Category : Economy

(JSTOR Daily) Peter Feuerherd–How Religious Literacy Might Have Changed Waco

The siege had begun on February 28th of that year when, tipped off to an upcoming raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Koresh and his followers killed four government agents who came to investigate alleged firearms violations at their compound. Six Branch Davidians were also killed in that initial gun battle.

While government officials saw the tragedy as inevitable given Koresh’s obstinancy and violent tendencies, a cascade of religious scholars argued that the Waco raid was not completely justified and that, with a little more patience and understanding of biblical theology, the massive loss of life could have been avoided. They note that Koresh had been in touch with two scholars who challenged his teachings. When the final raid took place, Koresh was writing an interpretation of the Book of Revelation in response to that critique. A little more time, religion scholars argued, and Koresh and his followers might have left the compound peaceably. They say he needed time to finish his manifesto.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Violence

(Bloomberg) Boko Haram Conflict Cuts Nigeria Wheat Crop as Farmers Flee

Wheat growers in Nigeria’s northeast have abandoned their farms under the onslaught of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, a setback for the country’s efforts to cut imports by boosting local production, a research agency said.

“Wheat production in the zone has declined to just 20 percent of what it used to be due to insurgency,” Oluwashina Olabanji, executive director of the Lake Chad Research Institute, said in an interview in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Borno, which used to account for about a quarter of Nigeria’s production, currently grows no wheat, he said.

Nigeria produced an average of 80,000 metric tons of wheat a year for decades until the introduction of a new variety in the 2012-13 season that tripled the average yield to as much as 6 tons per hectare (2.47 acres), increasing output to 400,000 tons in 2015-16 as more areas were cultivated, according to the institute. This compares with the output of 3.3 million tons during the same period by Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest producer.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Nigeria, Terrorism

Jerri Savuto–Easter Memories: Escaping the Commercial Trap

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Easter, Theology

(Economist) America has a retirement problem, not a saving problem: Policymakers need to learn the difference

[Political leaders]…continue to ignore the savings crisis that should worry them: Many Americans do not have enough savings ever to be able to retire. Traditional macroeconomics cares only about aggregate levels of capital stock. There is plenty of that. But it is shared among too few people. The median family of retirement age has $12,000 in savings. That is a terrifying figure for a country where Social Security, the state pension, pays out a maximum of roughly $2,500 a month, and pensions for both public and private employees are underfunded.

For the median, wage-earning family, the best way to encourage saving is not to lower capital gains taxes or estate taxes, but to give the family access to a retirement plan that delays taxation until retirement. (In his textbook, Mr Mankiw encourages these plans, but only as another way to increase capital investment.) For those who put money into one, median accounts at retirement age rise to about $100,000—still inadequate for a lengthy retirement, but a significant improvement. About 70 percent of Americans have access to these plans through their employers. But just over half use one.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy

(Local Paper Front Page) Some bet on casinos to fix South Carolina’s crumbling infrastructure

With the chances of a gas-tax increase to pay for road repairs dwindling, advocates of bringing casinos to South Carolina think they have found a winning hand.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster declared last week that he would veto raising the state fuel tax for the first time in 30 years to fix crumbling roads and bridges. He favors a plan to borrow $1 billion, which would cover a small portion of the state’s repair tab and comes a year after lawmakers already agreed to borrow $2 billion for roads.

But there’s another roads-funding plan, one favored by a majority of South Carolinians, that’s on the table.

Casinos in the Myrtle Beach area and along the borders of North Carolina and Georgia could have South Carolina cashing in a potential $500 million a year while not raising gas pump prices or adding to the state debt load, legalized gambling backers say.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Gambling, State Government, Taxes, Travel

Easter egg row: Church of England accuses National Trust of ‘airbrushing’ religion out of children’s egg hunt

It was also met with anger by the Archbishop of York, who said the decision to remove the word Easter from the egg hunt logo was tantamount to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, the chocolate firm’s original founder.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “The Cadburys were Great Quaker industrialists. If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output.

“He built houses for all his workers, he built a Church, he made provision for schools. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin. To drop Easter from Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury.”

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Easter, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Restaurant workers in Denver are asking: Why work in a stressful kitchen when you can make $22 an hour in a Pot greenhouse?

It’s hard to think of an American city that isn’t experiencing a restaurant boom these days. Put Denver at the top of that list: By some accounts, 30 spots will have opened this spring, including the new Departure Denver, a popular Asian small-plates spot recently transplanted from Portland, Ore., and an outpost of the beloved New York bar, Death & Company on the way.

However, the city is facing a major problem as a result of one of its biggest recent tourism drivers. The pot industry is taking a toll on local restaurant work forces and in some cases, liquor sales. “No one is talking about it,” said Bobby Stuckey, the James Beard award winning co-owner of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and the soon-to-open Tavernetta in Denver. “But Colorado’s restaurant labor market is in Defcon 5 right now, because of weed facilities.”

Read it all from Bloomberg.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Globe+Mail) Michael Devillaer: Pot legalization: Canada doesn’t need another profit-seeking drug industry

First, the research is clear that the great majority of current drug-related harm and economic costs arise not from the misuse of illegal drugs but from legal, regulated drugs: tobacco and alcohol. The extent of harm and costs is enormous, and continues year after year.

The epidemic of opioid deaths that has been sweeping across North America had its genesis in the conduct of the legal pharmaceutical drug industry.

Second, we have a history of pan-industry failure to balance revenue interests with the protection of public health. Industries protect their revenue by disregarding existing regulations and opposing the introduction of new evidence-based reforms. They also have a history of breaking the law to maximize revenues.

Third, government has been reluctant to adopt evidence-based regulatory reforms, and the effectiveness of existing regulations is often compromised by permissive enforcement. Rarely-assessed penalties are typically insufficient to discourage recidivism. In sum, drug industry regulation is not simply less than perfect, it is seriously less than adequate, and contributes to the perennial high levels of harm from drug products.

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Posted in Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Do not Take yourself too Seriously Dept.–Church Hunters Episode I from John Crist and Aaron Chewning

Watch and enjoy the whole thing.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Humor / Trivia, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Companies doing Good(II): Google equips buses with wifi and offers computers to South Carolina students who have a long ride daily

Eighth-grader Lakaysha Governor spends two hours on the bus getting back and forth to school each day. Thanks to a grant from Google, she can now use that time more productively and get her homework done.

The aspiring forensic anthropologist is one of nearly 2,000 students in rural Berkeley County who will ride to school on one of 28, Google-funded, Wi-Fi-equipped school buses unveiled Monday.

The technology giant also has given the school district 1,700 Chromebooks, the stripped-down laptops on which many schoolchildren now do their class and homework.

As more class assignments and homework migrate online, such long bus rides have generally counted as lost time in preparing for the next school day. But Google said it hopes to help expand the use of Wi-Fi on school buses in other rural areas elsewhere around the country.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Education, Science & Technology

Companies doing Good(I): Chevron Helps Father Preserve His Son’s Memory

When Chevron needed to fix up a property, it sought out the anonymous caretaker of a memorial that lie along the property’s fence, and helped that man make it a more permanent fixture.

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Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family

(Economist Erasmus Blog) European Court of Justice rules Employers may sometimes ban staff from wearing headscarves

The ECJ judges were looking into the cases of a Belgian woman who was fired from her job as a receptionist at a security company after she started wearing a headscarf, and of a French IT consultant who was told to remove her scarf after a client complained, and then dismissed when she declined.

In both cases, the ECJ suggested that national courts needed to investigate further to establish whether the women had been discriminated against. In the Belgian case, the court recommended working out if there might have been a simpler solution such as transferring the employee to a role where she was not in contact with the public. Regarding the French consultant, it considered it necessary to establish whether the disciplinary action was purely a response to the client’s whim (which appeared to be the case and would be insufficient grounds for a dismissal) or a legitimate consequence of a broader policy. Taken as a whole, today’s decision upheld the right of employers to enforce ideological neutrality in the workplace as long as it was done fairly and consistently.

This marks a contrast with the thinking of America’s Supreme Court, which in 2015 vindicated a Muslim woman who had been turned down for a job by the clothing chain Abercrombie and Fitch on the grounds that her headscarf was out of step with the look the company was promoting. Since 1964, American civil-rights legislation has told employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” of their workers’ religious needs, unless it would be unbearably burdensome to do so. Today’s decision also reflected a more secularist spirit than did one by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, which upheld the right of a Christian woman to wear a discreet cross with her British Airways uniform.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(AP) Besieged by Opioids, City of Everett Wash. says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle.

Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse — and expects the tab to rise.

So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. Everett alleges the drugmaker did nothing to stop it and must pay for damages caused to the community.

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Posted in City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Health & Medicine

(CBS) Why men are having problems getting married

If it’s universally acknowledged that a single man with a good fortune needs a wife, the American economy may be now illustrating the inverse of that corollary: Poor men with dwindling job prospects are going to lack marriage prospects.

The decline of the institution of marriage has been studied by social scientists and policymakers, but new economic research from MIT economics professor David Autor and his colleagues points to labor issues that helped Donald Trump win the presidential election: The decline of American manufacturing and the rise of Chinese imports.

As manufacturing jobs dried up over the last few decades, blue-collar men have suffered from lower income, fewer job opportunities and the increased likelihood of risky behavior, which in turn has hurt their marriage prospects, Autor and his co-authors wrote in a paper published at the National Bureau of Economic research.

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Posted in Economy, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Men