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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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The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.
While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.
After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
Read it all from the front page of today's NY Times.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The destruction of the weapons would be one of the few positive developments in three years of war that has left tens of thousands of Syrians dead and forced millions from their homes. And it would allow the Obama administration to claim a success in its response to the use of chemical weapons in suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, last August.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The firing Tuesday of coach David Moyes followed Manchester United's worst on-pitch performance in 24 years, seemingly vindicating those fans who foresaw failure under the team's American owners.
From the point of view of those owners, the acquisition is hardly a bust. Since the Glazer family—owners of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers—gained control of United in 2005, team revenue has nearly doubled on the strength of licensing deals with corporate giants around the world. Since a 2012 offering that transferred 10% of the English soccer club to the public, the value of United shares has climbed 34% to $18.78. That suggests that the franchise is worth $3.1 billion—more than twice what the Glazers paid.
But their quick firing of Moyes—who only this season took over following the retirement of the legendary Alex Ferguson —suggests the Glazer family doesn't regard United's popularity as unshakable, especially at a time when other Premier League teams are pursuing global sponsors and audiences and spending lavishly on players.
Read it all.
At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.
For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Middle Age * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
AT A recent school careers fair, one stall stood apart. Its attendant touted a job that involves 60-hour weeks, including weekends, and pays £24,000 ($40,000) a year. Despite her unpromising pitch, the young vicar drew a crowd.
God’s work is growing more difficult. Attendance on Sundays is falling; church coffers are emptying. Yet more young Britons are choosing to be priests. In 2013 the Church of England started training 113 20-somethings—the most for two decades (although still too few to replace retirees). The number of new trainees for the Roman Catholic priesthood in England and Wales has almost doubled since 2003, with 63 starting in 2012, and their average age has fallen.
Church recruiters have fought hard for this. Plummeting numbers of budding Catholic priests in the 1990s underlined the need for a new approach, says Christopher Jamison, a senior monk. The Church of England used to favour applicants with a few years’ experience in other professions. Now it sees that “youth and vitality are huge assets”, says Liz Boughton, who works for the church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
...for many, it’s no longer good enough to just “be yourself” online, and selfie lovers want to put their best face forward.
"The days of that bare fresh face, no retouching, are kind of behind us. I think we're all moving into an era that it's so easy to do," image and fashion consultant Lori Ann Robinson said.
Like millions of people, Triana Lavey loves taking selfies, but doesn’t always love the result. She uses the Perfect365 app to touch up her photos now, but she used to hate the way she looked so much that she underwent a radical transformation, all to look better online.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
We start with this reality: Social Security and Medicare are practically sacrosanct. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans say they're good for the country. That's an amazing number. But the popularity of these programs really isn't all that surprising. People love them because they do what they were created to do. They ease many of the frets and dreads of old age – a blessing not just for seniors but for everyone who loves, supports and depends on seniors. Which is to say, everyone.
But the status quo is unsustainable. Some 10,000 Baby Boomers will be going on Social Security and Medicare every single day between now and 2030. By the time everyone in this big pig-in-the-python generation is drawing benefits, we’ll have just two workers per beneficiary – down from three-to-one now, five-to-one in 1960 and more than forty-to-one in 1945, shortly after Social Security first started supporting beneficiaries.
The math of the 20th century simply won’t work in the 21st. Today's young are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for today's old that they have no realistic chance of receiving when they become old. And they know it – just 6% of Millennials say they expect to receive full benefits from Social Security when they retire. Fully half believe they’ll get nothing.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Hundreds of people were killed because of their ethnicity after South Sudan rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu last week, the UN has said.
They were targeted at a mosque, a church and a hospital, the UN Mission in South Sudan said in a statement.
It added that hate speech was broadcast on local radio stations, saying certain groups should leave the town and urging men to rape women.
The Nuer community are seen as supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The recovery from the recession has been nasty, brutish and long. It also is shaping up as one of the most enduring.
The National Bureau of Economic Research, the semiofficial arbiter of business cycles, judges that the U.S. economy began expanding again in June 2009, just over 58 months ago. That means the current stretch of growth, in terms of duration, is poised to drift past the average for post-World War II recoveries.
Yet after almost five years, the recovery is proving to be one of the most lackluster in modern times. The nation's 6.7% jobless rate is the highest on record at this stage of recent expansions. Gross domestic product has grown 1.8% a year on average since the recession, half the pace of the previous three expansions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.
I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Missions * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.
The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.
In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn't talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives.
First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.
Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
This Lent we, and thousands of others, made the rise of hunger in the UK the focus of our fasting. It has been a time of sorrowful and deep reflection on a rise we see every day in the numbers visiting food banks in towns and cities across the country.
The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.
Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Lent * Culture-Watch Dieting/Food/Nutrition Globalization Hunger/Malnutrition Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted.
In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.
Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Given what we’ve seen in Ukraine, the US and the EU need to work much more closely together on policy vis a vis the non-Russian former Soviet states. This policy can’t be seen as simply legalistic or commercial, expanding free trade zones or supporting the rule of law and the development of institutions; security issues are also involved.
More, Europe’s failure to develop coherent energy policy is clearly a contributing factor to Putin’s transparent contempt for the bloc as well as to Europe’s continuing vulnerability to Russian pressure. Europe’s countries have many voices when it comes to energy policy; the United States needs to play a larger and more constructive role in the continent’s musings over energy policy, and the new American reserves now coming on line could be part of a long term strategy to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to energy blackmail.
The US may also need to consider how it can play a more useful role in Europe’s internal debates over economic policy. Europe’s weakness before Russian pressure is both directly and indirectly attributable in part to the fallout from the euro disaster. Economic pain has divided the union, alienated many voters both from Brussels and their national authorities, reduced Europe’s energy and resources for external policy ventures, contributed to the bitterness over immigration and fueled the rise of the extreme right wing parties Putin now seeks to mobilize. Important American interests have been seriously harmed by the monetary muddle in Europe, and Washington needs to think more carefully about how it can play a more consequential and constructive role.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Russia Ukraine * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.
One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter.
Stella Santamaria, a divorced 40-year-old math teacher, has been looking for an apartment in Miami for more than six months. “We’re kind of sick of talking about it,” she said of herself and fellow teachers in the same boat. “It’s like, are you still living with your mom? Yeah, are you? Yeah.” After 11 years as a teacher, Ms. Santamaria makes $41,000, considerably less than the city’s median income, which is $48,000, according to Zillow.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Efforts to fix the notorious Heartbleed bug threaten to cause major disruptions to the Internet over the next several weeks as companies scramble to repair encryption systems on hundreds of thousands of Web sites at the same time, security experts say.
Estimates of the severity of the bug’s damage have mounted almost daily since researchers announced the discovery of Heartbleed last week. What initially seemed like an inconvenient matter of changing passwords for protection now appears much more serious. New revelations suggest that skilled hackers can use the bug to create fake Web sites that mimic legitimate ones to trick consumers into handing over valuable personal information.
The sheer scale of the work required to fix this aspect of the bug — which makes it possible to steal the “security certificates” that verify that a Web site is authentic — could overwhelm the systems designed to keep the Internet trustworthy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
CareerCast is out with their annual ranking of the 10 best and 10 worst jobs for 2014, and let's just say that math and science guys everywhere are about to high-five.
Nine out of 10 of the best jobs fell into the STEM career category (science, technology, engineering and math), with the "numbers guys," in particular, locking in 3 of the top 4 spots.
"This absolutely verifies the importance of STEM careers," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Science & Technology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.
Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel's teenage residents on to lorries.
The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As priests chanted and smeared vermilion on Narendra Modi’s forehead, the opposition leader prayed that India would make him its next prime minister.
Modi came to this Hindu holy city late last year to worship at a site that has been contested by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Just yards from where he stood, a two-story wall of metal bars separated the historic temple from a mosque.
Modi has been a polarizing figure in India for years. Now his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has surged in the polls as a discontented electorate has embraced his message of economic growth and corruption-free government. Voters have begun to cast their ballots in national elections, which will continue in stages until May 12.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Hinduism Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all (every photo has a story just click on each person)
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
Every time I say I believe in God, people look a bit embarrassed. It’s become one of those subjects most people don’t want to discuss.
We can talk face-to-face and chat online about our sex lives, our children and our fantasy partners, but we hesitate to reveal whether we believe in life after death.
At Easter, the most important religious festival for Christians, politicians go through hoops to avoid talk of the G (God) word, for fear of alienating voters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology
Watch it all and I recommended Kleenex.
Dozens of people have been killed in two blasts that rocked a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, officials say.
The blast happened as commuters were about to board buses and taxis to go to work in central Abuja, the BBC's Haruna Tangaza reports.
Eyewitnesses say there are dead bodies scattered around the area.
This may have been another attack by the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram, correspondents say.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…
Read and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.
Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.
Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Egypt * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Coptic Church Orthodox Church Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has told the BBC.
Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism....But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.
And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.
It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.
I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Jeff Bauman knows the exact moment his life was changed forever. It was the moment he looked Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the face.
“He just seemed out of place,” said Bauman in his most recent interview with Brian Williams. “Everybody there was having fun, you know, clapping, taking pictures, and he was just standing there with a backpack ... he just looked really odd. So I looked at him and I stared at him.”
And then, in an instant: a flash, and what sounded like a pop, and he was lying flat on his back.
Watch and/or read it all from NBC.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
This is the Rev'd Mark Abrey, vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He seems to be a quiet and unassuming sort of minister, so you won't find much written about him anywhere. Indeed, it took His Grace the best part of an hour to unearth a photograph. The Rev'd Mark happens to be David Cameron's local vicar in his constituency. And this is what the Prime Minister said of him at Wednesday's Downing Street Easter reception:
..it’s lovely to have here tonight the vicar from St Mary Abbots school, Gillean Craig, and also the vicar who looks after me spiritually in the constituency, Mark Abrey in Chadlington, who, when I often – anyone asks me about the pastoral care that many vicars carry out across the country, I remember 5 years ago when we had to mourn the loss and bury my son Ivan, I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind than Mark. And of course, Ivan would have been 12 yesterday, which has had me pause to think about that.
Now, Mr Cameron said an awful lot more in his speech, which spanned politics, religion, the law of Christ, the Big Society and Dyno-Rod. And you may read all of that for yourselves and make up your own minds what you think about it. But His Grace is going to dwell on this single sentence of tribute to a single Church of England vicar, for this speech was extempore - not carefully crafted by some Downing Street hireling. And, clearly coming from the heart, it reveals rather more about the Prime Minister's spirituality and appreciation of the Church of England's ministry than anything he has previously disclosed.
Read it all from Archbishop Cranmer's blog.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Pastoral Theology
Three months after a state judge issued a scathing report on the treatment of mentally ill prisoners, a national report is reaching a similar conclusion.
A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association issued Thursday ranks South Carolina “near the bottom” in the treatment of mentally ill inmates.
The report found the state ranked near the bottom in the availability of public psychiatric beds, efforts to divert mentally ill from imprisonment, per capita spending on mental health “and almost every other measure of treatment for mentally ill individuals.”
Read it all.
Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.
William Elliott, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, says the burden of student loans isn't just a personal, short-term problem for individuals. Loans now make up too large a part of financial aid packages, he tells NPR's David Greene, "and they're too big of a part of how we finance college."
As a result, Elliott says, too many young people are spending years on loan repayment, instead of growing personal wealth through investments like real estate and retirement accounts. In the long-term, he adds, that can be a drag on the economy — and create a wealth divide between people who have student debt and those who don't.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The U.S. Government Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government's consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
There was a time when hitting a fresh cycle low in initial jobless claims was something to cheer. That doesn’t seem like the appropriate response this cycle. The labor backdrop at present is punctuated not by the fact that layoffs are diminishing, but rather by the sheer lack of hiring. We have gone through this calculus ad nausea but it bears repeating. The pace of hiring (as measured by the hiring rate, which is hiring relative to employment) at present is not just lower than the previous cycle low, it also shows a stunning lack of momentum. Make no mistake, the level of hiring is trending in the right direction, but at best the pace is quite modest. Part of the problem is the difficulty filling job openings…while the hiring rate remains weak by any standard, the ratio of hires-to-job openings continues to print cycle lows and remains at levels that are more consistent with a very tight labor backdrop--RBC Capital Market’s Tom Porcelli as quoted this afternoon by Barrons
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Tina: Your research examined the relationship between religion and the political commitments in Britain and I was really intrigued about what led you to conduct the research.
Nick: We conducted a research project about 18 months ago, which was written by Andy Walton. It asked whether there was a religious right emerging in Britain and, to cut a long story short, that project concluded that the answer was no. But it begged another question, which was if we don't have a religious right, if we're not going down the US path, what do we have? Is there such a thing as a religious vote or a religious block vote and, if so, what impact will it have? So we decided we would investigate that particular question in this research.
Tina: In terms of the relationship between members of the Christian denominations and the voting preference, what did the research reveal?
Nick: We went back through about 50 years' worth of British election studies and charted how people of different religious groups or different Christian denominations voted - or, more precisely, said they had voted - in each of those elections. Broadly speaking, there were some alignments - not strong blocks but alignments: alignments between Anglicans and the Conservative Party, between Roman Catholics and the Labour Party, and much weaker, certainly much weaker today, between other Christians and the third party.
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U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, has been given until Tuesday to propose measures in response to the ongoing presence of Russian troops along the border with eastern Ukraine
NATO troops, including Americans, could be deployed to Eastern Europe in an effort to shore up defenses in allied countries that share a border with Russia, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday.
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A plan to build a skyscraper near Liverpool Street railway station, slated to be the tallest in the City of London, may be revived this year as rising occupancy rates in the financial district draws investors, according to Peter Rees, the City’s former planning officer.
Work on the Pinnacle, an office tower designed to have a height of about 288 meters (945 feet), was halted in 2012 after the economic crisis roiled financial markets.
“There is a will to go forward, there is a demand for the space and there’s no difficulty at all in finding funding to build the project,” Rees said in a March 21 interview ahead of his retirement last week.
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In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ordered that all food animals must be stunned before being killed. The move effectively bans the ritual slaughter methods prescribed in both Muslim and Jewish tradition.
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Travis Wiseman and Andrew Young, the two economists who wrote this study, found that the more Christians there are in a state, the lower the level of entrepreneurship for that state.
For some, this may come as a surprise. Yet many of us have come to the realization that the Protestant work ethic has all but disappeared.
- See more at: http://blog.tifwe.org/the-atheist-work-ethic/#sthash.QilmokYV.dpuf
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“A Journey to Waco,” [Clive] Doyle’s memoir, is an account of what it means to be a religious radical—to worship on the fringes of contemporary Christianity. Doyle takes the story from his childhood in Australia through the extraordinary events of 1993, when some eighty armed agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided the Mount Carmel community, in an effort to serve a search and arrest warrant on Koresh, on suspicion of violating federal firearms rules. “I want you all to go back to your rooms and stay calm,” Doyle recalls Koresh saying, as federal agents descended on Mount Carmel. Doyle goes on, “I could hear David’s steps going down the hall toward the front door. . . . Then all of a sudden I heard David say: ‘Hey, wait a minute! There are women and children in here!’ Then all hell broke loose—just a barrage of shots from outside coming in. It sounded like a bloodbath.”
In the resulting gun battle, four A.T.F. agents and six Davidians were killed. The F.B.I. was called in. The Davidian property was surrounded. An army of trained negotiators were flown to the scene, and for the next fifty-one days the two sides talked day and night—arguing, lecturing, bargaining—with the highlights of their conversations repeated at press conferences and broadcasts around the world. The Waco standoff was one of the most public conversations in the history of American law enforcement, and the question Doyle poses in his memoir, with genuine puzzlement, is how a religious community could go to such lengths to explain itself to such little effect....
The F.B.I. agent expected that the Davidians, like a fragile cult, would turn paranoid and defensive in the presence of a threat. He didn’t grasp that he was dealing with a very different kind of group—the sort whose idea of a good evening’s fun was a six-hour Bible study wrestling with a tricky passage of Revelation. It was a crucial misunderstanding, and would feed directly into the tragedy that was to come.
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When LaTisha Styles graduated from Kennesaw State University in Georgia in 2006 she had $35,000 of student debt. This obligation would have been easy to discharge if her Spanish degree had helped her land a well-paid job. But there is no shortage of Spanish-speakers in a nation that borders Latin America. So Ms Styles found herself working in a clothes shop and a fast-food restaurant for no more than $11 an hour.
Frustrated, she took the gutsy decision to go back to the same college and study something more pragmatic. She majored in finance, and now has a good job at an investment consulting firm. Her debt has swollen to $65,000, but she will have little trouble paying it off.
As Ms Styles’s story shows, there is no simple answer to the question “Is college worth it?” Some degrees pay for themselves; others don’t. American schoolkids pondering whether to take on huge student loans are constantly told that college is the gateway to the middle class. The truth is more nuanced, as Barack Obama hinted when he said in January that “folks can make a lot more” by learning a trade “than they might with an art history degree”. An angry art history professor forced him to apologise, but he was right.
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In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.--The opener of a front page article from Friday saying so much more than the author thinks
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Afghanistan's Mitra Hemmat: Retail entrepreneur
Mitra Hemmat has occupied rarefied air since returning from Iran to Afghanistan in 2005, where she quickly achieved status as the nation’s top student, and won a scholarship to study in India.
A doctor who wears a black headscarf with a faux diamond broach, at 28 she accepts few limits, and dreams of giving back to her country “to help my people.” She plans to serve through medicine and one day win election to parliament.
“We just want peace; we don’t want to have to think about who is the president,” says Ms. Hemmat. “If it is bad, if things change [for the worse], I will go to another country,” says Hemmat. “My passport is always in my pocket. I would not stay.”
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A big puzzle looms over the U.S. economy: Friday's jobs report tells us that the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7% from a peak of 10% at the height of the Great Recession. But at the same time, only 63.2% of Americans 16 or older are participating in the labor force, which, while up a bit in March, is down substantially since 2000. As recently as the late 1990s, the U.S. was a nation in which employment, job creation and labor force participation went hand in hand. That is no longer the case.
What's going on? Think of the labor market as a spring bash you've been throwing with great success for many years. You've sent out the invitations again, but this time the response is much less enthusiastic than at the same point in previous years.
One possibility is that you just need to beat the bushes more, using reminders of past fun as "stimulus" to get people's attention. Another possibility is that interest has shifted away from your big party to other activities.
Economists are sorting out which of these scenarios best explains the slack numbers on labor-force participation....
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America’s latest “reality check” came last week with the near collapse of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Having bent over backwards to keep it on track and undertaken 12 visits to the region, John Kerry, US secretary of state, is not floundering for lack of effort. Nor, as is often rumoured, has he been hung out to dry by the White House. The truth is that the US has limited sway over either side. Mr Kerry only drew attention to the US’s weak leverage last week with his offer to release Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy, in exchange for a minimal commitment by Israel to keep things on track. The notion was quickly booed offstage.
The US’s success as a hegemon has traditionally been about magnifying its power through friendship. Yet its ability to rally existing friends behind it and make new ones to replace them is diminishing. Last month Mr Obama made his first visit to Brussels as president to try to galvanise Europeans following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. His speech was well received, although it was not once interrupted by applause. Yet there is little sign that his visit succeeded in persuading Germany, Britain and others to take a radically tougher line on Russia. The US’s ability to contain Mr Putin will hinge on building a viable government in Ukraine. The odds of that happening remain poor. Nor did Mr Obama’s trip appear to breathe new life into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, as many expected. If the Russian wolf cannot unify the west, what can?
While its closest allies are getting weaker, the US is finding it hard to replace them with new ones. Mr Obama cannot be faulted for trying. Since taking office, he has made overtures to India, Brazil, Indonesia – and even Russia, during the brief period of Mr Putin playing second fiddle to Dimitri Medvedev, then Russia’s president. In most cases, the US has been either rebutted or ignored.
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The American Funeral Industry is changing. In recent years, stores like Costco have begun selling caskets, jewelry made from cremation remains, even burials at sea. And now in Southern California, one of the biggest names in the funeral business, Forest Lawn Cemetery, is trying to reach people in a place where they live and breathe - the shopping mall. More from Gloria Hillard.
GLORIA HILLARD, BYLINE: Navigating the kiosk at the Glendale Galleria, shoppers are offered everything from beauty tips to hot neck wraps to vapor cigarettes before arriving at a more tranquil place located between LensCrafters and Footlocker, Forest Lawn....
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It’s said that nobody ever died from a marijuana overdose. Nobody ever died from a tobacco overdose either, but that doesn’t prove tobacco safe. Of all the dangers connected to marijuana, the most lethal is the risk of automobile accident. Marijuana-related fatal car crashes have nearly tripled across the United States in the past decade.Marijuana legalizers may counter: Can’t we just extend laws against drunk driving to stoned driving?
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. What exactly defines marijuana impairment remains fiercely contested by an increasingly assertive marijuana industry. It took Colorado four tries to enact a legal definition of marijuana impairment: five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Yet even once enacted, the standard remains very difficult to enforce. Alcohol impairment can be detected with a Breathalyzer. Marijuana impairment is revealed only by a blood test, and long-established law requires police to obtain a search warrant before a blood test is administered.
More important than catching impaired drivers after the fact is deterring them before they get behind the wheel. In the absence of a blood-testing kit, marijuana users themselves will find it difficult to know how much is too much.
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(For those interested in these sorts of things, the newspaper headline is "Puff by puff, a puritan land is learning not all drugs are evil"--KSH.
I got a text the other day from a close friend. He was excited. “I just bought legal weed in Colorado! A small step for me but a giant leap for mankind. They had a huge line. All dudes. Busy all day every day, the women behind the counter said.”
And here’s the thing. My friend is not a slacker. He’s a father of two, a hugely successful media entrepreneur with a constant stream of ideas, arguments and facts. He’s hard to keep up with on most days we spend together, and he’s a near fanatic on the need to legalise cannabis across the US.
He represents in one small way a seismic social shift in America on the status and use of some recreational drugs. To give you a simple example, the Pew Research Centre just released an extensive study of attitudes toward drugs and found the following statistic: 67% of Americans favour treatment rather than prison for users of hard drugs. In 2001, the country was evenly divided, 47% versus 45%, on the question of harsh minimum sentences for drug offenders. Today, we’re in a different universe.
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When Dennis Schimpf was growing up the amount of photographs he appeared in were “few and far between.”
“Now kids at 9 or 10 years old are having daily pictures,” he said.
Schimpf is a plastic surgeon at Sweetgrass Plastic Surgery in Summerville, working in cosmetic surgery.
A recent study released by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) shows that there has been an increase in cosmetic procedures – and the survey finds that the selfie trend is the cause for this increase. The selfie trend refers to the action of someone taking a photo of his or herself and posting online on popular social media websites and smartphone applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
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Do you want “limitless power, limitless good karma, and limitless wisdom”? Alex and Ani’s promotional material tells you to buy the Buddha Charm Bangle, available for $28. Do you want “divine direction and soulful enlightenment”? They recommend the Saint Anthony Charm Bangle, for the same price. For the union of masculine and feminine energy, Alex and Ani offers the Star of David Charm Bangle, at $24.
Last year, Alex and Ani, founded in 2004 by Carolyn Rafaelian and named for her two eldest daughters, sold $230 million worth of these amulets. Its bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings are available in 40 Alex and Ani stores in the United States, and in 1,500 other retail outlets around the world. According to a company spokesperson, the company moved over 18 million units “between 2012 and 2013.”
The growth of Alex and Ani poses a question: Is the company a capitalist success story, run by a single mom in the same midsize New England town where she grew up? Or is it a worldwide church, whose tokens of membership, worn on the wrist or around the neck, happen to generate booming sales?
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Afghans flocked to polling stations nationwide tod ay, defying a threat of violence by the Taliban, to cast their votes in what promises to be the nation's first democratic transfer of power.
The turnout was so high that some polling centres ran out of ballot papers.
The excitement over choosing a new leader for the first time appeared to overwhelm the fear of bloodshed in many areas, as Afghans embarked on a major transition nearly 13 years after the US-led invasion toppled the rule of the Taliban.
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Ah, ah, ah--you need to guess before you look. Check it out from Forbes.
Calls for...[Brendan Eich's] ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.
If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.
Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman's bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership's political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?
It isn't difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla's behavior toward Eich.
Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would've argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO's ability to do his job? They'd have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they're averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.
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The daughter of a 92-year-old priest who is paying interest on a loan agreed with the Church of England Pensions Board at 8.6 per cent - more than twice the cur-rent average - has questioned the morality of the scheme.
In 1985, the Revd Eric Quin took out a shared-equity loan in order to purchase a three-bedroom cottage in Cheshire for £45,750. With his wife, he paid £20,750 to put down a 45-per-cent deposit. The Pensions Board paid the remainder, £26,500, on the understanding that it would be entitled to 55 per cent of the final sale price.
The initial interest rate was three per cent - much lower than the 12-per-cent mortgage rate at the time. This rate was gradually increased in line with the pensions of all the fund's members. Mr Quin is now paying interest at a rate of 8.6 per cent. The property has risen in value to £200,000.
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The shifts in public sentiment have led Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention to draw an arresting conclusion: Contrary to what an earlier generation believed, there's no "moral majority" in America today, and never was. "There was a Bible Belt illusion of a Christian America that never existed," Moore told journalists at a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center last week. "The illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable."
The Moral Majority, of course, was the Christian political caucus founded by the late Jerry Falwell in 1979. Falwell's premise was that conservative Christians were a sleeping giant, and that if they were organized and summoned to the polls, Congress and state legislatures would do their will.
Moore has concluded that although plenty of Americans call themselves evangelicals and attend church most Sundays, many have drifted away from orthodoxy on issues such as divorce, abortion and gay marriage. To Moore, that means the crucial mission for believers shouldn't be politics but rather to preach the Gospel and win souls.
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Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it.
Mozilla confirmed the change in a blog post.
“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read the post, in part. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”
Read it all. There is much more here from Reihan Salam and there from Andrew Sullivan.
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New Zealand came first in a global index published on Thursday that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses.
The Social Progress Index (SPI) rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.
The SPI asks questions such as whether a country can satisfy its people's basic needs and whether it has the infrastructure and capacity to allow its citizens to improve the quality of their lives and reach their full potential.
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Bob Kuhn, Trinity Western University’s newly-named president, says the degree of outright opposition to its new law school could mark the beginning of “a new era of persecution” against the Church in Canada.
“It’s sudden and swift and very powerful,” says Kuhn. “Having practiced law for close to 34 years, I have never seen anything quite like it in terms of the sea-change, a tsunami of societal offence against Christians and Christian views.”
In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave the school the green light. Now, three of its member-societies (British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia) are in the process of debating whether to allow TWU law school grads to article in their provinces. At issue is the university’s community covenant, which upholds biblical values on sexual relations. Many in the legal community interpret that as “anti-gay.”
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The shooting was the third major gun attack at a U.S. military installation in five years, leaving the nation grappling with the prospect of yet more flag-draped funerals for troops killed on the homefront. A government contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in September, leaving 12 people dead. In 2009, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan opened fire on a group of soldiers at Fort Hood preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.
Doctors at the Scott & White hospital in Temple, Tex., said Wednesday that they have treated eight of the wounded and that one more was on the way. Three of the patients were in critical condition in the ICU, and five were in serious condition. Seven of them were male, and one was female. Their injuries ranged from mild to life-threatening, a majority of them caused by single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.
President Obama said he was “heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.” Speaking during a fundraising trip to Chicago, he pledged “to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.
The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.
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My own view is that today’s global economic and technological interdependence can’t, of course, make war obsolete — human beings will always surprise you — but globalization does impose real restraints that shape geopolitics today more than you think....For reinforcement, I’d point to the very original take on this story offered by Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert whose new book, “The Road to Global Prosperity,” argues that while global economics does not eliminate geopolitics, it does indeed trump global geopolitics today. It’s the key to trumping Putin, too.
As Mandelbaum (my co-author on a previous work) explains in his book, it is not either-or. Geopolitics never went away, even as globalization has become more important. For globalization to thrive, it needs a marketplace stabilized by power. Britain provided that in the 19th century. America does so today and will have to continue to do so even if Putin becomes a vegetarian pacifist.
But get a grip, Mandelbaum said in an interview: “Putin is not some strange creature from the past. He is as much a product of globalization as Davos Man.”
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Bye-bye, “Bishop Bling.” So long, “Pastor Perks.” The so-called “Francis effect” may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you.
Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including deluxe digs in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, and the pressure of his example seems to be making itself felt.
Last week, the pontiff accepted the resignation of the most ostentatious offender, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in Germany, aka “Bishop Bling” who spent a cool $43 million on a swank new residence and office complex while cutting staff.
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China may exempt electric-car buyers from paying purchase taxes as part of expanded state measures to bolster sales of such vehicles after past incentives failed to spur demand, Vice Premier Ma Kai said.
The government may cut or waive the 10 percent auto-purchase tax for new-energy vehicles -- China’s term for electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles -- and slow down the reduction of government subsidies beyond 2015, according to comments from Vice Premier Ma Kai posted on the Chinaev.org website. Ma also urged local governments to help companies develop electric-car rental services.
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Gallup Business Journal: Why has psychological injury become such a concern in the workplace?
Damian Byers, Ph.D.: Health and safety in the workplace is often looked at from a cost point of view. Psychological injury has become a well-recognized category of injury, and the rate of increase is skyrocketing. So the people who are most vociferous about managing it tend to be the finance people. And because of the risk exposure associated with any kind of injury, there's often interest from [corporate] boards as well. But they're usually interested in aggregated macro lag indicators, such as lost-time injury frequency rate or other kinds of overall incident rate indicators, not individual cases.
The problem is that boards and finance people are a long way from the day-to-day work of a line manager. Line managers don't see the cost of psychological injury, but they're accountable for it because they're accountable for team performance. And because the metrics of injury are macro lag indicators, they don't guide decisions or change behaviors for anybody. Lagging indicators don't tell people what they need to do.
What causes psychological injuries?
Dr. Byers: It's almost always [the result of] a failure of management practice and process, particularly a breakdown in the management relationship. In most of the cases that I have analyzed in the organizations that I have worked in, we're talking about bad manager-worker relationships and a well-established, unproductive, poisonous dynamic within a team. These dynamics are the result of poor people management practices and often poor people management tools and policies. The remedy there is well and truly in the hands of senior line managers.
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A true story: This chimney, planted like a limbless live oak on a residential street, was built by imprisoned German soldiers during the final year of World War II.
City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.
They are Jewish, and they want it gone.
“Every time I see the structure, it makes me think about the ovens,” says Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, 79, who co-owns the land. “I don’t see any reason to make a shrine to Nazis.”
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Martin Kanovsky, an internist in Chevy Chase, used to see patients every 15 minutes and worry at times about what he might be missing by moving so fast. In December, the 61-year-old doctor reduced his practice to a small pool of people who pay a premium for longer visits and round-the-clock access to him. “There’s no such thing as double-booking,” he said.
Janis Finer, 57, a primary-care physician in Tulsa, Okla., gave up her busy practice two years ago to care full time for hospitalized patients. The lure? Regular shifts, every other week off and a 10 percent increase in pay
Tim Devitt, a family physician in rural Wisconsin, took calls on nights and weekends, delivered babies and visited his patients in the hospital. The stress took a toll, though: He retired six years ago, at 62.
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Waking at 4.30am every day she says her prayers before getting ready to make the trip from the flat she shares with her sister’s family in Walworth Road, south London, to get to work by 7am. The best bit of her job is the pay. She earns the so-called living wage, which in London is set at £8.80 an hour. The boost in her pay – which was previously the adult minimum wage rate of £6.31 – has made her “lighter” and “happy inside”, less stressed over financial struggles.
A secondary school teacher with a degree in social and political science as well as a masters in education, she came to Britain in 2005 from Nigeria to improve her living standards. She has always been resourceful. In Nigeria, as well as teaching, she ran a catering company and imported fashion accessories from Europe.
Her first few months in London were spent finding her feet in a city she found unwelcoming. It is the social life she misses: in Nigeria “we live like brothers and sisters”, she says. There she could rely on neighbours to watch her children; here she has never even met the person who lives next door. The local Anglican church has proved her social salvation. “That is where my happiness lies. When I go to church, it’s like I’m back in Africa.”
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Will Ross reports on the challenge of fighting Boko Haram, and watches rare footage filmed by the group of a recent attack.
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The National Council of Churches (NCC) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the plight of Christian communities in Syria, especially the depopulation of the Armenian community of Kessab, stating: “While Syrians of all religious communities are caught up in this horrible conflict, of particular concern to us are the Christian communities, which are often the most vulnerable.”
“One situation that has just come to our attention is the attack on the Armenian villages of Kessab. Though this attack comes in the wider context of the overall Syrian conflict, it nevertheless has brought death and destruction to the Christian communities there,” the NCC letter reads in part. The letter specifically urges the President to “safeguard the vulnerable Christian communities” and to “restore stability to the Armenian communities of Kessab.”
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A United Nations panel of scientists is joining the list craze with what they call eight "key risks" that are part of broader "reasons for concern" about climate change.
It's part of a massive report on how global warming is affecting humans and the planet and how the future will be worse unless something is done about it. The report is being finalized at a meeting this weekend by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
They assembled the list to "make it understandable and to illustrate the issues that have the greatest potential to cause real harm," the report's chief author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science in California, said in an interview.
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Some employers increasingly are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace.
Germany-based software company SAP has been actively seeking people with autism for jobs, not because of charitable outreach but because it believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs than those without autism.
It's a worthy initiative, according to disability experts, since 85% of adults with autism are estimated to be unemployed.
Piloted in Germany, India and Ireland, the program is also launching in four North American offices, according to an announcement Thursday.
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None of us works anything like as hard as we think we do. According to studies in the US and elsewhere, people routinely overestimate their working hours by at least 10 per cent – when you compare how hard people say they work to diary entries, the two don’t tally.
In itself that isn’t terribly surprising. We are all famously useless at estimating how long we spend doing anything. Time-use studies show we wildly overestimate the amount of housework and underestimate sleep – ask an insomniac how much she slept last night, and she’ll say two hours, when it was actually closer to five.
What is unusual about the work estimates is that the longer people actually work the more they overestimate it. Those who work 37 hours estimate that they work 40. But people who work 50 hours bump up the estimate by a whacking 25 hours and claim to work 75.
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A big-hearted restaurant owner known as "Momma" leads a group in Arlington, Washington called the Soup Ladies who for 10 years have been dishing up meals for first responders. They are feeding hot meals to search and rescue workers at the site of a tragic mudslide roughly 70 miles away in Oso.
Watch the whole thing from NBC.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Dieting/Food/Nutrition Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
Local people facing homelessness soon will be able to earn money by selling a news magazine with content about challenges they face and various social justice issues.
Founder Paul Gangarosa put up his own money and time to create The Lowcountry Herald, a monthly news magazine whose first 16-page issue should be published this week.
"I saw through the Great Recession how easy it is for anyone to become homeless," says Gangarosa, an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston who teaches public health. He also saw the concept of so-called street newspapers.
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More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger — two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.
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With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.
Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.
He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.
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US Secretary of State John Kerry has diverted his homebound flight at the last minute, for hastily arranged talks on the Ukraine crisis with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The decision came after President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Barack Obama by phone late on Friday.
Mr Obama has called on Russia to pull its troops back from Ukraine's border.
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Even those who advocate most strongly for the legalization of marijuana concede the impaired functioning that research has shown. One such site acknowledges,
The short-term effects of marijuana include immediate, temporary changes in thoughts, perceptions, and information processing. The cognitive process most clearly affected by marijuana is short-term memory. In laboratory studies, subjects under the influence of marijuana have no trouble remembering things they learned previously. However, they display diminished capacity to learn and recall new information. This diminishment only lasts for the duration of the intoxication. There is no convincing evidence that heavy long-term marijuana use permanently impairs memory or other cognitive functions.
Other studies suggest that the effect on diminished brain function is more lasting, especially for teenagers.
Thus, unlike caffeine, marijuana is not generally thought of as an empowering drug that enables you to be a more alert dad, or a more aware mother, or a more competent employee. Rather, for most users, it is a recreational escape, which produces diminished accuracy of observation, memory, and reasoning. And it may have lasting negative effects on the mind’s ability to do what God created it to do.
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Demographers tell us that Millennials are young adults aged 18 to 33. They’re often the ones you see sipping a latte at Starbucks, checking their Twitter feeds, or texting their friends.
According to a Pew Research report entitled “Millennials in Adulthood,” they are incredibly well connected to friends, family, and colleagues via all the latest digital platforms. But as University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox says, when it comes to “the core human institutions that have sustained the American experiment — work, marriage, and civil society,” the Millennials’ ties “are worryingly weak.”
Let’s take them in order. Concerning work, less than half of young people aged 18 to 29 are employed full time, and the numbers continue to fall. Wilcox says, “Work affords most Americans an important sense of dignity and meaning—the psychological boost provided by what American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks calls a sense of ‘earned success.’ ”
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After speaking [with Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine] on a number of points of mutual interest, we discussed specific prayer requests. Brother Nesteruk specifically asked Southern Baptists to pray for the following:
-- That there would be no war in Ukraine, but peace.
-- That there would be a sense of peace in the hearts of Ukrainian people, rather than a sense of unrest or anxiety.
-- For the economic situation, as sanctions imposed by Russia have already begun making life difficult in Ukraine.
-- Most of all, that people would be open to the Gospel and actively seek the Gospel during these troubled times.
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South Carolina's unemployment rate plummeted to 5.7 percent in February from 6.4 percent in January, the largest one-month decrease since the state starting tracking jobless numbers in 1976, the Department of Employment and Workforce said Friday.
It was the ninth consecutive month the figure has declined.
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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-- Politics in General State Government * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., a retired Navy rear admiral and former U.S. senator who survived nearly eight years of captivity in North Vietnamese prisons, and whose public acts of defiance and patriotism came to embody the sacrifices of American POWs in Vietnam, died March 28 at a hospice in Virginia Beach. He was 89.
The cause was complications from a heart ailment, said his son Jim Denton. Adm. Denton was a native of Alabama, where in 1980 he became the state’s first Republican to win election to the Senate since Reconstruction.
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South Carolina was home to all three of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas on the Atlantic Coast in 2013, new Census Bureau estimates say.
Greater Charleston is the largest of those metro areas, and it has accounted for nearly a third of the state's population growth since the last census in 2010.
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A Labour MP is to challenge the Church of England to say whether it would defrock a priest for marrying a same-sex partner.
Ben Bradshaw has accused the Church of "trying to have its cake and eat it" by accepting same-sex marriage for its members, but not for its clergy.
The ex-cabinet minister said priests needed to know where they stood.
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President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, opening a new chapter in the centuries-long relationships between the United States and the Holy See.
While Obama has praised Francis’ focus on the poor, popes and American presidents haven’t always seen eye to eye.
With that in mind, here are five surprising encounters between the Commander in Chief and the Successor to St. Peter.
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...the Supreme Court will hear arguments by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, asking the court for the right to discriminate against their employees who are entitled to reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. I know that Hobby Lobby's owner family, the Greens, are deeply religious people, and I respect their beliefs. They object to certain forms of birth control, claiming they constitute abortion (a "fact" disputed by much of the medical community). The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion — a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its 14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?
We know that most American women, regardless of what religion they are, use contraception at some point in their lives. As a pastor, I have seen firsthand what a gift it is to be able to control when and whether one has a child. It offers women some measure of control over their lives.
Sometimes, even for a bishop, it's embarrassing to be a Christian. Not that I'm embarrassed by Jesus, whose life was spent caring and advocating for the marginalized, and whom I believe to be the perfect revelation of God. I'm just sometimes embarrassed to be associated with others who claim to follow him.
Read it all.
Not too long ago, the Greens of Oklahoma City were law-abiding people running an arts-and-crafts chain called Hobby Lobby.
They weren’t disturbing the peace, or denying anyone his or her rights. They were minding their own business — quite successfully and in keeping with their Christian faith. The roughly 600 Hobby Lobby stores stock Christian products, close on Sundays, and play Christian music.
Then one day Uncle Sam showed up to make an offer that the Greens couldn’t refuse — literally. As part of Obamacare, federal law demands that the chain cover contraceptives that the Greens consider abortifacients. The family decided it couldn’t comply with the law in good conscience, and its case is now before the Supreme Court.
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The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Orogodo Okoh, believes strongly that the on-going National Conference must not fail, saying it is a great opportunity to resolve the challenges faced by Nigeria. He also speaks on the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed many lives and affected the Church in the North-east and the controversial anti-gay law.
Excerpts from interview:
There are allegations lately that corruption has crept into Christianity with some men of God accused of sharp practices. How do you react to this?
I think you used an omnibus word ‘sharp practices’. I don’t know what it means because it could mean so many things. Can you be more specific?
Corruption has one definition, unethical practice. That is exactly what I am talking about.
Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).
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Seemingly divided, the Supreme Court struggled Tuesday with the question of whether companies have religious rights, a case challenging President Barack Obama's health overhaul and its guarantee of birth control in employees' preventive care plans.
Peppering attorneys with questions in a 90-minute argument, the justices weighed the rights of for-profit companies against the rights of female employees. The discussion ranged to abortion, too, and even whether a female worker could be forced to wear an all-covering burka.
The outcome could turn on the views of Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote, as his colleagues appeared otherwise to divide along liberal and conservative lines.
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Responding to a public question following his talk at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus this week, Lord Williams said Russia had behaved “unlawfully” by moving troops into the region of Crimea, which is part of the sovereign state of Ukraine.
He said: “The annexation of Crimea is a legally pretty dubious venture. To have a plebiscite in a certain region of another sovereign state and declare that therefore you can annexe it seems to me a deeply worrying re-run of the 1930s.
“I’m wary of any military action to defend Ukraine against Russia. I’m looking hard to see what further diplomatic as well as sanction-based initiatives may follow because I don’t think it is simply a case of ‘wicked aggressive Russia and plucky little Ukraine’.
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A divided Supreme Court seemed inclined to agree Tuesday that the religious beliefs of business owners may trump a requirement in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for all types of contraceptives.
With both snow and demonstrators gathering on the sidewalk outside, it was difficult to predict a precise outcome from the spirited 90-minute argument.
But a majority of the justices seemed to agree that the family-owned businesses that objected to the requirement were covered by a federal statute that gives great protection to the exercise of religion. That would mean the government must show the requirement is not a substantial burden on their religious expression, and that there was no less intrusive way to provide contraceptive coverage to female workers.
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When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked.
But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.
While previous data established that pattern, a new analysis of federal smoking data released on Monday shows that the disparity is increasing. The national smoking rate has declined steadily, but there is a deep geographic divide. In the affluent suburbs of Washington, only about one in 10 people smoke, according to the analysis, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. But in impoverished places like this — Clay County, in eastern Kentucky — nearly four in 10 do.
Read it all (from the front page of the paper copy of today's New York Times).
A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history.
Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they're being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties.
At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
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Two women who were abducted by Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria have given a rare account of life as captives of the Islamist militants.
"They asked me if I am Christian or Muslim. I said I am Christian," said 23-year-old Liatu, as she recalled her ordeal in the hands of Boko Haram.
"On the 11th day [in captivity], they brought a man to me and said that he liked me and I should convert to Islam so that he can marry me."
She was stopped at a roadblock set up last year by the Islamist militant group. She said any Muslims employed by the government were killed on the spot, as Boko Haram had earlier warned them to leave their work.
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It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were laid to rest among engineers at General Motors about a dangerous and faulty ignition switch. At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars.
But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, G.M. told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show. Last month, G.M. recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars, saying that if the switch was bumped or weighed down it could shut off the engine’s power and disable air bags.
In one case, G.M. threatened to come after the family of an accident victim for reimbursement of legal fees if the family did not withdraw its lawsuit. In another instance, it dismissed a family with a terse, formulaic letter, saying there was no basis for claims.
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....with less than 10 days left in the 2014 window to apply for coverage with policies through the federal marketplace, lots of people still don’t understand the penalties. Who pays? Who doesn’t? How do you pay? How do you avoid paying?
Toni McKinnon of Columbia stopped by Richland Library’s main branch on Assembly Street last week to find out about the health insurance marketplace because she was worried about having to pay a penalty.
“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t afford insurance,” McKinnon said, “and you sure can’t afford to pay some kind of penalty.”
She left the library slightly confused and very disappointed.
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The US is losing its edge as an employment powerhouse, where most people have a job or are looking for one, after its labour participation rate fell behind the UK’s.
The diverging trends between the US and the UK come as central bankers in both countries try to understand the dynamics in their respective labour markets, a critical factor in how long they should keep interest rates at record lows.
The labour force participation rate – the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work – started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.
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A shell of a church in Liverpool struck by a bomb in World War Two could be sold, according to the city's mayor.
Talks about the future of St Luke's Church, which was destroyed by a bomb in 1941, were ongoing Joe Anderson said.
He added it would only be sold if the buyer protected it as a tribute to those who died in World War Two.
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Billions of dollars are flowing into online advertising. But marketers also are confronting an uncomfortable reality: rampant fraud.
About 36% of all Web traffic is considered fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites, according to estimates cited recently by the Interactive Advertising Bureau trade group.
So-called bot traffic cheats advertisers because marketers typically pay for ads whenever they are loaded in response to users visiting Web pages—regardless of whether the users are actual people.
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U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn't intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.
America's vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping.
"Even though there was a warning, we didn't have the information to be able to say exactly what was going to happen," a senior U.S. official says.
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