Daily Archives: June 9, 2010

Thomas Friedman: A Gift for Grads: Start-Ups

That said, I think part of the business community’s complaint about Obama has merit. Although there are many “innovation” initiatives ongoing in this administration, they are not well coordinated or a top priority or championed by knowledgeable leadership. This administration is heavily staffed by academics, lawyers and political types. There is no senior person who has run a large company or built and sold globally a new innovative product. And that partly explains why this administration has been mostly interested in pushing taxes, social spending and regulation ”” not pushing trade expansion, competitiveness and new company formation. Innovation and competitiveness don’t seem to float Obama’s boat. He could use a buoyant growth strategy.

What might that include? I asked two of the best people on this subject, Robert Litan, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in innovation, and Curtis Carlson, the chief executive of SRI International, the Silicon Valley-based innovation specialists.

Carlson said he would begin by creating a cabinet position exclusively for promoting innovation and competitiveness to ensure that America remains “the world’s new company formation leader.” “Secretary Newco” would be focused on pushing through initiatives ”” including lower corporate taxes for start-ups, reducing costly regulations (like Sarbanes-Oxley reporting for new companies), and expanding tax breaks for research and development to make it cheaper and faster to start new firms. We need to unleash millions of entrepreneurs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government

Still Taking to the Streets to Honor Their Saints

The crowds are thinner, the people older and the routes shorter, but the procession is an important cultural event that reaffirms not just faith, but ties to the old neighborhood and the old country.

“There really has been no Italian immigrant narrative written about Williamsburg,” said Joseph Sciorra, a folklorist who has long studied Italian-American traditions. “They have been invisible. But a lot of the history can be tracked by its religious expression.

“Processions map out networks of affiliations,” he added, “people who are devoted to a saint, or are from the same town. It maps out the connections in the community. As people move out and get replaced by new residents, the route gets truncated.”

Devotees of St. Cono, who hail from Teggiano, Italy, first settled the area in the 1880s, establishing one of the many saint societies that exist to this day. After World War II, another society for St. Cono was formed by more recent immigrants; it sponsored this week’s feast.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Student Loans and the Second Recession

In light of the current financial crises, many banks are starting to turn down students’ requests for loans. In some cases, before a degree is even earned. Without a job and without a degree to, presumably, get a higher paying job, these people are left without a way to repay their debts. And, it gets worse”¦.

Whereas the homeowners who defaulted on their loans were able to declare bankruptcy in many cases, student loans cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. In turn, these young people are left with very few options for repayment and are burdened by a debt that is not going away any time soon. The balance will increase through interest, fees, service charges, etc. until it extinguishes their chances to get a home loan or even find a life partner (i.e. many people would rather not take on a $2,000/month payment just to be married to someone).

In reality, many of these new graduates are left with a singular option ”“ the federal Income-Based Repayment plan, or IBR, if they qualify….

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Young Adults

Anglican Essentials: Press conference with TEC Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori

Q: In Dar es Salaam there was a call for a fourth moratorium for a cessation of litigation. We now have only three moratoria but both TEC and the ACoC claim to be missional churches; how does the spectacle of lawsuits look to the unchurched?
KJS: the reality is that sometimes the church does need to resort to civil courts to assert its rights. It’s not just TEC and the ACoC, the church in Jerusalem is in court with a former bishop who absconded with assets belonging to the Diocese of Jerusalem. Similar things have happened in Sudan, in Mexico, in Columbia, Ecuador, it’s not unique to North America….

Q: Has the ABC responded adequately to cross border interventions?
KJS: I don’t think he understands how difficult, painful and destructive it’s been, both in the ACoC and TEC. When bishops come from overseas and say, well, we’ll take care of you, you don’t have to pay attention to your bishop, it destroys pastoral relationships. It’s like an affair in a marriage: it destroys trust and I believe it does spiritual violence to vowed relationships. It is a very ancient teaching of the church that a bishop is supposed to stay home and tend to the flock to which he was originally assigned.

Q: you mentioned in your Pentecost letter ”“ from the duelling Pentecost letters ”“ “we note the troubling push towards centralised authority “ in response to Rowan Williams. Is not the resistance to cross-border interventions a similar push towards central authority on a smaller scale?
KJS: The resistance to cross-border interventions is for the reasons I’ve pointed out: it destroys pastoral relationships. It prevents any possibility of reconciliation; it prevents growth in understanding among people who disagree. The idea that one person in one location in the world can adequately understand contexts across the globe and decide policy across the globe, I think contravenes traditional Anglican understanding of local worship in a language understood by the people. This is what we were arguing about 500 years ago.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Theology

Presiding Bishop describes Canterbury's sanctions as 'unfortunate'

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has described the decision by Lambeth Palace to remove Episcopalians serving on international ecumenical dialogues as “unfortunate … It misrepresents who the Anglican Communion is.”

Jefferts Schori’s comments were made during a June 8 press conference at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Before the sanctions were imposed on the Episcopal Church as a consequence for having consecrated a lesbian bishop, Jefferts Schori said she had written a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressing her concern.

“I don’t think it helps dialogue to remove some people from the conversation,” she said shortly after addressing General Synod. “We have a variety of opinions on these issues of human sexuality across the communion … For the archbishop of Canterbury to say to the Methodists or the Lutheran [World] Federation that we only have one position is inaccurate. We have a variety of understandings and no, we don’t have consensus on hot button issues at the moment.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Baptist leader Richard Land backs citizenship for illegal immigrants

When Nashville’s Richard Land talks to Hispanic Southern Baptists this month, he’ll tell them the denomination supports establishing a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants.

After borders are secure, he’ll say, there needs to be a way for them to pay back taxes, take a civics course and get in line with others seeking legal status.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, admits it’s a message that will test some of the church’s mainstream membership, but it’s one that needs to be said.

“It’s love your neighbor, do unto others,” Land said. “This is a kingdom issue. They are disproportionately suffering because they are forced to remain in the shadows because of their illegal status.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

National Election results: Whitman and Fiorina Win in California; Lincoln Prevails in Arkansas

Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas survived a tough challenge from her party’s left wing on Tuesday to capture the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary election, resisting the anti-incumbent wave that has defined the midterm election year.

Mrs. Lincoln withstood a multi-million-dollar campaign against her from organized labor, environmental groups and liberal advocacy organizations from outside Arkansas as she prevailed over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She faces a difficult contest in the fall, but her victory challenges the suggestion that voters are poised to oust all officeholders.

“We proved that this senator’s vote is not for sale and neither is yours,” Mrs. Lincoln said. “We took on the outside groups seeking to manipulate our votes.”

In California, Republican primary voters chose female business executives to run for Senate and for governor after both crushed their opponents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, State Government

South Carolina Election Analysis: Conventional wisdom wrong in 2010

South Carolina voters sent a message to their elected officials Tuesday: Experience counts ”“ against you.

As with primaries in other states, incumbents faced a tough year.

The results also show that a poor economy and an unhappy electorate have rendered conventional wisdom wrong and that Democrats head into November’s general election with their most viable chance at capturing the Governor’s Mansion and other offices in more than a decade.

I bet you are not surprised about such “wisdom;” I wasn’t either. Read it all-KSH.

Posted in Uncategorized

South Carolina Election Results: Haley, Barrett in GOP runoff; Democrats choose Sheheen

Brushing aside allegations of extramarital affairs, tea party favorite Nikki Haley pushed aside a tough group of political stalwarts and nearly won outright the GOP primary race for governor. Just shy of the 50 percent needed to earn the Republican bid, Haley now faces U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff June 22.

Meanwhile, Democrats overwhelmingly chose Vincent Sheheen as their nominee for governor. Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, took 59 percent of the vote, topping Jim Rex, state superintendent of education, with 23 percent. State Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston finished with 18 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, State Government

Glut of preachers struggle to find jobs

By the time she graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in May 2009, the Rev. Kara Hildebrandt could translate a passage from the Greek New Testament with relative ease, write a sermon like a pro and pass her ordination exams with flying colors.

Finding a job as a pastor?

That was a bit more difficult.

A combination of many preachers, too many small churches and a bad economy have led to one of the worst job markets for ministers in decades. That has led to the so-called clergy glut. According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, there are more than 600,000 ministers in the United States but only 338,000 churches. Many of those are small churches that can’t afford a full-time preacher. Among Presbyterians, there are four pastors looking for work for every one job opening.

That has left many good pastors out in the cold, waiting before finding a new job or finding alternative employment, denominational leaders say.

Read the whole article.

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

Islamic Extremist Group Recruits Americans for Civil War, Not Jihad

The Islamic extremist group in Somalia that two New Jersey men were seeking to join when they were arrested in New York on Saturday has recruited several hundred foreign fighters to help wage an intensifying civil war in a destitute East African country, American officials said on Sunday.

But interest in the movement, Al Shabab, among American recruits appeared to have waned in recent years as news spread in Somali communities in Minneapolis and other cities that some of the recruits had been killed.

“Since the 2007-2008 period, when foreign fighters were flowing in, you haven’t heard about too many other Americans going there,” said Andre Le Sage, a senior research fellow who specializes in Africa at the National Defense University in Washington.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

USA Today: What happens when medical, religious ethics clash?

The case of an abortion at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix prompted an angry bishop to rebuke the Sister of Mercy who allowed the surgery to save the mother’s life.

But you don’t have to be a pregnant woman with a rare heart condition to be affected by the questions raised at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

You don’t even have to be Catholic.

If you are in a Catholic facility (where one-sixth of U.S. hospital beds are located), the Phoenix case could make you question who has final say in life-and-death decisions: You, or the local bishop?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Church of England Evangelical Council responds to the Pb's visit

The Church of England Evangelical Council observe that the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (USA), the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to preach and preside at the Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral on June 13.

We are concerned about the following: her recent statements strongly affirm the current policy of TEC to consecrate openly homosexual persons as bishops. Such a policy is in clear contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and the stated position of the Church of England. Furthermore Bishop Jefferts Schori recently rejected the Archbishop of Canterbury’s exercise of discipline on the relation of TEC to the Anglican Communion.

Read the whole thing there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Other Churches, Presiding Bishop

BBC: Spanish public sector on strike against austerity plan

Heavy rain hampered an evening rally through the city’s streets.

Spanish unions said 75-80% of public sector workers had joined the day-long strike.

The labour ministry, however, put the figure at 16%.

“We are very angry because this is not only an attack to our rights and to our salaries – there is an attack to the welfare,” protester Elisia Deoran told the BBC.

“It’s an attack on all the public services.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Spain, The Banking System/Sector

(London) Times: Prisoners convert to Islam for jail perks

Inmates are converting to Islam in order to gain perks and the protection of powerful Muslim gangs, the Chief Inspector of Prisons warns today.

Dame Anne Owers says that some convicted criminals are taking up the religion in jail to receive benefits only available to practising Muslims.

The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s ”” from 2,513 in 1994, or 5 per cent of the population, to 9,795 in 2008, or 11 per cent. Staff at top-security prisons and youth jails have raised concerns about the intimidation of non-Muslims and possible forced conversions.

Dame Anne’s report, Muslim Prisoners’ Experiences, published today, says that, although several high-profile terrorists have been jailed recently, fewer than 1 in 100 Muslim inmates have been convicted of terrorism.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture