Daily Archives: November 14, 2008

Is The Economy Heading Into A Deflationary Spiral?

One year ago, economists were worried about inflation. Now, they are worried about deflation ”” prices for everything from corn to soybeans to gold are falling. While it might seem like lower prices could be a good thing, unchecked deflation can bring economic activity to a standstill. Economists say the risks of deflation should not be ignored.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Bishop Bennison: ”˜A Monstrous Sin,’ But ”˜Charges Are Not True’

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., Bishop of Pennsylvania, has expressed remorse for the emotional trauma inflicted on a teenage girl who was sexually abused by his brother at a California parish where Bishop Bennison served as the rector in the 1970s. But he maintains the charges against him “are not fair and are not true.”

A nine-member church court ruled unanimously in October that Bishop Bennison should be deposed from ministry in The Episcopal Church for failure to report his brother and to protect the girl.

“This was a terrible, monstrous sin,” Bishop Bennison told The Living Church. “I have always expressed remorse for my direct responsibility in this tragedy, especially hiring my brother as the youth director, inadequately supervising him and not thoroughly investigating the situation when it was first brought to my attention in 1976.”

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

Fort Worth on verge of secession

Delegates to the Diocese of Fort Worth’s annual synod will decide this Saturday whether to quit the Episcopal Church, a move which would make it the fourth American diocese to secede and affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The stronghold of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the Episcopal Church, Fort Worth has long been at odds with the Episcopal Church over innovations of doctrine and discipline championed by its liberal hierarchy. One of only three dioceses that did not ordain or license women clergy, Fort Worth now remains alone within the American church in rejecting women’s orders, after Quincy quit this past week and San Joaquin left in 2007.

Fort Worth bishop the Rt Rev Jack L Iker said he was “confident” the second reading of the secession bill would pass this week’s synod on Nov 15. The “only question is by how much” he told ReligiousIntelligence.com.

Read it all.

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

The Golden Years, Tarnished

Since the stock market began to fall, friends have been coming to Barbara Goldsmith to talk about their depression, loss of appetite, insomnia and cravings for hot fudge sundaes.

“People are grieving,” said Ms. Goldsmith, a semiretired psychotherapist who counsels fellow residents of the Gleneagles Country Club, a gated community here. “There was a death. Their money died.”

In communities like Gleneagles and in the homes of retirees across the country, these are days of fear and uncertainty. In theory, retired people are not supposed to invest much in the stock market; in reality, many millions of them do. With the economy in free fall and stocks down about 40 percent this year, legions of middle- and upper-middle-class people are suddenly worried about having enough to carry them through.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Daniel Schorr: Age Of American Consumerism May Be Over

Early prospects for a revival of consumer spending do not look encouraging. The Pew Research Center reports a sharp increase in the number of people planning to rein in their spending. And more people say Americans should learn to live with less.

It is hard to overestimate the impact of the decline in consumer spending, which has represented 70 percent of America’s gross domestic product. Undoubtedly, there will be a recovery. But America may no longer be the wonder of the world as the greatest shop-until-you-drop nation.

Read or listen to it all.

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

Church Times: ”˜Swinging’ drunken cleric is prohibited for 12 years

THE Revd Teresa Davies, a former Team Vicar in the Daventry Team Min­istry, in the diocese of Peter­borough, was this week prohibited from ordained ministry for 12 years by a tribunal under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

The tribunal upheld complaints that Mrs Davies and her husband had an open sexual relationship, and that she had taken services while under the influence of alcohol. Mrs Davies was found to have acted in a manner unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in holy orders.

The tribunal, which met in September in London, heard that Mrs Davies had told clergy colleagues at a Christmas lunch in December 2006 that she and her husband Mick took holidays in an area in the south of France noted for the casual exchange of sexual partners.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Glenn McConnell: Systemic fix needed for S.C. budget woes

Gov. Mark Sanford and I agree that the current problems that our state faces are severe. We also agree that the problems are preventable in the future if we take action now. The states are different than the federal government in dealing with downturns in the economy since they cannot print extra money and most cannot run deficits. Where we disagree is how to accomplish what needs to be done. The governor and some in the House want to impose statutory limitations on spending the money that comes in. I, and others in the Senate, want to impose spending limitations in our state constitution. This is not just a stylistic difference. I believe that it is the difference between success and failure.

The problem that we face is that in good times as much money is spent as comes in. State programs are started and expanded, growing the size and appetite of government. Then, when an inevitable downturn in the economy comes, those programs have to be cut in size. It becomes a perpetual rollercoaster of spending and cutting. It is also an approach that cannot be solved by vetoes. What we need is a systemic fix of the budgeting process.

This is but one illustration of the state government struggles nationwide–read it all.

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

Angrier response to Prop. 8 steps up

In the week since, California has seen an outpouring of demonstrations ranging from quiet vigils to noisy street protests against Proposition 8, including rallies outside churches and the Mormon temple in Westwood as well as boycotts of some businesses that contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Many of those activities have been organized not by political professionals and established leaders in the gay community, but by young activists working independently on Facebook and MySpace.

The grass-roots activism is a tribute to political organizing in the digital age, in which it is possible to mobilize thousands of people with a few clicks of a mouse. It has generated national attention — and set up a series of Saturday demonstrations that organizers hope will attract tens of thousands of people to city halls throughout California.

But the demonstrations also have raised questions about whether the in-your-face approach will alienate voters, who may be asked one day to approve gay marriage. Twice in the last eight years, voters have rejected it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality

A USA Today Editorial: Little-noticed tax change hands billions more to banks

Treasury Notice 2008-83 went virtually unnoticed as the government rushed to cope with the emerging financial crisis in September. And that seems to have been the point. With no public discussion, the Treasury Department gave banks a huge chunk of money ”” as much as $140 billion, by one estimate ”” by changing a tax law that had been in place, and the subject of relentless lobbying, for 22 years.

Even by today’s deficit-be-damned standards, that’s a lot of your money. It’s the size of the economic stimulus plan President Bush proposed last winter. It would repair and modernize all of America’s bridges. And it’s on top of the $700 billion financial rescue plan approved by Congress.

Tax regulations are hideously complicated, but the gist of Notice 2008-83 is that it lets healthy banks buy weak ones and take big write-offs for the weak banks’ losses. At least three banks have already taken advantage of the change. So taxpayers are funding their growth, and unlike other aspects of the bailout, they will get no return.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

S.C. Roman Catholic Priest urges penance for Obama voters over abortion

A priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Greenville has told parishioners that those who voted for Barack Obama placed themselves under divine judgment because of his stance on abortion and should not receive Holy Communion until they’ve done penance.

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman told The Greenville News on Wednesday that church teaching doesn’t allow him to refuse Holy Communion to anyone based on political choices, but that he’ll continue to deliver the church’s strong teaching on the “intrinsic and grave evil of abortion” as a hidden form of murder.

Both Democratic president-elect Obama and Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, support legal abortions. Obama has called it a “divisive issue” with a “moral dimension,” and has pledged to make women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a “priority” as president. He opposes a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

U.S. cities seek federal help to ease economic crisis

Three major American cities buffeted by the global financial crisis are requesting at least $50 billion in federal funds to help pay for infrastructure improvements, pensions and short-term borrowing.

Philadelphia, Phoenix and Atlanta are asking U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to release funds from the $700 billion financial bailout authorized by Congress last month.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will hand-deliver the request to Paulson on Friday, spokesman Luke Butler said. Five or six other cities, including Chicago, may also sign on, Butler added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

U.S. religious groups want Obama to ban torture

A coalition of more than 200 religious groups urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to sign an order, once he takes office, banning torture by any federal government entity.

“This is an opportunity where one official could … with one stroke of a pen, really change history here,” said Linda Gustitus, president of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

The group, which has been pressing the issue since 2006, also wants the U.S. Congress to establish a special committee to investigate the use of what the Bush administration has called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on terrorism suspects detained after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

A School Chief Takes On Tenure, Stirring a Fight

Michelle Rhee, the hard-charging chancellor of the Washington public schools, thinks teacher tenure may be great for adults, those who go into teaching to get summer vacations and great health insurance, for instance. But it hurts children, she says, by making incompetent instructors harder to fire.

So Ms. Rhee has proposed spectacular raises of as much as $40,000, financed by private foundations, for teachers willing to give up tenure.

Policy makers and educators nationwide are watching to see what happens to Ms. Rhee’s bold proposal. The 4,000-member Washington Teachers’ Union has divided over whether to embrace it, with many union members calling tenure a crucial protection against arbitrary firing.

“If Michelle Rhee were to get what she is demanding,” said Allan R. Odden, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies teacher compensation, “it would raise eyebrows everywhere, because that would be a gargantuan change.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Taking Care of Military Dogs

Lovely stuff-watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces

God, humbug: Humanist holiday ads say just be good

Ads proclaiming, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December, sponsored by The American Humanist Association.

In lifting lyrics from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the Washington-based group is wading into what has become a perennial debate over commercialism, religion in the public square and the meaning of Christmas.

“We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you,” Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group, said Tuesday. “Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism