Daily Archives: November 12, 2008

A NY Times Editorial: A Case of Religious Discrimination

Displays of the Ten Commandments have long been a lightning rod in constitutional law, and so they are again today. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a challenge to a city’s decision to allow the Ten Commandments to be placed in a public park, while refusing to allow a different religion’s display. The court should rule that that city’s decision violates the First Amendment prohibition on the establishment of religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

DHL has almost all its workers in one Ohio town

I didn’t realize that–watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Did you Know?

From here:

….the new “Hope for Homeowners” program launched at the beginning of October was expected to help hundreds of thousands of households refinance their loans. But fewer than 100 borrowers ”“ in the entire nation ”“ applied for help from the program all last month.

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

An ENS Article on the Upcoming Primates Meeting in 2009

The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East will host the primates and moderators of the Anglican Communion for a February 1-5, 2009 meeting in Alexandria, Egypt.

In light of these dates and at the request of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council’s January meeting is being rescheduled one day earlier and will now begin on the morning of January 29 and end on January 31.

While an agenda for the Primates Meeting is still in its early stages, topics expected to be addressed include the proposed Anglican covenant, the Windsor Process, and international concerns, especially relating to the Millennium Development Goals. The meeting is expected to be preceded by a pilgrimage, the details of which have yet to be finalized.

Alexandria, known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean, is the second largest city in Egypt and the country’s main seaport. The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, under the leadership of President Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, includes four dioceses throughout Jerusalem, Iran, Egypt, Cyprus and the Gulf.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Primates, Egypt, Middle East

Notable and Quotable (I)

A federal task force that spent nearly a year wrestling with ways to assist people delayed for hours aboard planes parked on tarmacs has finalized its recommendations ”” none of which requires airlines and airports to do anything… Among the problems: The task force was unable to agree on whether “lengthy” is one hour, two hours or 10 hours

From WJZ in Baltimore

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Travel

The Hamilton Spectator: Anglicans plan new church body

Dissident Anglican churches are hammering out the details of a plan to create a North American church body that would be recognized by the global Anglican community and operate with authority parallel to the national Anglican churches in Canada and the United States.

If they’re successful, it could be in place in less than a year.

“There are committees working strenuously at the present time trying to bring this about as soon as possible,” said Bishop Donald Harvey, who oversees the Anglican Network in Canada.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Common Cause Partnership

Michael Lewis: The end of Wall Street's Boom

The funny thing, looking back on it, is how long it took for even someone who predicted the disaster to grasp its root causes. They were learning about this on the fly, shorting the bonds and then trying to figure out what they had done. [Steve] Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism. For instance, he knew that the big Wall Street investment banks took huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, threw them into a trust, carved the trust into tranches, and wound up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA.

But he couldn’t figure out exactly how the rating agencies justified turning BBB loans into AAA-rated bonds. “I didn’t understand how they were turning all this garbage into gold,” he says. He brought some of the bond people from Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and UBS over for a visit. “We always asked the same question,” says Eisman. “Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.” He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S&P couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. “They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,” Eisman says….

There was only one thing that bothered Eisman, and it continued to trouble him as late as May 2007. “The thing we couldn’t figure out is: It’s so obvious. Why hasn’t everyone else figured out that the machine is done?” Eisman had long subscribed to Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, a newsletter famous in Wall Street circles and obscure outside them. Jim Grant, its editor, had been prophesying doom ever since the great debt cycle began, in the mid-1980s. In late 2006, he decided to investigate these things called C.D.O.’s. Or rather, he had asked his young assistant, Dan Gertner, a chemical engineer with an M.B.A., to see if he could understand them. Gertner went off with the documents that purported to explain C.D.O.’s to potential investors and for several days sweated and groaned and heaved and suffered. “Then he came back,” says Grant, “and said, ”˜I can’t figure this thing out.’ And I said, ”˜I think we have our story.’”‰”

Eisman read Grant’s piece as independent confirmation of what he knew in his bones about the C.D.O.’s he had shorted. “When I read it, I thought, Oh my God. This is like owning a gold mine….

Quite a piece from the author of Liar’s Poker. Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Time Incorporated asks for Volunteers to Step up and Have Their Jobs Cut

With a handful of higher-ups already out the door, Time Inc. is moving to the rank-and-file as it, like other publishers, seeks to reduce its workforce in the face of dropping ad revenue.

Some of Time Inc.’s biggest magazines have put out the call for at least 83 volunteers to take buyouts, according to memos and staffers at the company. The news comes as part of the company’s previously announced restructuring and plan to cut its headcount by about 600, or roughly 6 percent of the Time Inc.’s worldwide workforce of 10,200.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Media

Glen Lavy on California and proposition 8: Don't tinker with matrimony

The truth is that domestic partnerships are a Trojan horse used to obtain same-sex “marriage.” When first conceived, domestic partnerships were meant to be an imitation of marriage and were specifically designed with same-sex couples in mind. The message they sent to society was this: The relationships are of equal value; we just call them by different names.

But as the states of California, Florida and Arizona demonstrated again, people do not view same-sex relationships the same as opposite-sex relationships. Marriage has long been viewed as the best context for dealing with procreation. Altering this fundamental relationship raises many questions for society. For example, who is not needed in raising a child: the father or the mother?

That’s the type of question in need of an answer, not questions about non-issues such as benefits. Voters are not convinced that we should tinker with the basic unit of society. And political special interests certainly should not trump what is clearly in the best interests of families and children.

Read it all as well as a USA Today editorial which has a different view.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Sexuality

A Nice Portrait of the Role of Military Chaplains

Watch it all. I especially was interested to learn the story of the featured chaplain in terms of his own combat experience.

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

Archbishop Rowan Williams to visit Birmingham Diocese

On Saturday 15th November Dr Williams will officially open The Springfield Centre at St Christopher’s Church, Springfield, and meet with parents, children, staff and volunteers from the Centre.

The Archbishop said: “The Springfield Centre is a further example of the Church of England’s Presence & Engagement programme, which emphasises the positive contribution of parish churches in multi religious neighbourhoods.”

The Springfield Centre has grown out of the work of The Springfield Project, a community project established in 2000 by St Christopher’s Church, a local parish church in a multi cultural neighbourhood. The new £2m Centre was primarily financed and built by Birmingham City Council as the home of the Springfield Children’s Centre, a ‘one stop shop’ provision for families with children under the age of 5.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)

Tax Policy during the Great Depression

An interesting graph.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General

A California town drowns as home values sink

“We make decent money, but it takes a tremendous amount to pay the mortgage,” [Jerry] Martinez, 33, said.

First American CoreLogic, a real estate data company, has calculated that 7.6 million properties in the country were underwater as of Sept. 30, while another 2.1 million were in striking distance. That is nearly a quarter of all homes with mortgages. The 20 hardest-hit ZIP codes are all in four states: California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona.

“Most people pay very little attention to what their equity stake is if they can make the mortgage,” said First American’s chief economist, Mark Fleming. “They think it’s a bummer if the value has gone down, but they are rooted in their house.”

And yet the magnitude of the current declines has little precedent. “When my house is valued at 50 percent less than it was, does this begin to challenge the way I’m going to behave?” he said.

Read it all.

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

Michael Binyon: A spiritual recession is more worrying that a material one

Is God indeed our shelter in the stormy blast? The churches on Wall Street are full. More and more young people are putting themselves forward for ordination to the Church of England. Politicians are calling for a return to spiritual values and bankers are demonised for their pursuit of Mammon. Has the economic downturn driven the West back to religion? Or are we merely seeing a plaintive echo of Matthew Arnold’s “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar”?

Counting the numbers who go to church is a poor measure of faith: in Britain, at least, religion has become a contentious political issue, with argument raging more on television, in the press and on the internet than from the country pulpits of the Church of England.

And it is from the internet that a striking statistic has just emerged: some 71 per cent of those surveyed by Faithbook, a new multifaith page on Facebook, believe that a spiritual recession is more worrying than a material recession. And 80 per cent do not see the financial situation as a crisis but an economic watershed with moral and social opportunities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Economy, England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Archbishop of Canterbury's speech at Lord Mayor's Banquet

A few years ago, my Late Lord Mayor, I ventured to refer at this dinner to the legendary Texan tourist who, faced with a medical crisis and the cry for artificial respiration, generously said that there was no need to bother about artificial respiration as he could afford the real thing. I suppose that this is in fact the underlying issue we currently face: how can we afford the real thing? the real thing that is actual sustainable prosperity for a whole population ”“ a flourishing ‘real economy’; the real thing that is security for actual people in the most vulnerable situations. And we have been reminded that the relation between these things and the intellectually exhilarating, rapidly-moving, self-multiplying world of financial adventure is by no means as simple ”“ or as benign ”“ as we’d like to think. Just to talk about greed is simplistic: it’s more that we are looking at a large-scale system, sophisticated and normally successful, that can persuade us to imagine that it is more unquestionably solid and dependable than it in fact is. And when some of the salve wears off, we’re bound to ask how best we reconnect with what we’ve lost.

The City has worked hard over the years ”“ and you, my Late Lord Mayor, have been a notable example in this ”“ to connect with the struggles and needs of the urban life that exists around you and the needs of the wider world. In another part of London, I was struck, on a recent visit to Canary Wharf, by the willingness of so many to put premises, skills and resources at the service of a much challenged neighbourhood: one of the first people I met there was the head teacher of a local school with whom the firm I was visiting had developed a very creative partnership. There are countless people – very many, I know, in this company tonight – who have shown how to connect, how to think about affording the real thing. And it is this which gives me and others some confidence in these uncertain days: there is still in our institutions a will not only to make money but to create employment, security and a just sharing of goods.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury