Daily Archives: December 10, 2008

California running out of money

California lawmakers just got a Henry Paulson-like ultimatum from state officials: If they don’t act, the state could be forced to suspend road, bridge, and other public-works projects as early as next week. Come March, California will be out of cash for even day-to-day operations.

A confluence of the national recession and years of legislative budget games is squeezing the Golden State as never before. Although it’s not the largest budget gap the state has ever faced, this time it will be harder for California to get help from private lenders. Standard & Poor’s now ranks it lower than any other state except Louisiana, which shares the same rating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

ABC News: Sources Say Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is 'Senate Candidate #5'

Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is the anonymous “Senate Candidate #5” whose emissaries Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reportedly claimed offered up to a million dollars to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

My goodness what a mess this Illinois situation is.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

Fannie, Freddie execs ignored warnings about risky loans

But panel members lambasted the executives for taking undue risks to win bigger bonuses and for failing to take responsibility for a housing crisis that has ravaged the economy.

“Their irresponsible decisions are now costing taxpayers billions of dollars,” said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee half of outstanding home loans and became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, both of which have had high rates of defaults. Alt-A, a category between subprime and prime, did not require documentation of income or assets. With the firms facing $12 billion in credit losses this year, the government took over both in September.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley: Trouble for the Dennis Canon?

The facts presented in the Conger affidavit, based upon a personal examination of the original records, are sufficient to raise a classic issue of disputed fact as to whether or not the Canon properly passed both Houses at General Convention 1979.

Therefore, even with my pre-announced bias, I have no difficulty in opining that the motions brought by the plaintiffs (the Diocese and ECUSA) should be denied on that basis. The plaintiffs should be required to present their evidence of passage at a trial, and let the trier of fact decide whether it is good enough in light of all the evidence.

But what about the motion to dismiss, and the cross-motion for summary judgment on all claims brought by the defendant parish? Here I am afraid I must be consistent, and say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If there is a disputed issue of fact sufficient to defeat the motions of the Diocese and of ECUSA, then there is a disputed issue of fact preventing resolution as a matter of law of the cross-motions as well.

Read it all and please follow all the links carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Polity & Canons

The Rev. George Conger's Affidavit regarding his Dennis Canon research

Take the time to go through it all (Hat tip: Stand Firm).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Polity & Canons

Good Shepherd Binghamton Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit by CNY Episcopal Diocese

The Church of the Good Shepherd filed motion papers today seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York against the 100 member parish in Binghamton, New York. The motion to dismiss and for summary judgement by the parish was based on the lack of proper adoption of the Dennis Canon by the Episcopal Church. The Diocese previously served a motion against the parish for summary judgment based largely on the Dennis Canon. Both motions are scheduled for oral argument at 9:30 am Friday, December 12, 2008 at the courthouse in downtown Binghamton. Judge Ferris Lebous could issue an immediate ruling, but a written reserved decision from the judge sometime early next year is also possible.

Syracuse attorney Raymond Dague is defending Good Shepherd. The diocesan motion papers were notable for their great bulk, commented the attorney. “The 9″ tall stack of motion papers they served against the parish was too big for an envelope,” said Dague. “A messenger dropped it off at my office in a box.” Today’s more modest filing by the parish claims that the Dennis Canon was not adopted by the 1979 General Convention, and hence the Diocese has no basis for their lawsuit. “Despite that enormous pile of papers, they just assume that the Dennis Canon is the law of the church, but don’t bother in a single sentence to argue that it was properly adopted,” said Dague. “We are going to call them on that. Since the Dennis Canon is the basis of the lawsuit to take away the church building, the judge will need to address this issue one way or the other.”

Dague’s legal papers claim that the Episcopal Church’s own documents and archives show that the Dennis Canon was not adopted.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Polity & Canons

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: End corporate income tax

Gov. Mark Sanford has proposed eliminating the corporate income tax and would pay for it with tax breaks given to spur certain industries and research.

In addition, Sanford said the state should create an alternate, flat income tax rate ”” 3.65 percent ”” funded by a 30-cent increase in the state’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax. Sanford has also asked for a panel to study the inequities in business property taxes.

The proposals, unveiled in Greer on Tuesday, are part of Sanford’s 2009-2010 budget.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

AIG Faces $10 Billion in Losses on Bad Bets

American International Group Inc. owes Wall Street’s biggest firms about $10 billion for speculative trades that have soured, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring the challenges the insurer faces as it seeks to recover under a U.S. government rescue plan.

The details of the trades go beyond what AIG has explained to investors about the nature of its risk-taking operations, which led to the firm’s near-collapse in September. In the past, AIG has said that its trades involved helping financial institutions and counterparties insure their securities holdings. The speculative trades, engineered by the insurer’s financial-products unit, represent the first sign that AIG may have been gambling with its own capital.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

USA Today: Flirting goes high-tech with racy photos shared on cellphones, Web

Passing a flirtatious note to get someone’s attention is so yesterday. These days, young people use technology instead.

About a third of young adults 20-26 and 20% of teens say they’ve sent or posted naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves, mostly to be “fun or flirtatious,” a survey finds.

A third of teen boys and 40% of young men say they’ve seen nude or semi-nude images sent to someone else; about a quarter of teen girls and young adult women have. And 39% of teens and 59% of those ages 20-26 say they’ve sent suggestive text messages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Sydney Diocese honors J.I. Packer and David Short

Distinguished Anglican theologian JI Packer and the Rev David Short have been appointed honorary clerical canons of Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Both Dr Packer and Mr Short had their licenses removed by the Canadian Anglican leadership when their church. St John’s Shaughnessy in Vancouver, voted to realign with the Province of the Southern Cone.

The congregation made the move because of their local Bishop’s support for same-sex blessings.

In an extraordinary reaction, condemned by leaders across the Anglican world, 82 year old Dr Packer, the author of christian classics such as ”˜Knowing God’ is no longer considered a clergyman by the Canadian Archbishop.

Similar action was taken against Mr Short, the rector of the largest Anglican Church in Canada.

In view of the action, Archbishop Jensen said the move to appoint the pair as honorary clerical canons was a symbolic tribute to their ministry and to the fact that Sydney still recognises their holy orders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Anglican Communion Network Celebrates Successes, Prepares for Hand Over to Province

Delegates to the Anglican Communion Network’s fifth annual council meeting in Overland Park, Kansas, voted today to begin handing over ministries as well as financial and administrative support services to the forming Anglican Church in North America.

Network members spoke of how much the organization has meant to them since its founding in 2004. “This has been my lifeline. Without the Anglican Communion Network and you all, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Episcopal Church Bishop Jim Adams of Western Kansas.

During the approximately six months the hand over is expected to take, the Network office will continue to provide key organizational, administrative and other services for Network members and the Common Cause Partnership as it completes the creation of the Anglican Church in North America.

The hand over will not be complete until the summer of 2009. When it is complete, the Network as it is currently configured will cease operation.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Communion Network, Common Cause Partnership

Chicago Tribune Editorial: 'Get 'em . . . out'

The Tribune’s guiding principles list four roles for the editorial page: to serve as a check on the power of government, to set an agenda for the Chicago region and the nation, to make persuasive arguments for the enactment of that agenda, and to inform and guide its readers so they can make better decisions as citizens.

So we have criticized Blagojevich for his reckless stewardship of state finances, his refusal to work with the legislature, his unabashed trafficking in political favors. We’ve questioned why the governor dragged his feet on signing an ethics bill and why his hand-picked Tollway Authority Board was in such a hurry to approve a vaguely conceived $1.8 billion plan to add high occupancy lanes; Tuesday’s documents hint at some compelling answers. Last year, we started a discussion that led to a failed attempt at adding a recall provision to the state constitution, with Blagojevich as Exhibit A. We stopped short of urging impeachment, aware that a criminal investigation was under way, but the court documents released Tuesday make it clear the governor wanted to short-circuit such a campaign.

Read it all.

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

Patrick Fitzgerald: “The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering”

At a news conference hours later, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the corruption charges against Blagojevich represent “a truly new low” and “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”

“This is a sad day for government,” he said at a news conference with federal prosecutors to discuss the arrest of Blagojevich. “Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low.”

[Patrick] Fitzgerald called Blagojevich’s actions in the last several weeks as “a political corruption crime spree.”

The head of the FBI office in Chicago said if Illinois isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s a strong competitor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

A biblical lesson for today's bankers

In a talk to European bankers last month, the governor of the Bank of Spain cited a Bible story to illustrate how modern economies might ameliorate the tendency for busts to follow booms in the business cycle.

Miguel Fernández Ordóñez spoke of Joseph’s interpretation of a dream by Egypt’s Pharaoh of seven fat and seven lean cows as indicating seven years of “great plenty” followed by seven years of “famine” (Genesis 41). As a result, Joseph was put in charge of the kingdom and set aside a fifth of the harvest in the years of plenty. Thereby, he got Egypt through the following hard times and saved his own family from starvation.

Bringing the biblical idea up to date, Governor Ordóñez suggested financial regulators insist that banks build up their capital at an enhanced rate during prosperous years to put them in better financial shape should a serious slump follow with many boom-time loans turning sour.

Actually, a predecessor of Ordóñez in the 1990s, Governor Luis Angel Roja, did just that. He put into practice a regulatory mechanism termed “dynamic provisioning.” This, notes Ordóñez, has reinforced the present stability of the Spanish banking system “and today commands wide recognition.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Newsweek draws fire for poor Same Sex Marriage Article

(Read the whole Newsweek cover article first here please).

Quoting chapter and verse, [Richard] Land argued that the Bible lays out a very clear prescription for opposite-sex marriage, starting with the passage in Genesis where God pairs Adam and Eve and proceeding through Ephesians, in the New Testament, when the apostle Paul compares the relationship between husband and wife to the relationship between Jesus and the Church.

“How can you address the subject of marriage from a religious perspective and utterly ignore the two foundational texts that deal with marriage: Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5?” Land asked. “If a student turned a paper in to me on a religious argument for or against gay marriage and neglected to reference the two foundational texts, I would give them a pretty poor grade based on that alone.”

In addition to contesting Newsweek’s specific scriptural arguments, some social conservatives took issue with the basic premise of the magazine’s story: that conservative opposition to same-sex marriage is based on specific biblical instructions.

“I see it as an attempt to caricature and reduce to a cartoon the social conservative belief in the efficacy of traditional marriage, and try to reduce it to some formulaic, scriptural literalism,” said Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. “There’s more of a practical, sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution than I think is generally understood by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)