Category : Economy

(DW) UN: Pandemic did not slow advance of climate change

The UN released a report on Thursday warning that the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the pace of climate change.

Virus-related economic slowdown and lockdowns caused only a temporary downturn in CO2 emissions last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

“There was some thinking that the COVID lockdowns would have had a positive impact on the atmosphere, which is not the case,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said at a news briefing.

The United in Science 2021 report, which gathers the latest scientific data and findings related to climate change, said global fossil-fuel CO2 emissions between January and July in the power and industry sectors were already back to the same level or higher than in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(WSJ front page) Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

Eva Behrens, a 17-year-old student at Redwood High School in Marin County, Calif., said she estimates half the girls in her grade struggle with body-image concerns tied to Instagram. “Every time I feel good about myself, I go over to Instagram, and then it all goes away,” she said.

When her classmate Molly Pitts, 17, arrived at high school, she found her peers using Instagram as a tool to measure their relative popularity. Students referred to the number of followers their peers had as if the number was stamped on their foreheads, she said.

Now, she said, when she looks at her number of followers on Instagram, it is most often a “kick in the gut.”

For years, there has been little debate among medical doctors that for some patients, Instagram and other social media exacerbate their conditions. Angela Guarda, director for the eating-disorders program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said it is common for her patients to say they learned from social media tips for how to restrict food intake or purge. She estimates that Instagram and other social-media apps play a role in the disorders of about half her patients.

“It’s the ones who are most vulnerable or are already developing a problem—the use of Instagram and other social media can escalate it,” she said.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Women

(Local Paper Yesterday’s front page) Inside DHEC, where workers fight anxiety, frustration, fatigue amid crush of pandemic

Microbiologist John Bonaparte can count on one hand the days he has taken off from work since South Carolina recorded its first cases of the coronavirus in March 2020.

One of his co-workers in the state’s public health laboratory, Kendra Rembold, has missed three seasons of her children’s soccer games while pulling 12-hour shifts to keep up with the state’s unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing.

And one of their supervisors in the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s cramped lab in Columbia, Christy Greenwood, decided she couldn’t adequately juggle the demands of the pandemic and her responsibilities as a single parent. So she took her 5- and 7-year-old children to stay at their grandmother’s house until things calmed down at work.

More than 550 days since the coronavirus took hold in South Carolina, that respite still hasn’t come for the hundreds of public health workers who toil in the background of the state’s response.

Instead, they say, COVID-19 has proven to be an unending nightmare, serving up 12- and 15-hour shifts, seven-day workweeks and a buffet of anxiety, frustration and fatigue.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Washington Post) Xi Jinping’s crackdown on everything is remaking Chinese society

The orders have been sudden, dramatic and often baffling. Last week, “American Idol”-style competitions and shows featuring men deemed too effeminate were banned by Chinese authorities. Days earlier, one of China’s wealthiest actresses, Zhao Wei, had her movies, television series and news mentions scrubbed from the Internet as if she had never existed.

Over the summer, China’s multibillion-dollar private education industry was decimated overnight by a ban on for-profit tutoring, while new regulations wiped more than $1 trillion from Chinese tech stocks since a peak in February. As China’s tech moguls compete to donate more to President Xi Jinping’s campaign against inequality, “Xi Jinping Thought” is taught in elementary schools, and foreign games and apps like Animal Crossing and Duolingo have been pulled from stores.

A dizzying regulatory crackdown unleashed by China’s government has spared almost no sector over the past few months. This sprawling “rectification” campaign — with such disparate targets as ride-hailing services, insurance, education and even the amount of time children can spend playing video games — is redrawing the boundaries of business and society in China as Xi prepares to take on a controversial third term in 2022.

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Posted in China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Our spending on longevity research belies our faulty understanding of death

Death was once — potentially, at least — an expression of some ultimate triumph. Now it is the bitter failure of our technology. And whatever we spend on it, no amount of money will overcome this gap.

Death, then, is the political issue we are not talking about. Even after the pandemic, when the daily death figures were broadcast on every news broadcast, we continue to say little about death other than making the uncritical assumption it is always to be avoided.

And so we are sleepwalking into a state of affairs in which the young will resent the elderly for the burden they place upon them. Of course, we should support the generous funding for social care. What we ought to be challenging is whether the medical technologies that are keeping us alive for ever longer complement our understanding of what human existence is for.

But I see little appetite for that. In a secular society, we have few intellectual or cultural resources to challenge the pervasiveness of more-ism. And to live deeper, more meaningful lives is not the same as living longer ones.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Eschatology, Science & Technology, Secularism

(MIT Tech Review) Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Last October, a large group of scientists made their way to Yuri Milner’s super-mansion in the Los Altos Hills above Palo Alto. They were tested for covid-19 and wore masks as they assembled in a theater on the property for a two-day scientific conference. Others joined by teleconference. The topic: how biotechnology might be used to make people younger.

Milner is a Russian-born billionaire who made a fortune on Facebook and Mail.ru and previously started the glitzy black-tie Breakthrough Prizes, $3 million awards given each year to outstanding physicists, biologists, and mathematicians. But Milner’s enthusiasm for science was taking a provocative and specific new direction. As the scientific sessions progressed, experts took the stage to describe radical attempts at “rejuvenating” animals.

That meeting has now led to the formation of an ambitious new anti-aging company called Altos Labs, according to people familiar with the plans. Altos is pursuing biological reprogramming technology, a way to rejuvenate cells in the lab that some scientists think could be extended to revitalize entire animal bodies, ultimately prolonging human life.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(NYT) Big Tech Has Outgrown This Planet

The already bonkers dollars of Big Tech have become even bonkers-er.

My colleagues and I have written a lot about the unreal sales, profits and oomph of America’s five technology titans — Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook. This might feel like old news. Tech’s Titanic 5 have been big and rich for a long time, and they’ve gotten even more so as people and organizations have needed their products during the coronavirus pandemic. Yadda, yadda, yadda. We get it.

But no, we really don’t get it. American’s technology superstars have launched into a completely different stratosphere than even other wildly successful companies in tech and beyond.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology

Martyn Minns–Pittsburgh ad clerum on anti-social media

Today we are living with instant messaging in which many people document their every thought – almost in real time – on various social media platforms. There is no time to reflect on the impact of their words on the unsuspecting world. When they are feeling angry or hurt, social media is ready 24 hours a day to pass along the pain-filled sentiments to everyone. This is already generating unprecedented levels of depression and self-harming behavior among teenagers – both boys and girls. I have witnessed the potential for serious damage with our own grandchildren.

When I was a child – light years ago – we had a childhood chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me!” It was intended to increase resiliency and avoid physical retaliation, but, sadly, it is simply not true. Hurtful words – uttered in person or via social media – can leave deep wounds long after physical scars might have healed. By way of response to this reality, our son and his wife have not only restricted the hours that social media is available in their home but also denied their 15-year-old son his own mobile phone – over considerable protestations!

I readily admit that the social media explosion has produced remarkable benefits. We are able to communicate with friends and family in ways that we never imagined. Angela serves as our family social media queen and stays in regular contact with our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and our rapidly growing global extended family. She passes along photographs, family news, and prayer needs, and because of her good efforts, we have stayed well connected throughout the pandemic lock down. We have even located high school friends with whom we had lost contact. I am also able to learn a great deal about the various clergy and churches that I now serve as interim bishop, because I can read through their websites and social media posts. But there is a dark side to all of this.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Atlantic) Annie Lowery–The Time Tax–Why is so much American bureaucracy left to average citizens?

The issue is not that modern life comes with paperwork hassles. The issue is that American benefit programs are, as a whole, difficult and sometimes impossible for everyday citizens to use. Our public policy is crafted from red tape, entangling millions of people who are struggling to find a job, failing to feed their kids, sliding into poverty, or managing a disabling health condition.

The United States government—whether controlled by Democrats, with their love of too-complicated-by-half, means-tested policy solutions; or Republicans, with their love of paperwork-as-punishment; or both, with their collective neglect of the implementation and maintenance of government programs—has not just given up on making benefits easy to understand and easy to receive. It has in many cases purposefully made the system difficult, shifting the burden of public administration onto individuals and discouraging millions of Americans from seeking aid. The government rations public services through perplexing, unfair bureaucratic friction. And when people do not get help designed for them, well, that is their own fault.

The time tax is worse for individuals who are struggling than for the rich; larger for Black families than for white families; harder on the sick than on the healthy. It is a regressive filter undercutting every progressive policy we have. In America, losing a job means making a hundred phone calls to a state unemployment-insurance system. Getting hit by a car means becoming your own hospital-billing expert. Having a disability means launching into a Jarndyce v. Jarndyce–type legal battle. Needing help to feed a toddler means filling out a novel-length application for aid.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Taxes, The U.S. Government

(Goulburn Post) Anglican Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn speaks up on Jerrara Power plan

The Reverend Davies was one of 15 members of the community, many of them from Bungonia, to speak during open forum.

He said he wasn’t from Bungonia but “breathed the same air.” In addition, parishioners in the area were “very distressed about the proposal to process up to 330,000 tonnes annually of Sydney’s waste in the rural zone. The Reverend Davies took the matter to Dr Short, who wrote that he had become keenly aware of the importance of environment and air quality, particularly to Goulburn Mulwaree residents.

“This was highlighted in the lead-up to Christmas, 2019 when we were unable to go ahead with an outdoors carols program because of the impact of smoke from the bushfires,” he wrote.

Dr Short noted Jerrara Power’s scoping report had mentioned residents’ concerns about air quality, health and drinking water impacts associated with industry, including quarries in Goulburn Mulwaree.

“Noting the concerns that are acknowledged here and the fact that the vast majority of waste to be processed at the facility would come from outside the local government area, I support any process that would allow the interests and concerns of local residents to be fully heard and evaluated,” the letter stated.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.
The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Chair of the Commissioners’ Board of Governors, said: “I am delighted that Alan has chosen to use his skills and experience to serve the Church and greatly look forward to working with him. Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face, and Alan’s knowledge of environmental issues and risk management will be critically important for the Commissioners’ work. I’d also like to thank Loretta Minghella for her hard work and leadership during her time at the Church Commissioners.”

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “We are pleased that Alan will succeed Loretta. Alan’s experience as a Commissioner and his role on the Commissioners’ Audit & Risk Committee means he’s extremely well suited for this leadership role.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(NYT) Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious Experience

Months before the megachurch Hillsong opened its new outpost in Atlanta, its pastor sought advice on how to build a church in a pandemic.

From Facebook.

The social media giant had a proposition, Sam Collier, the pastor, recalled in an interview: to use the church as a case study to explore how churches can “go further farther on Facebook.”

For months Facebook developers met weekly with Hillsong and explored what the church would look like on Facebook and what apps they might create for financial giving, video capability or livestreaming. When it came time for Hillsong’s grand opening in June, the church issued a news release saying it was “partnering with Facebook” and began streaming its services exclusively on the platform.

Beyond that, Mr. Collier could not share many specifics — he had signed a nondisclosure agreement.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Religion & Culture

(NWE Mail) Barrow MP supports Church of England project for carers

The Diocese of Carlisle is partnering with a Christian charity to provide free retreats for people who were frontline carers during the Covid pandemic.

Barrow and Furness MP, Simon Fell has put his support behind the scheme and is asking the public to get behind the Crowdfunder that is hoping to raise £20,000.

This project is hoped to achieve some much-needed respite for carers.

Mr Fell said “This is a fantastic project which will help some of the people who have had a harder job than others over the past year.

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Posted in Church of England, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(LA Times front page) Dire Climate Predications Are Becoming Real Around Globe

More unprecedented heat waves also could be in store, like those experienced this month in the Pacific Northwest, where hundreds of people are believed to have died from the extreme temperatures, and Russia’s Siberia, where nearly 200 separate forest fires have choked the region in smoke that has since drifted to Alaska.

“All of this was predicted in climate science decades ago,” said John P. Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “We only had to wait for the actual emergence in the last 15 to 20 years. Everything we worried about is happening, and it’s all happening at the high end of projections, even faster than the previous most pessimistic estimates.”

Scientists and environmental activists are in a race to persuade the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. Failure to do so could result in massive disruptions such as famine and widespread coastal flooding. Time is short: Global temperatures have already risen on average by 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880.

Last week, the European Union proposed sweeping legislation aimed at cutting emissions by more than half of 1990 levels by 2030 through the phasing out of gasoline and diesel cars and the imposition of tariffs on imports from polluting countries. The plan poses formidable challenges for the 27-country bloc, including trade tensions and a political backlash from those who deny climate change is happening.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Yorkshire Post) Sheffield’s proud history as the nation’s Steel City highlighted in new exhibition at its Cathedral

At the centre of The Foundry exhibition in Sheffield Cathedral is archive film footage from British Pathé, as the exhibition transports visitors back to an era at the height of the city’s steel-making industry.

It also showcases how artists, craftspeople and sculptors continue to use steel today to create thought-provoking and challenging pieces of work.

Artist Peter Walker, who is the director of the exhibition, said: “At the heart of The Foundry is a remarkable film showing historic Pathé footage of the steel industry in Sheffield.

“Around this there is an opportunity to explore how the city’s connection to the steel industry has inspired artists around the country over the past 50 years – sometimes playfully, sometimes intellectually, but always creatively to adapt and respond to the material and to explore different and diverse subjects.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry

(Chronicle Live) ‘The exact opposite of levelling up’ – North East groups including the Bp of Durham call for Universal Credit uplift to be kept

An unprecedented coalition of groups in the North East – including business leaders, unions, charities and the Bishop of Durham – have come together to condemn the Government’s planned cut to universal credit as ‘the exact opposite of levelling up’.

Groups including the North East Child Poverty Commission, Children North East and the North East England Chamber of Commerce have signed the letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak opposing the ending of the Government’s £20 universal credit uplift.

The benefit increase came into force at the beginning of the pandemic but ministers have confirmed that it will phased out over the coming months, despite opposition from across the policital spectrum and from a number of charities.

A total of 17 North East organisations have signed the letter, as has Bishop of Durham the Rt Rev Paul Butler, who takes responsibility for child poverty for the Church of England.

It points out that the cut in benefits will take £5m a week from the regional economy and make it harder for the North East to recover from the Covid crisis.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Americans’ Medical Debts Are Bigger Than Was Known, Totaling $140 Billion

Americans owe nearly twice as much medical debt as was previously known, and the amount owed has become increasingly concentrated in states that do not participate in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program.

New research published Tuesday in JAMA finds that collection agencies held $140 billion in unpaid medical bills last year,. An earlier study, examining debts in 2016, estimated that Americans held $81 billion in medical debt.

This new paper took a more complete look at which patients have outstanding medical debts, including individuals who do not have credit cards or bank accounts. Using 10 percent of all credit reports from the credit rating agency TransUnion, the paper finds that about 18 percent of Americans hold medical debt that is in collections.

The researchers found that, between 2009 and 2020, unpaid medical bills became the largest source of debt that Americans owe collections agencies. Overall debt, both from medical bills and other sources, declined during that period as the economy recovered from the Great Recession.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing

(New Scientist) World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam

The first ever 3D-printed steel bridge has opened in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was created by robotic arms using welding torches to deposit the structure of the bridge layer by layer, and is made of 4500 kilograms of stainless steel.

The 12-metre-long MX3D Bridge was built by four commercially available industrial robots and took six months to print. The structure was transported to its location over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in central Amsterdam last week and is now open to pedestrians and cyclists.

More than a dozen sensors attached to the bridge after the printing was completed will monitor strain, movement, vibration and temperature across the structure as people pass over it and the weather changes. This data will be fed into a digital model of the bridge.

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Posted in Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Science & Technology, The Netherlands, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) Cape Cod restaurant shuts down for a ‘day of kindness’ after customers make its staff cry

But since restaurants in the state were allowed to fully reopen on May 29, the treatment of the Apt Cape Cod’s 24 employees, many of whom are young and who include the couple’s two children, had gotten worse.

“It’s like abuse,” she said. “It’s things that people are saying that wouldn’t be allowed to be on TV because they would be bleeped. People are always rude to restaurant workers, but this far exceeds anything I’ve seen in my 20 years.”

Felt Castellano, 39, said that some customers had assumed that it would be business as usual, but had not grasped that restaurants were still grappling with staffing and supply shortages. That can mean that wait times are longer and that some items on the menu are not available, which she said has been a source of some of the verbal abuse toward the restaurant’s employees. When a group of diners didn’t get the table that they had requested, she said, they threatened to sue.

“I would say that it is its own epidemic,” she said.

The restaurant’s Facebook post resonated with many people online, who condemned the boorish behavior.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology

(Archbp Cranmer blog) ‘Key limiting factors’: the end of stipendiary parish ministry

Which is absolutely laudable: a church without a mission is just a monument in memory of the Messiah. And a parish-based innovation which is overseen by qualified parish clergy is welcome if it leads people to Christ. But church leaders who have not submitted to a “long, costly college-based training” will have little theology and poor (or no) formation. You end up with a Wesleyan model of church (conveniently forgetting that the Wesleys were steeped in theology and had a profound understanding of Anglican orthodoxy), with all the inherent dangers of error and heresy being lay-preached. Reading Against Heresies: On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis and writing tedious 5,000-word essays on the definition of ‘Applied Theology’ is what helps to qualify you to teach, preach and minister effectively. Some eager disciples yearn to get out into the community and ‘do stuff’, but that stuff is far better done when it is led by people whose skills have been honed, mettle tested, and vocation discerned.

And who are all these lay leaders waiting to be ‘released’? Are they all wealthy or self-employed with a lot of spare time on their hands and the ability to labour for nothing, like parliamentary candidates for the Conservative Party?

Or perhaps there are no lay leaders waiting and yearning to be ‘released’ – and certainly nothing like the army necessary to birth and nurture 10,000 church plants.

Isn’t it a curious vision for renewing and reinvigorating the Church of England that the strategy is apparently to inculcate a new generation with the theology of the Free Church: you don’t need knowledgeable priests, you don’t need beautiful buildings, and you don’t need rigorous qualifications in theology: these are key limiting factors to mission. All you need is a passion for Christ and the ability to lead a Bible study. The rest is otiose.

Now, when will someone write a paper on the key limiting factors in the House and College of Bishops?

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

(NPR) With Workers In Short Supply, Seniors Often Wait Months For Home Health Care

For at least 20 years, national experts have warned about the dire consequences of a shortage of nursing assistants and home aides as tens of millions of baby boomers hit their senior years. “Low wages and benefits, hard working conditions, heavy workloads, and a job that has been stigmatized by society make worker recruitment and retention difficult,” concluded a 2001 report from the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Robyn Stone, a co-author of that report and senior vice president of Leading Age, says many of the worker shortage problems identified in 2001 have only worsened. The risks and obstacles that seniors faced during the pandemic highlighted some of these problems.

“COVID uncovered the challenges of older adults and how vulnerable they were in this pandemic and the importance of front-line care professionals who are being paid low wages,” she says.

Michael Stair, CEO of Care & Comfort, a Waterville, Maine-based agency, says the worker shortage is the worst he’s seen in 20 years in the business.

“The bottom line is it all comes down to dollars — dollars for the home care benefit, dollars to pay people competitively,” he says. Agencies like his are in a tough position competing for workers who can take other jobs that don’t require a background check, special training or driving to people’s homes in bad weather.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Bloomberg) Big Technology Is Gearing Up for a Massive Fight With Modi’s India

India is growing increasingly assertive in its efforts to control online communications, challenging Twitter and Facebook’s practices and threatening to set a precedent that could extend far beyond its borders.

The largest U.S. internet firms are fighting new Intermediary rules issued by Narendra Modi’s government in February that they say curtail privacy and free speech. Officials have demanded Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. take down hundreds of posts this year, divulge sensitive user information and submit to a regulatory regime that includes potential jail terms for executives if companies don’t comply.

While the administration’s push to exert more control over user data and online discourse reflects efforts globally to come to grips with tech giants and their enormous influence, the stakes in India are particularly high for internet firms because — shut out of China — it’s the only billion-people market up for grabs. Unlike authoritarian regimes such as Beijing, critics fear actions taken by the world’s largest democracy could offer a template for other governments to encroach on personal privacy in the name of domestic security.

“India has introduced draconian changes to its rules,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in April. They “create new possibilities for government surveillance of citizens. These rules threaten the idea of a free and open internet built on a bedrock of international human rights standards.”

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, India, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(WSJ) The ‘Great Reshuffling’ Is Shifting Wealth to the Exurbs

A shift to the exurbs started years before the pandemic hit, according to data from the Brookings Institution, and the population of these more-remote places continued to swell with more white-collar workers even as the pandemic weakened. Why? These regions allow employees to be within commuting distance of cities as many firms ask workers to be back in the office for at least part of the work week. U.S. Postal Service data showed that between March and November of last year, 72% of those who filed for address changes in the Bay Area only moved as far as another Bay Area county.

The money stockpiled from leaving pricier areas, coupled with stimulus checks and enforced saving over the last year, are padding the bank accounts of these new movers. Rising credit scores are, in turn, enabling other major purchases such as cars. The new arrivals in the exurbs are finding they need their first or second automobile now that they are located in a more remote part of a metropolitan area. A January survey conducted by Engine Insights on behalf of Xperi DTS found 55% of millennials surveyed said car ownership was more important than ever.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Travel

(Forbes) 93% Of Managers Watch As Mental Health Negatively Impacts Bottom Line

Gone are the days when workers asked themselves, “How could someone like me be having a nervous breakdown?” Today, one in 5 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime and now more likely due to the pandemic.

Mental health concerns, often called invisible disabilities, aren’t flying under the radar at work anymore. They are being identified by team managers and the C-suite, who are quickly realizing that there is no going back to normal.

If your CEO wasn’t paying attention before, this should keep them up at night: According to a Verizon Media white paper. A stunning 93% of managers are finding that the mental health of their employees is having a negative effect on their bottom line. Top issues included grief, burnout, discrimination, and stress and all of this comes coupled with the added strain that families and caregivers are feeling. When employees miss work, are less productive and even communicate less clearly than than usual, their teams’ performance also slips.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

(C of E) Church Commissioners hold companies to account on environmental and social issues in supply chains

The Church Commissioners has, over the last year, expanded its responsible investment activities from being largely focused on climate change to include engaging with companies in a wide range of sectors across a number of integrated issues include biodiversity, human rights and controversies.

Olga Hancock, Senior Engagement Analyst for the Church Commissioners spoke to Responsible Investor as part of a panel of experts focussing on due diligence and supply chains. In the discussions, Olga spoke on the work of the Investor Policy Dialogue on Deforestation, for which she Co-Chairs the Indonesia workstream, the work of the National Investing Bodies of the Church of England on Extractives, and the work of the CCLA led “ Find It Fix It Prevent It” Modern Slavery Initiative.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

C of E Church Commissioners report strong long-term investment performance

Continued strong long-term investment performance enabled the Church Commissioners to extend financial support to the Church of England during the pandemic

Church Commissioners also give confidence about maintaining distributions through this triennium and the next

Determined action on climate change continues whilst the Church Commissioners deepen its focus as Responsible Investors on twin pillars: Respect for People, Respect for the Planet

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

The Church of England Pensions Board’s response to Shell CEO’s statement

“We continue to engage with Shell on the implications and how accelerating its plans will enable the company to meet the requirements of the CA100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark by 2023. It also underlines the importance that we must all work to decarbonise the real economy to reshape energy demand and ensure all companies – energy companies and all their customers in shipping, aviation, transport, road haulage, power generation and elsewhere are aligning to net zero.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(CBS) 60 Minutes Interviews Sir David Attenborough, age 95

Anderson Cooper: You were skeptical of– of climate change And I think that’s– that’s interesting, because I think it makes your warnings now all the more powerful.

Sir David Attenborough: Yeah, yeah, certainly so. And if you’re going to make a statement about the world, you better make sure that it isn’t just your own personal reaction. And the only way you can do it, do that, is to see the– the work of scientists around the world who are taking observation as to what’s happening. As to what’s happening to temperature, what’s happening to humidity, what’s happening to radioactivity, and what’s happening ecologically?

Anderson Cooper: You’ve said that– that “climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet for thousands of years.”

Sir David Attenborough: Yes. Even the biggest and most awful things that humanity has done, civili– so-called civilizations have done, pale to significance when you think of what could be around the corner, unless we pull ourselves together.

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Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(NS) Google has mapped a piece of human brain in the most detail ever

Google has helped create the most detailed map yet of the connections within the human brain. It reveals a staggering amount of detail, including patterns of connections between neurons, as well as what may be a new kind of neuron.

The brain map, which is freely available online, includes 50,000 cells, all rendered in three dimensions. They are joined together by hundreds of millions of spidery tendrils, forming 130 million connections called synapses. The data set measures 1.4 petabytes, roughly 700 times the storage capacity of an average modern computer.

The data set is so large that the researchers haven’t studied it in detail, says Viren Jain at Google Research in Mountain View, California. He compares it to the human genome, which is still being explored 20 years after the first drafts were published.

It is the first time we have seen the real structure of such a large piece of the human brain, says Catherine Dulac at Harvard University, who wasn’t involved in the work. “There’s something just a little emotional about it.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(NYT The Upshot) Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes

It also means companies thinking more expansively about who is qualified for a job in the first place. That is evident, for example, in the way Alex Lorick, a former South Florida nightclub bouncer, was able to become a mainframe technician at I.B.M.

Mr. Lorick often worked a shift called “devil’s nine to five” — 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. — made all the more brutal when it was interspersed with day shifts. The hours were tough, but the pay was better than in his previous jobs, one at a retirement home and another serving food at a dog track. Yet it was a far cry from the type of work he had dreamed about in high school, when he liked computers and imagined making video games for a living.

As a young adult, he took online classes in web development and programming languages, but encountered a Catch-22 many job seekers know well: Nobody wanted to hire a tech worker without experience, which meant he couldn’t get enough experience to be hired. College wasn’t for him. Hence the devil’s nine to five.

Until late last year, that is. After months on unemployment during the pandemic, he heard from I.B.M., where he had once applied and been rejected for a tech job. It invited him to apply to an apprenticeship program that would pay him to be trained as a mainframe technician. Now 24, he completed his training this month and is beginning hands-on work in what he hopes is the start of a long career.

“This is a way more stable paycheck, and more consistent hours,” Mr. Lorick said. “But the most important thing is that I feel like I’m on a path that makes sense and where I have the opportunity to grow.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market