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Vatican publication rehabilitates hackers

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From Network World:

Internet hackers have acquired a dubious reputation for piracy, sabotage and the spilling of sensitive secrets, but an authoritative Vatican publication appears to rehabilitate them and traces parallels between hacker philosophy and the teachings of Christianity.

The surprisingly charitable view of hackers was expressed by the Jesuit priest Father Antonio Spadaro in an article for the fortnightly magazine Civilta Cattolica, the text of which is vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State prior to publication.

Hackers should not be confused with crackers, Spadaro wrote, citing a definition penned by technology writer Eric S. Raymond: "Hackers build things, crackers break them."

Hacker philosophy is playful but committed, encourages creativity and sharing, and opposes models of control, competition and private property, Spadaro observed approvingly.

Ryan's budget plan lacks seriousness

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Between 1983-1998, the federal government managed a steady year-by-year reduction in the deficit, followed by a balanced budget and then, amazingly enough, a surplus. Yes, Congress and the President can identify and ultimately repair the nation’s most pressing problems. Sure, it took some time, but the trends were clear and sharp observers saw it coming. It was with this in mind that I read Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) "Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise." It is not is a serious proposal to get today's deficits under control.

Sheehan's threats to cohabitating couples

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A letter from Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe on the topic of marriage, divorce and cohabitation was read all Masses this past weekend. It reaffirmed parts of church teaching about marriage and laid down the law for those not following it, namely those who live together without getting married, or those in civil unions, whether married previously or not. He counseled the divorced to seek annulments, but said others should be banned from the sacraments and other parish participation, including serving as godparents.

From the letter:

1. People in the above three situations cannot receive the Sacraments, with the important exception of those who agree to live chastely (“as brother and sister”) until their situation is regularized. Of course, those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant.
2. These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin.

Sisters confront Goldman Sachs over executive pay

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From the UK's Guardian newspaper:

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia and the Benedictine Sisters of Mt Angel – all investors in the bank – have put their name to a proposal to review its remuneration policies, after it emerged its five most senior employees were collectively awarded $69.5m in pay last year.

The securities and exchange commission disclosed the challenge in a filing ahead of Goldman Sachs' annual meeting next month.

The nuns asked that "shareholders request that the board's compensation committee initiate a review of our company's senior executive compensation policies and make available a summary report of that review by 1 October, 2011 (omitting confidential information and processed at a reasonable cost). We request that the report include:


  1. An evaluation of whether our senior executive compensation packages (including, but not limited to, options, benefits, perks, loans and retirement agreements) are 'excessive' and should be modified.

Our treasure: The pentagon's global information grid

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This Lenten task I assigned myself, a sober look at where we Americans keep our treasure (Mt. 6: 21), turns out to be suitably penitential. I’m hoping you, dear reader, are willing to keep up.

Today’s Government Accountability Office Pentagon boondoggle is the Global Information Grid, something The New York Times itself puts in unattributed quotes as the “‘mother of all networks,’ intended to interconnect all military elements swiftly and securely.”

The thinking that undergirds this grid began in St. Louis in the 1970s when engineers at the Defense Mapping Agency began to map points on the earth ten feet apart, entering into the computer daily temps, altitude, and coded landmarks like trees, buildings, lakes and cornfields. Of course within about 20 years satellite imaging and the GPS overtook surveyors on the ground.

You would think that GPS plus World Wide Web connections would do the trick. And indeed the GAO and the Times -- as well as the soldiers in the field who use these tools -- find them sufficient for a lot of what’s needed.

Invitation for NCR readers in Pennsylvania

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NCR columnist Jesuit Fr. John Dear will be giving a talk, "The Road to Peace: Practicing Non-violence in a World of Violence and War," today in Lewisburg, Pa. He will be speaking at Bucknell Unviersity at at 7:30 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building.

The talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Bucknell's Catholic Campus Ministry. Click here for details.

Roy Bourgeois and Bill Callahan: Vive!

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When I heard about the patriarchal ultimatum (recant your support of women’s ordination or be dismissed) given to Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois I was stunned, but not surprised.

It brought my mind back to the day when my good friend, Bill Callahan, then a Jesuit, was dismissed from his order. Although Bill’s dismissal was wrapped in different language, his advocacy for women’s ordination was a major part of the accusations against him.

Both men provide powerful public witnesses for their beliefs. Roy preached at the 2008 ordination of a woman friend in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Bill was a plenary speaker at the first Women’s Ordination Conference in 1975 and launched Priests for Equality that same year, with women’s ordination as a prominent part of the charter.

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