Daily Archives: May 10, 2010

Charleston, West Virginia, Gazette: Activist minister Jim Lewis has Episcopal license stripped

One of West Virginia’s best-known ministers — an activist against the Iraq war and longtime leader of other public causes — has been stripped of his license by the state’s Episcopal bishop.

The Rev. Jim Lewis says his Episcopal credentials were revoked on grounds that he performed too many rites for his former parishioners at St. John’s Church in Charleston.

However, he says, nearly nine years have elapsed since he returned to Charleston in retirement, and his involvement with long-ago church members never caused a problem until now.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

New national service grads face dim job market

The tattoo on Christian Berrios’ right forearm says “Knowledge is Power.” For a high school dropout in a city with shuttered textile plants and 18% unemployment, he needs all the knowledge he can get.

Berrios will graduate in June from YouthBuild, one of many national service programs that got an infusion of federal aid under last year’s economic stimulus law. He’ll get his high school equivalency degree as well as “green” construction skills to help him navigate a difficult job market.

“It’s tough out there,” says Berrios, 22, who wants a college degree in psychology. “I feel we got a better chance at scoring a better job.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Young Adults

Sunday Times (London): Draft law opens way for first women bishops by 2014

THE Church of England has paved the way for ordination of its first women bishops with new legislation that it hopes will prevent Anglicans splitting over the issue.

A draft law released yesterday, which has taken nearly two years to complete, could lead to the first women bishops being ordained in 2014, 20 years after female priests were first welcomed into the church.

It would bring the Church of England into line with Anglicans in America, Canada and Australia, while simultaneously widening the gulf with Catholics in Rome.

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

New Zealand General Synod–Covenant section seen as 'punitive and unAnglican'

“Punitive, controlling and completely un-Anglican” ”“ that’s how Dr Tony Fitchett sees Section 4 of the proposed Covenant.

But even if General Synod were of a mind to toss that section out, holus bolus, now is not the time to do that, he suggested.

While there’s a feeling that the Covenant has been “done to death” and General Synod had the power, making that decision was important enough to warrant using the same mechanisms used for changing the constitution, for example.

He said there’d long been pressure for an instant decision.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces

The Latest Issue of the Anglican Digest

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Radicalization of Times Square suspect was gradual, investigators say

The suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing appears to have been acting out of anger toward the United States that had accumulated over multiple trips to his native Pakistan, culminating in a lengthy recent stay in which he committed to the bombing plot while undergoing training with elements of the Pakistani Taliban, U.S. officials said Thursday.

U.S. officials said Faisal Shahzad’s radicalization was cumulative and largely self-contained — meaning that it did not involve typical catalysts such as direct contact with a radical cleric, a visible conversion to militant Islam or a significant setback in life.

U.S. officials said they are assembling a portrait of Shahzad — based in part on the account he has given interrogators — that may help explain why he attracted scant scrutiny during his transition from student and young father in the Connecticut suburbs to the man accused of parking a vehicle packed with explosives in Times Square.

Shahzad’s transition “was a gradual thing that started years ago,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official with access to interrogation reports from the probe. “It wasn’t suddenly, ‘I found God, and this is the right path.’ There is a combination of religion and anger.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

RNS–From clergy shortage to clergy glut

After a decade-long clergy shortage in America’s pulpits, Christian denominations are now experiencing a clergy glut — with some denominations reporting two ministers for every vacant pulpit.

“We have a serious surplus of ministers and candidates seeking calls,” said Marcia Myers, director of the vocation office for the Presbyterian Church (USA), which has four ministers for every opening.

The cause of the sudden turnaround: blame the bad economy.

According to PC(USA) data, there are 532 vacancies for 2,271 ministers seeking positions. The Assemblies of God, United Methodist Church, Church of the Nazarene and other Protestant denominations also report significant surpluses.

Cash-strapped parishioners — who were already aging and shrinking in number — have given less to their churches, resulting in staff cuts. Meanwhile, older clergy who saw their retirement funds evaporate are delaying retirement, leaving fewer positions available to younger ministers.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Lutheran, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Seminary / Theological Education, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology, United Church of Christ

Niall Ferguson–How the crisis in Greece could lead to the demise of Europe's most ambitious project

Even more alarming is the exposure of other EU banks to Greek debt, which totals $193 billion, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Factor in the risk of copycat crises in Portugal and Spain, and you begin to see the outlines of a disastrous Europewide banking crisis. The only way out of that will be further compromises by the ECB about the paper it accepts as collateral. Already last week it waived its rules, continuing to hold Greek bonds, despite their junk status. If this continues, there is only one way for the euro to go, and that’s down.

Keep this in perspective. When the euro was launched back in January 1999, it was worth less than $1.20, and for most of its first three years it was down below parity with the dollar. So its recent slide from close to $1.60 before the global financial crisis to $1.27 last week is far from unprecedented. But the way this crisis is unfolding, further declines seem likely. It will surely be at least a year before investors wake up to the fact that the fiscal predicament of the United States is actually worse than that of the euro zone.

The difference is, of course, that the United States has a federal system, while the euro zone does not. In America, Texas automatically bails out Michigan via the redistribution of income and corporation tax receipts. What the Greek crisis has belatedly revealed is that such fiscal centralization is the necessary corollary of a monetary union.

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

Moody's: U.S. Debt Shock May Hit In 2018, Maybe As Soon As 2013

Spiraling debt is Uncle Sam’s shock collar, and its jolt may await like an invisible pet fence.

“Nobody knows when you bump up against the limit, but you know when it happens it will really hurt,” said fiscal watchdog Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The great uncertainty about how much debt is too much has tended to make fiscal discipline seem less urgent, rather than more. There is no obvious threshold beyond which investors will demand higher real yields for holding U.S. debt. Vague warnings from ratings agencies about the loss of America’s ‘AAA’ status haven’t added much clarity ”” until recently.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

EU Crafts $962 Billion Show of Force to Halt Crisis

European policy makers unveiled an unprecedented loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases to stop a sovereign-debt crisis that threatened to shatter confidence in the euro. Stocks surged around the world, the euro strengthened and commodities rallied.

Jolted by last week’s slide in the currency and soaring bond yields in Portugal and Spain, European Union finance chiefs met in a 14-hour session in Brussels overnight. The 16 euro nations agreed in a statement to offer as much as 750 billion euros ($962 billion), including International Monetary Fund backing, to countries facing instability and the European Central Bank said it will buy government and private debt.

The rescue package for Europe’s sovereign debtors comes little more than a year after the waning of the last crisis, caused by the U.S. mortgage-market collapse, which wreaked $1.8 trillion of global credit losses and writedowns. Under U.S. and Asian pressure to stabilize markets, Europe’s governments bet their show of force would prevent a sovereign-debt collapse and muffle speculation the 11-year-old euro might break apart.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Workers on Oil Rig Recall a Terrible Night of Blasts

Nearly 50 miles offshore at the big oil rig floating on a glassy-calm sea, a helicopter landed early on the morning of April 20, carrying four executives from BP, the oil company. The men were visiting the Deepwater Horizon to help honor the crew for its standout safety record.

The rig workers were buzzing for another reason. They were nearly done with the latest job. It had been a little tricky, but it was nothing they could not handle.

As night fell, Micah Joseph Sandell, 40, was in the small cab of his crane, three stories above the bustling deck. Two floors down from the helipad, men in red coveralls waited for dinner in a hall lined with gold safety plaques. Eugene Dewayne Moss, a 37-year-old crane operator, realized he needed to tear himself away from a movie to get ready for his overnight shift.

“I thought, Oh man, I’ve got to go,” Mr. Moss recalled. “I got up, turned my TV off.”

Seconds later, a thundering explosion rocked the rig, the beginning of a terrifying night for the men who would survive one of the most harrowing disasters in the history of the oil business.

All over the ship, men snapped into action. Sleeping workers leapt from their beds. Then came a second explosion, even louder than the first….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

Obama Is Said to Select Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice Nominee

President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future, Democrats close to the White House said Sunday.

After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public.

In settling on Ms. Kagan, the president chose a well-regarded 50-year-old lawyer who served as a staff member in all three branches of government and was the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School. If confirmed, she would be the youngest member and the third woman on the current court, but the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.

That lack of time on the bench may both help and hurt her confirmation prospects, allowing critics to question whether she is truly qualified while denying them a lengthy judicial paper trail filled with ammunition for attacks….

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

McClatchy: Changing population scrambles regional stereotypes

Forget about the Midwest, Kansas City. You’re now part of the “New Heartland.”

So are you Charleston, S.C, even with all your Spanish moss and Southern charm, and Portland Ore., way out there on the Pacific Coast.

These three metropolitan areas couldn’t be further apart geographically.

Demographically, however, they might have more in common with each other than they do with some of their regional neighbors, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

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

The Tablet–Schönborn attacks Sodano and urges reform

The head of the Austrian Church has launched an attack of one of the most senior cardinals in the Vatican, saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, “deeply wronged” the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy when he dismissed media reports of the scandal. In a meeting with editors of the main Austrian daily newspapers last week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, also said the Roman Curia was “urgently in need of reform”, and that lasting gay relationships deserved respect. He reiterated his view that the Church needs to reconsider its position on re-married divorcees.

On Easter Day, Cardinal Sodano called the mounting reports of clerical sex abuse “petty gossip”. This had “deeply wronged the victims”, Cardinal Schönborn said, and he recalled that it was Cardinal Sodano who had prevented Joseph Ratzinger, then a cardinal, from investigating allegations of abuse made against Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, the previous Archbishop of Vienna, who resigned in disgrace in 1995.

Cardinal Schönborn said that Pope Benedict was “gently” working on reforming the Curia but he had the whole world on his desk, as the cardinal put it, and his way of working and his style of communication did not make it easy to advise him quickly from outside.

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

AP: White House says Pakistan Taliban behind NY bomb

Saying they obtained new evidence, senior White House officials said Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the failed Times Square bombing.

The attempt marks the first time the group has been able to launch an attack on U.S. soil. And while U.S. officials have downplayed the threat ”” citing the bomb’s lack of sophistication ”” the incident in Times Square and Christmas Day airline bomber indicate growing strength by overseas terrorist groups linked to al-Qaida even as the CIA says their operations are seriously degraded.

The finding also raises new questions about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, which is widely known to have al-Qaida and other terrorist groups operating within its borders.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Terrorism