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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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A Pennsylvania pastor who’s the key suspect in a global insider-trading scheme must remain in custody while being sent to New York for a bail hearing.
A judge in Philadelphia, whose decision on Tuesday to free Vitaly Korchevsky on $100,000 bail was blocked by a judge in Brooklyn, ordered the pastor temporarily detained while he’s transported by U.S. Marshals to the New York borough for the hearing.
Korchevsky made no comments Friday in court in Philadelphia. He whispered to his wife and brother-in-law across the courtroom. Bob Levant, one of his attorneys, said the father of two is the “centerpiece” of a close-knit Ukrainian community in the Glen Mills area.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It was a formal church setting with nine area Christian leaders present, but no formal sermons were given or messages with the Bible cracked open to a particular passage.
Instead, the clergy spoke off the cuff in a Christian “conversation” Wednesday night on issues of faith and belief.
And that led them into some areas of modern-day debate and concern, such as marriage equality, race and the church’s relevance in a digital age.
“We’ll be having a great debate next April about same-sex marriage and transgender (issues),” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, at “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases,” held at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The news is the most powerful and prestigious force in contemporary society, replacing religion as the touchstone of authority and meaning. It is usually the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we consult at night. What are we searching for?
The news does its best to persuade us we must keep up with its agenda - but to what end? What are the ghastly, wondrous, thrilling, destructive, bitter stories for?
It would be most honest to admit that we don't yet know: we're still working it out collectively. We're still among the first generations ever to have had access to news on the current scale and we're struggling to make sense of the deluge of information.
One thing is for sure: we don't yet have the news we deserve.
Read it all from ABC Australia.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Media Philosophy Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The latest publication from the Church of England brings an ancient tradition of following the Psalms to mobile devices and e-readers.
Adding to the popular 'Reflections' series, Reflections on the Psalms is a standalone book, ebook and mobile app written for anyone wishing to follow the ancient practice of the Psalter, reading the Psalms of the Bible each morning and evening. The mobile app is available to buy on the iOS App Store, with an Android version coming soon.
Produced by Church House Publishing, the new publication provides short meditations on each of the Psalms written by Bishops, well-known writers, experienced ministers, biblical scholars and theologians. The book also contains an introduction to the Psalms by theologian Paula Gooder, and a guide to the Psalms in the life of the Church by the Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft. With the mobile app, users can save their favourite Psalms and share them via social media.
Read it all and follow the links.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Theology: Scripture
An international team of astronomers says new data shows energy output measured across more than 200,000 galaxies is only about half as strong as it was two billion years ago. Scientists point to this latest study as further evidence that the universe is slowly dying.
The Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project presented the data at an international astronomical gathering in Hawaii. The survey finds the universe's fading is taking place "across all in wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared," according to a press release.
"The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age," said Simon Driver a professor at The University of Western Australia who also leads the GAMA team. "The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze," Simon said in the statement.
Read it all.
Texting while driving is clearly a bad idea, but it may be dangerously distracting while walking, too, a new study suggests.
Researchers asked 30 people to navigate an obstacle course three times and found they were significantly slower while texting and walking than when completing the route without any distractions.
When the researchers had people walk, text and do math quizzes on an iPhone all at the same time, it also slowed them down by about the same amount.
The lower speed was expected, said senior study author Conrad Earnest, an exercise researcher at Texas A&M University in College Station. What was surprising, however, is that staring at the tiny screen didn’t make people any more likely to crash into things.
Read it all.
So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.
But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.
So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran
At least since Aristotle, Western cultures have defined the people that comprise them by drawing a line between humans and machines on the one hand, and humans and other living things, such as plants and animals, on the other. “It needs twenty years to lead man from the plant state in which he is within his mother’s womb, and the pure animal state which is the lot of his early childhood,” wrote Voltaire, “to the state when the maturity of the reason begins to appear.”
Now, however, advances in artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and genomics are blurring the outlines of the once-cozy categories of human, animal, and machine. Under the loose and shifting rubrics of “transhumanism” and “posthumanism,” a growing number of artists, philosophers, and self-modifying “biohackers” are looking to redefine the boundaries of the self.
Such innovations cast doubt on the legitimacy of the distinctions we have used to frame ourselves for centuries. To argue for or against human uniqueness, one must first claim that we can know what makes us us, our quiddity. But if science suggests that there is no such thing, then human uniqueness can’t be either true or false, but only beside the point.
Read it all from Sally Davies in Nautilus.
Like many of you, I’m continuing to reflect on the tectonic philosophical and moral shifts in our culture crystallized in the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage—and what that decision means not only for our religious liberties, but for our evangelism, discipleship and mission as followers of Jesus Christ.
Four weeks ago I quoted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who stated that there will be a new generation of “refugees” from the current metaphysical-sexual expression culture that we now live in. Yes, there will be refugees—because turning in on yourself and pursuing your own sexual desires as a fundamental liberty never ends well. (See Romans 1:18-32 for a picture of what that looks like). Such a culture cannot keep its promises of personal happiness and fulfillment for individuals whose needs and cravings will inevitably be at odds! Sexual and relational brokenness, desperate loneliness, divorce, broken families, spiritual and emotional wounds will increase with the ever-accelerating sexual revolution which has been blessed by the highest courts of our land. Not only that, but abortion as a gruesome method of birth control and fetal tissue extraction and euthanasia at the other end of life will also increase as the exaltation of personal desires trumps traditional biblical values on the sanctity of life.
In a culture where it’s all about me and my choices, where the bottom-line world view is that the self is the only thing that can be known, and where freedom of sexual expression, self-interests and narcissism reign supreme, here’s the question: what do we as a church, as followers of Jesus Christ, have to offer to those who will be refugees of this new metaphysical-sexual expression regime?
Read it all (his emphasis).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Apologetics
Nestled amongst the nondescript concrete buildings of Silicon Valley, home to start-ups and tech giants, are a surprising number of churches and temples.
They cater to the highly successful and wealthy population of the world’s tech capital. It is surprising because this is a region that is known for its agnosticism, rather than religiosity.
"Silicon Valley attracts people with a type-A personality,” said Skip Vaccarello, author of Finding God in Silicon Valley. "[That type has] the lowest number of people that go to a church on any Sunday. The gods become the things like money, technology, success and so on."
A recent survey listed San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as having the least church-going population of any place in America.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
Email notifications. Buzzing phones. The sound of your coworker munching on lunch. Chances are that by the time you finish reading this article—if you even get that far—at least one of these distractions will have derailed your thoughts; threatening deadlines, work quality and overall productivity.
In his book Your Brain at Work, author David Rock says that the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes, and recovering from this disconnect is costly. In fact, it takes us an average of 23 minutes to fully return to a task after an interruption. That said, discoveries in neuroscience also confirm what we’ve always known: our brains aren’t wired to concentrate intensely for eight hours straight. They get tired! Our minds work in cycles of activity and downtime designed to keep us alert and responsive to our surroundings. But harnessing those cycles to promote productivity proves challenging.
So how can we balance the onslaught of incoming information and the temptation to multitask with the reality of brain science? What can we do to maximize our productivity in the office?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A new ecumenical resource is offering an alternative way for small groups and congregations to lead worshippers in the singing of hymns and spiritual songs.
Sing Hallelujah! is a video hymnal comprised of a five-volume DVD set. In each video, musicians perform well-known traditional and contemporary hymns while lyrics scroll in large letters along the bottom of the screen, allowing viewers to join in and sing along.
Ralph Milton, a retired former missionary and longtime member of First United Church in Kelowna, B.C., played the lead role in creating the video hymnal. Reflecting his ecumenical outlook, Sing Hallelujah! was designed for use by all denominations, though many selections are drawn from United Church hymn books.
“Having been a writer and penned more books than anybody would want to read, I did a lot of travelling around at one point to small, various congregations,” Milton said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Music Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology
I’m sure you’ve seen them in the media: attractive, well-off, smiling parents holding adorable infants created by third-party reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Of course, the narrative goes, this development is a win-win for all. Who could object to children being created for those who through either infertility or biological sex are unable to reproduce?
But this picture hides the highly profitable fertility industry’s dirty secrets. It ignores what is required to create these children: exploitation, health endangerment, and the commodification of human life. An honest look at the facts and circumstances surrounding third-party reproduction and ART should give any thinking person pause.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Men Religion & Culture Science & Technology Women * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Executives of Planned Parenthood’s federally subsidized meat markets — your tax dollars at work — lack the courage of their convictions. They should drop the pretense of conducting a complex moral calculus about the organs they harvest from the babies they kill.
First came the video showing a salad-nibbling, wine-sipping Planned Parenthood official explaining how “I’m going to basically crush below, I’m going to crush above” whatever organ (“heart, lung, liver”) is being harvested. Then the president of a Planned Parenthood chapter explained the happy side of harvesting: “For a lot of the women participating in the fetal tissue donation program, they’re having a procedure that may be a very difficult decision for them and this is a way for them to feel that something positive is coming from . . . a very difficult time.”
“Having a procedure” — stopping the beating of a human heart — can indeed be a difficult decision for the woman involved. But it never is difficult for Planned Parenthood’s abortionists administering the “procedure.” The abortion industry’s premise is: At no point in the gestation of a human infant does this living being have a trace of personhood that must be respected. Never does it have a moral standing superior to a tumor or a hamburger in the mother’s stomach.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The current outbreak of Ebola fever, in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which has killed more than 11,000 people, has dropped out of the news as it has been brought under control. But, though new cases are now measured in dozens, rather than hundreds, a week, the disease has not been stamped out—and a new epidemic could flare up somewhere else at any time. A vaccine against the virus responsible would be of enormous value. And a paper just published in the Lancet suggests one is now available.
This vaccine, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and called rVSV-ZEBOV, smuggles one of the Ebola virus’s coat proteins into a person’s body in a Trojan horse called a vesicular stomatitis virus. This is a horse and cattle virus, and does not cause human illness, but its presence is enough to activate the immune system. This then learns to recognise and react to the Ebola coat protein—and thus, the vaccine’s inventors hope, to clobber Ebola, should it arrive in the vaccinated person’s body.
Read it all
Eight hundred million people around the world use WhatsApp to communicate, we learned this week from its owners, Facebook.
Yet this is the messaging service which could soon be banned by the British government because its use of encryption makes it too private for the security services to access. That at least was the story repeated in several newspapers in recent weeks, and frequently denied by Downing Street.
But this morning even the Financial Times seemed to back it up. In an article about the battle between governments and corporations over access to encrypted messages it says this: "David Cameron, UK prime minister, has proposed a complete ban on strong encryption 'to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate'."
WhatsApp is just one of the services that uses strong encryption for their messages, along with Apple's iMessage and Skype's internet calls. Both the US and UK governments have expressed growing concerns that criminals and terrorists are making use of such services to communicate, knowing that they are completely private.
So does the prime minister really want to ban them?
Read it all
Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the popular imagination, the view of the natural world represented by modern science and developed by such towering figures as Isaac Newton conflicts with the view of the created world in the Bible. From debates about evolution and intelligent design to questions about human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and even climate change, science and religion are often seen as fundamentally opposed to one another. Certainly, individual scientists might be religious — one thinks for instance of John Polkinghorne in physics or Francis Collins in biology — but most people would say that the work of these scientists is to be taken seriously because it is separate from, and thus unhampered by, their religious faith and practice. What happens in the pews on Sunday has no influence on what happens in the lab on Monday. So when contemporary readers learn that Isaac Newton was a deeply religious man, their way of incorporating this fact within their conception of him as one of the greatest scientists of the past four centuries likely involves imagining that his religious faith was intellectually separate from his work in mathematics, optics, astronomy, and physics. Never the twain shall meet.
That this image of Newton is profoundly inaccurate — that in fact separating God and science in this way would have been entirely foreign to him — has become apparent in recent decades of Newton scholarship. The reason this is significant is not just that it challenges the facile notion that science and religion are fundamentally at odds with one another. The case of Newton is even more interesting than that. The usual conception of how a scientist can also be religious is that he cannot take the Scriptures as “literally” true in every instance, especially in matters pertaining to the natural world. But Newton was committed to precisely such a reading of the text, which raises the question of how he reconciled potential conflicts between the claims of science and the Bible’s claims about nature.
Read it all.
In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.
Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sociology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General Terrorism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have been smashing protons together, on and off, since 2009. On Tuesday they announced that they’d encountered a new particle as a result of all those subatomic crack-ups called the pentaquark—and it could help explain what holds together other subatomic particles like protons and neutrons.
Close followers of the saga responded to the news like hungry Star Wars fans to a new trailer, immediately formulating potential plotlines for the particle. Within 30 hours of the announcement, physicists began to submit their theories about the pentaquark to the online, pre-peer review science article repository arXiv. But assembling those papers is hard—and these scientists didn’t come up with their new theories overnight. How did they get it done so fast? As is wont to happen with any big reveal, somebody in the research team leaked the inside scoop.
“Despite everyone’s good intentions, rumors do spread,” says Guy Wilkinson, the spokesperson for the LHCb (that stands for Large Hadron Collider Beauty experiment), the research team that found the particle in several years worth of data. The leak isn’t surprising, considering the team consists of over 1,100 members from 16 different countries.
Read it all.
Reading people’s comments online is an interesting and sometimes troubling study in human nature. And reading comments by professing Christians on Christian sites (as well as other sites) can be a discouraging study in applied theology.
The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless. That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God.
How [then] Should We Comment...?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The first breakthrough into the mainstream media came around 4pm at the Washington Post, which did a relatively good job of providing in-depth perspective on the issue. (The Weekly Standard points out some weaknesses in the article though.) The Post (and many other outlets) interviewed Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics: “If you’re starting to play with how it’s done, and when it’s done, other things than women’s health are coming into play. You’re making a huge mountain of conflict of interest.”
Most liberal websites defended Planned Parenthood and attack the undercover video. The debate is nothing new, says Vox, though they do pay some attention to objections. Mother Jones says the video is a “nothingburger,” and New York Magazine stridently refers to pro-lifers as “wacky relatives” whom you have to “deal with.” Ashley Feinberg, for Gawker, writes “In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research.” Right.
Amanda Marcotte, for Slate, writes “Abortion is gross, no doubt about it. It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter.” But the problem is not that it’s “gross,” it’s the double evil of killing innocent life and commodifying her body parts. As an article at The Federalist reveals, the human fetal parts trade has a commercial and profitable nature. Incidentally, the group StemExpress—which was implicated in the story—is undergoing website maintenance and has deleted their Facebook account.
The sad thing is, the body of a child in the womb can be killed and used for research, but outside the womb, it would result in first-degree murder charges, as seen in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Media Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”
Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.
Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
While the video describes what is happening as the “sale” of body parts and claims that this violates federal law, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, Eric Ferrero, claims that no such sale actually occurs: “There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”
Whether or not these practices violate federal laws regulating the sale of human tissue or prohibiting partial-birth abortion—and whether one is pro-life or pro-choice—what is described by Dr. Nucatola is indefensible. The issue is not only that fetal tissue is being procured from abortions, but that some of the medical details of the abortions themselves are being arranged in order to serve the purpose of supplying particular body parts of unborn children. Even if all the money changing hands is only reimbursing actual costs, as Planned Parenthood claims, these abortions are no longer purely about reproductive choice, but have become means to a larger and grislier end.
Read it all.
It may be possible to "soften-up" cancers before hitting them with chemotherapy drugs, researchers suggest.
A study, published in the Cancer Cell, uncovered how tumours can become resistant to commonly used drugs.
The University of Manchester team suggest drugs already in development may be able to counter this resistance to make chemotherapy more effective.
The approach has not yet been tested in people.
Read it all.
Criticism: Thousands of Iranian centrifuges will keep spinning.
The deal doesn't dismantle or close Iran's two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It does require Iran to reduce its centrifuge inventory by two-thirds and eliminate 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran will be allowed to keep about 6,100 centrifuges for the next 10 years and continue some enrichment work.
White House response: Iran's inventory of centrifuges will be cut drastically from nearly 20,000, which is enough to create fuel for as many as 10 bombs. It will be left with only its oldest and least efficient models. No enrichment will be allowed at Fordow, and other activities will be restricted to producing uranium enriched to a level of 3.67%, far below the nearly 90% usually required to make a bomb.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Christians have come lately and weakly to the causes of environmental healing and restoration. When environmental activists in the 1960s noted that Christianity bore a major responsibility for our environmental crises, the vast majority of Christians remained unmoved. In the curricula of leading institutions of theological education in the 1980s, ecological concerns barely made an appearance. Now, roughly 30 years later, it’s still not uncommon to find Christians who are either in denial or fail to see how the environmental problems of our day are distinctly theological concerns.
How can this be? How can one affirm God the Creator and at the same time degrade the health and vitality of God’s creation? We can offer many reasons to explain this contradictory state of affairs, but I believe that our problem goes to the manners and methods of theological practice itself, so that even when theologians turn their attention to ecological concerns, they often have considerable difficulty finding anything helpful to say other than “Come on, people. It’s time to take care of creation!” In other words, the problem is theology’s inadequate form and function. The destruction of the earth is, among other things, a theological catastrophe, and Christian apathy is a sign that theological reflection has lost its way.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change the General Synod pledged today in a wide ranging motion acknowledging that global warming is disproportionately affecting the world's poorest.
Members overwhelmingly backed a call for world leaders to seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 C - widely considered to be the threshold above which the impacts of climate change will be the most severe.
The motion on combating climate change, the Paris climate change conference and the mission of the Church, included a pledge to draw attention to an initiative to pray and fast for the success of the Paris talks.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, introducing the motion, said: "In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. This is about our 'reading the signs of the times' and 'seeking the common good'.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Iran and six world powers sealed a historic accord to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions, capping two years of tough diplomacy with the biggest breakthrough in relations in decades.
Diplomats reached the agreement in Vienna in their 18th day of talks, officials involved in the negotiations said. A final meeting was scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. local time.
The deal, if approved by the U.S. Congress, promises to end a 12-year standoff that has crippled Iran’s economy and drawn threats of military action from the U.S. and Israel. Full implementation would take months and be contingent on the pace at which Iran meets its obligations. It would enable the oil-rich nation to ramp up energy exports, access international funding and open its doors to global investors.
“This is probably going to go down in history as one of the biggest diplomatic successes of the century,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said by phone from London.
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[Corporal Justin] Gaertner had lost his legs, and also the sense of camaraderie, passion, and meaning that he had found in his job and among his fellow soldiers. While in rehab after his injuries, he quietly lobbied to return to Afghanistan, “but only if I could get my metal detector back.” The military declined this request.
Yet on a bright afternoon last month, Gaertner gained a new set of comrades defined by a new sense of purpose as 22 more military veterans were sworn into the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Corps in Washington.
Their purpose: to use the skills they have honed in combat – where they have been called to look, undeterred, upon the gruesome and shocking – for a new front in the war against child predators.
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Amit Singhal, Google’s search chief, oversees the 200 or so factors that determine where websites rank in the company’s search engine, which means he decides if your website lives or dies. His current challenge: figuring out how to spread that same fear and influence to mobile phones.
In a recent interview at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Singhal laid out a widely held thesis for why smartphones are fundamentally changing how people are consuming information: Phones have small screens that are annoying to type on, and people have grown so addicted to their phones that they carry them everywhere and go to bed with them by their side. Also, in a shift with big implications for his company’s sway over the Internet, smartphone users spend the bulk of their time in mobile apps instead of the open web on which Google built its business.
Add it all up, and “you have to rethink what search means pretty much from first principles,” he said.
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...Uber is not so much a labor-market innovation as the culmination of a generation-long trend. Even before the founding of the company in 2009, the United States economy was rapidly becoming an Uber economy writ large, with tens of millions of Americans involved in some form of freelancing, contracting, temping or outsourcing.
The decades-long shift to these more flexible workplace arrangements, the venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and the labor leader David Rolf argue in the latest issue of Democracy Journal, is a “transformation that promises new efficiencies and greater flexibility for ‘employers’ and ‘employees’ alike, but which threatens to undermine the very foundation upon which middle-class America was built.”
Along with other changes, like declining unionization and advancing globalization, the increasingly arm’s-length nature of employment helps explain why incomes have stagnated and why most Americans remain deeply anxious about their economic prospects six years after the Great Recession ended.
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What, then, is the relationship between empathy and morality? Traditionally, empathy has been seen as a force for moral good, motivating virtuous deeds. Yet a growing chorus of critics, inspired by findings like those above, depict empathy as a source of moral failure. In the words of the psychologist Paul Bloom, empathy is a “parochial, narrow-minded” emotion — one that “will have to yield to reason if humanity is to survive.”
While we concede that the exercise of empathy is, in practice, often far too limited in scope, we dispute the idea that this shortcoming is inherent, a permanent flaw in the emotion itself. Inspired by a competing body of recent research, we believe that empathy is a choice that we make whether to extend ourselves to others. The “limits” to our empathy are merely apparent, and can change, sometimes drastically, depending on what we want to feel.
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In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.
The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.
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A teenager involved in series of high profile cyber attacks has been convicted for his crimes in Finland.
Julius Kivimaki was found guilty of 50,700 "instances of aggravated computer break-ins".
Court documents state that his attacks affected Harvard University and MIT among others, and involved hijacking emails, blocking traffic to websites and the theft of credit card details.
Despite the severity of the crimes, the 17-year-old has not been jailed.
Instead, the District Court of Espoo sentenced the youth - who had used the nickname Zeekill - to a two-year suspended prison sentence.
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It was a rough day for tech: The nation’s biggest airline, its oldest stock exchange, and its most prominent business newspaper all suffered technology problems that upended service for parts of Wednesday.
Government officials said that it did not appear that the incidents were related, or the result of sabotage, counter to an endless stream of jokes and conspiracy theories posted on Facebook and Twitter — and even the suspicions of FBI director James Comey.
“In my business, you don’t love coincidences,” Comey told Congress Wednesday. “But it does appear that there is not a cyber intrusion involved.”
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked plans by oil companies to begin drilling in the Arctic.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, who worked in the oil industry before he was ordained, said that he was concerned by how difficult it would be to contain and clean up an oil spill should there be an accident in the region.
Shell is expected to begin drilling in the Arctic this month after its plans were approved by the US government. A fifth of the world’s undiscovered gas and oil is believed to lie in the Arctic.
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The smartphone has become a focal part of our day, in both our work life and our personal life. It has become a vital component of the business arena. We use it to communicate with others, make purchases, follow the news, access entertainment and keep us on time for our daily appointments.
This week on Gallup.com, we explore the rising ubiquity of smartphones in the U.S. today. We will report results from a special survey of more than 15,000 smartphone users' habits, including how often Americans use their smartphones and whether they think it has made their lives better. How often do they buy items with a smartphone, or do they prefer a computer for online purchases? Do they use it to manage their finances? When a new smartphone comes out, do users need to upgrade right away or can they wait until their current phone stops working?
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Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens. The documentary “Web Junkie,” to be shown next Monday on PBS, highlights the tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.
Chinese doctors consider this phenomenon a clinical disorder and have established rehabilitation centers where afflicted youngsters are confined for months of sometimes draconian therapy, completely isolated from all media, the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated.
While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.
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Simply put, mutual responsibility towards offspring naturally demands a long-term commitment (at least 18 years) while mutual attraction and erotic desire does not. What we see in the modern world is the fracturing of a very lofty ideal of marriage back into two different kinds of relationships: those which are primarily focused on children, and those which are primarily focused on erotic love. The battle over the institution of marriage is basically a battle over whether which of these two purposes of marriage ought to have primacy.
The answer that the Supreme Court has given by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage is basically a ruling in favour of erotic love. This should surprise no one. It’s the more culturally popular option, and it’s the view of marriage that the vast majority of heterosexuals already subscribe to. It’s also, in practice, the definition that we’ve been using for a long time. The truth is that most of the material and social supports that exist to help parents with the task of raising children are no longer associated with the institution of marriage in any way – and unfortunately, the pro-family groups that could be providing financial, emotional and practical support to people who are choosing traditional marriage tend to waste their resources fighting fruitless political battles instead.
The challenge, then, is for advocates of the traditional family to stop wringing their hands over the SCOTUS decision and blaming the gays for the demise of the family, and to focus instead on renewing the practice of sacramental marriage by building up communities of support so that the traditional understanding of marriage will become practicable and attractive again.
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The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches says Christians must grasp the “unique ecumenical momentum” created by Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment. He also believes it’s vital to respond in a more practical and pastoral way to migrants in Europe who are radically changing our “reflection about who is in communion with whom”.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was in Rome on Tuesday to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. Set up just before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Group is holding a plenary session in Rome this week to begin its tenth round of ecumenical conversations.
In a message to Rev Fykse Tveit to mark the occasion, Pope Francis said we should be encouraged by the collaboration the Group has promoted, “not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid”. But he stressed that despite the many ecumenical achievements, “Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions”.
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How is it being used?
Last week, US government agency talks that were intended to create a code of conduct for the technology fell apart. Privacy campaigners walked out of the discussions, claiming that companies and government agencies were unwilling to accept that they must always seek permission before using facial recognition technology to identify someone.
Alvaro Bedoya, from Georgetwon University Law Centre in Washington DC, told New Scientist that “not a single company would support [the principle].”
Uses of the technology are becoming increasingly Orwellian. Tesco plans to install screens that scan customers’ faces, determine their age and gender, and show them a relevant advertisement.
In the United States, a company called Face First offers retailers the ability to "build a database of good customers, recognize them when they come through the door, and make them feel more welcome” (in other words, schmooze the big spenders). The product also sends alerts whenever “known litigious individuals enter any of your locations”. Another company, Churchix, uses facial recognition technology to track congregation church attendance.
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This caption came across my Instagram notifications a few weeks back.
I was curious to see the photo this student had taken to commemorate his experience. I never would have expected a picture of a young man standing in front of a mirror in his bathroom with a bewildered smirk on his face.
Yet there he was, a duck-faced teenager staring at his bathroom mirror, smart phone in hand. What this had to do with how much he loved worshiping Jesus was a mystery to me.
This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie.
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At the June 18 launch of the highly-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home), Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged a critique that the Church is taking sides on scientifically still-debatable topics such as global warming, pollution, species extinction and global inequality’s impact on natural resources.
“The aim of the encyclical is not to intervene in this debate, which is the responsibility of scientists, and even less to establish exactly in which ways the climate changes are a consequence of human action” he said. Instead, the goal of the document is to promote the well-being of all creation and “to develop an integral ecology, which in its diverse dimensions comprehends ‘our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings,” the cardinal said, quoting the encyclical.
“Science is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting that regardless of the various positions, studies tells us that “today the earth, our sister, mistreated and abused.”
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People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.
In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:
"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.
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Opposition to the encyclical has been building for months. The Heartland Institute launched a campaign to “Tell Pope Francis: Global Warming is not a Crisis,” asking readers to “Talk to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader. Tell him or her you’ve studied the global warming issue and believe Pope Francis is being misled about the science and economics of the issue. Refer him or her to this website.” Others have suggested that Francis is advocating Latin American style socialism.
Hyperbole is part of politics. But there seems to be a fairly large disconnect between the criticism of Laudato Si (much of it made prior to the release of the actual text) and the encyclical itself. The actual document is a more measured affair. For one thing, it’s not even really accurate to call it a “climate encyclical.” Most of the document is devoted to other environmental issues (ranging from clean drinking water to biodiversity) or to the proper Christian perspective on the environment generally. Only a small portion of the lengthy encyclical is devoted to climate change per se, and much of what the encyclical does say about climate change is in keeping with the prior statements of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the issue. The encyclical says that:
A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. . . . It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.Read it all.
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“Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
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Here, roughly, is what we know so far about today’s middle-class children: They seldom walk or bike to school, as generations did before them; they rarely work steady after-school jobs (their new work is strictly of the academic and extracurricular variety, one that doesn’t involve a wage); their time is rigidly structured (play dates, cello lessons, summer internships); their mothers spend more time with them than mothers did with their children in the 1960s, even though most women in the 1960s didn’t work.
When confronted with these facts, it is therefore reasonable to ask: What effect does all this involvement and insulation and scrupulous (some might call it psychoneurotic) programming have on our kids? Is it compromising their resilience in some way, or the firmness of their convictions, or their self-efficacy? Are the very things we view as horizon-stretching in fact resulting in a more circumscribed life?
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After years of infertility, Angel and Jeff Watts found a young egg donor to help them have a baby. They fertilized her eggs with Mr. Watts’s sperm and got 10 good embryos. Four of those embryos were transferred to Ms. Watts’s womb, resulting in two sets of twins — Alexander and Shelby, now 4 years old, and Angelina and Charles, not yet 2.
But that left six frozen embryos, and Ms. Watts, 45, had no plans for more children. So in December she took to Facebook to try to find a nearby Tennessee family that wanted them.
“We have 6 good quality frozen six-day-old embryos to donate to an amazing family who wants a large family,” she posted. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship and strong Christian background, and who does not already have kids, but wants a boat load.”
In storage facilities across the nation, hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos — perhaps a million — are preserved in silver tanks of liquid nitrogen.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.
Representatives of the major faiths, including Archbishop Justin Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.
In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched tomorrow, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.
The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.
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Hackers with suspected links to China appear to have accessed sensitive data on US intelligence and military personnel, American officials say.
Details of a major hack emerged last week, but officials have now given details of a potential second breach.
It is feared that the attack could leave US security personnel or their families open to blackmail.
The agency involved, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is yet to comment on the reports.
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Bluebird Bio Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., drug company whose market value has more than doubled to $5.94 billion this year, said Saturday that its experimental gene therapy helped a French teenager with sickle-cell disease go three months without a blood transfusion.
Doctors said the result was an encouraging early sign that gene therapy could work in the disease, but that a one-patient study of short duration made it impossible to draw firm conclusions. Study data on the patient was presented Saturday at a meeting of the European Hematology Association in Vienna.
“It’s a promising start, but it’s not definitive,” said Michael DeBaun, a physician at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Three months for patients with sickle cell doesn’t tell us enough about the [treatment’s] potential benefits and risks.”
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Of more than 190,000 abortions, 51 per cent were medical, where a pill is taken to end a pregnancy. Ten years ago medical abortions made up only 20 per cent of procedures, while in 2013 the number was 49 per cent.
The total number of abortions last year was down slightly from 190,800 in 2013, and has fallen every year since 2007. Ninety-two per cent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks, and 80 per cent were carried out at less than ten weeks, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago.
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Engineering and design work on Boeing’s 787-10 — the longest member of the Dreamliner fleet — is months ahead of schedule, and the company’s North Charleston campus could start work on that line’s first jet as early as next year.
The accelerated schedule is due to the high percentage of common parts that will be shared by the 787-10 and its predecessor, the 787-9, said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina.
he North Charleston site will be the sole production facility for the 787-10.
“As a straightforward stretch of the 787-9, which entered service in 2014, we are leveraging the advanced design and disciplined development system of the 787-9 to create the 787-10 with high commonality and unprecedented efficiency,” Wyse told The Post and Courier on Tuesday.
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A woman in Belgium is the first in the world to give birth to a baby using transplanted ovarian tissue frozen when she was still a child, doctors say.
The 27-year-old had an ovary removed at age 13, just before she began invasive treatment for sickle cell anaemia.
Her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning she would have been unlikely to conceive without the transplant.
Experts hope that this procedure could eventually help other young patients.
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At a UC Berkeley laboratory, engineers are building cockroach-like robots with a noble purpose — search and rescue.
Smaller than the palm of a hand and weighing an ounce, the robots are fast, nimble, and equipped with microphones and thermostats to detect sound and heat.
"Imagine there's a warehouse that's collapsed," said Ronald Fearing, the director of UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, which developed the VelociRoach robot. "You can send in hundreds of these robots, and if there's an opening, they can get through or get close to certain areas to notify rescuers they've found a survivor."
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A new wave of data-intensive “health tech” companies is drawing talent from the internet world as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and intensive data analysis are brought to bear on health.
Former Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman last week launched a start-up to crunch data and use analytics to improve the identification and treatment of behavioural health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Data gathered from the sensors in smartphones, as well as an analysis of social activity on sites such as Facebook, could one day be used to improve the diagnosis of mental illnesses, Mr Ebersman said. Other executives at his new company, Lyra Health, include chief technology officer Daniel Tunkelang, a data scientist who previously worked at professional social networking company LinkedIn.
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In a heavily cloistered complex on the old Charleston Naval Weapons Station here, young engineers, mathematicians, analysts and technicians are keeping watch on the world.
From battling terrorist hackers, monitoring combatant countries or installing the technology to launch an “end-of-the-world” nuclear missile strike, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic – or SPAWAR – is the Navy’s first line of defense in the increasingly dangerous realm of cyberwar.
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There are, broadly speaking, four ways to fight cancer. You can cut a tumour out, with surgery. Or you can try one of three different ways of killing it. Radiotherapy targets tumours with radiation. Chemotherapy uses chemicals that poison all rapidly dividing cells, cancerous ones included. “Targeted therapies”, as their name suggests, recognise particular features specific to cancer cells.
Singly and in combination, these four types of treatment have contributed to a steady increase in the survival rates for most kinds of cancer. Now they may be joined by a fifth. At this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago, the assembled researchers heard about the latest progress in “immuno-oncology”.
Modern medicine provides every reason to think that the immune system—which, after all, is there to keep the rest of the body safe—can and does attack cancers. People whose immune systems have been weakened, either by disease or by medicines designed to help them tolerate organ transplants, run a greater risk of malignancies. Many risk factors for cancer, such as a bad diet, heavy drinking, stress and smoking are known also to affect the immune system. Exercise, thanks to the boost it gives the body’s defences, can improve cancer survival rates.
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U.S. productivity, or output per worker hour, just registered another dismal performance. In the first quarter, it was up a bare 0.3 percent from a year earlier.
That has unfortunately become the norm. Productivity has risen just 0.6 percent on average over the past five years.
"This is the worst five-year run for productivity since the early 1980s, and the worst five-year performance on record outside of a recession," J.P. Morgan economists observed in a client note.
Clearly, there is a problem. The trouble is determining what exactly it is—and what, if anything, to do about it.
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“There are just as many ways of being a nonparent as there are of being a parent,” Daum writes in the introduction. “You can be cool about it or you can be a jerk about it.” Unfortunately, almost all the contributors to Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed—with the notable exception of the English novelist Geoff Dyer, whose genuinely funny and self-aware essay correctly labels regret in life as “the jackpot you are guaranteed to win”—come off as jerks.
The contributors are professional writers, and many of them assume this means they are entitled to be moody, crankily eccentric, or even borderline insane. Being a “creative person,” we are told—please insert your own skeptical cough or two here—apparently excuses a multitude of sins, including regular breakdowns and grown-up tantrums. Being a “creative person” also apparently allows for Costco-sized carts filled with delusions of grandeur and hefty doses of drama. (The proverbial carts of parents, meanwhile, are filled with to-do lists, bulk diapers, and even bulkier cases of wine.)
“Writing had saved my life,” Sigrid Nunez writes in her chapter, “and if I could not write, I would die.” Children, apparently, often make a hash of the world of great art: Young humans, the novelist Lionel Shriver notes, “would have messed up my apartment. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned too much time away from the writing of my precious books.” Attention, everyone: It is officially time to get off Lionel Shriver’s lawn. But first, should someone inform her that her cultural influence is likely dwarfed by people like, oh, I don’t know, the fertile founder of Chick-fil-A?
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he Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing an apparently far-reaching penetration of data held by the Office of Personnel Management, in which the records of approximately 4 million individuals were compromised, according to people familiar with the matter.
U.S. officials suspect hackers based in China are behind the attack, though they continue to investigate, these people said. One official described it as one of the largest thefts of government data ever seen.
Investigators said the hack was a separate attack from one detected last year.
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Human life has reached an inflection point—one that matters a great deal for those planning for retirement.
One hundred years ago, the average lifespan was about 42. That's now doubled. People are living longer and trying to stretch their income to make ends meet and stay ahead of inflation, but that's not the inflection point financial advisors are really concerned about—that's just the everyday blocking and tackling on behalf of client portfolios. The emerging challenge goes way beyond that.
Scientists have found the mechanisms that govern aging and are already doing experiments in rats on how to reverse it. They've found species that do not die of old age, such as the jellyfish Turritopsis.
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The segment is the first one which may be found here. "Summer Ash found that after fighting for a healthy heart, her heart started fighting her in ways she hadn't expected." Really well done and amazing.
As an undergraduate at a men’s college, I am constantly bombarded with the culture’s view on sex. Guys see how many times a week they can “score” as though sex were a sport and women the ball being tossed around. Once, a drunken classmate of mine, walking toward his room with a girl he had just met at a party, told me, “Don’t worry, bud. You’ll get there one day.” The implication, of course, was that I would one day have the exciting opportunity to “hook up” with a stranger.
Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.
This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.
The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being watched by the FBI.
In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.
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The Church of England is urging vicars to broadcast their Sunday services live on the internet because some people find it too “scary” to attend in person.
Official advice from the CofE’s Church House headquarters in London encourages parishes to take advantage of new technology making it possible to broadcast through a mobile phone as a new way of “spreading the word”.
It recommends trying out new streaming services as a means of catering for those unable to attend because of ill health or travelling abroad as well as to reach those who might be curious but wary of publicly joining in services.
The advice, written by Tallie Proud, the Church’s digital media officer, provides basic tips on everything from taking a steady shot to remembering to keep their mobile phone battery charged while streaming.
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After successfully lobbying provincial and federal governments to make it easier to amend sex designations on key identity documents, transgender Canadians are now pushing for another change: to abolish gender references altogether from birth certificates.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to review complaints filed by the Trans Alliance Society and a handful of transgender and intersex individuals, who argue that doctors should stop assigning the sex of a baby based on a quick inspection of the baby’s genitals at birth when there’s a possibility they may identify under a different gender, or no gender, years later.
“Birth certificates (may) give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, that assumes to be right, and causes people … actual harm,” said Morgane Oger, a transgender woman in Vancouver and chair of the society.
“It’s considered true and infallible when it isn’t.”
Read it all from the National Post.
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Five-year-old Cooper Tidmarsh lost his foot in a lawnmower accident two weeks ago and has been in the hospital ever since — an ordeal that has been made less traumatic with a little TLC from an unlikely source.
MEDi is two feet tall and weighs 11 pounds — and looks he belongs on a shelf at a high-end toy store. He's all fun and games, but for a very serious purpose.
At six hospitals in Canada and one in the United States, MEDi is helping to lower stress for children getting uncomfortable procedures, tests or shots.
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Those who helped design this network over subsequent decades focused on the technical challenges of moving information quickly and reliably. When they thought about security, they foresaw the need to protect the network against potential intruders or military threats, but they didn’t anticipate that the Internet’s own users would someday use the network to attack one another.
“We didn’t focus on how you could wreck this system intentionally,” said Vinton G. Cerf, a dapper, ebullient Google vice president who in the 1970s and ’80s designed key building blocks of the Internet. “You could argue with hindsight that we should have, but getting this thing to work at all was non-trivial.”
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In most rich countries the supply of eligible blue-collar men does not match demand. Among black Americans, thanks to mass incarceration, it does not come close. For every 100 African-American women aged 25-54 who are not behind bars, there are only 83 men of the same age at liberty. In some American inner cities there are only 50 black men with jobs for every 100 black women, calculates William Julius Wilson of Harvard University. In theory black women could “marry out”, but few do: in 2010 only 9% of black female newly-weds married men of another race.
When men with jobs are in short supply, as they are in poor neighbourhoods throughout the rich world, any presentable male can get sex, but few women will trust him to stick around or behave decently. Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, two sociologists, asked a sample of inner-city women of all races why they broke up with their most recent partner. Four in ten blamed his chronic, flagrant infidelity; half complained that he was violent.
Read it all from the Economist.
This spring, the journal International Archives of Medicine published a delicious new study: According to researchers at Germany’s Institute of Diet and Health, people who ate dark chocolate while dieting lost more weight...
It was unbelievable news. And reporters shouldn’t have believed it.
It turns out that the Institute of Diet and Health is just a Web site with no institute attached. Johannes Bohannon, health researcher and lead author of the study, is really John Bohannon, a science journalist. And the study, while based on real results of an actual clinical trial, wasn’t aimed at testing the health benefits of chocolate. It was aimed at testing health reporters, to see if they could distinguish a bad science story from a good one.
In many cases, they couldn’t.
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The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers’ privacy.
The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.
Thieves used the information from prior years’ returns to help them file for fraudulent refunds, the IRS said.
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In late April, a commander for Islamic State said his forces were ready to launch an offensive to take Ramadi, and the group called for fighters to redeploy to Iraq from Syria.
Three weeks later, the jihadist group seized the capital of Anbar province after relentless waves of suicide bombings.
U.S. defense chief Ash Carter has blamed Ramadi’s fall mainly on Iraqi forces’ lack of will to fight. But Islamic State’s battlefield performance suggests the terrorist group’s tactical sophistication is growing—a development the Iraqis and the U.S.-led coalition have so far failed to counter, said Iraqi officials, former U.S. officials and military analysts studying the organization.
An examination of how Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic State commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops as well as the much-lauded, U.S.-trained special-operations force known as the Golden Division, which had been fighting for months to defend the city.
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In a world of driverless cars, U.S. auto sales would plummet, vehicle ownership falls 50% and opportunities in fleet management, tech and mapping arise.
In a society dominated by self-driving cars, U.S. auto sales might fall 40% and vehicle ownership could drop 50%, forcing entrenched automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors to adapt or die, according to a Barclays analyst report.
This shift will also create opportunities for tech startups and rental car companies.
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US regulators are increasingly concerned about the threat that cyber attacks pose to financial stability after assaults on Sony Pictures and Target highlighted the proliferating range of techniques used by digital raiders.
In a new report on risks to the financial system, regulators also sounded the alarm on risk-taking by institutions searching for higher investment yields, as well as the threat of rising interest rates triggering market volatility.
On cyber security, the annual report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council said “the prospect of a more destructive incident that could impair financial sector operations” was even more concerning than recent breaches that have compromised financial information.
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When you see the driver next to you looking at their phone, it's no longer safe to assume they're texting. New research1 from AT&T* shows nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And surprisingly, 1-in-10 video chat.
7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent. But other smartphone activity use behind the wheel is now common. Among social platforms, Facebook tops the list, with more than a quarter of those polled using the app while driving. About 1-in-7 said they're on Twitter behind the wheel.
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The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.
The issue made for dramatic headlines recently as “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara was hit with a lawsuit by her ex-fiance, who wants custody of their two fertilized embryos to use for a potential pregnancy. But for most people who have used assisted reproductive technologies, the question of what to do with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos plays out in a much more private, if no less wrenching, manner.
“Having embryos in limbo is a huge problem for our field,” says Eric Widra, medical director at Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has locations throughout the Washington area. “Parents are apprehensive or conflicted and don’t know what to do.”
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A "groundbreaking" cystic fibrosis therapy could profoundly improve patients' quality of life, say doctors.
Patients often die before their 40s as mucus clogs and damages their lungs and leaves them prone to infection.
A major trial on 1,108 patients, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed a combination of drugs could bypass the genetic errors that cause the disease and may increase life expectancy.
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust said it could "improve the lives of many".
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On those who say religion is unnecessary, given humanity's growing scientific knowledge.
I think science and religion are at some point both about big questions of origin and wonder. And I think, for me, I've always felt that it's important for religious people to have the same kind of philosophical stance they use in their religious life as they do in the rest of their life. And a lot of times I think religion — religions — ask people to sort of turn off the scientific part of their lives and just go and kind of think about God kind of pre-scientifically.
I don't think we can do that. We've got to have a faith that is, in some sense, consonant with the way we think about the world scientifically. And again, I think one of the things the Pew study suggests to us is that if the church can get over its anxiety about talking about God in a grown-up way, we would actually reach out to and speak to more people than we do right now.
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Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.
The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.
She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.
Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.
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The average human's attention span is... oh look, a bird!
According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.
Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.
The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds. ''
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It would be unethical and a "sin of omission" to prevent the genetic engineering of embryos, a leading scientist has argued.
Cloning pioneer Dr Tony Perry told the BBC that advances in genetics posed a "wonderful opportunity" for eliminating diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
Last month, a group in China announced it was the first to successfully edit the genome of a human embryo.
Other scientists say it is unnecessary and a line that should not be crossed.
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The deciding factors in Volvo’s decision to build its first North American manufacturing plant near tiny Ridgeville — population 2,000 or so — have by now become a familiar economic development tune: a nearby seaport that’s efficient and quality workforce training.
It’s what convinced Daimler AG in March to build a campus in North Charleston that will make the company’s popular Sprinter vans. On Monday, Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo’s American operations, said the Swedish automaker was lured to South Carolina by the same song.
“One of the main criteria is accessibility overseas,” Kerssemakers said, explaining why Volvo chose the spot along Interstate 26 in Berkeley County, about 30 miles from the Port of Charleston. “And we think we will get a good pool of workers. We can make use of an already established recruiting and training program. That makes us feel very confident.”
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Oncology is the first specialty where matching therapy to DNA has improved outcomes for some patients, inspiring the "precision medicine initiative" President Barack Obama announced in January.
But it can take weeks to identify drugs targeting cancer-causing mutations. Watson can do it in minutes and has in its database the findings of scientific papers and clinical trials on particular cancers and potential therapies.
Faced with such a data deluge, "the solution is going to be Watson or something like it," said oncologist Norman Sharpless of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center. "Humans alone can't do it."
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wouldn’t have understood the full scope of what this young woman is saying in her essay without the interview, which is short. In the segment, Narin says that men and women in her generation don’t have actual romantic relationships anymore. It’s all casual, non-committal sex. “Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real,” she says.
Our generation doesn’t have relationships anymore. Nobody to call their own. Just casual. Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real.
She tells the interviewer that there’s lots of making out and sex, but nobody wants to be emotionally vulnerable to anybody else. The interviewer says that none of this is new, that men and women forever have had a hard time being emotionally confident as they’re trying to work their way through romance. Now, however, it’s possible to “live in your fear,” he says. What has changed?
“Technology,” she said. She explained that you can avoid direct, sustained talking to real people by using technology.
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Religion has been waning in influence for several centuries, especially in Europe and North America. There have been a few brief and local revivals, but in recent years the pace of decline has accelerated.
Today one of the largest categories of religious affiliation in the world—with more than a billion people—is no religion at all, the “Nones.” One out of six Americans is already a None; by 2050, the figure will be one out of four, according to a new Pew Research Center study. Churches are being closed by the hundreds, deconsecrated and rehabilitated as housing, offices, restaurants and the like, or just abandoned.
If this trend continues, religion largely will evaporate, at least in the West. Pockets of intense religious activity may continue, made up of people who will be more sharply differentiated from most of society in attitudes and customs, a likely source of growing tension and conflict.
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Last August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.
When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent? A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects? These are issues that, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with the rights over one’s own body, and everything to do with a parent’s right to protect the life of his or her unborn child.
In 2013, Sofía and I agreed to try to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have children. We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent. The form did not specify — as California law requires — what would happen if we separated. I am asking to have it voided.
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Two contrasting stories this week have thrown into sharp relief the complex relationship between humanity and science. The first was the harrowing yet inspirational story of how newborn Teddy Houlston became Britain’s youngest organ donor aged just 100 minutes old.
His parents allowed his kidneys and heart valves to be removed and given to a man 233 miles away. Why? Because it was medically possible and it felt right....
Meanwhile, across the globe, alarm is growing that Chinese geneticists have taken the first dangerous steps towards creating “designer babies”. Researchers have engineered embryos by “editing” the DNA to remove the gene responsible for the potentially deadly blood disorder thalassaemia.
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One thing going on is that the major lifestyle and utility improvements of the past generation–really cheap access to communication, information, and entertainment–are overwhelmingly available to pretty much everyone. On the one hand, this means that recent economic growth assessed in terms of individual utility and well-being is much more equal then when assessed in terms of income. On the other hand, it means that access these benefits seems much more like simply the air we breathe then as a marker of class status, or achievement.
Thus a loss of the ability to securely attain enough of economic security to firmly hold the indicators of what past generations saw as middle-class life shows itself as a loss. And those who focus on security rather than on utility do not see these as offset buy the information revolution.
Read it all and please note it is a follow up to this article previously posted.
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Both parents address words to their absent children which they hope, but cannot know, will reach them. Coop records video messages which he transmits back to Earth, though they will take years to arrive. Stone, meanwhile, speaks to the character who seemed to appear to her as Catholics pray to saints, asking that a message be passed on to her departed daughter.
While neither film’s protagonist is religious, “Gravity” is interested in religion in a way that “Interstellar” isn’t. Convinced that she is doomed to die in space, Stone laments that not only will no one on Earth pray for her soul, she was never even taught to pray and doesn’t know how to pray for her own soul.
Improbably traveling to two different space stations, Stone encounters a Russian Orthodox icon of Saint Christopher carrying the child Jesus in a Russian spacecraft and a smiling Buddha statue in a Chinese spacecraft. (Strikingly, the only analogous object on the American space shuttle is a statue of Marvin the Martian — an ironic comment, perhaps, on religiously deracinated Western secularism?)
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The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand.
“What we’re looking at is a low-growth, low-inflation, low-rate environment,” said Megan Greene, chief economist of John Hancock Asset Management, who added that the global economy could spend the next decade “working this off.”
The current state of plenty is confounding on many fronts. The surfeit of commodities depresses prices and stokes concerns of deflation. Global wealth—estimated by Credit Suisse at around $263 trillion, more than double the $117 trillion in 2000—represents a vast supply of savings and capital, helping to hold down interest rates, undermining the power of monetary policy. And the surplus of workers depresses wages.
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The experiment with human embryos was dreaded, yet widely anticipated. Scientists somewhere, researchers said, were trying to edit genes with a technique that would permanently alter the DNA of every cell so any changes would be passed on from generation to generation.
Those concerns drove leading researchers to issue urgent calls in major scientific journals last month to halt such work on human embryos, at least until it could be proved safe and until society decided if it was ethical.
Now, scientists in China report that they tried it.
The experiment failed, in precisely the ways that had been feared.
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A couple of months ago I lost my mobile phone. I duly called AT&T, my telephone company, to order a replacement — and received a nasty shock.
“So you are living in Shanghai,” an assistant announced, quoting an entirely unfamiliar Chinese address. Baffled, I explained that I didn’t live anywhere near the Bund; my residence was in Manhattan, New York.
“No, you live in Shanghai,” the voice firmly replied. When I protested vociferously, the AT&T official pronounced the three words that we have all come to dread: “You’ve been hacked.” Somebody, somehow, had managed to break into the AT&T systems and switch my cellphone billing address from New York to Shanghai. Presumably, they were Chinese.
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When my mother tells me – as she is wont to, at every available juncture – that ‘nothing has changed since I was your age’ she is half right. In a way, it hasn’t – the base level stuff, the mechanics of life. But the culture has.
Partly, this is prompted by Apple, Samsung and Google. Look around a tube carriage at rush hour (as I did when I was writing this), and people are engrossed in technology. Life is as technology centred for teens as it is for adults.
That culture feeds into anxiety and pressure for teenagers in 2015.
Now, if they like, teenagers can date on their phones, talk on their phones, and arrange to sneak out of the house on their phones. They can do their homework using their phones; indeed, some schools are increasingly making use of them as teaching tools.
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It should by now be clear that the question of the relationship between science (scientia) and religion (religio) in the Middle Ages was very different from the modern question of the relationship between science and religion. Were the question put to Thomas Aquinas, he may have said something like this: science is an intellectual habit; religion, like the other virtues, is a moral habit. There would then have been no question of conflict or agreement between science and religion because they were not the kinds of things that admitted those sorts of relations.
When the question is posed in our own era, very different answers are forthcoming, for the issue of science and religion is now generally assumed to be about specific knowledge claims or, less often, about the respective processes by which knowledge is generated in these two enterprises.
Between Thomas's time and our own, religio has been transformed from a human virtue into a generic something typically constituted by sets of beliefs and practices. Scientia has followed a similar course, for although it had always referred both to a form of knowledge and a habit of mind, the interior dimension has now almost entirely disappeared.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both religion and science were literally turned inside out.
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I turned to historian Bruce Hindmarsh. In studying the life and theology of John Newton, I depended on his groundbreaking research, captured in the book John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition.
As a professor of spiritual formation at Regent College in Vancouver and a historian of the eighteenth century, Hindmarsh keeps an eye on the cultural influences on Christians today, which certainly includes digital communications technology. His thoughtful perspective brings wisdom and balance to the mobile milieu.
We live in an age of technological advance, with all its glory, conveniences, and consequences. How does this culture harm or hinder the spiritual life of the Christian?
Hindmarsh is concerned with form (the platforms and devices that shape our habits) as much as he is concerned with content (the gossip, slander, and porn that spread through the devices). The medium is part of the message. Our phones are “not just another envelope to throw the same content inside,” he said.
Our unchallenged social-media habits pose one of the most pressing discipleship challenges in the church today, according to Hindmarsh. In our three-part interview series, he offered five concerns and then followed with five practical responses.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
The US could spend more than $1 trillion (£675bn) over the next 30 years modernising its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
It wants to make them faster and more accurate.
Other nuclear states are trying to do the same, raising questions about their commitment to disarm.
Are we entering a new nuclear arms race?
The BBC World Service's The Inquiry programme hears from four expert witnesses.
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