Monthly Archives: March 2009

Blow for Gordon Brown as world leaders prepare to stall at G20 summit

Britain’s G20 ambitions were dealt another blow yesterday after it emerged that a deal on coordinated action to pump money into the world economy will be delayed until a second summit.

As world leaders began gathering in London, the Australian Prime Minister disclosed that negotiations over the level of a fiscal stimulus needed to prevent a worldwide depression will take place at the following G20, which will not be hosted by Gordon Brown.

This came as leaders from China, Germany and Australia lined up over the weekend to warn that they were not yet ready to agree to further tax giveaways or benefits increases despite pressure from the US and Britain. Fears are rising that agreement at the London summit on Thursday may focus on more easily achievable goals, such as tax havens, rather than ensuring commitment to specific goals on spending and protectionism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Timothy Geithner Says Some Banks to Need ”˜Large Amounts’ of Assistance

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said some financial institutions will need substantial government aid, while warning against any attempt to tax investors who join a federal program to buy tainted assets from banks.

“Some banks are going to need some large amounts of assistance,” Geithner said today on the ABC News program “This Week.” The terms of a $500 billion public-private program to aid banks “cannot change” for investors or they’ll lose confidence in the plan, he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Is Facebook Growing Up Too Fast?

When Facebook signed up its 100 millionth member last August, its employees spread out in two parks in Palo Alto, Calif., for a huge barbecue. Sometime this week, this five-year-old start-up, born in a dorm room at Harvard, expects to register its 200 millionth user.

That staggering growth rate ”” doubling in size in just eight months ”” suggests Facebook is rapidly becoming the Web’s dominant social ecosystem and an essential personal and business networking tool in much of the wired world.
Yet Facebook executives say they aren’t planning to observe their latest milestone in any significant way. It is, perhaps, a poor time to celebrate. The company that has given users new ways to connect and speak truth to power now often finds itself as the target of that formidable grass-roots firepower ”” most recently over controversial changes it made to users’ home pages.

As Facebook expands, it’s also struggling to match the momentum of hot new start-ups like Twitter, the micro-blogging service, while managing the expectations of young, tech-savvy early adopters, attracting mainstream moms and dads, and justifying its hype-carbonated valuation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

With Typical Drama, Woods Caps Latest Comeback

Tiger Woods returned to the top Sunday like some inexorable force, stalking with an almost frightening purposefulness to overtake Sean O’Hair and his five-stroke lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. As has become his custom, Woods delivered the stunning coup de grâce with a flourish on Bay Hill’s 18th green, sinking a 15-foot putt in the heart of the hole as darkness fell.

Just as he did a year ago, and as he did in 2001 in his second of six victories in this tournament, Woods waited to erase doubts until every shot had been hit. Then he stroked the winning putt. This time it was for a round of 67 and a five-under-par 275 total, one stroke better than O’Hair, who closed with a 73.

Woods’s climb from five strokes back matched the largest comeback in his PGA Tour career. He also came back from five down at the 2000 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Sheesh. I happened to catch the highlights of this victory this morning on Sportscenter. Loved seeing that last putt. He is just a marvel to watch. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Time: The Dangers of Printing Money

Take a look.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Federal Reserve, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Sunday Times on Nazir-Ali: A troublesome priest in a timid church

Whatever your views about Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, he is hard to ignore. After his announcement this weekend that he is to retire early, the Church of England will be the poorer for it. The inference is that he felt stifled and decided that he could do more worthwhile work elsewhere, mostly outside Britain. Sadly, he is probably right.

Born in Karachi to parents who converted to Christianity from Islam, the first non-white diocesan bishop in Britain emerged as an outspoken critic of multiculturalism. Nobody, given his background and race, was better placed to do so. More than his Anglican colleagues, he knew about fighting for your faith. His criticisms were well made. Immigrants, he said, needed to do more to integrate into British life. He warned last year that Islamic extremism had turned “already separate communities into ”˜no-go’ areas”. For this he received death threats and required police protection.

Read it all.

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

Huron diocese elects new suffragan bishop

Dean Terrance “Terry” A. Dance has been elected the new suffragan (assistant) bishop of the London, Ont.-based Anglican diocese of Huron.

Bishop-elect Dance, who has been dean of the diocese and rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Ont., was elected on the fourth ballot. He received 198 votes from lay delegates and 75 from clergy during an election that drew 400 delegates March 28 at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was chosen out of 10 candidates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

North Carolina’s CBF Challenged to ”˜Talk the Talk’

“The principle pain in hearing is that we just don’t want to hear some things,” [Fred] Craddock said. “We avoid things we don’t want to hear because they might disturb us.”

One of those things, Craddock implied, is the verbal sharing of one’s faith, a practice he said many have abandoned by letting others’ distasteful misuse and distortion of evangelism silence their own witness.

Too many Christians buy into the idea that a vocal witness is not important and “words don’t mean anything,” Craddock said, when the truth is that “words mean everything.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

An ABC 'This Week' Transcript: Timothy Geithner

Now, Goldman Sachs, for example. Their chief financial officer said he had no material economic exposure to AIG. So why weren’t they forced to take a discount?

GEITHNER: George, we came into this crisis as a country without the tools necessary to contain the damage of a financial crisis like this. In a case of a large, complex institution like AIG, the government has no ability, had no meaningful ability to come in early to help contain the fire, contain the damage, prevent the spread of that fire. Restructure the firm, change contracts where necessary, and helped make sure that the financial system gets through this…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it would have been the right thing to do, right?

GEITHNER: If we had the legal authority, that’s what we would have done. But without that legal authority, we had no good choices. We were caught between these terrible choices of letting Lehman fail — and you saw the catastrophic damage that caused to the financial system — or coming in and putting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars at risk, like we did at AIG, to keep the thing going, unwind it slowly at less damage to the ultimate economy and taxpayer.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

One Parish Vestry Speaks out on the Election in Northern Michigan: Just Say No

(With permission–KSH).

405 Glenmar Avenue
Monroe, Louisiana 71201

March 7, 2009

To the Bishop Ordinary and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western Louisiana

Rt. Reverend Sir, ladies and gentlemen of the Standing Committee:

Following prayerful consideration we write to urge that you vote no, and that you withhold consent, to the confirmation of the Rev’d Kevin Thew Forrester as the next bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. We cite two concerns: the process used in selecting candidates by the Diocese of Northern Michigan and the suitability of the candidate himself.

In regard to the process by which nominations were made, the committee charged with this task presented one candidate for election. On the surface, presenting a single candidate raises immediate issues about the transparency of this process. Why was a single candidate presented? Was no one else seen as qualified to stand for election? Should we be concerned there was a small group of people trying to control the process?

Though we are mindful that search committees for rectors do sometimes distill the result of their search process to a single preferred candidate, we are nonetheless mindful of the fact that had the Diocese of Northern Michigan asked the House of Bishops to elect a bishop for them in lieu of holding a diocesan election, which is provided for in Canon III, paragraph 11, section 1b, the House of Bishops would have been required by national canon to present a minimum of three persons to stand for election. This begs the question, “if it is appropriate for the House of Bishops, why is it not appropriate for the Diocese of Northern Michigan?”

Regarding the Rev’d. Forrester’s suitability, he is on record as being both a practicing Zen Buddhist who received lay Buddhist ordination and a Christian. Whereas these two faith traditions may not be mutually exclusive to one another in the life of a lay person, the vows required of a Bishop in Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church exclude a person from being beholden to any other faith tradition save Christianity””no matter how complementary to Christianity other traditions might seem.

In the liturgy for the ordination of a Bishop, the candidate is first required to state their belief that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation, and that they will conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church. If one takes this question seriously, does a person holding dual religious allegiances forswear himself or herself upon making this declaration? Later in the service, the candidate is required to affirm, “Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.” Again, is this possible if one holds to two faith traditions simultaneously? Finally, the candidate is asked if they will the guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church. Can this be done with integrity when one qualifies their response to the affirmation by claiming to also follow another religious tradition?

We hope and pray that you will keep these concerns in mind as you prayerfully consider voting on the question of granting or denying consent to the confirmation of the next bishop of Northern Michigan. We most strongly urge you to decline to give your consent.

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Gregg L. Riley, Rector C. Joseph Roberts, III, Sr. Warden

David Waller, Jr. Warden Jodi Lyle, Treasurer

Cindy Fisher, Secretary Max Cox, Vestry Member

Gerry Emerel, Vestry Member Tom Mason, Vestry Member

Amanda Reeves, Vestry Member Bryan Caldwell, Vestry Member

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Notable and Quotable

“The dead of the battle-field come up to us very rarely, even in dreams….”We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee. There is a confused mass of names, but they are all strangers; we forget the horrible significance that dwells amid the jumble of type…We recognize the battle-field as a reality, but it stands as a remote one. It is like a funeral next door. It attracts your attention, but it does not enlist your sympathy. But it is very different when the hearse stops at your front door and the corpse is carried over your own threshold…Mr. Brady has done something to bring to us the terrible reality and earnestness of the War. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along [our] streets, he has done something very like it.”

A New York Times reporter describing an exhibition entitled “The Dead of Antietam” opened by Mathew Brady in September 1862 (Hat tip: Abigail Harmon)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Only a united front at the London G20 can save the world from ruin

The [1933] London Conference was a fiasco. President Roosevelt refused to attend. He took a sailing holiday to flag his contempt for Old World posturing. FDR feared a trap to draw America back onto the Gold Standard ”“ the source of the misery ”“ and to lock the White House into Europe’s deflation orthodoxies. As delegates waited, he cabled a message mocking the “old fetishes of so-called international bankers”. Keynes defended him as “magnificently right”.

The London G20 comes earlier in the depression cycle. A good thing too. The fundamental circumstances are worse today than in the early 1930s. The debt burden is higher. The global economy is more tightly intertwined. The virus spreads more swiftly.

Do not be misled by apparent normality. Unemployment lags, and social devastation lags further ”“ although it has already hit the Baltics and Ukraine. Do not compress the historical time sequence either. Life seemed normal in early 1931 when the press reported “green shoots” everywhere. Part Two of the Depression was the killer. Part Two is what we risk now if we botch it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Archbishop confronts BBC Director General over its treatment of religion

Dr Rowan Williams warned Mark Thompson at a meeting at Lambeth Palace that the broadcaster must not ignore its Christian audience.

His intervention comes amid mounting concern among senior members of the Church of England that the BBC is downgrading its religious output and giving preferential treatment to minority faiths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Pope’s Trip to Africa Wrap-Up

[BOB] ABERNETHY: But this condom thing, that was not an accident. I mean, all questions for the pope on his plane must be submitted in advance, in writing. So he knew what he was going to be asked?

Mr. [KEVIN] ECKSTROM: Exactly. I mean, they knew exactly what they were getting into on this one. And it always makes you wonder if they were actually trying to make some news out of this. You know, the pope’s trip to Africa was news before he even landed in Cameroon.

ABERNETHY: It was, as you said, very successful. He encouraged the Catholics in Africa?

Mr. ECKSTROM: Right. I mean, this is a growing, thriving part of the church that the pope sort of wanted to see and almost needs to see. He’s been decrying this dictatorship of relativism in Europe in sort of an anemic church. And you go to Africa and they can’t fit enough people into the churches. They can’t ordain enough pastors for all the people. It’s a rapidly growing part of the church, and I think there’s a bit of an energy boost for both sides there.

Read it all.

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

Desmond Lachman: Welcome to America, the World's Scariest Emerging Market

After experiencing a few emerging-market crises, I get the sense of watching the same movie over and over. All too often, a tragic part of that movie is the failure of the countries’ policymakers to hear the loud cries of canaries in the coal mine. Before running up further outsized budget deficits, should we not heed the markets that now see a 10 percent probability that the U.S. government will default on its sovereign debt in the next five years? And should we not be paying close attention to the Chinese central bank governor’s musings that he does not feel comfortable with the $1 trillion of U.S. government debt that the Chinese central bank already owns, let alone adding to those holdings?

In the twilight of my career, when I am hopefully wiser than before, I have come to regret how the IMF and the U.S. Treasury all too often lectured leaders in emerging markets on how to “get their house in order” — without the slightest thought that the United States might fare no better when facing a major economic crisis. Now, I fear time is running out for our own policymakers to mend their ways and offer real leadership to extricate the United States from its worst economic calamity since the 1930s. If we insist on improvising and not facing our real problems, we might soon lose our status as a country to be emulated and join the ranks of those nations we have patronized for so long.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

David Rothkopf: Where Are the Leaders?

You wake up in the morning and once again the financial weather report calls for the Apocalypse followed by brief showers of despair. Seeking a ray of hope, you turn on the television and settle in to watch a Capitol Hill hearing. There in the hot seat is the man who holds the entire U.S. economy in his hands. And he looks like Harry Potter….

We do need strong leadership. The world is in chaos. There are riots from Greece to China. Iceland has collapsed, and Mexico teeters on the edge. Pakistan is broke, melting down and awash in nukes. Yes, the stock market soared with Geithner’s toxic asset plan, but didn’t he and Obama dismiss Wall Street’s response when the first version of the bank bailout landed with a thud last month? Don’t we hate Wall Street? Obama and Geithner subsidize hedge funds on Monday and come back with heavy regulations on Thursday. What gives?

Gradually it becomes clear. This is not just a global economic crisis. It’s a global leadership crisis. Obama is still finding his footing, Gordon Brown is on his way out, Hugo Chávez is nuts and Wall Street management is larcenous. Isn’t there someone somewhere with decent values, a firm hand on the tiller and at least one big new idea? Where have all the leaders gone?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

David Broder: Hiding a Mountain Of Debt

With a bit of bookkeeping legerdemain borrowed from the Bush administration, the Democratic Congress is about to perform a cover-up on the most serious threat to America’s economic future.

That threat is not the severe recession, tough as that is for the families and businesses struggling to make ends meet. In time, the recession will end, and last week’s stock market performance hinted that we may not have to wait years for the recovery to begin.

The real threat is the monstrous debt resulting from the slump in revenue and the staggering sums being committed by Washington to rescuing embattled banks and homeowners — and the absence of any serious strategy for paying it all back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Edward C. Green: The Pope May Be Right

When Pope Benedict XVI commented this month that condom distribution isn’t helping, and may be worsening, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, he set off a firestorm of protest. Most non-Catholic commentary has been highly critical of the pope. A cartoon in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted in The Post, showed the pope somewhat ghoulishly praising a throng of sick and dying Africans: “Blessed are the sick, for they have not used condoms.”

Yet, in truth, current empirical evidence supports him….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Reinstated, chief justice bears hopes of Pakistan

At a Supreme Court hearing on Thursday in a property dispute, the defendant, Gul Zameen, insisted that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry personally take his case rather than assign it to other justices, as his opponent requested.

“Please, I want you to hear the case,” said Mr. Zameen, 55, who has been fighting over a house in North-West Frontier Province since 1991.

Much to his relief, Mr. Chaudhry agreed.

“We hope he will do justice,” Mr. Zameen’s son, Shahid Rafiq, said later. “Not only with us but with everybody.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan

Sunday (London) Times: Germans wreck ”˜global new deal’

Gordon Brown’s carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession.

“I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Germany, Globalization, Taxes

Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit

President Obama is facing challenges to American power on multiple fronts as he prepares for his first trip overseas since taking office, with the nation’s economic woes emboldening allies and adversaries alike.

Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union.

The president will not even try to overcome NATO’s unwillingness to provide more troops in Afghanistan when he goes on later in the week to meet with the military alliance.

He seems unlikely to return home with any more to show for his attempts to open a dialogue with Iran’s leaders, who have, so far, responded with tough words, albeit not tough enough to persuade Russia to support the United States in tougher sanctions against Tehran. And he will be tested in face-to-face meetings by the leaders of China and Russia, who have been pondering the degree to which the power of the United States to dominate global affairs may be ebbing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don’t Work?

It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts.

Take the case of Karen Zuercher and her husband, in San Francisco. Inspired by watching the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” they decided to swap out nearly every incandescent bulb in their home for energy-saving compact fluorescents. Instead of having a satisfying green moment, however, they wound up coping with a mess.

“Here’s my sad collection of bulbs that didn’t work,” Ms. Zuercher said the other day as she pulled a cardboard box containing defunct bulbs from her laundry shelf.

Read it all from the front page of today’s New York Times.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Canadian Anglican and Catholic bishops battle over oil

The development of the Athabasca oil sands has led to dueling pastoral letters from Northern Alberta’s Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. Bishop Luc Bouchard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul has called for a halt to mining, saying its development “constitutes a serious moral problem.” However, Archbishop John Clarke of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca has endorsed development, chastising those who were “vilifying one of the most exciting and challenging projects in Canadian history.”

Spread across 54,000 sq miles of sparsely populated Northern Alberta, the Athabasca oil sands contain an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of heavy oil or bitumen, and are roughly equal to the world’s total proven reserves of conventional petroleum. Commercial extraction of oil from the tar sands began in 1967, but recent developments in oil extraction technology as well as the spike in world petroleum prices has led to considerable private and government investment in the region.

On Jan 25, Bishop Bourchard released a pastoral letter to his diocese urging a halt to exploration and surface mining. “The integrity of creation in the Athabasca oil sands is clearly being sacrificed for economic gain,” he argued.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Episcopal Church Asks U.S. Congress to Probe Balao Abduction

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has asked the United States Congress, particularly the Committee on Appropriations, Sub-Committee on State, Foreign Operations to look into the abduction of its member James Balao and other human rights abuses in the country.

In a testimony, Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, the Episcopal Church’s senior director for Mission Centers, and Alexander D. Baumgarten, international policy analyst in the church’s government relations office, submitted a five-page testimony dated March 18, regarding the human rights situation here in the Philippines and the U.S. military assistance to the Philippines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Foreign Relations

Lapeer Michigan man active in effort to establish new Anglican church in North America

Chuck Lambert is helping to plant seeds to grow more Anglican churches in the United States and Canada.

The Lapeer resident is a member and business manager for St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Lapeer at 1009 N. Saginaw. “We’re in the process of setting up a new Anglican church in North America,” he said. “We want to get back to Christian ideals. We hope to plant new churches by increasing the number of members we have. We’re planting seeds for churches all over.”

The religion has deep roots that date back to the 1600s, as it split from England Anglicans and the Episcopal church due to theological differences. Lambert said people are becoming more receptive to the Anglican religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership

A Time Magazine Cover Essay–The End of Excess: Is This Crisis Good for America?

Don’t pretend we didn’t see this coming for a long, long time.

In the early 1980s, around the time Ronald Reagan became President and Wall Street’s great modern bull market began, we started gambling (and winning!) and thinking magically. From 1980 to 2007, the median price of a new American home quadrupled. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed from 803 in the summer of 1982 to 14,165 in the fall of 2007. From the beginning of the ’80s through 2007, the share of disposable income that each household spent servicing its mortgage and consumer debt increased 35%. Back in 1982, the average household saved 11% of its disposable income. By 2007 that number was less than 1%.

The same zeitgeist made gambling ubiquitous: until the late ’80s, only Nevada and New Jersey had casinos, but now 12 states do, and 48 have some form of legalized betting. It’s as if we decided that Mardi Gras and Christmas are so much fun, we ought to make them a year-round way of life. And we started living large literally as well as figuratively. From the beginning to the end of the long boom, the size of the average new house increased by about half. Meanwhile, the average American gained about a pound a year, so that an adult of a given age is now at least 20 lb. heavier than someone the same age back then. In the late ’70s, 15% of Americans were obese; now a third are. (Read “What’s the Best Diet? Eating Less Food.”)

We saw what was happening for years, for decades, but we ignored it or shrugged it off, preferring to imagine that we weren’t really headed over the falls.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Science & Technology

Bishop of Rochester resigns to become defender of persecuted Christians

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is only 59 and could have stayed for another decade in his post, one of the most senior in the Church, but has chosen instead to devote the rest of his career to working in communities where Christians are in a minority.

While this is likely to see him involved in the Middle East and Pakistan, the bishop revealed that he also plans to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Christopher Howse: Oxford's own Mesopotamia

Last year, the Bishop of Oxford said that he had received death threats for supporting the broadcasting of the call to prayer from another mosque in Oxford, in the Cowley Road.

Oxford has given up its Anglican preferences. The vacuum will be filled, if not by liberalism, then secularism, but not yet Islam.

Old Mesopotamia is called Iraq today, and its Christian population still dwindles as secular Ba’athism is replaced by Islam. The muezzin’s call has reached Cherwell’s edge, but awaits much response.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Bishop Jonathan Gledhill's presidential address delivered to the Lichfield Diocesan Synod

So I give three cheers to the idea of removing the priority of male succession.

What about marrying a Catholic? Here the situation is a bit like admission to Holy Communion. The Church of England welcomes Roman Catholic’s to its altar rails, but the Roman Catholic Church does not reciprocate and will not let married couples kneel together to receive the sacrament if one is a non-catholic.

I would welcome an heir to the throne marrying a Roman Catholic – it is much more important that a royal couple is united in its Christian faith than what denomination the spouse is from.

Read it all.

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