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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.
The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.
Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Africa Guinea Liberia Sierra Leone
Colorado health authorities suggested banning many forms of edible marijuana, including brownies and cookies, then whipsawed away from the suggestion Monday after it went public.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told state pot regulators they should limit edible pot on shelves to hard lozenges and tinctures, which are a form of liquid pot that can be added to foods and drinks.
The suggestion sparked marijuana industry outrage and legal concerns from a regulatory workgroup that met Monday to review the agency's suggestion. Colorado's 2012 marijuana-legalization measure says retail pot is legal in all forms.
"If the horse wasn't already out of the barn, I think that would be a nice proposal for us to put on the table," said Karin McGowan, the department's deputy executive director.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Dieting/Food/Nutrition Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In addition to many drug candidates, there are vaccines in development. In early September, the National Institutes of Health began testing a vaccine, made by a division of GlaxoSmithKline and based on an adenovirus, on twenty volunteers. Another vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics, started human trials last week. It seems possible that some time next year a vaccine may be available for use on people who have already been exposed to Ebola, though it will still not be cleared for general use. If a vaccine is safe and shows effectiveness against Ebola, and if it can be transported in the tropical climate without breaking down, then vaccinations against Ebola could someday begin.
If a vaccine works, then the vaccinators might conceivably set up what’s known as ring vaccinations around Ebola hot spots. In this technique, medical workers simply vaccinate everybody in a ring, miles deep, around a focus of a virus. It works like a fire break; it keeps the fire from spreading. Ring vaccination was the key to wiping out the smallpox virus, which was declared eradicated in 1979, but whether the ring technique—provided there was a good vaccine—would work against Ebola nobody can say. In any case, epidemiologists would not give up trying to trace cases in order to break the chains of infection.
In the U.S. and Europe, hospitals have made fatal mistakes in protocol as they engage with Ebola for the first time—errors that no well-trained health worker in Africa would likely make. But they will learn. By now, the warriors against Ebola understand that they face a long struggle against a formidable enemy. Many of their weapons will fail, but some will begin to work. The human species carries certain advantages in this fight and has things going for it that Ebola does not. These include self-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrifice, traits that have served us well during our expansion into our environment. If Ebola can change, we can change, too, and maybe faster than Ebola.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Globalization Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa America/U.S.A.
If the left does own popular culture, it's because they worked hard for it, employing the conservative values of perseverance and creativity. There is a chasm that separates the infrastructure that the left has erected over the last 50 years to celebrate and interpret popular culture and the tiny space that establishment conservatism allocates to popular culture. It is for this reason, more than any claim that American popular culture is irredeemably decadent and leftist, that the right seems lost in the world of movies, music, and bestsellers. Every month, if not every week, important works of popular culture go unnoticed by the right. These are often things that speak to people's souls -- films that wrestle with questions of honor, novels, like Le Guin's about the meaning of sex and politics, music that explores the limits of self-sacrificial love.
And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.
In 1967 a college student named Jann Wenner borrowed $7,500 and founded Rolling Stone magazine because he wanted to cover the music and culture that was providing poetry to his generation. Around the same time a student named Martin Scorsese was graduating from New York University's film school, and a young would-be novelist named Ursula Le Guin was having her first five novels rejected. In other words, these artists, and many others, laid the groundwork for what they would eventually become -- the liberal establishment. They played the long game. This is why if musician Mark Turner had been inspired by Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that imagines a race that can change its gender, there would be an interview in the New York Times, play on the internet, a mention in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, maybe even a spot on Letterman. The structure is in place so that when an artist reinforces dominant liberal values, he or she has an instant pipeline to the people.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Art Books Education Media Music Philosophy Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Federal Reserve policy makers are missing a key element as they assess the health of the labor market: data that includes whether those who are employed are overqualified for their job or would like to work more hours.
As a result, the "significant underutilization of labor resources" that Fed officials highlighted last month as they renewed a pledge to keep interest rates low for a "considerable period" is probably even more severe than currently estimated. And the information gap means policy makers may have more difficulty gauging the right moment to raise rates off zero.
"We have more slack than the official statistics suggest," said Michelle Meyer, a senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York. "Because it's difficult to measure underutilization, there's still a lot of uncertainty as to how much slack remains, which means there's uncertainty as to the appropriate stance of monetary policy."
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Of the many things that are worrying investors around the world, from tumbling oil prices to the spectre of recession and deflation in Europe, one of the most important, and least understood, is China’s debt. For the past few years China has been on a borrowing binge. Its total debt—the sum of government, corporate and household borrowings—has soared by 100% of GDP since 2008, and is now 250% of GDP; a little less than wealthy nations, but far higher than any other emerging market....
Since most financial crashes are preceded by a frantic rise in borrowing—think of Japan in the early 1990s, South Korea and other emerging economies in the late 1990s, and America and Britain in 2008—it seems reasonable to worry that China could be heading for a crash. All the more so because the nominal growth rate, the sum of real output and inflation, has tumbled, from an average of 15% a year in the 2000s to 8.5% now, and looks likely to fall further as inflation hit a five-year low of 1.6% in September. Slower nominal growth constrains the ability of debtors to pay their bills, making a debt crisis more likely.
Reasonable, but wrong. China has a big debt problem. But it is unlikely to cause a sudden crisis or blow up the world economy. That is because China, unlike most other countries, controls its banks and has the means to bail them out. Instead, the biggest risk is complacency: that China’s officials do too little to clean up the financial system, weighing down its economy for years with zombie firms and unpayable loans.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
VALENTE: Transgender isn’t the same as being homosexual or merely cross-dressing. It’s a far more complex phenomenon known clinically as “gender dysphoria,” a severe discontent with one’s assigned sex. Transgender people often take hormones and have surgery to become more like the opposite sex. A little over a year ago, Becker began injecting testosterone. He had his breasts surgically removed.
transgenders-and-theology-post01BECKER: My only regret is throughout this entire process is not starting it sooner.
VALENTE: Emboldened by the new Amazon Online series "Transparent" and "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, which features a transgender actress, transgender individuals are increasingly speaking out about their needs and their lives. An Episcopal priest recently came out as transgender, and a community of Carmelite nuns in Canada just accepted a novice with both male and female physical characteristics. The novice, Tia Michelle Pesando, has written a book called Why God Doesn’t Hate You.
OWEN DANIEL-MCCARTER (Transgender Activist, Chicago House): Even in the past 14 years, it is an incredible change in the visibility of transgender people in the media, the number of transgender activist organizations, people who are trying to change the law, and the medical system for trans people. It’s remarkable.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary England / UK
It has been revealed that the Anglican Development Fund (Bathurst Diocese) owes approximately $39.3 million to its creditors.
Joint and several receivers and managers of the Anglican Development Fund (Bathurst Diocese), McGrathNicol partners Joseph Hayes and Barry Kogan, have taken some of the assets of the Anglican Development Fund and made initial payments to creditors.
A spokesperson for McGrathNicol said that as a result of further recoveries, notice of intention to declare a second distribution was advertised on October 8.
He said the Anglican Development Fund acted primarily as a financial intermediary.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
the Pentagon announced Sunday it is putting together a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby to assemble the team, which was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.
The team will consist of 20 critical-care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious-disease protocols.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.
You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.
But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
If you thought Nigeria had the release of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls sealed up in Friday’s ceasefire agreement with Danladi Ahmadu, Boko Haram’s self-styled secretary-general, President Goodluck Jonathan has thrown another twist into the whole matter.
In a message to Nigeria’s intending Christian Pilgrims, he urged them to pray not just for a peaceful, successful conduct of the 2015 election, but also the safe return of the abducted Chibok girls.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.
There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.
This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq Syria * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Bishop of Truro has called for a 'major cultural change' in British society to recognise the need for justice for all - in particular young carers, those who use food banks and families living in poverty.
The Rt Revd Tim Thornton warned against an 'us and them' approach to social justice, calling instead for a greater sense of the 'glue' in society, or interdependence, that holds together people regardless of economic status.
"Social justice assumes, surely, that there is such a thing called society in which a key value is justice, and implicit in that, is that it is justice for all people in our country," he told a House of Lords debate on social justice.
"I suggest that there is clear evidence that our society is struggling to understand itself as a society today and there is not enough evidence on the value of justice for all people, for all members of our society."
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Even if one ignores some very important issues – such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) – serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.
This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A leading Nigerian evangelical, Samuel Kunhiyop, author of African Christian Ethics,serves as general secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a 5-million-member denomination in Nigeria. ECWA has been doing frontline evangelism in Nigeria since 1954. In recent years, this group has planted hundreds of congregations in Muslim areas of Nigeria. Kunhiyop spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT's senior editor for global journalism.
Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?
It’s even worse. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, over 50 in Kano alone. One church and ministry has been built seven times and destroyed seven times. Another has been built three times and destroyed three times. Pastors have been murdered in their houses. Another was murdered in the church during a prayer service.
The situation is much worse further north in Yobe and Borno states, the headquarters of Boko Haram. People have fled residences where their forefathers lived for generations. Christians have been the victims.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Pastoral Theology
Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Sudanese Air Force dropped four bombs on an Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) complex in the Nuba Mountains on Friday (Oct. 10), church leaders said.
“The bombs have completely destroyed our church compound in Tabolo,” the Rev. Youhana Yaqoub of the ECS in Al Atmor, near the Tabolo area in South Kordofan state, told Morning Star News. “A family living at the church compound miraculously escaped the attack, although their whole house and property were destroyed.”
Kamal Adam and his family thanked God for their safety as they watched their house burn from the bombing, he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Episcopal Church of the Sudan * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Although Hansard now records the ABC’s response to Lady Howe’s Q4, in view of the nature of the debate and his non-governmental position, such assurances carry different weight from those made by a government minister at the dispatch box and subsequently relied upon under Pepper v Hart.
With regard to the application of the Equality Act, the Archbishop’s specification of “parochial appointments” implicitly acknowledges that the House of Bishops considers other appointments differently, i.e. hospital chaplains. With regard to remarriage after divorce, this dispensation is not strictly within the gift of the bishops, as clergy are provided a “conscience clause” directly through s8(2) Matrimonial Causes Act 1965.
On Monday 20 October, the House of Commons will consider the Motion: “To approve a Church of England Measure relating to women bishops”. Following the expected vote in favour, the Measure will be presented to the monarch for Royal Assent after which it becomes part of the law of the land.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
The leader of the Anglican Church of Hong Kong has issued a statement calling for "dialogue" between pro-democracy protestors and government officials.
Archbishop Paul Kwong issued the statement Tuesday where he said that he was "saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict."
"In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening," stated Kwong.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Experts who study public psychology say the next few weeks will be crucial to containing mounting anxiety. “Officials will have to be very, very careful,” said Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, a nonprofit that studies public health and perceptions of threat. “Once trust starts to erode, the next time they tell you not to worry — you worry.”
The risk of Ebola infection remains vanishingly small in this country. The virus is not airborne, not able to travel in the way that, say, measles or the SARS virus can. Close contact with a patient is required for transmission. Just one death from Ebola has occurred here, and medical care is light-years from that available in West Africa, where more than 4,400 people have died in the latest outbreak.
By contrast, in some years, the flu kills more than 30,000 people in the United States. Yet this causes little anxiety: Millions of people who could benefit from a flu shot do not get one.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Health & Medicine Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable.
The clear religious and ideological aspects of the conflicts have to be tackled ideologically, including through the leadership of those who see the world in religious terms. Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.
It is hard to exaggerate this point, and it is one that was picked up recently by Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff of the British army. We should be quite hesitant about considering this only as a war of self-defence. The justification for our use of military force rests principally in the extreme humanitarian need of the local communities.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Births outside of marriage are increasing most among those without college degrees and in cohabiting couples – as well as for those in their twenties, as Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator correctly note. This trend is driven as much by economic as social change, and so requires economic and well as social solutions.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Church of England is being urged to pray for victims of human trafficking at services this Sunday.
Freedom Sunday, a global day of prayer, action and worship backed by major Christian denominations in Britain, takes place on October 19.
Organisers have produced a set of resources for churches with prayers, Bible studies, reflections, case studies and sermon notes to help mark the day.
In a foreword to the resources, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, warns that human trafficking is a "grave crime" against humanity.
"It is a form of modern day slavery and a profound violation of the intrinsic dignity of human beings," he wrote.
"It is intolerable that millions of fellow human beings should be violated in this way, subjected to inhuman exploitation and deprived of their dignity and rights."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Sexuality * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
At least 17 Ebola cases have been treated outside of West Africa in the current outbreak, including two Dallas hospital workers who have tested positive for Ebola. Most of these involve health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment. Four cases were diagnosed outside of West Africa: A Liberian man who began showing symptoms four days after arriving in Dallas, a Spanish nurse who became ill after treating a missionary in a Madrid hospital and the two Dallas hospital workers who were involved in the treatment of the Liberian man. These cases are compiled from reports by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other official agencies.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Media * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Guinea Liberia Sierra Leone America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Attalaf al Nour, a farmer who lives in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, long enjoyed a simple life that revolved around livestock, crops and trips to the city to sell his grain.
But since July, when Islamic State militants swept into Iraq, his world has been upended by new geographic and political borders that don’t yet appear on any map. They are fracturing Iraq’s fragile cohesion by forcing thousands of families to cross, at their peril, militant checkpoints to reach their markets, schools and jobs.
“Iraq is broken like never before, thanks to Daaesh,” said Mr. Nour, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are all divided and our lives are now upside down.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...this is a classic case of predatory pricing: set your price low enough long enough to do real damage to competitors, and reduce their market share, not just immediately, but in the middle to long term.
Now admittedly some pet targets may not be hurt as badly as hoped. Russia will suffer more of an opportunity loss than an actual cost from the price reduction, since the ruble has fallen significantly against the dollar. The Saudis may hope to partially displace Russia as a supplier of oil to Europe (now roughly 1/3 of the total) but refineries would need to be retooled to refine the Saudi’s light crude, so it isn’t clear whether even what amounts to bargain prices will offset this cost (and readers point out that Russian crude may also produced a better mix of distillates for European use, since they are much heavier users of diesel fuel than the US).
But aside from the not-inconsiderable economic impact, the surprise Saudi step looks to be an even bigger geopolitical winner. The US and Riyadh have been at odds for over a year; the Saudis were particularly unhappy over the US failure to try to topple Assad last summer (you may recall the intensity of the Administration warmongering versus the dubious US interest; even Congress showed an unexpected amount of backbone and made its lack of support for Syrian adventurism clear). The Saudis have also long been less than happy with the US refusal to attack Iran (which is a rare case of the US acting as a responsible hegemon and curbing a putative ally with a bad case of blood lust). That unhappiness has ben compounded by the US now effectively helping the Assad regime and working in as distanced a manner as possible with Iran in targeting ISIS.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Russia Middle East Iran Saudi Arabia Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For the American and British economies it has been a long road out of the woods, but the journey is nearing its end. America’s unemployment rate fell below 6% in September. Britain’s economy, where output was up 3.2% in the year to June, is growing faster than any other big rich country’s. Central bankers are counting the days until they can raise interest rates.
Virtually everywhere else, however, the news is grim and getting grimmer. The euro zone, the world’s second-biggest economic area, seems to be falling from a feeble recovery back into outright recession as Germany hits the skids. Shockingly weak industrial production and export figures mean Germany’s GDP is likely to shrink for the second consecutive quarter—a popular definition of recession. Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, may also be on the edge of a downturn, because April’s rise in the consumption tax is hurting spending more than expected. Russia’s and Brazil’s economies are stagnant, at best. Even in China, still growing at a suspiciously smooth 7.5% a year, there are worries about a property bust, a credit bubble and a fall in productivity
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They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.
The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.
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Anglican leaders have taken a neutral stance in the street demonstrations shaking Hong Kong. While the city’s churches have been opened to demonstrators for food and shelter, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui has urged its members to obey the law.
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The leader of the Church of England has spoken of his plan for Britain’s “ambitious” young bankers to give up work for a year and join a “quasi-monastic community” so they can learn about ethics ahead of entering the City.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called on some of the UK’s brightest and most ambitious young bankers to quit work temporarily so they can pray and serve the poor.
He said he believed their natural ambition would encourage them to join his Godly community.
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In a state where legal marijuana seemingly is everywhere, Colorado public health officials have taken an unusual approach to warning teenagers about the dangers of the drug: likening young pot smokers to laboratory animals.
Concerned about a potential jump in youth marijuana use now that the state has legalized the drug for adults, Colorado is displaying three human-size cages in various communities with signs that bear provocative messages about the drug’s pitfalls, as part of its “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” campaign.
“Does Marijuana really cause schizophrenia in teenagers? Smoke and find out,” one sign says. “Subjects needed. Must be a teenager. Must smoke weed. Must have 8 IQ points to spare,” reads another.
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The first reported case in the Ebola outbreak ravaging west Africa dates back to December 2013, in Guéckédou, a forested area of Guinea near the border with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Travellers took it across the border: by late March, Liberia had reported eight suspected cases and Sierra Leone six. By the end of June 759 people had been infected and 467 people had died from the disease, making this the worst ever Ebola outbreak. The numbers do not just keep climbing, they are accelerating. As of October 8th, 8,399 cases and 4,033 deaths had been reported worldwide, the vast majority of them in these same three countries. Many suspect these estimates are badly undercooked.
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A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital health care worker in Dallas who had “extensive contact” with the first Ebola patient to die in the United States has contracted the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed the news Sunday afternoon after an official test.
The infected person detected a fever Friday night and drove herself to the Presbyterian emergency room, where she was placed in isolation 90 minutes later. A blood sample sent to the state health lab in Austin confirmed Saturday night that she had Ebola — the first person to contract the disease in the United States.
The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the infection in the health care worker, who was not on the organization’s watch list for people who had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, resulted from a “breach in protocol.”
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Two major international companies put a huge stamp on the Lowcountry's economy last week.
French high-voltage cablemaker Nexans officially opened an $85 million facility on the Cooper River in Berkeley County in Bushy Park Industrial Complex on Wednesday, while Japan-based Showa Denko Carbon on Friday celebrated a $300 million expansion of its 31-year-old factory near Ridgeville in Dorchester County.
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In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.
"One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.
The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: "The revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day.
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An Iraqi provincial leader has issued a plea for US ground forces to head off total collapse in the country's largest province, a swathe of territory that could serve as a springboard for an assault on Baghdad by forces of the so-called Islamic State.
The call by Sabah al-Karhout, the president of Anbar's provincial council, will test the nerve of officials in the Iraqi and American capitals. It comes as a rash of suicide bombings in Baghdad late on Saturday killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100, mostly in Shiite districts of the city.
Set beside the ongoing failure of US-led airstrikes to turn the tide in the battle for Kobane, a small Kurdish community in the north of neighbouring Syria, and desperate fighting in the oil refinery town of Baiji, north of Baghdad, Mr Karhout's appeal will leave many in the region and beyond wondering how the US and its allies intend to save an entire country, when seemingly they can't save a single town.
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There are at least three levels of violence. The first demonstrates mere power and greed, with mobs and soldiers driving people out of their homes and businesses and into the streams of refugees. According to United Nations estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have been displaced during the past four months.
The second level of everyday violence, she said bluntly, is "just shooting people."
On the third level, people move beyond deadly violence into unbelievable acts of terror. A Muslim who fled the fighting, said Ahmed, told her one story about what happened to some Iraqi men who could not flee fast enough. The Islamic State soldiers "lay them on the ground, after shooting them," and then rolled over the bodies with a tractor in "front of their families, just to devastate them."
[Andrew] White said those who survive are left haunted by what they have seen and, in some cases, what they themselves have done.
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With food and jobs scarce, and their savings depleted, Syrian Christians and their neighbors are struggling to provide for their families.
Despite their own trauma, many believers are choosing to stay in their beleaguered communities and reach out in love amid their neighbors' pain.
Christians in Syria have been able to distribute food with the help of Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist-related relief organization. Families also are receiving blankets and medical care. Children who have been out of school for years once again are being educated.
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The US-led coalition has unleashed more than 40 airstrikes on Anbar since August, helping drive Isis back from the critical Haditha dam.
However, the strikes have failed to blunt the militants’ overall advance, which has accelerated dramatically in the past three weeks. They have taken two military bases and a string of strategic towns, putting the Iraqi government’s already tenuous presence in Anbar at risk. Daily attacks on Iraqi security forces are taking place around the provincial capital, Ramadi.
After the capture of Hit last week, Ramadi and Haditha are now the only two government-held enclaves standing in the way of an unbroken Isis supply line running along the Euphrates river from Raqqa, its de facto capital in Syria, to Baghdad.
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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa, already ghastly, could get worse by orders of magnitude, killing hundreds of thousands of people and embedding itself in the human population for years to come, according to two worst-case scenarios from scientists studying the historic outbreak.
The virus could potentially infect 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January, according to a statistical forecast by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Tuesday. That number came just hours after a report in the New England Journal of Medicine warned that the epidemic might never be fully controlled and that the virus could become endemic, crippling civic life in the affected countries and presenting an ongoing threat of spreading elsewhere.
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Update: The elves also recommend the latest post on Ebola at Lent & Beyond, with a graph showing the cumulative number of cases of Ebola in West Africa. There are also suggested prayer points, and links to donate to several charities on the frontlines in the Ebola struggle.
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While Malala’s courage in defying the Taliban’s barbarism won her the admiration of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, her Pakistani detractors’ criticism reflects the national malaise that young Malala has committed herself to fight. Hundreds of young Pakistanis, most of them supporters of cricket icon Imran Khan, have started the #MalalaDrama hashtag on Twitter to describe Malala as a tool of the evil West who is seeking to impose Western values on Islamic Pakistan. A few on Twitter even called for her to be charged with blasphemy, the catch-all accusation frequently used in Pakistan against those advocating anything but the most primitive ideas. Luckily, she now lives in Birmingham, England, after having come to Britain for medical treatment for her head wound.
Malala began documenting life under the Taliban in 2009, after they took control in the Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan and then tried to shut down her school. The Taliban and their Islamist supporters oppose education for girls, and their concept of education for boys is far from enlightened. A young village girl with little outside exposure, Malala wished to connect to the rest of the world. She says she was inspired by the Pakistani Benazir Bhutto, who became the Muslim world’s first woman prime minister and was killed in 2007 by terrorists for challenging their ideas.
By rejecting the Taliban’s version of Islam—which was being brutally imposed by force of arms—Malala showed greater foresight than many of Pakistan’s politicians, generals and public intellectuals who have gradually ceded space to extremist Islamists. She didn’t buy into the propaganda description of the Taliban as a nationalist reaction to U.S. dominance or Indian influence, recognizing them as a menace that would set the country back several centuries.
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I happened to come across these this week, and I haven't seen them since 1990 when we first caught them on boxing Day in England (really). French with english subtitles, beautifully filmed, and, perhaps most notably, full of Christian themes--KSH.
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I admire Isabel Sawhill deeply, but I respectfully disagree with this recommendation.
First, American marriage isn’t disappearing, it’s fracturing along class lines. In upscale America — about one-third of the society — marriage is thriving. Most people marry, few children (fewer than 10 percent) are born to unmarried mothers, and most children grow up through age 18 living with their two married parents. Among the more privileged, then, marriage clearly functions as a wealth-producing arrangement, a source of happiness over time, and a benefit to children.
Indeed, scholars today increasingly identify America’s marriage gap — in which the affluent reap the benefits of marriage while the non-affluent increasingly do not — as an important driver of rising American inequality. Wouldn’t it be odd, and sad, if American elites, at the very moment in which the role of marriage as both an indicator and producer of high status in their own lives is crystal clear, decided to throw up their hands in resignation when it comes to marriage in the rest of the society?
Second, changing what we support from “marriage” (a social institution) to “responsible parenthood” (a piece of advice) means downplaying the role of society and putting all responsibility on the individual.
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No same sex weddings are on the immediate horizon in South Carolina, as the state's top court ruled Thursday that its 46 probate court judges may not issue marriage licenses to such couples until a federal case is settled.
The S.C. Supreme Court's ruling came one day after Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon said he would issue licenses to same sex couples in the wake of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a case overturning Virginia's gay marriage ban.
Condon indicated Thursday he would abide by the top state court's ruling.
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Liberalism seems to have an irrational animus against Christianity. Consider these two stories highlighted in the last week by conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher.
Item 1: In a widely discussed essay in Slate, author Brian Palmer writes about the prevalence of missionary doctors and nurses in Africa and their crucial role in treating those suffering from Ebola. Palmer tries to be fair-minded, but he nonetheless expresses "ambivalence," "suspicion," and "visceral discomfort" about the fact that these men and women are motivated to make "long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," to "risk their lives," and to accept poor compensation (and sometimes none at all) because of their Christian faith.
The question is why he considers this a problem.
Palmer mentions a lack of data and an absence of regulatory oversight. But he's honest enough to admit that these aren't the real reasons for his concern. The real reason is that he doesn't believe that missionaries are capable "of separating their religious work from their medical work," even when they vow not to proselytize their patients. And that, in his view, is unacceptable — apparently because he's an atheist and religion creeps him out. As he puts it, rather wanly, "It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"
Read it all and make sure to read the Rod Dreher article and the Slate article mentioned.
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I doubt anyone in the Church of England who knows Rev. Stephen Sizer was surprised that he would attend a conference critical of Israel. Sizer, the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Christian Zionism, that is, Christian support for the nation-state of Israel on theological grounds.
What is surprising is that a vicar of the Church of England would attend a conference in Iran to speak to a group of anti-Semites on the subject of the Zionist lobby in England. Other attendees of the New Horizon conference in Tehran include a long list of Holocaust deniers and 9/11 truthers. The conference included a panel discussion called “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat” with the subheading “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist ‘Public Myths.’”
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Around 30 cities and counties internationally have made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford. The announcement also comes hot on the heels of similar divestment commitments made by Local Government Super and the Anglican Diocese of Perth.
The decision affects millions of dollars in council investments - a May report showed the council had cash and investments of 36 million dollars. Moreland's principal bank is the Commonwealth Bank, which like each of the 'Big 4' is a major lender to fossil fuel projects around the country, including controversial coal projects on the east coast.
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Turkey is warning that the city of Kobani, which sits on the Syria-Turkey border, could at any moment fall to fighters affiliated with the Islamic State. That development would represent a huge setback for the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria and could portend a humanitarian catastrophe. Kurdish forces are warning of a possible massacre if Kobani falls to the Islamic State, which would solidify the group's control of a large chunk of territory along Syria's border with Turkey.
Kobani is now the sole remaining Kurdish-controlled town along a huge stretch of the Syrian border. To understand how isolated it is from the rest of the country, consider the map below. Syrian Kurds have in recent weeks been battling with Islamic State militants elsewhere in Syria, but it is in Kobani where that fighting has entered a key phase, as the militant group attempts to consolidate its rule in the north. Kobani is the small blot of yellow due east from where the Euphrates crosses into Syria.
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Midterm elections rarely excite the general public, but 2014 is shaping up to be an especially underwhelming cycle for many Americans. With about a month remaining in the congressional races, 15% are very closely following news about the midterms — down from similar periods before the elections in 2010 (25%) and 2006 (21%).
Our new survey, which was fielded Oct. 2-5, found that an additional 22% of the public said they are following the midterm election news fairly closely, 25% said not too closely, and 39% said not at all.
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The self-proclaimed caliphate of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is fighting across Syria and Iraq, pushing back larger armies and capturing entire cities. It is also waging an increasingly sophisticated media campaign: The militant group has recruited disillusioned youth as it tries to extend its reach across the Muslim world and beyond. How much do you know about the Islamic State? Test your knowledge.
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For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.
Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.
It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.
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Huge expansions in credit followed by crises and attempts to manage the aftermath have become a feature of the world economy. Today the US and UK may be escaping from the crises that hit seven years ago. But the eurozone is mired in post-crisis stagnation and China is struggling with the debt it built up in its attempt to offset the loss of export earnings after the crisis hit in 2008.
Without an unsustainable credit boom somewhere, the world economy seems incapable of generating growth in demand sufficient to absorb potential supply. It looks like a law of the conservation of credit booms. Consider the past quarter century: a credit boom in Japan that collapsed after 1990; a credit boom in Asian emerging economies that collapsed in 1997; a credit boom in the north Atlantic economies that collapsed after 2007; and finally in China. Each is greeted as a new era of prosperity, to collapse into crisis and post-crisis malaise.
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The court, now entering its second decade under Mr Justice Brian McGovern, has shone a light into some dark recesses of Ireland’s financial and business world, exposing greed and human misery on a grand scale alongside some shoddy and dubious, accounting, auditing, banking, business, legal, regulatory and stockbroking practices.
It has heard of property and other deals involving misappropriation, forged signatures, deceit, lies and secret profits; suspect property and money transfers aimed at avoiding repayment; exorbitant expenses for senior bankers; and slipshod and questionable loans, investments and valuations.
It has also shown existing laws provide limited opportunity to penalise some of these practices and revealed gaps in legislation on corporate crime, including the absence of an offence of reckless lending.
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He urged the Catholic Church not to “capitulate to culture” nor to succumb to a weakening of discipline that he said had “caused havoc” within the Anglican Church. He said that he had watched the growth of the ordinariate with close interest.
“Allowing Anglican patrimony to flourish should not just be taken as an exception, but it could be a charter for the future,” he said.
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Students from affluent families are taking out loans for college at twice the rate of two decades ago, the fasting-growing borrower’s group.
Fifty percent of graduates in the class of 2012 whose parents had incomes of more than $125,700 left college with loans, up from 24 percent about 20 years earlier, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center. For graduates whose parental income was below $44,000, the rate rose to 77 percent from 67 percent.
“Across the spectrum, student debt has become an important way to pay for college and even graduates from well-off families rely on debt,” Richard Fry, an economist and primary author of the study, said in an e-mail.
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Billy DuBose blew into his bagpipe as he prepared to play Amazing Grace in honor of all of those killed in domestic violence in South Carolina last year.
Just before he walked in front of 46 people holding up human silhouettes in memory of the 46 who died, he thought about how many times he's played for the ceremony and whispered:
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Same-sex couples are marrying in at least six more states today, after the Supreme Court left in place lower courts' rulings against bans on gay marriage. But couples have been turned away in Kansas, one of several states that share federal jurisdiction with states where bans were lifted.
Legal experts say that federal appeals courts' rulings against same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin now extend to all 11 states in their circuits. But officials in Kansas and Wyoming say no court has ruled specifically against their ban. And in several states, legal challenges to the bans that had been put on hold are being renewed.
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The prominent Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Rochester, has spoken of the overriding importance of the Catholic Church's global voice for the future of Christianity in a world threatened by Islamic militancy and secularism. He said the Catholic Church potentially had "a great future and a huge opportunity" in the emerging world order and that it now had allies in upholding orthodoxy, even in unexpected quarters. However, he said that how effective it would be depended on how Rome viewed its own position and on its willingness to address its approach to certain issues. He identified these as culture and language and discipline.
Bishop Nazir Ali, who has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD), made his remarks to the clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham - the structure set up by Pope Benedict to allow Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them elements of their Anglican patrimony. He was speaking on the subject: "A Global Christianity in the Making" to the Ordinariate clergy's plenary session at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Soho Square, London
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A standout member among the new-editions to this very elite club is 30-year old college dropout Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes reportedly “labored in secret” for almost a decade while developing a revolutionary new blood-testing technology. In 2003 she took her findings to the public and founded Theranos-- the company announced partnerships with Walgreens and other major drugstores to bring a new type of blood testing to consumers. Holmes’ technology calls only for a single finger-prick and a very small amount of blood for medical testing—as opposed to the full vial (or vials) of blood typically drawn for testing in most labs and medical offices. The prick is said to be painless and Theranos’ testing-methods only a fraction of the cost of commercial labs.
The biotech founder is the youngest self-made woman on the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Holmes dropped out of Stanford University her sophomore year as a chemical engineering major and used her tuition money to found her company. Holmes’ tests do not have to be performed in a doctor’s office, and by skipping the big labs most results can be ready in a few hours. “She could totally overturn an entire industry if Theranos is as successful as it seems to be,” says Brown.
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American banks are loading up on U.S. government debt, a sign they remain cautious on the economy even with the jobless rate at a six-year low and corporations at their healthiest in a generation.
Commercial lenders increased their holdings of Treasuries (BUSY) and debt from federal agencies in September by $54 billion to an unprecedented $1.99 trillion, data from the Federal Reserve show. Banks have now been net buyers for 12 straight months.
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A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed today when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage. This decision not to take at least one case under consideration stunned both sides in the same-sex marriage battle. Last weekend’s edition of USA Today featured a front-page story that declared the virtual certainty that the Court would take at least one of the cases and declared same-sex marriage to be “a cause whose time has come.”
Well, same-sex marriage may well be an issue whose time has come in the culture, due to the massive moral shift that has taken place over the last few decades, but the nation’s highest court has decided that now is not the time for it to take up such a case. Faced with the opportunity either to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks or to hand down a sweeping decision tantamount to a new Roe v. Wade, the Court took a pass.
Some will argue that the Court’s decision was a strategic choice intended to preserve its dignity and stature. Already, many defenders of natural marriage are doing their best to argue that the Court’s refusal to take a case is better for the cause of marriage than a sweeping decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The proponents of same-sex marriage had hoped for just such a decision, and attorneys were jockeying for position, wanting to be the lead counsel for the “gay marriage Roe decision.” But make no mistake, the proponents of same-sex marriage won this round, and they won big. They did not get the sweeping coast to coast ruling they wanted, but what they got was an even faster track to the same result.
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This year Robert Wilson has been back to Helmand to mark the end of Britain's long conflict. His pictures are going up on huge billboards across Britain this week, some close to military bases, others not. For the images, Wilson was looking for ordinary human details to personalise the war, and has chosen sites across the UK where he can juxtapose his photographs with scenes of normal life.
For example a billboard showing a makeshift military bus stop in Camp Bastion will go up on the side of a bus stop in Yeovil and a photograph of a makeshift garrison church will be displayed opposite a church in Camden, London.
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His widow Barbara sat at the front and was joined by family and friends at the service of ''reflection and solidarity'' at Eccles Parish Church in Salford, Greater Manchester.
People of all religions were invited to the service where music was played and candles were lit.
The Church of England Diocese of Manchester said: ''You are welcome to attend this service, whatever faith you have, or if you have no faith.
''It will be an opportunity for reflection and to show support for the Henning family at this tragic time.''
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The theme of this week’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is shared prosperity. In years gone by, the Washington consensus was all about opening up markets and cutting public spending. The new Washington consensus is the need to tackle inequality.
Everybody is getting in on the act. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, will share a platform with Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, and Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, next weekend to discuss how to make global capitalism more inclusive.
The World Economic Forum – the body that organises the Davos shindig – thinks it can go one better. It is angling to get the pope along for its annual meeting in January.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.
Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.
Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.
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The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.
Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.
The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,600 American troops deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.
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The writing of this letter in itself, however, is not enough. The statement is ambiguous in crucial areas, which not only weaken its argument, but also question whether it is truly a rigorous and valid refutation of ISIS’s deeds and claims. In what follows, I will focus only on two of them: the concept of jihad and the restoration of the Muslim caliphate. While this letter claims to present the correct version of the Muslim teaching, its imprecise description of important areas makes it subject to different, and sometimes opposite, understandings, leaving the reader, especially the non-Muslim, puzzled regarding correct Islamic teaching.
First, concerning the concept of jihad, the letter reads: “The word ‘jihad’ is an Islamic term that cannot be applied to armed conflict against any other Muslim.” Okay, but what about non-Muslims? Can jihad be applied against them? The letter, though recommending jihad as a form of self-piety or a way to strive against one’s ego, does not specify against whom armed jihad should be applied. This leaves the door open for interpretation.
Moreover, it states that “All Muslims see the great virtue in jihad,” and does not explain what “the jihad against the enemy” really means. In fact, the letter applauds and praises the “intentions” of the members of ISIS, noting, “it is clear that you [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] and your fighters are fearless and are ready to sacrifice in your intent for jihad.” The approval sends mixed signals....
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She dreamed of the bustling streets of Los Angeles and the leafy towns of Pennsylvania. She dreamed of working two jobs, not three. She dreamed of sleeping, really sleeping, for six or seven hours at a stretch.
But dreams rarely pay the rent. So Ms. Fernandes worked three jobs, at three Dunkin’ Donuts stores in northern New Jersey, shuttling from Newark to Linden to Harrison and back. She often slept in her car — two hours here, three hours there — and usually kept the engine running, ready in an instant to start all over again.
The last day of her life was no different. She got off work at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, and climbed into her 2001 Kia Sportage, officials from the Elizabeth Police Department said. She was dreaming again, this time about taking a break to celebrate a milestone with friends. But first, she told her boyfriend, Mr. Carter, during a brief cellphone conversation, she was going to take a nap.
Read the whole heart breaking tale.
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Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.
--Found among many places here in Wisdom from Franciscan Italy: The Primacy of Love (John Hunt Publishing, 2011 Obooks version) by David Torkington
One of the hardest things for us to do is to envision a future that is different from the present. For instance, we live in an age of paralyzed politics, so it is hard, in the here and now, to imagine what could change that. A second example: It is difficult to think of a scenario where federal gun legislation could be passed over the objections of the National Rifle Association. And a third: Income inequality has been the trend for some three decades; doesn’t it look as if it will always be that way?
What prompts these thoughts are two papers that landed on my desk recently. Although they tackle very different issues, they have one thing in common: They imagine a future that breaks from the present path.
The first is a draft of a speech given earlier this month at TEDMED by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. (TEDMED is associated with TED Talks.) The second is an article in the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review by Roger Martin, the former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
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A man who identified himself as the leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram denied that the country’s security forces had killed him.
“I am not killed, I am alive and you are claiming that you killed me,” the man purporting to be Abubakar Shekau said in a video released today that couldn’t be independently verified.
The figure, dressed in combat fatigues, spoke for 16 minutes in a mixture of Hausa and Arabic. He fired a gun mounted on a Toyota Hilux vehicle and said his group had carried out executions as it enforces strict Islamic law in an area of northeastern Nigeria the insurgents claim to rule. Nigeria’s defense ministry said that while it was studying the video, there was no proof when the film was made, and it was confident that Shekau was dead.
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U.S. job growth rebounded in September and the jobless rate fell below 6% for the first time since mid-2008, suggesting the labor market is improving faster than previously thought.
Nonfarm payrolls grew a seasonally adjusted 248,000 last month, the fastest pace since June, the Labor Department said Friday.
Revisions showed stronger job growth in prior months than previously estimated. The economy added 180,000 jobs in August instead of the initially reported 142,000. It created 243,000 in July, up from an earlier estimate of 212,000.
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Air strikes ordered against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several Free Church leaders have expressed their doubts, however.
Recalled to Parliament last Friday, MPs voted in favour of Britain's third intervention in Iraq in 24 years. Since then, RAF Tornado jets have flown a number of sorties into Iraq. It was revealed on Tuesday that British planes had bombed vehicles and fighters in Iraq for the first time, aiding Kurdish forces who are battling IS in north-western Iraq.
Speaking in Friday's debate in the House of Lords, Archbishop Welby said that this was a just cause. But he warned that the world would not be able to defeat Islamist extremism by force of arms alone.
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Islamic State extremists have herded hundreds of women to be given to its fighters in Syria as a reward or sold as sex slaves and have summarily executed women in professions, according to the United Nations.
About 500 women and girls of the Yezidi and Christian minority communities were given to Islamic State fighters or trafficked for sale in markets in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, according to a report published today by the UN mission in Iraq and the world body’s human-rights office in Geneva.
“Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale. The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities,” according to the 29-page report, which cites testimony from witnesses and surviving victims. “Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yezidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.” ISIL is an acronym for Islamic State’s former name.
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A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.
But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.
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Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters in systematic violations that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In a report based on 500 interviews, it also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused "significant civilian deaths" by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.
At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far through September, well over half of them since the Islamic insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.
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As a coalition of Western and Arab countries continues military action to try to defeat Islamic State (IS), it’s timely to hear how the region’s largest Christian minority - in Egypt - is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Northern Iraq.
Coptic Christians themselves faced an onslaught from Islamic extremists only a year ago, but are now providing much-needed practical and psychological support to other Arab speakers in ways that Westerners cannot.
One of the biggest churches in the Arab world, Kasr el-Dobara church in Cairo, is delivering aid alongside agencies such as the UNHCR, Caritas and many others, thanks to its relatively well-paid and well-connected membership.
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China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has issued a stern warning against any "illegal" protests in Hong Kong.
Visiting Washington, Mr Wang also warned that the matter was an "internal affair" for China.
His US counterpart, John Kerry, urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint in dealing with the protests.
Earlier, student demonstrators angry at China's vetting of candidates for 2017 elections vowed to step up protests if Chief Executive CY Leung did not quit.
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[Vittorio] Roscio hasn't visited the construction site for ages because it is too dangerous. Instead, he reads the reports here, behind the walls of the Italian government's campus in Kabul. Over the years, the walls became thicker and thicker, the barbed wire higher and the security protocols stricter. In 2007, Rocio could still walk relatively freely through the streets of Kabul. Now, though, he climbs into a bullet-proof Toyota SUV even for the 30 meters to the Italian Embassy.
Like all international workers in Kabul, Roscio lives in the equivalent of a high security cage and is rarely allowed to go out. As such, his influence over the road to Bamiyan has fallen markedly over the years.
"It is unfortunately extremely difficult to understand Afghanistan from the perspective of Kabul," Roscio says tiredly. "And it is completely impossible to understand Afghanistan from Europe or America. No chance." He gets into one of the bullet-proof Toyotas and is driven to the Italian Embassy. The wall opens briefly to let him out and closes again immediately.
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“By his Christian conviction, character, conduct, confession and competence, he has exhibited commendable Christian stewardship and now today, the Primate, on behalf of All Anglican faithful nationwide and in conformity with cherished biblical counsel and Christian heritage, has rolled that our beloved Servant leader be conferred with the PRIMATIAL Award of Excellence in Christian Stewardship to the glory of God and in praise and thanksgiving to God for His gift to us in the Church of Nigeria.”
With the above statement, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) led by the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Anglican, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh yesterday presented its highest award to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The award is the highest be conferred on an individual for service to humanity and to God.
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When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks into its crystal ball, it sees an aging population in need of care and a construction industry still rebounding from the Great Recession. In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the fastest growth in U.S. employment will take place in the health care, health care support, construction, and personal care fields. These four categories are expected to account for more than a third—about 6.6 million—of all new jobs.
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Nearly two months on since the US began air strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in northern Iraq, there are signs that the militants are adapting to the new reality.
Witnesses and tribal sources in IS-controlled areas have told Reuters news agency of a drop in the number of militant checkpoints and fighters using mobile phones less, apparently to avoid being targeted by air raids.
Reuters also reported that militants have been seen to ditch conspicuous convoys of armoured vehicles in favour of motorcycles.
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[Dean of Brisbane] Dr [Peter] Catt, the chair of the church social responsibilities committee, launched a stinging attack on the Government.
He said: “A business model that depends to a large extent on losses from problem gamblers and the subsequent harm to individuals and families is unethical.
“Even proceeding on the erroneous assumption that harm is in fact limited to a small percentage of the population, this approach effectively validates the great harm done to a few, for the mild pleasure, financial benefit and convenience of the majority.’’
Dr Catt said the Government policy was exposed as “deeply destructive” to both gamblers and their families.
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Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East, causing increasing concern among counter-terrorism investigators.
Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadis, bear their children and join communities of fighters, with a small number taking up arms. Many are recruited via social media.
Women and girls appear to make up about 10% of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to link up with jihadi groups, including Islamic State (Isis). France has the highest number of female jihadi recruits, with 63 in the region – about 25% of the total – and at least another 60 believed to be considering the move.
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“This idea that bad judgment is why sexual assault occurs is not true,” says Laura Dunn, a campus rape survivor and legal advocate through the group SurvJustice. “We need to be asking the question: How should laws be addressing the issue of alcohol, rather than allowing it to be a cause. Whether we like it or not, alcohol is part of college campus. In Europe, kids grow up with wine drinking as part of life in the home. In America, we send them off to school when they are 17-18 and say, 'See ya later, hope you can understand what drinking is all about…' ”
But other experts say that lingering questions regarding substance abuse on campus should not overshadow the purpose of California's new law.
“Underage drinking is a small part of this puzzle, but it has overshadowed the basic idea that this new law is trying to address that 'yes means yes,' ” says Michele Delaney, professor of law and associate dean for faculty research at the Villanova School of Law. “So the debate about underage drinking plays into the blurred lines that our society has now allowed to occur.”
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The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.
“The bronze plans are scaring a lot of administrators because the patient liability is so large,” said Debra Lowe, administrative director of revenue cycle at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Patients are unaware they have this high deductible.”
Upfront payments aren’t usually required, but more hospitals are asking patients to settle the bill in advance. If patients can’t afford the charges, some hospitals place them into financial assistance programs, such as payment plans or low-interest loans. Others help them sign up for Medicaid or individual coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. Patients can still opt to wait until after the bill goes through their insurance.
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Twice in the last few months I’ve encountered writers taking note of this shift, and both have made a similar (and provocative) point: The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.
The first writer is Philip Jenkins, a prolific religious historian, who argues that the decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” is both “genuine and epochal,” and something that should worry more mainstream religious believers rather than comfort them. A wild fringe, he suggests, is often a sign of a healthy, vital center, and a religious culture that lacks for charismatic weirdos may lack “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry” as well.
The second writer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and controversialist, who includes an interesting aside about the decline of cults in his new book, “Zero to One” — officially a book of advice to would-be entrepreneurs, but really a treatise on escaping what he regards as the developed world’s 40-year economic, technological and cultural malaise.
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Canon White, the vicar of St George's Church - the only Anglican church in Iraq - said civilians were being killed by coalition air raids in Iraq.
He said: "I've never known the city like it is at the moment.
"Streets which are usually choc-a-bloc with traffic, cars and people are almost empty. People are too fearful to even leave their homes.
"We are at a crisis point. People know IS are coming nearer. People are being killed by the (air) attacks of the coalition."
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Should democratically elected leaders in more or less secular countries ever say that this or that religion is essentially good or essentially bad? The dilemma is especially acute, perhaps, if the religion that they want to speak about is one which they don't happen to practise, and presumably don't know about in any depth. But ever since September 2001, and especially over the last few weeks of intensifying conflict with Islamic State, it has been a question that Western heads of government cannot completely duck. The West is at war with an adversary which claims to be acting in the name of Islam. Does that mean that the West is, in any sense whatever, at war with Islam?
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Religious leaders agree the Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — must be stopped. Their struggle is how best to do it.
“As mainstream religious leaders of different faiths get together, it strengthens the voice of moderation,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group.
A group of mainstream Muslim scholars sought to strip the Iraqi and Syrian militants of any legitimacy under the cover of Islam in an open letter in Arabic issued Wednesday.
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In his spare time, he likes to hunt, fish, hike or camp. And some Sundays might find Cartwright in the pulpit. He occasionally serves as a fill-in pastor at Bonneau's First Baptist Church, where he attends.
[Dwayne] Cartwright has not only a degree in history, but also religion. His father, Norman, is a pastor, and the younger Cartwright followed a calling to become ordained as well at age 22. In addition to a full-time job, he served as minister at Corinth Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., for 25 years.
"I enjoy helping people very much," he said. "I am an encourager. It gets back to my gratification from seeing people succeed."
Bonneau First Baptist Church Pastor Ken Owens called Cartwright a model citizen.
"He is a man of integrity with Christian principles," Owens said. "On many occasions when I'm out of town on vacation or at conferences, he preaches for us and does a tremendous job. If he's available, he will be there."
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Boeing Co. projects the Asia Pacific region's demand for new commercial pilots and maintenance technicians over the next 20 years will be 39 percent of the global need for new airline personnel.
The Chicago-based airplane manufacturer's Pilot and Technician Outlook, an industry forecast of aviation personnel demand, projects a requirement for 216,000 new commercial airline pilots and 224,000 new technicians in the Asia Pacific region through 2033, more demand than North America and Europe combined.
"The Asia Pacific region is seeing tremendous economic growth and is set to become the largest air travel market in the world," said Bob Bellitto, a director at Boeing Flight Services. "That growth rate means booming career opportunities for those interested in becoming commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians over the next two decades. These are strong, stable and challenging jobs in one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world."
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The “squeezed middle” is being forced to endure a lower standard of living more than a decade on from the credit crunch, keeping consumer spending growth below pre-crisis levels.
The EY Item Club predicts that real take-home pay in 2017 will still be below the rate in 2007 because of subdued wage growth.
The economic forecaster’s report will make for uneasy reading for George Osborne as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference today, and it is compounded by further evidence from a free market think-tank of the existence of a “cost of living crisis”.
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“This is called a voting altar call!” said William Barber, a leader in the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, which since 2013 has been challenging new legislation coming out of the Republican-controlled statehouse. Barber stood on a temporary stage in the middle of CCB Plaza in Durham, surrounded by hundreds on a Monday in late July.
Barber was focused on the one political issue that undergirds all others: the right to vote. Since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder gave state governments more power to shape election laws without federal oversight, legislators from Virginia to Arizona have been erecting new barriers to voting. This is part of a broader trend. Even states like Ohio and Kansas, which weren’t covered under the litigated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. have been changing election procedures, such as requiring photo IDs at voting precincts or cutting early-voting schedules. The new rules in North Carolina are among the most restrictive. The March to the Polls rally in Durham was just one of many efforts to rally blacks and other minorities to the voting booths in the face of new rules that would keep them out.
“We come to Durham, and we’re going all over this state to say to [state house Speaker Thom] Tillis, to say to [state senate president pro tem Phil] Berger, to say to [Governor Pat] McCrory, when we fight in North Carolina, this is not merely a political fight, this is the fight of history, this is the fight of our time, this is a blood fight,” said Barber, head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. “We need to make sure they cannot figure out this election because they ain’t never seen folk organized like they will see us organized in a so-called off year.”
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preach at a special service for journalists who have died while reporting from conflict zones.
It will be the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has attended the annual service, which has been held at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street in London for the last seven years.
Held shortly before Remembrance Sunday each year, the service commemorates reporters, photographers, cameramen and support staff who have died on the frontline.
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