April 6, 2007

Good Friday’s Gospel

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:00 pm

Note: This BizzyBlog tradition will be Friday’s last post.

John 18:1 — 19:42

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples.
3 So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
6 When he said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go.”
9 This was to fulfil the word which he had spoken, “Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one.”
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.
11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him.
13 First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in-law of Ca’iaphas, who was high priest that year.
14 It was Ca’iaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, he entered the court of the high priest along with Jesus,
16 while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maid who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
17 The maid who kept the door said to Peter, “Are not you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.”
18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly.
21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said.”
22 When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
24 Annas then sent him bound to Ca’iaphas the high priest.
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, “Are not you also one of his disciples?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”
26 One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?”
27 Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed.
28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Ca’iaphas to the praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.
29 So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”
30 They answered him, “If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over.”
31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”
32 This was to fulfil the word which Jesus had spoken to show by what death he was to die.
33 Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”
37 Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”
38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, “I find no crime in him.
39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?”
40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barab’bas!” Now Barab’bas was a robber.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.
2 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe;
3 they came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.
4 Pilate went out again, and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him.”
5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.”
7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid;
9 he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer.
10 Pilate therefore said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”
12 Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gab’batha.
14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
17 So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol’gotha.
18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
20 Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.
21 The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, `The King of the Jews,’ but, `This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom;
24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfil the scripture, “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag’dalene.
26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), “I thirst.”
29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him;
33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
35 He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe.
36 For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of him shall be broken.”
37 And again another scripture says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.”
38 After this Joseph of Arimathe’a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.
39 Nicode’mus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds’ weight.
40 They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid.
42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The Employment Report Rocks

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:31 am

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that March unemployment dropped to 4.4% from 4.5% in February, and that 180,000 new jobs were created.

The report comes after ADP’s National employment report Wednesday had come in at only 101,000 additional non-government jobs (157,000 of BLS’s official 180,000 pickup were non-governmental), and advance analysts’ estimates of a 135,000-job pickup.

It’s hard to throw cold water on good news like this, but it doesn’t mean that the Associated Press didn’t try to do just that:

Employers ramped up hiring in March, driving the unemployment rate down to 4.4 percent, matching a five-year low. It was a surprisingly strong performance in an economy that has otherwise shown signs of sluggishness recently.

The new snapshot, released by the Labor Department on Friday, also showed that employers boosted their payrolls by a strong 180,000 in March, the most since December. Workers’ also saw their paychecks get bigger. The fresh figures suggested that companies are not feeling a need to dramatically clamp down on hiring in the face of the slower overall economic activity and the deep housing slump.

Y’know, AP, it just may be that:

  • The “signs of sluggishness” aren’t that convincing.
  • Economic activity might not going “slower” as much as thought.
  • The “deep” housing slump may have already played out (this is different from the mortgage industry’s problems with subprime loans, which may [emphasis MAY] not have as much of an effect on home prices or new home construction as some believe). News from the housing sector earlier in the week was pretty good, and pushed the stock market into what is turning out to be a pretty good week on Wall Street.

_______________________________

UPDATE: Prior month revisions weren’t as great as they have been (previously commented on here), but they were still positive, as 16,000 jobs were added to both January’s and February’s previously reported numbers.

SarBox Regulatory Overload: Barney’s Frankly Freaky Frame of Mind

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:15 am

The Massachusetts congressman said this last week (Investment News link requires subscription):

Too many certifications of financial statements are required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said at a conference last week.

But the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) in Washington and the Securities and Exchange Commission “will appropriately scale it back,” and no legislation is needed, he told about 600 attendees at the Council for Institutional Investors’ spring meeting here.

“The accountants probably, in helping draft 404 regulations, overdid it a little bit, and we violated a very important principle: Never ask your barber if you need a haircut,” Mr. Frank said, getting a laugh from the council’s membership.

Ha ha.

Er, Barney — Who do you think is running the PCOAB?

Why Le Pen Gets Attention in France

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:10 am

Le Pen says the perfectly obvious things that all the other candidates refuse to say. Here’s just one example:

Le Pen sees immigration problem in subway riot

SAINT-CLOUD, France, March 30, 2007 (AFP) – French far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen charged Friday that a riot in a Paris train station this week showed French cities had become unstable due to “mass immigration”.

About 100 youths rioted for more than seven hours on Tuesday at the Gare du Nord station after police arrested a fare-dodger, reviving memories of the three weeks of suburbun unrest that exploded across the nation in late 2005.

“This shows that the situation is unstable” in French urban areas, Le Pen told a media conference with the foreign press corps. “The cause is obviously, on the one hand, mass immigration, and all of the problems that this entails: problems at school, unemployment, housing etc,” he argued.

When a country has 751 police no-go zones, what Le Pen is saying really isn’t disputable. Even those who despise Le Pen must be wondering why the other candidates won’t even acknowledge the problem. The only explanation is if those candidates recognize it, they’re going to have to say what they’ll do about it — and they haven’t a clue.

WSJ Shills for Payday-Lending Industry

From a laughable Monday subscription-only editorial:

But if payday lending is such a consumer rip off, no one has explained why these stores have become so popular. There are some 25,000 payday stores across America, and in many small towns the payday loan store is now as commonplace as the local post office. It has become something like a $6 billion industry serving 15 million people every month.

Critics complain that the annual percentage rate (APR) on a two-week loan of $100 with a $15 fee amounts to a predatory 390%. But the equivalent APR cost to the borrower of writing a bounced check can exceed 1,300%, while a credit card late fee charge can reach 700%.

So to justify ridiculous payday lending charges, the Journal compares the interest rate on a loan to the costs of making various mistakes. That’s about as desperate as an argument can get.