Category : * Economics, Politics

(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.

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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….

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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.”

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

(LA Times) Californians are losing their fear of the coronavirus, setting the stage for disaster

“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.

“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.

California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(Local Paper) As holiday weekend approaches, Charleston-area restaurant workers fear what it might bring

By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.

It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.

With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.

In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.

Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.

“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) Data point to soaring US gun sales in June

A record 3.9m firearm background checks were conducted in June, according to new FBI figures that underscore the sharp rise in US gun sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of firearm background checks conducted last month in the US was 71 per cent higher compared with the same time last year. The monthly figures broke the previous record, which was set in March, when 3.7m checks were conducted.

The latest figures cover a period in which the number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in many states across the American south and west, including Florida, Texas and Arizona. They also take into account the period of widespread antiracism protests and civil unrest after Floyd was killed in late May.

The FBI database does not convey the total guns sold, however, because background check laws and other rules surrounding firearm purchases vary from state to state. Not all gun buyers in the US are subject to background checks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

(WSJ) U.S. Daily Coronavirus-Case Count Crosses 50,000, a new daily record

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, as some states and businesses reversed course on reopenings and hospitals were hit by a surge of patients.
The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of more than 10.6 million coronavirus cases world-wide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll climbed above 128,000.

Cases and hospitalizations are rising sharply in a number of areas.

In Texas, 6,533 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals, according to the state’s Department of Health. For most of April and May that number hovered between 1,100 and 1,800. It broke the 2,000 mark on June 8.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(Church Times) Government guidance for services: count them in, keep it short, and beware ‘consumables’

From 4 July, incumbents will be responsible for determining how many people can safely attend public worship in their churches, based on a risk assessment of the capacity and ventilation of the building, the Government has said.

The guidance, published on Monday and effective from 4 July, was drawn up by the Places of Worship Taskforce, which includes faith leaders and government ministers. It has legal status under the Health and Safety and Equality Acts.

No maximum number is specified for people attending for general worship, which includes led prayers, devotions, or meditations. The guidance confirms, however, that a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend weddings, funerals, and other “life-cycle” services, such as baptisms, regardless of the size of the building, unless this takes place during routine communal worship (News, 26 June).

It states: “Limits for communal worship should be decided locally on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following a risk assessment. The number of people permitted to enter the place of worship at any one time should be limited, so that a safe distance of at least two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation (where two metres is not viable) between households.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Stewardship

(PRC) Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.

Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.

However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.

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

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

(Stat News) No one wants to go back to lockdown. Is there a middle ground for containing Covid-19?

First came the freezes.

Governors last month started to “press pause” on the next phases of their reopenings as Covid-19 cases picked back up. Now, in certain hot spots, they are starting to roll back some of the allowances they’d granted: no more elective medical procedures in some Texas counties. Bars, only reopened for a short time, are shuttered again in parts of California. And on Monday, Arizona’s governor ordered a new wave of gym, bar, and movie theater closures for at least the next month.

These are measured retreats — a far cry from the lockdowns that much of the country burrowed into starting in March. But leaders are desperately hoping that the incremental approach can make a dent in the spread of the virus at a time when another round of lockdowns — and their accompanying disruptions to education, the economy, and the public psyche — seems beyond unpalatable, both politically and socially.

They come as Texas, Florida, and other states are seeing record highs in daily coronavirus infections and intensive care units are teetering toward capacity, further proof that the coronavirus will run loose when given the chance. They also raise a serious question: whether such half-measures are sufficiently intensive — and were put in place in time — to have the necessary impact.

“This is a good step to getting a handle on the epidemic,” said Ana Bento, a disease ecologist at Indiana University. “It still might not be enough.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Free Times) Columbia Fireflies won’t play in 2020 after minor league season canceled

Major League Baseball is working to begin its season in late July, with a plan to play without fans in the stands because of COVID-19. The Fireflies, along with the rest of the minor leagues, have been prevented from playing this year because of the coronavirus.

Katz, the Fireflies president who has worked in professional baseball for nearly three decades, tells Free Times the announcement that Major League Baseball wouldn’t be providing players for the minors, thus putting a nail in the coffin of the 2020 season in Columbia and 159 other cities, was a “gut punch.”

“Personally and professionally, for the 30 people who work here [full-time], it just hurts,” Katz says. “Our planning process never stops. We started planning for 2020 as soon as we closed the books on the last night of 2019.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Health & Medicine, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) COVID-19 cases are rising sharply across SC. These charts show why.

Traci Testerman, an immunology and microbiology professor with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, is concerned about the way things are going in South Carolina.

“The state is absolutely headed in the wrong direction, and we do need more rules and support from the governor,” she said.

If everyone had access to N95 masks, then it wouldn’t be a big problem for a few people to walk around without a mask, Testerman said. But since that is not the case, one of the solutions is to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the air and contaminating uninfected people.

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

(Moultrie News) Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, mandates face masks at select establishments, effective July 1

Mount Pleasant has joined neighboring municipalities in mandating that face masks be worn in certain public spaces, effective at noon on Wednesday. Just three days prior to the celebration of Independence Day.

On Monday afternoon, Mount Pleasant Town Council met for an emergency special council meeting that would consider requiring face covering in “certain circumstances.” Council voted in favor 6-2, two-thirds majority, to pass Ordinance 20037.

Councilmember Brenda Corley was not present for the vote. Council explained the reasoning for Corley’s absence was due to showing COVID-19 symptoms.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(1st Things) Carl R. Trueman–The Road to Bostock

It is here that Farrow’s book is so singularly helpful. The essay “Autonomy: Sic transit anima ad infernum” is worth the price of the book all by itself. In it he traces with both remarkable depth and enviable conciseness the rise of the modern self: the autonomous self-creator to whom reality must bend or, better still, for whom reality is merely what works best for the individual concerned. With roots in Rousseau and Nietzsche, this self lies behind Anthony Kennedy’s oft-cited fantasy of selfhood in Casey and lurks in the background of all the subsequent Supreme Court rulings on matters involving sexuality, up to and including Bostock. Indeed, Farrow makes the necessary point:

The autonomous will really has no choice but to attack the body as well as the mind. For the body is the most obvious locus of the given, the most stubborn impediment to the power claimed by the will.

Transgenderism is the logical outcome of all this. In fact, the annihilation of gender as a stable category tout court is the logical outcome—a point that seems to have eluded Justice Gorsuch, who apparently wants to keep his binary categories while not realizing the metaphysical depths of the revolution he has now placed into law.

The shock and awe surrounding the Bostock ruling perhaps indicates that the old task of apologetics is now being oddly reversed. The pressing pastoral need of the hour for the church is not to explain the faith to the world but rather first to explain the world to the faithful. If Richard Rorty’s famous quip—the truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with saying—works as a descriptive rather than prescriptive principle in terms of cultural dynamics, in terms of which arguments work and which do not, then it behooves us to ask in what kind of culture the stated logic of the Bostock decision has come to make sense. If Christians do not understand the wider context, then they will continue to underestimate the true depth of the cultural problem, be perplexed at the speed of apparent change, and be disturbed by new developments. And that will make it very hard to navigate this world as both good citizens and good stewards of the gospel.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Secularism, Supreme Court

(Reason) J.D. Tuccille–The Pandemic’s Economic Carnage Looks Worse Than Expected

If you thought the economic toll wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic was only going to be horrendous, you may have been overly optimistic. A combination of voluntary behavior changes and government-imposed lockdowns that choked-off social and economic activity are now projected to have even worse consequences than economists initially feared. Life may start returning to normal sometime next year, but there will be lasting pain even if we avoid another wave of the virus.

“Global output is projected to decline by 4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below our April forecast, followed by a partial recovery, with growth at 5.4 percent in 2021,” Gita Gopinath, Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote this week.

As depressing as the IMF’s numbers are, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is actually more pessimistic. The OECD predicts that, if we’re hit by only one wave of COVID-19, global economic activity will fall by 6 percent this year, with five years of income growth lost. A second wave of infections would drive world economic output down by 7.6 percent in 2020.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(RNS) Tara Burton–How millennials make meaning from shopping, decorating and self-pampering

[Millenial]…’values hold that the self is an autonomous being, the self’s desires are fundamentally good, and societal and sexual repression as not just undesirable but actively evil. These millennials, which in my new book I called “Remixed Millennials,” are at once attracted to moral and theological certainty — accounts of the human condition that claim totalizing truth or demand difficult adherence because the challenge is ultimately rewarding — and repulsed by traditions that set hard limits on personal, and particularly sexual or romantic, desire.

That, for better or for worse, is where corporations come in. Increasingly, companies have recognized that there is a gap in the needs of today’s Remixed: institutions, activities, philosophies and rituals that manage to be challenging and totalizing while also preserving millennials’ need for personal freedom. It’s the dot-com bubble for spirituality, a free marketplace of innovation and religious disruption. No sooner does something become a viral movement than an ingenious startup finds a way to re-create it at a more profitable price point. (Columbia Business School is currently hosting an incubator for “spiritual entrepreneurs,” offering a certificate in spiritual entrepreneurship for those who complete a 20-week course.)

Consumer-capitalist culture offers us not merely necessities but identities. Meaning, purpose, community and ritual can all — separately or together — be purchased on Amazon Prime.

As journalist Amanda Hess wrote in The New York Times, “Shopping, decorating, grooming and sculpting are now jumping with meaning. And a purchase need not have any explicit social byproduct — the materials eco-friendly, or the proceeds donated to charity — to be weighted with significance. Pampering itself has taken on a spiritual urgency.”’

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Uncategorized, Young Adults

(ABC4) Charleston city council unanmiously votes to pass face mask ordinance

The City of Charleston voted unanimously on Thursday evening to enact a face mask ordinance.

In the ordinance, people must wear a face mask when entering any restaurant, retail store or any other building open to the public. Employees must also wear the face masks at all times.

People don’t have to wear a face mask if they have underlying health conditions, while driving in their cars, when participating in outdoor activities and while actively drinking or eating.

It will take effect on Friday at noon.

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

Diocese of Carlisle sets up a Task Group to secure its future mission

A special Task Group has been set up to secure the long-term missional sustainability of the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – post COVID-19.

The Financial Planning Task Group is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and has ten other members including the Bishop of Penrith, clergy and members of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF).

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, its focus is the sustained growth of church of every kind in the Diocese of Carlisle, supporting mission, ministry and the ecumenical God for All Vision Refresh.

Bishop James said: “As with all other dioceses in the Church of England, our cash flow and overall financial situation has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Almost every part of our income has been affected: churches have been closed, regular giving has fallen and Parish Offer has been affected; investment income is likely to be lower; parochial fees have not been earned as occasional offices such as weddings and funerals in churches have not happened and our commercial and residential tenants are themselves under financial pressure. We still don’t know exactly for how long and to what degree this will be the case….”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) From China to Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus

China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(The State) Columbia, South Carolina, now requires you to wear a mask to combat coronavirus. Here are the details

[Linda Bell]….told council members she was “alarmed and disheartened” at the number of people not wearing masks, particularly young adults.

While most teenagers and young adults are most resistant to becoming seriously ill from the virus, “you’re imposing that risk . . . on others.”

She added: “These measures from the local jurisdictions are badly needed.”

Under the new emergency ordinance, masks would be required for anyone:

▪ Inside a public building or waiting to enter a public building

▪ Interacting with someone within six feet in an outdoor space

▪ Engaged in business in a private space

▪ Using public or private transportation

▪ Walking in public where maintaining a six-foot distance from others may not be possible.

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

(WSJ) Escape to the Country: Why City Living Is Losing Its Appeal During the Pandemic

Confined to her Paris apartment with three young children, her husband and a dog during the city’s strict eight-week lockdown, Kate Gambey began fantasizing about something she never thought she would: a country house.

“I’m such a city girl,” said Ms. Gambey, an American married to a Frenchman. She made Paris her home nearly a decade ago but is now searching for a new home some 30 to 150 miles southwest of Paris.

“Right now it’s a question of how and where do we survive this best.”

In recent months, thousands of city dwellers have fled metropolises such as New York, Paris and London, moving in with family or into rentals to avoid crowds, be closer to nature or spend coronavirus lockdowns in more spacious quarters. While many have begun to return as restrictions have eased, others, like Ms. Gambey and her husband, Charles, are considering a permanent move.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Bloomberg) Religion Meets Profit Generation in a Slew of New Faith-Based ETFs

As much as Samim Abedi loved his job as part of the team that managed Google’s corporate investment portfolio, he couldn’t always square the work with his Muslim faith. He worried that some of the companies whose securities he traded had ties to alcohol or tobacco or gambling.

So he quit to join Wahed Invest, which in July 2019 launched the first exchange-traded fund in the U.S. that’s compliant with Sharia, Islam’s religious law. It’s one of eight ETFs introduced in the U.S. last year that incorporate faith-based principles, raising the total to 11. More are coming: In June, money manager Global X filed to launch a bond fund aligned to Catholic values. “We’re all trying to solve the same question,” says Abedi, the global head of portfolio management for Wahed. “How do we invest our wealth in ways that align with our ethics?”

Religion-based funds can differ on what they consider ethical. A stock fund that caters to Catholics shuns companies that sell weapons or exploit child labor. Several ETFs for Muslims steer clear of anything related to interest-based finance, which the religion frowns upon. Those funds invest in a Sharia-compliant alternative to bonds called sukuk, which provide regular payments that are considered profit-sharing rather than interest.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Churches, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Local Paper) As COVID-19 wallops hospitality sector, Folly Beach restaurateurs develop safety strategy

Approximately 40 restaurants in the Charleston area have now closed temporarily as a result of an employee testing positive for the deadly disease, exposure to an infected guest or concern about the spread, although industry members reiterate many more restaurants are continuing to operate in the face of known cases.

Rich says the Folly Beach meeting, scheduled for the Loggerhead’s parking lot to facilitate social distancing, will cover table spacing, bar seats and employee masks. Rich believes strongly that every restaurant in the city needs to mandate masks for front-of-house workers.

“There’s no regulation on it, so everybody is doing something different,” he says. “We’re just going to tell everyone, ‘Hey, guys, this is what we recommend.’ We need to make sure somebody’s burger or beer isn’t as important as our health.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Health & Medicine

(USA Today) NIH director: COVID-19’s ‘heartbreaking’ harm to Black and Hispanic Americans demands testing

Collins said he’s been impressed with the safety of convalescent plasma – a blood product from people who have recovered from COVID-19. But research has not yet shown whether convalescent plasma is truly effective for COVID-19 patients and at what stage of disease.

More promising, he said, is what are called monoclonal antibodies – immune system molecules identified from recovered patients that can then be manufactured with predictability and consistently.

“It worked for Ebola, so it’s got a precedent,” said Collins, who was head of the NIH when that outbreak occurred. At least six companies are developing monoclonal antibodies that are ready for testing in people.

“If I had to put my hopes on one therapeutic that might be a real game-changer as soon as this fall, it would be monoclonals,” Collins said. “But we don’t know until we actually go there and try that….”

Collins said he has decided that it is safe in Washington, D.C. to slowly begin allowing NIH scientists to return to work. He has eight people in his own research lab who are now coming in every other day, wearing a mask all the time, remaining six feet away from each other, and cleaning their space when they leave. He compared this to what will have to happen to keep people safe as businesses and universities begin to reopen.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(FT) Digital ad market set to eclipse traditional media for first time

Digital advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba is set this year to overtake spending on traditional media for the first time, a historic shift in market share that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Excluding online ads sold by old media outlets such as news publishers or broadcasters, digital marketing is predicted to account for more than half the $530bn global advertising industry in 2020, according to GroupM, the media buying agency owned by WPP.

Separate forecasts released last week by Magna, part of IPG Mediabrands, also expect 2020 to be the year traditional media is upstaged.

The digital revolution in marketing under way since the millennium, when the internet accounted for under 2 per cent of spending, has transformed the ad market at a pace and scale that far outstrips the advent of television in the 20th century.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media

Anglican Unscripted 606 – Legal Victories

Kevin Kallsen and AS Haley talk about the latest court victories for the ACNA. And, some of the challenges the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions will bring religious communities.

Posted in Anthropology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Anglican Bishops warn of ‘Environmental Racism’

The Archbishop of Canterbury together with the Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Truro, Dover, Woolwich, Sherborne, Loughborough, Kingston, Reading and Ramsbury, and former Archbishop Rowan Williams have joined a list of eight archbishops and 38 bishops worldwide in signing an open letter stating that black lives are predominantly affected by the effects of climate change, as well as police brutality and the spread of COVID-19.

Published by the Anglican Communion’s Environmental Network, the letter reads (extract):

The world is slow to respond to climate change, hanging on to an increasingly precarious and unjust economic system. It is predominantly Black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise. The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.

We stand at a Kairos moment – in order to fight environmental injustice , we must also fight racial injustice.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Rupert Read–Imagining the world after COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, we have to live in a world we will never fully understand, predict, or control. The huge cost — in terms both of lives and money — of the world’s collective failure to apply precautionary reasoning to the coronavirus will hopefully continue to wake people up. If we are to survive, let alone flourish, we need to change things up; we need to imagine big, along the lines that I’ve been suggesting. This pandemic is our chance, probably our last such chance, for a new beginning. From its horror, if we retrieve the drive to localise, we’ll be building the best possible memorial to those hundreds of thousands who have unnecessarily died.

The coronavirus crisis is like the climate crisis, only dramatically telescoped in terms of time. We have seen what happens when there is a short-term protective contraction of the economy. The lifestyle-change that was required by the pandemic is more extreme than what will be required of us in order adequately to address the climate crisis. Why not make the less extreme changes required to live safely within a stable climate?

The coronavirus pandemic is like an acute condition: both individuals and entire societies need to respond quickly to it, but probably not for an extended period of time — certainly not if prevention or elimination is successfully achieved. The climate crisis is a chronic condition: it will take decades upon decades of determination, commitment, and “sacrifice” not to be overwhelmed by it. But the changes we need to make in order to achieve that goal are more attractive than those made in order to fight the coronavirus. The life we live in a climate-safe world can be a better life: saner; more rooted and local; more secure, with stronger communities and less uncertainty about our common future; less hyper-materialistic; more caring; more nurturing, and with greater exposure to the natural world.

What is required is the building of care, ethical sensibilities, and precautiousness into the very warp and weft of our lives.

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Posted in Anthropology, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(Tablet) Pope hopes pandemic will teach care for environment

Speaking after the Angelus in Rome, the pope said the pandemic had made people reflect on the relationship between humankind and the environment.

“The lockdown has reduced pollution,” he said. It had enabled people to rediscover the beauty of many places free from traffic and noise.

“Now, with the resumption of activities, we should all be more responsible for the care of the common home,” he continued. Mentioning the many emerging grass-roots environmental movements, he called for citizens to be “increasingly aware of this essential common good”.

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Bloomberg) Niall Ferguson–America Is On The Road To Relapse Not Recovery

The best title for this tale was devised by my Hoover Institution colleague, the economist John Cochrane. He called it “The Dumb Reopening.” A smart reopening is the sort that has been possible in countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, which were so quick to ramp up testing and contact tracing that they didn’t need to do lockdowns in the first place. Among European countries, Germany and Greece have also successfully adopted these methods, which ensure that any new outbreaks of Covid-19 can quickly be detected, so-called super-spreaders isolated, their recent contacts swiftly traced and tested, and the outbreaks snuffed out.

Other signs of smartness are the persistence of behavioral adaptations by ordinary people, such as social distancing and wearing masks. We know that these practices, which can be adopted by citizens without any government decree, are effective in restricting the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Less widely appreciated is that social distancing is more effective as policy than lockdowns, as a forthcoming paper in the journal Nature shows. This is also the implication of work by researchers at Oxford’s Blavatnik School who show that there is no correlation between the stringency of government measures and containment of Covid-19. Measures designed to protect groups that are especially susceptible and vulnerable to Covid-19 — notably the elderly, especially those with pre-existing conditions — are also smart.

A dumb reopening eschews all such precautionary measures. So is that really what the U.S. is doing? The answer is pretty much yes. Testing has improved, but contact tracing is primitive. And social distancing and mask-wearing are least prevalent where reopening is happening fastest.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology