Category : Economy

UK Faith leaders make call for environment-focused economic recovery

Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.

The open letter [begins]:

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CNBC) Coronavirus forced 62% of summer camps to close this year and early estimates predict the industry will take a $16 billion revenue hit

If you visited Lochearn Camp For Girls, nestled on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Fairlee, during the summer months you’d likely hear the sounds of tennis balls hitting the court, horses trotting in the nearby corrals and girls laughing as they canoe in pristine waters.

But this year, the grounds are much quieter without the roughly 360 campers Lochearn welcomes each summer. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, camp director Tony Oyenarte and his team decided to close the overnight resident program for the 2020 season. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as a camp director and as a businessman,” Oyenarte tells CNBC Make It.

“We’ve been open for 104 consecutive years. We went through the flu of 1918, both world wars, H1N1. But when June 1 came, and we had to make a decision for the summer, it was focused on: Are we gonna be able to deliver an experience that’s going to be safe and is it going to be fun?” Oyenarte says. And the short answer, after much soul searching, was no. “At the end of the day, we just said it’s not going to be the best experience for our campers and our staff.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Sports

(LA Times) Californians are losing their fear of the coronavirus, setting the stage for disaster

“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.

“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.

California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(Local Paper) As holiday weekend approaches, Charleston-area restaurant workers fear what it might bring

By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.

It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.

With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.

In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.

Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.

“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) Data point to soaring US gun sales in June

A record 3.9m firearm background checks were conducted in June, according to new FBI figures that underscore the sharp rise in US gun sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of firearm background checks conducted last month in the US was 71 per cent higher compared with the same time last year. The monthly figures broke the previous record, which was set in March, when 3.7m checks were conducted.

The latest figures cover a period in which the number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in many states across the American south and west, including Florida, Texas and Arizona. They also take into account the period of widespread antiracism protests and civil unrest after Floyd was killed in late May.

The FBI database does not convey the total guns sold, however, because background check laws and other rules surrounding firearm purchases vary from state to state. Not all gun buyers in the US are subject to background checks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

(Free Times) Columbia Fireflies won’t play in 2020 after minor league season canceled

Major League Baseball is working to begin its season in late July, with a plan to play without fans in the stands because of COVID-19. The Fireflies, along with the rest of the minor leagues, have been prevented from playing this year because of the coronavirus.

Katz, the Fireflies president who has worked in professional baseball for nearly three decades, tells Free Times the announcement that Major League Baseball wouldn’t be providing players for the minors, thus putting a nail in the coffin of the 2020 season in Columbia and 159 other cities, was a “gut punch.”

“Personally and professionally, for the 30 people who work here [full-time], it just hurts,” Katz says. “Our planning process never stops. We started planning for 2020 as soon as we closed the books on the last night of 2019.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Health & Medicine, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Moultrie News) Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, mandates face masks at select establishments, effective July 1

Mount Pleasant has joined neighboring municipalities in mandating that face masks be worn in certain public spaces, effective at noon on Wednesday. Just three days prior to the celebration of Independence Day.

On Monday afternoon, Mount Pleasant Town Council met for an emergency special council meeting that would consider requiring face covering in “certain circumstances.” Council voted in favor 6-2, two-thirds majority, to pass Ordinance 20037.

Councilmember Brenda Corley was not present for the vote. Council explained the reasoning for Corley’s absence was due to showing COVID-19 symptoms.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Reason) J.D. Tuccille–The Pandemic’s Economic Carnage Looks Worse Than Expected

If you thought the economic toll wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic was only going to be horrendous, you may have been overly optimistic. A combination of voluntary behavior changes and government-imposed lockdowns that choked-off social and economic activity are now projected to have even worse consequences than economists initially feared. Life may start returning to normal sometime next year, but there will be lasting pain even if we avoid another wave of the virus.

“Global output is projected to decline by 4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below our April forecast, followed by a partial recovery, with growth at 5.4 percent in 2021,” Gita Gopinath, Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote this week.

As depressing as the IMF’s numbers are, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is actually more pessimistic. The OECD predicts that, if we’re hit by only one wave of COVID-19, global economic activity will fall by 6 percent this year, with five years of income growth lost. A second wave of infections would drive world economic output down by 7.6 percent in 2020.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(RNS) Tara Burton–How millennials make meaning from shopping, decorating and self-pampering

[Millenial]…’values hold that the self is an autonomous being, the self’s desires are fundamentally good, and societal and sexual repression as not just undesirable but actively evil. These millennials, which in my new book I called “Remixed Millennials,” are at once attracted to moral and theological certainty — accounts of the human condition that claim totalizing truth or demand difficult adherence because the challenge is ultimately rewarding — and repulsed by traditions that set hard limits on personal, and particularly sexual or romantic, desire.

That, for better or for worse, is where corporations come in. Increasingly, companies have recognized that there is a gap in the needs of today’s Remixed: institutions, activities, philosophies and rituals that manage to be challenging and totalizing while also preserving millennials’ need for personal freedom. It’s the dot-com bubble for spirituality, a free marketplace of innovation and religious disruption. No sooner does something become a viral movement than an ingenious startup finds a way to re-create it at a more profitable price point. (Columbia Business School is currently hosting an incubator for “spiritual entrepreneurs,” offering a certificate in spiritual entrepreneurship for those who complete a 20-week course.)

Consumer-capitalist culture offers us not merely necessities but identities. Meaning, purpose, community and ritual can all — separately or together — be purchased on Amazon Prime.

As journalist Amanda Hess wrote in The New York Times, “Shopping, decorating, grooming and sculpting are now jumping with meaning. And a purchase need not have any explicit social byproduct — the materials eco-friendly, or the proceeds donated to charity — to be weighted with significance. Pampering itself has taken on a spiritual urgency.”’

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Uncategorized, Young Adults

Diocese of Carlisle sets up a Task Group to secure its future mission

A special Task Group has been set up to secure the long-term missional sustainability of the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – post COVID-19.

The Financial Planning Task Group is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and has ten other members including the Bishop of Penrith, clergy and members of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF).

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, its focus is the sustained growth of church of every kind in the Diocese of Carlisle, supporting mission, ministry and the ecumenical God for All Vision Refresh.

Bishop James said: “As with all other dioceses in the Church of England, our cash flow and overall financial situation has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Almost every part of our income has been affected: churches have been closed, regular giving has fallen and Parish Offer has been affected; investment income is likely to be lower; parochial fees have not been earned as occasional offices such as weddings and funerals in churches have not happened and our commercial and residential tenants are themselves under financial pressure. We still don’t know exactly for how long and to what degree this will be the case….”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) From China to Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus

China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(WSJ) Escape to the Country: Why City Living Is Losing Its Appeal During the Pandemic

Confined to her Paris apartment with three young children, her husband and a dog during the city’s strict eight-week lockdown, Kate Gambey began fantasizing about something she never thought she would: a country house.

“I’m such a city girl,” said Ms. Gambey, an American married to a Frenchman. She made Paris her home nearly a decade ago but is now searching for a new home some 30 to 150 miles southwest of Paris.

“Right now it’s a question of how and where do we survive this best.”

In recent months, thousands of city dwellers have fled metropolises such as New York, Paris and London, moving in with family or into rentals to avoid crowds, be closer to nature or spend coronavirus lockdowns in more spacious quarters. While many have begun to return as restrictions have eased, others, like Ms. Gambey and her husband, Charles, are considering a permanent move.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Bloomberg) Religion Meets Profit Generation in a Slew of New Faith-Based ETFs

As much as Samim Abedi loved his job as part of the team that managed Google’s corporate investment portfolio, he couldn’t always square the work with his Muslim faith. He worried that some of the companies whose securities he traded had ties to alcohol or tobacco or gambling.

So he quit to join Wahed Invest, which in July 2019 launched the first exchange-traded fund in the U.S. that’s compliant with Sharia, Islam’s religious law. It’s one of eight ETFs introduced in the U.S. last year that incorporate faith-based principles, raising the total to 11. More are coming: In June, money manager Global X filed to launch a bond fund aligned to Catholic values. “We’re all trying to solve the same question,” says Abedi, the global head of portfolio management for Wahed. “How do we invest our wealth in ways that align with our ethics?”

Religion-based funds can differ on what they consider ethical. A stock fund that caters to Catholics shuns companies that sell weapons or exploit child labor. Several ETFs for Muslims steer clear of anything related to interest-based finance, which the religion frowns upon. Those funds invest in a Sharia-compliant alternative to bonds called sukuk, which provide regular payments that are considered profit-sharing rather than interest.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Churches, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Local Paper) As COVID-19 wallops hospitality sector, Folly Beach restaurateurs develop safety strategy

Approximately 40 restaurants in the Charleston area have now closed temporarily as a result of an employee testing positive for the deadly disease, exposure to an infected guest or concern about the spread, although industry members reiterate many more restaurants are continuing to operate in the face of known cases.

Rich says the Folly Beach meeting, scheduled for the Loggerhead’s parking lot to facilitate social distancing, will cover table spacing, bar seats and employee masks. Rich believes strongly that every restaurant in the city needs to mandate masks for front-of-house workers.

“There’s no regulation on it, so everybody is doing something different,” he says. “We’re just going to tell everyone, ‘Hey, guys, this is what we recommend.’ We need to make sure somebody’s burger or beer isn’t as important as our health.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Health & Medicine

(USA Today) NIH director: COVID-19’s ‘heartbreaking’ harm to Black and Hispanic Americans demands testing

Collins said he’s been impressed with the safety of convalescent plasma – a blood product from people who have recovered from COVID-19. But research has not yet shown whether convalescent plasma is truly effective for COVID-19 patients and at what stage of disease.

More promising, he said, is what are called monoclonal antibodies – immune system molecules identified from recovered patients that can then be manufactured with predictability and consistently.

“It worked for Ebola, so it’s got a precedent,” said Collins, who was head of the NIH when that outbreak occurred. At least six companies are developing monoclonal antibodies that are ready for testing in people.

“If I had to put my hopes on one therapeutic that might be a real game-changer as soon as this fall, it would be monoclonals,” Collins said. “But we don’t know until we actually go there and try that….”

Collins said he has decided that it is safe in Washington, D.C. to slowly begin allowing NIH scientists to return to work. He has eight people in his own research lab who are now coming in every other day, wearing a mask all the time, remaining six feet away from each other, and cleaning their space when they leave. He compared this to what will have to happen to keep people safe as businesses and universities begin to reopen.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(FT) Digital ad market set to eclipse traditional media for first time

Digital advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba is set this year to overtake spending on traditional media for the first time, a historic shift in market share that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Excluding online ads sold by old media outlets such as news publishers or broadcasters, digital marketing is predicted to account for more than half the $530bn global advertising industry in 2020, according to GroupM, the media buying agency owned by WPP.

Separate forecasts released last week by Magna, part of IPG Mediabrands, also expect 2020 to be the year traditional media is upstaged.

The digital revolution in marketing under way since the millennium, when the internet accounted for under 2 per cent of spending, has transformed the ad market at a pace and scale that far outstrips the advent of television in the 20th century.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media

Anglican Bishops warn of ‘Environmental Racism’

The Archbishop of Canterbury together with the Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Truro, Dover, Woolwich, Sherborne, Loughborough, Kingston, Reading and Ramsbury, and former Archbishop Rowan Williams have joined a list of eight archbishops and 38 bishops worldwide in signing an open letter stating that black lives are predominantly affected by the effects of climate change, as well as police brutality and the spread of COVID-19.

Published by the Anglican Communion’s Environmental Network, the letter reads (extract):

The world is slow to respond to climate change, hanging on to an increasingly precarious and unjust economic system. It is predominantly Black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise. The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.

We stand at a Kairos moment – in order to fight environmental injustice , we must also fight racial injustice.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Bloomberg) Niall Ferguson–America Is On The Road To Relapse Not Recovery

The best title for this tale was devised by my Hoover Institution colleague, the economist John Cochrane. He called it “The Dumb Reopening.” A smart reopening is the sort that has been possible in countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, which were so quick to ramp up testing and contact tracing that they didn’t need to do lockdowns in the first place. Among European countries, Germany and Greece have also successfully adopted these methods, which ensure that any new outbreaks of Covid-19 can quickly be detected, so-called super-spreaders isolated, their recent contacts swiftly traced and tested, and the outbreaks snuffed out.

Other signs of smartness are the persistence of behavioral adaptations by ordinary people, such as social distancing and wearing masks. We know that these practices, which can be adopted by citizens without any government decree, are effective in restricting the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Less widely appreciated is that social distancing is more effective as policy than lockdowns, as a forthcoming paper in the journal Nature shows. This is also the implication of work by researchers at Oxford’s Blavatnik School who show that there is no correlation between the stringency of government measures and containment of Covid-19. Measures designed to protect groups that are especially susceptible and vulnerable to Covid-19 — notably the elderly, especially those with pre-existing conditions — are also smart.

A dumb reopening eschews all such precautionary measures. So is that really what the U.S. is doing? The answer is pretty much yes. Testing has improved, but contact tracing is primitive. And social distancing and mask-wearing are least prevalent where reopening is happening fastest.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT) Vast Federal Aid Has Capped Rise in Poverty, Studies Find

An unprecedented expansion of federal aid has prevented the rise in poverty that experts predicted this year when the coronavirus sent unemployment to the highest level since the Great Depression, two new studies suggest. The assistance could even cause official measures of poverty to fall.

The studies carry important caveats. Many Americans have suffered hunger or other hardships amid long delays in receiving the assistance, and much of the aid is scheduled to expire next month. Millions of people have been excluded from receiving any help, especially undocumented migrants, who often have American children.

Still, the evidence suggests that the programs Congress hastily authorized in March have done much to protect the needy, a finding likely to shape the debate over next steps at a time when 13.3 percent of Americans remain unemployed.

Democrats, who want to continue the expiring aid, can cite the effect of the programs on poverty as a reason to continue them, while Republicans may use it to bolster their doubts about whether more spending is needed or affordable.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, The U.S. Government

(NPR) As States Reopen, Do They Have The Workforce They Need To Stop Coronavirus Outbreaks?

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

Contact tracers are public health workers who reach out to each new positive coronavirus case, track down their contacts, and connect both the sick person and those who were exposed with the services they need to be able to safely isolate themselves. This is an essential part of stamping out emerging outbreaks.

To understand how that picture had changed since NPR’s initial contact tracing survey in late April, NPR reached out again to all state health departments, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. In total, NPR reporters were able to assemble data from all 50 states along with D.C., Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(WSJ) CIA’s ‘Lax’ Security Led to Massive Theft of Hacking Tools, Internal Report Finds

A “woefully lax” security culture within the Central Intelligence Agency’s elite hacking unit that favored building cyber weapons over protecting its own computer systems from intrusion allowed for the 2016 theft of top-secret hacking tools, according to an internal report written by the spy agency disclosed on Tuesday.

The hacking tools were published by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in early 2017, a disclosure totaling more than 8,000 pages. The leak of the so-called Vault 7 documents was widely viewed as one of the most devastating security breaches in the CIA’s history. It included details about the agency’s playbook for hacking smartphones, computer operating systems, messaging applications and internet-connected televisions.

The internal audit, published in October 2017 by CIA’s WikiLeaks Task Force, described the theft as the “largest data loss in CIA history.” It said an employee stole anywhere from 180 gigabytes to 34 terabytes of information, a haul roughly equivalent to 11.6 million to 2.2 billion pages in Microsoft Word.

The report said it was possible the CIA may have never learned of the theft had the trove not been published by WikiLeaks.

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Posted in Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(FT) Debt investors let borrowers go back to the future

Businesses suffering plunging revenues because of Covid-19 are seeking to avoid potential debt breaches by substituting last year’s profits in place of this year’s in the documents they present to their lenders.

The UK pub chain Punch Taverns, US events group Live Nation Entertainment and Samsonite, the Hong Kong-listed luggage maker, are among companies employing the tactic, according to filings and people familiar with the moves. The strategy amounts to asking lenders to imagine that the pandemic had not happened, but debt holders have so far accepted it because acknowledging depressed 2020 earnings could cause problems on both sides.

“Conceptually I’m not fine with it; it doesn’t make any sense,” said one Punch bondholder. “But I don’t have any incentive to fight against the company and to push [it] down a messy path.” When companies breach terms known as covenants — such as a requirement to stick within certain ratios of debt to earnings — lenders are normally at liberty to demand immediate repayment, or in extreme cases trigger restructurings and take control of business assets….

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) Scott Gottlieb and Yuval Levin–New Rules for Covid Summer: Be Flexible and Vigilant

…public attitudes are now as mixed and contradictory as the epidemiology data. A forthcoming survey of 3,500 Americans conducted this month by our American Enterprise Institute colleague Daniel Cox found that 58% of Americans want public officials to “take all necessary steps to ensure the public is safe even if it means keeping businesses closed longer and hurting the economy.” But that is down from 78% in late March. Some 41% supported allowing businesses to open “even if it means putting some people at risk,” nearly double the 22% in March.

That explains what’s happening around the country, and also why so many people are uneasy. And it suggests that, along with ramping up testing and tracing, public officials need to focus on building public confidence and minimizing weariness.

That means, for example, encouraging (and practicing) sensible behavior that can reduce the spread. Wearing face masks is the simplest and most effective, along with efforts to practice hygiene and distancing when possible. Officials from the president down must avoid politicizing these measures. They are neither conspiracies against your dignity nor proof of your enlightenment. They are sensible ways of reducing infection and fear.

When local hot spots arise, mayors and governors must trace the outbreaks to their origin and be ready to curtail specific activities that are sources of spread. The public is clearly willing to follow focused guidance. But broad shutdowns are unlikely to be tolerated this summer—and therefore are unlikely to be proposed, regardless of what the epidemiology shows.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

South Carolina announces 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+6 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 6 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,955 and those who have died to 599.

Four deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Cherokee (1), Darlington (1), Greenville (1), and Richland (1) counties, and two deaths occurred in middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Horry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(Yorkshire Post) Upkeep of historic churches could fall victim to coronavirus fallout

The Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, told the Yorkshire Post the pandemic had left “some quite serious financial challenges” and those burdened by constant maintenance bills could be forced to make difficult decisions.

Her thoughts have been echoed by Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, which last year gave out just short of £100,000 to historic churches in the region, for repairs to roofs, spires and stonework and organ restoration.

Many historic churches are reliant on tourism and constant fundraising to meet ongoing maintenance – both of which have dried up, and new funding streams should be considered, the Trust said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

GRR:Discouraging short term trend continues–South Carolina today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+5 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 5 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,170 and those who have died to 593.

All five deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Aiken (1), Charleston (1), Lexington (1), Orangeburg (1), and Richland (1) counties

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(Wa Po) The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending – it’s surging

As restrictions are lifted around the world, the sense of urgency surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic has weakened. Hundreds of millions of students have returned to school; restaurants, bars and other businesses are slowly reopening in many countries. In parts of Europe, vaccine researchers worry that they will not have enough sick people for testing.

But this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported on Sunday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

“By no means is this over,” Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director, said Wednesday. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.”

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(DHEC) South Carolina announces 528 new cases of COVID19 and 7 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 528 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 15,759 and those who have died to 575.

Five of the deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Florence (1), Greenville (2), and Spartanburg (1) counties, and 2 middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Newberry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(The State) As South Carolina surpasses 15,000 COVID19 cases, infection rates, hospitalizations hit new highs

Following a record breaking day, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced Tuesday that South Carolina has surpassed 15,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, 434 more people tested positive for the virus, and 11 additional people have died after contracting it, DHEC officials said. The 434 represented 14.7% of the total daily number of tests results reported Tuesday — the highest daily rate of infection the state has seen in at least the last 28 days.

Another statistic also is rapidly rising: the number of hospital beds across the state occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases or who are under investigation for the disease. On Saturday, for example, the state had 482 COVID patients being treated in hospital. In just two days, that number has rocketed up to 541.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(New Atlantis) Stefan Beck–Do We Want Dystopia? On nightmare tech as the fulfillment of warped desire

Inasmuch as there are canonical texts of American education, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is one of them. But students may wonder why their teacher presents as “dystopian” a text that reads, in 2020, like an operating manual for the technocratic American Dream. The taming of reproduction and heredity by science; the banishment of boredom, discomfort, and sorrow by entertainment and pharmacology; the omnipresent availability of attachment-free sex; the defeat of death, sort of, by blissed-out euthanasia: Huxley foresaw not our fears but some of our deepest aspirations.

To read and teach Brave New World as dystopia is at best an oblivious atavism, at worst a piece of deluded self-flattery. As a character (not even an especially bright one) observes in Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles (1998), “Everyone says Brave New World is supposed to be a totalitarian nightmare, a vicious indictment of society, but that’s hypocritical bullshit.” The only thing Huxley got wrong, the character adds, is society’s acceptance of genetic caste stratification. In reality, we expect “advances in automation and robotics” to render such attine division of labor as obsolete as the sundial, the cotton gin, and the dot matrix printer.

It’s easy to look back at Huxley’s novel and attribute the radiant, meaningless future toward which it so fearfully looked as the realization of the dreams of scientists — including Huxley’s own brother, the eugenicist Julian Huxley — with their Promethean curiosity and procrustean “solutions.” But Huxley fretted about the machinations of industry as much as he did about scientists: Brave New World is peppered with the surnames of Henry Ford, Sir Alfred Mond, and Maurice Bokanowski. Huxley seemed convinced that when the last irregularity was removed from the human condition, and the last inconvenience stripped from the human experience, it would be scientists’ and industrialists’ hands wielding the plane. But where the scientists pursue knowledge for its own sake, or in service of the good as they see it, the tech titans pursue it the better to sell us what we want. How well the would-be Aldous Huxleys of our day understand that — and how much blame they place on us and our appetites — is the subject of this essay.

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Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Corporations/Corporate Life, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology