Boys Town Closes California Sites Due to Intrusive Regulations

(p. 1A) It’s been a century since a young Irish priest named Father Edward Flanagan welcomed homeless boys into a run-down Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha.
But as Boys Town celebrates its centennial, the organization is lessening its focus on the kind of residential care model that made it famous.
The latest wave came in June, as Boys Town announced the shuttering of sites in New York, Texas and California, including one residential care site in Orange County.
. . .
In 2000 under the Rev. Val Peter, then its executive director, the organization had 16 sites — though some were shelters without residential care.
The Rev. Steven Boes, current president and national executive director, insists the Flanagan mission of caring for American families and children remains, despite what he called some tough decisions to close sites.
. . .
(p. 2A) Boys Town decided to shutter its 80-acre residential site in Trabuco Canyon and two family homes in Tustin, California, after years of advocating for regulatory changes in that state. At the time of the June announcement, those homes housed 28 children.
The Trabuco Canyon site was one of 14 Boys Town residential care facilities opened in the 1980s and ’90s as Peter worked to spread the model to larger metro areas around the nation.
Since then, changing state regulations have made it more difficult to implement the Boys Town model in many of those areas, said Bob Pick, executive vice president of youth care.
“We opened those sites 20 or 30 years ago, and it was an exciting time,” Pick said. “But times change, contracts change and we have to serve kids with the highest quality. We just couldn’t do that in some locations.”
When the Trabuco Canyon facility opened, youths stayed for up to two years, Pick said, adding that Boys Town’s own research shows that the minimum stay should be about six months and a yearlong stay is ideal.
Because of contractual rules including mandated length of stays in California, “we couldn’t get kids to stay longer than two or three months,” Pick said. “That’s just not quality care.”
. . .
The changes at Boys Town haven’t come without criticism.
The Rev. Peter worries that the closing of Boys Town sites and focus on research runs afoul of Flanagan’s mission. “I gave my whole life to this — to Flanagan’s dream,” Peter, 83, said. “This is called God’s dream. Times change, but God’s dream doesn’t.”

For the full story, see:
Klecker, Mara. “Renowned care model no longer main focus; Overall trend is toward in-home family consulting, fewer residential sites.” Omaha World-Herald (Sun., Aug. 27, 2017): 1A-2A.
(Note: ellipses added..)

When Istanbul Was “a Place of Tolerance and Enlightenment”

(p. C7) In vivid and readable prose, Ms. Hughes tells the story of the three cities that succeeded one another on the Golden Horn. First came ancient Byzantium, “the armpit of Greece,” an “ethnically mongrel place” where Greek settlers mingled with native Thracians. Then there was Constantinople, the New Rome founded in 324 by the emperor Constantine, “a city with both Greek and Near Eastern genetic coding, strengthened by Roman muscle and sinew and wrapped in a Christian skin.” And at last there was Istanbul, the “buzzing, polyglot” capital of the Ottoman Empire, transformed by the architect Sinan (perhaps the greatest genius of the European Renaissance) into “one of the world’s most memorable and impressive urban environments.”
One of the leitmotifs of Ms. Hughes’s book is the cultural pluralism that has characterized Istanbul since earliest times. The 11th century saw the Viking Harald Hardrada and thousands of other “pugilistic opportunists” from the wild Baltic serving in the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian guard. In 1492, Sultan Bayezid II welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees who had been expelled from Granada by Ferdinand II of Aragon, making early Ottoman Istanbul “the largest and most flourishing Jewish community in Europe.” Although the Christian Greek population of the city has dropped from 240,000 in the mid-1920s to fewer than 1,000 today, Istanbul remains a true “global city.” Leaving aside the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees eking out a miserable half-life “on the sides of inner-city roads and trunk-route intersections,” perhaps 20% to 25% of the settled population of modern Istanbul is composed of Kurds from eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia, making Istanbul by far the largest Kurdish city in the world. Throughout its history, as Ms. Hughes writes, “Istanbul has been a city for the Cosmopolitan, for the World Citizen.”
. . .
Ms. Hughes doesn’t conceal the fact that Istanbul’s history has often been a bloody one, from the vicious Nika riots of 532 (when the emperor Justinian butchered some 50,000 civilians) to the dark spring of 1915, when “hunched groups of Armenians could be seen being frog-marched to the city’s police stations, and not coming home.” But Istanbul has also been a place of tolerance and enlightenment, and when one compares its recent history with that of the other great multicultural cities of the Middle East–Aleppo, Baghdad, even Jerusalem–Istanbul can still fairly be called, as it was in Ottoman times, “the Abode of Happiness.”

For the full review, see:
Peter Thonemann. “The Abode of Happiness.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 9, 2017): C7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 8, 2017.)

The book under review, is:
Hughes, Bettany. Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2017.

Christian Praise for Ayn Rand Novels

(p. A13) Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE restaurants and a practicing Roman Catholic, finds nothing worrisome in that fact: “I encouraged my six children to read both ‘Fountainhead’ and ‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis,” he told me. Each child later read “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Puzder argued that “there’s no contradiction between raising my children in the church, and urging them to lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels.”
Randall Wallace, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of 1995’s “Braveheart,” and the director of 2014’s “Heaven Is for Real,” is such an admirer of Rand’s work that he wrote a screen adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Wallace, a Southern Baptist, said, “My faith isn’t contradicted by her beliefs. We live in a world of labels, but God surely cares less about the labels we give ourselves than about how we live because of them.” Rand, Mr. Wallace feels, wrote fiercely and fearlessly about bold and brave characters. “I think it would contradictory to my own beliefs not to admire her.”

For the full commentary, see:
JENNIFER ANJU GROSSMAN. “Can You Love God and Ayn Rand?; A friend claims the atheist philosopher at one point saw the appeal of spirituality.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 11, 2016): A13.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 10, 2016.)

The Ayn Rand novels praised above, are:
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943.

In 1596 Luis de Carvajal Was Burned at the Stake for “Observing Jewish Practices”

(p. C1) It is perhaps the most significant artifact documenting the arrival of Jews in the New World: a small, tattered 16th-century manuscript written in an almost microscopic hand by Luis de Carvajal the Younger, the man whose life and pain it chronicled.
Until 1932, the 180-page booklet by de Carvajal, a secret Jew who was burned at the stake by the Inquisition in Spain’s colony of Mexico, resided in that country’s National Archives.
. . .
(p. C6) De Carvajal was a Jew who posed as Catholic in New Spain, now Mexico, during a period when the Inquisition ruthlessly persecuted heretics and false converts with deportation, imprisonment, torture and grisly public executions.
. . .
In 1596, after having been found guilty again of observing Jewish practices, he was burned at the stake. He was 30.

For the full story, see:
JOSEPH BERGER. “A Jewish Treasure in Fine Print.” The New York Times (Weds., JAN. 4, 2017): C1 & C6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 1, 2017, and has the title “A Secret Jew, the New World, a Lost Book: Mystery Solved.”)

Carvajal’s writings were translated into English and published in:
Carvajal, Luis de. The Enlightened; the Writings of Luis De Carvajal, El Mozo. Translated by Seymour B. Liebman. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1967.

Pope Francis Has “a Great Allergy to Economic Things”

(p. A7) ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRPLANE — Pope Francis has dedicated his papacy to the plight of the poor and delivered severe critiques of economic systems that benefit the rich. But flying back to Rome from his eight-day visit to Latin America, Francis admitted he had overlooked a group.
He has delivered few messages for the global middle class.
“Thank you,” he replied, after a German journalist, Ludwig Ring-Eifel, asked about the omission. “It’s a good correction, thanks. You are right. It’s an error of mine not to think about this.”
. . .
In fact, the pope expressed “a great allergy to economic things,” explaining that his father had been an accountant who often brought work home on weekends.
“I don’t understand it very well,” he said of economics, even though the issue of economic justice has become central to his papacy.
. . .
“Then, on the middle class, there are some words that I’ve said — but a little in passing,” he said, musing. “But talking about the common people, the simple people, the workers, that is a great value, no? But I think you’re telling me about something I need to do. I need to delve further into this.”

For the full story, see:
JIM YARDLEY. “In His Focus on Rich and Poor, Pope Admits to Overlooking the Middle Class.” The New York Times (Tues., JULY 14, 2015): A7.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JULY 13, 2015, and has the title “Pope Francis Says He’s Overlooked the World’s Middle Class.”)

Jewish Medical Inventor Invested in Human Capital Because That “Could Never Be Taken from Me”

Louis Sokoloff’s son Kenneth authored, or co-authored, important papers on how patents aided invention in the 1800s.

(p. A21) Dr. Louis Sokoloff, who pioneered the PET scan technique for measuring human brain function and diagnosing disorders, died on July 30 [2015] in Washington.
. . .
. . . he leapt at the opportunity when he won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, guided by his grandfather’s advice.
“He advised me to choose a profession, any one,” he wrote, “in which all my significant possessions would reside in my mind because, being Jewish, sooner or later I would be persecuted and I would lose all my material possessions; what was contained in my mind, however, could never be taken from me and would accompany me everywhere to be used again.”
. . .
Dr. Sokoloff’s wife, the former Betty Kaiser, died in 2003, and his son, Kenneth, an economic historian, died in 2007.

For the full obituary, see:
SAM ROBERTS. “Louis Sokoloff, Pioneer of PET Scan, Dies at 93.” The New York Times (Thurs., AUG. 6, 2015): A21.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date AUG. 5, 2015.)

Most Novels Portray Businessmen as Either Foolish or Evil

(p. 8) The last book that made you furious?
Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” It uses all the tricks of a fire-and-brimstone preacher to sell a message of despair and pessimism based on a really shaky, selective and biased understanding of the science of climate change.

Your favorite antihero or villain?
Harry Potter’s uncle, Vernon Dursley — a much misunderstood man who stands for all the businessmen that novelists have denigrated, while living off the wealth they created. I am being a bit facetious, but I did use to enjoy pointing out to my children that businessmen only ever appear in fiction as foolish or evil or both, when clearly they generally do the world enormous good.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
The prime minister? “The Hockey Stick Illusion,” by Andrew Montford. It’s a great piece of detective work on a key scientific blunder, based around the work of Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and it forensically dismantles the mistakes that led to people believing they had at last found evidence that current climate change is unprecedented in rate or scale in this millennium. It may yet prove to be so in the future, but it is not so yet.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t?
Easy. The Bible. Not even the fine translations of William Tyndale, largely adopted by King James’s committee without sufficient acknowledgment, can conceal the grim tedium of this messy compilation of second-rate tribal legends and outrageous bigotry.

For the full interview, see:
SIMON PARKIN. “By the Book: Matt Ridley.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., OCT. 18, 2015): 8.
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date OCT. 15, 2015, and has the title “Matt Ridley: By the Book.” The online version has added questions and answers, that were left out of the published version. The passages quoted above, were in both versions, except for those on recommended presidential reading, which only appeared in the online version.)

Ridley has a courageous and illuminating discussion of environmental issues, in:
Ridley, Matt. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. New York: Harper, 2010.