Daily Archives: April 23, 2009

David Leonhardt: For Housing Crisis, the End Probably Isn’t Near

Nor is excess supply the only reason prices still have a way to fall. Nationwide, homes may not be overvalued by much. But in some cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Miami, they remain very expensive. So while Mr. Hatzius and his Goldman colleagues are somewhat more pessimistic than most forecasters, the difference isn’t enormous.

I’ll confess that this bearish picture isn’t exactly what I had hoped to find. A year ago, as part of a move from New York to Washington, my wife and I bought our first house. We did so fully expecting prices to continue falling (though perhaps not as much as they ultimately will, given the severity of the financial crisis). But we decided they had fallen enough for us to take the plunge. We preferred buying before the bottom of the market instead of renting and having to move again in a year or two.

Still, when I wrote about that decision last spring, I argued that anyone who didn’t have to move probably should not buy yet. Prices still had a way to fall.

They don’t have as far to fall today, but the great real estate crash is not over, either. So if you are part of the 30 percent of American households who rent and you’re trying to decide when to buy, relax.

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

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home

Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.

But critics denounce the program as shortsighted, inhumane and a threat to what little progress Japan has made in opening its economy to foreign workers.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Japan, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Girl's Garden Grows for the Homeless

. This involves our son’s school, Pinewood Prep. Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Poverty

AP: Debt may force Jewish education institutions to close

The oldest institution for training rabbis, cantors and educators of Reform Judaism is facing economic woes that could lead the college to close two of its three U.S. campuses.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.

President Rabbi David Ellenson said Monday in New York that officials are considering various ways to deal with the financial crisis, including leaving only one stateside campus open. The Jerusalem campus would not be affected if any campuses are eliminated, he said. College officials also are considering other scenarios that would allow academic programs to continue at more than one campus, Ellenson said.

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

Statement of the Holy See on Racism

The Delegation of the Holy See shares in the aspiration of the international community to overcome all forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in the awareness that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and are united in one human family. In fact, a just international community is properly developed when the natural desire of human persons to relate to each other is not distorted by prejudice, fear of others or selfish interests that undermine the common good. In all its manifestations, racism makes the false claim that some human beings have less dignity and value than others; it thus infringes upon their fundamental equality as God’s children and it leads to the violation of the human rights of individuals and of entire groups of persons.

As party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to the common efforts of the United Nations and other relevant international organizations, the Holy See endeavours to assume fully its responsibility in accord with its proper mission. It is engaged in combating all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in a spirit of cooperation. The Holy See actively participated in the Durban Conference of 2001 and, without hesitation, gave its moral support to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) in the full knowledge that combating racism is a necessary and indispensable prerequisite for the construction of governance, sustainable development, social justice, democracy and peace in the world.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Living Church: Integrity Faces Budget Deficit

At its semi-annual meeting on April 17, the board of directors for Integrity, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, approved a budget which will deplete most of its reserves by the end of the year.

The board convened electronically in order to reduce travel costs and carbon emissions, according to minutes of the meeting published on one of the organization’s websites.

The approved budget assumes income of $270,000, primarily from member dues, and total expenses of approximately $313,000. Previously the organization has said that it plans for its presence at this summer’s General Convention to be its largest ever.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Bishop of San Diego Votes No on Northern Michigan

From an email to the diocese:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to share with you my decision to withhold consent to the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. This decision comes after carefully weighing the matter, considerable prayer, reflection with others including our Standing Committee, and a conversation with the bishop-elect. It is not taken lightly and is with considerable discomfort. Indeed, this is the first time that I have withheld consent in my Episcopate.

Because this is a matter of public conversation, some helpful and some unnecessarily uncharitable, I felt it appropriate to share with you the contours of my decision. The objections that have been raised are:

* That the nominating process and election, which only presented one candidate to the convention was not appropriate
* That the bishop-elect is a practicing Buddhist. Indeed, he has been labeled the “Buddhist Bishop”
* That the bishop-elect has inappropriately altered the baptismal liturgy services conducted in the congregation that he serves
* That he has displayed a less than adequate presentation of sin and redemption through Jesus Christ
As far as the process is concerned, I am convinced that while anomalous, it is in conformity to our canons. However, our processes for electing bishops have normally included an opportunity for the electing convention to consider candidates with a degree of perspective achieved by viewing each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and theological perspectives in contrast to others. Because a diocese elects a bishop to serve the wider church, this becomes a healthy process of discernment for the whole body. In and of itself, I would not find this a reason to withhold consent. But in light of other issues, it remains a factor.

I do believe that faithful Christians, including bishops, can find spiritual help in examining and exploring practices of other faiths. But Fr. Thew Forrester is an acknowledged “lay ordained” Zen Buddhist who has also accepted and used a name bestowed upon him in ceremony. While I am persuaded that he has not set aside his baptismal identity or ordination vows in this act, I believe that he has sufficiently confused the matter and his identity to make it highly problematic to accept the mantle of bishop.

The crucial issue for me is my understanding of what the bishop vows to do and what the bishop fundamentally represents both to the Church and to the world. In the ordination and consecration service the bishop is called “to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church.” Furthermore, the bishop promises as the chief priest and pastor to “encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts…” Through the Book of Commo n Prayer, we have articulated a common understanding of the faith once delivered and what it means to be a baptized Christian. At the heart of our faith and our baptismal covenant are the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have come to a disquieting conclusion that Fr. Thew Forrester’s presentation of the faith is an offering devoid of our traditional understanding of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

With this said, I want to affirm the wide breadth of theological discourse that is permitted and celebrated in the Episcopal Church. However, our theological inquiry occurs within clear boundaries of creedal faith. Again, returning to the ordinal for a bishop, this is why the bishop leads the people after the examination and before the consecration.

I do not presume to know how the consent process for the bishop-elect will turn out. I know that this is a difficult season for the Diocese of Northern Michigan and for Fr. Thew Forrester. They need our prayers. Nevertheless, the ordination and consecration of a bishop is about more than the diocese. In this time, it is most important that the church have clarity about Jesus Christ, the Cross and the Resurrection.
Faithfully,

–(The Rt. Rev.) James R. Mathes is Bishop of San Diego

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

Obama in credit card face-off

Ramping up his campaign to crack down on credit cards, President Obama will meet Thursday with executives of 14 leading companies to press his case for new consumer protections.

The White House meeting comes a day after credit card legislation opposed by the financial services industry moved forward on Capitol Hill. The House Financial Services Committee voted 48-19 to approve a bill to clamp down on rates and fees; nine Republicans joined the panel’s Democrats in voting for it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Banking System/Sector

GE exec says economic crisis resetting capitalism

The top executive of General Electric Co. said Wednesday he couldn’t predict when the recession would end or how bad it will be, but said the global economic crisis has “fundamentally reset” the way companies do business and capitalism itself.

Speaking at GE’s annual shareholder meeting in Orlando, Fla., following what has been a punishing year for the conglomerate, CEO Jeff Immelt said the downturn was the worst since the Great Depression, and that it would ultimately lead to changes such as greater government involvement in business and a restructuring of the financial services sector that was a root of the crisis.

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

New Anglican leader to be elected in Kenya

The next head of the Anglican Church in Kenya will be known on Friday when the 150-member electoral college elects the archbishop of Nairobi.

The college members ”” a diocesan bishop, two priests and two lay persons from each of the 30 dioceses ”” will gather at the All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi at 9am to elect, by secret ballot, the man to replace Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

The candidate will be installed and enthroned, the Anglicans say, as the head of the 4.5 million member church in a grand ceremony on July 5.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces

Taliban tighten grip on area outside Islamabad

Taliban militants appeared to be consolidating their control Thursday after this week’s land-grab of a district about 96 kilometers (60 miles) from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

LA Times: Muslim woman's appointment as Obama advisor draws cautious optimism

Egyptians are cautiously rejoicing over the recent appointment of a veiled Egyptian American Muslim woman as an advisor to President Obama.

Dalia Mogahed, senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, was appointed this month to Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Arabs are closely watching for signs that the new leadership in Washington is making efforts to improve relations with Islam, which many Muslims believe were severely damaged during the eight years of the Bush administration. The selection of Mogahed is viewed by many in the Middle East as a step by Obama to move beyond the stereotypes and prejudices that Muslims believe they have encountered since the attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Roman Catholic coalition seeks to influence outcome of climate-change bill

Led by a coalition of more than a dozen Catholic organizations, religious communities are ramping up efforts to ensure that the legislative debate on climate change beginning April 22 in Congress will not overlook the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The effort of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and the National Religious Partnership on the Environment came as the House Energy and Commerce Committee opened hearings on a clean energy bill.

The Catholic coalition unveiled the Catholic Climate Covenant, a wide-ranging climate-change campaign, during a nationwide teleconference April 21.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

ACI: Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church

The Fundamental Structure of The Episcopal Church Is That of a Voluntary Association of Equal Dioceses

Given the constitutional reservation of authority within the diocese to the Bishop and Standing Committee, it is not surprising that the fundamental structure of our Church is that of a voluntary association of equal dioceses.

It is significant that the same term, “voluntary association,” has been used by both the founding father of The Episcopal Church to describe the organization he was so instrumental in forming and by the civil law to describe religious societies and other unincorporated voluntary organizations in general. Our Church’s primary architect was, of course, William White, and his blueprint was The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, published in 1782 as the Revolutionary War was nearing an end. As a result of American independence, many of the former Church of England parishes had become independent churches while others were still organized as state churches under the control of state legislatures. White’s concept, later accepted by others in the former colonies, was that the Anglican churches would first be organized into state churches and then the state churches would organize themselves nationally as a voluntary association of state churches (now called “dioceses”). Pursuant to this plan, White was one of the first two Americans consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1787 to serve in the Episcopal Churches. When The Episcopal Church eventually was duly organized in 1789, Bishop White and Bishop Samuel Seabury, consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church, sat as the first House of Bishops at the first General Convention.

Just as the thirteen states were the “independent and sovereign” constituents of the American confederation that existed when the church now known as The Episcopal Church was being formed, the state churches were the bodies that combined to constitute what was initially called the Protestant Episcopal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

Tom Friedman on Education: Swimming Without a Suit

Speaking of financial crises and how they can expose weak companies and weak countries, Warren Buffett once famously quipped that “only when the tide goes out do you find out who is not wearing a bathing suit.” So true. But what’s really unnerving is that America appears to be one of those countries that has been swimming buck naked ”” in more ways than one.

Credit bubbles are like the tide. They can cover up a lot of rot. In our case, the excess consumer demand and jobs created by our credit and housing bubbles have masked not only our weaknesses in manufacturing and other economic fundamentals, but something worse: how far we have fallen behind in K-12 education and how much it is now costing us. That is the conclusion I drew from a new study by the consulting firm McKinsey, entitled “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”

Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education