Daily Archives: March 25, 2009

Remarkable Numbers

The median price for an existing, single-family detached home in California sank to $247,590 in February from $418,260 a year earlier, the Los Angeles-based group said in a statement. The U.S. median price fell 16 percent during the same period, the second-biggest drop on record, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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

Anglican Planet: Toronto plans Same Sex Blessingss without any vote

The Diocese of Toronto plans to bless same-sex relationships without taking any formal vote on the theologically contentious issue.

“(A vote) would cause more division than it would cause resolution,” the diocesan bishop, Colin Johnson, told the media.

Johnson will set up a commission of clergy and laity to engage in a consultation process but most observers see it as a “done deal” without any vote. The consultation likely will only fine tune the details.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

AP: US judge strikes down policy on religious visas

A federal judge has struck down a long-standing government policy that made it tougher for religious workers from other countries to remain in the United States.

Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik wrote in an order issued Tuesday that the policy was at odds with the intent of Congress.

Under the Department of Homeland Security’s policy, religious workers who came to the U.S. on a typical five-year temporary visa were not allowed to file for permanent residency – their green card – until a separate visa petition by their employer had been approved.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

U.K. Gilts Slump After First ”˜Failed’ Bond Auction Since 1995

U.K. gilts slumped after demand at an auction of bonds fell short of the amount offered, the first time the Treasury failed to attract enough bids at a sale of nominal debt in 14 years.

Investors bid for 1.63 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) of the 40-year securities, less than the 1.75 billion pounds of 4.25 percent notes slated for sale, the U.K. Debt Management Office said today in a statement from London.

“Basically it’s the first failed auction,” said John Wraith, head of sterling interest-rate strategy at RBC Capital Markets in London. “They didn’t receive enough to cover it all so the market has obviously sold off extremely heavily.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Time Magazine–Nonprofit Squeeze: Donations Down, Volunteers Up

For the past few years, Carl Anglesea gave about $400 each year to charity. But he lost his job as a software developer in August, and since then Anglesea, 54, of Chuluota, Fla., hasn’t given a dime. What he has done, though, is triple his hours as a volunteer AARP tax counselor helping people fill out tax forms. “I’d like to give cash, but I can’t,” he says. “So I’m committing to more hours as a substitute.”

This is a trade that works well for Anglesea and many like him. After all, time is money, and community-minded individuals may be happy to give whichever of the two they are better able to spare. But the time-money swap, which is washing over the charity world like a tidal wave during this recession, poses stiff challenges for nonprofits. They can’t pay the rent with volunteer hours. One in two nonprofits says its funding has fallen, according to “The Quiet Crisis,” a new report by Civic Enterprises, a social-issues think tank. When the economy was this rotten in the early 1970s, charitable giving fell more than 9%, adjusted for inflation. Experts believe something like that will occur in this recession too.

The projected budget shortfalls come at a time when nonprofits’ services are most in demand. Last year the United Way saw a 68% increase nationally in the number of calls for basic needs, according to “The Quiet Crisis.” The state of Arizona reported a doubling in the number of people who sought social services last year, and 70% of the nonprofits in Michigan reported an increased demand for services.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Gene Robinson at Trinity Church, Boston

On persevering:

“How do we keep this up? How do I keep this up, day after day? Because we know how it’s going to end, don’t we? Our struggle is going to end with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, in the life and ministry and leadership of the church. I have no doubt whatsoever. The fight that’s going on now is not about if it’s going to happen. It’s only about when. I think even the conservatives would tell you that. They’re just trying to forestall the day it is fulfilled. Not if, but when. We know how it’s going to end. And whether we live to see it or not is irrelevant. The question is, are we going to play our part?”

Read it all and follow the audio link at the bottom if you desire to hear it all. i am going to try to leave comments open on this. Please keep your comments to the arguments made. Thank you–KSH.

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

The Bishop of Olympia votes no on the Northern Michigan Election

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Episcopal bishop for Western Washington, has said no.
“Each diocesan bishop will vote on consent and each Standing Committee will also be asked for consent,” Rickel said in an e-mail. “Our Standing Committee has not voted on this yet.

“I did vote at the recent House of Bishops and I voted not to consent. I intend to share some of my reasoning in a letter and I promise to send that to you as well so you can see it.”

Forrester would become bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, one of the smallest in the church. Statistics released by the national Episcopal Church show that its membership has declined by 31.7 percent in the past 10 years.

Also known by his Buddhist name, “Genpo,” or “Way of Universal Wisdom,” Forrester was only candidate on the ballot when diocesan convention delegates voted last month.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

NPR: In Quiverfull Movement, Birth Control Is Shunned

Among some conservative Christians, a movement is giving new meaning to the biblical mandate to “be fruitful and multiply.”

The movement, called Quiverfull, is based on Psalm 127, which says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Those in the Quiverfull movement shun birth control, believing that God will give them the right number of children. It turns out, that’s a lot of kids.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Gomez: Covenant a Tough Sell in Divided Communion

As the Covenant Design Group readies its handiwork for deliberation by the Anglican Consultative Council, the group’s chairman acknowledges that selling a unity document to a divided communion will be neither automatic nor easy.

Retired West Indies’ Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez identified current Episcopal Church attitudes as a danger to ratification of the proposed Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori already has said General Convention this summer should decline to take up for consideration the design group’s yet-to-be perfected recommendations for measures aimed at respecting local autonomy while providing accountability for divisive actions.

“The Episcopal Church has its own agenda,” Archbishop Gomez said in Dallas March 22, “and that agenda does not have much accommodation with the rest of the Communion.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), West Indies

Andrew Hawkins: Is the Church of England still the Tory Party at prayer?

When Lord Runcie, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, passed away in 2000, The Guardian described him as “the primate who discarded the Anglican image as the Tory Party at prayer”.

But has that image really disappeared? The two key indicators are the party’s representatives in Parliament, and their supporters.

As far as MPs are concerned, one of the last surveys on religious belief was back in the early 90s, when there was a clear divide between the mainly Anglican Tories and Catholic Labour MPs. It is most probably the case that the proportion of both of these has fallen over the past 20 years, although it is impossible to know the extent to which this is genuine or simply a function of how unfashionable it has become in some quarters of politics to admit to ‘doing God’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture

Military puts focus on epidemic of suicides

In Maj. Thomas Jarrett’s stress management class surrounded by concrete blast walls, American troops are urged not to accept post-traumatic stress disorder as an inevitable consequence of war.

Instead, Jarrett tells them to strive for “post-traumatic growth.”

During a 90-minute presentation entitled “Warrior Resilience and Thriving,” Jarrett, a former corporate coach, offers this and other unconventional tips on how troops can stay mentally healthy once they return home. He quotes Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Paradise Lost author John Milton and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, among others.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology

A Washington Post Editorial: Softening the Wish List

But asked twice whether he would accept a budget that did not include provisions for additional tax cuts for the middle class, or that did not launch a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Obama demurred. Instead, he called for “a serious energy policy that frees ourselves from dependence on foreign oil and makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy” — implicitly suggesting that cap-and-trade, though he supports it, might have to wait. As for the middle-class tax cut that Mr. Obama would pay for with revenue from a cap-and-trade program, the president said, “we already had that” in the stimulus package. “We know that that’s going to be in place for at least the next two years. We had identified a specific way to pay for it. If Congress has better ideas in terms of how to pay for it, then we’re happy to listen.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Martin Feldstein: A Deduction From Charity

President Obama’s proposal to limit the tax deductibility of charitable contributions would effectively transfer more than $7 billion a year from the nation’s charitable institutions to the federal government. But the high-income taxpayers affected by the rule change are likely to cut their charitable giving by as much as the increase in their tax bills, which would, ironically, leave their remaining income and personal consumption unchanged.

In effect, the change would be a tax on the charities, reducing their receipts by a dollar for every dollar of extra revenue the government collects. It is hard to imagine a rationale for taxing schools, hospitals, medical research budgets and arts organizations in this way. I suspect that the administration officials who drafted this proposal did not understand that it would have this perverse effect.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The U.S. Government

President Points To Progress on Economic Efforts

President Obama sought to reassure Americans last night that his administration has made progress in reviving the economy and said his $3.6 trillion budget is “inseparable from this recovery.”

After sprinting through his first months in office, Obama is now facing heightened criticism from Republicans, who have called his blueprint irresponsible, and from skeptical Democrats who have already set about trimming back his top budget priorities.

Obama came into office amid lofty expectations and the worst economic crisis in generations, and he succeeded in pushing through a $787 billion stimulus and launching expensive plans to revive the banking system.

Last night, against a backdrop of a broad national anxiety that the economy may still be failing, he attempted to recalibrate the high hopes to more closely fit the challenges he said lie ahead.

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

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff: The history of banking crises indicates this one may be far from

The good news from our historical study of eight centuries of international financial crises is that, so far, they have all ended. And we confidently predict this one will end, too. We are just not quite so sure it will be nearly as soon as the chirpy forecasts coming from policymakers around the globe. The U.S. administration, for example, is now predicting that growth will renew in the latter part of this year and continue at a brisk pace of 4 percent for several years thereafter. Is this a fact-based forecast or wishful thinking?

A careful look at the international evidence on severe banking crises suggests a far more cautious assessment. The recessions that follow in the wake of big financial crises tend to last far longer than normal downturns, and to cause considerably more damage. If the United States follows the norm of recent crises, as it has until now, output may take four years to return to its pre-crisis level. Unemployment will continue to rise for three more years, reaching 11”“12 percent in 2011.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Credit Markets, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, 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