thundering” perspective they are offered. Spoken like a man who hasn’t seen a pulpit in decades.
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