Daily Archives: November 26, 2008
Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA) has announced that Michael Howell had been appointed executive director.
The position of executive director is the organizing center for an organization comprised primarily of volunteers. FIFNA is a member of the Common Cause Partnership which recently announced plans to seek admittance as a second North American province of the Anglican Communion.
Here is one:
Re “For Detroit, Chapter 11 Would Be the Final Chapter” (Op-Ed, Nov. 24): Spencer Abraham, like all who have spoken in support of the auto industry, talks as if Chapter 11 would kill the American auto industry. When will he and others present a more realistic scenario?
A Chapter 11 filing may be the middle ground between the government-financed “trust me,” pain-free, business-as-usual path Detroit prefers and its straw man, the draconian forecast of Chapter 7 with its accompanying specter of a near-term liquidation of the entire American auto industry. It may also be the only way the automakers can revise their contracts to shrink their businesses to the existing market.
General Motors, for one, has too many models, too many plants, too many employees and too many dealers to support the 20 percent share it has whittled itself down to over 30 years.
Its leaders must demonstrate a willingness to make what’s good for the United States taxpayer good for G.M.
Pope Benedict XVI may change the sequence of the Catholic Mass, including the sign of peace exchanged between worshippers, in order “to create a more meditative climate” of worship, a senior Vatican official said.
Cardinal Francis Arinze said the pope had asked all bishops for their views on whether the sign of peace, which is currently shared before Communion, should be moved to an earlier point in the Mass.
The pipeline from corporate America to the nation’s charities is starting to dry up, as losses in the stock market mount and the U.S. recession deepens. With many large organizations depending on corporate largesse, their futures are suddenly uncertain.
Billionaires and large banks are pulling back on commitments or scaling back pledges. Some generous givers, such as Bear Stearns Cos., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., have folded or been bought. The pain is spreading to other big institutional donors and trickling down to New York’s famously lavish charity-gala scene, which is suffering lower turnouts and fund-raising hauls.
On Monday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would slow the pace of grants next year — a sign that even the titans of philanthropy are rattled by current economic conditions.
“Two hungry kids, no job, need food,” which is written on a jagged piece of cardboard, moves in and out of sight in shades of green, followed by yellow, then finally, red.
The woman holding the sign shrinks back when asked to tell her name. She doesn’t want people to know how hard a time she is having. She only wants them to know her children are hungry.
For her, Thanksgiving Day is shaping up to be like all the other ones lately ”” not enough food on the table, little hope in the tank.
But fortunately, for Upstate residents like her in need of a Thanksgiving meal, local churches and charities are working to provide it.
In a way, the new province raises some problematic questions for the structure of the church in North America. To truly be a province, the group would need recognition from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
“Those who are gathering next week to essentially declare a new province can only call it a ‘province’ in quotes,” said Rev. Edward Rix, rector at All Saint’s Parish in Wynnewood. “What will be controversial will be how they move forward on such issues that divide them.”
Rev. Rix said there are many examples of overlapping jurisdiction that could provide a precedent, but those instances may be considered different than this one.
“It is the case that dioceses spring up from groups of parishes,” said Rev. Rix.
He said some parishes incorporate as a diocese and than apply for membership as a diocese, essentially the same procedure that is being used for the new province.
Bishop David Moyer, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, knows many of the leaders of the movement. He said their intentions are good, but that their road will be difficult.
“I think these leaders are driven by Gospel imperatives,” said Bishop Moyer.
But he also said he doesn’t really expect Archbishop Williams to recognize the new province.
According to a report commissioned by the Government from the former HBOS chief executive, Sir James Crosby, and published with the pre-Budget report, net new mortgage lending may next year shrink to below zero, a situation quite without precedent even during the last housing market crash of the early 1990s, when the problem was never lack of mortgage finance but rather its cost. Today it is the reverse.
The main reason for this intensification in the mortgage famine is that lenders have approximately Â£160bn of mortgages to refinance next year, yet beyond the Government, no obvious way of doing so. Nobody is prepared to finance or buy mortgage assets right now. The securitisation markets remain closed.
Sir James suggests the Government guarantees Â£100bn of mortgage-backed securities as one way out of this downward spiral of decline. Yet Mr King doesn’t like this solution at all, as subsidisation of mortgage lending may end up only crowding out small business and other forms of lending. As can readily be seen, there is no magic wand that can be waved to get rid of the deleveraging process.
If that headache plaguing you this morning led you first to a Web search and then to the conclusion that you must have a brain tumor, you may instead be suffering from cyberchondria.
On Monday, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study of health-related Web searches on popular search engines as well as a survey of the company’s employees.
The study suggests that self-diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what ails them.
“Vigorous conversation is a good thing,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said, “and not something to be afraid of.” She said disagreement is to be expected. “The body has many parts with different roles. That’s what unity looks like””people working together in spite of their differences to serve the people of the world.
“If everybody’s a little uncomfortable, I think it means we’re doing our job. We have something to learn from people who are most irritated with us.”
A responsibility of all church members, she said, is “getting outside our beautiful buildings” into the community and “speaking the good news” about Jesus who “is friend, prophet, fully human and fully divine, a challenger of the status quo and of being too comfortable, healer, feeder of the hungry and challenger of the demons who say there is no hope.
“We are a pilgrim people,” she continued, “and not allowed to settle down until all people find a home in God. I think that is the kind of people we need to be, to know we have no permanent home except in God.”
President-elect Obama wants America to know he is not just about spending money.
Once the economy starts growing again ”“ his first priority ”“ he will get out the knife and start to cut programs that have “outlived their usefulness.” In short, he wants to also be known as a budget reformer.
In a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Obama characterized trimming federal programs as “not an option; it’s a necessity.” He promised that Peter Orszag, whom he has picked to run the Office of Management and Budget, will go through the $2.9 trillion US budget line by line, page by page, looking for better and less expensive ways to do things.
Over my career, I have seen thousands of consumers that have credit card lines in excess of their annual salaries. Some are sinking under their burden. Some have been fiscally responsible and have minimal amounts outstanding. My 21-year-old daughter, who’s in college, gets pre-approved offers all the time. She has no ability to repay debt, yet the offers flow in just the same. We all know how these lines are accumulated. The banks, in their infinite stupidity, keep upping credit lines because the customer pays the minimum payments on time. My daughter’s credit line started at $1,000 and has been increased over the last two years to $4,400. She has no increased earnings to support this. But the banks do it without asking. And without being asked. The banks reel in the consumer, charge interest rates higher than those charged by the mob, increase lines without the consumer asking and without their consent, and lure them into overextending. And we can count on the banks to act surprised when they aren’t paid back. Shame on them.
As a banker, let me describe what we do wrong when we accept and review an application for a credit card. First, we don’t verify income. The first ”˜C’ of credit: Capacity to repay, is completely ignored by the banks, just as it was in when they approved subprime mortgages. Then we ask for “household income” ”” as if other parties in the household could be held responsible for that debt. They cannot. And since we don’t ask for any proof of income, the customer can throw out any number they think will work for them. Then we ask if they rent or own and how much they pay. If their name is not on the mortgage, they can state zero. If they pay $1,000 in rent, they can say $500. (Years ago we asked for a copy of the lease to verify this number.) And finally, we don’t ask how much of a credit line the consumer is looking for. The banker can’t even put that amount into the system. There isn’t any place on the application for that information. We simply put unverified information into a mindless computer and the computer gets the person’s credit score and grants them the biggest line that score and income (ha!) qualifies for.
The pace at which Americans are getting cancer has started to decline for the first time, marking what could be a long-awaited turning point in the battle against the disease, according to an annual report that tracks progress in the war on cancer.
Cancer deaths have also continued a decline that began in the early 1990s, meaning that for the first time both trend lines are dropping.
“It is a significant milestone,” said Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, which produces the report with the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. “It is a really big deal.”