Monday, August 31, 2009
Now, though, it simply watches, often from the shadows. Peering down from security cameras as we walk the city streets, buy bread at the corner store, fill the car with petrol, or catch a taxi or tram. Tracking us through our mobile phone or when driving through a tollway to Melbourne Airport, which last year trialled "virtual strip search" security scanners. Someone's watching while we're surfing online, sending an email, or updating our Facebook profile to paranoid. Melbourne once held pretensions of being the city that never sleeps. Now, at least, it is the city that never shuts its eyes.
A locked, windowless room within the Town Hall has become the city's high priestess of surveillance. Endless CCTV footage screens along the wall, fed from cameras looking over Melbourne's streets, laneways and dark corners. The latest tilt-and-zoom cameras rotate 360 degrees, so few crannies escape unseen. They can pick out a face in the crowd from a kilometre away.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle this month announced the city had installed a further 31 "Safe City cameras" in the CBD - bringing the total to 54 - to combat rising street violence. Specially trained security contractors monitor the cameras without respite from the small control room, the exact location of which is secret and off-bounds to media. One sanctioned visitor told The Sunday Age it was like stepping into a reality TV control booth, where you're the producer deciding who should be seen on the big screen.
"There will be groups that say this is Big Brother. I say, 'Bad luck, city safety comes first'," Doyle declared. "The message is now clear to those who wish to commit a crime in our streets: the likelihood is that now you will be seen."
But then, so will everyone else. Former UK information commissioner Richard Thomas, whose term ended in June, once warned Britain was sleepwalking into a "surveillance society". Two years later, in 2006, they woke up "to a surveillance society that is already all around us". The UK is the most-watched patch on Earth, boasting an estimated four million CCTV cameras, and leads the world in building a national DNA database, with more than 7 per cent of the population already logged.
Australia has been more restrained. But the pressure to deploy new and more affordable surveillance technologies is constant. This month, La Trobe University academics proposed installing tracking devices in cars, similar to those used in truck fleets, to charge drivers more for using busier roads during peak hours. In Sydney tomorrow, the city council will debate proposals giving police more access to its CCTV network for general ''intelligence gathering'', and releasing footage to the media to discourage antisocial behaviour.
Access to the City of Melbourne's CCTV system is restricted to police and lawyers for alleged offenders and victims, and unused footage is destroyed after 30 days. An external audit committee monitors compliance of the program with various protocols. But still there are concerns over the all-seeing eye. We can no longer assume activities performed in public places will pass unobserved and unrecorded, the Victorian Law Reform Commission says. Ours is a surveillance society, too.
''It really is no longer possible to be anonymous in most public places. We are very quickly losing the capacity to blend in as part of the crowd,'' says the commission's chairman, Professor Neil Rees. ''Any time you have been into the city of Melbourne your image will have been captured on one of these systems and stored.
''We all have a shared interest in blending in, in having a private conversation in a quiet corner. Now, with all the surveillance equipment out there, that is really not possible to do with confidence.''
The commission will advise the Attorney-General early next year on whether regulation of surveillance technologies is needed to protect people's privacy. Early suggestions include appointing an independent regulator to monitor surveillance of public places.
In a consultation paper released in March, the commission said such surveillance was likely to become more widespread as devices became more affordable and invisible. ''The Surveillance Devices Act in Victoria is 10 years old and the technology has exploded over the last 10 years,'' Rees says. ''It is a profound issue for us as a community. As the equipment gets more and more sophisticated, more and more people will retreat behind high walls. Others are going to have to live with the fact that their every moment is capable of being monitored by somebody.
''We need to strike a balance between getting the best out of technology and not being made to feel we are being intruded on, perhaps overzealously, in public places. That balance is not going to be easy to achieve.''
The commission also highlighted an increase in the use of tracking devices such as GPS, radio frequency identification, automatic number plate recognition, mobile phone surveillance and biometrics. Behavioural modelling by online companies such as Google is another growing concern. The popular online search engine is testing ''interest-based advertising'' in the US that will pitch ads at individual consumers based on ''de-identified'' surveillance of their internet use.
The new technology, which could be in Australia by next year, is part of what The New York Times last month called a sea change in the way consumers encounter the web. People will start seeing customised ads, different versions of websites, even different discounts to other users when shopping, based on what retailers know about their tastes and budget. ''On the old internet, nobody knew you were a dog,'' the article's author wrote. ''On the new targeted internet, they now know what kind of dog you are, your favourite leash colour, the last time you had fleas and the date you were neutered.''
MAGNUM sniffs me as I walk inside Victorian Detective Services, on a violent day in Carnegie. He's a Weimaraner - a gundog - named after the 1980s TV crime series Magnum P.I. Going on 11, his hunting days past, he now acts as a genial mascot of sorts for this party of private investigators.
Over a cup of white tea in his corner office, beneath framed photographs of James Bond and a Scarface montage, general manager Mark Grover talks the surveillance game. ''There is always a reason why someone is under surveillance,'' he says. ''It could be a salesman that is playing the back nine every second day instead of working. It could be an airline pilot who has put in that they are sick or ill but might be flying a cargo plane now in Nigeria, while receiving benefits here. Maybe it's a truck driver knocking off a couple of dozen bottles of red on his delivery … All employers typically are curious about what some of their staff who are no good are up to.''
Grover, a former president of the World Investigators Network, has been in the game for 22 years. Back in the day, his car was his office and a long-lens camera his friend. ''It's tiring, boring, you put on weight after a long time - 14, 15-hour days sitting in the car, standing in the cold. Nobody loves you. No TV. Just watching.''
Technology has since changed the way he watches. He might track targets through their telephone or email, lift revealing photographs from social networking websites or log into CCTV camera footage in Paris or Amsterdam. Surveillance is now in the hands of anyone with a mobile phone camera, he says.
On a table in his office are other tools of his trade: a spy-pen camera small enough to film from your top pocket; a wristwatch camera and a teeny black-box listening device with a SIM card that can be used to eavesdrop on conversations undetected.
''Everything is possible, it's just a matter of asking how it's done,'' he says. ''And staying within the law as well,'' he adds, after a pause.
Surveillance technology has grown so pervasive and inexpensive, anyone might fancy themselves an amateur snoop. Retailers such as OzSpy sell high-resolution spy pens, which record video and audio, from $129, and spy watches with colour video and audio for $199. Spy cameras are hidden inside smoke detectors ($359), desktop clocks ($219), power points ($299) and motorcycle helmets ($189). CCTV cameras sell for as little as $159.
The extent to which they may be lawfully used in Victoria differs according to the type of device and activity undertaken, the Law Reform Commission says. Under the Surveillance Devices Act it is illegal to use a listening device to monitor a ''private conversation'' anywhere. But there is no prohibition on using optical surveillance devices outdoors or within a shopping centre; audio surveillance in busy outdoor and indoor areas; using tracking devices such as mobile phones or just good old-fashioned surveillance without the latest gadgets. Data surveillance devices, such as spyware, can be used to communicate and publish information, regardless of whether consent is sought.
Helen Versey, Victoria's second Privacy Commissioner, questions whether the law has kept pace with such technologies. ''Anyone's mobile phone is a tracking device, also there's automatic number plate recognition. All sorts of technologies are improving all the time that can be used to track people and their movements,'' she says. ''Of course, they have benefits such as law enforcement. But it's a matter of being aware of them and keeping the balance right. While recognising they have great uses and benefits, they are also potentially very invasive.''
Keeping an eye on the public sector with a small staff of 14, she can't say for sure whether that balance has been struck in Victoria. Who watches the watchers? In addition to surveillance legislation, Commonwealth and Victorian laws regulate the handling of personal information, but Versey says there are ''significant gaps'' in such regulations, which do not apply to private individuals and businesses with an annual turnover of less than $3 million. She supports calls for the appointment of a specific regulator to oversee all forms of surveillance.
Privacy Victoria also points to the inherent risks of data matching, where an individual's various personal records are aggregated and shared between organisations for public interest purposes, such as law enforcement, research or protecting public revenue. In guidelines released last month, the privacy group said safeguards were needed to stop data being disclosed by an organisation without the specific consent of the individual.
Versey also cautions people more generally about disclosing personal information online, ''because of the difficulty of being able to control it once it is out there in the public domain'', with organisations mining the web for information.
Lloyd Borrett, marketing manager at internet security software provider AVG, says companies are already compiling complete profiles of users. Of greater concern, though, are cyber criminals spying on our personal information or stealing our identities. ''All of the stuff that happens online - the viruses, worms, trojans - all of that is happening now, not because hackers are wanting to have fun like it once was, it's serious cyber criminals trying to get bits of your identity,'' he says. ''That can be your name, birth date, trying to get your credit card numbers or bank account details.''
Data mining by larger online retailers or search engines is relatively harmless, he says. ''In theory, they could gather enough information on you to build up almost an online DNA profile of your buying and thinking trends. Online they're building up a dossier about your likes and dislikes, and … I don't think it's too much of an issue unless people are trading in that information.''
But, he adds, privacy is reliant to some extent on the integrity of companies and regulation, ''and recent examples tell us the integrity of companies and regulation is not something we can rely on that readily''.
ROGER Clarke refuses to contact me via my personal email account on a Google server. Gmail, he says, gathers into its archive all its email traffic and retains it indefinitely: ''All the things I do, all the opinions I've got.''
Clarke, chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, witheringly describes Google's offering of an ''opt-out'' from services such as interest-based advertising as a ''very American solution''.
''It's not consent. Consent is where the individual makes a positive decision at the beginning to opt in,'' he says. ''I use a number of Google services. I still use them as my primary search engine, I use Google Maps because they're effective. But the vast majority of people simply swan in there and don't realise what they are making available and what they are getting into, and I think that's a serious problem.
''The network of information they have of individuals is vast. For them to say they are obtaining categorised, general information is nonsense; it's sleight of hand.''
The foundation is calling for nominations for its ''Australian Big Brother Awards'' under two categories: ''the Orwells'' (awarded to the worst corporate invaders) and ''the Smiths'' (in honour of writer George Orwell's doomed hero in 1984).
But there are signs Orwell's totalitarian dystopia may yet remain fiction. Switzerland's data protection watchdog last week demanded Google withdraw its ''street view'' facility, for allegedly not respecting conditions set to respect personal privacy - such as not covering or blurring faces or car licence plates.
In the UK, where former home secretary Jacqui Smith was criticised recently for proposing a ''super-database'' tracking everyone's emails, calls, texts and internet use, the Government has had to resile from introducing compulsory national identification cards after a public outcry.
A House of Lords report, in February, called for the deletion of all DNA profiles on the national database except for those of convicted criminals, and the introduction of binding codes of practice for use of CCTV by both the public and private sectors. The report questioned whether local authorities, rather than police, should mount surveillance operations, after evidence some councils used CCTV to detect illegal rubbish dumping and dog fouling.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle's claim that the city's new CCTV regime will help reduce criminal activity is also open to question. Despite an increase in cameras since 1997, both the numbers of incidents recorded and those reported to police have dropped, audit figures show.
Surveillance is a gradual and incessant creep, the House of Lords warns. Unchecked, we march towards a mark where every detail about an individual is recorded and pored over by both the state and private sectors.
By then, though, it will be no use asking who is watching us - because everyone will be.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Miguel Diaz arrived in Rome with his wife and four children Thursday, ready to embark upon "the greatest adventure" of his life as the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and certain to make history while doing it.
As the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican since the post was established 25 years ago under President Ronald Reagan, the 46-year-old Cuban-American professor of theology at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minn., has been hailed as a symbol of the changing face of American Catholicism, with Hispanics on their way to becoming a plurality among America's 65 million Catholics.
Diaz, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and sworn in at the State Department on Aug. 21, was feted at a round of receptions and luncheons over the weekend, and at a Mass at Catholic University on Sunday. His appointment comes on the heels of President Obama's historic choice of Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, Sotomayer was supposed to administer the oath of office to Diaz, but was unable to because of a scheduling conflict.
Diaz, who was born in Havana but moved to Miami with his family as a boy, is getting plenty of free advice about how to avoid any diplomatic missteps in his sensitive new post.
"He doesn't need my advice because he's a qualified theologian, speaks fluent Italian and has a good understanding of the Holy See and its history," said Jim Nicholson, who served in the post from 2001-2005. "But he should remember who he represents — the people of the United States and the interests of the United States — and avoid getting involved in the business of the Catholic Church, including the affairs of the Church here at home."
When I pointed out that the New York Times reported Thursday that some American bishops in recent weeks have opposed Obama's proposed healthcare overhaul, mostly because they're concerned that it won't exclude abortion coverage, Nicholson said that should not create a problem for Diaz, who was one of Obama's earliest supporters.
Diaz should "would be well-advised to concentrate" on other issues like human trafficking, starving people, HIV/Aids prevention, religious freedom," Nicholson said. "So there's a great deal he can do towards enhancing human dignity."
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who headed the Washington, D.C., archdiocese before retiring three years ago, put it in more colorful terms while attending a reception for Diaz at the Institute of World Politics last week that was hosted by Thomas Melady, who was ambassador to the Vatican from 1989-93.
Getting to know the Vatican
When I asked McCarrick if he had any advice for Diaz, he said: "He has to learn the lay of the land [in Pope Benedict XIV's Vatican] because it's shifting. We don't know who's on first and he has to find that out for us."
In other words, Diaz has to find out who the key people are in the Vatican bureaucracy who oversee relations with the U.S. and the Obama administration, which clearly favors abortion rights.
That may be difficult, given the fact that Diaz, who reportedly was not Obama's first choice — Caroline Kennedy and Douglas Kmiec, a professor at Pepperdine University, were apparently rejected by the Vatican because of their pro-choice stance. In fact, Diaz is already being criticized by some American Catholics, including several members of the hierarchy, who feel he was chosen more for political reasons than theological or diplomatic ones.
"The suspicion is that Obama and his advisors hope to divide the [U.S.] church along ethnic, linguistic and ideological lines, thus making it less likely to offer compact opposition to the administration's abortion policies," John Allen Jr., who covers the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter, wrote in June.
Allen, who is considered one of the best informed observers of the Vatican's byzantine bureaucracy that includes official representatives in 175 countries, wrote that Diaz "embodies two currents in American Catholicism heretofore not terribly visible in the Eternal City: its burgeoning Hispanic wing, and its center-left theological guild."
Noting that Diaz isn't well-known outside of theological circles and doesn't have a clear record on the "hot button issue of abortion" — he declined to discuss abortion or any other controversial issues during his Senate confirmation hearing — Allen predicted that Diaz's appointment ultimately will be viewed through one of two perspectives:
"Diaz could be seen as a deft nod to the diversity of the American church, as well as a potential bridge between Catholicism's traditional centers in Europe and North American and its emerging voices in the global South," Allen wrote. "Or Diaz could be seen as the product of 'divide and conquer' politics, meaning an attempt by Obama to mute Catholic criticism of his pro-choice stance by throwing a bone to Hispanic and peace-and-justice liberals."
Foreign-service officer model
And George Weigel, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, urged Diaz in July to remember the response of Benjamin Franklin, then ambassador to France, when asked by the Holy See about President George Washington's views on the appointment of the first Catholic bishop in the new United States. "Franklin replied that such an appointment was not the government's business," Weigel said.
Weigel went on to lecture Diaz: "As representatives of that same government, all your predecessors have rigorously avoided entanglement in the internal affairs of the Catholic Church in the United States during their years at Embassy-Vatican — including any involvement whatsoever in the delicate matter of the appointment of bishops."
Weigel advised Diaz to think of himself as a career foreign service officer rather than a political appointee, and avoid being "an advocate for the specific policies of the administration you represent… I hope the Obama administration understands that using you as a partisan surrogate with Catholic audiences in the U.S. would be poorly received by the Holy See, as it would under any American administration. If this is not understood by your superiors, please explain it to them."
Melady, a career diplomat who also served as ambassador to Burundi and Rwanda, served as Reagan's ambassador to the Vatican from 1989-93, said he gave Diaz three pieces of advice.
First, he urged him to establish good relations with the State Department officials back in Washington whom he'll be dealing with. Second, he told him to pay attention to his fellow ambassador s to the Vatican "who are very much in the know," and third, said, "Don't give any interviews" for three to six months, or "until you really know the lay of the land."
Melady told the National Catholic Reporter in June that one of the first questions he was asked as ambassador was, "How about the abortion issue? 'That's not my assignment,' I said. My assignment was to represent the government of the United States. [Abortion's] not a government issue. We don't get involved in church teachings."
Melady, like Nicholson and former Rep. Lindy Boggs, D-La., who was President Bill Clinton's ambassador to the Vatican from 1997 to 2001, said he's confident Diaz will be successful.
Noting that Diaz speaks fluent Italian — and Spanish and French as well — Melady said: "He understands the culture and the history of the Catholic world. …He is very knowledgeable and has deeply rooted [personal] skills. This will strike a very good note among people in the Vatican. The fact that he is an academic … is good," especially with Pope Benedict's academic background. "He will feel very much at home in that atmosphere; very comfortable with it."
One other factor is almost certain to help Diaz in his new job, according to John Carr, the Minnesota native who is a top official of the U.S. Catholic Conference. Referring to Diaz's wife, Marian, a clinical psychologist, and his four attractive children, he said Diaz and his family "will be a big hit with the Italian people. They will love them."
But whether the Vatican bureaucrats and American Catholics will love Diaz is another matter.
Last week, just before Diaz and his family departed for Rome, I asked Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio who is the Vatican's ambassador to the United States, if he had any advice for Diaz.
"Yes," he said, "I had breakfast with him this morning."
And what did you tell him?
"I can't tell you," he said, as he laughed and hurried away.
Albert Eisele is founding editor of The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress.
P.S. Bolds and Highlights added.
American nuns have evolved from habit-wearing disciples into, often, street-clothes- wearing social activists. And based on two pending inquiries, the Vatican might have had enough.
How do you know a Roman Catholic nun when you see one? It used to be easy. They wore long black habits and veils with confining headgear, traveled in pairs, were teachers or nurses, and lived quietly in convents. There was a timelessness about them: the essentials of their way of living had remained unaltered for centuries.
(Illustration by Alejandro Gonzalez, USA TODAY)
Then came the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), with its mandate to bring the church — nuns and all — into the 20th century. Shortly thereafter, the Dominican Sisters at my school, St. Mary's in Rutherford, N.J., took the plunge and modernized their garb. But otherwise, they still conformed to the traditional model, living in community and teaching primary and secondary school.
Their change of habits was but a baby step toward much broader subsequent changes for Catholic nuns. And the church's current response to these changes suggests how resolutely clueless the hierarchy remains when it comes to what these religious women are up to, and how the changes in the realities of their dedicated lives mirror changes for women in American society at large.
Those sisters who taught me might scarcely recognize their order now. The Caldwell Dominicans of New Jersey still do some teaching, and some live communally. But they wear street clothes, and they are more likely than not to have advanced or professional degrees. The order's primary energies are devoted to social justice issues such as human trafficking, corporate greed and environmental strategies for saving the planet.
These are not your parents' Sisters of St. Dominic. Yet they typify the kinds of changes that have occurred in many of the roughly 400 orders of Catholic religious women in the USA. Sisters account for less than 5% of teachers in Catholic schools today, while many nuns are engaged in a broad spectrum of occupations, often oriented toward social and economic activism.Two inquiries
In response to this new breed, the Vatican has launched two wide-ranging investigations into the lifestyles of American nuns. Both look to be moves on the part of the male hierarchy to rein in nuns who are perceived as having become distressingly independent.
The first is an unprecedented "Apostolic Visitation" being carried out by a Rome-based American, Mother Mary Clare Millea. Her charge is to "look into the quality of life" of nuns who engage in any fashion with the larger society. (Cloistered contemplative orders are not under scrutiny.) She recently told The New York Times that the inquiry is "an opportunity for us to re-evaluate ourselves, to make our reality known and also to be challenged to live authentically who we say we are."
Mother Mary has further explained that each community of sisters will be evaluated in terms of its "living in fidelity" to church norms, which include "the soundness of doctrine held and taught" by the sisters. It is reasonable to wonder, as some of the sisters themselves apparently do, about the real objective of the process.
This concern is heightened by a second investigation into the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an umbrella group that represents 95% of nuns in the USA. It's being conducted, with possible disciplinary implications, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican office headed by American Cardinal William Levada. He cites the nuns' collective failure to comply with instructions to conform to church doctrine issued them in 2001 by his predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). Geared toward ferreting out individuals and groups who challenge church teaching on certain issues — the male-only priesthood, homosexuality, and the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church as a way to salvation are specifically singled out — it portends a chilling effect on possibilities for genuine dialogue.
At the same time, the Vatican has declared June 2009-June 2010 the "Year for Priests," celebrating the men's vocation. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which is not directly involved in either of the Vatican investigations, has embraced the idea. And the way the bishops' conference is approaching it is further symptomatic of a persistent blind spot the hierarchy has about women in general, and women religious in particular.
The bishops' website devoted to the Year for Priests features monthly essays "by renowned women of faith" about the important function of priests in their lives. (Articles by anti-abortion activist Vicki Thorne and San Diego Zoo CFO Paula Brock have appeared thus far.) I asked Father David Toups, who oversees the site, about the absence of essays by "renowned men of faith."
"This was intentionally done," he replied, "so as to highlight the role of renowned women and their support of the priesthood." Toups explained that "there is a special role in the support of priests by women of great faith and devotion. This has been so since the time of the early church."
Indeed it has. I asked how he would respond, then, to criticism that the church conventionally casts women in the role of "support personnel." Men and women play different but "complementary" roles, he ventured: "We are meant to complement each other in our own particular ministries."
There is a deep contradiction between enlisting "women of faith" to applaud a male-only priesthood, while simultaneously interrogating the spiritual soundness of religious women who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity in Christ's name.
The Vatican's investigations might well turn up some isolated instances of doctrinal abuse or excess among American nuns. And the Year for Priests might prove a positive way to focus attention on religious vocations. But both are profoundly shortsighted in terms of the shifting contours of the American social — and particularly Catholic — landscape.
There is no going back. Today's American sisters, arguably for the first time in history, are making the most of their God-given talents. They are creatively expanding the meaning of service to God, church and society in ways unimaginable to their forebears. For that they deserve celebration, not censure.
Mary Zeiss Stange is a professor of women's studies and religion at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.
Posted at 12:16 AM/ET, August 31, 2009
The mission of the international Association of Adventist Women is to foster the participation of women in varied leadership roles in Seventh-day Adventist organizations, congregations, and communities.
- To encourage Adventist leadership to enhance the church's effectiveness by creating more significant opportunities for women to be full partners at all levels of church life.
- To promote leadership skills among the diverse groups of Adventist women of all ages.
- To use print, electronic, and personal communication to highlight Adventist women's opportunities, contributions, and achievements.
- To establish a network of Adventist women leaders who can inspire and mentor other women.
- To demonstrate open and collaborate models by working in complementary ways with other church organizations.
- An annual conference which offers numerous seminars providing educational and spiritual growth opportunities for women as well as networking and mutual encouragement.
- A business meeting at the conference during which resolutions are determined and voted in accordance with the mission and goals of AAW.
- A Woman-of-the-Year program at its annual conference which recognizes outstanding women in the SDA church both at home and abroad.
- The publication of The Adventist Woman, an SDA women's newspaper, which keeps women and church leaders informed about SDA women's accomplishments as well as church policies that affect women.
Over its twenty years of existence, AAW has been an advocate for women in the SDA church, strongly recommending changes to various church entities to enable women to use their gifts fully and work with equity within the structure. At its annual conference, AAW formulates its recommendations to specific entities within the church. These recommendations are then tracked to monitor their implementation. Among its many recommendations are
- The establishment of women's ministries with paid leaders in the conferences, unions, NAD, and the GC with voting privileges on appropriate executive committees.
- A full-time woman director in the NAD and GC ministerial offices, specifically representing women in ministry.
- Pay equity throughout the world church, not just in the United States.
- The NAD union presidents to reaffirm and implement their statement "Commitment to Women in Gospel Ministry" as voted by the NAD union presidents on October 13, 1995, and to educate the laity about this issue in accordance with their document.
- The world church to recognize that women's ordination is an essential step in the growth and development of the SDA church.
- An increase in the employment of qualified women pastors.
- The establishment of a women's resource center.
- An increase in women in decision-making roles at every level of the church organization with at least one women GC vice president by 2005.
- The formulation of an abuse policy for all entities of the SDA church.
- The avoidance of stereotyping in children's Sabbath School materials.
- In agreement with counsel from E. G. White, appropriate remuneration for stay-at-home pastor's spouses.
- Since an increasing number of women are taking theology and religion majors, university, colleges and seminary boards and administrators should strive toward gender inclusiveness in selecting faculty for religion departments and for the SDA Theological Seminary.
In addition to numerous recommendations and the monitoring of those, AAW publishes commendations of entities that place women in leadership roles (e.g., the GC for establishing women's ministries throughout the world field and having a full-time woman in charge, the NAD for electing a woman as vice president and another as associate director of the ministerial association, the Finnish Union for electing a woman as secretary of the SDA church in Finland and re-electing a woman as treasurer) and vote policy changes that grant equity to women (e. g., Southeastern California Conference which has a common credential for women and men pastors).
Besides its activities as an association, AAW has spawned several separate entities. Time for Equality in Adventist Ministry, chaired by Pat Habada, advocates the ordination of women to pastoral ministry and helps SDA women throughout the world attend SDA seminaries by providing scholarships. At last count, 67 women (14 of the total enrollment) were on campus at the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University. Other women theology students are attending SDA seminaries outside the United States. Scholarships distributed each year total about $25,000.
AAW also spawned the Adventist Women's Coalition, whose mission is affirmative action for SDA women both in relation to the church structure and in relation to the law of the land. Through correspondence and personal contacts this organization, under the direction of Rosemary Watts, recognizes the steps the church is making in relation to equity for women and urges continued efforts.
Another group begun via AAW is a committee on abuse, chaired by Peggy Harris. This committee has as its goals (1) to cultivate a healing environment in the family, church, and church-related workplaces to restore both the victims and perpetrators of sexual, spiritual, physical and emotional abuse; (2) to safeguard our children from being subjected to abuse in home, school, church, and youth activities; and (3) to educate church members and leaders to help stop harassment and abuse. (Further information at www.tagnet.org/wash) Peggy helped organize the sexual ethics committee of the NAD, which produced the NAD abuse policy, Sexual Misconduct in Church Relationships.
You are Invited to Participate
AAW invites SDA women from around the world to join the organization as it continues to encourage the church to acknowledge and use the many talents God has given to SDA women to help spread the good news of His soon coming.
The wheat and the tares are to grow together until
12As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
13The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Hurricane Jimena Bears Down on Baja
Powerful Category 4 Storm On Pace to Rake Mexican Peninsula; Government Plans to Evacuate 10,000 Families
At Left: A satellite image provide by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Jimena off the western Mexican coast in the Pacific Ocean, at 12:30 a.m. EDT, Aug. 31, 2009.
(AP) A strengthening Hurricane Jimena roared toward Mexico's Baja California peninsula, where residents stocked up on food Sunday and authorities set up shelters, anticipating landfall in the coming days.
Mexico issued a hurricane watch for the resort-dotted southern portion of Baja, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.
Jimena, a dangerous Category 4 storm, could rake southern Baja California by Tuesday evening, forecasters said,
"I think it's going to be a substantial hurricane by the time it approaches," said Richard Pasch, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Brenda Munoz, who lost her home when Hurricane Juliette struck Baja in 2001, was taking no chances, stocking up on food this time around.
"I remember when Hurricane Juliette hit with a lot of intensity. It flattened our home, lots of flooding, lots of disaster," Munoz said at the resort town of Cabo San Lucas. "We're already prepared with food and everything so it won't catch us off guard."
But with the weather still mild Sunday, Jim Patterson, a tourist from Big Bear Lake, California, could not muster up much concern.
"Are you saying it would be a good idea to stock up on tequila?" he joked at a seaside restaurant. "No fear. I've been through tornados and earthquakes and everything else, but never a hurricane."
At least 10,000 families will be evacuated from potential flood zones, said Francisco Cota, the local director of Civil Protection. He said 60 shelters would be set up.
Farther south, Jimena kicked up surf along the mainland western coast and generated strong winds that bent trees in the resort town of Zihuatanejo, uprooting at least one. Strong waves and wind prevented a couple on a boat from reaching port, forcing them to spend the night at sea, said Zihuatanejo coast guard official Jose Angel Lara.
On Sunday night, Jimena had maximum sustained winds near 145 mph and was moving west northwest at 7 mph.
It was centered about 445 miles southeast of Cabo San Lucas and 255 miles south of Cabo Corrientes, a coastal town in the western state of Jalisco.
Authorities in Cabo Corrientes were setting up shelters in case of heavier wind and rain, said Arturo Garcia, an official with Jalisco's Civil Protection agency.
The U.S. hurricane center issued a public advisory for residents in western Mexico and the southern part of the Baja peninsula to keep tabs on Jimena.
Economists from around the world were scheduled to attend a conference sponsored by the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Cabos at the southern tip of the peninsula. It was not clear if the conference will still take place; the organization's office was closed Sunday.
Farther out in the Pacific, a weakening Tropical Storm Kevin had top winds of 40 mph and was centered about 840 miles southwest of the Baja peninsula's southern tip.
Sunday, 30 August 2009 00:51 UK
Colombian leader hit by swine flu
Mr Uribe was being treated at home and was doing well, an official said
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has been diagnosed with swine flu, his spokesman says, days after attending a regional summit.
The 57-year-old leader was being treated at his residence and was continuing to work, the spokesman said.
Mr Uribe returned on Saturday from a summit in Argentina attended by leaders from across South America.
Those who held talks with him had been told of his infection, the spokesman said.
The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) summit met in Argentina on Friday to discuss a deal giving US troops access to Colombian bases.
Several countries say the deal threatens regional peace - a charge the US and Colombia deny.
To date, 621 cases of swine flu have been recorded in Colombia of which 34 have proved fatal, Colombia's social protection ministry says.
A Joint Conference of Adventist Forum and the Association of Adventist Women
November 6-8, 2009
Registration Deadline: August 26, 2009
Report: Young Women and the Word - “Hearing Voices, Finding Your Own”
By Trisha Famisaran
conference gender ministry
Crossposted from SDA Gender Justice.
More than 50 participants and over 125 guests met at Campus Hill Church in Loma Linda, California, on April 12, 2008, for the first annual Young Women and the Word Conference. The inaugural theme, “Hearing Voices: Finding Your Own,” was an invitation for speakers, panelists, and attendees to consider the question of young women and leadership across professional lines.
Young Women and the Word was inspired by the annual Women and the Word seminar started by Kit Watts. Rooted in empowering women and men through in-depth scriptural study to pursue issues of gender equality throughout all levels of God’s human family, the Young Women and the Word strives to engage the youth in this passion and dream. Speakers and participants showed commitment to empowering, connecting, exploring, and supporting a generation of young women and men across professional lines; with a hope that they become leaders whose voices and actions reflect faith in an inclusive and loving God, the Creator who affirms both Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female because we are all one in Christ Jesus. While the Women’s Resource Center’s most immediate connections are with women in ministry it also seeks to help individuals make a real and intentional difference in the wider world, whether they work in healthcare, education, social justice, politics, parenting, or business.
Four universities in the North American Division sponsored women theology majors to attend the conference—Alyssa Foll (Southern Adventist University), Portia Howard (Oakwood College), Amanda Whithers (Walla Walla College), and Jacqueline Sanchez (Columbia Union College).
Alyssa Foll opened the conference with a scripture study, “In the Cave: Between Anointing and Appointing,” which was a touching account of the time David spent in the cave of Adullam found in 1 Samuel 22. Pastor Marlene Ferreras offered the morning worship sermon, “Breaking the Rules,” which was an insightful exploration into the relationship between Judah and Tamar found in Genesis 38. The morning worship service included special music by Patty Cabrera, songs of praise by students from Loma Linda Academy and La Sierra University, and a responsive reading by students from Loma Linda Academy and Orangewood Adventist Academy. Kendra Haloviak opened the afternoon sessions with a message titled “The Voices at the Well,” a study of Jesus and the Samaritan woman found in John 4.
La Sierra University students performed The Cost, an original drama written and directed by Kassy Skoretz. This powerful story critiques the notion that progress necessitates leaving some groups behind and asks whether progress is good, in itself. The script was heavily inspired by liberation theology, which is a commitment to the visibility and voice of marginalized people and God’s “priority for the poor” demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Yami Bazan moderated a leadership panel that included Kathy Proffitt, Carla Lidner Baum, Portia Howard, and Julie Schaepper. Breakout sessions were led by Carla Gober (Spiritual Wholeness, Jessica Trevithick (Art and Media in Ministry), Dilys Brooks (The Woman in the Mirror), Prudence Pollard (Leadership), and the Students for Social Justice Club from La Sierra University. The conference closed with an Agape Supper, which included a special liturgy written and led by Patty Cabrera.
9:30 am to 10:40 am - Sabbath School: “In the Cave: Between Anointing and Appointing” by Alyssa Foll (Theology Major, Southern Adventist University)
10:45 am to 12:30 pm - Church Service: “Breaking the Rules” by Marlene Ferreras (Youth Pastor, Campus Hill Church)
2:30 pm - Scripture Study: “The Voices at the Well” by Kendra Haloviak (Professor of New Testament, La Sierra University)
3:15 pm - Special Feature: “The Cost,” an original drama written by Kassy Skoretz (Undergraduate Student, La Sierra University)
4:15 pm - Special Feature: Leadership panel moderated by Yami Bazan, with audience participation, and featuring the following individuals:
Julie Schaepper (Director of Community-Academic Partners in Service at Loma Linda University)
Portia Howard (President of Sister Connection at Oakwood College)
Carla Lidner Baum (Director of the Dental Oncology Service at Loma Linda University)
Kathy Proffitt (Former United States Ambassador to the Republic of Malta and Former President and Chief Executive Officer of Call-America)
5:00 pm - Conversation Cafes:
Carla Gober (Spiritual Wholeness)
Dilys Brooks (The Woman in the Mirror)
Prudence Pollard (Leadership)
Jessica Trevithick (Arts/Media in Ministry)
Social Justice Club at La Sierra University (Social Justice)
6:00 pm - Agape Supper with Patty Cabrera
“Thanks for organizing this historic and inspiring day. I was truly blessed, as were many others I spoke to who also attended. We’d love this to be a ‘regular’! May God continue to use each of you in mighty ways.” - Cheryl Harvey Webster
“Thank you so much for making me feel welcome at the Young Women and the Word Conference. It was so nice to hear from other ladies in the ministry. I appreciate all the planning and work that went into the conference.” - Amanda Whithers
Adventist Gender Justice is edited by Trisha Famisaran.
Trisha Famisaran is currently enrolled in a Dual Degree program at Claremont Graduate University* for an M.A. in Philosophy and a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology. She did undergraduate work in History and Political Science at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.
We still have a long ways to go before women are given the equality that, I believe, God intended for them to have. But, in the meantime, you might enjoy something that my husband showed me yesterday. It was a copy of the “1943 Guide to Hiring Women” exerpted from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine, “written for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II.” Here are the first 3 out of 11:
1. “Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It’s always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.
3. General experience indicates that ‘husky' girls – those who are just a little on the heavy side – are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.”
Well,I guess we have “…come a long ways, Baby” after all!!
Posted by: Gaylene (not verified) 11 May 2008 at 5:46
I think I've come across an old copy of those "guidelines" before, or something similar (in a handbook, perhaps). I've been thinking about the GC meeting scheduled for 2010 and really hope that ordination and other issues surrounding gender justice are addressed. I wonder what can be done in the next 1.5 years to see that this happens. A lot of grassroots organizing took place before Utrecht.
On a similar note, I really hope to see gender justice back in formal discussion at the GC level through commissions or taskforces to talk about ordination, LGBT rights, rethinking normative gender ideals, and so forth. It seems apparent that a number of laypeople, theologians, and professors want to talk about it. These conversations have been powerful and constructive so far.
Posted by: Trisha (not verified) 14 May 2008 at 3:57
A letter from the Nay 2008 Adventist World-NAD:
"I have a question: were women invited to the 2007 Annual Council? In an article that explicitly states that the council was convened to address specific challenges facing the church today, including cohabitation and same-sex partnerships, I was disheartened to note that all four photos attached to the article displayed only men. I hope these photos DO NOT accurately reflect the membership in attendance and that women were invited to attend as part of the 300 church leaders. No consensus will ever be found within a church that is not willing to listen to the voice of its entire membership."
Posted by: Elaine Nelson (not verified) 14 May 2008 at 5:27
P.S. I decided to include the Comments to illustrate the extent of the departure from the established Adventist principles in certain circles. May God have mercy on His faithful remnant!
*Religion (Claremont Graduate University)
The CGU School of Religion has been touted in the media for its unique cross-faith design. Students can earn a degree with a focus in Mormon Studies, Catholicism, Islamic Studies, History of Christianity, Hebrew Bible, Indic Studies, Coptic Studies, Zoroastrianism; additional programs include Women's Studies in Religion, Theology, Ethics and Culture and Philosophy of Religion and Theology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claremont_Graduate_University
Does someone believe anyone in this "bunch" will give the Third Angel's Message, or the Loud Cry?
I added Bolds and Highlights for emphasis.
SAVANNAH, GA—On Sabbath, July 4, 2009 members of the Savannah First Church in Georgia officially welcomed Alyssa Foll as a ministerial intern to their church family.
Foll comes to the Georgia-Cumberland Conference under a special arrangement made between the Southern Union, the Georgia-Cumberland Conference and Southern Adventist University, from which Alyssa graduated last May.
The leadership of the Savannah First Church unanimously voted to have Alyssa join the pastoral staff and is supportive of the vision to have female ministerial candidates be afforded the opportunity to practice their calling to ministry. The church family received their new assistant pastor with open arms. They look forward to a fruitful and productive ministry experience for Foll as she furthers her life goals in the gospel ministry and in the southern region of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.
Submitted by Mark Piotrowski
Georgia-Cumberland Conference Mission for Shared Leadership :Following the apostolic model, pastors and teachers partner with each member, resourcing and developing spiritual leaders for effective ministry.
P.S. I wasn't able to transfer the pictures which were included in the article; So, I searched for pictures on the Net.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Excerpts of a letter sent by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI in July:
“Most Holy Father, I hope this letter finds you in good health, I pray that you have all of God’s blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times.
“I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and, although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life. . . .
“I want you to know, Your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, fight discrimination and expand access to healthcare and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a Unites States Senator. . . .
“I’ve always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teaching of my faith. I continue to pray for God’s blessing, on you, and on our church, and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.”
Portion of the response from Pope Benedict XVI two weeks later:
“His Holiness prays that in the days ahead, you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings, and trust in His promise of eternal life.”
Letters of mea culpa confessions to his holi-ness?
Is this news in the USA? Or, in Mejico?
Yeah, we knew Jack Kennedy; And Ted was no JFK. Are these the same Kennedys? Is this the same country?
JFK kept his religion (RC) to himself, and didn't make a big production of it like what we see here. And, a military funeral service with all these Roman Catholic overtones?
Separation of Church and State has been suspended until further notice?
This whole event has been transformed into one big Roman Catholic spectacle.
Catholic indoctrination is taking a turn for the worse, something never seen before in the history of the United States.
I don't remember John's or Bobby's (46 and 41 years ago) funeral services have so much Catholic ritual? It's like we're in Italy or Spain all of the sudden!
Salve Regina! Ave Maria!
I thought we had no kings or popes in our republic.
Things have really changed; Get ready for more changes!
Arsenio. (Jesus is the only intercessor between man and God)
Philip Willan has been specialising in Italian parapolitics, working out of Rome for more than 20 years. He is the author of "Puppetmasters, The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy" and his latest book is called "The Last Supper, The mafia, the masons and the killing of Roberto Calvi". Philp joins us to talk about The Mafia, the masons, The Vatican, the P2 Lodge, the Murder of Roberto Calvi, the Relationship Between Banco Ambrosiano, the Vatican and much more. Topics Discussed: Pope John Paul I, The Money changes, Robert Calvi, Banco Ambrosiano, Vatican Bank, Flavio Carboni, Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), PII lodge, Silvano Vito, Yugoslavia, Austria, Umberto Ortolani, Missing Brief Case, Vatican Right Wing Relationships with the Dictators, Rat Lines, Nazi's, Adolf Eichmann, Klaus Barbie, Josef Mengele and many others, Who took care of Calvi when he came to England? The Mafia Connections, Calvi's Murder Trial, Witnesses, Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, the 5 suspects, bande Delimaniana, Ernesto Diotallevi, Silvano Vittor, Chelsea Cloisters, Calò, According to the Trial Calvi was Murdered, Blackfriars Bridge, Alberto Jaime Berti. You don't want to miss hour two as we discuss more on Propaganda Due the P2 lodge, their grand master Licio Gelli, we'll talk about Freemasons and the possible P2 membership of people within the Vatican. We also discuss the murder of Pope John Paul the 1st after only 33 days in office ...what's the message? We talk about the Swiss Connection, not only to Hans Kuntz but the Pontifical Swiss Guard of Vatican City. Is there any connection to the powerful financial force of Switzerland and the fact that they hold the World Economic Forum in Davos every year? We also discuss the card found on Roberto Calvi from the Law Firm "Slaughter and May". We round things up talking about Operation Gladio and Opus Dei.
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The Department of Transportation recently released statistics about Cash For Clunkers, showing which segments of the market saw the greatest interest:
Total Dealer Transactions: 690,114
$ Value of Submitted Dealer Transactions: $2,877,900
Top Vehicle Purchased: Toyota Corolla
Top Trade-In Vehicle: Ford Explorer
Top New Manufacturer Purchased: Toyota
New-Vehicle Mileage: 24.9 MPG
Trade-In Mileage: 15.8 MPG (Overall increase of 9.2 MPG, or 58% improvement)
Top 10 New Vehicles Purchased During Cash for Clunkers
1. Toyota Corolla
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Camry
4. Ford Focus FWD
5. Hyundai Elantra
6. Nissan Versa
7. Toyota Prius
8. Honda Accord
9. Honda Fit
10. Ford Escape FWD
Consumers: Up to $4500 discounts for nearly every manufacturer? A cash-on-the-hood deal like that doesn't come along too often. Athough many manufacturers offer rebates that are into the thousands, we've never seen such an industry-wide sale.
Manufacturers of Small Cars: Some people find ire in the fact that the top manufacturer on the Cash for Clunkers list is Toyota (and its Corolla small sedan was the top seller during the program), but that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Since Cash for Clunkers gave consumers the highest reward for buying a fuel-efficient vehicle, those buying patterns followed the reality of the market: Asian manufacturers largely dominate in small cars.
Ford: Whereas two or three years ago nobody ever would have considered Ford to be in a leadership position amongst the Big 3, the Blue Oval found its stride in 2009. When Cash for Clunkers first opened up, Ford shot to the top of the sales charts. While it lost the number one slot to Toyota, its Escape was the only SUV in the entire top 10 -- a remarkable feat.
Top 10 Trade-In Vehicles During Cash for Clunkers
1. Ford Explorer 4WD
2. Ford F150 Pickup 2WD1
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
4. Ford Explorer 2WD
5. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2WD
6. Jeep Cherokee 4WD
7. Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
8. Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
9. Ford F150 Pickup 4WD
10. Ford Windstar FWD Van
The 1990s: Do you remember those 90s glory days? Car makers surely do, when SUVs and trucks moved from utility vehicles to image statements. Along with that shift (something that nearly all manufacturers, not just the domestics, happily accepted) came fatter profit margins. Even those who never left the confines of the suburban jungle were buying 4x4s; the 1990s were as much about what was possible than anything. But what happened during Cash for Clunkers? A whole lot of people gave that dream up: the Ford Explorer, perhaps the first of the iconic SUVs, was the top trade-in vehicle. The entire decade went the way of the crusher.
The Government: Do you know why the Cash for Clunkers deadline was pushed back two times? It wasn't so consumers could take advantage of the program any longer; it was so dealers could submit their claim forms on the government's infamous rebate website. Dealers reported the website crashed numerous times during the month-long program, with many worrying they would never get their rebates submitted. From an organization standpoint, Cash For Clunkers was an administrative mess. "The most ironic thing happened during Cash for Clunkers," IHS Global Insight's John Wolkonowicz said. "GM and Chrysler -- who were in bankruptcy as of a few months ago -- had to give loans to the dealers to keep the dealers solvent because the government wasn't paying up in time. In fact, a large dealer in the Boston area was owed $2M by the government on Cash for Clunkers as of Monday and had not collected a single cent."
Charity Donation Programs: For many local charities, "clunkers" serve a different purpose. Many offer a tax rebate to those who donate their old cars, in turn providing those used cars to families without the means to purchase a new car. During the Cash for Clunkers program, many charities reported that their car donations plummeted, creating a shortfall that not only affected the charity itself but those families who could have benefited from an inexpensive vehicle.
Motorcycle Manufacturers: When Cash for Clunkers sprouted forth in the early summer, the plan included rebates for the purchase of motorcycles. Unfortunately, that part of the plan fell through when it eventually passed through Congress. As many a bike rider will tell you, the two-wheeled wonders are incredibly efficient, with miles-per-gallon ratings that far exceed any car on the road today. Why wouldn't they be included if the program was intended to reward those who lowered their carbon footprint?
What did you think about Cash for Clunkers? Did you participate? Leave your comment below and let us know.
BOSTON - Heavy rain and dangerous rip currents from a weak tropical system emptied East Coast beaches for a second straight late-summer weekend, while a Pacific hurricane grew stronger Saturday and threatened the Mexican coast.
Jimena, the 10th named storm of the Pacific season, quickly became a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
Fueled by warm Pacific waters, Jimena could be a major Category 3 hurricane by today as it tracked north-northwest at 12 mph about 655 miles off the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. It was 270 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico.
Farther out in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Kevin formed with top winds of 45 mph. The storm's center on Saturday afternoon was about 1,065 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. The storm could get stronger as it moves to the west-northwest, forecasters said.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Danny spun miles offshore in the Atlantic, causing mostly rain in the East. National Hurricane Center forecasters said Danny had been mostly absorbed by a low pressure system associated with a cold front over North Carolina.
"We were expecting that that was going to happen sooner or later. It happened a little bit sooner," said senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila. "Basically, Danny has been swallowed by the big low."
In Boston, heavy rain fell on hundreds lining sidewalks as the funeral procession of Sen. Edward Kennedy passed through the city. A flood watch remained in effect for parts of Massachusetts as beaches were ordered closed and public ferry services in and around Boston were canceled. Cape Code and nearby islands were expecting 40 mph winds later Saturday.
"We are getting a number of reports of 2 to 4 inches of rain in the area," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. "Wind isn't a factor now, but a wind advisory is in effect for the islands until this evening."
Towns along the Connecticut shore were prepared for the storm and had sandbags and water pumps placed on standby.
Large waves kept most people out of the water at beaches along the New Jersey shore Saturday, the second straight weekend marred by a storm system.
Waves as high as 6 to 8 feet were reported up and down the Jersey coast by late Saturday morning, and forecasters said the waves could be slightly higher as the day progressed. But those conditions were expected to improve during the overnight hours into today, when wave heights were expected to return to normal.
No injuries were reported, though authorities in Fair Lawn, N.J., rescued nine people trapped in five vehicles along a flooded street.
In North Carolina, tropical storm watches for the coast were discontinued, but people were urged to be cautious near the water.
The dangers of storm-agitated seas were demonstrated when a young boy disappeared Friday in rough surf off North Carolina. His mother reported seeing him go underwater off the town of Corolla, not far from the Virginia line. His body board washed ashore without him.
The Coast Guard and local authorities spent hours looking for the 12-year-old boy but called off the search Friday evening and didn't expect to continue searching Saturday.
Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Scott Hembrook said the waves in the area were about 4 to 6 feet tall.
In New York's Long Island, Nassau County's health department closed 20 beaches Saturday because of heavy rainfall. Suffolk County closed two beaches and advised against bathing at 64 more.
Storm water runoff often leads to sewage discharges and elevated bacteria levels on Long Island sound.
Health officials say the beaches will be reopened once tidal cycles have flushed the area.
Aug 25, 2009
A veteran United States diplomat and Seventh-day Adventist Church member is the new ambassador to the Republic of Suriname, a former Dutch colony on the northeastern coast of South America.
image by Megan Brauner
Ambassador to Suriname John Nay meets Adventist world church president Jan Paulsen before a protocol luncheon held at world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. From left: Judy Nay, John Nay, Jan Paulsen and Eugene Hsu, a general vice president
25 Aug 2009, Washington, D.C., United States...
Kevin D. Gurubatham/Adventist Review staff/ANN
A veteran United States diplomat and Seventh-day Adventist Church member is the new ambassador to the Republic of Suriname, a former Dutch colony on the northeastern coast of South America.
John R. Nay, who holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in history from Adventist-owned Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, was sworn in August 13 by Nancy J. Powell, director general of the Foreign Service. The ceremony took place at the U.S. Department of State headquarters, with Suriname's ambassador to the U.S. Jacques R. Cross also in attendance.
"I have drawn on my experiences to encourage people to see that working together helps make progress possible," Nay said after the swearing in. "While one cannot immediately change the legacy of centuries, a commitment to human rights and decency and working together by all sectors of society without regard to ethnicity or religion can help overcome legacies of the past."
He said the knowledge he gained representing the U.S. in countries such as India, South Africa, Taiwan and Singapore will help shape his approach to his assignment in Suriname.
In addition to the influence of his Adventist education, Nay credits his time as a missionary with influencing his career choices.
"My student missionary experience played a significant part in my joining the Foreign Service by helping to stimulate my interest in international affairs and the world," Nay said following the ceremony. "It was helpful to have a chance to see from abroad how the United States is perceived."
Nay said he is honored by the appointment and is looking forward to working with the government and people of Suriname.
"I am honored to be able to formally use the title 'ambassador,' but we must all keep in mind that we are all ambassadors -- for our countries, for our families, for our ideals, and for our faiths," Nay said. "As my wife and I represent the United States in Suriname, we will seek to do just that."
About 48 percent of Suriname's 487,000 people are Christians, with Protestants holding the largest share at 25 percent. An estimated 27 percent of Surinamese are Hindu and about 20 percent are Muslim. The Adventist Church organized in Suriname in 1945 and today has more than 3,700 church members worshiping in 17 congregations.
Aug 26, 2009
Inter-America's Adventist-layman's Services and Industries (ASI) convention held its 10th annual conference at the Sir Garfield Sobers Auditorium in Barbados from August 19-22, 2009.
image by Caribbean Union/IAD
More than 5,000 delegates and church members gathered for Inter-America's 10th ASI annual convention, held Aug. 19-22, at Sir Garfield sobers Auditorium in Barbados.
August 26, 2009 - Bridgetown, Barbados...[James Daniel/IAD Staff]
Inter-America's Adventist-layman's Services and Industries (ASI) convention held its 10th annual conference at the Sir Garfield Sobers Auditorium in Barbados from August 19-22, 2009. The convention featured seminars, musical presentations, and testimonies on witnessing in the marketplace. The ceremony on the final day saw nearly 200 delegates and thousands of church members in attendance.
Themed Triumphant by His Grace-Sharing Christ in the Marketplace, the convention covered topics such as small business management, professional development, media ministries, among many others.
During his keynote address, Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, said there are some who believe "if the Lord has blessed you then you are saved." However, he countered that "it is not by your riches or status that you are saved, but by God's Holy Spirit working in you. Abundance of riches is no indication of salvation."
Pastor Leito also said there are some who ask, just as Peter did, what is the reward for following Jesus? Pastor Leito pointed out that Jesus assured the disciples that there is something in it for them but cautioned them not to expect instant gratification.
"Adventists who ask what's in it for us--for all the sacrifices we have made, for all that we have endured--remember what Jesus said: Don't expect instant gratification. Live the life of hope," Pastor Leito added.
In a passionate address delivered on Friday night at the Breath of Life Church, Pastor David Gates of Gospel Ministries International called on the packed audience to be part of God's "special forces". Utilizing that military concept to get his message across, Pastor Gates said that "Special Forces do what the regular army cannot do-they go into extremely dangerous situations and pull off extraordinary feats. We need to be God's Special Forces to go into the marketplace and rescue people who are trapped in the condition of sin."
Guest speaker Pastor Ted Wilson, vice president for the Adventist World Church, gave the final charge and encouraged chapter members to take the messages of Revelation 13 to every people group and in every market place for "those angels carried the most magnificent news-salvation through Jesus Christ."
Pastor Leon Wellington, vice president of the church in Inter-America and secretary of the ASI Inter-America, said that this year's convention had a special element where chapter members went out to the churches for seminars and programs.
"This allowed many of the church members to get a better understanding of what ASI really is all about," he said.
"ASI is an evangelistic entity of the church to help achieve its [the church's] mission," Pastor Wellington added. "Many people view ASI as an exclusive club but it is a wrong view, it galvanizes the potential of the professionals and business persons among us to accomplish the same mission objectives at their level of operation."
The Caves Nursing Home, which is a local ASI project sponsored and managed by the Barbados ASI chapter, will benefit from this year's donations collected at the end of the convention.
The next ASI Inter-America annual convention is scheduled to be held in Jamaica in August 2011. ASI local chapters throughout Inter-America are scheduled to meet regionally next year.
To watch video streaming of Inter-America's 10th ASI Annual Convention, click here
ASI is the organization of professional Seventh-day Adventists in industry, education, and services interested in sharing Christ in the marketplace and supporting the global mission of the church. ASI's philosophy promotes a Christ-centered lifestyle, manifested by a commitment to daily partnership with God.
For more information on ASI Inter-America, visit http://www.asi-interamerica.org/