Monday, September 22, 2008

The story of the Presidential Prayer Team

As the prospect of war in Iraq loomed, PPT's leadership believed that if they were to support and pray for the Commander-in-Chief of our nation then they must support and pray for his troops. Convening a special advisory panel, including a retired four-star General, a military chaplain and a young Air Force cadet, advice was sought on how to best accomplish the goal. The Adopt Our Troops initiative was launched on February 8, 2003, swelling the membership to over two million and causing so much activity on the website that the server crashed on March 19—the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom—when it hosted more than 9.8 million hits.

Responding to the wildly popular Adopt Our Troops effort, hundreds of thousands of new members swelled the ranks of the team. On May 1, 2003, the 2.8 million participant mark was reached—just 600 days after the PPT's beginning.

As the nation continued to reach for strength and hope through prayer, The Presidential Prayer Team created an inspirational, patriotic CD, with the title song, Somebody's Praying Me Through which quickly soared to #1.

The influx of new members was a welcome addition, but the expense of distributing membership materials to so many in such a short time created financial hardship for the team. In September of 2003, the Board of Directors decided to bring all of the ministry's efforts in house. A new office was opened and many of the original staff joined the new team.

After a period of transition, PPT's goals of stability and growth were quickly realized as on February 16, Presidents Day 2004, the first ever Virtual Prayer Rally was held. More than 37,000 people committed to pray for a half-hour or more by virtue of the Internet. Downloadable materials were offered, and the site experienced a huge number of visits.

On the first anniversary of Adopt Our Troops, a great variety of new features was added to the AOT web pages giving a means by which updates on registered troops could be logged and then viewed by intercessors.

 

In May 2004, The Presidential Prayer Team launched Pray the VoteTM to stimulate prayer for the presidential elections on November 2.  Believing that the prayers of nation would open a window for God to work in our country as never before, tens of thousands of Americans joined in this unprecedented prayer movement.  They participated in two Virtual Prayer Rallies, dozens of Prayer Parties in which members invited family and friends into their homes to pray for the upcoming elections and many simply prayed daily, faithfully anticipating the fulfillment of God's promise to bless the nation that calls on Him.  Through the efforts of Pray the VoteTM along with a number of other initiatives, the presidential elections of November 2004 may possibly have been the most prayed-for elections in our nation's history. 

~ more... ~

 

Naomi Klein on 'cry-baby capitalism'

The crash of 2008: 'How did we get here?'

That's pretty easy to answer, too. His name is Phil Gramm. A few days after the Supreme Court made George W. Bush president in 2000, Gramm stuck something called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act into the budget bill. Nobody knew that the Texas senator was slipping America a 262 page poison pill. The Gramm Guts America Act was designed to keep regulators from controlling new financial tools described as credit "swaps." These are instruments like sub-prime mortgages bundled up and sold as securities. Under the Gramm law, neither the SEC nor the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) were able to examine financial institutions like hedge funds or investment banks to guarantee they had the assets necessary to cover losses they were guaranteeing.

This isn't small beer we are talking about here. The market for these fancy financial instruments they don't expect us little people to understand is estimated at $60 trillion annually, which amounts to almost four times the entire US stock market.

And Senator Phil Gramm wanted it completely unregulated. So did Alan Greenspan, who supported the legislation and is now running around to the talk shows jabbering about the horror of it all.

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'Either a riot or a bloodbath'

Remember the stories of shoeshine boys playing the stock market just before the 1929 crash? Everything old is new again. A doorman at an exclusive Manhattan apartment building told me that he had bought two investment properties when the housing bubble was expanding: an empty lot in Florida and a house in a new development in Virginia, 45 minutes from Washington. The empty lot in Florida is worth $40,000 less than it was at the peak of the bubble. He bought the Virginia house on the advice of his adult children who live in the area. He put only $5,000 down against the purchase price of $420,000 after his kids told him, "Dad, you'll be able to flip this house in a year for $500,000 or more." Now the same models in the development are going for $340,000, and no one's buying. His daughter and son-in-law have taken over the house, but the doorman has to help them pay the mortgage.

A guy at one of the big financial firms told me that many traders had bought swanky houses by pledging the stocks they owned, which are now -- in the cases of Bear Stearns and Lehman -- worth pennies. He is also expecting divorce rates to skyrocket when the trophy wives discover that they can't maintain the lifestyles they thought they'd married into.

And that lifestyle will definitely be changing. All the big firms are downsizing dramatically. One estimate puts the number of jobs lost on Wall Street at 10,000, with at least 10,000 to 20,000 more to come.

One trading-floor denizen described how it happens: Your phone rings, and you're told to report to human resources. You stand up and announce to the people in your row that it's all over. If they like you, they hug you and maybe even applaud. In many cases, they'll be the ones to clean out your desk. Right after you get fired, you're marched out of the building by security. An employee at one of the biggest, best-run firms told a shoeshine boy, "Nobody is safe. I could be out of here tomorrow."

When a financial journalist friend of mine asked a prominent executive how this would all end, he replied, "With riots in the streets."

~ more... ~

 

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