Daily Archives: February 21, 2009

Modifying Mortgages Can Be A Tricky Business

When her brother could no longer help support her, Luzetta Reeves asked her small mortgage company to cut her monthly payments. It did ”” by 11 percent ”” making it possible for her to afford her house here on her modest fixed income.

In Miami, Jeffrey Mitchell saw his family income drop just as real estate taxes and insurance premiums increased, making his monthly mortgage payments crushing. He got a lower interest rate, too. But with the added fees and penalties, his monthly payment remained the same. He is now back in foreclosure.

As the Obama administration steps up efforts to help troubled homeowners modify their mortgages, it might consider the experiences of these two South Florida borrowers and their mortgage companies, one small, one large.

National statistics on mortgage modifications suggest that what happened to Ms. Reeves, a disabled 54-year-old, and Mr. Mitchell, a 42-year-old union representative, is fairly typical.

Read it all from the front page of Thursday’s New York Times

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

Killing in Buffalo New York Puts Spotlight on Domestic Abuse

Ms. Hassan had filed for divorce and had taken out a restraining order on her husband only six days before her husband told the police she was dead. Friends, family members and even the police were aware of prior domestic abuse issues in the marriage.

“The only good thing that can come from this tragedy is that hopefully Muslim families will treat domestic violence seriously and perhaps women will be able to come out and speak about it,” said Nadia Shahram, a Buffalo divorce lawyer, who teaches at the University at Buffalo Law School.

I really abhor this subject, but it has to be faced. Read it all.

Update: General Convention has rightly addressed this matter:

Resolution Number: 2000-D073
Title: Support Legislation to Reduce Domestic Violence and Protect Victims
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred as Amended
Final Text:

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church call upon state governments to promote and enact statutes addressing the reduction of domestic violence and the protection of victims of domestic violence and child neglect.
Citation: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, Denver, 2000 (New York: General Convention, 2001), p. 680.


Resolution Number: 2006-A086
Title: Create and Disseminate Training Materials to Recognize and Respond to Abuse
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred as Substituted
Final Text:

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention instruct the Standing Commission on Ministry Development to create and disseminate training materials to assist leaders in ministry to recognize and respond to evidence of abuse; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Ministry Development report on this initiative to the 76th General Convention.
Citation: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, Columbus, 2006 (New York: General Convention, 2007), p. 511.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Violence

Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan

With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.

The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft. Under President Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.

The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy in using American spy agencies against terrorism suspects in Pakistan, as he had promised to do during his presidential campaign. At the same time, Mr. Obama has begun to scale back some of the Bush policies on the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, which he has criticized as counterproductive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan

Archbishop Peter Jensen: Do you believe the truth about us?

I once asked a well-instructed Christian whether as humans we are basically good or bad. The question clearly startled the person and instinctively he replied “basically good”. Now it was my turn to be startled. I did not ask whether human beings are incapable of good or thoroughly bad ”“ it was a question about our basic disposition. I would have thought that the reading of Scripture and our church liturgy may have suggested that there is such a thing as original sin and that there is a tendency to evil which we share. Indeed, we only have to hold up the mirror of God’s law ”“ say the Ten Commandments for a start ”“ to recognise our constant failure to do what God requires of us.

It is a shallow view of human nature which suggests that as long as we choose the right we can accomplish it. In fact we are called the enemies of God, because our basic sin is the desire to worship anything or anybody rather than the true Lord of the universe. Sin is something which we are caught up in as a race ”“ individually and collectively. It has us in its grip, it corrupts our inner selves. Because of sin we have evil desires, evil thoughts, evil intentions. Such inner failures manifest themselves in words and deeds which are evil. Hedges is certainly right to warn us against any system or ideology which promises us a rosy future based on human effort.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Theology

Notable and Quotable (III)

“Personally I like talking to a lot of people at a time,” says Amelia, a Pittsburgh area teen. “It kind of keeps you busy. It’s kind of boring just talking to one person cause then like”¦you can’t talk to anyone else.”

–Diane F. Halpern and Susan E. Murphy, From Work-family Balance to Work-family Interaction: Changing the Metaphor (Routledge, 2002), page 145

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth

Notable and Quotable (II)

It’s interesting that dark ages are not necessarily all negative. I think that’s a kind of illusion. We have the idea that nothing goes well in a dark age. It’s a time of horror. But, actually, in the Middle Ages and in other dark ages there were tremendous technological advances. I found that very intriguing.

I think that we are really in the midst or on the cusp of defining our own dark age. When we pander to our machines rather than look each other fully in the eye, when doctors interrupt, on average, after 18 seconds of listening to the patient, when two-thirds of the children 18 and under grow up in homes where the TV is on most of the time, which is an environment linked to attention difficulties — when we can’t think — when, in a knowledge economy, we can’t find the time to think deeply, to wrestle with an idea or a problem — well, we’re really facing a dark age on many scores. So a dark age can be a wonderful time, but the costs are steep.

Also from Maggie Jackson, Boston Globe columnist and author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (2008)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Notable and Quotable (I)

I think all our gadgets today are great, but they do change our lives – we’re so mobile, split-focused, cyber-centric – that we’re squeezing out room for “pause” – for conversation, for reflective thought. That’s the problem. We need to re-balance – and particularly nurture our powers of attention….

In my book, I talk about the costs of living distracted. When we aren’t fully aware or split our focus all the time, we essentially don’t go deeply, in thought or in relationships. We become a skimming culture – and that’s dangerous. But new discoveries related to attention can help – for instance, attention can be trained! That’s exciting news for us all.

Maggie Jackson, Boston Globe columnist and author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (2008)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Charlie Rose: Econ. discussion with Fred Mishkin, Mark Zandi, Nouriel Roubini and Nina Easton

Well worth the time–just under 40 minutes.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, 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

For San Diego Area Anglicans Dispute bigger than buildings

As legal battles over property rights and organizational authority play out between the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and two breakaway churches in North County, leaders of those two congregations insist the real conflict is over core religious beliefs.

The California Supreme Court recently issued two decisions with implications for St. Anne’s in Oceanside and St. John’s in Fallbrook, both of which seceded from the Episcopal Church and joined foreign dioceses within the global Anglican Communion three years ago.

A Jan. 5 court ruling in favor of the national Episcopal church in its legal battle against three Los Angeles and Orange County breakaway congregations attempting to keep their properties is being cited by the San Diego diocese as strengthening its case against St. Anne’s and St. John’s. The two North County churches continue to meet in their existing buildings as Anglican congregations —- with the San Diego diocese suing to regain control of those properties.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Diego

Spain set to loosen abortion law

Spain is on course to ease its restrictive law on abortion, setting the stage for another clash between a Socialist government that has already introduced sweeping social changes and conservatives and Catholic clergy bent on preserving traditional family values.

A parliamentary committee took the first step this week, recommending that the government legalize early stage abortions, while gradually imposing more restrictions as pregnancies progress.

Abortion is technically a crime in Spain, though it is readily available under the current system, with women needing a doctor’s certification that their health ”” either physical or mental ”” would be at risk if the pregnancy was allowed to proceed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain