Daily Archives: May 8, 2010

Sweden has first passive euthanasia since law relaxed

A Swedish woman who was paralysed died Wednesday after her respirator was unplugged, in the country’s first case of euthanasia since the law was relaxed last month, a Stockholm hospital said.

“The patient who asked the National Health Board to die, died at 5:33 pm (1533 GMT) after her respirator was unplugged,” Annakarin Svenningsson, a spokeswoman for Stockholm’s Danderyd hospital told AFP.

Sweden’s health authority last month authorised passive euthanasia, whereby patients may request the termination of their treatment knowing that this will lead to their death.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Sweden, Theology

Mohamed El-Erian–A critical weekend for Europe and the Global economy

Yesterday night’s important news out of Europe points to renewed efforts to rescue Greece and safeguard the Euro. The news will undoubtedly be accompanied by additional announcements out of Brussels and Berlin, as well as Washington DC. In the process, the stakes are getting even bigger”¦for Greece, Europe and the global economy.

As the announcements multiply, it is even more important to be clear about the key question. This is best summarized by a simple, and disturbing image, that a friend alerted me to:

With Greece (as well as Portugal and some other countries) now visibly drowning in a sea of debt, the question is whether the rescuer (EU/IMF) can pull off the rescue or, instead, get pulled down with all parties drowning.

So far, the attempts at rescue-including last Sunday’s dramatic EUR 110 billion announcement-have have been incomplete with respect to both design and implementation. They were thus viewed as insufficient and not credible by analysts and markets. As a result, the Greek crisis morphed in the following days into something much more sinister for Europe and the global economy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Banking System/Sector

FT: EU works on financial support deal

European Union officials were working out the details of a financial support mechanism on Saturday to prevent Greece’s debt turmoil spreading to Portugal and Spain, ready for approval by EU finance ministers on Sunday.

The leaders of the 16 countries that use the single currency said on Friday after talks with the European Central Bank and the executive European Commission that they would take whatever steps were needed to protect the stability of the euro area.

Both Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy cancelled trips to Moscow to mark the anniversary of the end of world war two in order to continue consultations over the crisis, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would still go.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Banking System/Sector

Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials

A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street?

Through the day and into the evening, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies hunted for clues amid a tangle of electronic trading records from the nation’s increasingly high-tech exchanges.

But, maddeningly, the cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Pope accepts resignation of German bishop in sex probe

Pope Benedict today accepted the resignation of a German bishop who has been accused of sexually abusing children, the latest in a string of Roman Catholic prelates forced to resign over an abuse scandal.

A Vatican statement said the pope agreed Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria should step down. He became the first bishop to quit in the pontiff’s native Germany over the abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in several European countries and the United States.

In recent weeks, a Belgian bishop resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy and three Irish bishops quit over their handling of sexual abuse cases.

German prosecutors and church officials said yesterday authorities were investigating accusations of sexual abuse by Mixa, who had already offered to resign after being accused of hitting children.

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

Mary Ann Glendon's Summary of the 2010 plenary sessions of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

Our plenary addressed itself explicitly to the economic crisis. We have all witnessed the severe upheavals in the financial sector, with its consequences for the real economy, especially regarding unemployment and public sector finances. Moreover, our meeting took place during the Greek crisis, indicating that the questions we examined were as relevant as the daily headlines. Our plenary this year was marked by an analysis of recent events in a manner more immediate than is customary in the rhythms of academic life.

Among many points our academicians and our invited guests made, I would draw attention to three themes that emerged in many interventions.

The current economic crisis had its roots in the financial sector. Indeed, one invited speaker, Dr. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Chairman of Ferrari and Fiat, former president of Confindustria, spoke of a shift from an economy based in the real production of goods to an economy dominated by speculative activities driven by greed. The fragility of the economic system was partly a consequence of an overreliance on speculative financial activities separated from productive activity in the real economy. Two members of our Academy, Professor Margaret Archer and Professor Partha Dasgupta, spoke more broadly of the danger of the “financialization” of human relations, in which human activities, even in the family, are reduced to a merely commercial dimension. One of our guests, Professor Stefano Zamagni, pointed out the danger of thinking even of business firms in this way, where the corporation ceases to be an association of persons and become a commodity instead. Such a “financialized” approach to the social order not only narrows the vision of the human person, but creates instability in the economy.

A common theme of our deliberations was that the economic crisis took a serious toll on the poor, even if the origin was in the wealthy countries and within the financial sector of the wealthy countries. Those who were not at fault suffered. Members of our Academy, including Professor Paulus Zulu and Professor Mina Ramirez, spoke about the suffering of the most vulnerable. Professor Sabourin of our Academy drew our attention to the fact that, for the first time, our world will soon have 1 billion malnourished people….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Stage set for key July debates on legislation to enable women to be bishops

The Church of England has…[yesterday] published the 142-page report of the Revision Committee that has been considering in detail the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England. Also published is an amended version of the draft, eleven clause Measure and associated draft Amending Canon.

The Committee has met on 16 occasions over the past 12 months and considered 114 submissions from members of the General Synod and a further 183 submissions from others. After much discussion the Committee rejected proposals aimed at fundamentally changing the approach of the legislation, whether by converting it into the simplest possible draft Measure or by creating more developed arrangements ”“ whether through additional dioceses, a statutorily recognised society or some transfer of jurisdiction ”“ for those unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

As indicated to the General Synod in February 2010 (scroll to p6), the draft legislation continues to provide special arrangements for those with conscientious difficulties by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory Code of Practice. The legislation has been amended in a number of detailed respects. Provision for statutory declarations by bishops unable to take part in the consecration of women as bishops or their ordination as priests has been removed as has an obligation on the Archbishops to nominate particular suffragan sees to be occupied by those who do not consecrate or ordain women.

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

SMH: Anglicans argue for fewer kids

The Anglican Church wants Australians to have fewer children and has urged the federal government to scrap the baby bonus and cut immigration levels.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church has issued a warning that current rates of population growth are unsustainable and potentially out of step with church doctrine – including the eighth commandment ”thou shall not steal”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Children, Marriage & Family

CEN: US Episcopal bishop comes home from Rome

A former American bishop, who quit the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church in 2007, has been restored to the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church.

However, the method used to restore the Rt Rev Daniel Herzog of Albany does not conform to church law, legal scholars note, and was accomplished by a questionable canonical legerdemain that leaves his current status in doubt.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

A call to prayer for the formation of the next UK government

From here:

O Lord, you give the rulers of your people wisdom, discernment and insight in order that they might govern with justice, compassion and righteousness. As the leaders of our political parties negotiate the formation of the next government, we ask you so to move the hearts and wills of our leaders and people that in righteousness we may be led, and in righteousness may gladly follow; to the honour of your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

Desmond Lachman: Greek Tragedy Could Have Multiple Acts

The basic flaw in the IMF-EU sponsored program to restore Greek fiscal sustainability through a program of draconian public expenditure cuts is that if successfully implemented it will have the unwanted effect of increasing rather than reducing Greece’s public-debt-to-GDP ratio. Since if Greece’s nominal GDP were to decline over the next few years by 30 percent as a result of a deep recession and price deflation, Greece’s public-debt-to-GDP ratio would arithmetically rise from its present level of around 120 percent towards 175 percent. It is calculations of this sort that have recently led Standard and Poor’s to warn Greek bond holders that they might eventually retrieve only 30 to 50 cents on the dollar on their bond holdings.

A major write-down of Greece’s $400 billion sovereign debt would deal a serious blow to an already enfeebled European banking system, which holds the majority of that debt. Indeed, if Greece’s debt does need to be written down by anywhere near the Standard and Poor’s estimate, one could see the IMF having to revise up by at least 20 percent its present estimate of the European banks’ likely loan losses from the 2008”“2009 global economic crisis.

The even greater risk to the European banking system from a Greek failure is that it would bring very much into play Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. These countries, which between them have around US$1.5 trillion in sovereign debt, suffer from similar, albeit less acute, public finance and international competitiveness problems. And they too are stuck in a Euro-zone straightjacket that severely constrains their ability to deal with these problems in a credible manner.

In considering the timing of the Federal Reserve’s exit strategy, Bernanke would make the gravest of errors were he to underestimate the potential fallout of a Greek failure on the U.S. and global economies….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Greece, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government

Local Newspaper Editorial–Straight talk on terror

The Obama administration has wrongly downplayed, in its public remarks, the threat of terrorist attacks on the United States and American interests abroad. Now that the evidence of multiple plots against Americans has become unmistakable, it is time for candor.

In his early efforts to distance himself from the Bush administration, this president dropped the term “war on terror” from the government’s vocabulary. In initial comments on the three terrorist attacks the nation has suffered since last November, two of them luckily unsuccessful, his appointed officials have suggested that they were unconnected events, “one-offs” as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described the Times Square plot.

But the November murders at Fort Hood, Texas, by Army Major Nidal Hassan turned out to be inspired by a radical Muslim preacher in Yemen. Yemen turned up again when an al-Qaida cell there sent the Christmas Day bomber Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab aboard a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit wearing explosives hidden in his underwear.

Now the Times Square bomber — thankfully, another failure — turns out to have been trained in bomb-making in Pakistan’s “Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” a region bordering Afghanistan that is largely under the control of the militant Taliban groups that play host to al-Qaida.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Terrorism

Local Paper Front Page–V-E Day memories

Army Lt. Bill Hamilton’s V-E Day memory centers around a castle and a river.

Hamilton, 86, of West Ashley was in Salzburg, Austria, that week in 1945 and faced a last firefight against Nazi SS troops. German army soldiers helped the Americans because they disliked the SS so much, he said.

Hamilton, who was part of The Citadel’s Class of 1944, and his soldiers had to spend the night in a castle until it was safe to head back to the American lines, he remembered.

On May 8, ranking officers told Hamilton to be on the alert for the announcement that unconditional surrender was coming. When word came that peace had arrived, his men ran to a nearby river and tossed in all their hand-grenades after first pulling the trigger pins.

“All the fish came up,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Germany, History, Military / Armed Forces

Times (London) Editorial on the UK Election: Yes We Can

Yesterday’s momentous events left many things uncertain. But one thing at least is clear: Gordon Brown cannot remain Prime Minister. His statement yesterday afternoon was admirable in its attempt to reassure the rest of the world that Britain has a functioning government and a constitutional process to prevent a drift into an economically precarious malaise. But it was brazen in its attempt to shore up his own position.

Any attempt by Mr Brown to cling on to office is indefensible. The verdict of the country was made manifestly clear as the counts rolled towards a close yesterday: Labour has suffered its worst defeat since 1931. This is a man whose party has been trying to oust him for two years; who is resented by members of his own Cabinet; who was rejected by Nick Clegg as a potential partner even before the election result was known. Constitutionally, Mr Brown has the right to remain Prime Minister and try to form a new government. In reality he should know that it is time for him to go.

It is David Cameron, not Mr Brown, who now has the moral right to govern the country….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General

Paul Kedrosky: The Run on the Shadow Liquidity System

But all of this changes market microstructure in insidiously destabilizing ways. For the first time we have large providers of this shadow liquidity, algorithms and high-frequency sorts, that individually account for large percentages of daily trading activity, and, at the same time, that can be turned off with a switch, or at an algorithmic whim. As a result, in market crises, when liquidity was always hardest to find, it now doesn’t just become hard to find, it disappears altogether, like water rushing out [of] sight via a trapdoor to hell.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Science & Technology, Stock Market