Daily Archives: February 11, 2009

Thomas Friedman: The Open-Door Bailout

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate ”” no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: “Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”

While I think President Obama has been doing his best to keep the worst protectionist impulses in Congress out of his stimulus plan, the U.S. Senate unfortunately voted on Feb. 6 to restrict banks and other financial institutions that receive taxpayer bailout money from hiring high-skilled immigrants on temporary work permits known as H-1B visas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Globalization, India, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Ruth Gledhill: Church of England General Synod Feb 09: Day Three

Read it all.

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

Church Society: General Synod Report 10 February 2009 (Day Two)

Final Approval of Draft Amending Canon No 28. This concerns Local Ecumenical Projects. At present a Bishop has to ensure that C of E worship is held ”˜reasonably frequently’ and also that communion must be celebrated at certain festivals. The proposed amendments removes the absolute requirement for the communions but not that relating to ”˜reasonable frequency’. Guidance is also to be offered to Bishops about what all this means in practice. Being final approval it required 2/3rd majority in each house. Bishops voted 19 to 2 in favour. Clergy 84 to 21 in favour and Laity 103 to 23 in favour. Therefore the amendment to the Canons was passed.

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

Dallas Priest Wylie Miller comments on the Situation in Fort Worth

I wish that those who are so adamant to pull away from TEC and align with the Southern Cone would realize the damage they do to people who simply want a place to worship God without controversy or involving themselves in any fight. The actions of the previous councils of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth affect us all, especially as we try to prepare people for membership in our parishes. Lay people struggle with whether to believe in a church of bishops, if bishops lead only to schism. People reject church experiences where there is fighting over anything, and rightfully so.

What I cannot agree with is the pretense that there are two Episcopal dioceses of Fort Worth. Bishop Iker needs to come to terms with the fact that his argument is an emperor without clothes. The historical position of all our bishops for centuries is that there cannot be two different ecclesiastical authorities over one geographical area. Bishop Iker knows that if an Episcopal priest failed to show up for services or at any diocesan function he would be compelled to remove that priest. Likewise it is the duty of the Presiding Bishop to remove any bishop who is not participating in the life of the Episcopal Church. There are priests in Texas who claim to be Anglican but not part of the Episcopal Church (TEC). I guess I could pretend to be Roman Catholic but it would not make it so. At the very best these congregations are “faux Anglican.” The Archbishop of Canterbury has never approved a separate Province inside the US. He cannot without violating all historical precedents and furthering schism. I do not doubt that Bishop Iker is a good man who has done wonderful things in his ministry. How sad, it is most likely that history will record him now solely as a schismatic bishop.

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

Israel rivals vie to head cabinet

Leaders of the two main Israeli parties are seeking coalition partners to form a government after neither emerged the clear winner in early elections.

The governing centrist Kadima won 28 seats and the right-wing Likud opposition won 27 – both well short of the 61 needed to form a government.

The ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu came third with 15 seats.

Israel’s president is expected to begin consultations next week about which party to ask to form a government.

The election results – if confirmed – push the Labour party led by Defence Minister Ehud Barak into an unprecedented fourth place.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East

AP: Jewish leaders to meet pope; optimistic end to bishop issue

Jewish groups are mending ties with the Vatican following a dispute over a Holocaust-denying bishop.

Representatives of the World Jewish Congress said Monday they were optimistic about Vatican-Jewish relations after meeting with top Vatican officials. In addition, a group of American Jewish leaders will meet with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday to commend him for his “firm stand” to end the dispute over Bishop Richard Williamson.

And Israel’s chief rabbinate, the Jewish state’s highest religious authority, confirmed that it would resume theological talks next month that had been suspended in the wake of the Williamson affair.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Remembering Martha Putney: Author, Soldier and Pioneer

Watch it all–very touching.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Military / Armed Forces, Race/Race Relations

Notable and Quotable

“I don’t call this a plan; it’s a tease,” said Bert Ely, principal at bank consultant Ely & Co. Ely said that among other things, he was nervous about how the government will handle the sales of assets. “The devil’s in the details, but the details weren’t there.”

From this morning’s USA Today

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

In California the Governor moves to lay off 10,000 state workers

As legislative leaders Tuesday moved toward a deal that could wipe out the state’s $42-billion deficit with temporary tax hikes on retail sales, cars, gasoline and millionaires, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to lay off as many as 10,000 state employees if a new budget is not passed this week.

State workers will begin receiving pink slips Friday, absent a fiscal agreement by then, administration officials said. The layoff process generally takes about six months for state employees due to union rules and other considerations, such as bureaucratic procedures the state must follow. The move would save the state $750 million annually if the jobs are eliminated by July 1, according to Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman.

“This is not a [negotiating] tactic,” McLear said. “This is simply out of necessity. The state is running out of money. The governor has very few options at his disposal that he can unilaterally use to cut back on state spending.”

Read it all.

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

Yves Smith–Geithner Bank Bailout Plan: Fiasco

The problem is that a significant portion of the very biggest banks are insolvent. And on top of that, most of them have very large capital markets operations which have bean the nexus of credit intermediation. The regulators spent the last decade plus being in studious ignorance of those businesses, at least the complicated ones where all the risk resided. The SEC never was very interested in bonds, and the Fed took a hands-off, “let a thousand flowers bloom” approach to risk management, derivatives and what was called innovation. Author and market observer Martin Mayer warned “a lot of what is called innovative is simply a way to find new technology to do that which was forbidden with the old technology.”

But the history of major banking crises unambiguously shows that insolvent financial institutions need to be resolved. There are variations on the theme: the government can take them over and recapitalize them, clean them up and re-sell them, a la Sweden; you can wipe out equity investors and bondholders; you can try new twists, like various good bank proposals that have surfaced lately (making new entities out of the deposits and good assets and leaving the dreck with the existing bond and shareholders). While there would be many important details to be sorted out, this is not path breaking, except in the scale at which it needs to occur. And now, having had four actute phases of a credit crunch, the Fed and other central banks have plenty of liquidity facilites ready to deal with any initial overreaction. Rest assured, although radical measures would not be pleasant or easy, there are plenty of models and precedents.

But…here we have another scowling Treasury secretary, with a bit more hair than his predecessor, serving up the same fatally flawed approach as before: let’s just throw money at the banks and hope they get better. This is tantamount to using antibiotics to treat gangrene.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Pope Benedict XVI: The Truth About Marriage and About Its Intrinsic Juridical Nature

First of all it is necessary to rediscover the positive capacity that in principle every human person has to marry by virtue of his very nature as man or woman. Indeed, we run the risk of falling into a form of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the cultural situation today, considers marriage as almost impossible. Besides the fact that such a situation is not uniform in the various regions of the world, one cannot confuse the real difficulties confronting many, especially young people who conclude that marital union is normally unthinkable and impracticable with the true incapacity of consent. Rather, reaffirming the innate human capacity for marriage is precisely the starting point for helping couples discover the natural reality of marriage and the importance it has for salvation. What is actually at stake is the truth about marriage and about its intrinsic juridical nature (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Rota, 27 January 2007), which is an indispensable premise if people are to understand and evaluate the capacity required to wed.

In this sense the capacity must be associated with the essential significance of marriage, that is “the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws” (Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, n. 48), and, in a particular way, with the essential obligations inherent to it, that must be assumed by the couple (can. 1095, n. 3).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

TV watching in youth tied to depression later

Lengthy television viewing in adolescence may raise the risk for depression in young adulthood, according to a new report.

The study, in the February issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, published by the American Medical Association, found a rising risk of depressive symptoms with increasing hours spent watching television.

There was no association of depression with exposure to computer games, videocassettes or radio.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Psychology, Teens / Youth

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Presidential Address at General Synod 2009

This is only one example of what people do not want to lose in the life of the Communion. And it is a good Pauline principle, if you read II Corinthians, that we should be glad of the honour of being able to support other churches in their need. Who knows whether some other structure than the Communion as we know it might make this possible? But the bare fact is that what now, specifically, makes it possible is the Communion we have, and that is not something to let go of lightly. Hence the difficult but unavoidable search for the forms of agreed self-restraint that will allow us to keep conversation alive ”“ the moratoria advised by Lambeth, very imperfectly observed yet still urged by the Primates as a token of our willingness not to behave as if debates had been settled that are still in their early stages at best.

The Communion we have: it is indeed a very imperfect thing at the moment. It is still true that not every Primate feels able to communicate at the Lord’s Table alongside every other, and this is indeed a tragedy. Yet last week, all the Primates who had attended GAFCON were present, every one of them took part in daily prayer and Bible study alongside the Primates of North America and every one of them spoke in discussion. In a way that I have come to recognise as very typical of these meetings, when talk of replacing Communion with federation of some kind was heard, nearly everyone reacted by saying that this was not something they could think about choosing. We may have imperfect communion, but we unmistakably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and ‘intensifying’ it ”“ to use the language I used last summer about the proposed Anglican Covenant. Somehow, the biblical call to be involved with one another at a level deeper than that of mere affinity and good will is still heard loud and clear. No-one wants to rest content with the breach in sacramental fellowship, and everyone acknowledges that this breach means we are less than we are called to be. But the fact that we recognise this and that we still gather around the Word is no small thing; without this, we should not even be able to hope for the full restoration of fellowship at the Eucharist.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Lambeth 2008, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Mike Shedlock on the Bank Bailout: Insanity Prevails

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

An interview with Joseph Stiglitz on the Bank Bailout

Worth the time.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner