Daily Archives: October 16, 2008
The American housing market, where the global economic crisis began, is far from hitting bottom.
Home prices across much of the country are likely to fall through late 2009, economists say, and in some markets the trend could last even longer depending on the severity of the anticipated recession.
In hard-hit areas like California, Florida and Arizona, the grim calculus is the same: More and more homes are going up for sale, but fewer and fewer people are willing or able to buy them.
Adding to the worries nationwide are rising unemployment, falling wages and escalating mortgage rates ”” all of which will reduce the already diminished pool of would-be buyers.
People who have lost a significant amount of weight and keep it off for years are constantly vigilant about what they consume, rarely overeat for emotional reasons and do about an hour a day of exercise, a new study shows.
“They are doing the behaviors that we know work, and they are doing them every day. They don’t give up,” says Suzanne Phelan, assistant professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. She presented her findings here at the recent meeting of the Obesity Society, an organization of weight-loss researchers and professionals.
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and a group of 11 conservative breakaway congregations wrangled yesterday over ownership of the historic Falls Church, a 276-year-old congregation that until two years ago was one of the crown jewels of the denomination.
During the trial at the Fairfax County Courthouse, witnesses said the Northern Virginia church near the intersection of Lee Highway and Leesburg Pike has been overseen by its own trustees since 1746, when John Trammell, a local landowner, deeded 2 acres to build a church.
A group of Colonists, including George Washington’s father, had been meeting since about 1732 at the spot that today has several brick buildings – one dating from 1769 – and a historic graveyard.
At this synod on the Bible, however, one of the “fraternal delegates,” meaning a representative of another Christian confession, has more star power than most Catholic prelates in the hall: Anglican Bishop N.T. “Tom” Wright, the bishop of Durham in England, and one of the world’s best-known New Testament scholars.
In a room full of people who devour Biblical commentaries the way others churn through spy novels, heads turn when Wright walks in the room.
Though a committed member of the Church of England, Wright belongs to that wing of the Anglican Communion that stresses the grand tradition of Christian orthodoxy shared with Rome. He’s known for respectful, but firm, clashes with liberal Biblical scholars such as Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan on matters such as the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.
Especially among English-speaking bishops and experts at the synod, Wright has been one fraternal delegate who needs no introduction. Several bishops who know Wright only by name have asked to have him pointed out, or to be introduced to him, because of their esteem for his work. In some cases, bishops have said that meeting Wright has been a highlight of the synod.
In response to a suit initiated by others, we are asking the courts to rule that we were within our rights to insist that the clergy at the parishes involved have indeed abandoned their ministry in our Canadian church. We contend they said so in a letter to the bishop last May as they handed in their licences from him and purported to join another church, based in Argentina.
Obama’s ability to keep his cool under fire ”“ and not attack back ”“ “should certainly have an initial positive for Obama,” says Ben Voth, a forensics expert at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The question is whether any lingering doubts would creep in later.”
Mr. Voth also says McCain’s “base of supporters were probably satisfied that he did venture into the aggressive waters they wanted him to.”
McCain’s biggest problems are that there are fewer than three weeks until Election Day, and the nation is in a financial crisis. A bad economy is poison to the party that controls the White House, and McCain came right out of the starting gate Wednesday night aiming to show sympathy with the people ”“ and promising action.
“Americans are hurting right now, and they’re angry,” he said, calling his fellow citizens “innocent victims of greed and excess on Wall Street as well as Washington, D.C.”
Requests by Muslims to pray at work have led to clashes with employers who say they cannot accommodate the strictly scheduled prayers.
The conflicts raise questions about religious rights on the job. Muslims say they are being discriminated against and are taking their complaints to the courts and the federal government. Employers say the time out for prayer can burden other workers and disrupt operations.
Disputes boiled over at two JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in September during the holy month of Ramadan.
Last week I came across a battered copy of a little book that was used in almost every primary school between 1933 and the late-1960s….Those of us who daily sang those hymns and prayed those prayers were shaped by their attitudes and values. They reflected what we might call the Protestant affirmation of ordinary life. All occupations are vocations under God and the purpose and satisfaction of work is not to heap up material possessions for ourselves, but to contribute towards the common good.
The present crisis in financial markets suggests that this has not been the orientation of some, if not all of us, in more recent years. Not just bankers. We have all helped ourselves to the fruits of their activities and shut our eyes to the risks. Some of the politicians who now decry the money-men are the same politicians that previously lauded their boldness and creativity. Some of the clergy who denounce them were quite happy to accept the better stipends they made possible. If we are to learn from our mistakes we need to turn from moralising to morality.
Despite the turbulence and the risks, it’s hard to see any alternative system with the same capacity as capitalism to lift the world’s poor out of poverty – which is surely what any social ethic demands. However, this crisis has revealed that we have all become less motivated by that concern for common good commended in that book of Prayers and Hymns.
Canadians shunned the polls during their general election with the lowest voter turnout on record, even as a global financial crisis threatened to plunge the nation’s economy into recession.
Some 59.1 percent of eligible Canadian voters went to the polls Tuesday, breaking the previous record low turnout of just under 61 percent in 2004, according to preliminary results from Elections Canada released on Wednesday.
“There was either general apathy toward the candidates or a degree of voter fatigue as this was the third Canadian election since 2004,” said Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
Hyperactive, overbearing and unpredictable. Such was the damning verdict many European neighbors had unofficially rendered about President Nicolas Sarkozy as France took over the presidency of the European Union in July.
But three months later, the very characteristics that made British and German officials cringe have proved effective, even essential, in forging a swift European response to two major crises: the Georgia-Russia war and the ongoing global financial turmoil.
As one grudgingly admiring German diplomat put it, speaking anonymously because of the delicacy of the subject, “In a time of crisis, hyperactive becomes energetic, overbearing becomes dogged, and unpredictable becomes pragmatic.”
Sarkozy, Europe’s longtime enfant terrible, is on a roll – even if partly by accident.
So much to hear. So little time. You can spend your entire life devouring music, both new and old, and barely scratch the surface of all there is to discover. NPR reviewer and author Tom Moon is trying to make it a little easier for music fans with his new book: 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List. After four years or exhaustive research, Tom put together an impressive tome ”” nearly 900 pages of artists, LPs and songs, as well as a detailed explanation of how each of them wound up on the list.
Since the 1980s, Americans have consumed more than they produced””and they have made up the difference by borrowing.
Two decades of easy money and innovative financial products meant that virtually anyone could borrow any amount of money for any purpose. If we wanted a bigger house, a better TV or a faster car, and we didn’t actually have the money to pay for it, no problem. We put it on a credit card, took out a massive mortgage and financed our fantasies. As the fantasies grew, so did household debt, from $680 billion in 1974 to $14 trillion today. The total has doubled in just the past seven years. The average household owns 13 credit cards, and 40 percent of them carry a balance, up from 6 percent in 1970.
But the average American’s behavior was virtue itself compared with the government’s. Every city, every county and every state has wanted to preserve its many and proliferating operations and yet not raise taxes. How to square this circle? By borrowing, using ever more elaborate financial instruments. Revenue bonds were backed up by the prospect of future income from taxes or lotteries. “A growing trend is to securitize future federal funding for highways, housing and other items,” says Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute. The effect on the projects, he points out, is to make them more expensive, since they incur interest payments. Because they “insulate the taxpayer from the cost”””all that needs to be paid now is the interest””they also tend to produce cost overruns.
Local pols aren’t the only problem. Under Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve obstinately refused to inflict any pain.
U.S. Catholic voters are split on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage between those who attend church at least twice a month and those who attend church less often, according to a survey released Tuesday (Oct. 14) by the Knights of Columbus.
The survey found that both Catholics (73 percent) and non-Catholics (71 percent) agreed that America needs a “moral makeover.” Non-practicing Catholics — defined as those who attend church less than twice a month — were more likely to support abortion rights and same-sex marriage than the American population at large.
“Catholics should not be viewed as undifferentiated,” said Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus. He said labeling Catholics as a monolithic voting block ignores the disparity between practicing Catholics, who lean more conservative, and non-practicing Catholics, who tend to be more liberal.
Consumer spending was softer in nearly all Districts. Retail sales were reported to have weakened or declined in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City; Dallas and San Francisco cited weak or sluggish sales; and Boston and New York indicated that sales were mixed and moderately below plan sales, respectively. Several Districts noted a reduction in discretionary spending by consumers and lower sales on big-ticket items. Several also reported increased activity at discount stores as consumers became more price conscious and shifted purchases toward less-expensive brands. Retailers cited these recent sales trends and concerns about credit availability as reasons for a weaker economic outlook, including a slow holiday season. Most Districts reporting on light vehicle sales saw declines, with several Districts pointing to reduced credit availability as a limiting factor for automobile sales.