Daily Archives: January 15, 2009

Students Paying More and Getting Less, Study Says

College students are covering more of what it costs to educate them, even as most colleges are spending less on students, according to a new study.

The study, based on data that colleges and universities report to the federal government, also found that the share of higher education budgets that goes to instruction has declined, while the portion spent on administrative costs has increased.

It describes a system that is increasingly stratified: the smallest number of students ”” about 1 million out of a total 18 million students ”” attend the private research universities that spend the most per student. The largest number of students ”” 6 million ”” attend community colleges, which spend the least per student, and have cut spending most sharply as government aid has declined.

“Students are paying more, and a greater share of the costs, but are arguably getting less,” said Jane Wellman, the executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, which drafted the study.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

ENS: The Presiding Bishop Reflects on 2008

(ENS) In the past one and a-half years, members of four dioceses have voted to leave the church over theological differences and loyalists in the dioceses are reorganizing. The presenting issue was the election of a gay bishop, New Hampshire’s Gene Robinson, and more-liberal attitudes toward gay church members. Why has this issue caused the deepest split? “I’m not sure [this issue] has caused the deepest split. Certainly Episcopalians and other members of mainline denominations have left their churches in the past — when [racial] integration began in the churches, when women began to be ordained. Change is difficult for all of us. Even talking about issues of human sexuality has been a challenge in this church,” she said.

“Fifty years ago, we didn’t talk about such things in public. We’ve come a long way, to have largely productive conversations about what it means to be a faithful Christian, however one’s orientation might be. I often say the church’s job is to help people live holy lives … the challenges there are different opinions about what it means to live a holy life as a gay or lesbian Christian … I think we do begin to live out the Gospel in a more creative way,” she said.

Is there hope for reconciliation with disaffected Episcopalians or former Episcopalians? “When we’re clearer about our identity, there is abundant room for reconciliation. The challenging part of the environment is that some have said they can no longer be Episcopalians because the Episcopal Church believes ‘X.’ The Episcopal Church has always had a wide range of belief. The challenge comes when some find that range too wide for their own comfort. There have always been times in the church when some have decided to follow their spiritual journey in another faith community. We are embracing, we are a wide tent. If you are reasonably comfortable with that diversity, you are more then welcome,” she commented.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

Companies find spreading pain preferable to cutting jobs

Giving workers the boot isn’t the only way businesses are trying to reduce costs these days. Broad-based pay cuts, long frowned upon, are being imposed by a growing number of companies big and small.

It is a risky strategy that experts say can sow discord in the workplace. But some employers say they prefer cost-cutting that preserves as many jobs as possible, even if it means more workers will be affected.

Read it all.

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

Hospitals feel ill effects of recession

Hospitals across California and the country are reeling from the effects of the economic downturn and the troubled financial markets.

Patients are putting off medical care because of job losses, job insecurity and high out-of-pocket expenses. As a result, the number of paying patients and profitable elective procedures is down. At the same time, the number of uninsured patients whom hospitals treat is rising.

Like just about everybody else, hospitals are losing money on their investments. To operate, they need to regularly borrow money. Yet now, when they need working capital the most, the credit markets are all but frozen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Pennsylvania Episcopal church holds Goth services

[The Rev. Lou] Divis first learned about Goth services while studying at General Theological Seminary, and further research taught her that such services are not uncommon in England, even at such venerable institutions as Coventry Cathedral and St. Edward King and Martyr, Cambridge.

Divis often drives past a closed car lot in the greater Scranton area. One day she found herself thinking that the church could go out of business as well. Like automobile manufacturers who are struggling to meet consumers’ expectations for more energyefficient vehicles, she thought, “We need to market a ‘product,’ if you will, that meets people where they are today. Maybe Goth services can provide an alternative energy of some sort.”

The church building, built in 1887, itself was an inspiration, said Divis, as she described the dark red stone outside and the dark wooden ceiling inside. She spray painted dollar-store cookie tins black, filling them with sand and candle stubs or incense. She dons a black cassock, as does the acolyte, while the priest who presides over the Eucharist wears a white chasuble and stole. It’s “a dramatic contrast of dark and light, and the overall effect is lovely,” the deacon said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

An Update from the Diocese of Jerusalem on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City

(ACNS) Today (Wednesday 14 January 2009) brought more injured and wounded patients to Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, as each of the last 18 days has. One patient who came to Al Ahli recently was Mohan’nad, a 9 year-old boy whose leg was badly injured when a building near his home was damaged. Thankfully, the doctors and staff at Al Ahli were able to save his leg.

But this day also brought hope and much needed assistance for Al Ahli in the form of several trucks filled with medicines, medical supplies, blankets, and food that arrived in convoys coordinated by UNRWA. The hospital to date has received some limited assistance through various aid agencies, but the trucks arriving today represent a huge boost to the hospital’s ability to continue its urgent humanitarian mission of medical care for anyone in need, even under the current dire circumstances. The hospital’s location in the very heart of Gaza City is now placing added responsibility on its work, which is being carried out so bravely and selflessly by the hospital staff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Health & Medicine, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, War in Gaza December 2008--

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's State of the State Address

With all that being said – the state of our state is that we have both enormous challenges and opportunities before us. They will necessitate us doing what was suggested in a recent email that came my way that said simply, “We have to be doing things we should have been doing a long time ago.“ My question to every one of you is indeed can we make this the year that we make the changes that we should have begun long ago. We
can’t do anything about the “long ago,“ but we can do something about bringing change this year. In Washington it was that spirit that in part gave us a new administration. We all saw a campaign based on the concepts of change and the resounding theme of “yes, we can.“ As an American I would wish the new administration success in deliberately working through many of the challenges facing this country, but as a South Carolinian I would simply ask that we take up the same mantle of “yes, yes we can” in overcoming so many of our state’s challenges.

Can we commit to the notion of “yes, we can” on just a couple of things this year key to bettering the lives of so many here in South Carolina? Because after all it was this thinking of “yes, we can” that led to the shattering of a glass ceiling that has hung over our nation for the last 200 years. Given this example alone, can we break the glass ceiling of an outdated governmental structure that has hurt the people of our state for more than 100 years?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

A Psychic Advisor who Works for Fortune 500 Companies

Watch it all (about 4 3/4 minutes). Guess how much she gets paid before you start.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Afghan Girls, Scarred by Acid, Defy Terror, Embracing School

One morning two months ago, Shamsia Husseini and her sister were walking through the muddy streets to the local girls school when a man pulled alongside them on a motorcycle and posed what seemed like an ordinary question.

“Are you going to school?”

Then the man pulled Shamsia’s burqa from her head and sprayed her face with burning acid. Scars, jagged and discolored, now spread across Shamsia’s eyelids and most of her left cheek. These days, her vision goes blurry, making it hard for her to read.

But if the acid attack against Shamsia and 14 others ”” students and teachers ”” was meant to terrorize the girls into staying home, it appears to have completely failed.

Can you imagine trying to live like this? Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Education, War in Afghanistan

Damian Thompson: Anglo-Catholics prepare for a parting of the ways

There are signs that proper Anglo-Catholics – the Forward in Faith crowd, not the Vichyite Affirming “Catholics” – realise that the game is up. In the February issue of the newsletter of the Diocese of Ebbsfleet, David Smart, vice chairman of its lay council, predicts a parting of ways. The big question, he says, is whether Anglo-Catholics part as friends.

The newsletter doesn’t, alas, tell us what progress the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, has made with plans to lead some of his people into full communion with Rome. My guess is that he still doesn’t know how things will play out. A lot depends on the identity of the next Archbishop of Westminster.

Read it all.

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

WSJ: U.S. Negotiating More Aid for Bank of America

The U.S. government is close to committing billions in additional aid to Bank of America Corp. as the nation’s largest bank by assets tries to digest its Jan. 1 acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

The discussion began in mid-December when Bank of America, already the recipient of $25 billion in federal rescue funds, told the U.S. Treasury Department it was unlikely to complete its purchase of the ailing Wall Street securities firm because of Merrill’s larger-than-expected losses in the fourth quarter, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Treasury, concerned the deal’s failure could affect the stability of U.S. financial markets, agreed to work with the Charlotte, N.C. lender on the “formulation of a plan” that includes new government capital. The terms are still being finalized, this person said, and details are expected to be announced with Bank of America’s fourth-quarter earnings, due out Jan. 20.

Simply unbelievable. Read it all.

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

The Foreign Policy Interview with Gen. David H. Petraeus

FP: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that U.S. efforts in Afghanistan were really on the verge of failure. What’s your incoming assessment?

DP: I told [then] Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September 2005 that Afghanistan would be the longest campaign in the so-called ”˜long war.’ That judgment was based on an assessment I conducted in Afghanistan on my way home from my second tour in Iraq. And having been back to Afghanistan twice in recent months, I still see it that way. Progress there will require a sustained, substantial commitment. That commitment needs to be extended to Pakistan as well, though Pakistan does have large, well-developed security institutions and its leaders are determined to employ their own forces in dealing with the significant extremist challenges that threaten their country.

FP: I was rereading an account of an Afghan veteran from Soviet operations there. After every retaliatory strike, he said, ”˜Perhaps one mujahideen was killed. The rest were innocent. The survivors hated us and lived with only one idea””revenge.’ Clearly [U.S.] engagement in Afghanistan didn’t start out in the same way as the Soviets’ did, but one of the questions is whether all these occupations wind up similarly after seven years.

DP: A number of people have pointed out the substantial differences between the character of Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and that of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, especially in the circumstances that led to the respective involvement, as well as in the relative conduct, of the forces there. Foremost among the differences have been the coalition’s objectives: not just the desire to help the Afghans establish security and preclude establishment of extremist safe havens, but also to support economic development, democratic institutions, the rule of law, infrastructure, and education. To be sure, the coalition faces some of the same challenges that any of the previous forces in Afghanistan have faced: the same extreme terrain and weather, tribal elements that pride themselves on fighting, lack of infrastructure, and so on. In such a situation, it is hugely important to be seen as serving the population, in addition to securing it. And that is why we’re conducting counterinsurgency operations, as opposed to merely counterterrorism operations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

Kathleen Parker: Young, Educated and out of Work

My 28-year-old niece, with whom I am staying (the rate is unbeatable), is similarly and suddenly “consulting” — mostly through the want ads on Mediabistro and Craigslist these days. The magazine for which she’s been a marketing strategist is suffering financial woes and has had to cut several positions, including hers.

“Consulting” and “freelancing” are old euphemisms for a new demographic, the upscale terms for “outta work.” Down on their luck, these newbies to the unemployment lines aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. “We’re living gig to gig,” says my niece.

How many consultants can dine on the dime of a tanking economy? A new poll by Tina Brown’s Daily Beast and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates confirms that the Sarabeth’s pair and my niece are not isolated anecdotes but are part of a trend no one would have imagined a few years ago. “Gigonomics,” Brown calls it.

The poll, conducted online among 500 employed Americans over 18, found that a third are working as freelancers or in two jobs. Of those who call themselves freelancers, 58 percent previously had a staff position with the company for which they’re now doing “gigs.”

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Washington Post: Apple CEO Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave of Absence

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs today announced that he will take a leave of absence as a result of health concerns.

“During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” Jobs wrote in an e-mail sent to all Apple employees.

He said he intends to return to the company at the end of June.

My goodness the company’s leadership has mishandled this. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

St Albans tenth Bishop greets the Diocese in person and on You Tube

The tenth Bishop of St Albans is to be the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Downing Street has announced this morning.

The Church of England’s first bishop to be appointed in 2009, Bishop Alan is also the first Church of England bishop to announce his appointment through a three minute You Tube video which can also be viewed on the Diocesan website. Bishop Alan came to St Albans Cathedral this morning for the announcement.

Read it all.

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