Daily Archives: January 2, 2009

A Focus on Violence by Returning G.I.’s

For the past several years, as this Army installation in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains became a busy way station for soldiers cycling in and out of Iraq, the number of servicemen implicated in violent crimes has raised alarm.

Nine current or former members of Fort Carson’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team have killed someone or were charged with killings in the last three years after returning from Iraq. Five of the slayings took place last year alone. In addition, charges of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault have risen sharply.

Prodded by Senator Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, the base commander began an investigation of the soldiers accused of homicide. An Army task force is reviewing their recruitment, medical and service records, as well as their personal histories, to determine if the military could have done something to prevent the violence. The inquiry was recently expanded to include other serious violent crimes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Violence, War in Afghanistan

Colleges Profit as Banks Market Credit Cards to Students

When Ryan T. Muneio was tailgating with his parents at a Michigan State football game this fall, he noticed a big tent emblazoned with a Bank of America logo. Inside, bank representatives were offering free T-shirts and other merchandise to those who applied for credit cards and other banking products.

“They did a good job,” Mr. Muneio, 21 and a junior at Michigan State, said of the tactic. “It was good advertising.”

Bank of America’s relationship with the university extends well beyond marketing at sports events. The bank has an $8.4 million, seven-year contract with Michigan State giving it access to students’ names and addresses and use of the university’s logo. The more students who take the banks’ credit cards, the more money the university gets. Under certain circumstances, Michigan State even stands to receive more money if students carry a balance on these cards.

Hundreds of colleges have contracts with lenders. But at a time of rising concern about student debt ”” and overall consumer debt ”” the arrangements have sounded alarm bells, and some student groups are starting to push back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, Young Adults

Rabbi Marc Gellman's Open Letter to Bernie Madoff

I am not going to spoil it by quoting it, but you need to read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Bernard Madoff Scandal, Economy, Judaism, Other Faiths, Stock Market

NY Times on Watch Night: A Proud and Joyous Night for a Tradition Born in Hope

Members of many black churches in New York and around the country concluded services at the stroke of midnight Wednesday with the same simple act that has signaled the arrival of the new year in their tradition for almost 150 years.

They got up off their knees.

It is the concluding ritual moment of Watch Night, a midnight prayer service first adopted in 1862, on the eve of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This time around, with the first black president-elect poised for inauguration, it was a moment layered with profound meaning.

Black churches in the cities and suburbs of New York, Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles were filled to capacity on Wednesday for Watch Night, also known as Freedom’s Eve. The Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton of Riverside Church in Manhattan described the passing year as one in which, for many black Americans, “the rhetoric of freedom in America came to be an actuality.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

NY Daily News: Bethlehem Episcopal Bishop seeks probe of hard-partying priest Gregory Malia

The Jaguar-driving priest has denied doing anything improper and predicted the church committee will clear him and let him return as vicar of a small summer parish.

He insists wild spending on visits to clubs like Pink Elephant were connected to fund-raising efforts and his for-profit company – a pharmacy for hemophiliacs.

“I’m sure it’ll be okay,” [Gregory] Malia told the Daily News after an article about his extravagant jaunts led his shocked church bosses to take action.

I notice there is no mention of the fact that the bishop was not contacted before the first article by the Daily News was published. Hmmm. Anyway, read it all..

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

Skateboarding bulldogs cruise into 2009

What a lot of fun this is from yesterday’s tournament of roses parade–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest

Statements from around the Anglican Communion on the Situation in Gaza

Read it all and make sure to follow the three linked statements beneath the first one.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Israel, Middle East, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

(London) Times: Gaza rockets put Israel’s nuclear plant in battle zone

There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona.

Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers and military chiefs have been shaken by the size and sophistication of the militant group’s arsenal.

In Beersheba, until a few days ago a sleepy desert town in southern Israel, there is little sign of the 186,000 inhabitants. Schools are closed and the streets of shuttered shops echo with the howl of sirens warning of incoming rockets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Violence

A USA Today Editorial: 2009 New Year's resolutions We Would like to See

Here are two:

”¢ ”¦ live within my means, wean myself off credit, and read the fine print of my mortgage papers.

”” The American consumer (and his government)….

”¢ ”¦ let college football teams decide the national championship on the playing field.

”” Administrators of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS)

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

Church Times: Church of England Bishops address nation that has spent beyond its means

In a New Year message, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, said that his hope for the nation was “that we will find ways of supporting those most affected by the recession” and “learn the lessons that will create a society less obsessed with material wealth”.

The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, said that the economic crisis could be “as significant as the fall of the Berlin Wall in changing the world”.

Dr Williams, interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said that the credit crunch was a “reality check”. Sooner or later, people had “to ask what are we assembling or accumulating wealth for”.

Acknowledging that it was “suicid­ally silly” for him to com­ment on the economy, because he was “not an economist by any stretch of the imagination”, the Arch­bishop said that he wanted to ask where the “moral questions are in the economic discourse”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

USA Today–the 2008 Year in religion: Political plays, papal visit and battle over gays

Religion was inescapable in the news of 2008. Headlines featured pastors embroiled in politics, confrontations over same-sex marriage, deadly sectarian conflicts, in-fighting among Anglicans and a joyful visit to the USA by Pope Benedict XVI.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable

The subprime mortgage market is “little more than an asterisk in the overall U.S. credit economy,” said Roth Capital Partners economist Donald Straszheim.

The concern that rising defaults among subprime borrowers would spill over to lower consumer spending in the broader economy is unwarranted, said Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

“It’s the latest episode of housing hysteria,” Snaith said. “It’s a small segment of the overall mortgage market and its problems are not akin to a currency crisis where there is some contagion that just ripples through an economy.”

From a Reuters article on April 11, 2007

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

Nehemia Shtrasler: How they conned us in 2008

3. The fable of the experts: The public is told that they must listen to the experts from the investment houses who know where to invest because they are experienced stock exchange people.

Well, what did IBI CEO Zvi Lubetzky say in April 2008? “There is no bubble in the share market, the bank shares are a fantastic bargain.” And what did Migdal Capital Markets CEO Yaakov Weinstein say in May 2008? “The climax of the crisis is already behind us.” And what did Meitav chairman Zvi Stepak say in January 2008? “The attractiveness of the shares market is increasing.”

Since then, the markets have collapsed and anyone who listened to these experts lost a great deal of money. What is the conclusion?

The conclusion is never trust the experts, as I remember Boston College’s Peter Kreeft saying once in an interview is the one piece of advice he would give to people were he asked, and this goes not only for finances but in all areas of life. Can anyone forget that Ben Bernanke told us relatively early in 2007 that (as one article summarized it) “the subprime mortgage market’s troubles will be contained“? That is a monumental misjudgement worth remembering, and while you do please read the rest of this piece.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Israel, Middle East, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Rising desperation as China's exports drop

At the docks here, the stacks of shipping containers that used to loom above the highway overpass are gone. Logistics managers say they negotiate deeper discounts every week on ships that are leaving half empty.

In nearby Guangdong Province, so many factories are closing without paying employees that some workers are resigning pre-emptively and demanding immediate pay before their employers go bankrupt.

In Sichuan and other interior provinces, municipal officials are desperately searching for ways to provide jobs for millions of out-of-work migrant laborers whose families no longer need them for farming.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Globalization

World bids adieu to a rocky 2008; worries over '09

For many around the world watching the new year arrive, 2008 had not been pretty. Slumping stocks. Disappearing jobs.

“I’m looking forward to 2009,” said Randolph King of England, whose retirement fund was gutted in the global financial crisis. “Because it can’t get much worse.”

After the most volatile financial year in decades, people paused for a deep breath and a sip of … perhaps something cheaper than champagne.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General