Daily Archives: March 9, 2010

Christopher Beam–Can California Declare Bankruptcy?

California passed a gas tax last week to help make up for its nearly $20 billion budget gap, the latest in a series of measures to right the state’s teetering economy. The country of Greece is in even worse shape, with accumulated debt higher than 110 percent of GDP, set to reach 125 percent this year. Can a state declare bankruptcy? Can a country?

No and no. Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code allows individuals and municipalities (cities, towns, villages, etc.) to declare bankruptcy. But that doesn’t include states. (The statute defines “municipality” as a “political subdivision or public agency or instrumentality of a State”””that is, not a state itself.)

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

WSJ–Defaulted Loans May Haunt Seniors

A little-noticed law could soon result in smaller Social Security checks for hundreds of thousands of the elderly and disabled who owe the U.S. money from defaulted loans and other debts more than a decade old.

Social Security benefits are off-limits to creditors, such as credit-card companies and banks. But the U.S. can collect debts to federal agencies by “offsetting,” or withholding Social Security and disability payments.

The Treasury currently withholds benefits of 3.1 million Social Security recipients to recover defaulted student-, farm- and small-business loans, unpaid income taxes, amounts veterans owe for health care, and other debts to the government.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

ENS–Three bishops-elect receive church's consent for ordination

Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to a bishop-elect’s ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

The consent process for the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, who was elected the day after Bruce as a second bishop suffragan in Los Angeles, has not yet been completed. The diocese said March 3 that Glasspool had received 55 of the 56 standing committee consents needed. That information is unofficial, pending verification by the presiding bishop’s office. There is no official information about the number of bishops with jurisdiction who have consented to Glasspool’s ordination and consecration, which is also scheduled for May 15. The 120-day process for Glasspool lasts until May 8 and the diocese has been updating the process each Wednesday on its website here.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a) for every bishop election, the presiding bishop confirms the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and reviews the evidence of consents from diocesan standing committees sent to her by the standing committee of the electing diocese.

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

Washington Post–High Court: Does religion still matter?

Here’s the kind of question that might violate the rules you learned about proper dinner conversation: Does President Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee need to be a Protestant?

If Justice John Paul Stevens decides to call it a career after he turns 90 next month, the Supreme Court would for the first time in its history be without a justice belonging to America’s largest religious affiliations.

Perhaps that would mean only that religion is no longer important in the mix of experience and expertise that a president seeks in a Supreme Court nominee. There was a time, of course, in which there was a “Catholic seat” on the court, followed in 1916 with the appointment of the court’s first Jew. The days when one of each seemed sufficient are long over.

Catholics became a majority of the nine-member court in 2006 with the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Sonia Sotomayor made it six last summer. And the other two justices besides Stevens are Jewish.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

WSJ–Massacres Shake Uneasy Nigeria

Pastor Yohanna Gyang Jugu, of Church of Christ in Nigeria, sat outside his burned-down church, tears in his eyes.

“We were sleeping and we heard gunshots all around,” he said. “I woke up and went outside. There was nowhere to pass. Fulani men had surrounded the village. They caught my wife and killed her, and my daughter. They were cutting people down with machetes.”

During the burial service, Solomn Zang, the commissioner for works and transport in Plateau State, where Dogo Nahawa is located, said that the military was not sufficient for protection.

“God willing, we will do something about this,” he said. “Next time if this happens you shouldn’t call the police or the military, call on your neighbors to come and fight.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Violence

Notable and Quotable

As religion is the corner-stone on which alone we have attempted to rear the fabric of morality, the degree of attention which it has received in the instruction and discipline of the Institute, forms another topic in our report. And here while the retrospect affords cause for congratulation that much has been done, it still leaves room for regret that much also has been left undone. It would be an affectation of modesty, however, to disclaim the consciousness that in all our plans and operations, there has been a uniform and earnest endeavor to sustain our religious professions. Accordingly, pains have been taken to give interest to the services of the chapel, and the decorum with which these have been attended by the students has been peculiarly gratifying. The regular and private reading of the Holy Scriptures has been a prescribed, duty and provision made for it in the daily routine of business. Portions of the inspired volume have been explained, after having been committed to memory, weekly; as also the Catechism and Services of the Episcopal Church. The observance of the Lord’s day has been enforced, on the one hand, with a moderation which perceives the danger of rendering its duties tedious and irksome; yet on the other, with a strictness which would guard against the opposite and more common error, of allowing it to relax into a mere holiday for indulgence and amusement. With this view, the tasks of a sacred character required on Sundays have been light, while alluring and persuasive methods have been varied and multiplied, to induce a profitable employment of the time not appropriated to devotional exercises. We thus have succeeded, to an encouraging extent, in preserving the appropriate quiet of the day, and in using it as a means of spiritual edification, without investing it with the gloom and repulsiveness which not unfrequently counteract the beneficent design of the institution; a point which every one practically acquainted with the government of the young, will acknowledge to be as difficult as any other within the sphere of Christian education. In like manner we have been careful to render all the associations of Religion agreeable. Aware, too, that in moral culture, it is the indirect influence which the young disciple is exposed, in the tone and manner of things and in the every day habits of those around him, that operates to the formation of his sentiments and character more powerfully than any repetition of precepts or formal exhibition of example, we have endeavored that religion should be viewed as the source of contentment and self-government to its possessors, and not at variance with the declaration that its ways are “ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.” Pious sensibility has been tenderly cherished whenever it has appeared, and in awakening it, much has been done in the way of private and familiar conversation.

William Augustus Muhlenberg, Christian Education (1831)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Governor's Budget may have overestimated Missouri revenues by up to $1 billion

The state budget presented six weeks ago by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon may have overestimated revenues by as much as $1 billion, lawmakers warned Tuesday.

The stunning deficit could force lawmakers to go beyond program and service cuts to consider major structural changes to state government.

“It is clear that even as Missouri’s economy begins to rebound, state revenues will continue to lag for a prolonged period of time,” Nixon, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday. “As a result, we will need to downsize the scope of state government, while protecting necessary services to the citizens of Missouri.”

That announcement was underscored Tuesday by the release of state revenues for February, which showed a year-to-date decline of 12.7 percent compared with this time last year, and a 14.6 percent drop in revenues for February.

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

A Cardinal for Canterbury?

The Reformation was bad for England, and the nation would do well to become a Catholic country again.

This was the affirmation proposed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on Tuesday during a debate hosted by The Spectator magazine as part of its debate series. The topic under discussion was “England Should Be a Catholic Country Again,” and the cardinal — who is a retired archbishop of Westminster — was joined by author Piers Paul Read and Dom Antony Sutch, parish priest of St. Benets Catholic Church, in speaking for the motion.

Speaking against the motion were Lord Richard Harries, retired Anglican bishop of Oxford; Matthew Parris, former Conservative Member of Parliament and currently a columnist for the Times; and Stephen Pound, Labour Party Member of Parliament.

Though affirming that the Reformation “brought a tremendous loss to this country,” the core of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s contribution focused on an ecumenical vision.

“My vision is for the English Church, united with all its history and genius, is to be aligned and in communion with the billion and more Catholic Christians throughout the world, with 4,000 or 5,000 bishops and in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Cyberwar declared as China hunts for the West’s intelligence secrets

Urgent warnings have been circulated throughout Nato and the European Union for secret intelligence material to be protected from a recent surge in cyberwar attacks originating in China.

The attacks have also hit government and military institutions in the United States, where analysts said that the West had no effective response and that EU systems were especially vulnerable because most cyber security efforts were left to member states.

Nato diplomatic sources told The Times: “Everyone has been made aware that the Chinese have become very active with cyber-attacks and we’re now getting regular warnings from the office for internal security.” The sources said that the number of attacks had increased significantly over the past 12 months, with China among the most active players.

In the US, an official report released on Friday said the number of attacks on Congress and other government agencies had risen exponentially in the past year to an estimated 1.6 billion every month.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Science & Technology

NPR–Walking One Block Damaged By The Housing Crisis

There are basically two kinds of homeowners on Dana Lane ”” those who bought high like the Sandovals, and those who had been there awhile and saw their equity ballooning until it stopped.

“Like everybody else, I’m in an upside-down loan,” says Brenda Moore, who owes more than $300,000 on her mortgage. This is remarkable considering she bought her house in 1989 for $80,000. A search of public records reveals that Moore, a retired nurse, has refinanced her home eight times since 1998.

The loans are from a who’s who of subprime lenders. With each loan she took out more equity, and each time the loan terms got worse.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Gregory of Nyssa

Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

–Mark 6:1-6a

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Another Lenten Prayer

O Thou who hast prepared a place for my soul, prepare my soul for that place. Prepare it with holiness; prepare it with desire; and even while it sojourneth upon earth, let it dwell in heaven with thee, beholding the beauty of thy countenance and the glory of thy saints, now and for evermore.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

FT: Beijing Studies severing peg to US dollar

China’s central bank chief laid the groundwork for an appreciation of the renminbi at the weekend when he described the current dollar peg as temporary, striking a more emollient tone after months of tough opposition in Beijing to a shift in exchange rate policy.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, gave the strongest hint yet from a senior official that China would abandon the unofficial dollar peg, in place since mid-2008. He said it was a “special” policy to weather the financial crisis.

“This is a part of our package of policies for dealing with the global financial crisis. Sooner or later, we will exit the policies.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Survey: College Grads Take Dim View of Ten Commandments

College graduates are more likely to consider the Ten Commandments irrelevant, and reject the Bible as the word of God, than those with no college degree, according to a recent study.

A “distinct shift” occurs after college regarding beliefs and opinion, said Richard Brake, director of university studies at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

The ISI surveyed 2,508 Americans on questions intended to measure the impact of a college degree on people’s beliefs. The Wilmington, Del.-based ISI has administered the survey for the past three years.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults