Daily Archives: May 27, 2008

Auditor: Supervisors Covered Up Risky Loans

Tracy Warren is not surprised by the foreclosure crisis. She saw the roots of it firsthand every day. She worked for a quality-control contractor that reviewed subprime loans for investment banks before they were sold off on Wall Street.

It was her job to dig into the loans and ferret out problems. By 2006, they were easy to find.

“I’d see people who were hotel workers saying that they made, in California, making $15,000 a month so that they could qualify for a $500,000 home,” Warren says. “If a hotel worker is making $15,000 a month changing sheets at the Days Inn, everybody would want to do it. It just really made no sense.”

Warren has worked in the mortgage business for 25 years, the past five in quality control. Most recently, she was a contract worker for a company called Watterson-Prime, which did loan audits for investment banks. She says their biggest client was Bear Stearns, which recently all but collapsed because of its exposure to bad loans.

A great look underneath the surface at just one dimension of the subprime mortgage fiasco. Listen to or read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable

Our primary authority is Jesus Christ our Teacher and our Lord, and our submission to Scripture is only the logical outcome and necessary expression of our submission to him. It is to Christ that we come; but Christ sends us to a book. Not that the book to which he sends us is a dead and wooden letter, or an authoritarian ogre. He bids us listen rather to his own voice as he speaks to our particular situation by his Spirit and through his written Word.

–John Stott, “Jesus Christ Our Teacher and Lord”, in Guidelines, ed. J. I. Packer (London: Falcon, 1967), p. 64.

Posted in Uncategorized

Warren Buffett sees "long, deep" U.S. recession

The United States is already in a recession and it will be longer as well as deeper than many people expect, U.S. investor Warren Buffett said in an interview published in German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.

He said the United States was “already in recession” and added: “Perhaps not in the sense that economists would define it” with two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

“But the people are already feeling the effects,” said Buffett, the world’s richest man. “It will be deeper and last longer than many think.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Auto Industry Feels the Pain of Tight Credit

The auto industry is getting sideswiped by the housing crisis.

Auto lenders and banks, closing their wallets, have prevented hundreds of thousands of consumers from obtaining the financing for a car. Home equity loans, which had been used in at least one of every nine deals, when lenders were more generous, are no longer a source of easy money for many prospective buyers. And used-car prices have fallen nearly 6 percent as repossessed cars and gas-guzzling trucks and S.U.V.’s flood auction lots.

Those forces, on top of the softening economy, are putting enormous pressure on the American auto industry as it faces what may be its worst year in more than a decade. About 15 million vehicles are expected to be sold in 2008, down from 16.2 million last year, as sales reach the lowest levels since 1995, according to the marketing firm J. D. Power & Associates.

The impact on the broader American economy could be profound.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Michael Daley Reports on the Diocese of Huron Debate

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Controversy surrounds same-sex marriage in the Diocese of Huron

Several Anglican churches in southern Ontario could abandon their diocese after it passed a contentious motion yesterday that would recognize same-sex unions, an insider says.

A resounding 70 per cent of Anglicans from the Huron Diocese voted in favour of conditionally allowing ministers to bless married, same-sex couples during a gathering in London.

The motion put to the delegates was to ask the presiding bishop to consider authorizing clergy and congregations, comfortable with the idea, to bless a union of two people of the same gender who’ve already legally married in a civil ceremony.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

An American Veteran of the First World War

At the age of 107, Frank Buckles is the last living veteran to serve overseas during World War I. Host Guy Raz checks in with Buckles this Memorial Day to hear about some of his memories of service for the United States.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

In Upper S.C. St. Christopher's priest resigns, concern grows over denomination's direction

Speaking of the members who left, [Bishop Dorsey] Henderson said, “They are acting out of conscience, and I respect that.”

The primary causes he’s heard for their decision to leave is that some reject the current presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and disagreement over the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

[The Rev. George] Gray said human sexuality is of minor significance and that the issue is essentially about the authority of Holy Scripture.

He said the church has taken positions and made policies inconsistent with Holy Scripture and is more concerned with canon law than biblical law.

“I feel the Episcopal Church is leading people away (from), rather than to, Christ,” Gray said.

He said hundreds of Episcopalians, perhaps thousands in the area, have left the Episcopal Church and are attending other churches.

Those who remain, he said, believe they can fight to make a difference.

He’s come to the conclusion reform is not possible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Rochester-area mainline Protestant churches adapt to changing demands

Every denomination is struggling to retain young people and young families who do not always see church the way their parents and grandparents do. They are less likely to stay with a congregation or denomination just because it’s expected. What that means, says the Rev. John Wilkinson, pastor of Rochester’s Third Presbyterian Church, is that “people are making a much more significant choice today if they choose to be a church participant. About half the people who join us do not come from a Presbyterian background.”

People in their 20s and 30s, sometimes called the “Millennial Generation,” are going to transform church life, says the Rev. Eugene Roberts, recently retired pastor of the Brighton Reformed Church. “They are not so interested in theological distinctions between denominations,” he says. “In some ways, theirs is a more intense experience.” On the plus side, he says, the millennials “who get involved really want to be involved, while the baby boomers like me often go through the motions.”

But while many younger people have a less formal connection to church than their elders, “that is not an indication that people are less spiritual or not interested in a relationship with God,” says the Rev. Alan Newton, executive minister of the American Baptist Church in the Rochester Genesee Region. “They just don’t find it in church. Churches naturally resist change, but those that are adapting are all growing.”

But adapting means different things to different congregations. The Rev. David Inglis, pastor of the Henrietta United Church of Christ, says churches are seeing “people who find their way into a place that affirms their own journey.” In other words, younger people will go where they are accepted for who they are.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian

A Recent Press Release from All Saints, Pasadena

“Today’s decision is consistent with All Saints Church, Pasadena’s identity as a peace and justice church,” said [Ed] Bacon, following the historic vote. “It also aligns us with the Scriptures’ mandate to make God’s love tangible by ”˜doing justice and loving mercy’ (Micah 6:8) and with the canons of our Episcopal Church that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“In this our 125th year, this morning’s decision was a natural step forward on All Saints’ lengthy journey of justice, peace, and inclusion,” Bacon concluded. “As the rector of All Saints Church, I am inspired by the visionary stride All Saints’ lay leaders took today. I am honored to serve a church where the leadership demonstrates such stirring courage to move beyond lip service about embodying God’s inclusive love to actually committing our faith community to the practice of marriage equality.”

“As a priest and pastor, I anticipate with great joy strengthening our support of the sanctity of marriage as I marry both gay and straight members and thus more fully live out my ordination vow to nourish all people from the goodness of God’s grace.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Parishes

Diane Francis: Petro populist myopia

Exxon-and OPEC-bashing in Congress, and a host of populist musings in the media and blogosphere, have it wrong. Washington’s politicians and policy-makers are to blame for much of the rise in oil prices because they have been woefully ignorant of economic developments around the world.

Prices are soaring, in part, because oil is denominated in U.S. dollars and the dollar has declined, thanks to Washington’s overspending on wars, trade, subsidies and government budgets. Investors have also abandoned credit markets since the (thanks to U.S. deregulation) subprime meltdown and put their money into real assets instead.

But the biggest reason prices have been soaring is the future supply and demand outlook.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

Arlington Ladies offer company, condolences

What a wonderful ministry–watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Nuclear agency accuses Iran of willful lack of cooperation

The International Atomic Energy Agency, in an unusually blunt and detailed report, said Monday that Iran’s suspected research into the development of nuclear weapons remains “a matter of serious concern” and continues to need “substantial explanations.”

The nine-page report accused the Iranians of a willful lack of cooperation, particularly in answering allegations that its nuclear program may be pointed less at energy generation than at military use.

Part of the agency’s case hinges on 18 documents listed in the report and presented to Iran that, according to Western intelligence agencies, indicate the Iranians have ventured into explosives, uranium processing and a missile warhead design — activities that ordinarily would be associated with constructing nuclear weapons.

“There are certain parts of their nuclear program where the military seems to have played a role,” said one senior official close to the agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic constraints. He added, “We want to understand why.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

In Michigan Catholic pharmacists may face moral dilemma

Legislation soon to be before the Michigan House of Representatives may create a moral dilemma for Catholic pharmacists.

House Bill 6049, which passed the house judiciary committee last week, would prohibit pharmacists from using ethical, moral or religious standards to decide whether to dispense a prescription. If passed into law, pharmacists would be forced to dispense drugs that their consciences and ethical standards dictate they should not distribute ”” such as pills that cause abortion.

We are asking for Catholics to contact their state representative to oppose legislation that would violate an individual’s right to conscience as well as the religious freedom clauses of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said David Maluchnik, spokesman for the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Church’s public policy voice in Michigan.

“Individuals enter the health care profession to heal,” he added, “not to be forced by law to disperse controversial and unproven medications that fail to promote the dignity of life and respect for women.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

One Spiritual director reaches out to veterans

Veterans and their family members who are dealing with “soul issues” after returning from Iraq now have a place to go and someone with whom to talk.

Loyola Spirituality Center in St. Paul has added a new ministry called “Welcome Home,” which provides free spiritual companionship with Sheila Laughton, a re­tir­ed lieutenant colo­nel in the U.S. Air Force.

Laughton not only served 25 years in the USAF, but she has a husband and son in the Air Force. While her husband, Michael, is stationed in Washington, D.C., and son, Nathan, serves in Minot, N.D., Laughton and son, Sean, 18, take care of the family’s home in Woodbury. They attend St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park.

“I know what it’s like [to be in the military] from multiple perspectives,” Laughton said. “I know what it’s like to have my life disrupted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces