Category : Politics in General

(WSJ) China’s Biggest Movie Star Was Erased From the Internet, and the Mystery Is Why

Zhao Wei spent the past two decades as China’s equivalent of Reese Witherspoon, a beloved actress turned business mogul.

She directed award-winning films, sold millions of records as a pop singer and built a large following on social media, amassing 86 million fans on Weibo, China’s Twitter -like microblogging site. She also made a fortune as an investor in Chinese technology and entertainment companies.

Today, the 45-year-old star has been erased from the Chinese internet. Searches for her name on the country’s biggest video-streaming sites come up blank. Her projects, including the wildly popular TV series “My Fair Princess,” have been removed. Anyone looking up her acclaimed film “So Young” on China’s equivalent of Wikipedia wouldn’t know she was the director; the field now reads “——.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(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.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Why Australia Bet the House on Lasting American Power in Asia

When Scott Morrison became Australia’s prime minister three years ago, he insisted that the country could maintain close ties with China, its largest trading partner, while working with the United States, its main security ally.

“Australia doesn’t have to choose,” he said in one of his first foreign policy speeches.

On Thursday, Australia effectively chose. Following years of sharply deteriorating relations with Beijing, Australia announced a new defense agreement in which the United States and Britain would help it deploy nuclear-powered submarines, a major advance in Australian military strength.

With its move to acquire heavy weaponry and top-secret technology, Australia has thrown in its lot with the United States for generations to come — a “forever partnership,” in Mr. Morrison’s words. The agreement will open the way to deeper military ties and higher expectations that Australia would join any military conflict with Beijing.

It’s a big strategic bet that America will prevail in its great-power competition with China and continue to be a dominant and stabilizing force in the Pacific even as the costs increase.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Live 5 News) The City of Charleston passes the first reading of a proposed expansive mask ordinance

The Charleston City Council has passed the first reading of a wide-ranging mask ordinance that would impact everyone in the city, including public and private schools.

City leaders passed the ordinance Tuesday night with a 10 to 3 vote. The ordinance still needs two more readings before going into effect.

The ordinance would require almost everyone over the age of two to wear a mask in public and private settings. In addition, there are built-in exceptions for certain medical conditions, eating, drinking, smoking and in situations where it is not feasible – like while exercising.

It’s the most expansive local ordinance and it applies to anyone regardless of vaccination status. The mandate would apply indoor building – both public and private – as well as permitted gathering like protests and concerts

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

A multilateral approach, promoting safe routes and valuing human life and the “dignity of the vulnerable”, was needed, the bishops said.

Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, said: “We agree with the home secretary that we need a better and more efficient asylum process, and we agree on wanting to stop human trafficking.

“But the answer is more designated safe routes. The situation in Afghanistan has demonstrated that it’s possible to identify the most vulnerable people, sort out the necessary paperwork and set up safe routes.

“In Afghanistan, we have seen the story, seen the horror. With a lot of the folk in Calais, we don’t know their stories. If we did, levels of sympathy and compassion would increase.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Politics in General, Travel

(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.

Read it all.

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

(Local Paper) COVID19 rate in South Carolina remains highest in US; DHEC reports more than 20,000 new cases

Even as COVID-19 cases start to level off in some Southern states, the virus is showing no signs of slowing down in South Carolina, where more than 20,000 confirmed and probable cases were recorded by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control over the Labor Day weekend.

Compared with the rest of the country, COVID-19 rates are very high in South Carolina. The New York Times calculated Sept. 7 that, once again, the rate of new cases in the Palmetto State is higher than anywhere else in the U.S….

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, said on PBS Newshour on Sept. 6 that a South Carolina resident who is fully vaccinated now runs the same risk of catching COVID-19 as does a New York state resident who is unvaccinated.

“And that is simply because there is so much more virus circulating right now in South Carolina,” Gounder said, “that even with the protection of the vaccine, you could still get infected.”

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–Identity Politics Goes Global: Multi-ethnic states from South Africa to Central Asia are starting to come apart

Identity wars and conflicts based on differences in ethnicity, culture, language or religion are, once ignited, the most powerful forces in human affairs. And these forces persist in nations of all levels of development. Having witnessed Brexit and heard calls for Catalan independence, we shouldn’t be surprised that African peoples also want to exit distant and dysfunctional multi-ethnic unions to control their own affairs.

Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon are ripping themselves apart across ethnic or confessional divides. Separatist movements among the Arab, Kurdish, Azeri and Balochi minorities haunt the slumbers of Iranian mullahs. From the western Balkans through Turkey and the Caucasus to the “stans” of Central Asia, ethnic and religious divides are worrying governments and challenging the status quo.

The revisionist nationalism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, India’s turn toward Hindu nationalism, and China’s increasingly xenophobic Han nationalism show that identity politics is returning to center stage even in large states. The eurocrats of Brussels are also struggling to contain populist nationalist opposition to European Union edicts. Many Americans wonder whether a common U.S. identity is strong enough to contain the forces that threaten to splinter the country permanently into hostile racial, religious and ideological camps.

Alongside the return of great power competition, the eruption of identity politics is the single most consequential political feature of our time. This fateful combination does not bode well.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Psychology

John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance on Wilberforce’s Feast Day

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations

(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.

Read it all.

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

(NYT front page) ‘They Have My Sister’: As Uyghurs Speak Out, China Targets Their Families

She was a gifted agricultural scientist educated at prestigious universities in Shanghai and Tokyo. She said she wanted to help farmers in poor areas, like her hometown in Xinjiang, in western China. But because of her uncle’s activism for China’s oppressed Muslim Uyghurs, her family and friends said, the Chinese state made her a security target.

At first they took away her father. Then they pressed her to return home from Japan. Last year, at age 30, Mihriay Erkin, the scientist, died in Xinjiang, under mysterious circumstances.

The government confirmed Ms. Erkin’s death but attributed it to an illness. Her uncle, Abduweli Ayup, the activist, believes she died in state custody.

Mr. Ayup says his niece was only the latest in his family to come under pressure from the authorities. His two siblings had already been detained and imprisoned. All three were targeted in retaliation for his efforts to expose the plight of the Uyghurs, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Local paper editorial) COVID19 is on the rise in South Carolina again: what can we do?

Actually, there’s a good bit to worry about, and it’s everybody’s business. This is particularly true in South Carolina, where the high number of willing hosts — just 50% of the eligible population had received one shot and only 44% were fully vaccinated as of Monday — combined with the emergence of the much more transmissible delta variant is driving infection rates back up to numbers we haven’t seen since the vaccine was still being rationed.

After remaining under the CDC’s “safe” 5% threshold for months, the rate of positive tests in South Carolina is on the rise: up to 10.8% Tuesday. Daily deaths and infections remain low, but as we learned last year, when the number of hospitalized and dead people hovered at low numbers until suddenly they didn’t, there’s a lag time between infection, serious illness and death.

Why should the vaccinated care? Beyond human compassion, there are at least three reasons it’s in everybody’s interest to get our vaccination numbers up….

Read it all.

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

(RCR) Asma T. Uddin–Defend Religious Liberty for All Despite Our Differences

I recently attended the inaugural Religious Liberty Summit hosted by the Religious Liberty Initiative at Notre Dame Law School, where attendees’ religious differences were obvious even to a casual observer. At this leading Catholic university, I watched a Jewish Rabbi praise a Mormon author. And as Rabbi Dr. Soloveichik spoke, I glanced up and saw an Elder from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Catholic cardinal, and a notable Protestant leader sitting side by side. I saw secular agnostics and devout believers — reporters, advocates, and pundits. For all the differences in that room, there was a comfortable warmness, academic and earnest. It was apparent that the leaders who had gathered there shared an understanding that religious freedom is about our individual dignity as human beings and the demands of conscience.

Sitting inside that Catholic university, I remembered “Dignitatis Humanae,” Catholicism’s definitive 1965 document about religious liberty: “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.” The document also argues that free will — free search — is foundational: “The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue, in the course of which men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth.” Religious liberty as a whole is at risk when a society embraces the idea that some searches for truth are invalid because of where they lead.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(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.

Read it all.

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

(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.

Read it all.

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

Tim Farron interviewed by the English Churchmen

Farron also believes that honesty and integrity in public office holders are key factors that have been largely missing in much of public life both in government and the church. He said, “we’ve almost got to the point where there’s little accountability”. He went on, “All lead by example—either good or bad”.

He thinks JKA Smith’s book, ‘Awaiting the King’ offers a pretty good explanation of the current situation. Farron said in one portion, “King refers to ‘western liberal democracies bearing the crater marks of the gospel’ and agreeing explained; “even though we may not largely be a Christian country today, our values, norms and institutions are nevertheless based on a Christian world view: justice, grace, personal responsibility, care for the needy, the knowledge that if people are sinners then you don’t want power concentrated in the hands of too few of them! The ‘crater marks’ point is more that as we move away from Christianity, then those marks will become fainter and fainter until such point that integrity may matter less and less”.

When asked about what he sees as the next big moral issues facing the nation he was quick and to the point: 1.) “the effort to decriminalise all abortion up to the point of birth”; and, 2.) “assisted dying”. He does not believe that the former will find the support necessary to be approved by parliament and that assisted dying will be a big battle.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) South Africa looting: Government to deploy 25,000 troops after unrest

The South African government plans to deploy 25,000 troops after days of widespread looting and violence.

The military deployment – to counter riots sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma – would be the biggest since the end of apartheid.

At least 117 people have died and more than 2,000 have been arrested in South Africa’s worst unrest in years.

Hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted and the government says it is acting to prevent food shortages.

Citizens are arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect their property from the rampage.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, South Africa, Violence

(WSJ) The Christian Heart of Hong Kong Activism

Joseph Cheng, 71, used to be one of Hong Kong’s busiest activists: a familiar presence in the media and a leading figure in several pro-democracy organizations. After retiring in 2015, the former political-science professor planned to live out his remaining days in the city. But Mr. Cheng’s life—a microcosm of Hong Kong’s recent history—has been turned upside down.

Last year’s so-called national-security law reclassified much ordinary activism as a criminal offense. On April 10, two days after I spoke to Mr. Cheng, authorities handed down sentences for campaigners including the media tycoon Jimmy Lai (14 months in prison) and the “father of Hong Kong democracy,” Martin Lee (a suspended sentence). Since then, the arrests have continued and Mr. Lai’s newspaper Apple Daily has been shut down.

Fearing prosecution, Mr. Cheng and his wife moved to Canberra, Australia, in July 2020. “It’s a quiet life,” he tells me. “Sometimes it’s a little bit lonely.” Because of Covid, his family members in Hong Kong can’t visit. “You feel bad to see friends arrested, prosecuted, sentenced to prison. But I understand that there is very little I can do.”

Mr. Cheng was born in 1949 to Chinese parents who had fled the civil war. He has, in turn, held the British colonial government to account as a leading member of the pressure group Hong Kong Observers; campaigned for political reform under Chinese rule; and now finds himself in de facto exile. He is also a practicing Catholic, and his career is a reminder of the remarkably strong Christian influence on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Hong Kong, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbishop, Pope and Church of Scotland Moderator write to South Sudan’s leaders

When we last wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people. Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress. Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled (cf 2 Corinthians, 5). This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders – Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully – and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(AP) US left Afghan airfield at night, didn’t tell new commander

The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said.

Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base Monday, providing a rare first glimpse of what had been the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America.

The U.S. announced Friday it had completely vacated its biggest airfield in the country in advance of a final withdrawal the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August.

“We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander said.

Read it all.

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

The Full Text of America’s Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The UNANIMOUS DECLARATION of the THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world….

Worthy of much pondering, on this day especially–read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, History, Politics in General, Theology

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.

Read it all.

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

(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.”

Read it all.

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

(NYT front page) China’s Propaganda Goes Viral With Videos of Happy Uyghurs

Recently, the owner of a small store in western China came across some remarks by Mike Pompeo, the former U.S. secretary of state. What he heard made him angry.

A worker in a textile company had the same reaction. So did a retiree in her 80s. And a taxi driver.

Pompeo had routinely accused China of committing human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, and these four people made videos to express their outrage. But they did so in oddly similar ways.

“Pompeo said that we Uyghurs are locked up and have no freedom,” the store owner said in his video. “We are very free now….”

Read it all (note please that the above is the title on the print edition).

Posted in Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General

(Science Alert) More Than Half of All Buildings in The US Are at Risk of Natural Disasters

More than half of all buildings in the United States are situated in hazardous hotspots, prone to wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, according to new research.

Areas vulnerable to such natural disasters make up only one-third of the US mainland, and yet most modern development to date has occurred in these very spots.

In 1945, roughly 173,000 structures, including homes, schools, hospitals, and office buildings, were situated in hotspots for at least two separate kinds of natural disasters.

Seven decades later, that number has now reached over 1.5 million buildings, and development in these areas is still growing rapidly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology, State Government

(CT) George Yancey–In the Push for Racial Justice, There’s a Middle Path Between Passivity and Aggression

….in our current society, we often deal with race by consistently trying to overpower our “enemies,” rather than by finding ways to communicate and persuade them of our perspective. Why can’t we work at finding common values and agreements? Why can’t we listen to each other until we accurately understand the interests and desires of others? Should not everyone be “quick to listen, slow to speak,” as James 1:19 reminds us?

Sometimes I think that we already know what we need to do to improve race relations but we simply don’t want to do it. But we are going to have to live in this society together. We are going to have to find answers to the racial issues of our day. We can choose to remain in a power struggle with each other, or we can begin to learn how to dialogue in a healthy fashion.

Many people on different sides of these racial issues have a vested interest in continuing our unproductive fighting. But if we learn to stop listening to those voices and start listening to each other, we can finally take important steps toward real racial unity and equality.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Apologetics, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Vatican News) English and French bishops call for better treatment of migrants

In a joint statement released on the occasion of the World Refugee Day, on June 20, the six bishops remind that these strangers “who are exiled from their homelands” are “fellow humans who deserve to be helped to find places where they can live in dignity and contribute to civil society”. They observe “with sadness the lack of hope that drives people in distress to become exploited by traffickers and add to the profits of their illegal trade”.

The Church leaders, however, also call attention to some positive signs, saying they are “heartened by those who generously offer financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation, whatever their religious conviction”. These people, they remark, “ignore the myths that lead to prejudice and fear that apparently prevent politicians from creating new and constructive policies that go beyond closing frontiers and employing more security staff”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

(Unherd) Peter Franklin– Is The end of woke nigh?

The question therefore is whether wokeness today is remotely comparable to the role Christianity played as Rome crumbled. Note that I’m not talking about how much wokeness owes as an ideology to the worldview that Christianity built — I’ll leave that debate to the likes of Tom Holland. Rather, I’m asking whether wokeness has the capacity to offer a unifying vision of such compelling power as to overwhelm and supersede the existing order.

And here the answer is clear: it does not.

First, wokeness is too geographically limited in scope. The impact that it’s made so far depends on conditions that apply specifically to the United States of America — especially in regard to that country’s history of slavery, segregation and ongoing racial discrimination. The global reach of social media helps to explain why the Black Lives Matter movement made waves far beyond America; but it does not change the very different context of race relations in other countries.

Even a country with as revolutionary a history as France has made it abundantly clear that American-style wokeness will not be taking root in French soil. Whether that’s expressed by the ruling establishment centred upon President Macron or a youth vote that’s shockingly skewed towards the far-Right, we English-speakers need to remember that we are not the world.

Read it all (from the long line of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Politics in General

(FT) Worst drought in a century hits Brazil as it fights to overcome Covid19

The worst drought in almost a century has left millions of Brazilians facing water shortages and the risk of power blackouts, complicating the country’s efforts to recover from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agricultural centres in São Paulo state and Mato Grosso do Sul have been worse affected, after the November-March rainy season produced the lowest level of rainfall in 20 years.

Water levels in the Cantareira system of reservoirs, which serves about 7.5m people in São Paulo city, dropped to below one-tenth of its capacity this year. Brazil’s mines and energy ministry has called it country’s worst drought in 91 years.

“Lately we’ve been without water every other day, but it was usually at night. But on Thursday we had no water all day,” said Nilza Maria Silva Duarte from São Paulo’s working class east zone.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Brazil, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Politics in General, South America

(NPR) One Woman’s Decades-Long Fight To Make Juneteenth A U.S. Holiday

Opal Lee is 94, and she’s doing a holy dance.

It’s a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do.

Ever since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states. President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier.

“And now we can all finally celebrate. The whole country together,” Lee told NPR minutes after a landslide House vote on Wednesday approving legislation establishing the day, now known as Juneteenth, as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

President Biden signed the bill on Thursday, and Lee was standing beside him during the ceremony.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations