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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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Baroness Warsi, the faith minister, has signalled that she is not satisfied that laws introducing same-sex marriage contain enough protections for religious groups.
The former Conservative Party chairman said she could not support the Government bill during votes in the Lords because of “reservations” about how clauses designed to prevent faith groups being sued for refusing to perform gay weddings would work in practice.
She raised the prospect of smaller churches, mosques and temples which are linked to local community centres, finding themselves in a legal grey area when same-sex marriage becomes possible from March next year.
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 * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths
Executives from energy companies met the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday, two months after he called on such firms to be "conscious of their social obligations", given the "severe" impact of energy price rises.
A statement from Lambeth Palace said that the senior representatives met to talk about "their perspectives on social responsibility around the energy-supply sector". This was "one of a number of private meetings hosted by Archbishop Justin in order to draw on the experience of people from different areas of national life".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
(Please note the headline above is from the Internet edition of the story, the print edition uses "Hundreds hungry, homeless in city" as its headline--KSH)>
"One hundred and fifty-six people slept here last night," said Amy Zeigler, vice president for development at the Crisis Ministries shelter on Meeting Street. "And the reality is that 156 people will be sleeping here tonight...."
In terms of providing meals to the hungry in Charleston, access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food still remains a factor. And the Lowcountry Food Bank reported that difficulties in food delivery could arise even further as the climate of federal cutbacks continues to be fought in Washington.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP and formerly known as the federal food stamp program, is part of the philosophical battleground.
Read it all from the front page of the local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Poverty Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Workers’ pay is hardly growing, with average hourly compensation only rising 38 cents, or 1.2%, over the last year.
Including both wages and benefits, employers paid an hourly average of $31.16 to each worker in September, compared with $30.78 a year ago, according to a Labor Department report released Wednesday. Wages and salaries made up nearly 70% of total compensation.
The agency’s quarterly report measures the average costs of wages, salaries and benefits for employees in the nonfarm private sector and state and local government workers. It doesn’t include people who work for the federal government or are self-employed. Benefit costs include paid leave, such as vacation or personal time, and the legally required benefits of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Americans see little prospect that President Barack Obama and Congress can get much done beyond keeping the government open for the next few months.
A Bloomberg National Poll finds 78 percent of respondents say the political gridlock in Washington will hurt the nation’s economy in 2014.
Large majorities say they want the government to ensure the new health-care law functions well, that policy makers agree to revise the tax code, and that an accord is reached to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Yet most doubt those things can be accomplished in the current political environment...
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A Frenchman who has lived half his 49 years in the United States, [Luc] Vincent was never in the Marines. But he is a leader in a new great game: the Internet land grab, which can be reduced to three key battles over three key conceptual territories. What came first, conquered by Google’s superior search algorithms. Who was next, and Facebook was the victor. But where, arguably the biggest prize of all, has yet to be completely won.
Where-type questions — the kind that result in a little map popping up on the search-results page — account for some 20 percent of all Google queries done from the desktop. But ultimately more important by far is location-awareness, the sort of geographical information that our phones and other mobile devices already require in order to function. In the future, such location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is — and that awareness will imbue the real world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools.
While no one can say exactly how we will get from the current moment to that Jetsonian future, one thing for sure can be said about location-awareness: maps are required. Tomorrow’s map, integrally connected to everything that moves (the keys, the tools, the car), will be so fundamental to their operation that the map will, in effect, be their operating system.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Longtime U2 musician and veteran activist Bono, who spent a lot of time with Nelson Mandela, speaks about his friend.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Music Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Bullish construction activity, new jobs and higher wages are expected to grow the Charleston region's economy in 2014, mirroring - and even surpassing - projections for South Carolina as a whole.
That was the message given in the University of South Carolina's annual economic outlook report, which was given Monday during the school's 33rd annual Economic Outlook Conference in Columbia.
usiness school economists Douglas Woodward and Joseph Von Nessen are predicting job growth - the single best economic indicator - to increase by 1.7 percent in the Palmetto State during 2014. The two made the prediction barring major changes in the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive economic stimulus program.
Read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the bosses of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to a private meeting on Wednesday to discuss fuel poverty and rising energy prices.
The meeting comes after the Most Rev Justin Welby said he understood why people felt above-inflation price rises were “inexplicable” and called on the companies to act with “generosity”.
Four of the Big Six supliers are believed to be sending their most senior UK executives, in contrast to a recent Commons select committee hearing where just one, E.On chief executive Tony Cocker, attended to face MPs.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK
Rolihlahla Mandela was nine years old when a teacher at the primary Methodist school where he was studying in Qunu, South Africa, gave him an English name - Nelson - in accordance with the custom to give all school children Christian names.
This was common practice in South Africa and in other parts of the continent, where a person could often be given an English name that foreigners would find easier to pronounce.
Rolihlahla is not a common name in South Africa.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an $85 billion package to fund the government past Jan. 15, avoid another federal shutdown and end the cycle of budget crises that have dominated Washington for much of the past three years.
The deal did not include a key priority of House Democrats who wanted an extension of long-term benefits for the unemployed. But Democrats said they would continue to press Republicans on the issue in hopes of preventing more than 1 million people from losing their unemployment checks at the end of the month.
Read it all.
Wall Street faces more intensive government scrutiny of trading after U.S. regulators issued what they billed as a strict Volcker rule today, imposing new curbs designed to prevent financial blowups while leaving many details to be worked out later.
The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other agencies formally adopted the proprietary trading ban. The rule has been contested by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and their industry allies for more than three years.
Wall Street’s lobbying efforts paid off in easing some provisions of the rule. Regulators granted a broader exemption for banks’ market-making desks, on the condition that traders aren’t paid in a way that rewards proprietary trading. The regulation also exempts some securities tied to foreign sovereign debt.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Stock Market The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On June 28 this year, Italian police arrested a silver-haired priest, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, in Rome. The cleric, nicknamed Monsignor Cinquecento after the €500 bills he habitually carried around with him, was charged with fraud and corruption, together with a former secret service agent and a financial broker. All three were suspected of attempting to smuggle €20m by private plane across the border from Switzerland.
Prosecutors alleged that the priest, a former banker, was using the Institute for Religious Works – the formal name for the Vatican’s bank – to move money for businessmen based in the Naples region, widely regarded in Italy as a haven of organised crime. Worse still, Scarano (who, together with the other men, has denied any wrongdoing) had until only a month earlier been head of the accounting department at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the treasury of the Vatican.
The arrest, and the headlines that screamed across the Italian press, was the latest shock for the Holy See....
Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary Europe Italy * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Brian Pellot: Let’s start with some of your general impressions of North Korea. Very few foreign journalists have reported from there in recent years. Why did you go?
John Sweeney: North Korea is the darkest place on earth, both literally and metaphorically. You can actually see how dark the country is from space. It’s almost as if it isn’t even there. It’s also the darkest place I’ve ever been to in terms of information. I used to be a war reporter. I went to Ceaușescu’s Romania, Saddam’s Iraq, Gadhafi’s Libya. I’ve been to about a dozen tyrannies. In Iraq and Libya, I’d meet people who would let you know their government is full of ####. That didn’t happen in North Korea. It feels like bad science fiction there. It’s like walking inside the “The Matrix.” It’s really weird and creepy. I wanted to shed some light on this dark state to show how North Korea is using nuclear blackmail against the West. Behind the mask of this, there is an immense human rights tragedy unfolding.
- See more at: http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/12/10/bbcs-john-sweeney-north-koreas-zombie-gods/#sthash.Woi7GkV8.dpuf
Read it all.
As the Affordable Care Act's deadline for getting health insurance approaches, 30% of U.S. adults still say that they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost. This figure has been stable since 2005, but is higher than it was between 2001 and 2004.
Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured have done so, compared with roughly one-quarter of those with Medicare or Medicaid (22%) or private health insurance (25%).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Baby boomers are calling for a timeout.
After decades of raising children and climbing the corporate ladder, they're weary of the same old routine. But they're so caught up in high-pressure jobs that they don't have the time and energy to figure out what to do next.
Enter the career break.
Inspired by high-school and college students who take "gap" or "bridge" years, more baby boomers are taking an extended leave from the working world. Their goal: to relax, re-energize and reflect upon what they want to do next—which often means heading down an entirely new and more fulfilling career path.
Read it all from the WSJ.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Despite rampant commercialization, the holiday season also has become a lifeline for nonprofits. One-third of all giving now takes place during the last three months of each year. About 18 percent of all giving to nonprofits last year occurred in December alone.
So far, it looks like that giving spirit will soar higher this year.
The Blackbaud Index, which measures charitable giving trends, announced last week that giving nationwide grew 2.3 percent for the three months ending October 2013 compared to the same time in 2012. Online giving increased almost 10 percent.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors for at least a seventh day out of the first nine this month, intensifying pressure on local authorities to control the worst smog since government monitoring began last year.
The city’s air quality index was at 238, or “heavily polluted” at 5 p.m., according to the local monitoring center. A warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200. The index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6 into the “severe” level, the highest of a six-tier rating system, according to the China Daily. That prompted the government to order cars off the road and factories to cut production.
Read it all.
As Justin Reckers watched his parents go through a nasty divorce, the wrenching experience gave him a first-hand view of some the worst mistakes couples can make when parting ways.
It also helped shape his career choice. He is now chief executive of Pacific Divorce Management and director of financial planning at Pacific Wealth Management.
Mr. Reckers describes his parent's breakup, which occurred just as he graduated college, as "probably the worst possible divorce scenario you could imagine." There were angry confrontations and the couple ended up bankrupt, he said....
Now 32, the son wants to help others find a less troubled path.Read it all.
The Atlantic has a story out about how the aging of the baby boom will lead to a housing crash. I am skeptical, because research I am doing with Hyojung Lee suggests that old people do not move out of their homes very much, and so as boomers age, they will not be glutting the market with their houses.
But there is another reason to think that the homeownership rate could fall: people are getting married at a decreasingly low rate. Susan Brown at Bowling Green has a study that shows that the marriage rate has dropped by 60 percent since 1970; right now slightly less than half of American households are married couple households. As recently as 1960, 3/4 of American households were married couple households.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market
Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba wrote a prayer:
"Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you. Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.
"We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper. We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning. We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Prison/Prison Ministry * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.
Spending that much may make little sense for a country burdened by ever-rising health bills, but as is often the case in American health care, there is a certain economic logic: Doctors and drugmakers profit when more-costly treatments are adopted.
Genentech, a division of the Roche Group, makes both products but reaps far more profit when it sells the more expensive drug. Although Lucentis is about 40 times as expensive as Avastin to buy, the cost of producing the two drugs is similar, according to scientists familiar with the drugs and the industry.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Leaders: what kind of culture are you fostering in your ministry? In a world ever more primed for speed and convenience, should the church lean into the trend or cling to more grounded values? Engage this piece from Craig Detweiler, and respond in the comments.
Jeff Bezos is a brilliant man and a remarkable marketer. He realizes that in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, the role of technologist-in-chief is up for grabs. And while Google is offering us Glass and Facebook and Twitter are aggregating our friends and followers, Amazon is appealing to a different felt need—for speed. By turning 60 Minutes into a platform to announce “drone delivery,” Bezos shifted the news cycle towards Amazon on the same day that Christians have traditionally initiated Advent. While people of faith were shifting into a season of waiting and anticipation, Amazon offered the promise of “Prime Air” that could go above and beyond UPS or Federal Express to deliver our choices in an even faster, more convenient manner—via octocopters.
It doesn’t really matter when this innovation will arrive. By getting us talking and thinking about the virtues of Amazon’s delivery methods, Bezos enjoyed a miraculous public relations coup.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
It is worth the time to look at them all.
World War II pilot Henry Heim, now 92, says he can still hear the sounds of the attack on Pearl Harbor vividly.
Looking back on the fateful morning of December 7, 1941, when Japanese bombers pounded the U.S. Pacific fleet, Americans like Heim are marking the anniversary on Saturday with solemn public ceremonies and private moments of reflection.
The surprise Japanese air and naval assault on the Hawaiian island of Oahu claimed 2,390 American lives and drew the United States into World War II.
Read it all.
Watch it all (Hat tip: RH).
Which bill in Congress affects the deficit, abortion funding, gay rights, religious liberty, peace, nuclear arms, Israel, and even homeschooling? The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
We reviewed the lobbying activity of over 300 religious interest groups. Of the over 500 bills that these interest groups lobbied on over the past two years, the annual defense spending bills were, by far, the biggest target of their advocacy.
Read it all.
When, after 27 years, Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison, the world marveled at his generous spirit, even temperament, genteel manners, disarming wit, ready smile and lack of bitterness.
Admirable as they were, those saintly virtues don’t begin to explain his political genius. Mandela was also cunning, iron-willed, bull-headed, contemptuous — and more embittered than he let on. He needed all of his traits — soft and hard — to engineer a political miracle: persuading a sitting government to negotiate its own abdication by yielding power to the very people it had ruthlessly oppressed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
What's the most indelible time of all the personal time-- and you had some intense personal time with him? Is there any one you can separate out?
Watch it all to hear Bill Clinton's answer (just under 2 3/4 minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Mr Powell said that Mr Mandela was a guide to him when he became the first black US secretary of state:
What I liked telling people was I was the first secretary of state who happened to be black, and I put that descriptor behind the title. We have to get beyond these labels depending upon your gender or your colour or your background. I'm proud of being black, and I'm proud of being an immigrant of British subjects, but at the same time I want to be seen as an American. And I think Nelson Mandela was able to create that kind of an image within South Africa. We are not black South Africans or white South Africans, we are South Africans who happen to be black or white. We are one family, one nation, one people.
Read it all and watch the whole video clip (approximately 3 1/4 minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Very powerful--take the time to look at them all.
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.
00:00 Anglicans have lost the Mother ChurchWatch it all.
14:38 Piling onto Pilling Report with Peter Ould
33:14 IRS and Clergy Housing Allowances with AS Haley
41:51 The National Museum in Washington DC
48:37 Closing and Bloopers
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Latest News Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes
Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Hitler — these were the names that, for much of the world, defined the first half of the 20th century, the most destructive era in history.
Gandhi, King, Mandela — these, it could be argued, are the figures who will live longest in the public consciousness as we look back on the postwar world: leaders who had no real armies to speak of and who wielded little power in office but who helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Prison/Prison Ministry Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
You may watch the announcement by Jacob Zuma here.
The Wall Street Journal now has an interactive obituary complete with some of his most memorable quotes, tweets and video there
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
The United States is appalled by today’s reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui. This horrifying account is the latest in a string of reports that illustrate the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) that could lead to an escalation in violence and further atrocities.
We are working with our partners in the international community, including through our efforts on the United Nations Security Council, to find the swiftest and most effective vehicle for stabilizing the situation.
Read it all.
Healthcare.gov seems to be working better for consumers, relatively, but it is not clear that it works for insurers (in which case it doesn’t work for consumers either, as they are trying to buy insurance). Insurers have long said that they are receiving botched enrolment forms, or 834s, if they receive them at all. On December 2nd health officials said they had fixed a problem that accounted for 80% of the glitches with 834s. But they would not confirm what share of 834s were being bungled, so it is hard to know the fix’s importance.
If the site is working better for consumers, as it seems to be, shoppers may rush to sign up for insurance before Mr Obama’s deadline of December 23rd. They will expect coverage to kick in just a few days later, on January 1st. That gives insurers little time to process 834s, even if they are sent without problems, let alone deal with garbled forms. Mr Obama’s goals for health reform have always been laudable. But the gruelling, technical job of enrolment will be the big story for some time yet.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A federal bankruptcy judge granted Detroit unprecedented powers Tuesday to shed billions of dollars in debt, including the ability to slash city employee pensions despite a state constitutional provision protecting them.
In approving the nation’s largest-ever municipal filing, Judge Steven Rhodes cleared the way for Detroit’s emergency manager to develop a plan to reorganize the city’s estimated $18 billion in debt. Beyond cutting worker pensions and retiree health benefits, the city could stiff bondholders and sell city assets such as its water and sewer authority and its priceless art collection.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.
“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”
The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Intensifying sectarian and clan violence has presented new opportunities for jihadist groups across the Middle East and raised concerns among American intelligence and counterterrorism officials that militants aligned with Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable of threatening Israel and Europe.
The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, raised warnings in an interview on CNN on Sunday when they said that Americans were “not safer” from terrorist attacks than in 2011.
Read it all.
China’s yuan overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance in 2013, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
The currency had an 8.66 percent share of letters of credit and collections in October, compared with 6.64 percent for the euro, Swift said in a statement today. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and Australia were the top users of yuan in trade finance, according to the Belgium-based financial-messaging platform. The yuan’s share of global trade finance was 1.89 percent in January 2012, while the euro’s was 7.87 percent, Swift said.
Read it all.
Faith schools discriminate against the less well-off, a survey has suggested. Comprehensive non-faith secondary schools admit 11 per cent more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas, while comparable Church of England secondaries admit 10 per cent fewer, it was found.
The Fair Admissions Campaign, which wants schools opened equally to all children regardless of religion, said admissions of pupils eligible for free school meals fell below the level in the schools’ areas by 24 per cent at Roman Catholic, 25 per cent at Muslim and 61 per cent at Jewish secondary schools.
The campaign claimed a “clear correlation” between religious selection and socio-economic segregation.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Boko Haram militants launched a daring raid against Nigerian troops on Monday in an attack that indicates the Islamist group is still capable of deadly strikes in spite of a six-month military crackdown.
The onslaught by what witnesses described as “hundreds” of militants against a military barracks and an air force base in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram is strongest, left scores dead, helicopters burnt and barracks destroyed, according to local news reports.
The authorities responded by imposing a 24-hour curfew across the state, and Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, summoned senior military officials to a meeting.
Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations 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
The interim accord with Iran that would limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief “is greatly preferable to military action, which could have unpredictable and negative repercussions for the region,” said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 27 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Read it all by following the link to the full letter.
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EU humanitarian chief Kristalina Georgieva said the country faced the twin risk of a state collapse and potential genocide because of the increasing tit-for-tat killings between the Christian majority and Seleka-backing Muslims.
Speaking at his residence in Camp de Roux, a colonial military camp on a hill that overlooks the Oubangui River, Djotodia attributed the violence to settling of scores between those loyal to the previous government and some Seleka elements.
"We hear people talk of inter-religious war, sometimes they talk of genocide. What group wants to exterminate the other? Who is planning to exterminate the other?" Djotodia asked.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Central African Republic * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Jeff Bezos: These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Take a look up here so I can show you how it works.
Charlie Rose: All right. We’re talking about delivery here?
Jeff Bezos: We’re talking about delivery. There’s an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not.
Charlie Rose: Wow!
Jeff Bezos: This is early. This is still…years away. It drops the package.
Charlie Rose: And there’s the package.
Jeff Bezos: You come and get your package. And we can do half hour delivery.
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...one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades: We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.
There is no better explanation for what has gone wrong in Washington in recent years than the tabulation done every two years of how many members of Congress served in the military.
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For over three decades Iran and America have been blood enemies. Their hatred, like the hatred between the Palestinians and the Israelis, has framed the Middle East’s alliances and fuelled terror and war. The interim deal over Iran’s nuclear programme has not undone that—far from it. But through the keyhole it offers a tantalising glimpse of a different, better Middle East. It is a vision worth striving for.
Iran and six world powers, led by America, struck the six-month interim nuclear agreement in the early hours of November 24th.... Iran will cap its programme at more or less its capacity today, while the rest of the world will relax sanctions a little. But the deal matters mostly for what it heralds. If Iran shows restraint and the world rewards it, the negotiators might generate sufficient goodwill to reach a more durable and comprehensive agreement. And that would open up the possibility of America and Iran co-operating more, or at least feuding less, in the world’s most troubled region.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Iran * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On November 14, R&E invited students and tutors from New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s after-school tutoring program, Community Club, to recite the Gettysburg Address in honor of its 150th anniversary. The club meets at the church every week and provides dinner, academic tutoring, and mentorship to DC students ranging in age from 5 to 18. New York Avenue Presbyterian is also the church where President Lincoln rented a pew and sometimes attended services. The Gettysburg Address, described by historians as “the sacred scripture of the Civil War’s innermost spiritual meaning,” was delivered at Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.
Watch and listen to it all.
The former Crystal Cathedral will close to the public as it undergoes a transformation from a space built as a television studio as much as a sanctuary into the spiritual home for the Orange County Catholic community of more than 1.2 million people.
Beginning Sunday, the newly named Christ Cathedral will be closed for construction as crews launch a $29 million effort to restore the more than 75,000-square-foot space.
The Diocese of Orange has been working with liturgical consultants and architects to modify the church built in the vision of the Rev. Robert Schuller into one that meets the requirements of a Catholic cathedral.
"The beauty and inspiration evoked by the cathedral grounds and its architecture are only surpassed by the extraordinary communities of faith that now call this campus home," Bishop Kevin Vann said in a statement. "The cathedral will be an international center of faith and evangelization, a vessel for the love of God, a beacon of faith, a home for neighbor and traveler, and a sanctuary for the human spirit."
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In the early predawn hours of Thanksgiving, Jason Goldberger huddled with his team on the 20th floor of a Target Corp. building in Minneapolis to make sure everything was ready at the chain's most important store: Target.com.
The stakes were high. Online shoppers accounted for 40% of the $59 billion in sales racked up over the four-day Black Friday weekend last year, up from 23% in 2006, according to the National Retail Federation. Store traffic this year has been sluggish
Mr. Goldberger, who runs Target's website and mobile business, arrived at 2 a.m., His staff split into two conference rooms. One held a technology team responsible for the workings of the site. The other had people comparing Target's deals with offers from Amazon.com and Walmart.com.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life
Just as the lines between games and war are fluid, the opposite is also sometimes the case. In his 1938 book Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga draws attention to 2 Samuel 2:14, when Abner challenges Joab to combat by announcing, “Let the young men now arise and play before us.” The ensuing battle confirms for Huizinga that “Play is battle and battle is play.”
Huizinga insists, however, that both the player and the warrior live by a code of honor, one shaped by “courage,” “tenacity” and access to “spiritual powers.” In other words, these are not lawless misanthropes. Advocates of the “muscular Christian” movement of the mid-19th century made similar distinctions as they acclaimed the high virtues of athletics. British author Thomas Hughes depicted the mindless “muscle man” as someone who exploits his body and succumbs to his “fierce and brutal passions.” The “muscular Christian,” on the other hand,
has hold of the old chivalrous and Christian belief, that a man’s body is given him to be trained and brought into subjection, and then used for the protection of the weak, the advancement of all righteous causes, and the subduing of the earth.
With this in mind, we might conclude that the Incognito affair unveils not the problems of a “warrior culture” but rather an absence of it.
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"Do you think I need sweaters at Kohl's? No!" Janine Reed said. "But they're 10 bucks. You think I'm going to get one? Yeah – just 'cos."
--From an NPR story today on shopping.
Where things get really interesting is when Pope Francis brings up the financial crisis. "One cause of this situation," he writes, "is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!"
It's nothing new to say the financial crisis came from a lack of regulation. That's a fairly popular analysis. But what Pope Francis is saying is more Polanyan, hearkening back to the idea that the tipping point has to do with the relationship between the market and society/humanity, and which is subordinate to the other. Just as Polanyi argued that the extension of the market economy across the globe (through the gold standard) was the root cause of World War I (and you'll have to go back to the original book for that, but it's a beautifully, hilariously gutsy, Guns, Germs, and Steel kind of argument), Francis is arguing that failing to keep humanity at the center of our economic activity was the root cause of the financial crisis.
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A few years ago I wrote an article for the Moultrie Observer regarding the purple bows that were on the wreaths on the doors at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 609 South Main Street. In 2012 there were no purple bows or wreaths on the doors, as the church sat empty when the members of St. John’s left The Episcopal Church to form St. Mark’s Anglican Church. However, 2013 will mark the return of the purple bows, and the new spiritual home of St. Mark’s Anglican.
On September 30, 2013, St. Mark’s was able to purchase the building from the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Georgia * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
About sunset, it happened every Friday evening on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast. You could see an old man walking, white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.--Paul Harvey's the Rest of the Story (Bantam Books, 1997 Mass paperback ed. of the 1977 Doubleday original), pp. 170-172
One gnarled hand would be gripping the handle of a pail, a large bucket filled with shrimp. There on a broken pier, reddened by the setting sun, the weekly ritual would be re-enacted.
At once, the silent twilight sky would become a mass of dancing dots...growing larger. In the distance, screeching calls would become louder.
They were seagulls, come from nowhere on the same pilgrimage… to meet an old man.
For half an hour or so, the gentleman would stand on the pier, surrounded by fluttering white, till his pail of shrimp was empty. But the gulls would linger for a while. Perhaps one would perch comfortably on the old man’s hat…and a certain day gone by would gently come to his mind.
Eventually, all the old man’s days were past. If the gulls still returned to that spot… perhaps on a Friday evening at sunset, it is not for food… but to pay homage to the secret they shared with a gentle stranger.
And that secret is THE REST OF THE STORY.
Anyone who remembers October of 1942 remembers the day it was reported that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost at sea.
Captain Eddie’s mission had been to deliver a message of the utmost importance to General Douglas MacArthur.
But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. . Somewhere over the South Pacific, the flying fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, and the men ditched their plane in the ocean.
The B-17 stayed afloat just long enough for all aboard to get out. . Then, slowly, the tail of the flying fortress swung up and poised for a split second… and the ship went down leaving eight men and three rafts… and the horizon.
For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.
They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. Their largest raft was nine by five… the biggest shark ten feet long.
But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.
In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking… Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a seagull. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew.
“Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word. But peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at the gull. The gull meant food… if I could catch it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten; its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.
You know that Captain Eddie made it.
And now you also know...that he never forgot.
Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent.
His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Two interventions this week from men who inhabit very different worlds, yet have common diagnoses for the problems faced by the institutions to which they belong.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has been waging a war against secularism, against the marginalisation of Christianity in national life, and the bigotry shown to individual Christians in the workplace. In particular, he led a rather unpleasant campaign against gay marriage, seeming to elide such reform with the sort of prejudice that censures airport staff who wear crucifixes. This week, however, he raised his sights, to warn his Church that it faces extinction within a generation unless it tackles the decline in support from the young....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday (Nov. 26) that it will decide whether for-profit businesses can be treated like religious entities in a politically and constitutionally freighted test of the Obama administration’s mandate that employers include free contraception coverage as part of their health plans.
The cases, which will probably be argued in March and decided in June, will not deal with a string of other lawsuits over the mandate that have been filed by nonprofit faith-based groups. Those complaints are still working their way through the lower courts.
Still, the cases the high court will now take up are likely to establish important precedents by setting the parameters of religious rights in two key arenas.
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While automakers and dealers lament that younger buyers have neither money nor brand loyalty when it comes to buying a car, a host of services are looking to the crowd to help them save for what could be the biggest purchase they will make for several years.
Geared toward first-time buyers, these services, like BoostUp, a Detroit-based company that Ms. Frandsen and Mr. Burris used, are trying to turn car-buying into a social experience.
Toyota and Google, for example, are announcing on Wednesday the Toyota Collaborator, a social car shopping tool where potential Corolla buyers can discuss decisions with friends and family in real time using Google Hangouts.
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U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.
The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.
More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
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American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers such as Stewart.
More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry “a lot” about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey, which explores Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in public policy, presidential scholarship and political history.
Job insecurities have always been higher among low-income Americans, but they typically rose and fell across all levels of the income ladder. Today, workers at the bottom have drifted away, occupying their own island of insecurity.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
Children raised in single-parent households in the U.S. are far more likely to live in poverty than children with both parents present, according to Census figures released Monday. As a result, far more black and Hispanic children are raised in poverty than white kids.
Among all children living only with their mother, nearly half — or 45% — live below the poverty line, the Census Bureau said. For those living with just the father, about 21% lived in poverty. By comparison, only about 13% of children with both parents present in the household live below the poverty line.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Census/Census Data * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Companies are bracing for an influx of participants in their insurance plans due to the health-care overhaul, adding to pressure to shift more of the cost of coverage to employees.
Many employers are betting that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans have health insurance starting in 2014 will bring more people into their plans who have previously opted out. That, along with other rising expenses, is prompting companies to raise workers' premium contributions, steer them toward high-deductible plans and charge them more to cover family members.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
According to CT sister resource Managing Your Church, the average base salary of a full-time senior pastor in 2012-2013 ranges from $33,000 to $70,000. Eighty-four percent of senior pastors surveyed said they also receive a housing allowance, which accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation. The Joint Committee on Taxation calculates the exemption amounted to $700 million in recent years, notes Peter Reilly of Forbes.
CT previously reported how the threat to pastor parsonages lost its legal legs but was revived again, and examined debate over whether or not Congress should change the rules on pastor housing allowances. CT also noted the quirky reasoning that recently allowed one prominent pastor to claim two parsonages.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Very few areas get me wound up faster than clergy finances. There are two reasons for this. One is that the actual situation with taxes and clergy compensation is quite complicated and not well understood even by people who work with taxes professionally and, as if that isn't trouble enough, many clergy in my experience are inadequate and in some cases even ignorant in the financial area.
Sure enough, this has led to some very poor reporting on this story already, as well as some even worse posting about it on the blogs. If you wish to understand it can I please advise that you do your own research and not jump to conclusions.
With that said, here goes. First, there is no need for panic. This is one ruling, and we have a system which involves a lot of layers of the judicial system, so overeacting now is not going to help.
Second, you need to understand the bizarre--and I mean bizarre--basic situation of clergy finances.
If you take a look at the basic IRS definition it starts as follows:
A minister's housing allowance, sometimes called a parsonage allowance or a rental allowance is excludable from gross income for income tax purposes, but not for self-employment tax purposes. Now before you go whizzing past that, make sure to read it and take it in a couple of times. Please note the DUAL status of clergy finances. Housing allowances are excludable (under certain conditions) BUT NOT FOR SELF EMPLOYMENT TAXES.
In other words, for the purpose of social security, the situation is different, and, indeed, I would argue, poor, because as far as social security is concerned, a clergyman or clergywoman is treated as if there were a self employed writer like Gore Vidal or Stephen King, and for that they pay both their portion of social security taxes AS WELL AS the employers portion. So whereas the woman who works for Coca Cola, say, pays for half of her social security taxes every pay period, her employer, Coca Cola, pays the other half. For ministers this is not true; ministers pay both halves.
So the important point right from the get go is that any idea that clergy get some kind of special "deal" in the tax system at a basic level is wildly misleading. No article that reports on this fairly can do so without mentioning the dual tax status issue and whereas the housing allowance does help, the social security situation does not.
There is more. The housing allowance is for actual housing costs so any compensation which is what it costs you to maintain a home for the year (or, if the church owns the home, there are other stipulations). So If you see a minister X and he reports a salary of 10,000 and a housing allowance of 40,000 and you think this is unfair be aware that any amount of the 40,000 dollars NOT related to housing is to be declared as "excess housing allowance" to the IRS (and, yes, I will also remind you that this person is paying 2x social security taxes on the WHOLE 50,000 overall compensation).
Now, I am well aware that some churches (and sadly some clergy) abuse this situation. That is unfortunate but remember that is an abuse of existing rules not the rules themselves.
Why do we have this crazy system? Mainly because when it was originally put in place many clergy lived in church owned housing and so when they retired because many did not own their own home ever they had no housing equity built up at all. That has since changed, never mind that life expectancy has gone up considerably. But changing existing law in America is not easy. For myself, I think a strong case can be made that it would be "fairer" if clergy were treated as employed (as opposed to self--employed for self-employment tax purposes, which would mean paying half of social security and the church paying the other half) and did not get the housing allowance consideration. But the situation with many smaller congregations and their ministers would very much be impacted. It would take a herculaean effort to reform the bizarre area of clergy compensation taxes in the right way, even if it were attempted.
All of which brings us back to the real underlying problem here in America, and that is not with our tax system's basic structure BUT ITS COMPLEXITY. This system is built to favor those with resources and power and the accountants and lawyers who get compensated to enable them to manage it so much better than most. If I were ever working in this area, I would be promoting TAX SIMPLICITY and TAX STABILITY (the tax code changes way too often also).
In the meantime, pray for those in ordained ministry, it is a very, very demanding area in which to work--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Taxes
You can find the actual ruling here and the Wisconsin State Journal article about it there. The Wisconsin State Journal article begins as follows:
A federal judge has found unconstitutional a law that lets clergy members avoid paying income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance.You should read it all as well as the Religion News Service article there.
The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could have far-reaching financial ramifications for pastors, who currently can use the untaxed income to pay rental housing costs or the costs of home ownership, including mortgage payments and property taxes.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”. This is quoted by Chuck Swindoll in his book, Improving Your Serve (where he cites Tim Hansel's book When I Relax I feel Guilty as the source) in the second chapter, after which Dr. Swindoll makes these additional comments:
“That’s it. Our inner ‘self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous…to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”
Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, closes on Sundays, costing its owners millions but honoring their Christian faith.
The stores play religious music. Employees get free spiritual counseling. But they do not get free insurance coverage for some contraceptives, even though President Obama’s health care law requires it.
Hobby Lobby, a corporation, says that forcing it to provide the coverage would violate its religious beliefs. A federal appeals court agreed, and the Supreme Court is set to decide on Tuesday whether it will hear the Obama administration’s appeal from that decision or appeals from one of several related cases.
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Today, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to ban the manufacturing of guns by 3-D printers, making Philly the first city to do so. Which is interesting, because the author of the bill, Kenyatta Johnson, isn’t aware of of any local gun-printing 3-D printers. ”It’s all pre-emptive,” says Johnson’s director of legislation Steve Cobb. “It’s just based upon internet stuff out there.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Warren Buffett, Who in six decades of investing has seen a downturn or two, called the financial crisis of 2008 “an economic Pearl Harbour”. In the worst recession in 80 years, the banking system wrote off dud loans worth $885 billion; American gross government debt climbed from 66% of GDP to over 100%; the Federal Reserve printed getting on for $3 trillion of new money; 5.4m Americans lost their jobs; and the average GDP per person fell by 5%, or over $2,200.
It is a miserable accounting of the distress and ruin that many suffered. From the viewpoint of American primacy, however, the crisis could have been so much worse. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and AIG, two financial titans, might have triggered a second Great Depression. Yet memories of Hoovervilles have not found their echo in Bushtowns, and Barack Obama has been spared having to strike a New New Deal.Read it all.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Economy
While the Tory leadership may still sometime say that Britain is a Christian country and send out copies of the King James Bible to schools, there is little sense of a religious underpinning to current Tory thinking. If David Cameron has sought to hark back to a pre-Thatcherite tradition of Tory paternalism, he has done so without reference to its Anglican roots. Indeed, the confusion surrounding his ‘Big Society’ agenda may in part be down to its secular articulation (especially odd given that faith groups are expected to do so much of the work).
Until recently, this secularisation had gone unnoticed, concealed under the broader process of Cameron’s modernisation of the party, but the pushing through of gay marriage has changed all that. If the debate reveals anything, it is that the tables have turned; the Conservative party appears to have out-liberalised the Church of England. Cameron’s argument that gay marriage is an inherently Conservative idea is a legitimate one (which certainly reflects popular opinion, including Christian) but he has found it difficult to sell to those ‘swivel-eyed loons’, the Tory rank and file. They feel at odds with the party leadership in a way that many once felt at odds with the bishops. It is no wonder that many are now converting to Ukip.
Gay marriage may be seen by some as representative of the divorce of the Tory party from its Christian principles but, more importantly, it suggests that the gulf between its leadership and the grass roots may be religious as much as political.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism
The interim accord struck with Iran on Sunday interrupts the country’s nuclear progress for the first time in nearly a decade, but requires Iran to make only a modest down payment on the central problem.
The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” to a bomb — the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path.
Lengthening that period, so that the United States and its allies would have time to react, is the ultimate goal of President Obama’s negotiating team. It is also a major source of friction between the White House and two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have made no secret of their belief that they are being sold down the river.
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Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal, which was reached after four days of hard bargaining, including an eleventh-hour intervention by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe Middle East Iran * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fifty years after his death...I fear that much of the Kennedy mythos is an obstacle to the flowering of Catholic witness in America—and indeed to a proper understanding of modern American history.
The myth of Camelot, for example, misses the truth about the assassination: that John F. Kennedy was a casualty of the Cold War, murdered by a dedicated communist. “Camelot” also demeaned the liberal anti-communist internationalism that Kennedy embodied; that deprecation eventually led Kennedy’s party into the wilderness of neo-isolationist irresponsibility from which it has yet to emerge.
Then there is the mythology surrounding Kennedy’s 1960 speech on church-and-state, delivered to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association....
Finally, there is the phenomenon that might be called the Kennedy Catholic: a public official who wears his or her Catholicism as a kind of ethnic marker, an inherited trait, but whose thinking about public policy is rarely if ever shaped by Catholic social doctrine or settled Catholic moral conviction.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
While her husband’s health-care plans founder, Michelle Obama is pressing ahead with her own. Last month, joined by Rosita, a turquoise Latina muppet, and Elmo, a shaggy red one, she announced that Sesame Street’s puppets would promote fruit and vegetables rather than sugary and fatty fare; Cookie Monster may need to find himself a new job. Mrs Obama’s fight against childhood obesity has several fronts (she calls it “Let’s Move!”) but marketing is an important one. In September she convened the first White House meeting on marketing food to children. Their preferences “are being shaped by the marketing campaigns you all create”, she told the assembled executives. “And that’s where the problem comes in.”
To market anything that might appeal to young consumers is to risk a scolding. Advertising entices children to drink and smoke, makes them fat and sexualises them early, its critics allege. To tout even wholesome products to children, some claim, is to exploit their naivety and thus to deceive them. Crusaders like Mrs Obama have helped embarrass companies. Coca-Cola said in May that it would not advertise to children younger than 12 anywhere in the world. Last year Disney promised not to promote junk food on television programmes for children.
Such gestures make the best of an increasingly constraining climate....
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First, a lot is meant to happen before you are 35. It used to be that parents were a few years into their duties at least. No longer. Family formation is being delayed – sadly, often for too long. High housing costs and weak wages mean young people may not feel able to have the family lives that they would want.
Second, a world of ever-escalating house prices will embed inequality....
These problems are too serious for (usually older) people to wave away. Nor are they easy to solve at a stroke. Part of the problem is that global competition and automation have removed a lot of decent starting jobs. But there are ways to help. We could subsidise employment and education for the young a bit more. Tax and planning law could be reformed to create incentives to build new housing. None of the obvious pro-young ideas is simple, but none is even on the agenda. Politics tends to pander to the old.
Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the Southeast, South Carolina ranked better than neighboring states such as Georgia, which posted 8.1 percent unemployment, Tennessee at 8.4 and North Carolina at 8.0 percent for October. Among the lowest jobless rates for states in the region were Alabama and Louisiana, both at 6.5 percent for October.
South Carolina’s largest employment gains included 2,600 additional jobs in manufacturing and 1,800 in construction.
College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner said the latest data is encouraging news for the jobs market.
“Back to the past, that’s where we are,” he said. “We are trying to make up for five years of lost activity, and we are getting back to those levels.”
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * South Carolina
A pastor walks into a Costco.
He sees a Bible in the fiction section. He tweets a picture of it. It ends up on Drudge. Christians are outraged. Again.
Only problem: there was no need to be.
Read it all.To Mr. Stezer's comments I would only add something we have said again and again--just because you read it or hear it, doesn't mean it is true, so learn to CHECK it yourself. Remember the Bereans? They are in the New Testament for a reason--KSH.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.
It will miss yet another opportunity this year. On Nov. 22 the city, anticipating an international spotlight, will host an official commemoration ceremony. Dallas being Dallas, it will be quite the show: a jet flyover, a performance from the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and remarks from the historian David McCullough on Kennedy’s legacy.
But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation seems to be experiencing a kind of fairy tale about itself, alternately bright and dark.
It is inspiring, but also deflating, to see and hear again (and again) the handsome, vigorous president, the youngest ever elected to the office, as he beckons the country forth to the future, to the “New Frontier,” and its promise of conquest: putting a man on the moon, defeating sharply defined evils — totalitarianism, poverty, racial injustice.
This, we have been reminded, was the dream Kennedy nourished, and much of it died with him, when the sharp cracks of rifle fire broke out as his motorcade rolled through the sunstruck streets of Dallas. With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Faith should be seen as an integral part of peace-making in the Middle East, said Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom in a unique presentation at the annual meeting of the Church of England’s highest legislative body.
“I no longer think the standard negotiator’s toolbox is wide, deep or rich enough to solve the most difficult disputes,” said Ambassador Daniel Taub on Wednesday afternoon, who offered his reflections on negotiating in the Middle East, and spoke about his emerging conviction about the role of faith in reconciliation.
“Faith and our faith texts offer untapped tools for transforming our dialogue.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Judaism
Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.
Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas. The media reports Boko Haram efforts to cut off access on the road between Kano and Maiduguri by targeting truck drivers, whom they behead using chain saws.
There are also media reports of Boko Haram carrying out forced conversions to Islam in rural areas, with the alternative being death.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Military / Armed Forces Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The pension age could be pushed back to 70, and older Australians forced to use growing equity in their homes to help pay for government services under proposals designed to help Australia cope with an ageing population.
In a paper titled ''An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future'', the Productivity Commission projects Australia's population will grow from about 23 million in 2012 to about 38 million by 2060, with a substantial increase in the number of retirees as people live longer.
That will mean lower overall participation in the workforce, and more pressures on governments to pay for higher health, aged care and pension costs.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Pensions Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England pays its top bureaucrat over £10,000 more than the Prime Minister receives despite launching a series of attacks on high executive salaries, it has been disclosed.
Papers laid before the Church’s General Synod, which has been meeting this week, show that eight lay officials across the Church’s London headquarters and its financial arm receive more than 100,000 a year.
Questions were raised about the level of pay for top Church officials after William Shawcross, chairman of the Charity Commission, recently warned that charities risk bringing good causes into “disrepute” by awarding further pay rises to chiefs on six-figure sums.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Santa is relying less on his reindeer and more on his mouse.
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Police in the central province of Henan arrested the pastor Zhang Shaojie, leader of the Church of Nanle County , and more than 20 Christian staff and faithful. The authorities have not stated the reason for detention, but some sources speaking to ChinaAid argue that the pastor has "angered" the authorities for the defense of his faithful against the abuses committed by Communist officials.
Zhang is part of the Three-Self Movement, the "official" Protestant Church built by Mao Zedong in the early years of his government.
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In Maiduguri, the prisoner tells journalists that foreign fighters from three neighboring countries were among the insurgents in the Islamist rebellion, fueling widespread fears of the violence spreading beyond Nigeria.
"We do have members of the group from Chad, Cameroon and Niger who actively participate in most of our attacks," he says.
Boko Haram boasts of links to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, adding to the fears of a nation already prone to deadly explosions of tribal and sectarian violence.
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While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.
Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance.
“D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?
You might imagine that speculations along these lines are the province of a radical fringe. And they are indeed radical; but fringe, not so much. A number of economists have been flirting with such thoughts for a while. And now they’ve moved into the mainstream. In fact, the case for “secular stagnation” — a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between — was made forcefully recently at the most ultrarespectable of venues, the I.M.F.’s big annual research conference. And the person making that case was none other than Larry Summers. Yes, that Larry Summers.
And if Mr. Summers is right, everything respectable people have been saying about economic policy is wrong, and will keep being wrong for a long time.
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WHAT if America were to scrap all its anti-poverty programmes—welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, the works—and replace them with an unconditional basic income (UBI) for everybody? Even in a Congress beset by less extraordinary levels of dysfunction, the idea would have little chance of becoming law. It’s fun to theorise, though. And if Switzerland approves a referendum to send all of its citizens $2,800 a month, the debate will have a fascinating new reference point.
Annie Lowrey’s article in the New York Times Magazine explains that both the left and the right have reason to favour a basic income. Liberals support the idea because it would elevate 50m Americans above the poverty line overnight. Some on the right, like Charles Murray, are keen to eliminate rent-seeking—and much of the federal bureaucracy—with a UBI that gives everyone the same government benefit. “A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits,” Ms Lowrey writes. “And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable—both to the recipient and the economy at large—if they were fungible.”
The economic effects of a basic income are debatable. Some economists think a UBI would disincentivise work; others argue that it would enhance entrepreneurialism by easing the path to start a small business or switch careers.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The U.S. Government Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Filmmaker Ken Burns, author David McCullough, actors Sam Waterston, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang, and Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha recite one of the most famous speeches in American history.
Musical Score by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams....
You may find the video here.
Listen to it all--still amazing, still so important; KSH (Hat tip: Jeff Miller).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Military / Armed Forces * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
In the gloom of a hilltop cave in Nigeria where she was held captive, Hajja had a knife pressed to her throat by a man who gave her a choice - convert to Islam or die.
Two gunmen from Boko Haram had seized the Christian teenager in July as she picked corn near her village in the Gwoza hills, a remote part of northeastern Nigeria where a six-month-old government offensive is struggling to contain an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.
In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into "marriage" with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.
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As Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block marched toward the U.S. Capitol Building on a cloudy afternoon this October, he said he felt “a little nervousness.” Walking arm-in-arm with dozens of other faith leaders and surrounded by thousands of chanting protestors—some holding signs that read “People of faith for immigrant justice!”—Kimelman-Block suddenly realized he might be arrested for the first time in his life.
“I’d never done this before,” Kimelman-Block said. “People were cheering and chanting, and it felt like folks were making a big sacrifice for the larger cause. It felt very powerful.”
His inaugural act of civil disobedience was part of the “Camino Americano: March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect,” a massive day of action that gathered thousands in Washington, D.C. to pressure Congress into passing sweeping immigration reform that would create a viable pathway to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.
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Former chairman of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi told a conference at the Churchill Archives in the University of Cambridge that “the Coalition is the most pro-faith government in the West” – a claim disputed by Labour’s Vice Chairman for Faith Groups, Stephen Timms.
Lady Warsi said previous Conservative governments such as those of Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher had considered faith as an essential part of government and Lady Thatcher had regarded “politics as second to Christianity in defining society”.
She added that Churchill and Thatcher would have welcomed the Coalition’s promise to protect the right of town halls to hold prayers and the creation of more faith schools under the Free Schools programme. It had, she went on, ruled out a ban on the full-face veil out of respect for religious liberty and welcomed a ruling that saw a British Airways worker win the right to wear a crucifix at work.
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All Girls Allowed (AGA), a leading faith-based organization pushing for an end to the one-child policy, previously stated on Nov. 5 that "all previous speculations about a possible relaxation of China's One-Child Policy have now been put to an end, as the Ministry of Health and Family Planning announced on October 29th that the policy will remain unchanged."
Today, AGA released a new statement:
All Girls Allowed welcomes the news of the policy's relaxation, but expresses disappointment that the Chinese government has not gone the logical and compassionate route—abolishing the policy altogether. ... [T]he greatest indictment against the One-Child Policy is the use of coercion in its enforcement. Untold numbers of forced abortions and sterilizations continue to take place to this day, making it the greatest violence against women and children in the world today.
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As a parent, you spend your entire life trying to protect your children. You provide them with the very best you can; you hope they learn from your mistakes. It’s so easy when they are young and a simple “because I said so” is reason enough.
How, then, do you wrap your head around the fact that your 30-year-old, happily married son has taken his own life? After the initial shock, you review every single decision you ever made with regard to him. “If only” becomes your mantra. Then you look back at his life and remember that he was the most trusting, caring, creative and intelligent human being you’ve ever known.
You want to know what went wrong...
Read it all.
Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.
Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.
Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.
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