Daily Archives: July 14, 2010

FT: President Obama faces growing credibility crisis

In the past few days polls have shown Republican challengers taking the lead over previously safe Democratic incumbents, such as Barbara Boxer in California and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Indeed, given the uniformly negative direction in the numbers, it is now quite possible the Republicans could win the Senate seats formerly held by both President Obama in Illinois, and Joe Biden, vice-president, in Delaware.

Add to that the continuing woes of Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic majority leader, in Nevada, where the Republican party’s recent nomination of Sharron Angle, a far-right and highly eccentric Tea Party supporter, appear to have had no positive effect on Mr Reid’s prospects, and the Grand Old party has a good shot at taking control of both houses of Congress. Worse for Mr Obama, political scientists say that at this stage in the calendar, there is almost nothing he can do about it.

“If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton official, who has been predicting for months the Democrats could lose the House. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Government Vastly Undercounts Student Loan Defaults

The share of borrowers who default on their student loans is bigger than the federal government’s short-term data suggest, with thousands more facing damaged credit histories and millions more tax dollars being lost in the long run.

According to unpublished data obtained by The Chronicle, one in every five government loans that entered repayment in 1995 has gone into default. The default rate is higher for loans made to students from two-year colleges, and higher still, reaching 40 percent, for those who attended for-profit institutions.

The numbers represent thousands of students like Lourdes Samedy, of Boston, who ended up defaulting on about $7,000 in student loans after completing a nine-month-long medical-assistant program at Corinthian Colleges Inc. Everest College, and now cannot get a job.

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

Lutherans OK big change in structure

Resolution 8-08 was giving many people fits at the national convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The title: “To Realign the National Synod Ministries Around Two Mission Boards.”

It was a staid heading, but it represented a radical and historic change to the denomination structure.

Supporters said the proposed restructuring would decrease costs in an era of dramatic fiscal challenges throughout mainline Protestant Christendom. Critics felt the move would be a step toward a hierarchical structure more similar to the Catholic Church’s.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches

Finance Overhaul Casts Long Shadow on the Plains

Farmer Jim Kreutz uses derivatives to soften the blow should the price of feed corn drop before harvest. His brother-in-law, feedlot owner Jon Reeson, turns to them to hedge the price of his steer. The local farmers’ co-op uses derivatives to finance fixed-price diesel for truckers who carry cattle to slaughter. And the packing plant employs derivatives to stabilize costs from natural gas to foreign currencies.

Far from Wall Street, President Barack Obama’s financial regulatory overhaul, which may pass Congress as early as Thursday, will leave tracks across the wide-open landscape of American industry.

Designed to fix problems that helped cause the financial crisis, the bill will touch storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus, attesting to the sweeping nature of the legislation, the broadest revamp of finance rules since the 1930s.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

The Bishop of Norwich: Letter to all Clergy following General Synod

A Code of Practice which means that a woman bishop would delegate her authority to a male bishop (for pastoral and sacramental care) for parishes which cannot accept her authority does mean that the parish concerned would have to recognise the apostolic authority of the female bishop in order to make this request. That’s what some of the opponents find so difficult. That’s also why our Archbishops proposed an amendment which suggested co-ordinate jurisdiction deriving from the Measure itself. It would not have impaired the jurisdiction of the female bishop but required her (and male bishops too) to work with an episcopal colleague in order to provide pastoral and sacramental care for every parish within any diocese. It was this amendment which was carried by majorities in the House of Bishops and House of Laity but fell by five votes in the House of Clergy.

The Archbishops made it clear that it was not a test of loyalty to them but a way of so re-shaping the Code of Practice to make it something which could work for everyone without any losers. I voted for it and regret that it failed so narrowly to receive the Synod’s approval.

However, the House of Bishops is intending to get on with the work of drawing up the Code of Practice with some urgency. One of the difficulties is that we do not have a Code of Practice to work with yet which is why so many people were in the dark about the Archbishops’ intentions or what the consequences would be of what they had suggested at what seemed like the last minute (though this was inevitable).

Read it all (Word document).

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

Post-Gazette: More allegations of abuse by former Erie Area Episcopal bishop

More allegations of child sexual abuse against the late Bishop Donald Davis of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania have surfaced since the current bishop revealed four cases on Sunday and urged other victims to come forward.

“I now know about the possibility of more than five additional complaints,” Episcopal Bishop Sean Rowe of Erie said in a statement released Tuesday. “In the days to come, I may hear from more.

“All of these women are in my prayers, and I ask that you include them in yours. I am going to spend the next several weeks talking with women who come forward, and working with them on how best to foster their healing and reconciliation.”

What was originally known as the Diocese of Erie split from the Diocese of Pittsburgh a century ago. Bishop Davis presided over the 13-county diocese from 1974 to 1991.

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

Statement from Catholic Group in Church of England General Synod

From here:

The Catholic Group in General Synod is encouraged by the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury that there is still ”˜unfinished business’ and that ”˜the Church is only part of the way through the process’ of determining the way forward for women bishops legislation.

The Group was, however, disappointed that there was a lack of support for financial hardship where clergy feel by conscience that they need to resign from the Church of England. The onus now is on the Church of England to provide for its clergy to remain within the Church for which we have always fought as loyal Anglicans.

We remain committed to both the process and our Church, and would wish to play a major part in helping the Church in its ongoing journey in a spirit of unity that is Christ’s way.

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

RNS: Church of England Gives Green Light for Women Bishops

The Church of England will proceed with legislation to allow the ordination of women bishops, despite fierce opposition from Anglican traditionalists.

After a marathon, 12-hour debate in York, the church’s General Synod on Monday (July 12) rejected calls for further delays in developing a draft law to allow female bishops. The earliest women bishops could be ordained is 2014.

But the decision did little to tamp down furious infighting that some fear could prompt conservatives to defect to the Roman Catholic Church.

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

Teens using digital tones to get high

Teens in Oklahoma and other states are experimenting with what they say is a new way to get high: listening to online music and tones that they say can cause a drug-like state of euphoria.

The youths plug into what they call ‘i-dosers’ by putting on headphones and downloading music and tones that create a supposed drug-like euphoria, according to some school officials.

The technology is designed to combine a tone in each ear to create a binaural beat designed to alter brainwaves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Music, Teens / Youth

Paul R. La Monica–Earnings look good. But where are the jobs?

But riddle me this, Bat-readers. If companies are so jazzed about the future, why is the economy still mired in a jobless recovery that some fear could lead to a double-dip recession?

Companies are talking a good game about the worst possibly being over for the economy. Deep down though, executives must know that the sovereign debt problems in Europe and continued signs of sluggish consumer spending and weak U.S. housing market could keep a lid on any rebound.

The sad reality is that many companies appear to be getting used to, at best, doing more with their current workforce. In some cases, they are doing more with less.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on before the people.” And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And you shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'”

–Joshua 3:5-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bishop of London:General Synod ”“ What actually happened?

The Archbishops’ proposal failed to secure a majority in the House of Clergy although it passed the Bishops and the Laity. The important point is that valiant attempts are being made to open the way for women to be consecrated bishops without excluding from the church those who adhere to the present position and who share the faith which inspires our mission. We now have an opportunity to consider the draft legislation in the Diocese and I shall be setting out the process for doing this in due course. At the same time the House of Bishops is charged with working on the vital question of the Code of Practice. The Bishop of Willesden and I will be fully involved in these discussions. There will be a special meeting of the Diocesan Synod to ponder and vote on the advice which London will be sending back to the General Synod. I do hope that anyone questioning their place in the Church of England on the basis of media reports or premature judgements about the final shape of the legislation will get in touch with me or with their respective Area Bishop before making any personal decisions or public statements. I returned from York clear both that the majority will is to ordain women bishops while at the same time preserving, as far as possible, the unity of the church in her mission and service to our country.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

Deadly Uganda bombings could indicate new roles for al-Qaeda affiliates

The bombings orchestrated by Somalia’s al-Shabab militia that killed at least 74 people watching the World Cup finals on television Sunday night are the latest sign of the growing ambitions of al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates outside the traditional theaters of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The attacks, intended to inflict maximum damage on civilian targets, mark the first major international assault by Somali militants in a region where the United States and its allies are attempting to stem the rise of Islamist militancy. At least one American was killed and several were wounded in Sunday’s strikes.

The United States has provided millions of dollars in military and economic aid, training, equipment, logistical support and intelligence to regional counterterrorism allies such as Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. Uganda is a training ground for soldiers for Somalia’s transitional government, which al-Shabab is seeking to overthrow, in a program backed by the United States and European nations. Troops from Uganda and Burundi make up a U.S.- and Western-backed African Union peacekeeping force in the Somali capital of Mogadishu that protects the fragile government.

A top spokesman for al-Shabab, speaking from Mogadishu, said the militia carried out the bombings, and he alluded to the group’s aspiration to use Somalia as a launching pad for international attacks. Ali Mohamud Raghe, the spokesman, threatened further attacks if Uganda and Burundi continue to supply troops to the African Union force.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Terrorism, Uganda, Violence

Churches call for south Sudan to vote for independence

Senior religious leaders in south Sudan have called on people to vote for independence in a referendum to be held January next year.

The vote was promised as part of a 2005 deal to end years of war between the mainly Muslim north and the south, where Christianity is common.

“The way to unity is destructive,” Bishop Paul Yugusuk said.

He said southerners would be treated as second-class citizens if Africa’s largest nation remained united.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Religion & Culture, Sudan

Complaints of abuse by NW Pennsylvania Episcopal bishop rise to at least 9

Complaints of sexual abuse by Episcopal Bishop Donald Davis have climbed to at least nine.

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