Daily Archives: May 14, 2009

TARP for States now also?

The California state treasurer called Wednesday on U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to extend debt guarantees through the Troubled Asset Relief Program to financially strapped states and local governments facing declining revenues.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department

They were singing without accompaniment. You know–Acapulco.

–Richard Lederer, Anguished English (New York: Doubleday, 1987), page 104

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

Notable and Quotable

We have [the feeling] that the story we are reading is only a small part of a titanic drama, and that what we see here on stage begins and ends out in vistas infinitely larger than the size of the stage that we can see….[C.S.] Lewis’ fiction, we might say, reaches all the way to heaven and hell.

–Thomas Howard, “Terror and Sublimity for Everyman: C.S. Lewis’ Literary Achievement,” The Journal of Faith and Thought (Spring 1985), p. 3.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Eschatology, Theology

Tim Duy: Not So Green Wednesday

Where does this leave us? The Federal Reserve is caught; policymakers are warily watching the economy, worried that their liquidity injections will catch fire. On the other hand, they suspect that the economy will demand greater stimulus, if their estimates of the Taylor Rule are any guide. Caught, they want to remain flexible, and hence are unwilling to commit to numerical targets, either money growth or long rates. Hard to blame them; for the last decade, excessive easing has always caused something seemingly good that was followed by something very bad. But with the output gap certain to widen, the bias will be on the side of additional easing, while the timing will be data dependent. The green shoots story is looking a little tired today; a wide swath of indicators in the commodities market suggests that overall demand remains subdued. That will not stop a segment of market participants from playing up the green shoots story – they want to get ahead of the next big move. I remain wary that there is any room for an easy bounceback; I can’t shake off memories of 2001-2003, and I don’t see where we get another asset bubble in the US to crank up the wealth engine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

BBC: Pope celebrates Mass in Nazareth

Tens of thousands of Christians are taking part in a huge, outdoor Mass in Nazareth being celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on his Holy Land tour.

The event in the town in northern Israel, where Jesus is believed to have lived, is expected to draw the largest crowds during the Pope’s five-day trip.

The Catholic Church head will then meet Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after backing a Palestinian homeland.

Mr Netanyahu does not support the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Nazir-Ali: Britain 'should tackle Pakistan madrassas teaching'

The Bishop of Rochester has called on the Government to ensure that British policy is effective at tackling the syllabus in Pakistan’s madrassas. ‘

Bishop Michael Nazi-Ali said in the House of Lords that the education in the country’s madrassas were “fuelling international education”.

He called for an assurance that “British aid policy for education will be effective this time in changing the syllabus in the madrassas”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Education, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

The Economist Obituary on Hans Holzer

Mr Holzer never knew whether his attempts to nudge ghosts to the Other Side (another of his coinings) were successful, or not. He did not make it sound particularly enticing. No angels, he said confidently, and no “fellows in red underwear with pitchforks” either. Disappointingly, the whole place was much like here, but with no sense of time and with everything “strung out further” in the thinner atmosphere. Even more disappointingly, it was run by a giant and orderly bureaucracy, in which spirits had to ask permission and list their motives if they wished to contact mediums and had to stand in line, waiting for a clerk to find suitable parents, in order to be born again. “They” used the word “clerk”, he said. And “they” had also instructed him to tell the world the truth about ghosts. They would be irritated if he failed, and would put him down for further education.

Read it all (emphasis mine). The whole time I was reading this last night I was thinking of C.S. Lewis when he wrote:

I like bats better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern

[The Screwtape Letters & Screwtape Proposes a Toast (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), p. 9].

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Theology

From NPR: Struggling To Keep Up As Credit Card Rates Rise

One of her credit cards started out charging 7 percent or 8 percent interest. It has now skyrocketed to 24 percent. Another card with a 2-3 percent rate is now charging her almost 18 percent.

The minimum monthly payments on all of her credit cards total about… one-third of [Carol] Hodges’ total monthly income. Even paying more than her minimums has had bad consequences.

“As I’ve chipped away and brought it down, they take away the credit [limit]. So as it went down, I had less credit available,” she says.

Before you click, you need to guess how much the woman featured in this story charged to her credit cards. What was her overall balance? Now, read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Paul Zahl Reretires and steps down from All Saints’, Chevy Chase

The Rev. Paul F. Zahl, former dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, has announced his intention to …[reretire July 1] as rector of All Saints’, Chevy Chase, Md.

According to accounts from several members of the parish, Fr. Zahl, 58, said in his announcement during services on Sunday, May 10, that he felt called at this stage of his ministry to concentrate on teaching, preaching and reaching the unchurched as opposed to parish ministry.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Update:I received an email from Paul Zahl which says:

[The Living Church article is not correct]. I am not “resigning” from All Saints and June 15th is an error, too.
I am re-retiring from All Saints, having coming out of retirement in December 2007 in order to serve as rector of the parish.
In fact, I had retired officially in January 2007.
Mary and I have received the warm blessing of Bishop Salmon and of Bishop Chane to do this, and we shall be returning to our home in Florida.
The retirement takes effect on July lst.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Nouriel Roubini is Concerned about the Dollar

Now, imagine a world in which China could borrow and lend internationally in its own currency. The renminbi, rather than the dollar, could eventually become a means of payment in trade and a unit of account in pricing imports and exports, as well as a store of value for wealth by international investors. Americans would pay the price. We would have to shell out more for imported goods, and interest rates on both private and public debt would rise. The higher private cost of borrowing could lead to weaker consumption and investment, and slower growth.

This decline of the dollar might take more than a decade, but it could happen even sooner if we do not get our financial house in order. The United States must rein in spending and borrowing, and pursue growth that is not based on asset and credit bubbles. For the last two decades America has been spending more than its income, increasing its foreign liabilities and amassing debts that have become unsustainable. A system where the dollar was the major global currency allowed us to prolong reckless borrowing.

Now that the dollar’s position is no longer so secure, we need to shift our priorities. This will entail investing in our crumbling infrastructure, alternative and renewable resources and productive human capital ”” rather than in unnecessary housing and toxic financial innovation. This will be the only way to slow down the decline of the dollar, and sustain our influence in global affairs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Budget, China, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Living Church: Presiding Bishop Opposes Revisiting Resolution B033

A number of viewers wanted to know how results from the recently concluded meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council might affect convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori said the need to debate the proposed Anglican Covenant obviously was a moot point since it failed to pass during the ACC meeting in Jamaica last week.

In response to a question regarding the repeal of B033, the resolution approved at General Convention in 2006 that recommends caution in consecrating bishops whose manner of life might cause distress to other members of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Jefferts Schori said B033 would be debated, but that she opposes its repeal.

“I would far more prefer that we say here is where we are today,” she said, adding that it was a more positive way to express the mind of the church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, House of Deputies President, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Gap between Baby Boomers, young minorities grows

The USA is developing a stark generation gap between aging white Baby Boomers and a young, growing minority population, according to U.S. Census data released today.

The minority population increased 2.3% to 104.6 million from mid-2007 to July 1, 2008, or just over one-third of the total population, the Census Bureau reported.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.

In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars

Vauban, Germany–Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” ”” except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park ”” large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Germany

RCN to give nurses guidance on discussing assisted dying with patients

Nurses are to receive detailed guidance for the first time on how to help terminally ill patients end their own lives.

Assisted suicide remains illegal in Britain but the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says that many nurses are being asked by desperate patients about travelling abroad, such as to the Swiss clinic Dignitas, to end their lives.

The RCN has been opposed since 2004 to assisted suicide ”” actively helping people to die ”” but is consulting its 400,000 members about whether to reconsider this stance in the light of calls to change the law.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Pine Bluff Arkansas church marks 150 years of Episcopal worship

In a quaint, dimly lit sanctuary with stainedglass windows and hardwood floors, men dressed in Civil Warera outfits worshipped alongside women wearing bonnets and long antebellum dresses.

It was, after all, Trinity Episcopal Church’s 150th anniversary service Sunday, and churchgoers, ushers, the music director and even the pastor were all playing the role.

The entire service was a throwback to 1859, when construction began at Trinity Episcopal, the state’s oldest Episcopal church still being used for Sunday worship, according to the church’s rector, churchgoers and a historical book on the church.

“One of the great things about being a part of Trinity is that you have this wonderful history, but it’s a living history,” said the Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor, the church rector. “It’s sort of like being able to live in the presence of those who have gone before while still preaching the gospel in a modern world.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes