Daily Archives: September 23, 2008

Mark McCall: Statement on the “Sentence of Deposition” of Bishop Duncan

The “Sentence of Deposition” does not reflect, however, her interpretation of the canon. It includes the recitation “a majority of the members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote having consented to this Deposition at a meeting of the House of Bishops in Salt Lake City , Utah , on 18 September, 2008”¦.” That is, the Sentence does not read, following the Presiding Bishop’s own memorandum and ruling, “a majority of the members of the House of Bishops present,” nor does it recite the actual language of the relevant canon. Instead, the Sentence adopts the plain reading of the canon the Presiding Bishop overruled: “a majority of members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote having consented”¦”

Surely one thing all parties can agree on is that this did not happen in Salt Lake City . There are close to 300 members of the House of Bishops “entitled to vote.” Only 88 consented to the purported deposition. Far from a majority, this is fewer than a third of the bishops entitled to vote. So why does the “Sentence of Deposition” now concede the legal point made by bishops and others who requested canonical integrity? Is it because an accurate recitation, one using the Presiding Bishop’s own words, “a majority of bishops present at the meeting,” would be invalid on its face? This Sentence of Deposition only confirms ACI’s stated concern that the legitimacy of the House’s action and the Presiding Bishop’s leadership has been placed in serious question by this proceeding.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Polity & Canons

Prepared Text of Henry Paulson’s Statement before the Senate Committee Today

As we’ve worked through this period of market turmoil, we have acted on a case-by-case basis ”” addressing problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, working with market participants to prepare for the failure of Lehman Brothers, and lending to A.I.G. so it can sell some of its assets in an orderly manner. We have also taken a number of powerful tactical steps to increase confidence in the system, including a temporary guaranty program for the U.S. money market mutual fund industry. These steps have been necessary but not sufficient.

More is needed. We saw market turmoil reach a new level last week, and spill over into the rest of the economy. We must now take further, decisive action to fundamentally and comprehensively address the root cause of this turmoil.

And that root cause is the housing correction which has resulted in illiquid mortgage-related assets that are choking off the flow of credit which is so vitally important to our economy. We must address this underlying problem, and restore confidence in our financial markets and financial institutions so they can perform their mission of supporting future prosperity and growth.

We have proposed a program to remove troubled assets from the system. This troubled asset relief program has to be properly designed for immediate implementation and be sufficiently large to have maximum impact and restore market confidence. It must also protect the taxpayer to the maximum extent possible, and include provisions that ensure transparency and oversight while also ensuring the program can be implemented quickly and run effectively.

The market turmoil we are experiencing today poses great risk to U.S. taxpayers. When the financial system doesn’t work as it should, Americans’ personal savings, and the ability of consumers and businesses to finance spending, investment and job creation are threatened.

The ultimate taxpayer protection will be the market stability provided as we remove the troubled assets from our financial system. I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund everyday needs and economic expansion.

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

North American Mainline Renewal Leaders Support Faithful Bishop, Rebuke The Episcopal Church

(Press Release) More than twenty Executives and Leaders of renewal movements and ministries within the mainline denominations of the U.S. and Canada sent a letter of support today to Bishop Bob Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh who was “deposed” Friday by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church at the insistence of Presiding Bishop Katherine Schori. In their letter they also issued a strong rebuke to The Episcopal leadership. Bishop Duncan has been a faithful advocate for Biblical Christianity in the Episcopal Church for over two decades.
The mainline renewal leaders wrote to Bishop Duncan, “We stand with you in solidarity as you endure this trial of your faith. Your patient, courageous, and steadfast witness has been an inspiration to all of us who desire to see our Lord Jesus Christ glorified in his church.” They went on to say, “It grieves our hearts to see those entrusted with church leadership such as Bishop Schori and the Episcopal House of Bishops, engaged in such divisive and destructive behavior. Like other denominational officials in the North American mainline denominations, they have acted with callous disregard for the authority of scripture, the witness of the historic church, and the sanctity of human life, sexuality, and marriage. We are most deeply grieved for the millions of Christian believers who have been forced out of the churches of their childhood by those they trusted to lead.”

Association for Church Renewal President, David Runnion-Bareford said, “This action is tragic for the whole ecumenical church. Katherine Schori and those who voted to depose Bishop Duncan are emerging as the new fundamentalists of the left. Their legalism and separatism appear to be birthed from much the same defensiveness that marked the fundamentalists on the right in a previous generation. Their disregard for faithful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of scripture, the unity of the church and holy living has divided and torn the church irreparably.”

Signatories included church leaders from the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, The United Church of Christ, The Church of the Brethren, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Disciples of Christ.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Stephen Bainbridge: A Basic Problem with the Bailout

Here’s a core problem with the Paulson-Bernanke $700 bailout: Once the new rules of the financial system are set, a bunch of very smart people will get paid a ton of money by hedge funds and the like to game that system. It would be the height of naivety to believe that regulators can write a system that can’t be gamed.

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

Diocese of Virginia Refocuses Legal Efforts

The Diocese of Virginia will forgo judicial review of the process used by 11 congregations which voted to leave The Episcopal Church in January 2007. Instead it will focus all of its efforts on overturning a Civil War-era state statute known as 57-9.

In a series of motions prior to the one-day trial on Oct. 6, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows already has ruled that 57-9 is both constitutional and applicable in this case. The statute states that in the event of a denominational split, a local congregation can determine what to do with church property.

However, anomalies in the deeds of some parish charters may have implications, most notably in the case of the Falls Church, whose original deed from 1749 confers ownership to all nearby colonial residents. If the court rules against the majority of the congregation at the Falls Church, it would permit the diocese to file additional lawsuits over questions of ownership.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

How the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary gave birth to the Mortgage Crisis

With that many pols at the helm, it’s no wonder that most analysts have portrayed Fannie and Freddie as if they were unregulated renegades, and rarely mentioned HUD in the ongoing finger-pointing exercise that has ranged, appropriately enough, from Wall Street to Alan Greenspan. But the near-collapse of these dual pillars in recent weeks is rooted in the HUD junkyard, where every [Andrew] Cuomo decision discussed here was later ratified by his Bush successors.

And that’s not an accident: Perhaps the only domestic issue George Bush and Bill Clinton were in complete agreement about was maximizing home ownership, each trying to lay claim to a record percentage of homeowners, and both describing their efforts as a boon to blacks and Hispanics. HUD, Fannie, and Freddie were their instruments, and, as is now apparent, the more unsavory the means, the greater the growth. But, as Paul Krugman noted in the Times recently, “homeownership isn’t for everyone,” adding that as many as 10 million of the new buyers are stuck now with negative home equity””meaning that with falling house prices, their mortgages exceed the value of their homes. So many others have gone through foreclosure that there’s been a net loss in home ownership since 1998.

It is also worth remembering that the motive for this bipartisan ownership expansion probably had more to do with the legion of lobbyists working for lenders, brokers, and Wall Street than an effort to walk in MLK’s footsteps. Each mortgage was a commodity that could be sold again and again””from the brokers to the bankers to the securities market. If, at the bottom of this pyramid, the borrower collapsed under the weight of his mortgage’s impossible terms, the home could be repackaged a second or a third time and either refinanced or dumped on a new victim.

Those are the interests that surrounded Cuomo, who did more to set these forces of unregulated expansion in motion than any other secretary and then boasted about it, presenting his initiatives as crusades for racial and social justice.

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

An Interfaith Service of Recommitment and Witness to Achievements of the MDGs

(ACNS) Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Dr Hellen Wangusa, Anglican Observer at the United Nations, cordially invite you to attend An Interfaith Service of Recommitment and Witness to the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Officiant.

The Archbishop of York The Most Honorable Dr. John Sentamu, Guest Preacher.

This service is part of the high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on September 25, 2008. At the halfway point towards the target date, significant progress has been made, but urgent and increased efforts are needed by all stakeholders in order to meet the goals by 2015. Convened by the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the event will be a forum for world leaders to review progress, identify gaps, and commit to concrete efforts, resources and mechanisms to bridge the gaps.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Globalization, Poverty, Presiding Bishop

Today's Testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke on U.S. financial markets

The Federal Reserve took a number of actions to increase liquidity and stabilize markets. Notably, to address dollar funding pressures worldwide, we announced a significant expansion of reciprocal currency arrangements with foreign central banks, including an approximate doubling of the existing swap lines with the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank and the authorization of new swap facilities with the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Canada. We will continue to work closely with colleagues at other central banks to address ongoing liquidity pressures. The Federal Reserve also announced initiatives to assist money market mutual funds facing heavy redemptions and to increase liquidity in short-term credit markets.

Despite the efforts of the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and other agencies, global financial markets remain under extraordinary stress. Action by the Congress is urgently required to stabilize the situation and avert what otherwise could be very serious consequences for our financial markets and for our economy. In this regard, the Federal Reserve supports the Treasury’s proposal to buy illiquid assets from financial institutions. Purchasing impaired assets will create liquidity and promote price discovery in the markets for these assets, while reducing investor uncertainty about the current value and prospects of financial institutions. More generally, removing these assets from institutions’ balance sheets will help to restore confidence in our financial markets and enable banks and other institutions to raise capital and to expand credit to support economic growth.

At this juncture, in light of the fast-moving developments in financial markets, it is essential to deal with the crisis at hand.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Stock Market

Are the Financial Authorities Thinking Things Through (II)

From Bloomberg we have the following:

The U.S. government backed away from insuring all domestic money-market funds as a run on the $3.29 trillion industry slowed and banks complained that they would be hurt by the Treasury’s plan.

Investors pulled $5.2 billion from the funds on Sept. 19, compared with $133.3 billion in the previous two days combined, according to data compiled by Money Fund Report, a newsletter based in Westborough, Massachusetts. The exodus began after the $60 billion Reserve Primary Fund became the first money fund in 14 years to fail to cash out investors in full because of losses on Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. debt.

The Treasury, seeking to prevent a broader run, announced Sept. 19 that it will reimburse investors for losses for a year. Officials scaled back the plan yesterday, saying it will only cover investments in money-market funds at the end of that day, meaning future deposits will not be insured. The change came after banks warned they would lose depositors.

Ugh–this does not inspire confidence either–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Are the Financial Authorities Thinking Things Through (I)

This morning the Wall Street Journal reports the SEC said shortly after midnight Monday that it would change the rules to curb short selling that it had issued just three days before. The SEC’s latest change of direction on short selling caught some market participants off guard and prompted criticism that the agency has miscalculated the impact of its rulemaking. The SEC, in a release issued at 12:26 a.m. EST Monday, reversed a position it had taken Friday when it said that market makers couldn’t short financial stocks after Friday. The new rules as of Monday: Those engaged in actual market making and hedging activity, including in derivative contracts, could continue to short.

This does not inspire confidence–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

The Formal Letter of Deposition of Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh

From here:

The Episcopal Church
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

September 22, 2008

Robert W. Duncan
125 N. Linden Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Dear Bob,

I wanted to write you personally to inform you that following the House of Bishop’s decision to consent to your deposition, of which you are already aware, I have signed the Sentence of Deposition, a copy of which is enclosed.

I think the press statement following the vote accurately sets forth the prayerful and thoughtful atmosphere of the discussions.

Please know that I urged the bishops gathered to hold you in prayer, and to do what they can to maintain a pastoral relationship with you. I pray that you may know the peace of Jesus Christ, and I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

The Latest from Intrade on the 2008 race for President

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

China paper urges new currency order after "financial tsunami"

Threatened by a “financial tsunami,” the world must consider building a financial order no longer dependent on the United States, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Wednesday.

The commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily said the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEH.P: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) “may augur an even larger impending global ‘financial tsunami’.”

The People’s Daily is the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, and the overseas edition is a smaller circulation offshoot of the main paper.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Economy, Globalization

The Independent: The methane time bomb

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources

ENS: Jefferts Schori removes Pittsburgh bishop from office

“In their deliberations at the special session last week, the House of Bishops was clear that this action is based on Robert Duncan’s actions and statements to facilitate the departure of congregations out of the Episcopal Church,” Robertson told ENS. “This was not based on Robert Duncan’s theological position.” Duncan has taken a conservative stance on such issues as church attitudes toward homosexuality.

The Title IV Review Committee had certified in December that Duncan had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church under the terms of Canon IV.9.1 “by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church.”

The Presiding Bishop moved to inhibit Duncan (restrict his episcopal acts) during the time between the certification and the time she brought the matter to a meeting of the house. However, the House’s three senior bishops could not agree unanimously with Jefferts Schori’s request. The canon on abandonment does not call for a formal trial, as do the disciplinary canons.

John H. Lewis, Duncan’s attorney, said in a September 18 statement that was posted on the diocese’s website September 22, that Duncan “was denied his fundamental right — the right to a church trial ”¦ because the Presiding Bishop believes that his ‘deposition’ will assist her in her desire to seize the property of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Polity & Canons