Category : America/U.S.A.

(WSJ) Gun Death Rate Nears Three-Decade High, With Men at Most Risk

The rate of gun deaths in the U.S. reached a 28-year high in 2021 after sharp increases in homicides of Black men and suicides among white men, an analysis of federal data showed.

A record 48,953 deaths in the U.S., or about 15 fatalities per 100,000 people, were caused by guns last year, said the analysis published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. Gun deaths declined in the 1990s, but have been rising steadily over the past decade and skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, said researchers who conducted the analysis.

Gun-related deaths of women and children have risen, the analysis said, but men remain far more likely to die from guns.

“The disparities are so marked,” said Chris Rees, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rees and his colleagues analyzed U.S. firearm fatality rates from 1990 to 2021 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. have died from guns since 1990, the analysis showed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Men, Violence

(NYT) Christine McVie, Hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, Is Dead at 79

Christine McVie, the singer, songwriter and keyboardist who became the biggest hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, one of music’s most popular bands, died on Wednesday. She was 79.

Her family announced her death on Facebook. The statement said she died at a hospital but did not specify its location or give the cause of death. In June, Ms. McVie told Rolling Stone that she was in “quite bad health” and that she had endured debilitating problems with her back.

Ms. McVie’s commercial potency, which hit a high point in the 1970s and ’80s, was on full display on Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits” anthology, released in 1988, which sold more than eight million copies: She either wrote or co-wrote half of its 16 tracks. Her tally doubled that of the next most prolific member of the band’s trio of singer-songwriters, Stevie Nicks. (The third, Lindsey Buckingham, scored three major Billboard chart-makers on that collection.)

The most popular songs Ms. McVie wrote favored bouncing beats and lively melodies, numbers like “Say You Love Me” (which grazed Billboard’s Top 10), “You Make Lovin’ Fun” (which just broke it), “Hold Me” (No. 4) and “Don’t Stop” (her top smash, which crested at No. 3). But she could also connect with elegant ballads, like “Over My Head” (No. 20) and “Little Lies” (which cracked the publication’s Top Five in 1987).

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

(Economist) How will America deal with three-way nuclear deterrence?

The cold war, in which America and the Soviet Union menaced each other with tens of thousands of nukes, was scary enough. In the new age America confronts not just Russia but also China. New weapons—among them hypersonic missiles that are hard to detect and shoot down, and space and cyber weapons that threaten command-and-control systems—may unsettle the nuclear balance. Worse, decades of arms-control agreements may end by 2026. A new nuclear-arms race looms. Many think that it has already started.

Admiral Richard last year sounded the alarm that China was staging a “strategic breakout”. This month he warned that America was losing the military contest: “As I assess our level of deterrence against China, the ship is slowly sinking.” President Joe Biden says America faces a “decisive decade” in which to shape the global order. In a flurry of national-security policy documents this autumn his administration classifies Russia as the “acute” threat and China as “the “pacing challenge”.

“By the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries. This will create new stresses on stability and new challenges for deterrence, assurance, arms control, and risk reduction,” declares the Nuclear Posture Review (npr).

Stratcom says it needs a new generation of theorists.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia

U.S. Men’s National Team Advances To Knockout Round Of 2022 FIFA World Cup With 1-0 Shutout Victory Over Iran

The U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory against IR Iran on an historic night for U.S. Soccer. Needing a victory to advance, forward Christian Pulisic scored the game-winner in the 38th minute off an assist from defender Sergiño Dest.

With the result, the USA finishes second in Group B with five points and will face Group A winner Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. ET (FOX, Telemundo). England defeated Wales 3-0 in the other Group B match tonight to finish atop the group with seven points. The victory also ensured the USA’s advancement to the knockout round at five of the last seven World Cups in which the USMNT has participated.

It was fitting that Pulisic, the USMNT’s talisman for much of this four-year cycle, provided the difference maker in a crucial win-or-go-home match. Goalkeeper Matt Turner and the U.S. defense held strong against a spirited second half push by Iran to record a second clean sheet of the tournament, marking the first time that the USA has recorded multiple shutouts at the World Cup since 1930.

After putting plenty of pressure on the Iran defense for the majority of the first half, the USA’s breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute. Left back Antonee Robinson ran a ball down on the left wing deep in Iran territory. He played a bass back and centrally to Adams, who then played Weston McKennie and the U.S. midfielder spotted Dest making a run behind the defense into the right side of the penalty area. Dest ran under the perfectly chipped pass and sent a header bouncing through the middle to Pulisic who put his body on the line to smash home a half-volley from four yards out a second before enduring a heavy collision with the Iran goalkeeper, an incident that would cause Pulisic to be replaced at halftime due to an abdominal injury. The goal was the 22nd of his international career for Pulisic, who was replaced at halftime by Brenden Aaronson, and the young midfielder played a stellar second half.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Qatar, Sports

(Washington Post) Bryce Ward–Americans are choosing to be alone. Here’s why we should reverse that.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey, the amount of time the average American spent with friends was stable, at 6½ hours per week, between 2010 and 2013. Then, in 2014, time spent with friends began to decline.

By 2019, the average American was spending only four hours per week with friends (a sharp, 37 percent decline from five years before). Social media, political polarization and new technologies all played a role in the drop. (It is notable that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014.)

Covid then deepened this trend. During the pandemic, time with friends fell further — in 2021, the average American spent only two hours and 45 minutes a week with close friends (a 58 percent decline relative to 2010-2013).

Similar declines can be seen even when the definition of “friends” is expanded to include neighbors, co-workers and clients. The average American spent 15 hours per week with this broader group of friends a decade ago, 12 hours per week in 2019 and only 10 hours a week in 2021.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(WSJ) For the U.S. vs. Iran, It’s Win or Go Home. That’s Pressure Enough.

“We used to be excited when one of our young players took the field against Chelsea, or Juventus or Milan,” said [Roger] Bennett. “Now we have talents that play for all of those teams and more. They have gained both the self-respect that comes with that, as well as the commercial opportunities.”

Stereotypes linger, especially overseas—the U.S. as plucky, undertalented overachievers from a country that doesn’t say football and can’t hang with the highest contenders. You could sense a little of this from the disappointed England fans who booed their homeland squad off the pitch following the draw with the U.S.

But that’s an old mindset. The U.S. team is in Qatar not to represent, but to win, the surest signal that the sport has evolved past any kind of existential debate about its future or perception around the world.

What does Tuesday’s game versus Iran mean for the United States? It means survival at the World Cup. That’s meaningful enough.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Qatar, Sports

One I try to get to Every Year this week–(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick–Thanksgiving, 1789

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(ESPN) United States make a valiant effort in a draw with England at the 2022 World Cup

The United States was dominant in attack but could not find a way past England as it was held to a 0-0 draw in their second 2022 World Cup game on Friday.

The U.S. was the better side in a game lacking in clear cut chances. The closest threat came when Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar with a ferocious effort midway through the first half, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.

The result leaves head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team third in Group B with two points from two games, needing a victory in their final group match against Iran on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages. Meanwhile, England will qualify as long as it avoids a three-goal defeat in their match to Wales.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Sports

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

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

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

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

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

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

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

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

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

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

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

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

Go: Washington

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

(FT) New England ‘importing European prices’ in looming gas supply crunch

A European-style winter energy crunch is looming over New England in the north-east US, even as American natural gas producers export record volumes and a wave of fuel heads across the Atlantic.

Utility bosses in the region have called for emergency assistance from Washington to pre-empt a crisis, while lashing out at a century-old law that has cut New England off from some of America’s prolific shale output and left it more dependent on expensive imports.

On Friday, a vessel laden with liquefied natural gas will land in Massachusetts — but the federal law preventing foreign vessels sailing between US ports means the gas will come from Trinidad, not the US export plants along the Gulf of Mexico that are shipping record amounts of fuel abroad.

“You would think that charity would begin at home . . . that American fuel would go to American ports,” Joe Nolan, chief executive of Eversource Energy, one of New England’s biggest utilities, said in an interview. “We’re going to have to compete just like everybody else — in the global market.”

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(Gallup) World Less Than Satisfied With Climate Efforts

In the remaining days of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, nearly 200 nations are rushing to seek deals that keep climate goals alive.

If they fall short, it will likely disappoint but not surprise much of the world’s population that is already unhappy with efforts to safeguard the environment.

In 66 out of 123 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2021 and 2022, less than half of people report being satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment.

This list includes many, but not all, of the world’s cumulative top emitters of carbon dioxide, which is linked to global warming. For example, while less than half of adults in one of the biggest emitters — the U.S. — are satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment, strong majorities in other big emitters such as China (89%) and India (78%) are satisfied.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Sociology

(VA) Shane Whitecloud–What Veterans Day means to me

I was sent back to Hawaii where I went to my chain of command to report the incident again. I was placed on restrictive duty for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was discharged from the Navy in 1995 with a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge.

There weren’t a lot of resources for Veterans back then and the ones I heard about I was leery of. I fell into homelessness, drugs, and eventually incarceration. I was lost and alone. I didn’t want to be found. I attempted suicide twice before I turned 21. I used to tell people I’d never live to see 30.

I found that singing was my way of saving $40 on a shrink and I sang for touring rock bands for the next 20+ years. Something was still missing though. I never had that feeling of accomplishment.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Suicide

(AC) David Roseberry–True North: Anguish and Compass

Peter Johnston, the new Ministry President for Anglican Compass, asked me to write an article about my long-standing interest and support of this site. I am happy to do it. I’m a fan.

During the course of my writing assignment, I had to text Peter a quick question. I know what I told Siri: Anglican Compass. But what she heard—and wrote—was a truthful comment on the state of the church, the culture, and our days ahead. Siri said: Anguish and Compass.

Many in the church today might relate to the phrase. These are days of great anguish, everywhere it seems. The culture is in a free fall. The church’s voice has been displaced by loud arguments of politics and media. It has made its own mistakes. Many (most?) congregations are still rebuilding from the pandemic. God is sovereign, I know, but I wonder if even He agrees sometimes that there is a lot to be “anguished” about.

We are all looking for guidance—for a reliable compass showing us True North.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) Despite the Fears, Election Day Mostly Goes as Planned

While there were reports of delays, glitches and disinformation in some key swing states — Arizona in particular — that could loom larger as vote counting plays out, few of the major disruptions that had been feared came to pass on Election Day.

But far-right media figures and Republican politicians seized upon even the limited issues and typical problems that occurred to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the vote.

In Arizona, for example, officials in Maricopa County — a hive of false election fraud conspiracies in 2020 — announced that tabulator machines at roughly 20 percent of voting centers had malfunctioned but said that they were confident that all votes would be counted, albeit with delays.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate, State Government

Politico’s summary–‘The red wave that wasn’t: 5 takeaways from a disappointing night for the GOP: the former President’s favored candidates prove a drag to Republicans, running well behind others in their party’

There was no red wave. Republicans, though still poised to take the House, under-performed, while Democrats breathed a huge sigh of relief.

It was a good night for Joe Biden, and a miserable one for Donald Trump.

Here are five takeaways from a midterm election the public polls, unlike two years ago, largely got right….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate

(Anglican Church of Australia) Prayers–A Litany for Election day

From here:

Lord of every time and place,
God of integrity and truth,
we pray for wisdom as we prepare to vote in the [this] election.

Let us give thanks to God, saying, ‘we thank you, Lord’.

For this land and the diversity of its peoples,
we thank you, Lord.
For all who work for peace and justice in this land,
we thank you, Lord.
For leaders who serve the common good,
we thank you, Lord.
For robust democracy and freedom to participate in public life,
we thank you, Lord.
For media scrutiny and open debate,
we thank you, Lord.
Let us pray to the Lord, saying, ‘Hear us, good Lord’.
Bless those who administer the electoral process,
that they may uphold fairness, honesty and truth.
Hear us, good Lord.
Impart your wisdom to all who propose policy,
that their promises may serve those in greatest need.
Hear us, good Lord.
Give integrity to party leaders, candidates and campaign workers,
and keep them from deceit and corruption.
Hear us, good Lord.
Protect all engaged in public life, with their families, friends and colleagues,
that nothing may demean or do them harm.
Hear us, good Lord.
Direct those who influence opinion through the media,
that we may listen, speak and vote with sound minds.
Hear us, good Lord….

God, bless America,
guard our people
guide our leaders
and give us peace;
for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen

(Slightly edited for the American midterms-KSH).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) The Rev. Calvin Butts III, Pastor of Storied Black Church, Dies at 73

The Rev. Calvin Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, died Friday. He was 73.

The church, considered one of the most influential Black houses of worship in the nation, announced his death Friday morning.

“It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,” the church said in a statement.

Mr. Butts served in Abyssinian’s ministry for 50 years, joining as an executive minister in 1972 and becoming its 20th pastor in 1989.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptists, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) ‘Black Wall Street’ Was Burned Down in 1921, but It’s Being Revived

The Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Okla., was so prosperous at the start of the 20th century that Booker T. Washington, the educator and author, called it Negro Wall Street, which later morphed into Black Wall Street. A white mob burned it down in 1921 and killed hundreds of people. Now there’s an effort to revive Black Wall Street, creating opportunities for Black venture capitalists and entrepreneurs not just in Tulsa but also across the United States. I recently interviewed Ashli Sims, a longtime Tulsa resident who is leading the project.

Sims told me that when she was growing up in Tulsa in the 1980s and ’90s, the race massacre of 1921 was spoken of in hushed tones. “There was a lot of focus on the tragedy and not on the excellence that came before, how much wealth there was,” she explained. She said that as the years went by she realized that Greenwood could be not just a warning but also an inspiration to Black people. Her message: “You are destined for greatness because this is where you came from.”

The organization of which she is managing director, Build in Tulsa, staged its first Black Venture Summit last year, on the centennial of the massacre, with Black-led firms looking to invest and Black-led start-ups looking for investors. The second summit, a larger, three-day affair, ends on Friday.

Read it all.

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

(Washington Post) U.S. workers have gotten way less productive. No one is sure why.

Employers across the country are worried that workers are getting less done — and there’s evidence they’re right to be spooked.

In the first half of 2022, productivity — the measure of how much output in goods and services an employee can produce in an hour — plunged by the sharpest rate on record going back to 1947, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The productivity plunge is perplexing, because productivity took off to levels not seen in decades when the coronavirus forced an overnight switch to remote work, leading some economists to suggest that the pandemic might spark longer-term growth. It also raises new questions about the shift to hybrid schedules and remote work, as employees have made the case that flexibility helped them work more efficiently. And it comes at a time when “quiet quitting” — doing only what’s expected and no more — is resonating, especially with younger workers.

Productivity is strong in manufacturing, but it’s down elsewhere in the private sector, according to Diego Comin, professor of economics at Dartmouth College. He noted that productivity is particularly tricky to gauge for knowledge workers, whose contributions aren’t as easy to measure.

Read it all.

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

(Gallup) Economy Is Top Election Issue; Abortion and Crime Next

Among the policy issues being debated and discussed this election year, the economy leads in importance to Americans. Nearly half of U.S. registered voters, 49%, say the economy will be extremely important to their vote for Congress. But abortion and crime are nearly as prominent; 42% and 40% of voters, respectively, say each of these is extremely important.

Gun policy and immigration constitute third-tier election issues, rated extremely important by 38% and 37% of voters, respectively.

Fewer, 31%, say relations with Russia is extremely important to their vote, while the 26% focused on climate change makes it the least influential issue tested in the Oct. 3-20 Gallup poll.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(Gallup) Americans Less Optimistic About Next Generation’s Future

Americans have as little optimism as they have had at any time in nearly three decades about young people’s chances of having greater material success in life than their parents. In all, 42% of U.S. adults think it is very (13%) or somewhat (29%) likely that today’s youth “will have a better living standard, better homes, a better education and so on.” This marks an 18-percentage-point drop since June 2019 and is statistically tied with the previous low in 2011.

Since 2008, Gallup has been gauging Americans’ assessments of the next generation’s likelihood of surpassing their parents’ living standards, and before that — from 1995 through 2003 — the question was asked by The New York Times and CBS News. The highest percentage of U.S. adults expecting better lives for the next generation was 71% in 1999 and 2001.

While the latest 42% combined very/somewhat likely reading, from a Sept. 1-16 poll, is two points below the prior low in 2011, the current 13% who are very likely to feel optimistic about the next generation’s achievements matches the 2011 and 2012 readings and is slightly above the lowest on record, 11% in 1995.

Twenty-eight percent say it is somewhat unlikely that today’s youth will have better lives than their parents, while 29% — two points above the prior high from 2011 — say it is very unlikely.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Psychology, Sociology

‘Anger on their minds’: NBC News poll finds sky-high interest and polarization ahead of midterms

Less than three weeks before Election Day, voter interest has reached an all-time high for a midterm election, with a majority of registered voters saying this election is “more important” to them than past midterms.

What’s more, 80% of Democrats and Republicans believe the political opposition poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.

And two-thirds of reliable Democratic and Republican voters say they’d still support their party’s political candidate, even if that person had a moral failing that wasn’t consistent with their own values.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Politics in General

(TLS) Andrew Preston reviews Max Hastings new “The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 (William Collins)”

Perhaps the book’s most interesting contribution is its reassessment of the key figures, for this really was a historical moment driven by personality, which turned on individual decisions. Of the three key players, only John F. Kennedy comes out with his reputation intact, indeed burnished. Hastings doesn’t hesitate to point out his mistakes, but throughout the American president seems to be the only sane person in the room. By contrast, Nikita Khrushchev is one of the book’s main villains, albeit a very human one: ambitious and impulsive, but also vulnerable and bewilderingly inconsistent. The megalomaniacal Castro, almost suicidally committed to resisting Yankee aggression at any cost, even nuclear war, is subject to stern criticism. Of the supporting cast Hastings praises Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk for encouraging Kennedy’s diplomatic manoeuvres. He saves his harshest words for the Strangeloveian US military, which pushed relentlessly for authorization to bomb and invade Cuba despite – or, for some of the brass, precisely because of – the chance that it would lead to World War Three. The civilian members of the White House’s fabled ExComm who advocated for military intervention also come in for stinging criticism. Hastings is shrewd to zero in at times on the hawkish National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, one of Kennedy’s less famous but most important aides, who was “so smooth and smart that you could have played pool on him”, but whose surface polish concealed some poor judgement.

But while Abyss makes reputations from 1962 come into clearer focus, the lessons for diplomats and politicians today remain frustratingly murky. Hastings shows how, in the face of unimaginable pressure, Kennedy’s patient diplomacy found an incredibly narrow path to a peaceful solution. And from there he draws a line from the warmongering of Kennedy’s adversaries during the missile crisis – in the Pentagon, not the Kremlin – to the subsequent escalation of the war in Vietnam. Some US officials, including Bundy, did in fact push for war in Cuba, then in Vietnam. Yet that line wasn’t always so straight: in 1964-5 the Joint Chiefs were actually reluctant to wage war in Southeast Asia, while McNamara and Rusk, the civilian voices of reason during the missile crisis, applied the crisis-management techniques that were so successful in Cuba to the conflict in Vietnam, this time with disastrous results.

What, then, were the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis? As Vladimir Putin rattles his nuclear sabre over Ukraine, what can Joe Biden learn from his hero Jack Kennedy? Not much, it seems. “In 1962, the world got lucky”, Hastings concludes. Let’s hope we get lucky again.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Cuba, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General, Russia

(CT) American Idol: How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice

Despite the disappointments and mistakes of the past, I’m convinced that we have everything we need to tell a different story.

First, despite the rise of political sectarianism, Americans, including many Christians, are fighting against this anti-social imaginary. They do so mostly through local engagement, not through national politics. They do so through action, not symbolism. And they do so for concrete purposes, not with abstract culture change in mind. We need to put these practical Christian actions (and the resources behind them) into contact with the distorted narratives that dominate our political life.

Second, the Christian faith offers tremendous resources for combating political sectarianism and so much else that ails our politics, but we have to connect those resources to our public life and politics. Christians don’t need to be reminded of kindness, gentleness, and joy. But many do need to be convinced that the way of Jesus is up to the task of politics. They need to be convinced that the public arena, too, is a forum for faithfulness.

That doesn’t mean making every policy a matter of religious dogma. Quite the opposite! One of the greatest contributions Christians can make to our politics right now is caring about it without making an idol of it, and then reminding our country that political decisions are very rarely a simple issue of dogma—religious or secular—and more often about prudential matters.

We should pursue faithfulness even when it can’t be reduced to a proposition.

Third, this faithfulness can be offered as a loving service to our communities and our nation. Most Americans don’t like what our politics is doing to us, but they’re too exhausted to push back and build something new. The public is more open than we think to public leaders who make genuine contributions, rather than impose themselves on others and grab power. It’s times like these—when everything seems contested—that it’s most worthwhile to step into the fray if we have something to add. And we do.

Read it all.

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

(Lifeway) How Did the Pandemic Affect Church Shopping and Switching?

While many types of shopping were limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, one type became more prevalent—church shopping.

At the height of the pandemic, in October 2020, researchers Nicholas Higgins and Paul Djupe surveyed American churchgoers. They found more than a third (35%) reported visiting another congregation in person or online in the previous six months, according to their report published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. That would indicate a higher-than-normal amount of churchgoers who at least explored other churches. A pre-pandemic study from Pew Research found about half of Americans (49%) said they had looked for a new congregation at some point in their entire adult lives. And moving to a new location was the primary reason for this search (34%).

Of those who were attending a church in spring 2020, 18% reported no longer attending that same congregation by October. Again, that is higher than the pre-pandemic church-switching rate by 4 to 5 percentage points….

The biggest factor seems to be relational ties within the congregation. If a person is active and involved, all other factors don’t appear to move them much. Pastors and church leaders should prioritize increasing the commitment level of those at their church. The deeper churchgoers are involved—increased attendance, small group involvement, volunteering, etc.—the less likely it appears they are to leave.

“At least for now, the results suggest a considerable degree of congregational resilience in the face of overwhelming pressure,” the report concludes. Your church has suffered a shock to the system and probably lost some people. But you have endured and the people who remain are probably more committed than ever. As you move forward, work toward strengthening the ties of current churchgoers even more and assimilating new attendees quickly.Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(ProPublica) How a Chinese American Gangster Transformed Money Laundering for Drug Cartels

Adm. Craig Faller, a senior U.S. military leader, told Congress last year that Chinese launderers had emerged as the “No. 1 underwriter” of drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. The Chinese government is “at least tacitly supporting” the laundering activity, testified Faller, who led the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military activity in Latin America.

In an interview with ProPublica, the now-retired Faller elaborated on his little-noticed testimony. He said China has “the world’s largest and most sophisticated state security apparatus. So there’s no doubt that they have the ability to stop things if they want to. They don’t have any desire to stop this. There’s a lot of theories as to why they don’t. But it is certainly aided and abetted by the attitude and way that the People’s Republic of China views the globe.”

Some U.S. officials go further, arguing that Chinese authorities have decided as a matter of policy to foster the drug trade in the Americas in order to destabilize the region and spread corruption, addiction and death here.

“We suspected a Chinese ideological and strategic motivation behind the drug and money activity,” said former senior FBI official Frank Montoya Jr., who served as a top counterintelligence official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “To fan the flames of hate and division. The Chinese have seen the advantages of the drug trade. If fentanyl helps them and hurts this country, why not?”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Mexico, Politics in General

(Unherd) How Turbo-Wokism broke America

So who does control the new American system? The answer isn’t broke woke-ists. It’s the monopolists who own the platforms where the woke-ists live. Elon Musk and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett and Sergei Brin and Larry Page and Lorraine Jobs don’t care about mean tweets. They care about the hundreds of billions of dollars in their bank accounts, their lavish mansions and private jets, and pursuing rich person hobbies like colonising Mars. Their primary political goal, as a class, is to prevent the state from ever getting strong enough to tax their fortunes, break up their monopolies, or interfere with the supplies of cheap immigrant and offshore labour from which they profit. The more fractured, dejected, and heavily surveilled the America public is, the less likely a strong state is to emerge.

In the contest between the oligarchs and the fading Rooseveltian state, the woke is a useful tool— not an independent power. Its members are the foot soldiers of the Democratic Party, whose job it is to organise the dispossessed into groups that are narrow, factional, and divided enough that they can’t come together into a force that threatens oligarchical control. Its discontent with the Turbo-Capitalist order can be usefully turned against anyone who refuses to follow the ever-changing party line — beginning with the “deplorables” who are now regularly portrayed as murderous, undemocratic racists and fascists, and extending to JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood. The result is a closed circuit in which Turbo-Capitalist oligarchs and Woke activists make common cause against formerly independent institutions like universities, professional associations, and the press. All of these institutions rely on guarantees of individual and collective rights by the state, which the Turbo-Capitalists and the Woke seek to capture and use as an instrument to enforce their own privatised social bargain: everything within the Party, nothing outside the Party, nothing against the Party.

The unprecedented reach of the technologies that the new oligarchy commands has already destroyed the press and replaced it with a government-corporate censorship regime that has no parallel in peacetime America. Combined with what appears to be a healthy appetite for humiliating others, this power does not bode well for the future of social peace in America, or for the health of the next American Republic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Politics in General, Psychology

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–The Question on Putin’s Mind: Would We Risk New York to Keep Odessa Free?

From Mr. Putin’s point of view, in a war in which almost everything is going wrong, nuclear blackmail is working. Why wouldn’t he double down on the one tactic that works?

The only way to deter any possible use of nuclear weapons is to make Mr. Putin believe that the consequences of such use will be ruinous for Russia as a state and for him as its ruler, and that the West won’t flinch when the time for action comes.

To make his threats credible, Mr. Biden needs, first, to make up his mind that he is prepared to stay the course. “The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways,” the Bible tells us. Facing down Mr. Putin in a nuclear standoff is not a course for a man who lacks conviction.

If Mr. Biden is sure of himself, he must build an ironclad coalition at home and abroad behind those threats. Rather than playing down the danger, he needs to dramatize it. Making a prime-time speech to the country, addressing a joint session of Congress, holding an emergency NATO summit—these can all demonstrate Mr. Biden’s commitment to respond with overwhelming force to Russian nuclear attacks.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(ESPN) New York Yankees star Aaron Judge launches 62nd home run, sets AL single-season record

The American League has a new single-season home run king.

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge launched his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night on the road against the Texas Rangers, breaking the AL record he shared with Roger Maris.

After depositing a Tim Mayza sinker into the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen to tie Maris’ mark last Wednesday, Judge went without a home run during the Yankees’ final regular-season homestand — a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Back on the road, Judge, who had gone 2-for-9 with two singles in two games against the Rangers through Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, took Texas pitcher Jesus Tinoco deep in the first inning of the nightcap to reach No. 62.

“It’s a big relief. I think that everyone can sit back down in their seats and watch the ballgame, you know? No, but it’s been a fun ride so far,” Judge said. “Getting a chance to do this, with the team we’ve got, the guys surrounding me, the constant support from my family whose been with me through this whole thing … it’s been a great honor.”

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