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(NYT) Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91

Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, whose music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.

His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death, which he described as sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said.

An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.

His work melded words and music in a way that enhanced them both. From his earliest successes in the late 1950s, when he wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” through the 1990s, when he wrote the music and lyrics for two audacious musicals, “Assassins,” giving voice to the men and women who killed or tried to kill American presidents, and “Passion,” an operatic probe into the nature of true love, he was a relentlessly innovative theatrical force.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(Washington Post) Africa’s Rising Cities–How Africa will become the center of the world’s urban future

Growing at unprecedented rates, and shaped by forces both familiar and new, dozens of African cities will join the ranks of humanity’s biggest megalopolises between now and 2100.

Several recent studies project that by the end of this century, Africa will be the only continent experiencing population growth. Thirteen of the world’s 20 biggest urban areas will be in Africa — up from just two today — as will more than a third of the world’s population.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bp David Hamid–Was Ecumenical history made in Palermo?

On 7 November, I believe that ecumenical history may have been made when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, preached the sermon at the installation of the new Chaplain of Holy Cross, the Revd Dr James Hadley. Certainly this is a first in this diocese and in the Church of England itself it may well be unprecedented for a Roman Catholic Archbishop to take such a significant role in the installation of an Anglican parish priest!

Many other local clergy were present for the mass, including the Orthodox Archimandrite for Southern Italy, representing Metropolitan Policarpo of Italy.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Italy, Roman Catholic

(AP) South African scientists detect new virus variant amid spike

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced Thursday.

The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.

South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections, Phaahla said at an online press briefing.

“Over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise,” he said, adding that the new variant appears to be driving the spike in cases. Scientists in South Africa are working to determine what percentage of the new cases have been caused by the new variant.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Health & Medicine, South Africa

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isaac Watts

God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Benedict of Nursia

Teach me to seek you, and as I seek you, show yourself to me; for I cannot seek you unless you show me how, and I will never find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you by desiring you, and desire you by seeking you; let me find you by loving you, and love you in finding you.  Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Thankgiving Menu from 1899

Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, History

(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick–Thanksgiving, 1789

It is hard to imagine America’s favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.

The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to “wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God….”

It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman praised Boudinot’s resolution as “a laudable one in itself.” It also was “warranted by a number of precedents” in the Bible, he said, “for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple.”

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” He asked Americans to render their “sincere and humble thanks” to God for “his kind care and protection of the People of this Country.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History

A Prayer of Thanksgiving from B F Westcott

We give thee humble and hearty thanks, O most merciful Father, for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, for the blessings of this life and for the promise of everlasting happiness. And as we are bound, we especially thank thee for the mercies which we have received: for health and strength and the manifold enjoyments of our daily life; for the opportunities of learning, for the knowledge of thy will, for the means of serving thee in thy Church, and for the love thou hast revealed to us in thy Son, our Saviour; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be praise and glory for ever and ever.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer of Thanksgiving from Charles Simeon

Blessed Lord, the only living and true God,
the Creator and Preserver of all things,
We live by you;
and our whole dependence is upon you,
for all the good that we either have or hope for.
We now desire to bless your name for those mercies,
which in so large a measure
you have generously given us.

Worthy are you, O Lord our God,
to receive all honor and glory,
all thanks and praise,
and love and obedience,
as in the courts of heaven,
so in all the assemblies of your servants upon earth;
for you are great, and you do wondrous things;
you are God alone.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(Local Paper Editorial) Editorial: On this day, we give thanks for our many blessings

Giving thanks is a central part of most religions. Indeed, the American celebration of Thanksgiving that we trace (accurately or not) to 1621, that was first officially declared by George Washington and made permanent by Abraham Lincoln and later enshrined in law by the Congress was conceived as a religious holiday — although with a far different meaning than the traditional period of prayerful fasting that defined the thanksgiving that the Pilgrims brought with them from England.

But thanksgiving is not exclusively religious. The Mayo Clinic (and pretty much any public health expert) tells us that regularly recognizing our blessings increases our happiness, along with our physical health: “In addition to helping you get more sleep, practicing gratitude can boost your immunity and decrease your risk of disease.”

So today, whether we’re religious or secular or somewhere in between, whether we’re able to be with family or friends or not, we give thanks for blessings that we cannot begin to count.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., History

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

Happy American Thanksgiving to all Blog Readers!

Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, History

A Prayer of Thanksgiving from Lancelot Andrewes

Blessing and honour, and thanksgiving and praise,
more than we can utter,
more than we can conceive,
be unto thee, O holy and glorious Trinity,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
by all angels, all men, all creatures,
for ever and ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Otis Sargent Huntington

O loving God, by whose grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ”˜You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ”˜Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ”˜Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ”˜You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ”˜Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ”˜These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ”˜Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

–Matthew 20:1-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Contending With the Pandemic, Wealthy Nations Wage Global Battle for Migrants

As the global economy heats up and tries to put the pandemic aside, a battle for the young and able has begun. With fast-track visas and promises of permanent residency, many of the wealthy nations driving the recovery are sending a message to skilled immigrants all over the world: Help wanted. Now.

In Germany, where officials recently warned that the country needs 400,000 new immigrants a year to fill jobs in fields ranging from academia to air-conditioning, a new Immigration Act offers accelerated work visas and six months to visit and find a job.

Canada plans to give residency to 1.2 million new immigrants by 2023. Israel recently finalized a deal to bring health care workers from Nepal. And in Australia, where mines, hospitals and pubs are all short-handed after nearly two years with a closed border, the government intends to roughly double the number of immigrants it allows into the country over the next year.

The global drive to attract foreigners with skills, especially those that fall somewhere between physical labor and a physics Ph.D., aims to smooth out a bumpy emergence from the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(C of E) Church opens “baby bank” lifeline as new parents struggle to make ends meet

A vital service offering support to new parents who are struggling to afford essentials for their babies is being run by a church.

The North Shields Baby Bank, based at St John’s Church Percy Main, in North Tyneside, has helped more than 60 families since its launch in the summer with items including nappies, wipes, clothing and baby formula.

Revd Lee Cleminson, Vicar of St John’s, said: “We’ve all heard of food banks and know what a valuable lifeline they are for people struggling.

“However, as a result of parents discreetly contacting the vicarage, asking for help, there was a clear need for a similar scheme which supplied basic baby items.

“One mother who came to the church for help explained that she was having to choose between charging her electric meter and buying nappies for her beautiful newborn baby boy.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(FWI) Archbishop urges openness to counter farmers’ mental health challenges

Farmers and those living in rural areas have been urged to seek help and open up if they are suffering feelings of isolation, emptiness or despair, accepting that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and is highly treatable.

Answering questions at the NFU’s annual Henry Plumb Lecture, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke candidly about his own experience of depression.

“I take anti-depressants. I see someone quite regularly,” he said. “For quite a long time my behaviour became so complicated that even my colleagues noticed it as being unusual.

“I made a joke of it, but depression is not a joke and is the most frequent form of mental illness, and is treatable for most people most of the time.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Guardian) ‘Rogues or idiots’: Justin Welby condemns TV portrayal of clergy

It became an instant hit with viewers for its female vicar, quirky cast of village characters and the gentle fun it poked at the Church of England.

Almost three decades after the first episode was aired, the Vicar of Dibley, starring Dawn French, is still a staple of Christmas specials and fundraising telethons. The Rev Geraldine Granger even made several broadcasts to the nation during lockdown.

But the archbishop of Canterbury has cast aspersions on Dibley’s vicar and other television clergy, saying they portrayed vicars as “rogues or idiots”, whereas in reality they are “hard-working, normal people, caring deeply about what they do”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

New Bishop of Willesden announced

The Revd Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, currently Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Mission and Ministry Enabler in the Diocese of Leicester, has today been announced as the Diocese of London’s next Bishop of Willesden, covering the boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow and Hillingdon.

The official announcement from Downing Street came while Canon Lusa visited Twyford School, a leading Church of England School in Acton, students from which played a role in deciding his appointment. The Sixth Form students, who judged sermons from shortlisted candidates, this morning welcomed Lusa and the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, at a special assembly, with Alice Hudson, Executive Head Teacher of Twyford CofE Academies Trust.

As part of today’s introduction to the Willesden Area, Canon Lusa will meet clergy and interfaith leaders from the local community.

He will be consecrated in January 2022, and will join the College of Bishops in the Diocese of London. He succeeds the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent as Bishop of Willesden, who served as Bishop for 20 years.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(NPR) Parents are scrambling after schools suddenly cancel class over staffing and burnout

Two weeks’ notice: Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina voted on Oct. 28 to close schools on Nov. 12 for a “day of kindness, community and connection.”

Five days’ notice: On the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 17, Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan announced that schools would be closed the following Monday and Tuesday, extending Thanksgiving break for a full week. The district cited rising COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.

Three and even two days’ notice: On Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 9 and 10, three different districts in Washington state — in Seattle, Bellevue and Kent — announced schools would be closed that same Friday, the day after Veterans Day, due to staff shortages.

Schools and districts around the country have been canceling classes on short notice. The cancellations aren’t directly for COVID-19 quarantines; instead schools are citing staff shortages, staff fatigue, mental health and sometimes even student fights.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the 1928 BCP

O GOD, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered; Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness, all our days: that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favour with thee our God, and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture readings

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

“The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner,”

and

“A stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall”;

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

–1 Peter 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(C of E) ‘I was fighting it’ an AI scientist’s 12-year journey to ordination

Henry Akingbemisilu was ordained as a Deacon earlier this year. He serves as a Self-Supporting Minister in Thamesmead, London, in the Diocese of Southwark – alongside working in Data Science.
Henry is shown in his clerical robes smiling
Henry was born in Nigeria, coming to the UK to study mathematics and computer network engineering. His journey to ordination started in 2008, but it was only in 2015 that he finally started the official discernment process with Southwark Diocese.

In the years that preceded this, he was involved in his church – in the choir, in prayer ministry groups and as Church Warden for eight years but felt a ‘calling’ to do more.

“You know, when God is calling, you just won’t be at peace with yourself until you give in,” he explained.

“It took me so many years.

“I asked myself is this God or is it me making things up?

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–China and Russia form an entente to hobble America, with a little help from Iran.

Asia First does not mean Asia Alone. That is the hard lesson the world is busy teaching the Biden administration and the U.S. In Europe, American diplomats last week scrambled to respond to Belarus’s weaponization of migration on its border with Poland, warned that Russia is positioning itself to invade Ukraine, and worked to defuse a crisis in the western Balkans. In the Middle East, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure key allies about America’s continuing commitment to their security, U.S. naval forces participated with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the unprecedented joint Arab-Israeli military exercises in the Red Sea.

This shift from an Asia First policy to Global Engagement isn’t something the Biden administration is voluntarily choosing. It is a change forced on the U.S. by the actions of adversaries who believe that by keeping America off-balance and overcommitted, they can hasten the process of American decline.

President Biden’s original plan to focus on Asia made good political sense. Progressive Democrats are dead-set against the military spending and political engagement that a truly global American foreign policy would require. And it isn’t only progressive Democrats who are weary of endless wars, freeloading allies, and American diplomatic and sometimes military engagement in faraway hot spots like the western Balkans and Sudan. If we could get Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reach at least a temporary understanding with Russia on some issues, Team Biden hoped, reduced engagement in Europe and the Middle East would help make a tougher China policy easier to sell back home—and to pay for.

Team Biden is right about that. Unfortunately, China, Russia and Iran understand the situation as clearly as the White House does, and these powers want Mr. Biden and the nation he leads to fail.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(Guardian) Monarch butterflies may be thriving after years of decline. Is it a comeback?

On a recent November morning, more than 20,000 western monarch butterflies clustered in a grove of eucalyptus, coating the swaying trees like orange lace. Each year up to 30% of the butterfly’s population meets here in Pismo Beach, California, as the insects migrate thousands of miles west for the winter.

Just a year ago, this vibrant spectacle had all but disappeared. The monarch population has plummeted in recent years, as the vibrant invertebrates struggled to adapt to habitat loss, climate crisis, and harmful pesticide-use across their western range.

Last year less than 200 arrived at this site in 2020 – the lowest number ever recorded – and less than 2,000 were counted across the California coast.

But ahead of the official annual count that takes place around Thanksgiving, early tallies show monarchs may be thriving once again across California. The rise has sparked joy and relief, but the researchers, state park officials, and advocates say that doesn’t mean the species is safe.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals