Category : * Economics, Politics

(Terry Mattingly) a Marvin Olasky flashback: Back to the evangelical clashes over character and two-party politics

Back in 2016, Olasky noted that opposing Trump was risky: “Our call for a different Republican candidate will lose us some readers and donors.” Then in 2021, Trump-era tensions played a major role in his exit at World, after serving as editor for nearly three decades.

“Many people continue to stress that we are electing a president, not a preacher,” said Olasky. “I am also aware that God can do many things outside the limitations of what I think about all of this.”

But Olasky stands by his views in “The American Leadership Tradition” about fidelity and character. “From my selfish point of view,” he added, “the whole Trump era has been a vindication of that book.”

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., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NYT front page) In Blacked-Out Kyiv, Life Goes On, by Flashlight

Elevators across Ukraine’s capital are stocked with emergency supplies in case the power fails. Banks have sent messages to customers to assure them their money is safe in the event of prolonged blackouts. The National Philharmonic played on Tuesday night on a stage lit by battery-powered lanterns, and doctors last week performed surgeries by flashlight.

This is Kyiv, a modern, thriving European capital of 3.3 million people, and now a war-torn city struggling with shortages of electricity, running water, cellphone service, central heating and the internet.

One popular cafe has created two menus — one featuring heated food like homemade pasta for when it has power, a second offering cold dishes like Greek yogurt with granola and applesauce when it doesn’t. At another restaurant, a chef cooked on a sidewalk grill as two young men warmed their hands over the coals. The sun sets early, before the school day is done, so children hold flashlights while waiting for their parents to arrive in total darkness to pick them up.

Generators of all sizes rattle and roar across the city, where municipal officials estimate that 1.5 million people are still without power for more than 12 hours a day.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(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

(WSJ) Walter Russell-Mead–Global Tensions Spur a Sea Change in Japan

What happens in Tokyo matters. Japan is America’s single most important ally, and the strategic bond between the two powers is the foundation of America’s position in the Indo-Pacific. Japan’s decision to double down on its American alliance while building up its own capabilities is a major setback for China’s effort to reshape East Asia. In the Philippines and Southeast Asia, Japanese investment and trade help counter China’s economic power. Japanese diplomacy, less hectoring and more culturally sensitive than America’s sometimes abrasive preaching on issues like human rights, is often more effective in Asian capitals. The steady development of closer Japanese relations with India and Australia has been a major factor behind the rapid evolution of the Quad.

Much remains to be done. Japanese-Korean relations, despite some improvements under South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, remain difficult. Japan itself, with a stagnant economy and the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, will be hard put to sustain the necessary military buildup.

But at this point it is the U.S. that must do more to secure the peace of East Asia. Given the long military supply lines across the Pacific and the likely difficulty of providing supplies if hostilities break out, the U.S. should position substantial quantities of weapons and supplies in the region. American as well as Taiwanese and Japanese officials told me that current stockpiles are woefully insufficient.

Beyond that, Washington still needs a regional economic strategy. Expanding economic integration between the U.S. and friendly Asian economies is an essential dimension of any long-term policy for the Indo-Pacific.

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, Foreign Relations, Japan, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

([London] Times) Queen Elizabeth II biography reveals stoic monarch in final days

According to the Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, she was in “fantastic form” on the weekend before she died.

He told Brandreth that she was “so alive and engaging”, and how they spoke about her childhood, her horses, church affairs and her sadness over the war in Ukraine. “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets,” he said.

Brandreth wrote: “Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.” The biographer claimed he “heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer,” which he wrote would explain the tiredness, weight loss and mobility issues that were spoken about during the last year of her life.

Her death certificate stated that she had died of old age.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on any of the claims in the book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Books, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Front page of yesterday’s NYT) As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone

In 1960, just 13 percent of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 30 percent. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36 percent.

Nearly 26 million Americans 50 or older now live alone, up from 15 million in 2000. Older people have always been more likely than others to live by themselves, and now that age group — baby boomers and Gen Xers — makes up a bigger share of the population than at any time in the nation’s history.

The trend has also been driven by deep changes in attitudes surrounding gender and marriage. People 50-plus today are more likely than earlier generations to be divorced, separated or never married.

Women in this category have had opportunities for professional advancement, homeownership and financial independence that were all but out of reach for previous generations of older women. More than 60 percent of older adults living by themselves are female.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Economy, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology

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

(1st Things) Dan Hitchens on Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962): A 20th Century Prophet

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a cult. Browsing in a secondhand bookshop, I picked up R. H. Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism and, remembering a vague resolution to read it one day, took it to the counter. The fresh-faced student at the cash register was delighted. “It’s . . . amazing,” he said reverently. A few days later, finding myself in full agreement, I emailed a writer in whose work I perceived some Tawney-like themes to ask whether he knew the book. “I read it fifty years ago,” he replied, “and it changed my life.”

In recent decades, membership of his fan club has declined—too Christian for the socialists, too socialist for the Christians—but at one time Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962) towered over British intellectual life. To his contemporaries he was a legend, “the greatest living Englishman,” according to the historian Sir Michael Postan. The Guardian declared in 1960 that his writings “will be read with delight as long as the English language is spoken.” Surveying Tawney’s contributions, not just as a historian, but as a writer, activist, teacher, and mentor, someone suggested to Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple that what Britain needed was “more men like Tawney.” The archbishop replied: “There are no men like Tawney.” To a generation that had run out of faith in free-market capitalism, he appeared to be that unusual thing, a prophet who actually knew what he was talking about.

Deeply earnest, prematurely bald, self-deprecating to the point of masochism, Tawney nevertheless exuded an unmistakable charisma that can still be experienced today in the texture of his prose—its beautiful cadences, smash-and-grab satirical raids, elegiac melancholy, pin-sharp analysis, metaphorical exuberance, and spiritual clarity. The supreme example is Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, based on the Holland Memorial Lectures he delivered at King’s College, London in 1922. The bestselling history book in interwar Britain, it owed its success partly to a widespread feeling that the reigning economic system had failed, partly to the national weakness for nostalgia: Tawney was one of those writers who located his ideals in a consciously romanticized past, and the book is above all a lament for a lost moral order.

From the twelfth through the sixteenth century, in Tawney’s telling, money was, at least to an extent, governed by Christian moral norms. Feudal lords might be merciless, guilds might be ­monopolistic, the papacy might be corrupt, but late-­medieval society still shone out with, in ­Tawney’s characteristically memorable phrase, “a certain tarnished splendour.” Widespread cruelty and oppression could not wholly extinguish the idea of social solidarity, of a world that made eternal salvation its ultimate goal and thus put money-­worship in its place. Peasant and lord, craftsman and merchant knew their duties to each other, and the strong were regularly prevented from exploiting the weak. In the institutions that fed the hungry and provided credit to the financially insecure; in the ecclesiastical or civil courts where usurers were excommunicated and fined; in the pulpits where avarice was denounced as a deadly sin, and in the confessionals where middlemen would have to repent of overcharging customers or not sharing their goods with the poor, medieval man was prevented from destroying his own soul and his neighbor’s livelihood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

(PRC) How Religion Intersects With Americans’ Views on the Environment

Most U.S. adults – including a solid majority of Christians and large numbers of people who identify with other religious traditions – consider the Earth sacred and believe God gave humans a duty to care for it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

But the survey also finds that highly religious Americans (those who say they pray each day, regularly attend religious services and consider religion very important in their lives) are far less likely than other U.S. adults to express concern about warming temperatures around the globe.

The survey reveals several reasons why religious Americans tend to be less concerned about climate change. First and foremost is politics: The main driver of U.S. public opinion about the climate is political party, not religion. Highly religious Americans are more inclined than others to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and Republicans tend to be much less likely than Democrats to believe that human activity (such as burning fossil fuels) is warming the Earth or to consider climate change a serious problem.

Religious Americans who express little or no concern about climate change also give a variety of other explanations for their views, including that there are much bigger problems in the world today, that God is in control of the climate, and that they do not believe the climate actually is changing. In addition, many religious Americans voice concerns about the potential consequences of environmental regulations, such as a loss of individual freedoms, fewer jobs or higher energy prices.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Washington Post) Ukrainian energy systems on brink of collapse after weeks of Russian bombing

After just six weeks of intense bombing of energy infrastructure, Russia has battered Ukraine to the brink of a humanitarian disaster this winter as millions of people potentially face life-threatening conditions without electricity, heat or running water.

As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.

“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, told reporters on Monday in Kyiv, saying the next months could be “life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians.”

Already, snow has fallen across much of Ukraine and temperatures are dipping below freezing in many parts of the country. Kluge said that 2 million to 3 million Ukrainians were expected to leave their homes “in search of warmth and safety,” though it was unclear how many would remain inside the country.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(BBC) York Minster plan for solar panels as energy bills triple

Solar panels could be installed on the roof of York Minster for the first time in a bid to tackle rising energy bills.

The cathedral’s gas and electricity costs are expected to triple next year, a Minster spokesperson said.

Plans to install 199 solar panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle have been submitted to York Council.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the Minster was “committed to taking a lead on addressing the climate emergency.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Bishop Smith condemns human-rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has condemned the “wide range of human-rights abuses” committed in China against Christians and other religious groups.

He was speaking in a debate that he initiated in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

Dr Smith said that he had been almost reluctant to call the debate because of his long-held admiration for China and its people. “Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human-rights abuses,” he said.

There was “a vast cultural gulf” between the UK and China, he continued, which was laid bare in President Xi’s speech last month to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which the President had said: “We will . . . continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs. . . We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

Read it all.

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

(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

(BBC) UK faces biggest fall in living standards on record

The UK faces its biggest drop in living standards on record as the surging cost of living eats into people’s wages.

The government’s forecaster said that household incomes – once rising prices were taken into account – would dive by 7% in the next few years.

It also expects the number of people who are unemployed to rise by more than 500,000.

It came as the chancellor said the UK was already in recession and set to shrink further next year.

But Jeremy Hunt said his Autumn Statement – which unveiled £55bn of tax rises and spending cuts – would lead to a “shallower downturn” with fewer jobs lost.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, Personal Finance

(CNBC) 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck heading into the peak shopping season

Just as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, families are finding less slack in their budgets than before.

As of October, 60% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent LendingClub report. A year ago, the number of adults who felt stretched too thin was closer to 56%.

“More consumers who have historically managed their budgets comfortably are feeling the financial strain, which will impact their spending behavior as we head into the holiday shopping season,” said Anuj Nayar, LendingClub’s financial health officer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Personal Finance

A very hard winter for many: Some C of E bishops respond to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement

“Ahead of today’s statement one of our key concerns was to see benefits keep pace with inflation. So we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment in this regard but continue to call for the end to the two-child limit on Universal Credit, which hits some of the poorest families hardest.

“This is going to be a very hard winter for many. Our churches, in communities across the country, are already reporting alarming rises in demand for foodbanks and other services which have become a lifeline.

“It is heartbreaking to hear of people who just a year ago were donating to foodbanks but are now using them themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(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

(Wash. Post) Michael Gerson, Post columnist and Bush speechwriter on 9/11, dies at 58

Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues as diverse as President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP and his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.

The cause of death was complications of cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.

After years of working as a writer for conservative and evangelical leaders, including Prison Fellowship Ministries founder and Watergate felon Charles Colson, Mr. Gerson joined the Bush campaign in 1999. Mr. Gerson, an evangelical Christian, wrote with an eye toward religious and moral imagery, and that approach melded well with Bush’s personality as a leader open about his own Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General

(Bloomberg) Record-low water levels are causing major shipping jams just as the US needs to export this year’s harvest.

The Mississippi River — the immense, quiet highway that courses down the middle of America, moving critical food, wood, coal and steel supplies to global markets — is shrinking from drought, forcing traffic to a crawl at the worst possible time.

With water levels at record lows, barges have run aground, causing traffic jams as boats wait for the US Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a path through the shallows. The problem has been building for months. Summer brought meager rain to much of the Plains and Midwest. Now it’s harvest time, when farmers bring in their grains and other crops, send them to market, and lay down fertilizer before the winter snows. The shriveled Mississippi has forced them to seek alternatives, all of them more expensive, like moving soybeans by rail to the Gulf Coast or shipping everything through distant West Coast ports. That will inevitably increase pressure on global food prices at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already sent them soaring.

The river is “low, been low and not getting filled anytime soon – so a bad situation getting worse,” said Jeremy Jack, who just harvested his crops on 11,500 acres of land in the Mississippi Delta. “We don’t have any soybean storage. Beans are in places where they shouldn’t be and losing quality.”

Read it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(ITV) NHS nurses union announce first ever UK-wide strike in its 106 year history

NHS nurses are to strike over pay after members of the union representing close to half a million nurses across the UK were balloted.

More than 300,000 members were urged by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to vote for strike action in the union’s biggest strike ballot.

The walkout is the first UK-wide strike action in the RCN’s 106-year history.

Industrial action is expected to be held before the end of the year at some of the country’s biggest hospitals, including Guy’s and St Thomas’ opposite Parliament, the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, University Hospital Wales and Belfast’s Royal Victoria.

The results of the ballot come amid a growing threat of strikes across the health service.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A prayer for the day from the Prayer Manual

Protect us, O Lord, and prosper us as we labour in our vocations, that our work may be done with Thy blessing and be crowned with Thine approval; through Him Who was numbered among the craftsmen, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

(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

(LA Times) How San Diego achieved surprising success housing homeless people

…as The Times reported in July, San Diego has dramatically outperformed its neighbors to the north. Despite San Diego’s tight housing market, 100% of its emergency housing vouchers issued since June 2021 have placed people into permanent housing.

Two factors may have helped San Diego succeed where other cities are struggling, housing advocates and experts across the country told The Times.

First, fewer people fall through the cracks in San Diego’s system. In other cities, applicants may shuffle among as many as four organizations. San Diego’s housing commission minimized the number of agencies and individuals whom clients have to deal with as they apply for vouchers, wait for approval, and — the hardest part — search for housing. In San Diego, most voucher applicants interact with at most two agencies before they are placed in a home.

Second, the city calculates how much vouchers are worth on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, rather than using a flat rate across the city, making the vouchers much more flexible.

Read it all.

Posted in Housing/Real Estate Market, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Economist) Facebook and the conglomerate curse

In 1997, in his first letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, wrote that it was still “Day 1” for his firm. Day 2, he later explained, would mean stasis, followed by irrelevance. His rousing call to avoid complacency seems apt today. Silicon Valley’s five big tech giants, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, have long been the bedrock of America’s stockmarket and economy, miraculously combining reliable growth and profitability. But after a torrid third quarter their market capitalisations have now collectively dropped by 37% so far this year. About $3.7trn of value has evaporated.

The law of large numbers made it inevitable that the tech giants would mature. Sales growth in the last quarter slowed to 9%—barely above inflation. As they have grown bigger, they have become tied to the economic cycle; a fact which the digital surge during the pandemic only temporarily masked. Penetration rates for smartphones, digital advertising and streaming are plateauing. With slowing core businesses, the giants are venturing onto each other’s turf, increasing competition.

Meanwhile, they are threatened by “conglomeritis”. The symptoms of this disease are bloating and egomania. Consider the recent orgy of spending on hiring, experimental ventures, vanity projects and building data centres. In March the five firms’ combined annual expenses reached $1trn for the first time, and the value of the physical plant of these supposedly asset-light businesses has reached $600bn, over triple the level of five years ago. Swollen costs and balance-sheets mean returns on capital have fallen from over 60% five years ago to 26%. Three of the five do not deign to pay dividends.

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

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council pledges £2 million to house vulnerable people

The Archbishops’ Council has pledged £2 million of its £25-million Social Impact Investment Programme to a fund that delivers supported accommodation across the UK, it was announced on Tuesday.

The second Social and Sustainable Housing Fund (SASH II), which is managed by Social and Sustainable Capital, allows charities and organisations to acquire and own portfolios of property to provide high-quality housing and targeted support to vulnerable people.

A first SASH fund in 2019 deployed £64.5 million to 20 organisations. SASH II aims to pool £125 million to help more than 30 organisations purchase 1000 properties, which it says would provide homes for 10,000 people over the life of the fund, including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, experiencing mental illness or substance addiction, ex-offenders, asylum-seekers, and young people leaving care.

Current estimates suggest that as many as 200,000 people in the UK are living in temporary, transitional housing.

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Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(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.

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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.

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