Category : * Economics, Politics

(Guardian) Drought puts 2.1 million Kenyans at risk of starvation

An estimated 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation due to a drought in half the country, which is affecting harvests.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said people living in 23 counties across the arid north, northeastern and coastal parts of the country will be in “urgent need” of food aid over the next six months, after poor rains between March and May this year.

The crisis has been compounded by Covid-19 and previous poor rains, it said, predicting the situation will get worse by the end of the year, as October to December rains are expected to be below normal levels.

The affected regions are usually the most food-insecure in Kenya due to high levels of poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Kenya, Poverty

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(DW) UN: Pandemic did not slow advance of climate change

The UN released a report on Thursday warning that the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the pace of climate change.

Virus-related economic slowdown and lockdowns caused only a temporary downturn in CO2 emissions last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

“There was some thinking that the COVID lockdowns would have had a positive impact on the atmosphere, which is not the case,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said at a news briefing.

The United in Science 2021 report, which gathers the latest scientific data and findings related to climate change, said global fossil-fuel CO2 emissions between January and July in the power and industry sectors were already back to the same level or higher than in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(WSJ front page) Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show

Eva Behrens, a 17-year-old student at Redwood High School in Marin County, Calif., said she estimates half the girls in her grade struggle with body-image concerns tied to Instagram. “Every time I feel good about myself, I go over to Instagram, and then it all goes away,” she said.

When her classmate Molly Pitts, 17, arrived at high school, she found her peers using Instagram as a tool to measure their relative popularity. Students referred to the number of followers their peers had as if the number was stamped on their foreheads, she said.

Now, she said, when she looks at her number of followers on Instagram, it is most often a “kick in the gut.”

For years, there has been little debate among medical doctors that for some patients, Instagram and other social media exacerbate their conditions. Angela Guarda, director for the eating-disorders program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said it is common for her patients to say they learned from social media tips for how to restrict food intake or purge. She estimates that Instagram and other social-media apps play a role in the disorders of about half her patients.

“It’s the ones who are most vulnerable or are already developing a problem—the use of Instagram and other social media can escalate it,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Women

(Guardian) Four in 10 young people fear having children due to climate crisis

Four in 10 young people around the world are hesitant to have children as a result of the climate crisis, and fear that governments are doing too little to prevent climate catastrophe, a poll in 10 countries has found.

Nearly six in 10 young people, aged 16 to 25, were very or extremely worried about climate change, according to the biggest scientific study yet on climate anxiety and young people, published on Tuesday. A similar number said governments were not protecting them, the planet, or future generations, and felt betrayed by the older generation and governments.

Three-quarters agreed with the statement “the future is frightening”, and more than half felt they would have fewer opportunities than their parents. Nearly half reported feeling distressed or anxious about the climate in a way that was affecting their daily lives and functioning.

The poll of about 10,000 young people covered Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Portugal, the UK and the US. It was paid for by the campaigning organisation Avaaz.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(CC) Bethany Sollereder–Climate change is here: How will we adapt?

For humans, we need to begin to create policies that open up our borders to climate refugees, to come up with new technologies that can grow more food on less land, and to help populations migrate away from coastal cities at risk of permanent flooding. For other life, we need to have frank discussions about human population levels (given expected lifestyles and lifespans) and ask what can be done to reduce human impact without imposing unrealistic or draconian measures. More generally, we need to change our views of environmental action from conserving what was to adapting to what is to be. If we instead continue with life as usual, the results will be devastating, especially for those who are already the poorest and most marginal in our world.

If we do give up thinking of ourselves as the masters over crea­tion and climate and see ourselves instead as part of God’s community of creatures on Earth, we again encounter the question of how we should understand our role and our responsibilities toward other life. A thoroughly Christian position might maintain that it is our duty to take up a self-sacrificial stance toward other life—like Jesus, who laid down his life for others, or like John the Baptist, who said of Jesus, “He must increase, I must decrease.” The central importance of humans in the Bible does not mean that humans should live like kings on the back of the rest of creation, looking always and only toward their own flourishing. The Christian model of rulership is just the opposite: the greatest is the one who serves and gives themself up for others.

For now, there is some good news: for the most part, we don’t have to fight over what we should do. The activities we should pursue if we are going to adapt well to climate change are largely the same as what we would do if we were trying to prevent climate change. The urgency of cutting down on carbon emissions remains. We should still plant more trees, use less stuff, eat less meat, and create less carbon dioxide. These actions will slow the rate of climate change, giving all creatures a chance to migrate and adapt to a new normal—and giving us time to invent new technologies that can help all other creatures live well in a new climate.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(Local Paper Yesterday’s front page) Inside DHEC, where workers fight anxiety, frustration, fatigue amid crush of pandemic

Microbiologist John Bonaparte can count on one hand the days he has taken off from work since South Carolina recorded its first cases of the coronavirus in March 2020.

One of his co-workers in the state’s public health laboratory, Kendra Rembold, has missed three seasons of her children’s soccer games while pulling 12-hour shifts to keep up with the state’s unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing.

And one of their supervisors in the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s cramped lab in Columbia, Christy Greenwood, decided she couldn’t adequately juggle the demands of the pandemic and her responsibilities as a single parent. So she took her 5- and 7-year-old children to stay at their grandmother’s house until things calmed down at work.

More than 550 days since the coronavirus took hold in South Carolina, that respite still hasn’t come for the hundreds of public health workers who toil in the background of the state’s response.

Instead, they say, COVID-19 has proven to be an unending nightmare, serving up 12- and 15-hour shifts, seven-day workweeks and a buffet of anxiety, frustration and fatigue.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

The full transcript of the final telephone call of Todd Beamer, from United flight 93, on 9/11/2001

Please take the time to try to digest it–KSH

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

The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001

This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.

It is well worth your time to explore it thoroughly today.

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

(WSJ) Remember Todd Beamer of United 93–His heroism on 9/11 drew from a lifetime of faith and character.

A strong Christian faith also carried Beamer toward his fate. Lisa recounts that their life together was founded on faith—at Wheaton, while rearing children, and teaching Sunday school at Princeton Alliance Church.

Before ending his call with Ms. Jefferson, Beamer asked, “Would you do one last thing for me?”

“Yes. What is it?” she answered.

“Would you pray with me?”

They said the Lord’s Prayer together in full, and other passengers joined in. Beamer then recited Psalm 23, concluding, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Immediately after, he turned to his co-conspirators and asked, “Are you guys ready? OK, let’s roll.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

On [a] Monday [in September 2003], the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in * By Kendall, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

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., Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture, 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 America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Sports, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Twenty 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

A Prayer for 9/11 by yours truly

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, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

(FT) Climate change risks triggering catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis, scientist Bill McGuire warns

The world is underestimating the geological consequences of global warming, which could trigger catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis as the melting of ice sheets reduces the weight on the crust below and unleashes intense seismic activity, a leading earth scientist has warned.

The biggest threat in the north Atlantic comes from the thinning of Greenland’s ice cap, Bill McGuire, professor of earth sciences at University College London, told the British Science Festival in the UK town of Chelmsford on Thursday. Within decades, that could spark huge submarine earthquakes off the coast of Greenland, causing tsunamis with disastrous consequences for North America and probably Europe, he said.

A possible precedent was the “great Storegga tsunami” that devastated the coasts of Scandinavia and the British Isles 8,200 years ago. An offshore earthquake, triggered by the release of pressure after northern Europe’s ice sheets had melted, set off a vast landslide of submarine sediments under the Norwegian Sea. Geological evidence shows the resulting tsunami wave reached 15 to 20 metres high in the Shetland islands and 3 to 6 metres high further down the North Sea.

“As the Greenland ice cap melts, the uplift in the crust is going to trigger earthquakes,” said McGuire. “We don’t know enough about the sediments off the Greenland coast to predict confidently what might happen there, but it is certainly possible that within decades there could be a tsunami right across the north Atlantic.”

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) Xi Jinping’s crackdown on everything is remaking Chinese society

The orders have been sudden, dramatic and often baffling. Last week, “American Idol”-style competitions and shows featuring men deemed too effeminate were banned by Chinese authorities. Days earlier, one of China’s wealthiest actresses, Zhao Wei, had her movies, television series and news mentions scrubbed from the Internet as if she had never existed.

Over the summer, China’s multibillion-dollar private education industry was decimated overnight by a ban on for-profit tutoring, while new regulations wiped more than $1 trillion from Chinese tech stocks since a peak in February. As China’s tech moguls compete to donate more to President Xi Jinping’s campaign against inequality, “Xi Jinping Thought” is taught in elementary schools, and foreign games and apps like Animal Crossing and Duolingo have been pulled from stores.

A dizzying regulatory crackdown unleashed by China’s government has spared almost no sector over the past few months. This sprawling “rectification” campaign — with such disparate targets as ride-hailing services, insurance, education and even the amount of time children can spend playing video games — is redrawing the boundaries of business and society in China as Xi prepares to take on a controversial third term in 2022.

Read it all.

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

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Our spending on longevity research belies our faulty understanding of death

Death was once — potentially, at least — an expression of some ultimate triumph. Now it is the bitter failure of our technology. And whatever we spend on it, no amount of money will overcome this gap.

Death, then, is the political issue we are not talking about. Even after the pandemic, when the daily death figures were broadcast on every news broadcast, we continue to say little about death other than making the uncritical assumption it is always to be avoided.

And so we are sleepwalking into a state of affairs in which the young will resent the elderly for the burden they place upon them. Of course, we should support the generous funding for social care. What we ought to be challenging is whether the medical technologies that are keeping us alive for ever longer complement our understanding of what human existence is for.

But I see little appetite for that. In a secular society, we have few intellectual or cultural resources to challenge the pervasiveness of more-ism. And to live deeper, more meaningful lives is not the same as living longer ones.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Eschatology, Science & Technology, Secularism

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Joint statement on climate change by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch

In a joint statement, the Christian leaders have called on people to pray, in this Christian season of Creation, for world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. The statement reads: ‘We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

The joint declaration strikes a clear warning – ‘Today, we are paying the price…Tomorrow could be worse’ and concludes that: ‘This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

Read it all.

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

(MIT Tech Review) Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Last October, a large group of scientists made their way to Yuri Milner’s super-mansion in the Los Altos Hills above Palo Alto. They were tested for covid-19 and wore masks as they assembled in a theater on the property for a two-day scientific conference. Others joined by teleconference. The topic: how biotechnology might be used to make people younger.

Milner is a Russian-born billionaire who made a fortune on Facebook and Mail.ru and previously started the glitzy black-tie Breakthrough Prizes, $3 million awards given each year to outstanding physicists, biologists, and mathematicians. But Milner’s enthusiasm for science was taking a provocative and specific new direction. As the scientific sessions progressed, experts took the stage to describe radical attempts at “rejuvenating” animals.

That meeting has now led to the formation of an ambitious new anti-aging company called Altos Labs, according to people familiar with the plans. Altos is pursuing biological reprogramming technology, a way to rejuvenate cells in the lab that some scientists think could be extended to revitalize entire animal bodies, ultimately prolonging human life.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(CT) Why the UN’s Dire Climate Change Report Is Dedicated to an Evangelical Christian

His concerns about greenhouse gases, rising temperature averages, dying coral reefs, blistering heat waves, and increasingly extreme weather were informed by his training at as atmospheric physicist and his commitment to science. They also come out of his evangelical understanding of God, the biblical accounts of humanity’s relationship to creation, and what it means for a Christian to follow Christ.

“We haven’t lived up to the call to holiness,” Houghton’s granddaughter Hannah Malcolm explained to CT. “We’ve been conformed to the patterns of this world, with the desire for wealth accumulation and the desire to increase our comforts, and that’s not the demand that is placed upon us as followers of Christ.”

Houghton was born in a Baptist family in Wales in 1931. As a young man he realized he needed to make a personal decision for Christ, and he did. To the end of his life, Houghton described it as the most important choice he’d ever made.

His love for God fueled his love for science. He saw it as a way to worship.

“The biggest thing that can ever happen to anybody is to get a relationship with the one who has created the universe,” Houghton told a Welsh newspaper in 2007. “We discover the laws of nature when we do our science. So we discover what’s behind the universe and if there’s an intelligence and a creator behind it. What we’re doing as Christians is exploring our relationship with the person who is the creator of the universe. Now that’s something that is absolutely wonderful.”

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

(NPR: Storycorps) A Family Remembers The 1st U.S. Soldier Killed In The War In Afghanistan

The last conversation Keith Chapman had with his younger brother Nathan Chapman was on Christmas Day 2001. Nathan had called up his family from Afghanistan.

Although the 31-year-old, a sergeant first class with the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, couldn’t disclose his location, his family put it together based on what time Nathan said it was where he was calling from.

“I don’t remember that we said very much,” Keith said during a StoryCorps interview in Frederick, Md., last week with their mother, Lynn Chapman.

That wasn’t so unusual. The brothers, just 2 1/2 years apart in age, had always had a complicated dynamic that was born from their two very different personalities.

A couple weeks after that phone call, Keith heard on his car radio that an American soldier had been killed in Afghanistan. He thought, “Well, yes, Nathan is there, but he’s one of who knows how many? So, I put it out of my mind.”

That is, until he got home that evening.

“My wife greets me at the door and says, ‘I have bad news,’ ” he said.

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Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

(NYT) Big Tech Has Outgrown This Planet

The already bonkers dollars of Big Tech have become even bonkers-er.

My colleagues and I have written a lot about the unreal sales, profits and oomph of America’s five technology titans — Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook. This might feel like old news. Tech’s Titanic 5 have been big and rich for a long time, and they’ve gotten even more so as people and organizations have needed their products during the coronavirus pandemic. Yadda, yadda, yadda. We get it.

But no, we really don’t get it. American’s technology superstars have launched into a completely different stratosphere than even other wildly successful companies in tech and beyond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martyn Minns–Pittsburgh ad clerum on anti-social media

Today we are living with instant messaging in which many people document their every thought – almost in real time – on various social media platforms. There is no time to reflect on the impact of their words on the unsuspecting world. When they are feeling angry or hurt, social media is ready 24 hours a day to pass along the pain-filled sentiments to everyone. This is already generating unprecedented levels of depression and self-harming behavior among teenagers – both boys and girls. I have witnessed the potential for serious damage with our own grandchildren.

When I was a child – light years ago – we had a childhood chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me!” It was intended to increase resiliency and avoid physical retaliation, but, sadly, it is simply not true. Hurtful words – uttered in person or via social media – can leave deep wounds long after physical scars might have healed. By way of response to this reality, our son and his wife have not only restricted the hours that social media is available in their home but also denied their 15-year-old son his own mobile phone – over considerable protestations!

I readily admit that the social media explosion has produced remarkable benefits. We are able to communicate with friends and family in ways that we never imagined. Angela serves as our family social media queen and stays in regular contact with our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and our rapidly growing global extended family. She passes along photographs, family news, and prayer needs, and because of her good efforts, we have stayed well connected throughout the pandemic lock down. We have even located high school friends with whom we had lost contact. I am also able to learn a great deal about the various clergy and churches that I now serve as interim bishop, because I can read through their websites and social media posts. But there is a dark side to all of this.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology