Category : * Economics, Politics

A Prayer to Begin 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

President Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court seat

President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The move to select Barrett sets up what promises to be a bitter confirmation fight less than two months before Election Day — an unexpected twist in an election season already fraught with the coronavirus pandemic and attempts by the president to undermine confidence in the result.

Read it all.

Posted in Supreme Court

(WSJ) How South Korea Successfully Managed Coronavirus

South Korea appears to have cracked the code for managing the coronavirus. Its solution is straightforward, flexible and relatively easy to replicate.

The country has averaged about 77 new daily cases since early April and recently suppressed a spike in infections. Adjusting for population, that would be the equivalent of about 480 cases a day in the U.S., where new daily cases have averaged about 38,000 over the same period. Total deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 just surpassed 200,000.

South Korea halted virus transmission better than any other wealthy country during the pandemic’s early months. It was about twice as effective as the U.S. and U.K. at preventing infected individuals from spreading the disease to others, according to a recent report from a United Nations-affiliated research network. South Korea’s economy is expected to decline by just 0.8% this year, the best among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forecasts for member nations.

The key to South Korea’s success came from blending technology and testing like no other country, centralized control and communication—and a constant fear of failure.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, South Korea, Theology

(Washington Post) Mike Shannon–I tracked electoral votes for George W. Bush. Beware of 2020 forecasts

All the data – and every model and prediction based on them – are overshadowed by unusual factors that create enormous uncertainty.

First, we’ve had no real general election campaign yet. Most of the season has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has had just a handful of his beloved rallies. Biden has mostly stayed at home. The in-person conventions were canceled, replaced by virtual conventions that recorded a collapse in voter interest (only 28% said they watched at least some of the 2020 Republican National Convention, compared with 64% four years ago) and that were virtually bounceless, the first time in modern history when neither candidate appeared to get a bump. In this campaign-less campaign, Trump has been the only player on the field, which has been to his detriment. This will change with the debates, which could be the most consequential of our lifetime and should provide a better sense of the race.

Second, to continue the sports metaphor, even as an abbreviated season gets underway, a dense fog is covering the playing field, making both the ground game and scoring difficult: No one knows how the pandemic will affect voter turnout or the actual casting of ballots. This is a big deal for forecasting and polling – an everything deal when swing-state poll margins are within five points, which is where most are today. Moving turnout share just a few points here and there among Republicans and Democrats could have changed three of the past five presidential outcomes. A measurable disparity in whose supporters’ votes are actually counted – because of higher rates of disqualification of mail-in ballots, pandemic-related difficulties at the polls or even partisan malfeasance – could have a similar effect.

Now, a Supreme Court nomination fight has burst onto the campaign playing field with less than two months to go. With it comes a new layer of unpredictability. There’s no modern precedent to help us forecast how this will affect the contest.

Finally, there is an additional significant factor of uncertainty unrelated to the pandemic or the Supreme Court – the dimensions of the playing field itself.

Read it all.

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

(CNBC) Google will try ‘hybrid’ work-from-home models, as most employees don’t want to come in every day

Google is rethinking its long-term work options for employees, as most of them say they don’t want to come back to the office full-time.

Sixty-two percent of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day, according to a recent survey of employee office preferences the company released this week. So Google is working on “hybrid” models, including rearranging its offices and figuring out more long-term remote work options, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview with Time magazine on Wednesday.

“I see the future as being more flexible,” Pichai said in the interview. “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

The long-term planning comes as Google, which has been looked at as a model for Silicon Valley workplaces, slowly reveals more details of its plans to return its employees back to the office while also competing with other tech companies for top talent.

Read it all.

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

(NPR) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Supreme Court, Women

(The State) South Carolina areas that adopted mask ordinances first see biggest COVID-19 declines

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has released data before touting declines in coronavirus cases in areas where local governments have required residents to wear face masks. Now, the agency is saying that the earlier such ordinances were implemented, the better.

In its daily COVID-19 update Friday, DHEC broke down the 11 counties and 61 cities and towns where masks are currently required, splitting them into five groups according to the weeks that they implemented their mask ordinances.

In the earliest group, between June 23 and 29, cases decreased 66.5% more over the following month than in areas without ordinances. The latest group to implement ordinances, in the week of July 21-27, recorded no greater decrease in cases than those without them, DHEC reported.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Telegraph) Pandemic response is too centralised, say Archbishop Welby and Bishop Mullally

When the coronavirus pandemic began and lockdown took force across the country – shuttering shops and pubs, closing schools and barring places of worship – much of what we saw, heard and experienced was dictated and driven by “the centre”. Ministers and officials commanded our attention and determined the daily details of our lives. Few of us have experienced the sheer power of government like that in our lifetimes.

It makes sense to instinctively look for central direction in such an acute crisis, and we’re indebted to the roles many played in doing so, especially those who organised the NHS to cope with the increased demand. Within the Church there are lessons to be learnt about the role and importance of central guidance, and its crucial interplay with government rules that exist for the benefit of all.

But with a vaccine still far from certain, infection rates rising and winter on the horizon, the new normal of living with Covid-19 will only be sustainable – or even endurable – if we challenge our addiction to centralisation and go back to an age-old principle: only do centrally what must be done centrally.

As a country, this principle is in our DNA. In the Church of England, we have been committed to localism for centuries.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Local Paper) Mask rules draw heated debate in Summerville and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Summerville and Mount Pleasant became the recent centers of the COVID-19 debate in the Lowcountry as they updated their mask ordinances.

Residents gathered at council meetings in both towns over the past two weeks to voice their objections to government-enforced mask mandates. Some residents cited religious concerns about wearing masks and others questioned the effectiveness of mask usage in general.

Officials in both communities had to decide whether to listen to science or to a vocal group of mask opponents.

Read it all.

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

(The State) COVID-19 absentee expansion bill clears SC House, heads to Gov. McMaster

A bill that would expand absentee voting to all registered South Carolina voters in the Nov. 3 general election as a pandemic-related safety measure is headed to the governor’s desk after clearing the House Tuesday.

The bill, which passed 115-1, allows “no-excuse” absentee voting, but retains the requirement that absentee voters get a witness to watch them sign their absentee ballot envelope — a requirement that a federal judge suspended for the June primary, citing the risk of COVID-19 transmission — and scraps plans to add more ballot drop boxes.

Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to weigh in on the absentee expansion bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate last week, but signed a similar bill the Legislature approved ahead of the June primary.

Read it all.

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

(CNN) The unlikely rise of Yoshihide Suga, the son of a farmer who is expected to become Japan’s next Prime Minister

Suga is the son of a farmer, and he’s known as a pragmatic, behind-the-scenes deal maker. He grew up in the rural Akita prefecture, and moved to Tokyo after high school. He then worked a series of odd jobs — including one at a cardboard factory and another at the famed Tsukiji fish market — to save money for university, which he went on to attend part time while working.

Suga entered the fast-paced, punishing world of Japan’s salary men after graduation, but it didn’t last. Politics was what shaped and impacted the world, and that’s what he wanted to do.

So he decided to run for city council in Yokohama. Though he lacked connections and political experience, he made up for it with gumption and hard work. He campaigned door-to-door, visiting about 300 houses a day and 30,000 in total, according to the LDP. By the time the election rolled around, he had worn out six pairs of shoes.

Read it all.

Posted in Japan, Politics in General

(VOA) 19 Years On, Does a Post-9/11 Generation Remember the Attacks?

Nineteen years later, [Aidan] Thayer is a fifth-year undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he triple-majors in physics, mathematics and German. Thayer, despite his near-photographic memory, can only recall some scenes from the day of the attacks.

For older Americans, in contrast, 9/11 remains a vivid memory. Ten years later, 97% of Americans 8 or older at the time could remember exactly where they were when they heard the news, according to a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center.

For many young people, though, 9/11 is a subject learned secondhand.

“It feels like something that we learned in history books, something like World War Two,” said Christina Liu, 22, from New York City. Liu graduated from New York University last year and will start work this month as an associated development operations engineer at Veeva Systems, a cloud computing company in California.

“It seems very distant to me, despite being an event that happened in my lifetime,” added Liu, who found she couldn’t distinguish her memories of 9/11 from her memories of a massive 2003 power outage dubbed the Great Northeast Blackout.

Read it all.

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

Must not Miss 9/11 Video: Welles Crowther, The Man Behind the Red Bandana

The Man Behind the Red Bandana from Drew Gallagher on Vimeo.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Sports, Terrorism

One Photo Provides Insight into One Heroic 9/11 firefighter’s story: Gary Box

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Photos/Photography, Terrorism

A Prayer for 9/11 by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God and Father who wills that people may flourish and have abundance of life, be with us especially on this day when we remember such destruction, darkness, devastation, death and terror; help us to honor the memory of those whose lives were utterly cut short, and to believe that you can make all things new, even the most horrible things. Redeem and heal, O Holy Spirit, grant us perspective, humility, light, trust and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * By Kendall, History, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology

Andrew Sullivan on 9/11–This is what a Day Means

“This is what a day means. Like the day an archduke was shot in Sarajevo, when no one knew in the morning what the afternoon would have proved. Like the day of the first blitzkrieg into Poland, when denial in the dawn ceded to dread at dusk. Like the day in November 1963 when the same sense of numbness and grief swept through Americans in an instant. Like the beautiful September day, when a man heard a sound and looked up into the sky in curiosity and calm and saw the end of something we never truly appreciated until in one short day, it had already disappeared.”

Andrew Sullivan in the NYT, September 23, 2001

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

Nineteen Years Later, we Remember 9/11

“The cloudless sky filled with coiling black smoke and a blizzard of paper—memos, photographs, stock transactions, insurance policies—which fluttered for miles on a gentle southeasterly breeze, across the East River into Brooklyn. Debris spewed onto the streets of lower Manhattan, which were already covered with bodies. Some of them had been exploded out of the building when the planes hit. A man walked out of the towers carrying someone else’s leg. Jumpers landed on several firemen, killing them instantly.

“The air pulsed with sirens as firehouses and police stations all over the city emptied, sending the rescuers, many of them to their deaths. [FBI agent] Steve Bongardt was running toward the towers, against a stream of people racing in the opposite direction. He heard the boom of the second collision. “There’s a second plane,” someone cried.”

–Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Random House [Vintage Books], 2006), pp.404-405

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

(Local Paper) Coronavirus cases no longer trending down in 28 South Carolina counties, DHEC says

After seeing a peak in new coronavirus cases in July and five weeks of dropping numbers, 28 of South Carolina’s 46 counties are no longer seeing a downward disease trend, according to a presentation given to state public health officials on Thursday.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, a physician consultant for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, told the agency’s governing board the entire state can no longer be classified as being on a downward trend.

“We’ve recently started to see a little increase,” she said. “It’s too early to say whether it will be significant. We want to encourage everyone to do what they were doing. We were seeing that steady decline.”

Read it all.

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

(Unherd) Justin Webb–Is The American Left looking increasingly extreme?

If you are searching for a view of the intellectual and moral slack the American far-Left is cutting itself, look no further than gentle old National Public Radio. More than a decade ago, when I lived in the US, NPR was genially Left-of-centre, but not aggressively so. Last week it revealed itself to be — in the eyes of many Americans — quite unhinged, publishing an interview with Vicky Osterweil, the author of a book called In Defense of Looting.

Osterweil made two assertions, the first being that looting is justified because it attacks the idea of private property and the world of work: “So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

The second is that stealing from shops is part of the wider movement for change in America: “Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police,” she said: “It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about — that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.”

None of this is robustly challenged, and this was not some sociology professor playing with edgy thoughts on campus — it was an interview conducted and disseminated by one of the most important mainstream broadcasters in the USA, a non-profit devoted to ideals of impartiality and truth.

Read it all.


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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Michael Sandel–Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice

At the heart of this project are two ideas: First, in a global, technological age, higher education is the key to upward mobility, material success and social esteem. Second, if everyone has an equal chance to rise, those who land on top deserve the rewards their talents bring.

This way of thinking is so familiar that it seems to define the American dream. But it has come to dominate our politics only in recent decades. And despite its inspiring promise of success based on merit, it has a dark side.

Building a politics around the idea that a college degree is a precondition for dignified work and social esteem has a corrosive effect on democratic life. It devalues the contributions of those without a diploma, fuels prejudice against less-educated members of society, effectively excludes most working people from elective government and provokes political backlash.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer for Labor Day

On this three day weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human laboring the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.

May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

–The Archdiocese of Detroit

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

A Fantastic story about a women who was given a second chance

‘For nearly a year, Lashenda Williams slept in her car in a Kroger parking lot. Now, the same supermarket has welcomed her with a job and a fresh start.’

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Monday Story about a Dedicated Servant from the Life of John Kenneth Galbraith

[When we] lived in Washington in a pleasant furnished apartment]…A very strong-willed and exceptionally short,…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Sunday, August 30, 2020

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

(WSJ) Why Are There Still Not Enough Paper Towels?

The United States of America, heralded as the land of plenty, still doesn’t have enough paper towels.

Long after the coronavirus sparked a run on them, retailers can’t keep their shelves full. Target.com had no Bounty paper towels for delivery this week, though it had some at certain stores. At Amazon.com, a seller was charging $44.95 for a pack that normally goes for $15.

An average of 21% of household paper products were out of stock at U.S. stores as of Aug. 9, according to research firm IRI.

The situation isn’t likely to abate soon, because producers have no plans to build new manufacturing capacity. The central piece of the machinery needed to make paper towels takes years to assemble.

Americans have faced many stresses in the pandemic, of which paper-towel scarcity is hardly among the worst. Yet the forces behind the shortage nearly six months into the crisis help explain the broad lack of U.S. preparedness that has made the pandemic worse than it might have been.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NBC) Unique Program Helping To Save Vermont Restaurants And Feed The Community

Posted in City Government, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, The U.S. Government, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) ‘I’m Only One Human Being’: Parents Brace for a Go-It-Alone School Year

Parents across America are facing the pandemic school year feeling overwhelmed, anxious and abandoned. With few good options for support, the vast majority have resigned themselves to going it alone, a new survey for The New York Times has found.

Just one in seven parents said their children would be returning to school full time this fall, and for most children, remote school requires hands-on help from an adult at home. Yet four in five parents said they would have no in-person help educating and caring for them, whether from relatives, neighbors, nannies or tutors, according to the survey, administered by Morning Consult. And more than half of parents will be taking on this second, unpaid job at the same time they’re holding down paid work.

Raising children has always been a community endeavor, and suddenly the village that parents relied on is gone. It’s taking a toll on parents’ careers, families’ well-being and children’s education.

In families where both wage earners need to work outside the home, parents have obvious logistical challenges because they cannot be in two places at once. Three-fourths of these parents say they will be overseeing their children’s education, and nearly half will be handling primary child care, according to the survey, answered by a nationally representative group of 1,081 parents from Aug. 4 to 8.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family

(BP) Supreme Court delivers 2 religious liberty wins

The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in two 7-2 rulings Wednesday (July 8) that churches and religious organizations are free to make employment and health insurance decisions based on their convictions.

In one ruling, the justices reiterated their support for a “ministerial exception” that enables churches and other religious bodies to hire and fire based on their beliefs. They had ruled unanimously in 2012 in favor of such an exception. In consolidated cases, two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles chose not to renew contracts for two fifth-grade teachers based on what they said was poor performance.
In its other opinion, the high court upheld federal rules that protect the rights of employers with religious or moral objections to the Obama-era, abortion/contraception mandate. The opinion came after a seven-year legal battle by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that serves the poverty-stricken elderly, to gain an exemption from the requirement.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) commended both decisions as victories for religious freedom.

“If a religious organization cannot recruit leaders who agree with the beliefs and practices of those organizations, then there can be no true religious freedom. The Court recognized that today,” ERLC President Russell Moore said in a written statement of the “ministerial exception” opinion.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

UK Faith leaders make call for environment-focused economic recovery

Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.

The open letter [begins]:

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CNBC) Coronavirus forced 62% of summer camps to close this year and early estimates predict the industry will take a $16 billion revenue hit

If you visited Lochearn Camp For Girls, nestled on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Fairlee, during the summer months you’d likely hear the sounds of tennis balls hitting the court, horses trotting in the nearby corrals and girls laughing as they canoe in pristine waters.

But this year, the grounds are much quieter without the roughly 360 campers Lochearn welcomes each summer. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, camp director Tony Oyenarte and his team decided to close the overnight resident program for the 2020 season. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as a camp director and as a businessman,” Oyenarte tells CNBC Make It.

“We’ve been open for 104 consecutive years. We went through the flu of 1918, both world wars, H1N1. But when June 1 came, and we had to make a decision for the summer, it was focused on: Are we gonna be able to deliver an experience that’s going to be safe and is it going to be fun?” Oyenarte says. And the short answer, after much soul searching, was no. “At the end of the day, we just said it’s not going to be the best experience for our campers and our staff.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Sports