Category : Politics in General

(NYT) Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College

The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN picked up the story of a young female student harassed by white workers. The American Civil Liberties Union, which took the student’s case, said she was profiled for “eating while Black.”

Less attention was paid three months later when a law firm hired by Smith College to investigate the episode found no persuasive evidence of bias. Ms. Kanoute was determined to have eaten in a deserted dorm that had been closed for the summer; the janitor had been encouraged to notify security if he saw unauthorized people there. The officer, like all campus police, was unarmed.

Smith College officials emphasized “reconciliation and healing” after the incident. In the months to come they announced a raft of anti-bias training for all staff, a revamped and more sensitive campus police force and the creation of dormitories — as demanded by Ms. Kanoute and her A.C.L.U. lawyer — set aside for Black students and other students of color.

But they did not offer any public apology or amends to the workers whose lives were gravely disrupted by the student’s accusation.

This is a tale of how race, class and power collided at the elite 145-year-old liberal arts college, where tuition, room and board top $78,000 a year and where the employees who keep the school running often come from working-class enclaves beyond the school’s elegant wrought iron gates. The story highlights the tensions between a student’s deeply felt sense of personal truth and facts that are at odds with it.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

(Sky News) Government urged to close loophole that allows extremists to radicalise others

The government has been urged to close a loophole in the law that allows extremists to operate with impunity, spreading hateful ideologies without fear of prosecution.

The Commission for Countering Extremism wants to see the introduction of a legal framework, enabling authorities to prosecute those who propagate harmful and hateful extremist views.

It said the “gaping chasm” in existing legislation meant many groups – from radical Islamists to far-right neo-Nazis – were able to spread hatred and radicalise others.

The commission – which was formed in the wake of the 2017 London Bridge attacks – said current legislation was focused on dealing with the threat of terrorism.

However, it meant that much extremist activity – so long as it did not cross a certain threshold – was not covered by the law.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism

(NYT) Heating Up Culture Wars, France to Scour Universities for Ideas That ‘Corrupt Society’

Stepping up its attacks on social science theories that it says threaten France, the French government announced this week that it would launch an investigation into academic research that it says feeds “Islamo-leftist’’ tendencies that “corrupt society.’’

News of the investigation immediately caused a fierce backlash among university presidents and scholars, deepening fears of a crackdown on academic freedom — especially on studies of race, gender, post-colonial studies and other fields that the French government says have been imported from American universities and contribute to undermining French society.

While President Emmanuel Macron and some of his top ministers have spoken out forcefully against what they see as a destabilizing influence from American campuses in recent months, the announcement marked the first time that the government has moved to take action.

It came as France’s lower house of Parliament passed a draft law against Islamism, an ideology it views as encouraging terrorist attacks, and as Mr. Macron tilts further to the right, anticipating nationalist challenges ahead of elections next year.

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(NYT) To Plug a Pension Gap, This City Rented Its Streets. To Itself.

The City of Tucson, Ariz., decided last year to pay rent on five golf courses and a zoo — to itself. In California, West Covina agreed to pay rent on its own streets. And in Flagstaff, Ariz., a new lease agreement covers libraries, fire stations and even City Hall.

They are risky financial arrangements born of desperation, adopted to fulfill ballooning pension payments that the cities can no longer afford. Starved of cash by the pandemic, cities are essentially using their own property as collateral of sorts to raise money to pay for their workers’ pensions.

It works like this: The city creates a dummy corporation to hold assets and then rents them. The corporation then issues bonds and sends the proceeds back to the city, which sends the cash to its pension fund to cover its shortfall. These bonds attract investors — who are desperate for yield in a world of near-zero interest rates — by offering a rate of return that’s slightly higher than similar financial assets. In turn, the pension fund invests the money raised by those bonds in other assets that are expected to generate a higher return over time.

If they can pull off the strategy, cities issuing these bonds can reduce their pension bills by an amount that’s the difference between what they earn and what they pay out. But as with any strategy based on long-term assumptions, there is risk.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

Still more for Washington’s Birthday–George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

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

(Mount Vernon) George Washington’s Remarkable life

In June 1775, Congress commissioned George Washington to take command of the Continental Army besieging the British in Boston. He wrote home to Martha that he expected to return safely to her in the fall. The command kept him away from Mount Vernon for more than 8 years (with only one very brief visit while en route to Yorktown).

It was a command for which his military background, although greater than that of any of the other available candidates, hardly prepared him. His knowledge lay in frontier warfare, involving relatively small numbers of soldiers. He had no practical experience maneuvering large formations, handling cavalry or artillery, or maintaining supply lines adequate to support thousands of men in the field. He learned on the job; and although his army reeled from one misfortune to another, he had the courage, determination, and mental agility to keep the American cause one step ahead of complete disintegration until he figured out how to win the unprecedented revolutionary struggle he was leading.

His task was not overwhelming at first. The British position in Boston was untenable, and in March 1776 they withdrew from the city. But it was only a temporary respite. In June a new British army, under the command of Sir William Howe, arrived in the colonies with orders to take New York City. Howe commanded the largest expeditionary force Britain had ever sent overseas.

Defending New York was almost impossible. An island city, New York is surrounded by a maze of waterways that gave a substantial advantage to an attacker with naval superiority. Howe’s army was larger, better equipped, and far better trained than Washington’s. They defeated Washington’s army at Long Island in August and routed the Americans a few weeks later at Kip’s Bay, resulting in the loss of the city. Forced to retreat northward, Washington was defeated again at White Plains. The American defense of New York City came to a humiliating conclusion on November 16, 1776, with the surrender of Fort Washington and some 2,800 men. Washington ordered his army to retreat across New Jersey. The remains of his forces, mud-soaked and exhausted, crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania on December 7.

The British had good reason to believe that the American rebellion would be over in a few months and that Congress would seek peace rather than face complete subjugation of the colonies….

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

More from George Washington–His circular letter to the States, June 8, 1783

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant.

–George Washington
Head-Quarters, Newburg,
8 June, 1783.

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

(Washington Post) A Washington’s Birthday quiz on the office of President

Every February, Americans take a day off of work to celebrate the presidents — the chief executives whose ideas, policies and foibles have helped to shape our history. So it’s only fitting that you take a moment to test your knowledge about these 44 prominent Americans with a 20-question quiz from “Presidential,” the Washington Post podcast that explores the presidents’ lives and legacies.

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

George Washington’s First State of Union Address

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good you can not but derive encouragement from the reflection that the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their expectations and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach will in the course of the present important session call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom.

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

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

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

(National Archives) George Washington’s Birthday

Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22nd until well into the 20th Century. However, in 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”

One of the provisions of this act changed the observance of Washington’s Birthday from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Ironically, this guaranteed that the holiday would never be celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, as the third Monday in February cannot fall any later than February 21.

Contrary to popular belief, neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington’s Birthday be changed to “President’s Day.”

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

(NYT) After a Sluggish Start, the Vaccine Rollout Is Improving in Every State

On Jan. 1, just a quarter of vaccine doses delivered across the country had been used, compared to 68 percent of doses on Feb. 11. A handful of states have administered more than 80 percent of the doses they have received. And even states with slower vaccine uptake are making strides. Alabama, for example, where the share of doses used has consistently ranked among the country’s lowest, is in the process of opening new mass vaccination sites in eight cities.

“Every state is improving,” said Claire Hannan, the executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “We still don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone over 75, so it doesn’t necessarily feel different for people who are trying to find the vaccine, but we are in a much better place now.”

Health officials acknowledge that it’s confusing to suggest that overall supply is limited, when federal data shows that many shots still seem to be sitting unused. But jurisdictions have said that they are working around the clock to close the gap between doses delivered and administered.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, State Government

(NY Times front page) The Vaccine Had to Be Used. A Texas Doctor Used It. He Was Fired.

The Texas doctor had six hours. Now that a vial of Covid-19 vaccine had been opened on this late December night, he had to find 10 eligible people for its remaining doses before the precious medicine expired. In six hours.

Scrambling, the doctor made house calls and directed people to his home outside Houston. Some were acquaintances; others, strangers. A bed-bound nonagenarian. A woman in her 80s with dementia. A mother with a child who uses a ventilator.

After midnight, and with just minutes before the vaccine became unusable, the doctor, Hasan Gokal, gave the last dose to his wife, who has a pulmonary disease that leaves her short of breath.

For his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then charged with stealing 10 vaccine doses worth a total of $135 — a shun-worthy misdemeanor that sent his name and mug shot rocketing around the globe.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(Local Paper) Police, doctors warn South Carolina lawmakers against passing ‘open carry with training’ gun bill

Charleston’s police chief warned South Carolina lawmakers a proposal to let trained gun owners carry their weapons openly could endanger public safety and make the jobs of law enforcement officers more difficult.

Chief Luther Reynolds was one of dozens of South Carolinians who testified Feb. 10 in opposition to the bill, joining several doctors and self-identified gun owners who said they fear the bill could lead to more violence and anxiety on the streets.

The opponents outnumbered the six supporters who testified in favor of the measure by saying they believe the training aspect will ensure guns are handled responsibly and noting that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have any form of open carry law on the books.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, State Government, Violence

Time Magazine talks to Russell Moore

Often Moore has to tap-dance around the gap between his church’s beliefs and its behavior. He dismisses as a “manufactured controversy” the criticism of six SBC seminary presidents who in November released a public condemnation of critical race theory. “I don’t find any postmodern theory motivating those who are concerned for racial reconciliation and justice,” says Moore. “I find that what motivates such things is the Bible.” And while Moore has set himself apart from those who support the President, he declines to condemn those who opted to vote for Trump because they believed in the platform, not the man.

Moore thinks reports of the death of American Christianity are overblown. But as increasing numbers of Americans tell pollsters that they are not affiliated with any kind of religion, and in the wake of Trump, he wants the church to take a harder look at its priorities. “The biggest threat facing the American church right now is not secularism but cynicism. That’s why we have to recover the credibility of our witness,” he says. It’s one thing to dismiss the teachings of his faith as strange and unlikely, he notes, but “if people walk away from the church because they don’t believe that we really believe what we say, then that’s a crisis.” This is what he fears will be the legacy of an era in which people of faith put so much faith in a President. “There is an entire generation of people who are growing cynical that religion is just a means to some other end.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Robert Nicholson–Abraham’s Missing Child: Christians

The announcement that Israel would normalize ties with Muslim-majority Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates might have been the highlight of an otherwise dismal 2020. Yet these groundbreaking accords still lack one important child of Abraham. Do Near Eastern Christians have a seat at this table? If not, who can help get them there?

Years of international anxiety over the slow demise of Christianity in its ancient homeland hasn’t translated into action. The situation in old bastions like Lebanon, Syria and Iraq is now catastrophic. Egypt, with the largest population of Jesus followers in the region, isn’t much better. That the region’s second most afflicted religious group—after the devastated Yazidis—has gained the least from a long-overdue peace is a painful irony not lost on its persecuted members.

Part of the problem is that the regional hostility being rolled back under the Abraham Accords was never a distinctly Christian problem. The centurylong animus between Muslims, the region’s largest group, and Jews, its oldest Abrahamic population and newest recipient of sovereignty, could only be rectified by Jews and Muslims. The relative lack of Christians in any the four Muslim countries that are part the Abraham Accords—Israel has as many as all of them combined—means that Christians simply haven’t been part of the discussion.

Another thorny problem is the imprisonment of the region’s most dynamic Christian communities in its other geopolitical axis: the resistance bloc controlled by Iran.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Politics in General

(FT Magazine) How the race for renewable energy is reshaping global politics

Australia itself has long been a climate laggard and a major coal exporter, but as China and other big customers plan to cut their emissions, taking their business with them, that may be changing. Dozens of the world’s biggest economies have adopted targets for net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. And 189 countries have joined the 2015 Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2C. In a race to curb climate change, countries are rushing to cut fossil fuels, boost clean energy — and transform their economies in the process.

But as the energy system changes, so will energy politics. For most of the past century, geopolitical power was intimately connected to fossil fuels. The fear of an oil embargo or a gas shortage was enough to forge alliances or start wars, and access to oil deposits conferred great wealth. In the world of clean energy, a new set of winners and losers will emerge. Some see it as a clean energy “space race”. Countries or regions that master clean technology, export green energy or import less fossil fuel stand to gain from the new system, while those that rely on exporting fossil fuels — such as the Middle East or Russia — could see their power decline.

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the former president of Iceland and chair of the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, says that the clean energy transition will birth a new type of politics. The shift is happening “faster, and in a more comprehensive way, than anyone expected”, he says. “As fossil fuels gradually go out of the energy system . . . the old geopolitical model of power centres that dominate relations between states also goes out the window. Gradually the power of those states that were big players in the world of the ­fossil-fuel economies, or big corporates like the oil companies, will fritter away.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Stewardship

(Reuters) U.S. ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of systematic rape of Muslims in China camps

The United States is “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities committed there, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

A BBC report earlier on Wednesday said women in the camps were subject to rape, sexual abuse and torture. The British broadcaster said “several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.”

Asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The spokeswoman reiterated U.S. charges that China has committed “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Xinjiang and added: “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Premiere) Bishops in House of Lords add to Government defeat on Genocide amendment

The House of Lords has forced the Government to look again at an amendment to the Trade Bill which would give British courts the power to decide whether a genocide has taken place in a country and therefore impact whether trade deals should be made.

Christian Peer Lord Alton (pictured) urged the Government to look again at the matter and nine Bishops supported his amendment, with it passing with a majority of 171 (359 to 188).

Lord Alton said the Government had frequently pointed to the fact that such atrocities need to be officially labelled as genocide, which is a legal term decided by the International Criminal Court, but that China, currently accused of causing death and trauma to thousands of Uighur Muslims, have a veto at the United Nations on what is recommended to the ICC, meaning that route cannot be depended upon.

Read it all and you can find the full text of Lord Alton’s speech there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General

(Nigerian Tribune) Anglican Bishop Olumakaiye Urges Prince Oyinlola To Fight For The Oppressed At 70

The Diocesan Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Rt Revd Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye has urged the former Governor of Osun State, Prince Oyinlola Olagunsoye to fight for the oppressed as they are being exploited.

Olumakaiye said the exploitation is frustrating; thus affecting the effectiveness of the country’s growth and development.

He made this plea while addressing the congregation at the Holy Communion and Thanksgiving Service marking the 70th Birthday of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General

(Gallup) In U.S., Most Say Reducing Cost of Care High Priority for Biden

Seven in ten (70%) U.S. adults say lowering health insurance premiums should be a high priority for President Joe Biden and his administration among key healthcare issues, followed closely by lowering drug costs (66%) and reducing the uninsured rate (63%). These results are based on a new study conducted by West Health and Gallup.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to prioritize lowering health insurance premiums and the cost of prescription drugs, but majorities of both groups agree these cost reduction goals are high priorities. In contrast, 90% of Democrats (and 60% of independents) but only 30% of Republicans regard reducing the uninsured rate as a high priority. These results come at a time when 26% of adults report there has been at least one time in the prior 12 months that someone in their household did not pursue care due to the cost, matching levels measured in early 2019.

This survey was conducted by web from Dec. 15, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021, with 3,100 adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia via the Gallup Panel, a scientifically populated, non-opt-in panel of about 110,000 adults nationwide.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General

(Patheos) Francis Beckwith–Baylor Provost Defends Free Speech Against Cancel Culture

We recently had an unfortunate incident at Baylor in which a small group of students on campus, with the assistance of the student newspaper (The Lariat), called for the dismissal of a lecturer in the English department. Her crime? She had made comments on twitter with which these students did not agree. The comments concerned the uncontroversial public policy question of whether biological males who claim to identify as girls or women should be allowed in semi-private spaces (such as restrooms) historically reserved for biological females. On cue, these students used the inapt language of “safety,” which, as should be evident, applies only to things like motorboats, ferris wheels, mountain climbing, automobiles, airplanes, and kayaks, but for some reason they think it applies to beliefs about sex and gender that are not in cultural ascendancy at the moment. They would like us to believe that they would suffer a nervous breakdown if they were required by their professors to read Plato, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Elizabeth Anscombe on the nature of erotic love. I don’t believe it. I think too highly of their potential for academic excellence, and thus refuse to cooperate with their diminished understanding of their own resilience and intellectual curiosity.

To add injury to insult, these students have published a petition on change.org calling for not only the firing of the English lecturer but the dismissal of any Baylor faculty member who harbors, and has the temerity to publish, teach, or speak on, ideas and beliefs that make them feel “unsafe,” without any regard to the quality of the faculty member’s arguments or his or her good faith effort in presenting them.

Apparently, these students do not realize that they are enrolled at an actual university, a place in which encountering differing views on a variety of contested questions is supposed to go with the territory. This is why in my classroom my students are required to read, understand, and critique thinkers, scholars, and writers who disagree with each other and with which their professor often parts ways. It would be academic malpractice for me to do otherwise. Can this process be uncomfortable and sometimes unnerving? Of course it can, and often is. But what other path is there to wisdom? Just as you can’t climb Mt. Everest by helicopter, you can’t achieve real insight (unless you’re a special kind of saint or seer) without cultivating real intellectual virtue.

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(KHN) Why Even Presidential Pressure Might Not Get More Vaccine to Market Faster

Americans are dying of covid-19 by the thousands, but efforts to ramp up production of potentially lifesaving vaccines are hitting a brick wall.

Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are running their factories full tilt and are under enormous pressure to expand production or collaborate with other drug companies to set up additional assembly lines. That pressure is only growing as new viral variants of the virus threaten to launch the country into a deadlier phase of the pandemic.

President Joe Biden has said he plans to invoke the Cold War-era authority of the Defense Production Act to provide more vaccines to millions of Americans. Consumer advocates — who had called for Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act more aggressively as president — are now asking Biden to do the same.

But even forcing companies to gear up production won’t provide much-needed doses anytime soon. Expanding production lines takes time. Establishing lines in repurposed facilities can take months.

“The big problem is that even if you can get the raw material and get the infrastructure set up, how do you get a company that is already producing at maximum capacity to go beyond that maximum capacity?” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Office of the President

Saturday food For Thought–Winston Churchill on Democracy

‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Saturday, January 23, 2021

Posted in England / UK, History, Politics in General

(Bloomberg Businessweek) An Economist’s Guide to the World in 2050

Who really won the Cold War? Maybe China.

In 1972, Cold War logic pushed President Richard Nixon into an unlikely alliance with Mao Zedong—bringing China back into the mainstream of the world economy. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged “end of history” hubris that blinded the West to the consequences of China’s rise.

Fast forward to 2020 and China has emerged as a major global power, its single-party rule and state-dominated economy the cause of alarm in foreign capitals—and pride in Beijing. By 2035, Bloomberg Economics forecasts, China will have overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy and perhaps also its most powerful political actor.

China’s rise is just one part of a larger shift that’s already under way and looks set to accelerate in the decades ahead.

Bloomberg Economics has used a growth accounting framework—adding up the contributions of labor, capital and productivity—to forecast potential GDP through 2050 for 39 countries, from the U.S. to Ghana. We’ve used that data to map some of the key geographic and political shifts in store for the world economy.

The results suggest that a remarkable period of stability, stretching from the end of World War II through to the early 21st century, is coming to an end. The center of economic gravity is shifting from West to East, from advanced economies to emerging markets, from free markets to state controls and from established democracies to authoritarian and populist rulers. The transition is already upending global politics, economics and markets. This is just the beginning.

Much could happen to throw our projections off track. The Covid crisis is demonstrating how pandemics can reconfigure the global economic map. Wars, natural disasters and financial meltdowns can do the same. So could policy choices on globalization and climate change. Still, absent a crystal ball, forecasts of potential growth provide the most reliable basis for thinking about the long term.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Bloomberg) Joe Nocera–Joe Biden Has a Once-in-a-Century Chance to Fix Capitalism

In the years after World War II, the U.S. had some significant economic advantages when soldiers returned from the war looking for jobs. One, of course, was that the U.S. had escaped the devastation suffered by Europe and Japan, so its companies faced only domestic competition. Labor costs, for instance, were nearly irrelevant, and unions, which played an important role in raising living standards, were able to thrive.

But another advantage, as Rick Wartzman pointed out in his 2017 book “The End of Loyalty,” 3 is that American businessmen were unusually farsighted after the war. They knew it was critically important to generate millions of jobs to prevent the U.S. from falling into another depression. And they also knew that returning fighters were owed something for defeating the Nazis. There was a “we’re-all-in-this-together” feeling that came from having been through such a terrible war.

It’s impossible to claim that the pandemic has brought the nation together the same way that World War II did for that generation. But if you looked closely, you could see companies taking actions that had nothing to do with shareholder value and everything to do with helping the country.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, History, Office of the President, Politics in General

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani to lead Church of England drive to tackle housing crisis

Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the next Bishop of Chelmsford, is to become the Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Housing to spearhead the Church’s efforts to help ease the UK’s crippling housing crisis.

The announcement comes ahead of the publication next month of the findings of a major two-year commission, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, examining the role of the Church in tackling housing inequality and examining possible solutions.

Bishop Guli, currently the Bishop of Loughborough, will take up the new role later this year when she becomes Bishop of Chelmsford.

The new post will involve leading efforts to implement the recommendations of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community which will be published in late February.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper) Hospitals pick up Covid19 vaccination efforts in SC, but available doses can’t meet demand

Nearly all of South Carolina’s 750 long-term care facilities will be visited by pharmacists by month’s end to offer COVID-19 vaccine shots to residents most vulnerable to dying of the disease, health officials said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hospitals are stepping up their efforts to vaccinate everyone else eligible in the first phase — which newly includes several thousand parents of medically fragile children — even as appointments for doses continue to exceed statewide supply.

Gov. Henry McMaster has warned repeatedly this week that if hospitals don’t get doses in arms faster, he’ll suspend their money-making elective surgeries so they can focus their efforts on vaccine distribution. As of Tuesday, major hospitals had more than 50,000 doses left on hand to administer.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

A Prayer for the President from the Church of England

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Office of the President, Spirituality/Prayer

(PRC FactTank) Biden is only the second Roman Catholic president, but nearly all have been Christians

Much has been written about President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith. He often speaks of his religious convictions and quotes the Bible, and he attends Mass regularly.

Although about one-in-five U.S. adults are Catholic and Catholicism has long been one of the nation’s largest religious groups, John F. Kennedy was the only Catholic president until Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20. Aside from Biden, only one other Catholic, John Kerry, has been a presidential nominee on a major party ticket since Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, almost all of the nation’s presidents have been Christians and many have been Episcopalians or Presbyterians, with most of the rest belonging to other prominent Protestant denominations.

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Posted in Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic