Signs of the Times: Famous restaurants are out, new prayers in

Wed Jan 7, 2009 4:42pm EST
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(Reuters) - The global recession manifests itself in big ways and small: most gloomy, some quirky and many reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.

* The Church of England published two new prayers, comforting people who lost their jobs and those still in work after a round of cuts. "Hear me as I cry out in confusion, help me to think clearly, and calm my soul," says the "Prayer on being made redundant." The "Prayer for those remaining in the workplace" focuses on guilt and increased workload: "In the midst of this uncertainty, help me to keep going: to work to the best of my ability, taking each day at a time."

* Dinner is off the menu at New York's famous Rainbow Room, which has decided to close its restaurant and lay off between 30 and 40 staff to cut costs. Tourists and locals can still get a cocktail at the 65th floor bar, which has views of the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty, but the adjacent Rainbow Grill will cease serving food. "We'll lose less money by keeping the bar open as opposed to the restaurant," said spokesman Ben Branham.

* Some Australians may be too strapped for cash to go to the pub, but many still find a way to get their beer. Makers of home brew kits say sales are booming. National brewer Coopers said sales of its kits were up 8 percent since July. Colin Richardson at the The Brew Shop in Sydney said demand for kits was outstripping supply. "All the brewing shops are seeing it," he said.

* The New York Times, which has long kept its front page clear of prominent advertising, is being forced to sell display advertising on Page One in a new bid to raise money. The first ad, which appeared at the bottom of the front page of Monday's paper, was for broadcaster CBS Corp. Newspapers across the United States face an alarming decline in ad revenue that has forced many to slash jobs.

* In Britain, the Girl Guides issued tips on making sensible economic decisions, including: "Shop around -- see which banks are offering the best deals;" "Avoid the debt trap -- the easiest way to lose friends and alienate people;" and "Don't rely on The Bank of Mum and Dad -- everyone's cutting costs."

* Most of the racks at a going-out-of-business sale at a Borders book store in Gaithersburg, Maryland, have been emptied, but many books on investing and business are still looking for takers at 40 percent off. They include: "The Ten Commandments for Business Failure", "How to Sell Anything to Anybody" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Investing".

* Calls are pouring in to the 211 telephone hotline, which provides free referrals to Americans needing economic aid, from food, housing and medical assistance to counseling services and debt relief. "We were getting about 30,000 calls a month last year, and now we're getting closer to 50,000," said Mirabel Marin, executive director of one of the largest centers in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank reported a 40 percent increase in demand for food assistance in the last three months of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, and a sharp rise in demand from middle class people.

* Two big U.S. supermarket chains are giving away free medicine this winter to try to lure in customers. The Maryland-based Giant Food chain and Massachusetts-headquartered Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. said they would give away 36 generic antibiotics to customers with a prescription from January 2 to March 21 at all of their pharmacies.   Continued...

<p>A freeway billboard displays an advertisement for foreclosure assistance in Fontana, California January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein</p>