Daily Archives: September 20, 2011

News Analysis: U.S. Is Quietly Getting Ready for Syria Without Assad

“Back in the 1990s, if Syria wanted credit and trade and loans that they couldn’t get from the United States, they went to the Europeans,” said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Obama administration official. Now, Mr. Takeyh said, Europe has joined the United States in imposing sanctions on Syrian exports, including its critical oil sector.

Aside from Iran, he said, Syria has few allies to turn to. “The Chinese recognize their economic development is more contingent on their relationship with us and Europe than on whether Assad or Qaddafi survives,” he said, referring to the deposed Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, Syria

(Christian Century) Robert Westbrook–The liberal agony: Why there was no new New Deal

Shortly after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, the cover of Time magazine featured a fabrication of an iconic photograph of Franklin Roosevelt, cigarette holder at a rakish tilt, sitting at the wheel of a convertible. FDR’s face and hands had been displaced by those of Obama’s above a headline speculating on the arrival of a “New New Deal.” That same week, the New Yorker featured an article by George Packer advancing a similar speculation, which was illustrated with a drawing of much the same invention.

What this image in two major American magazines mani-fested was the hope on the left and the fear on the right that Obama would revitalize and extend the New Deal order that had been significantly dismantled by the conservative ascendancy since the mid-1970s (and that “new Democrat” Bill Clinton did little if anything to stem in his eight years in office)….

In sum, FDR’s recovery policies centered on the un­employed, depositors and homeowners. Obama’s recovery policies have centered on employers, bank managers and shareholders, and mortgage lenders. FDR’s more egalitarian policies generated enormous political capital; Obama’s much less egalitarian policies have helped push him to the edge of political bankruptcy.

Read it all (requires subscription) and you may see more information about the author there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Presbyterian, President Barack Obama

Pope Benedict's Message to German TV–We must again develop the capacity to perceive God

None of this is religious tourism and much less a “show.” The motto of these days tells us what it is: “Where God is, there is a future.” It must focus on the fact that God returns to our world, this God who often seems totally absent, of whom we have dire need.

Perhaps you will ask me: “But does God exist? And if he exists, does he care about us? Can we reach him?” It is true of course that we cannot put God on the table, we cannot touch him like a utensil or take him in hand like any object. We must again develop the capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists in us.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Chris Whalen–Time to end the Keynesian pretense about fiscal stimulus

But for the inflationary policies of the Fed and the ECB to stimulate pseudo “growth” over the past several decades, there would have been no financial bubble and no mountain of housing-related debt. Why do economists like Roubini and Krugman say we need more of this medicine? Such pathetic proposals for more-debt-driven government intervention are what pass for mainstream economic thinking today in the G-20 nations.

Keep in mind that there are still hundreds of billions in bad debts in the US and EU tied to real estate and other speculative endeavors ”” debt which must eventually default. Until the global financial system is cleansed of these bad debts, market volatility and uncertainty will remain high. Unless we bite the bullet and write down debts to levels that will allow private growth and employment, there will be no recovery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(London) Times's Ruth Gledhill on the Possibility of Rowan Williams' Stepping Down From Canterbury

You can find the audio link [from BBC Radio Ulster] here (good for most of the rest of this week only). The segment starts about 1 1/2 minutes in and lasts about 4 1/2 minutes. Of special interest, Ruth tells the story of an earlier story the London Times came within a whisker of printing on this same subject which had to be pulled at the last minute, and she gives her own top choice of who should be his replacement if that possibility arises–KSH.

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

Communiqué of the Global South Primates during their visit to China in September 2011

11. In our reflections, we found that our Anglican Communion has also undergone a tremendous transformation in recent decades. Today, the majority of Anglicans are found no longer in the west, but in churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are firmly committed to our historic faith and order.
12. At the same time, it grieves us deeply to observe many Anglican churches in the west yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality. Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.
13. We are wholeheartedly committed to the unity of Anglican Communion and recognize the importance of the historic See of Canterbury. Sadly, however, the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Unity have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, Global South Churches & Primates

Baylor Religion Survey reveals many see God steering economy

About one in five Americans combine a view of God as actively engaged in daily workings of the world with an economic conservative view that opposes government regulation and champions the free market as a matter of faith.

“They say the invisible hand of the free market is really God at work,” says sociologist Paul Froese, co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey, released today by Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“They think the economy works because God wants it to work. It’s a new religious economic idealism,” with politicians “invoking God while chanting ‘less government,'” he says.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Washington Post) Old debate over raising rich’s taxes plays out on new landscape

On Monday, President Obama arrived at the place that many presidents reach when a recession won’t quit: He went after the rich.

Obama said he planned to increase tax rates on the wealthy, to ensure they “pay their fair share, just like everybody else.” Republicans called Obama’s ideas “class warfare” and suggested that they would hurt the economy by leaving small-business owners with less money to spend.

Their argument sets up a replay of an old American debate occurring across a new political landscape.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(FT) Siemens pulls cash from French bank and shelters it at European Central Bank

Siemens withdrew more than half-a-billion euros in cash deposits from a large French bank two weeks ago and transferred it to the European Central Bank, in a sign of how companies are seeking havens amid Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

The German industrial group withdrew the money partly because of concerns about the future financial health of the bank and partly to benefit from higher interest rates paid by the ECB, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told the Financial Times.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, France, Germany, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Telegraph) Atheism is cool, says Archbishop Rowan Williams

Dr Rowan Williams argued it has become difficult for the Church to convey its message because of the popularity of non-believers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

He said attempts to reverse the decline in worshippers had begun but that there will be “no quick fix”.

His remarks came despite new research, released by the Roman Catholic Church, suggesting that the Pope’s visit to Britain a year ago has brought a lasting rise in the level of spiritual and religious feeling in the country.

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

(On the Square Blog) Edward T. Oakes–Coercive Liberalism

Whenever secular liberals are challenged on one of their latest innovations in ethics, their reply almost invariably goes something like this: “Well, if you are opposed to same-sex marriage, then marry someone of the opposite sex.” Or: “If you are so against abortion, then don’t have one.”

In other words, in the immortal words of Rodney King, why can’t we all just get along? I’ll let you have your morality if you let me have mine.

Occasionally, though, the veil slips and liberalism shows that its fondness for the “live and let live” principle is only skin-deep. The latest example of a more bare-knuckled liberalism comes from that famous mangler of the English language, Vice President Joe Biden. On his recent visit to the Far East, he expressed his “understanding” for China’s one-child policy, which is regularly enforced by compelling women in their second pregnancy to abort their child. True, he went on to criticize that same policy, but only on utilitarian grounds: As to the delicate point of government lackeys dragging women from their homes and fastening them to hospital gurneys””not a word. “Pro-choice,” indeed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Coleridge Patteson

Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servants John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path: Grant us so to meditate upon that Word and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Jerome (347-420)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

–Matthew 5:27-30

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

S&P downgrades Italy's Sovereign Credit Rating to A from A+, outlook negative

The agency said the country’s net general government debt is the highest among A-rated sovereigns, and now expects it to peak later and at a higher level than it previously anticipated.

“In our view, Italy’s economic growth prospects are weakening and we expect that Italy’s fragile governing coalition and policy differences within parliament will continue to limit the government’s ability to respond decisively to domestic and external macroeconomic challenges,” S&P said in a statement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, France, Germany, Globalization, Greece, Italy, The Banking System/Sector