Daily Archives: August 6, 2014

Charleston, South Carolina, wins for friendliest U.S. city for 2014 acc. to Conde Nast

Southern hospitality lives on. Eight of the 10 friendliest cities in the USA are in the South, according to a new survey by Conde Nast Traveler.

Charleston, S.C., was named the friendliest city and recognized for its culture, history, natural beauty, and food scene, the magazine said in its 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards. Charleston earned top honors last year as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ Digits) Tech Experts See Good and Bad Sides of Robots

Will robots ease our toil or become a tool for automation and oppression? People who care about technology seem sharply divided, and passionate, about the topic.

The Pew Research Center asked 1,900 technology experts if robots will help or hurt the workforce over the next 10 years. Nearly half (48%) envision a future in which robots displace significant numbers of workers. The remaining 52% say automation will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025.

But the numbers were just the starting point for some heated opinions.

“We, as a society, have a lot of decisions to make,” said study co-author Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet Project. “There’s going to be a lot of debate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

(Daily Independent) Anglican Archbp Okoh Urges Wariness of Clergy Claiming to Have Cure for Ebola

The Primate of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, on Tuesday, advised Nigerians to be wary of clerics claiming to have spiritual healing for the deadly Ebola virus.

Okoh said this in Abuja on the sideline of the 2014 Conference of Chancellors, Registrars, and Legal Officers of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

The primate advised persons infected with the virus not to waste time in seeking medical attention from…[in]appropriate authorities.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(N Yorker) Yazidi Families Fleeing the Horror of Isis "They didn’t know how to leave"

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America””photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity””in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash, and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety.

By 9:30 A.M., Karim and his extended family were crowded into his Toyota Camry, his brother’s car, and his father’s pickup truck. They’d had no time to pack, and for the drive through the heat of the desert they took nothing but water, bread, canned milk for Karim’s two-year-old son, and their AK-47s. At first, Karim’s father refused to go along. A stubborn man, he said, “Let them kill me in my town, but I will never leave it.” Fortunately, the father’s paralyzed cousin, who had been left behind by his family, pleaded with him, and at the last minute the two old men joined the exodus. Karim’s twenty or so family members were the last to get out of the area by car, and they joined a massive traffic jam headed northwest. Thousands of other Yazidi families had to flee on foot into the mountains: “They couldn’t leave. They didn’t know how to leave. They waited too long to leave,” Karim said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Summit to discuss Ebola emergency starts

Global health experts at the World Health Organization are meeting to discuss new measures to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The meeting – being held in Geneva, Switzerland – is expected to last two days and will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

That could involve imposing travel restrictions on affected areas.

The outbreak began last February and has since spread to four African countries, claiming nearly 900 lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Nigeria, Pastoral Theology, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Theology

(Ec News) Muslim Indonesia tries to halt spread of ISIS teachings in the country

Indonesia has issued a ban on the teachings of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, being propagated online through a YouTube message encouraging locals to sign up with extremist movement.

Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, told journalists Monday that the ban was reached after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in mainly Muslim Indonesia, ucanews reports.

“The ISIS teachings are not a religious issue,” he said. “The government and the State reject and ban ISIS teachings from growing in Indonesia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

(Independent) Church of England embroiled in another alleged child abuse scandal

The Church of England faces fresh scrutiny over its handling of historic child abuse after the outgoing Bishop of Gloucester was placed at the centre of a police inquiry over allegations of indecent assault on a child more than 30 years ago.

The Rt Rev Michael Perham, 66, suddenly quit after nearly a decade as bishop on Friday citing “personal reasons” but it can be revealed that a police inquiry was launched centred on the parish in south London where the senior cleric started his career in the Church as an assistant curate in 1976.

The force confirmed today that officers from its sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command are investigating “allegations of indecent assault on a child said to have occurred between 1980 and 1981”. Nobody has been arrested during the course of the continuing inquiry, the force said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Latest WSJ/NBC Poll Finds Widespread Economic Anxiety among Americans

Still scarred by a recession that ended five years ago, Americans are registering record levels of anxiety about the opportunities available to younger generations and are pessimistic about the nation’s long-term prospects, directing their blame at elected leaders in Washington.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that despite the steady pace of hiring in recent months, 76% of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do””an all-time high. Some 71% of adults think the country is on the wrong track, a leap of 8 points from a June survey, and 60% believe the U.S. is in a state of decline.

What’s more, seven in 10 adults blamed the malaise more on Washington leaders than on any deeper economic trends, and 79% expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the American political system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Sociology, Theology

U.S. Planes Searching for Boko Haram Abductees Spot Girls in Nigeria

Recent U.S. surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria showed what appeared to be large groups of girls held together in remote locations, raising hopes among domestic and foreign officials that they are among the group that Boko Haram abducted from a boarding school in April, U.S. and Nigerian officials said.

The surveillance suggests that at least some of the 219 schoolgirls still held captive haven’t been forced into marriage or sex slavery, as had been feared, but instead are being used as bargaining chips for the release of prisoners.

The U.S. aerial imagery matches what Nigerian officials say they hear from northern Nigerians who have interacted with the Islamist insurgency: that some of Boko Haram’s most famous set of captives are getting special treatment, compared with the hundreds of other girls the group is suspected to have kidnapped. Boko Haram appears to have seen the schoolgirls as of higher value, given the global attention paid to their plight, those officials said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

1000s of minority Iraqis stranded on mountaintop and beginning to die of Thirst

Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.

Humanitarian agencies said Tuesday that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar two days earlier. But the mountain that had looked like a refuge is becoming a graveyard for their children.

Unable to dig deep into the rocky mountainside, displaced families said they have buried young and elderly victims of the harsh conditions in shallow graves, their bodies covered with stones. Iraqi government planes attempted to airdrop bottled water to the mountain on Monday night but reached few of those marooned.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Violence

(Achbp Cranmer) Canon Andrew White: "The governments and media of the world may have forgotten us.."

This is an encouraging epistle, the most notable sentence being the final one. But the media have not entirely forgotten: the Christian media are well informed. And even if Channel 4 News is consumed by Gaza and busy lauding the bravery of Baroness Warsi, the BBC is slowly waking up to the horrors being inflicted upon Christians by the self-styled Islamic State.

But we must remember that these Salafist extremists neither represent nor speak for all Sunni Muslims. As Canon White explains elsewhere, there are voices being raised against them….

And it must be observed that the Islamic State is not only persecuting Christians, but also Shia, Turkmen, Shabaks, Yazidis and others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast of the Transfiguration

O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord and heavenly Father, we commend to Thy care and protection the men and women of this land who are suffering distress and anxiety through lack of work. Strengthen and support them, we beseech Thee; and so prosper the counsels of those who govern and direct our industries, that Thy people may be set free from want and fear to work in peace and security, for the relief of their necessities and the wellbeing of this nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ”˜After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ”˜He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

–John 1:29-42

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Russian Gang Amasses Over a stolen Billion Internet Passwords

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

The records, discovered by Hold Security, a firm in Milwaukee, include confidential material gathered from 420,000 websites, ranging from household names to small Internet sites. Hold Security has a history of uncovering significant hacks, including the theft last year of tens of millions of records from Adobe Systems.

Hold Security would not name the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable. At the request of The New York Times, a security expert not affiliated with Hold Security analyzed the database of stolen credentials and confirmed it was authentic. Another computer crime expert who had reviewed the data, but was not allowed to discuss it publicly, said some big companies were aware that their records were among the stolen information.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Russia, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ Digits) Many Countries have made computer programming mandatory for K-12 but the US is trailing

Starting this September, every single K-12 student in Great Britain will start taking classes in computer programming. That is, kids at the age of five will take programming, and they won’t stop until they’re 16 at least. A majority of these children will be using the free online learning platform Codecademy, says co-founder Zach Sims. Ditto France, Estonia and Buenos Aires.

In China, Codecademy, which has programming lessons contributed by more than 100,000 people from around the world, has been cloned multiple times.

Meanwhile in the U.S., where education is controlled by the states, fewer than 20 even recognize computer science as a science; the rest consider it an elective.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology

(Bks and Cul.) Naomi Haynes reviews Matthew Engelke new book God's Agents

Christianity turns on a number of paradoxes. The Christian God is both imminent and transcendent; Jesus Christ is both human and divine; his Kingdom both has and has not yet arrived. These various internal tensions have proven immensely productive for anthropologists, and here Matthew Engelke is no exception. Engelke’s first monograph, A Problem of Presence, examined how Apostolic Christians in Zimbabwe navigate the simultaneous proximity and distance of God by seeking direct experiences of the Holy Spirit, so much so that they reject all forms of mediation, including the biblical text. Engelke’s new book, God’s Agents, explores a very different group of Christians (with, it must be said, a very different relationship to Scripture), the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Engelke has already established himself as a skilful ethnographic writer, and in God’s Agents he is in fine form. It is not easy to create compelling descriptions of the mundane workings of a nonprofit organization, but in this book even board meetings and the drafting of press releases are made to matter because Engelke has situated them in a game with stakes we’ve come to appreciate. In addition to ethnographic description and the firsthand narrations of his informants (as anthropologists call the people they study), the text is dotted with quotations from newspaper articles and blogs, as well as the words of Christian writers who have influenced the Bible society staff. These voices give the book a texture that extends the analysis beyond a particular Christian organization to contemporary Britain more generally. One of the primary implications of this wider focus is that God’s Agents is very much an ethnography of secularism. What we learn from Engelke’s analysis is that the secular is multifaceted, and that the Bible society has a long and complicated relationship with it.

Engelke focuses on the work of the Bible society at home in Britain, much of which amounts to “Bible advocacy,” attempts to convince an increasingly indifferent public that the Bible, and Christianity more generally, have not become irrelevant.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, England / UK, Religion & Culture