Daily Archives: March 9, 2009

Lutheran panel proposes road map to permit partnered gay clergy

A blue-ribbon panel has recommended that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lift its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, but only after the church agrees in principle on gay relationships and agrees to respect the consciences of those who dissent.

A majority of the 15-member Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality believes that “it is possible to devise guidelines and policies that would allow . . . some flexibility” in its ordination standards.

The 4.7-million-member ELCA currently allows gay or lesbian clergy who pledge to be celibate; partnered or sexually active homosexual clergy are technically not allowed in ELCA pulpits, though some buck the rules without punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

U.S. Episcopal Church leader will visit Peoria

The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church is scheduled to visit Peoria next month.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy

Commercial real estate is next shoe

Commercial real estate in Atlanta has been on a downhill slide for more than a year. But the slide will become an avalanche in the next six months, says Jay Mannelly of Bullock Mannelly Partners, one of Atlanta’s oldest commercial real estate investment brokers.

He’s referring to the time frame when the renewals on construction loans and the debt on existing buildings will be coming due.

Sales aren’t happening, except in desperation.

Refinancing debt on existing buildings will be difficult since fewer occupants equal less rental income.

Call it a bloodbath, avalanche, tsunami or the other shoe. Regardless, it will not help the mess known as our banks’ balance sheets.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

USA Today: Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

When it comes to religion, the USA is now land of the freelancers.

The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers ”” or falling off the faith map completely.

These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.

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

Notable and Quotable

Alex Blumberg: We’re in his office, and we’re looking at a graph, and it’s, basically, a measure of how much debt we the citizens of America, are in. How much we all owe–on our mortgages and credit cards and auto loans–compared to the economy as a whole, the GDP. And for most of history, the amount we owed was a lot smaller than the economy as a whole. This ratio, household debt to GDP bounces along around between 30 and 50 percent, for most of the ’30s and ’40s 50s, 60s, and 70s, right into the 80s. Then it breaks through 50 % in the 80s, starts heading up in the 1990s. And then ..

David Beim: From 2000 to 2008, it just goes, almost a hockey stick, it goes
dramatically upward.

Alex Blumberg: Like a rocket.

David Beim: It hits 100% of GDP. That is to say, currently, consumers own 13 trillion dollars when the GDP is $13 trillion. That’s a $100 trillion owed by individuals. That is a ton.

Alex Blumberg: I’m going to ask a leading question, because I’m looking at a graph right here. Tell me professor, has there ever been a time where we owed that much before?

David Beim: I’m glad you asked me that. And guess what? The earlier peak, which is way over on the left part of the chart, where debt is 100% of GDP, was in 1929. This is a map of twin peaks. One in 1929 and one in 2007.

Alex Blumberg: Does that chart scare you?

David Beim: Yes. That chart is the most striking piece of evidence that I have that what is happening to us is something that goes way beyond toxic assets in banks, it’s something that had little to do with mortgage securitization, or ethics on Wall Street, or anything else. It says the problem is us. The problem is not the banks, greedy though they may be, overpaid though they may be. The problem is us. We have over-borrowed. We have been living very high on the hog. We are, our standard of living has been rising dramatically over the last 25 years, and we have been borrowing to make much of that prosperity happen.

From a recent This American Life program on NPR entitled “Bad Bank” which is not to be missed

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

Yay! Looks like we're back online

Thanks to Greg for his perseverance in the face of serious unexpected database and domain forwarding issues!

It looks like T19 is pretty much back online. Though there may be some hiccups with links to individual entries or subpages that are still working through the system. Feel free to comment here or e-mail us elves if you are having problems or notice something that is not working properly.


Posted in * Admin

SNL Spoofs Timothy Geithner

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Charles Krauthammer: The Sleight of Hand Behind Obama's Agenda

The logic of Obama’s address to Congress went like this:

“Our economy did not fall into decline overnight,” he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care and education — importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.

The “day of reckoning” has arrived. And because “it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament,” Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

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Posted in Uncategorized

“Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.”

An entire nation without immediate experience or even distant memory of high finance had gazed upon the example of Wall Street and said, “We can do that.” For a brief moment it appeared that they could. In 2003, Iceland’s three biggest banks had assets of only a few billion dollars, about 100 percent of its gross domestic product. Over the next three and a half years they grew to over $140 billion and were so much greater than Iceland’s G.D.P. that it made no sense to calculate the percentage of it they accounted for. It was, as one economist put it to me, “the most rapid expansion of a banking system in the history of mankind.”

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

Mulkey story heads to big screen

The Louis Mulkey story is headed to the silver screen.

ESPN Films said Friday it is developing a movie based on the inspirational story of Mulkey, one of nine Charleston firefighters killed in the Sofa Super Store fire on June 18, 2007. Mulkey also was a coach at Summerville High School and provided the inspiration for the boys basketball team that won the 2008 Class AAAA state championship.

“Louis would be absolutely humbled and thrilled to know that his life and the relationships he so deeply cherished with his players and his brothers at the fire department would be worthy of so much positive public attention,” his widow, Lauren Bennett Mulkey, said in a statement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Sports

Britain returns to thrifty domesticity

A revival of 1950s style domesticity has swept Britain due to the economic downturn. Consumers are applying a do-it-yourself attitude to all areas of daily life by making clothes, growing vegetables and dying their own hair.

Sales of knitting and dressmaking equipment are powering ahead – knitting needles are up by 7 per cent and sewing machines by 34 per cent according to the department store chain John Lewis.

Meanwhile garden centres are reporting strong demand for fruit bushes – up 68 per cent last year – and hardware stores have brought out budget gardening tool ranges. Although the motivation for the return to the thrifty, homely appears to be money, the new habits may stay once the economic good times return, at least according to one expert.

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