Category : * Economics, Politics

(NYT front page) The story of one Kentucky man who built a big house with a bunker, entered politics, and ended up having his giant residence attacked and his daughter killed

Jordan, 32, told her father she had come to feel unsafe at the house. In February of this year, she was hired by a law firm in Lexington and planned to move as soon as possible to an apartment in the city. “She must have sensed that she was being watched,” he said.

Someone had been watching, marking the house’s entry points and taking detailed notes on the family’s movements. Early on the morning of Feb. 22, prosecutors say, the watcher, Shannon V. Gilday, a 23-year-old former soldier who lived in the Cincinnati suburbs, climbed up to a second-floor balcony and began his attack.

“He stood and looked at me without any emotions, like he was programmed,” Mr. Morgan said of the moment he first encountered Mr. Gilday in the foyer. At that point, Jordan was dead.

Now Mr. Morgan was the target.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, State Government, Violence

(NPR) 1 in 4 young adults live with a parent, grandparent or older sibling, research shows

The percentage of young adults living with parents, grandparents, or older siblings or roommates has nearly tripled since 1971, new data from the Pew Research Center shows.

In a 2021 survey of nearly 10,000 Americans, one in four adults from ages 25 to 34 lived in a “multigenerational family household” — defined as a household of adults 25 and older that includes two or more generations. About 9% of adults had these living circumstances in 1971, the report said.

While most young adults in multigenerational households lived in households led by one (39%) or two parents (47%) — the most common arrangements — about 14% lived in a household headed by someone other than a parent, such as a grandparent, sibling, roommate or an unmarried partner.

In contrast, 15% of young adults had at least one parent who had moved in with them, according to Pew.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family

(NYT front page) A Village Retaken, and a Confidence Boost for Ukraine’s Troops

A sheepdog, padding the streets on his own, was the only sign of life in this destroyed village. Flames licked the rafters of the school and smoke poured out of a burning house several streets away after Russian artillery strikes earlier in the day.

Amid the smoke and rubble, Pavlivka might seem like a dubious prize. But for the Ukrainian troops defending it last week, after recapturing it from Russian forces three weeks ago, it counted as a rare success when much of Ukraine, and the rest of the world, was transfixed by the fall of the last two cities in eastern Luhansk Province to overwhelming Russian firepower.

In this small corner of the adjacent Donetsk Province, a self-assured mechanized brigade was bucking the trend.

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

(NYT) Chinese officials apologize for breaking into homes to search for Covid cases

Local officials in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou have issued a rare apology after community workers broke into dozens of homes to look for people who had tested positive for the coronavirus and others deemed close contacts, triggering harsh criticism on social media.

The government of the city’s Liwan district said in a statement that the workers picked locks to enter 84 units in an apartment complex. They had been searching for residents they believed were hiding to avoid being sent to quarantine centers. Under China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid, all positive cases and close contacts must be sent to centralized quarantine facilities for a number of days.

Photos on social media showed broken locks in front of apartment doors, and the government said the locks were later replaced. It added that the head of the neighborhood had apologized to the residents individually and had promised unspecified compensation.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT front page) At Site of Atrocities Near Kyiv, Family Copes With War’s Trauma

For the first time since the war began, the Stanislavchuk family was together again.

Yehor was leading his parents, Natasha and Sasha, his sister, Tasya, and his grandmother, Lyudmila, on a tour of Bucha, the quaint suburb of Kyiv that has become synonymous with Russian savagery.

Here was the school where Yehor had hid for two weeks as Russian troops bombed and murdered their way through the town. There, at the entrance to the school basement, was where a Russian soldier had shot a woman in the head just because he could. And over there, on top of the yellow crane, was where the sniper sat, picking off civilians as they scrounged for food and water.

Yehor, 28, spoke calmly, and no one expressed surprise. These stories are well known now in Ukraine.

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

(FT) US tourists drive rebound in foreign visitors to London’s top attractions

Paul Baumann, receiver general at Westminster Abbey, said the Queen’s platinum jubilee in early June had “created a buzz” around the church, in which 39 coronations have taken place since 1066, providing a “priceless advertisement” for visitors from around the world.

“If they’re going to go somewhere for their first trip after the pandemic, it strikes me that the place most Americans reach for first is the UK,” said Baumann. He added that the UK had “shaken off” the bad publicity it received early on in the pandemic when it was derided as “plague island”.

“Europeans . . . were first to return, and now we’re seeing Americans returning to London in significant numbers, and that’s particularly important because they prioritise going to visitor attractions and are big spenders,” said Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, adding that sterling falling by 13 per cent against the dollar since the start of the year had been a boon to tourism from the US.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church of England, Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Travel

(NYT front page) In Ukraine a Culture War, With Bombs And Missiles

At the thousand-year-old Cathedral of Saint Sophia here, standing on an easel in front of a towering Baroque golden altar, is a new, freshly painted icon that’s just a foot square.

It depicts a 17th-century Cossack military commander with a long gray beard. His eyebrows are arched. His halo is a plain red circle. He looks humble beneath the immense mosaics that have glinted since the 11th century — through Kyiv’s sacking by the Mongols, its absorption into Poland, its domination by the Soviet Union.

No gold. No gemstones. This icon has been painted on three planks of knotty wood: the planks, I learn, of an ammunition box recovered from the devastated Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Out of Bucha’s mass graves, in the wake of terrifying Russian atrocities against civilians, something new has come to Saint Sophia: an image of mourning and resolve, of horror and courage, of a culture that will not give up.

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Posted in Art, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(NPR) A self-serve grocery store helps feed a small Minnesota town

When Alex and Caileen Ostenson moved from the Twin Cities to Evansville, Minn., five years ago to be closer to family, the local grocery store had recently closed after more than seven decades in business.

The nearest town with a supermarket is 20 miles away.

So in early 2020, the couple started brainstorming ideas that would allow them to operate a store in the town of 600 about two hours northwest of Minneapolis.

“We had just been hearing a lot from people, ‘It would be nice if we had a grocery store back in town. That’s something we really miss,’ ” recalled Caileen. “That is a staple. It’s a cornerstone part of a community.”

So, with help from local donations, the couple remodeled a main street storefront into a self-serve grocery store.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Rural/Town Life

(WSJ) Europeans Are Working Even Less, and Not by Choice

European workers have put in fewer hours than Americans for decades. Now, they are working even less than before the pandemic—almost one day a week less than Americans in 2021, according to data for the five biggest European Union economies.

Since the start of the pandemic, Americans have increased their working hours by about 1%, on average, while Europeans have trimmed theirs by around 2%, according to data about the five large EU economies from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

That is partly because many European companies tried to avoid pandemic-related layoffs by reducing workers’ hours. Nearly two million Europeans still are in Covid-19 furlough programs, with governments, for now, covering a portion of their lost pay. The U.S. economy recovered more quickly, and many American workers who kept their jobs or found new ones have continued to work the same or longer hours.

Europe has long had a reputation in the U.S. for less demanding work hours and more generous vacation practices, which many Americans attributed to a different approach to work-life balance. The pandemic labor picture shows that the differences aren’t strictly voluntary.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NPR) No retreat in the summer heat. Prices likely topped 40 year high last month

Sariah Masterson had big plans this summer for a camping vacation at Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. But the five-hour road trip seemed like a budget-buster once the price of gasoline hit $5 a gallon last month. Masterson and her family opted for a backyard campout at their home in Provo instead.

“I used that money to buy a couple of extra cots and we camped in the back with our kids,” she says. “The youngest is two. He woke up in the middle of the night and then we all went back inside.”

The high price of gasoline and other goods is interrupting the dreams of a lot of Americans this summer.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Personal Finance & Investing

(ABC) Charleston SC again named top city in U.S. through 2022 Travel+Leisure survey

The Holy City is once again topping a travel list.

On Tuesday, Travel + Leisure announced that Charleston had taken the top spot on its “Top U.S. Cities” list as part of its World’s Best Awards 2022.

According to Holy City Sinner, this is the 10th consecutive year Charleston has been listed as number one.

“There’s a reason people keep going back to Charleston: the city expresses the perfect balance of Southern charm, knockout food and drinks, and walkability. Many readers also found the city’s history to be a draw. Others appreciated the simple pleasures of strolling the side streets of downtown,” the publication wrote of The Holy City.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Travel

C of E General Synod debates what justice might look like in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was lamented by the General Synod on Monday, after a debate that focused on the importance of justice, negotiation, and peace-making.

Several amendments were made to the motion, which had been introduced by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, on Friday afternoon. One proposed amendment — to change the call for a “negotiated peace” to a “just peace” — was rejected by a margin of ten votes.

The debate began on Friday, but was adjourned owing to the delay caused by a climate protest by the Christian arm of Extinction Rebellion (News, 8 July). It resumed on Monday morning.

On Friday, Bishop Baines said that, although there might be disagreement “about the specificity of particular policies”, this “shouldn’t dissuade us” from contributing to discussions around the war.

He referred to media comments about a discussion paper that accompanied the motion when it was published two weeks ago, and told the Synod that “contrary to what you may have read in the press recently, this paper does not articulate a fixed position”, but rather attempts to outline debates “from first principles”

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Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

‘I urge Anglicans to pray for peace in Sri Lanka’ – Archbishop Welby’s message to Church of Ceylon

As this crisis worsens, I call on the Anglican Communion to pray fervently for peace and for all the people of Sri Lanka. It is only a few years since the end of a catastrophic civil war; this crisis is a reminder that reconciliation is indispensable for future stability. Reconciliation involves justice in the economy as well as healing of memories. May God bring

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Sri Lanka, Violence

(BBC) Sri Lanka: President Rajapaksa to resign after palace stormed

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced he will step down after protesters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire.

Neither the PM nor the president were in the buildings.

Hundreds of thousands descended on the capital Colombo, calling for Mr Rajapaksa to resign after months of protests over economic mismanagement.

Mr Rajapaksa will step down on 13 July. PM Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign.

Parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said the president decided to step down “to ensure a peaceful handover of power”.

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Posted in Asia, Politics in General, Sri Lanka, Violence

(Bloomberg) David Fickling And Ruth Pollard–When the Weather Gets Hot Enough To Kill

On an April day in 1905, the scientist J.S. Haldane descended hundreds of feet into a Cornish tin mine to find out if he could cook himself to death.

Amateur researchers had long known that humans have an extraordinary ability to withstand dry heat. One 18th century experimenter found he could tolerate temperatures up to 115 degrees Celsius (240 Fahrenheit), hot enough to cook steaks. But the moist, saturated air in the Dolcoath mine, dug through hot rock deep below the water table, seemed to change things. Though the temperature never climbed above 31.5C, Haldane’s body temperature and pulse rose with each minute, hitting feverish levels before he ascended after three hours. “It becomes impracticable for ordinary persons to stay for long periods” when the humid temperature rises above 31C, he wrote.

That finding hasn’t significantly changed over the years since — but our atmosphere has. As the climate warms, conditions once experienced only in saunas and deep mineshafts are rapidly becoming the open-air reality for hundreds of millions of people, who have no escape to air conditioning or cooler climes. After a few hours with humid heat above 35C — a measure known as the wet-bulb temperature — even healthy people with unlimited shade and water will die of heatstroke. For those carrying out physical labor, the threshold is closer to Haldane’s 31C, or even lower.

Brajabandhu Sahu knows the physical signs all too well. A street vendor selling foods like dosa, idli and uttapam on the corner of two busy roads in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, he’s surrounded at times by what feels like a wall of fire from which he cannot escape. When the day is at its hottest, his head spins, his heart races, his skin blisters and the waves of nausea are constant. The moisture-laden winds that blow in from the Bay of Bengal put citizens in this region at particular risk.

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

(NYT front page) In Oil Country, Fears of a Shift To Clean Power

Every five years, this city of 7,000 hosts a rollicking, Old West-themed festival known as Oildorado. High schoolers decorate parade floats with derricks and pump jacks. Young women vie for the crown in a “Maids of Petroleum” beauty pageant. It’s a celebration of an industry that has sustained the local economy for the past century.

This is oil country, in a state that leads the country in environmental regulation. With wildfires and drought ravaging California, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to end oil drilling in the state by 2045. That has provoked angst and fierce resistance here in Kern County, where oil and gas tax revenues help to pay for everything from elementary schools to firefighters to mosquito control.

“Nowhere else in California is tied to oil and gas the way we are, and we can’t replace what that brings overnight,” said Ryan Alsop, chief administrative officer in Kern County, a region north of Los Angeles. “It’s not just tens of thousands of jobs. It’s also hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that we rely on to fund our schools, parks, libraries, public safety, public health.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Keep up momentum on highlighting abuses of freedom of religion and belief, bishop Philip Mounstephen urges

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, told a global summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) hosted by the UK Government, that there had been some good progress in some areas made since the publication of the review in 2019, but ‘much’ still needed to be done.

“The challenge going forward is to keep up the corporate momentum that has developed around this issue because this is a really, really significant global issue,” he told a panel session of the Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today.

“We must not let it sink back into the place that it was before, largely ignored and overlooked.”

Asked what his advice would be to Parliamentarians, Bishop Philip said: “My key message to Parliamentarians would be: understand what the main drivers behind freedom of religion or belief abuses are – we are looking at totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism – these are really serious issues that must be addressed. So please Parliamentarians, make this a bipartisan issue, espouse it across the political spectrum.”

In his remarks during the panel session Bishop Philip welcomed the creation of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Public Forum made since the publication of the 2019 report.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Local Paper) South Carolina automakers can’t meet demand as supply chain woes hamper production

South Carolina’s automakers are building cars as fast as possible, but computer chip shortages and other supply chain issues have limited the number of vehicles making their way to U.S. dealerships and, ultimately, buyers’ driveways.

Volvo Cars, which builds the S60 sedan at its $1.2 billion manufacturing campus in Ridgeville, said it sold 8,434 cars to U.S. customers in June — a 31.2 percent decline in sales from last year. Sales are down 20.7 percent during the first half of 2022.

“Demand for our cars remains strong but inventory challenges continue,” Anders Gustafsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars USA, said in a written statement.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life

(Economist) Who’s afraid of TikTok? The world’s most exciting app is also its most mistrusted

With its wholesome dancing and lip-syncing videos, TikTok once billed itself as “the last sunny corner on the internet”. Since launching just five years ago the app has brought a warm glow to its 1bn-plus users, as well as an icy dash of competition to the social-media incumbents of Silicon Valley. With its rise, a part of the tech industry that had seemed closed to competition has been cracked wide open.

Yet even as TikTok delights consumers and advertisers, others believe the sunny app has a dark side. ByteDance, its owner, has its headquarters in China, whose government is addicted to surveillance and propaganda—making it a worrying place for a media app to be based. As TikTok’s clout grows and as elections loom in America, there is a brewing bipartisan storm in Congress over its supposed role as a “Trojan horse”.

The hype about TikTok is justified—and so are the concerns. The app has transformed competition in social media. Yet unchecked, it presents a security risk to the Chinese Communist Party’s enemies. Finding a way for TikTok to operate safely in the West is a test of whether global business and the global internet can remain intact as us-China relations deteriorate.

Beneath TikTok’s simple interface lies fearsomely advanced artificial intelligence (ai). Its knack for learning what people like helped TikTok sign up its first 1bn users in half the time it took Facebook. In America the average user spends 50% longer on the app each day than the typical user spends on Instagram. TikTok’s revenues are expected to reach $12bn this year and $23bn in 2024, drawing level with YouTube’s. Young creators are flocking to the app—along with some older ones. This week The Economist joined TikTok (no dancing, we promise).

The effect on competition has been dramatic. In 2020 American trustbusters sued Facebook, now known as Meta, for its alleged dominance of social media. Today such worries look eccentric; Meta has been particularly hard-hit as tech stocks have taken a beating, and the firm is re-engineering its products to mimic TikTok. America often accuses China of copycat capitalism. Now the boot is on the other foot.

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Troubling Signals, Yet Still Cleared to Buy Guns

The suspect in the shooting, Robert E. Crimo III, 21, had drawn police attention more than once, and despite warnings about his troubling behavior, had gotten a firearm license and bought several guns.

How a young man who had sent troubling signals managed to end up with a semiautomatic rifle in Illinois is a question that is haunting not only the survivors of Monday’s deadly massacre in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. It is also a question of federal importance, coming just days after President Biden signed into law the most significant gun legislation passed in decades.

As details of Mr. Crimo’s past continued to emerge, and as a judge ordered him held without bail on murder charges on Wednesday, it remained unclear whether the horrific episode revealed weaknesses in state restrictions on guns, or in the limits of even potent safeguards in a system that ultimately relies on the judgments of people — the authorities, families, observers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, State Government, Violence

Protecting freedom of religion or belief protects everyone, Archbishop Welby tells governments

Thanking the UK Government for hosting the meeting, he told delegates: “Freedom of Religion or Belief matters because, when people are free to worship and express themselves, faiths work with others to bring flourishing: they answer the needs of development and reconciliation bring grassroots community transformations that are the golden hope of the soft power of diplomats and development NGOs.”

He highlighted how religious repression can often be linked with wider restrictions in societies.

“We know that, when freedoms of expression and worship are restricted, other freedoms and opportunities are limited too,” he said. “Women, minorities, many other people miss out.”

The Archbishop also cautioned against marginalising freedom of religion. “When national leaders pursue freedom of religion and belief, they have an opportunity to bring a wealth of wisdom around the table, harnessed to the common good,” he said.

Noting that religious communities can themselves be agents of repression and violence, he went on to say that billions have the kind of faith that “inspires people to care for their neighbour, to motivate work for education in schools, or in healthcare”.

He told the summit: “Leadership is never easy. If you don’t offer people freedom, safety and opportunity, or if you only offer this to some people and not to others, you are not really leading – and your people will not want to follow.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(BBC) China: MI5 and FBI heads warn of ‘immense’ threat

The heads of UK and US security services have made an unprecedented joint appearance to warn of the threat from China.

FBI director Christopher Wray said China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security” and had interfered in politics, including recent elections.

MI5 head Ken McCallum said his service had more than doubled its work against Chinese activity in the last three years and would be doubling it again.

MI5 is now running seven times as many investigations related to activities of the Chinese Communist Party compared to 2018, he added.

The FBI’s Wray warned that if China was to forcibly take Taiwan it would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen”.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(PD) Nicole Stelle Garnett–Another Chink in the Armor of Legal Discrimination against Religious Schools

Fortunately, in Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court ruled that faith-based schools cannot be asked to shed their religious identity in order to participate in school-choice programs. As the majority opinion makes clear, Maine’s exclusion of faith-based schools from its tuition assistance program is neither constitutionally required nor constitutionally permissible.

Of course, before the twenty-first century, the state might have been forgiven for making an honest mistake. The Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause doctrine has been all over the map in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1980, many decisions seemed to prohibit students from using public funds to attend religious schools. Speaking of maps, for example, in Meek v. Pittenger (1975) and Wolman v. Walters (1977), the Court held that the Establishment Clause permitted states to provide secular textbooks, but not instructional materials such as maps, to faith-based schools. Seriously.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause doctrine has taken a decidedly pro-religion turn in the past few decades. In decision after decision leading up to Carson, the Court has reiterated that the Constitution demands neutrality and prohibits hostility toward religious institutions and believers. Importantly, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the Court held that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit faith-based schools from participating in publicly funded private-school-choice programs.

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Posted in Education, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, State Government, Supreme Court

([London] Times) Right to freedom of religion must be upheld, prince tells hundreds of faith leaders from around the world

The world stands at a “crossroads between totalitarian and liberal societies”, Prince Charles has said, declaring that freedom of religion is a right that must be “embedded” in all areas of life including on social media.

The Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the foreign secretary were among dignitaries to address the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today, which gathered more than 500 ministers and faith leaders from 60 countries.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, said that President Putin believed Russia was “waging a holy war” in Ukraine. However, “innocent civilians are having to shelter from Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment in places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques have been reduced to rubble. Religion is proving to be collateral damage from Putin’s aggression.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said that world leaders must “hold religious leaders to account for what they do with respect to protecting the freedoms of their and other communities”, adding: “Leadership is a hard task. If you don’t offer people freedom, safety and opportunity, or if you only offer this to some people and not to others, you are not really leading.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Church Times) Foreign Secretary Liz Truss backs drive for Foreign Office to take religious persecution more seriously

The Government’s support for persecuted believers is improving, an independent review has concluded.

Five public-law academics undertook to review the implementation of recommendations contained in the report on the persecution of Christians and others around the world produced in 2019 by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen.

In a statement on Monday, the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said: “We welcome and accept this expert review on progress and . . . accept their assessment for the need to continue to work to promote and strengthen Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) as a fundamental human right for all.

“Our work on this important human rights issue will never be complete, and we will continue to champion global efforts on FoRB,” she added.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Economist) Brad DeLong asks what America can learn from its past bouts of inflation

But there are two risks of a hard landing. One thing to fear is that the inflation episode today is like that of 1920. Back then the problem would have passed on its own, but the Fed tightened too much in response. There are no indications of overtightening yet, but then there wouldn’t be: the effects of the roughly two-percentage-point rise in both nominal and inflation-indexed ten-year Treasury rates since December 2021 will not begin to show in the real economic data until 2023.

The second risk is that this is indeed like the 1970s, and so it is imperative to scotch any expectations of an inflationary spiral before they are even formed. Turn on the news, and there is constant chatter that likens our situation to that of the 1970s, with suggestions to hedge against inflation.This may reflect the tendency of social and professional media towards clickbait, but it could nonetheless shift expectations. There is little indication so far of such a shift in the prices of long-term bonds. Possibly it is imprudent to place too much weight on this particular harbinger alone.

Most of the time I think it would be great fun to be a member of the fomc. Not today. The risks inherent within our current situation are immense. And misjudgments caused by a failure to listen to the right signals would be devastating.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Federal Reserve, History

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

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

(FT) War costs Russia its influence with Ukraine’s Orthodox believers

The Sunday sermon that Metropolitan Longin, a senior bishop in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, aimed at Moscow’s patriarch Kirill in early June did not hold back.

Previously Longin had prayed at every service for the blessing of Kirill — the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, his own church’s spiritual parent.

But now Longin lambasted Kirill for “the people dying and the blood being spilled, for bombing our monasteries and churches [and] for the blessing you have given the bloodshed” in a speech condemning the Russian churchman’s support for president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“You will answer to the Lord God for every mother’s tear and freshly dug grave,” Longin said. “You have wounded the entire Ukrainian Orthodox world and brought us pain. Don’t try to justify it.”

The broadside at Kirill shows the upheaval in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one of the country’s largest religious organisations and — before the war — a Russian cultural bastion. Now the church’s largely Russian-speaking priests and parishioners are rejecting Russia, demonstrating how a new Ukrainian identity is taking root even among people Moscow claims are part of a “brother nation”.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) MPs hear horror stories as the UK prepares to host conference on freedom of religion

The plight of Christians, Muslims, and humanists around the world was raised in a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday morning, in advance of an international conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) next week.

The session was opened by the Prime Minister’s special envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Fiona Bruce MP.

“Millions of people today are being denied their FoRB,” Ms Bruce told the gathering of parliamentarians. “FoRB violations are getting worse in severity and scale. Right across the world people are losing their jobs, education, homes, livelihoods, families, freedom, access to justice, even life itself, simply on account of what they believe.”

The international Ministerial Conference on FoRB next week will gather more than 500 politicians, faith leaders, and experts to share best practice on protecting religious freedom and to inspire more action to be taken.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Economist) How to win Ukraine’s long war

On the face of it, a long war suits Russia. Both sides are using huge amounts of ammunition, but Russia has vastly more. The Russian economy is much larger than Ukraine’s and in far better shape. In pursuit of victory, Russia is willing to terrorise and demoralise the Ukrainians by committing war crimes, as it did by striking a shopping mall in Kremenchuk this week. If needs be, Mr Putin will impose grievous suffering on his own people.

However, the long war does not have to be fought on Mr Putin’s terms. Potentially, Ukraine has vast numbers of motivated fighters. It can be supplied by the West’s defence industry. In 2020, before sanctions, the economies of nato were more than ten times bigger than Russia’s.

Ukraine’s turnaround begins on the battlefield, by stopping and reversing the Russian advance. Mr Putin’s generals will continue to have more weapons, but the sophisticated nato systems now arriving have longer range and greater accuracy. By adopting tactics devised in the cold war, when nato too was outnumbered by the Red Army, Ukraine should be able to destroy Russian command posts and supply depots. Ukraine scored a success on June 30th, when it used nato weapons to drive Russian forces off Snake Island, a strategic prize in the Black Sea. It should aim to impose a “hurting stalemate”, in which it takes back similarly symbolically important territory, such as the city of Kherson, imposing a heavy price on Russia.

If Russia starts to lose ground on the battlefield, dissent and infighting may spread in the Kremlin.

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