Daily Archives: March 5, 2008

Whats the Point of the Archbishop of Canterbury?

The BBC says:

Quentin Letts takes a witty but thought-provoking look at some great British institutions….

in this case the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

How did He Ever Land the Plane?

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest

The Pentagon's Ray Gun

What if we told you the Pentagon has a ray gun? And what if we told you it can stop a person in his tracks without killing or even injuring him? Well, it’s true. You can’t see it, you can’t hear it, but as CBS News correspondent David Martin experienced first hand, you can feel it.

Pentagon officials call it a major breakthrough which could change the rules of war and save huge numbers of lives in Iraq. But it’s still not there. That because in the middle of a war, the military just can’t bring itself to trust a weapon that doesn’t kill.

I highly recommend the whole video report (link accompanies article). The problem is they do not get into the real potential ethical dilemmas this could create: What if it were used to prevent the Birmingham boycott or Tiananmen Square or some other protest?

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Theology

Joseph Stiglitz on John Mcain

Joseph Stiglitz: The war has led directly to the U.S. economic slowdown. First, before the U.S. went to war with Iraq, the price of oil was $25 a barrel. It’s now $100 a barrel.
While there are other factors involved in this price rise, the Iraq war is clearly a major factor. Already factoring in growing demand for energy from India and China, the futures markets projected before the war that oil would remain around $23 a barrel for at least a decade. It is the war and volatility it has caused, along with the falling dollar due to low interest rates and the huge trade deficit, that accounts for much of the difference.

That higher price means that the billions that would have been in the pockets of Americans to spend at home have been flowing out to Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters.

Second, money spent on Iraq doesn’t stimulate the economy at home. If you hire a Filipino contractor to work in Iraq, you don’t get the multiplier effect of someone building a road or a bridge in Missouri.

Third, this war, unlike any other war in American history, has been entirely financed by deficits. Deficits are a worry because, in the end, they crowd out investment and pile up debt that has to be paid in the future. That hurts productivity because little is left over either for public-sector investment in research, education and infrastructure or private-sector investment in machines and factories.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Iraq War, US Presidential Election 2008

New book details Chinese spy effort ahead of Olympics

As athletes train for the summer Olympics in China, a new book claims that the country’s vast spy network is gearing up for a different challenge – keeping an eye on journalists and potential troublemakers.

French writer Roger Faligot, author of some 40 intelligence-related books, has penned ‘The Chinese Secret Services from Mao to the Olympic Games’, due out February 29.

His findings claim that special teams are being formed at the country’s embassies abroad “to identify sports journalists … and to define if they have an ‘antagonistic’ or ‘friendly’ attitude in regards to China.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Sports

Stephen Roach: Double Bubble Trouble

The United States is now going through its second post-bubble downturn in seven years. Yet this one stands in sharp contrast to the post-bubble shakeout in the stock market during 2000 and 2001. Back then, there was a collapse in business capital spending, a sector that peaked at only 13 percent of real gross domestic product.

The current recession has been set off by the simultaneous bursting of property and credit bubbles. The unwinding of these excesses is likely to exact a lasting toll on both homebuilders and American consumers. Those two economic sectors collectively peaked at 78 percent of gross domestic product, or fully six times the share of the sector that pushed the country into recession seven years ago.

For asset-dependent, bubble-prone economies, a cyclical recovery ”” even when assisted by aggressive monetary and fiscal accommodation ”” isn’t a given. Over the past six years, income-short consumers made up for the weak increases in their paychecks by extracting equity from the housing bubble through cut-rate borrowing that was subsidized by the credit bubble. That game is now over.

Washington policymakers may not be able to arrest this post-bubble downturn. Interest rate cuts are unlikely to halt the decline in nationwide home prices. Given the outsize imbalance between supply and demand for new homes, housing prices may need to fall an additional 20 percent to clear the market.

Aggressive interest rate cuts have not done much to contain the lethal contagion spreading in credit and capital markets. Now that their houses are worth less and loans are harder to come by, hard-pressed consumers are unlikely to be helped by lower interest rates.

Japan’s experience demonstrates how difficult it may be for traditional policies to ignite recovery after a bubble. In the early 1990s, Japan’s property and stock market bubbles burst. That implosion was worsened by a banking crisis and excess corporate debt. Nearly 20 years later, Japan is still struggling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

A Video of Bishop Lawrence's Opening Remarks During the PB's SC Visit

Part One is here and part Two is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops

McCain faces tough choice over VP

“Research shows that a vice-presidential candidate determines very few people’s votes,” says Paul Light, an expert”‰on the vice-presidency at New York University. “But it is one of the first big tests of a nominee’s decision-making and helps set the tone for the campaign.”

Economic expertise is likely to be another requirement given Mr McCain’s self-declared weakness on the issue. Executive experience, preferably outside Washington, would be another advantage to balance Mr McCain’s decades of legislative service on Capitol Hill.

Mr McCain’s main strategic decision will be the ideological identity of his running mate. As a Republican moderate, he is under pressure from conservatives to pick someone from the right of the party, such as Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, or Sam Brownback, senator for Kansas.

Many experts believe Mr McCain needs a conservative running mate, preferably from the south, to unify the fractured Republican base. But others argue he has most to gain from picking a fellow moderate, such as Chuck Hagel, senator for Nebraska, or Joseph Lieberman, the independent senator for Connecticut, who would reinforce his appeal among swing-voters. Another option might be Michael Bloomberg, the independent New York mayor and billionaire media tycoon, who recently ended speculation that he might make his own third-party run for president.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

An Estimated Democratic Delegate Scorecard

1,423 for Hillary Clinton to 1,512 for Barack Obama. Over on Intrade, for the nomination, Obama is at 74 and Clinton is at 25.3.

John Hood notes the key role of when you chose to vote in the outcome:

The Texas exit polls show Obama leading Clinton 52-48 among voters who decided a while back, but Clinton leading Obama by a whopping 61-38 among those deciding in the last three days.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

From the Baltimore Sun: This call to prayer answered by few

The art student thought she could pray for summery weather, but given yesterday’s sunny skies and shirt-sleeve temperatures, it looked like someone had beat her to it. The unemployed inventor might have prayed for a job, or at least money to continue his life’s work, but he doesn’t kneel very well since a skydiving accident.

Neither Rin (“short for Katherine”) Lack nor Tim Silverwood stopped to take advantage of “Prayer Booth” as they walked by it yesterday, but then, few apparently do. For one thing, it just looks like another phone booth, graffiti-smeared and slightly grimy, that has been abandoned during these cellular times.

But the blue-and-white sign above it says not “Phone” but “Prayer.” And there’s no way to call anyone — on Earth, at least — because there isn’t a pay phone inside, but instead a fold-down kneeler like you’d find in a church.

Someone making a statement that Baltimore is a city that needs but doesn’t have a prayer? Or that you shouldn’t waste time on earthly beings but try for a direct line to God? Or even commentary on Baltimore as the one-time home of the world’s most famous atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

McCain clinches race as Huckabee concedes

Senator John McCain, a one-time insurgent whose campaign was all but dead seven months ago, locked up the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday night after he defeated former Governor Mike Huckabee in the Texas and Ohio Republican primary and Huckabee conceded the race to McCain.

Although McCain had been far ahead in the delegate count and been bestowed with the unofficial title of “likely Republican nominee” since his string of victories on Feb. 5, Tuesday’s results put him within reach of the 1,191 delegates he needs for the nomination. McCain also won the Vermont and Rhode Island primaries.

The Associated Press and television networks projected that McCain won enough delegates to clinch the nomination, but The New York Times has him still short of the mark.

In a sign that his party is now officially rallying around him, McCain will travel to the White House on Wednesday morning for a formal endorsement by President George W. Bush, a Republican official said Tuesday night. Huckabee said he called McCain to concede and offer his support.

“It looks pretty apparent tonight that he will in fact achieve 1191 delegates to become the nominee for our party,” Huckabee said. “I extended him not only my congratulations, but my commitment to him and to the party to do everything possible to unite our party, but more importantly to unite our country so we can be the best nation we can be.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Very Tight in Texas

Check it out.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Clinton Wins Ohio, Networks Project

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton snapped Barack Obama’s 12-state winning streak with a victory in the Rhode Island primary on Tuesday night, but the Democratic rivals remained locked in tight races in delegate-rich Texas and Ohio, the two key contests of the night.

CNN and NBC News called the Ohio race for Mrs. Clinton, but votes were still being counted. Early returns showed Mrs. Clinton up 57 percent to Mr. Obama’s 41 percent, with just over half the precincts reporting.

Earlier in the evening, Mr. Obama won the Vermont primary by about 22 percentage points. Mrs. Clinton had a margin of about 17 percentage points in Rhode Island.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

What May Happen in This Evening's Primaries with the Democrats

Outside the Beltway makes his predictions, and I make mine in one of the comments in response.

Update: Bill Bradley has interesting Ohio exit poll data.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Vatican, Muslims Plan for Talks with Pope

Muslim representatives and Vatican officials meet Tuesday for talks that will hopefully lead to an unprecedented Catholic-Islamic meeting later this year focusing on terrorism. The meetings are an attempt to improve relations after a 2006 speech by Pope Benedict XVI in which he quoted an ancient emperor’s criticism of Islam.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic