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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 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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
It’s a myth to suggest people on benefits must be scroungers. Most people in poverty in the UK are working. Of the children living in poverty, 61% have working parents.
When the Living Wage is introduced, everyone benefits. Morale goes up.
When work feels worthwhile, its quality improves. Raising pay to a living wage would reduce the benefits bill, increase tax receipts and boost the economy by stepping up workers’ spending power.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The World Bank is teaming up with global religious leaders in a 15-year effort to end extreme poverty by 2030.
About 35 religious groups worldwide, including Bread for the World, Islamic Relief International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Sojourners, endorsed the call to action. Supporters include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is and others.
“Our approach to this staggering need must be holistic, rooted in the spiritual visions of our respective faiths, and built on a shared recognition of the intrinsic dignity and value of every life on Earth,” the call said.
Read it all.
The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America's "flexi-frackers" remain largely unruffled.
One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.
It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world's "Federal Reserve" and opted instead to drive out competitors.
If the purpose was to choke the US "tight oil" industry before it becomes an existential threat - and to choke solar power in the process - it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. "There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn't," said Atul Arya, from IHS.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa America/U.S.A. Middle East Saudi Arabia South America Venezuela * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Take the case of former Charlotte, North Carolina, mayor Patrick Cannon. Cannon came from nothing. He overcame poverty and the violent loss of his father at the age of 5. He earned a degree from North Carolina A&T State University and entered public service at the age of 26 — becoming the youngest council member in Charlotte history. He was known for being completely committed to serving the public, and generous with the time he spent as a role model for young people.
But last year, Cannon, 47, pleaded guilty to accepting $50,000 in bribes while in office. As he entered the city’s federal courthouse last June, he tripped and fell. The media was there to capture the fall, which was symbolic of the much bigger fall of an elected leader and small business owner who once embodied the very essence of personal achievement against staggering odds. Cannon now has the distinction of being the first mayor in the city’s history to be sent to prison. Insiders say he was a good man, but all too human, and seemed vulnerable as he became isolated in his decision-making. And while a local minister argued that Cannon’s one lapse in judgment should not define the man and his career of exceptional public service, he is now judged only by his weakness — his dramatic move from humility and generosity to corruption. And that image of Cannon tripping on his way into court is now the image that people associate with him.
What can leaders do if they fear that they might be toeing the line where power turns to abuse of power? First, you must invite other people in. You must be willing to risk vulnerability and ask for feedback. A good executive coach can help you return to a state of empathy and value-driven decisions. However, be sure to ask for feedback from a wide variety of people. Dispense with the softball questions (How am I doing?) and ask the tough ones (How does my style and focus affect my employees?).
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The highest-profile seminary in the Episcopal Church is still struggling after turmoil between the dean and faculty members temporarily crippled the school early this academic year.
A letter from 20 students, alumni and former trustees to the Attorney General of New York dated April 20 asks for an investigation of the actions of General Theological Seminary Dean and President Kurt Dunkle and the Board of Trustees. The letter, originally made public on Facebook and reprinted on the blog Episcopal Café, charges that Dunkle and the trustees “may have abandoned their fiduciary responsibilities and taken actions which are likely to result in the closing” of the 198-year-old institution and the sale of its remaining real estate in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The letter restates earlier allegations against Dunkle while noting that fallout from the initial turmoil resulted in several students departing midyear, while the board “provisionally” reinstated the faculty only for the rest of the academic year, while canceling their academic tenure.
“No new hires have been announced and several top librarians have left,” the letter reads, claiming that “only one entering student has paid a deposit for admission next fall” and that the seminary’s accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools is under review.
Read it all and follow all the links therein.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Seminary / Theological Education
As our economy continues to improve, there is a crushing weight holding many back: payday loans. While state and local leaders have taken up the cause in certain jurisdictions, this is a national problem that requires Congress to act. Unscrupulous lenders lure those who are already facing financial hardship into a debt trap from which it is very difficult to escape.
Drawn by slick marketing, desperate borrowers are induced to accept unfavorable terms they may not fully understand. The cost of a typical payday loan exceeds 300 percent annual percentage rate. By requiring full repayment from the next paycheck, payday lenders virtually guarantee that the borrower will be forced to ask for a new loan, with additional fees and interest, to pay back the old one.
This violates the underwriting standards applied to virtually every other type of loan. Payday loans perpetuate a cycle of debt, poverty and misery.
Three quarters of the fees payday lenders bring in come from borrowers, mostly low income, who have taken out 10 or more loans in a single year. More than half of all payday loans are renewed or rolled over so many times that consumers wind up repaying at least twice the amount they originally borrowed.
Read it all, another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Revd Antony MacRow-Wood has been announced as the new Archdeacon of Dorset, succeeding Stephen Waine who has gone to be Dean of Chichester.
Antony is the Team Rector of the North Poole Ecumenical Team, involving Methodist, United Reformed Church and Baptist, as well as Church of England input; and parish priest at St George’s, Oakdale, in the town.
Speaking on the announcement of his appointment, Antony said, “It is an immense privilege to be asked to become the next Archdeacon of Dorset and rather like the Disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel I’m still a little ‘disbelieving with joy’. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the people and clergy of the Archdeaconry and continuing to serve this Diocese. These are exciting times for the Church and mission will be a particular priority for me.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Mayor Moses Tucker had to abruptly end Tuesday night’s council meeting when it devolved into yelling, cursing and personal verbal jabs.
As the full house poured out of the council chambers — many livid with council’s decision to approve the demolition of the St. Philip’s Anglican church built in 1894 — two police officers were on hand in the lobby in case the jabs became physical.
Several residents who wanted to attend the meeting were locked out, as the town wouldn’t allow more than 50 people in the room, citing fire regulations.
The Anglican church building became the centre of contention in the town in 2010 when the steeple was toppled after being partially sawed off in the middle of the night. Church officials wanted to tear down the building, and the group Church by the Sea Inc. wanted to turn it into a museum.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said.
But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.
Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. But they also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by some pressures more to join the trend.
“You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago.
“We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
How many megacities does China have? The United Nations puts it at six [that's incorrect]....
China is urbanizing at a staggering rate—in 35 years, it has added more than 500 million people to its cities. As a result, it looks like the world has vastly underestimated the size and scope of growth in China's megacities, defined as those with more than 10 million people, according to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.
Please guess the answer before you go and read it all.
Books on how to get the most out of your employees almost always follow the same formula. They start by noting that the secret of business success is employee-engagement: an engaged worker is more productive as well as happier. They go on to point out that most employees are the opposite of engaged (a 2013 Gallup Survey that claims that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” gets a lot of play). They blame this dismal state of affairs on the legacy of Frederick Winslow Taylor, a Philadelphia-born Quaker who became one of America’s first management consultants and in 1911 wrote a book called “The Principles of Scientific Management”. And finally they reveal the secret of making your employees more engaged: treat them like human beings rather than parts in an industrial machine.
The first two books under review are cases in point. They both rely on over-familiar examples of high-performance companies, such as “funky, funny” Zappos and CNN. They come from the same school of poor writing—sloppy sentences, ugly management jargon and pseudo-folksy style. Stan Slap is particularly slapdash. “The Power of Thanks”, by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, claims that a “Positivity-Dominated Workplace creates and maintains competitive advantage”. The best way to do this is to thank people regularly. Mr Slap’s “Under the Hood” claims that the best way to maximise business performance is to look under the bonnet of your company, discover the employee culture that lies inside, and then fine-tune it. Fine-tuning involves things like praising good workers and sacking bad ones (“one of the biggest opportunities to create a legend is when the hammer falls right on the culture and someone has to go”).
Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules!” is much better. Mr Bock has been head of “people operations” at Google since 2006 and has seen the company grow from 6,000 to almost 60,000 people....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
John Singletary, a local photographer, remembers meeting Scott some years ago at Father to Father, a program to help men who had fallen behind on their child support. Singletary was an employment specialist there and Scott had recently been released from jail for not making his payments. Singletary helped Scott get a job at a construction company. Scott was “elated,” Singletary said. He could tell Scott wanted to be a better father.
When Scott was pulled over on Saturday, April 4, in a used Mercedes he had recently purchased, Romaine could picture what he must have been thinking. He had just taken his coworker at Brown Distribution, 30-year-old Pierre Fulton, to a food pantry at a nearby church so Fulton could get food for his family. He was taking Fulton home.
After the officer approached Scott’s car, Romaine imagined her cousin bracing the steering wheel, trembling in fear. He didn’t want to go to jail. He had a fiancee and children to provide for, a job he couldn’t afford to lose.
He needed to go home.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, a brainchild of Senators Mike Lee (R-Ut) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is designed, in part, to help middle-income families raise their children. Over the past several months, policymakers have argued about the merits of the plan, and analysts have modeled its distributional effects, albeit with widely different results based on a lack of clarity about some of its provisions.
The crowning jewel of the Lee-Rubio plan is a new child tax credit of $2,500—separate from the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit—with no phase out for higher income families. Based on our current understanding of the plan, very few if any lower-income families with children would benefit, while the annual cost of extending this tax relief to middle-class and wealthy families is $414 billion.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which includes the Palmetto State, got a first-hand look at the Boeing juggernaut during a two-day visit to the Charleston area last week.
“It’s really impressive,” he said. “What I don’t think is broadly known is the extent of which ... they’ve added to what was just a manufacturing and assembly facility, and this looks now to be a bigger part of Boeing’s future than it looked a couple of years ago. So I think that speaks well for Charleston’s economic capabilities and for its work force ... because they’ll tell you ... the biggest uncertainty about the whole venture down here was whether they could attract enough of a work force to do the things they can do up in Puget Sound. They’ll tell you they succeeded.”
Aside from Boeing’s growth, Lacker has witnessed other sea changes since his last official visit to the Holy City. In 2009, the Fed was still cutting interest rates to jump-start the then-wounded economy. Now, some believe the time is finally ripe to start raising them again.
Read it all from the local paper
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Mario Draghi said the euro area was better equipped than it had been in the past to deal with a new Greek crisis but warned of “uncharted waters” if the situation were to deteriorate badly.
The European Central Bank president called for the resumption of detailed discussions aimed at resolving the country’s debt woes and urged the Greek authorities to bring forward proposals that ensured fairness, growth, fiscal stability, financial stability.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For those who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, this is a tough milestone, but it's also a moment to honor their resilience.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government Terrorism * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
Look at them all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Eschatology
Dan Price was about a mile into a Sunday hike on scenic Mt. Si when he knew what he had to do to change his life — and the lives of others.
His hiking partner and close friend had just been notified that her rent was going up. She had no idea how she would afford the extra couple hundred dollars a month on her salary as the hardworking manager of a luxury spa in pricey Puget Sound.
That's when it hit him. Many of his own employees at Gravity Payments had similar money problems. He was making $1million a year, and the lowest-paid of his workers was averaging about $35,000.
So he decided he would cut his pay, first to $50,000, rising to $70,000 by the end of 2017.
CEO raises workers' minimum pay to $70,000 a year
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, reportedly stunned his employees with the announcement that workers' minimum wage would rise over the next few years to $70,000.
That would make his compensation mirror his company's lowest-paid employees — after he gave them generous raises.
Read it all and take the time to see this brief video report so you can see the worker's reactions.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology
The baby boom generation is set to leave one last burden to its children and grandchildren – a wave of funeral debt.
The cost of paying for rising numbers of deaths as the unprecedented numbers of post-World War Two babies come to the end of their lives may be too much for many families, a report said.
It predicted that numbers of deaths in Britain, which have been falling for 40 years, will start to go up and increase by 20 per cent over the next two decades.
At the same time the price of a funeral is rising fast, thanks to higher costs for cremation, rising undertakers’ bills as funeral firms are faced with bad debts, and the increasing fees demanded by churches.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Even worse for Democrats, the Saez paper found that “information about inequality also makes respondents trust government less,” decreasing “by nearly twenty percent the share of respondents who ‘trust government’ most of the time:”
Hence, emphasizing the severity of a social or economic problem appears to undercut respondents’ willingness to trust the government to fix it — the existence of the problem could act as evidence of the government’s limited capacity to improve outcomes.
The findings of the Saez group are consistent with Luttig’s. Taken together, they suggest that even if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, largely on the basis of favorable demographic trends, the party will confront serious hurdles if it attempts to deliver material support to working men and women and the very poor. Redistribution is in trouble, and that is likely to tie American politics in knots for many years to come.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In a famous 1937 essay, the economist Ronald Coase argued that the reason Western economies are organized like a pyramid, with a few large producers at the top and millions of passive consumers below, is the existence of transaction costs – the intangible costs associated with search, bargaining, decision-making, and enforcement. But with the Internet, mobile technologies, and social media all but eliminating such costs in many sectors, this economic structure is bound to change.
Indeed, in the United States and across Europe, vertically integrated value chains controlled by large companies are already being challenged by new consumer-orchestrated value ecosystems, which allow consumers to design, build, market, distribute, and trade goods and services among themselves, eliminating the need for intermediaries. This bottom-up approach to value creation is enabled by the horizontal (or peer-to-peer) networks and do-it-yourself (DIY) platforms that form the foundation of the “frugal” economy.
Two key factors are fueling the frugal economy’s growth: a protracted financial crisis, which has weakened the purchasing power of middle-class consumers in the West, and these consumers’ increasing sense of environmental responsibility. Eager to save money and minimize their ecological impact, Western consumers are increasingly eschewing individual ownership in favor of shared access to products and services.
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“Seven days,” wrote Witold Rybczynski in the August 1991 issue of The Atlantic, “is not natural because no natural phenomenon occurs every seven days.” The year marks one revolution of the Earth around the sun. Months, supposedly, mark the time between full moons. The seven-day week, however, is completely man-made.
If it’s man-made, can’t man unmake it? For all the talk of how freeing it’d be to shave a day or two off the five-day workweek, little attention has been paid to where the weekly calendar came from. Understanding the sometimes arbitrary origins of the modern workweek might inform the movement to shorten it.
The roots of the seven-day week can be traced back about 4,000 years, to Babylon. The Babylonians believed there were seven planets in the solar system, and the number seven held such power to them that they planned their days around it. Their seven-day, planetary week spread to Egypt, Greece, and eventually to Rome, where it turns out the Jewish people had their own version of a seven-day week. (The reason for this is unclear, but some have speculated that the Jews adopted this after their exile in Babylon in the sixth century B.C.) At the very latest, the seven-day week was firmly entrenched in the Western calendar about 250 years before Christ was born.
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Beer has its Budweiser. Cigarettes have Marlboro. And now, from Nevada to Massachusetts, pioneers in the legal-marijuana industry are vying to create big-name brands for pot.
When the legalization movement began years ago, its grassroots activists envisioned a nation where mom-and-pop dispensaries would freely sell small amounts of bud to cancer patients and cannabis-loving members of their community. But the markets rolling out now are attracting something different: ambitious, well-financed entrepreneurs who want to maximize profits and satisfy their investors. To do that, they’ll have to grow the pot business by attracting new smokers or getting current users to buy more.
To hear these pot-preneurs talk is to get a better sense of how the legalized future could unfold and just how mainstream they believe their product can become. Says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver maker of pot food products: “I want to get that soccer mom who, instead of polishing off a glass of wine on a Saturday night, goes for a 5-mg [marijuana] mint with less of a hangover, less optics to the kids and the same amount of relaxation.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Shamar Theus, a 25-year-old working for Postmates, sits in his Ford Focus in San Francisco for about a minute before the first order comes in on his iPhone. Someone not far away wants 18 lb. of crushed ice, and Postmates is offering Theus $4.80 to pick it up and then deliver it. When he accepts the job, his phone guides him to the grocery store and then to the drop-off. “Everyone’s superbusy, overtaxed. So you bring stuff to people’s offices at 8 o’clock at night,” says Theus, who is wearing a smart watch and long black dreadlocks. “People have just reached a point where they’re so busy that they need to outsource these tasks.”
Same-day delivery, an iconic failure of the dotcom boom, is back–and not just for giants Amazon and Google.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Science & Technology Travel Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The global economy was more likely to enjoy a reasonable recovery over the next two years benefiting from recent falls in energy prices and exchange rate movements, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The twice-yearly forecasts show India is expected to outperform China in growth for the first time in 16 years.
Although the fund has recently told countries they “could do better” to improve medium-term prospects, the World Economic Outlook is the first since 2011 to suggest economies are putting the 2009 financial crisis behind them.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China India * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ever since the early 1990s, when it moved out of universities and was embraced by the general public, the internet has grown relentlessly. Only 2% of the world’s population was online in 1997. By 2014 the proportion had risen to 39%, or about 3 billion people (see chart below). But that still leaves another 4 billion who live an internet-free existence.
Most of the bereft are in the developing world, where only 32% of people are online, compared with 78% in rich countries. And those numbers disguise plenty of local variation. Just 19% of people in Africa were internet users in 2014. Like most infrastructure, the internet is easiest to provide in cities. People scattered in the countryside—even those in rich countries—must often do without.
Yet that may be about to change. Four technology companies are pursuing ambitious plans that could, eventually, provide reasonably fast, high-quality connections to almost everyone on Earth. Google dreams of doing so with a globe-circling flock of helium balloons. Facebook’s plan requires a fleet of solar-powered robotic aircraft, known as drones. And two firms—SpaceX, a rocket company, and OneWeb, a startup based in Florida—aim to use swarms of cheap, low-flying satellites. By providing an easy route to the internet at large, local telecoms firms should be able to provide high-speed, third- or fourth-generation mobile-phone coverage to areas far away from the big cities.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Technology has cut its transformative swath through the media, transportation and hospitality industries. Insurance could be next.
Telematics, the long-distance transmission of computerized information, is a small but growing element of the insurance business. If adopted on a widespread basis, it could revolutionize the underlying risk-spreading methods used for generations, analysts say....
Progressive (NYSE:PGR) has been among the leaders in this area, permitting its customers to insert a "Snapshot" gadget into their cars in order to provide increasingly sophisticated information about their driving habits.
"It made more sense to price premiums on how you actually drive," said David Pratt, Progressive's general manager of user-based insurance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Science & Technology Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Tumbling interest rates in Europe have put some banks in an inconceivable position: owing money on loans to borrowers.
At least one Spanish bank, Bankinter SA, the country’s seventh-largest lender by market value, has been paying some customers interest on mortgages by deducting that amount from the principal the borrower owes.
The problem is just one of many challenges caused by interest rates falling below zero, known as a negative interest rate. All over Europe, banks are being compelled to rebuild computer programs, update legal documents and redo spreadsheets to account for negative rates.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Euro European Central Bank Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary Europe
Living with roommates is practically a rite of passage in New York City. It often begins with far too many people sharing too little space and ends with a move into an apartment of one’s own, or with that special someone.
But with rents reaching new highs, single 20-somethings are not the only ones looking for someone with whom to share the rent. Couples are living with roommates even after they’ve tied the knot.
“If we were in Iowa, it would be weird,” said Josh Jupiter, 28, who, with his wife, Isabel Martín Piñeiro, 26, recently posted an ad on SpareRoom.com seeking a roommate to share the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment they rent in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “If we were in Michigan, it would be weird. In New York City, it’s like, ‘How many people can you cram into an apartment, married or not?’ We live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.”
Sure, it may sound like the makings of a reality TV show. And there are plenty of ways to cut housing costs other than taking on a roommate. But couples like Mr. Jupiter and Ms. Piñeiro say they would rather relinquish a spare room than contend with an extra-long commute, a smaller place or a less desirable area.
Read it all from the New York Times.
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The western church typically criticises the eastern view for having a “free lunch” view of salvation. No pain, no gain, insists Anselm. The eastern church says that the west fetishises suffering and is more committed to some iron logic of cosmic necessity than to God for whom all things are possible.
Atheists such as Alexis Tsipras, the Greek leader, may think both of these are fantasies. But for present purposes that’s beside the point. It’s worth recognising that these two completely different stories support two contrasting moral worldviews and different attitudes towards economics in general and capitalism in particular. Tsipras – like me – is very much more in the Greek Orthodox camp when it comes to salvation. And the Lutheran minister’s daughter Angela Merkel is very much in the western one. He wants to leap free from death-dealing debt. She believes it must be paid back, no matter how much blood and pain is involved.
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The global economy is mired in a “stop and go” recovery “at risk of stalling again”, according to the latest Brookings Institution-Financial Times tracking index.
The index, released ahead of the International Monetary Fund’s twice-yearly forecasts this week, highlights how the modestly improved growth outlook in advanced economies has been offset by weakness in emerging markets.
“A modest reversal of fortunes between the advanced and emerging market economies belies the fact that both groups still face stunted growth prospects,” said Professor Eswar Prasad, an economist and senior fellow at Brookings.
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Armed with cell phones and a dizzying array of social media choices, half of this area's middle- and high-schoolers in a recent study admitted to social media abuse — from bullying schoolmates to spreading rumors to pressuring others to send sexual texts or pictures.
They also admitted to stalking their partners.
"It begins with the constant texting or the stalking on Facebook. 'Where are you?' and 'Who are you with?'" said researcher Poco Kernsmith, an associate professor of social work at Wayne State University.
What may seem like harmless teen jealousy can spiral into a dangerous relationship if left unchecked, said Kernsmith, whose research has centered on violence in relationships. She led a survey of 1,236 sixth- and ninth-graders at six metro Detroit high schools, a mix of high- moderate- and low-risk schools when measured with crime statistics and poverty levels.
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2) Finances cripple us.
Years ago, it didn't cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn't cost $300,000-plus for a home.
The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You'd be naive to believe this stress doesn't cause strain on marriages today....
3) We're more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.
Let's face it, the last time you "spoke" to the person you love, you didn't even hear their voice.
You could be at work, the gym, maybe with the kids at soccer. You may even be in the same room....
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You may read the Episcopal Bishop here and and the Roman Catholic Bishop there.
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The Paradox of Generosity is a tale of two ways of life. Bryan, whom we meet in the book, admits that he is “not Mother Teresa.” At Christmas he prefers to give himself an extra gift rather than making a charitable donation. With his life wrapped up in his own needs, he finds himself overbusy, cranky, anxious, lonely, and prone to overindulging in alcohol. In the same household, his wife, Shannon, enjoys giving to others, especially at holidays like Christmas, and she volunteers as a soccer coach. She has a strong network of friends and has seen improvements in her mental and physical health as she overcomes an eating disorder.
Apparently Jesus was correct when he said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. My mother will be relieved to hear me say that. She was fond of quoting Jesus when my juvenile self-centeredness reared its head too determinedly. Some of us, according to Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, took our mothers’ admonitions to heart and grew into adults blessed with a spirit of generosity that is demonstrated in our actions. As a result, we enjoy better health, more happiness, and a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in our lives. Most of us, however, seem to have ignored our mothers and have developed into people focused primarily on acquiring things and holding on to them, seldom sharing ourselves or our possessions with others. Associated with this grasping posture are poorer health, less happiness, and a loss of meaning and sense of purpose for our lives.
Smith and Davidson document this connection in great detail. Paradoxically, despite the positive consequences of generosity, few Americans are generous people. By almost any measure of generosity, the majority of Americans are crowded at the ungenerous end of the scale.
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Median per capita income has basically been flat since 2000, adjusted for inflation. The typical American family makes slightly less than a typical family did 15 years ago. And while many goods have become cheaper or better, the price of three of the biggest middle-class expenditures – housing, college and health care – have gone up much faster than the rate of inflation.
Equally important, Mr. Hirschl found a high degree of income volatility among most Americans in the four decades between 1969 and 2011. At some point in their working lives, a full 70 percent earned enough to put them in the top fifth of earners, and as many as 30 percent reached the equivalent of $200,000 in 2009 dollars, or roughly the top 4 percent.
Similarly, nearly 80 percent will at least temporarily plunge into a red zone, where their income drops near or below the poverty line, or they are compelled to gain access to a social safety net program like food stamps or collect unemployment insurance. More than half of Americans ages 25 to 60 will experience at least one year hovering around the poverty line.
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Last year, a study found that about four out of every 10 people who received financial help from the government while buying their Obamacare health plans had no idea they were getting any assistance.
This tax season, many of those people may be in for a rude surprise when they're asked to pay some—or even all—of that money back....
"I wasn't very happy," said Mike Highsmith, 61, a retired US Airways flight attendant who learned after having his taxes done that he has to pay back every cent of the $6,624 in federal subsidies that helped pay the lion's share of his HealthCare.gov-purchased plan.
"This shocked me ... I didn't know this was coming."
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Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive.
Every month, consumers pay a small fee on their phone bills for a federal program that uses the money — a total of $8.8 billion raised nationwide last year — to provide affordable access to telecommunications services in rural areas, underserved inner cities and schools.
Now the fee could start appearing on broadband bills too, in a major expansion of the nearly two-decade-old Universal Service Fund program.Read it all.
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As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.
I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.
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The doctor, who has been practicing medicine for 34 years, needed specialist health help and advice. But being based in "the middle of the woods", Armstrong's closest endocrine specialist was over 300 miles away, he said.
That's when Armstrong logged onto Sermo, a sort of "Facebook for doctors". The service, which launched in 2005 in the U.S., allows members to sign up and chat to each other to find solutions. The company announced the U.K. launch on Wednesday allowing doctors from the U.K. to chat to their U.S. counterparts.
"There's a lot of medical knowledge that when shared across borders will benefit the global healthcare system," Sermo's CEO Peter Kirk, told CNBC by phone.
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Oil-related job cuts may start to slow: Energy firms announced plans to lay off 1,279 workers in March, down from 16,000 in February. But for oil patch states, other questions remain: the health of the service economy surrounding energy firms, the reliability of tax revenues, and so on.
Some of that uncertainty may be trickling through to the broader economy. Some 42% of all IBD/TIPP respondents still say the U.S. is in a recession in April, nearly six years after the economic recovery began.
Yet recent data has been fitful, making it hard to get a clear read on whether the economy is turning down or just taking a beating from temporary factors — the oil price plunge, severe winter weather, and the West Coast ports labor slowdown, for example.
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Men who are reluctant to settle down until they make more money – and women who spurn low-wage men – could benefit from what Taulbee has discovered: Marriage has a transformative effect on adult behavior, emotional health, and financial well-being—particularly for men. (Parenthood is more transformative for women.)
Men who get married work harder and more strategically, and earn more money than their single peers from similar backgrounds. Marriage also transforms men’s social worlds; they spend less time with friends and more time with family; they also go to bars less and to church more. In the provocative words of Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, men “settle down when they get married; if they fail to get married they fail to settle down.”
Research findings on heterosexual marriage are surprisingly consistent with Akerlof’s insight, especially when it comes to engaging the world of work.
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If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.
Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.
This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.
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The next big thing in the CofE... pic.twitter.com/3jYGFWNQdS— Pete Broadbent (@petespurs) April 1, 2015
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An influential group of bishops have called on Anglican churches to remove their investments from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change.
In a declaration and set of requests aimed at focusing the church’s attention on the “unprecedented climate crisis”, the 17 bishops and archbishops said investments in fossil fuel companies were incompatible with a just and sustainable future.
“We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels,” they said.
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A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they're more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids' education.
People who get health insurance through work and on their own have seen their costs rise dramatically over the last decade.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing.
"More people have deductibles than ever before," says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president. From 2003 to 2013, the size of deductibles has grown nearly 150%.
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Google is no stranger to robotics or healthcare technology. The tech giant owns several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and its arsenal of robo-dogs and nimble-but-drunk bipedal bots. And the Google X Life Sciences division has created everything from contact lenses that measure blood-sugar levels to tremor-proof spoons for Parkinson’s patients.
Now, the search giant is teaming up with Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary to build what the two hope are the ultimate platform for robotic surgery.
Robot-assisted surgeries aren’t a new thing; in fact, they’ve been around in one form or another since 1985.
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We have confirmation that Fort St. John is losing another landmark main street building.
The Reverend Enid Pow is the Rector of St. Martin’s Anglican Church, located on 100th Street, and she’s confirming the building has already been sold, and is also scheduled for demolition.
“We’ve come to a position where we’ve needed to sell the building because it required far too many repairs for us to be able to afford,” says Rector Pow. “So we’re looking for somewhere else in Fort St. John.”
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Raghuram Rajan got it started. On Jan. 15, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India jolted traders on Mumbai’s Dalal Street by cutting interest rates. The surprise was the timing of the announcement: Rajan wasn’t supposed to deliver a policy statement for another 19 days.
The weirdness continued that same day—in Switzerland, of all places. For three years, the Swiss National Bank had steadily bought euros on currency markets to keep the country’s franc from surging in value relative to the euro, and thereby choking off growth. Unorthodox, yes; but global financial markets had grown accustomed to the regular renewal of the bank’s stance. Without warning, however, the Swiss cut the franc’s tether. Swiss National Bank chairman Thomas Jordan also set the benchmark Swiss lending rate at negative 0.75%. In theory, a lower rate should put downward pressure on the franc; not enough in this case, as the franc’s value shot up by 18% in the days that followed. Many hedge funds bled red.
And on it went. The Danes cut interest rates four times in the span of a few weeks. As this issue of the magazine neared deadline, China’s central bank cut rates by a quarter of a percentage point and Poland slashed them by a half point. In the first 60 days of 2015, some 20 central banks had executed stimulus measures.
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If the brisk pace of population growth and development along South Carolina’s coast seems unusual, that’s not your imagination.
The latest Census Bureau estimates show that few metropolitan areas in the nation are growing so quickly.
Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston were the three fastest-growing metro areas on the Atlantic Coast in 2014, as they were in 2013.
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The notion that Facebook and other social networks will suffer most deeply when the bubble bursts sounds plausible because it rehashes the last tech boom and bust, when advertising revenue run-ups at huge web portals (remember those?) turned out to be funded mainly by venture capital investments. In 2001, revenue at Yahoo — the largest portal, and something like the Facebook of its time — plummeted by almost $400 million when start-ups stopped spending during the bust. Yahoo has never recovered its former glory. Could Facebook face the same fate?
Probably not — or not yet, at least. On closer inspection, the theory that Facebook’s growth depends on unsustainable venture capital is mostly overblown, another strain of Facebook Second Guessing Syndrome. It’s a story that misses important facts about Facebook’s advertising business. For one thing, as Facebook’s executives have repeatedly pointed out, ads from app companies make up a small percentage of the company’s overall business. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from video ads and ads for large brands.
Continue reading the main story
The theory also misses two other points. Not all these ads are coming from unproved start-ups. And the ads are set to be adopted more widely because they actually work.
According to several app makers and observers of the industry, the ads are tremendously effective at leading paying customers to new apps. It’s the effort to reach these paying customers — and not venture funding — that is often the reason for all the money pouring into ads for apps.
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What happens as the world becomes even more interconnected…and even more leaderless?
Some argue that globalization is grinding to a screeching halt. In a world of increased conflict and turmoil, where major powers jockey for influence, financial sanctions have become a go-to weapon and even the Internet threatens to splinter, then surely the cross-border flow of money, ideas, information, goods and services will begin to slow—or even reverse.
Others argue that globalization is really just Americanization by other means. After all, the United States still dominates the international financial system. Information hurtling through cyberspace promotes the democratization of information, because it creates demand for still more information and forces autocrats to care more about public opinion. As developing countries develop, aren’t they becoming more like America?
Read it all and note the link to the full report provided.
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The FBI improved its ability to fight terrorism in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but a new report says the bureau still faces significant challenges as it strengthens its intelligence capabilities to deal with nimble enemies.
The finding was part of an exhaustive review requested by Congress to evaluate the FBI’s response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations in 2004 and determine if the domestic law enforcement agency was moving quickly enough to deal with fast-moving threats.
The lengthy report, “The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century,” is perhaps the most detailed, public examination of the FBI’s post-9/11 capabilities, highlighting the successes and limitations of the traditional crime-fighting bureau.
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One of the U.K.’s most visible ethical investors – the Church of England – outperformed its investing benchmarks last year thanks in part to its significant underweight position in energy stocks, a trade that benefited from the precipitous fall in oil prices.
Its fund, the CCLA, with around £5.6 billion ($8.34 billion) under management as of Feb. 2015, runs assets on behalf of the Church of England, as well as charities and local government authorities. The firm has long taken an ethical and activist stance, recently encouraging Royal Dutch Shell PLC, for example, to put forward a shareholder resolution on Climate Change at its 2015 Annual General Meeting.
Thanks to its ethical bearings, the CCLA allocated 50% less to oil and gas stocks than its benchmarks across its equity funds over 2014, and has avoided exposure to pure play coal and tar sands stocks, according to Michael Quicke, chief executive of the CCLA.
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With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.
People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ‘secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.
The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.
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Robots and computer programs could almost wipe out human workers in jobs from cooks to truck drivers, a visiting researcher has warned.
Driverless cars and even burger-flipping robots are among the technological advancements gunning for low-skilled jobs across dozens of industries.
University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two.
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U.S. auto production is nearing all-time highs on the back of strong domestic demand and steady export increases. But American-made cars and trucks are increasingly loaded with parts imported from Mexico, China and other nations.
The U.S. imported a record $138 billion in car parts last year, equivalent to $12,135 of content in every American light vehicle built. That is up from $89 billion, or $10,536 per vehicle, in 2008—the first of two disastrous years for the car business. In 1990, only $31.7 billion in parts were imported.
The trend casts a cloud over the celebrated comeback of one of the nation’s bedrock industries. As the inflow of low-cost foreign parts accelerates, wages at the entry level are drifting away from the generous compensation packages that made car-factory jobs the prize of American manufacturing.
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For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.
Our stuff has taken over. Most household moves outside the U.S. weigh from 2,500 lb. to 7,500 lb. (1,110 kg to 3,400 kg). The average weight of a move in the U.S. is 8,000 lb. (3,600 kg), the weight of a fully grown hippo. An entire industry has emerged to house our extra belongings–self-storage, a $24 billion business so large that every American could fit inside its units simultaneously.
It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be occurring. At least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. “These objects that we bring in the house are not inert,” says UCLA anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who led a decade-long study on hyperacquisition. “They have consequences.”
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For all its brutality, ISIS is often praised for its social media savvy and a passion among its members akin to that of a very famous Silicon Valley start-up, says one Muslim social media entrepreneur. The way to defeat the group’s extremism is by harnessing the creativity of entrepreneurs, he says.
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To understand where this cyber-libertarian ideology came from, you have to understand the influence of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” one of the strangest artifacts of the ’90s, and its singular author, John Perry Barlow. Perhaps more than any other, it’s his philosophy — which melded countercultural utopianism, a rancher’s skepticism toward government and a futurist’s faith in the virtual world — that shaped the industry.
The problem is, we’ve reaped what he sowed.
Generally the province of fascists, artists or fascist artists, manifestos are a dying form. It takes gall to have published one anytime after, say, 1938. But “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was an utterly serious document for a deliriously optimistic era that Wired, on one of its many valedictory covers, promised was a “long boom”: “25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world.” Techno-skeptics need not apply.
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The way to eliminate potholes, or at least diminish their number, is to keep the roads in good shape, with regular resurfacing. But far less is being done than required. And the same goes for the rest of the infrastructure in the US: not just roads, but ports and airports, bridges, railways and power grids, those boring basics that keep a country running. America, to believe the title of a recent television documentary on the subject, is falling apart – literally.
Not so long ago the opposite was true. The US was the shining future that had already arrived. It had the best technology, the most modern cities, the fanciest cars, the most up-to-date airports. The jewel in the crown was the interstate highway system, built in the 1950s and 1960s to knit a continent together.
Alas, sooner or later, youthful beauty fades. And so it is with America’s infrastructure. Many of those projects date back to the immediate post-war years, even to FDR’s New Deal to counter the Great Depression. More than half a century later, they’re in desperate need of overhaul or replacement.
Surveys merely confirm America’s relative slide.
Read it all from Rupert Cornwell.
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On the one hand, scientists are excited about these techniques because they may let them do good things, such as discovering important principles about biology. It might even lead to cures for diseases.
The big worry is that CRISPR and other techniques will be used to perform germline genetic modification.
Basically, that means making genetic changes in a human egg, sperm or embryo.
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A £100m recruitment plan for the Church of England has been criticised as a raid on church assets that has not been properly thought out and amounts to “spending the family silver”.
The proposals, submitted last month, are intended to address what Andreas Whittam Smith, head of the Church Commissioners, calls a “relentless decline in membership”. Mr Whittam Smith has previously said this has resulted in the average age of Anglican congregations approaching 70.
The commissioners manage the Church’s historic and investment assets, worth slightly more than £6bn at the end of 2013. Mr Whittam Smith wants to use about £100m of that to boost the number of ordained priests by 50 per cent.
This is in addition to the £2m already approved to train senior clergy and potential leaders in a “talent management” programme, a controversial proposal made in a report chaired by Stephen Green, the former chairman of HSBC and an ordained minister in the Church.
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Virtual reality is just getting started. A bunch of companies, including HTC, Samsung, and Sony have shown off headsets that immerse you in a virtual world, and Facebook's Oculus — credited with kickstarting the latest craze — has been selling a version to developers for some time now.
But most people have never tried or even seen a VR headset, much less been able to buy one.
That's going to change, fast. Business Insider Intelligence expects VR to be the next big thing in gaming, with 26.5 million units sold in 2020. That would give it a compound annual growth rate of nearly 100% — in other words, sales, on average, will double every year for the next five. So get ready to be immersed.
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Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday she will oppose efforts to reopen the Barnwell County low-level nuclear waste dump to the nation.
At a State House news conference, Haley said the landfill should remain closed to states other than South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, which have exclusive rights to the site.
"We just want the Legislature to know we don't want to go in that direction," Haley said of efforts to open the landfill to other states.
"We don't think that's healthy,” Haley said. "We don"t sell our soul for jobs and money."
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It’s church time, close to 9 a.m. last Sunday.
Katherine Milligan, 66, walks through the central hallway of the Presbyterian Church of Stanley, feeling more uncomfortable, more spurned and more angry than she has in all her 33 years attending this Overland Park church.
“I’m too old. I don’t care what people think,” the Olathe woman said later, defiant in the battle she has joined. “No one is going to tell me I can’t worship in my sanctuary.”
Yet in late April a trial scheduled in Johnson County District Court will effectively determine exactly that. Judge Kevin Moriarty will hear arguments on who owns this $4.4 million house of God, a white modernist building erected in 1978 on a grassy rise at 148th Street and Antioch Road.
For six months, two factions of the church have been embroiled in what both sides agree has been an ugly and hurtful conflict.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article14448485.html#storylink=cpy
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ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday's feast of St. Joseph the Worker....
ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?
Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.
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The Bishop of Rochester has addressed more than 2,000 people at a rally pressing for all political parties to commit themselves to a long term plan for ending the housing crisis.
The Rt Rev James Langstaff, who is chair of Housing Justice, the national voice of the churches on housing and homelessness, told the Homes for Britain event in central London that ensuring decent and secure housing in the right place and at an affordable cost is one of the most important issues for our society.
Read the whole address there.
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Rarely have investors lavished so much attention on a single word. After a two-day meeting, the Federal Reserve dropped the word “patient” from its monetary-policy statement. Why the fuss over this single word?
"Patient”, in Fed-speak, indicates that it will hold off increasing interest rates for at least two meetings. Now the word has been ditched, at subsequent meetings (most probably in June) we could see rates move off from rock-bottom for the first time since 2008.
The last rate-tightening cycle began over a decade ago. The Fed feels comfortable, it seems, with raising interest rates now that unemployment has moved towards 5.5%. The latest forecasts from the Fed show that it expects the economy to expand by 2.3%-2.7%, a slight fall from the projections in December but still one of the strongest in the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries.
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Employers want to know who has one foot out the door.
As turnover becomes a bigger worry—and expense—in a tightening labor market, companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,Credit Suisse Group AG and Box Inc. are analyzing a vast array of data points to determine who is likely to leave a post.
The idea, say people who run analytics teams, is to give managers early warning so they can take action before employees jump ship.
Corporate data crunchers play with dozens of factors, which may include job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee surveys, communication patterns and even personality tests to identify flight risks, a term human-resources departments sometimes use for people likely to leave.
The data often reveal a complex picture of what motivates workers to stay—and what causes them to look elsewhere.
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Some arguments are hard to settle but are too important to avoid. Here is one: whether the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties — is best understood as a problem of economics or of culture.
This argument recurs whenever there’s a compelling depiction of that crisis. In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” with its portrait of the post-1960s divide between two fictional communities — upper-class “Belmont” and blue-collar “Fishtown.” Now it’s Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” which uses the author’s Ohio hometown to trace the divergent fortunes of its better-educated and less-educated families.
Murray belongs to the libertarian right, Putnam to the communitarian left, so Putnam is more hopeful that economic policy can address the problems he describes. But “Our Kids” is attuned to culture’s feedback loops, and it offers grist for social conservatives who suspect it would take a cultural counterrevolution to bring back the stable working class families of an earlier America.
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A crackdown by the Obama administration on “tax inversion” deals, which allowed US companies to slash their tax bills, has had the perverse effect of prompting a sharp increase in foreign takeovers of American groups.
In September the US Treasury all but stamped out tax inversions, which enabled a US company to pay less tax by acquiring a rival from a jurisdiction with a lower corporate tax rate, such as Ireland or the UK, and moving the combined group’s domicile to that country.
The move was designed to staunch an exodus of US companies and an erosion in tax revenues, but it has left many US groups vulnerable to foreign takeovers. Once a cross-border deal is complete, the combined company can generate big savings by adopting the overseas acquirer’s lower tax rate.
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Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.
Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.
The latest results are from a March 5-8 Gallup poll of 1,025 American adults.
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[At the]International Bankers’ banquet on Wednesday night...the evening’s highlight was the speech by (old Etonian) Archbishop of Canterbury, a former school friend of livery master Mark Seligman. Justin Welby mused that “we all inherit baggage from our predecessors” and reassured the audience: “We [the Church] know more about losing the plot than any of you”. Banks should “change the way they operate and interact.” The impact was immediate. One top banker in the audience, who won a sweepstake on the length of the Archbishop’s speech (16m 21s), was about to pocket the winnings. He then thought better of it. And offered the money to charity.
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Organisations are constantly playing around with the levers of financial motivation - offering or withholding money as an inducement or a threat. They use individual and team bonuses, cash rewards, profit sharing and company stock as ways of using economic factors to enhance motivation.
But there are some striking examples of motivation outside this system. The military is a central case. In the armed forces, often for very modest pay, people will do extraordinary things. Even die. It's an astonishing contrast. You can pay someone $38,000 a year to die for you. But you struggle to pay someone $45,000 a year to sit in a room and fill in forms.
This tells us that motivation simply cannot be primarily financial. People can be moved by money, but they can be moved and motivated more by other things. The armed forces also tell us something about where the strongest kinds of motivation come from.
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The thrift store has enjoyed something of a new life as of late, birthing chart-topping pop songs and becoming the shopping destination of choice for hipsters looking for vintage wares that are “authentic.” Of course, such stores, often run by Goodwill or the Salvation Army, serve a non-trendy role, too, as a shopping destination of necessity for America’s working class. It was not always thus.
“As early as the colonial era, writers, politicians, and other vocal critics denounced the sale of used goods,” writes Jennifer Le Zotte in New England Quarterly. Partly, it was born of a vague sense that such goods were sullied or unwholesome, but, writes Le Zotte, some of the opposition can be traced to anti-semitism (in this case, directed at Jewish-owned pawn shops).
One such illustration comes from “The Blue Silk,” a short story in the May 1884 Saturday Evening Post, in which the protagonist, Louisa, buys a pre-owned dress from the “Jewess behind the counter” of a resale store. When she wears it to a party, not only is she is socially ostracized for wearing the old dress of another girl, but she comes down with small-pox because of contamination from the resale store. The story neatly combined earnest bigotry with worries of the moral and physical dangers thought to accompany secondhand clothing.
Read it all from Caitlin Moniz and Zack Stanton in the Wilson Quarterly.
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“In 1990, 54 percent of marriages were the first for both spouses,” said Jamie Lewis, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors. “Now, newlyweds are more likely to be walking down the aisle for the first time — 58 percent of recent marriages were a first for both. The stabilization or slight decrease in the divorce rate during this period may explain why more marriages today are first marriages."
Below are a few highlights from the report:
About 13 percent of men age 15 and over have been married twice, compared with 14 percent of women.
Between 1996 and 2008-2012, the share of those who had married at least twice increased only for women age 50 and older and men 60 and older.
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...with 10 league games still to play, United sit in fourth position, two points clear of closest challengers Liverpool.
With sixth-placed Tottenham to visit Old Trafford on Sunday, ahead of a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool seven days later, the green shoots of recovery will be close to blossoming should Van Gaal mastermind two victories.
Two defeats, though, would leave United in danger of falling short and set the clock ticking on Van Gaal getting it right next season.
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In a landmark ruling, a Barcelona judge has decided three sex workers should have been hired full-time by a brothel owner and ordered her to pay contributions to the government so the prostitutes will be eligible for national health care, disability insurance, unemployment benefits and government pensions.
The ruling issued in February - and made public this week - can be appealed and does not create a precedent for Spain's estimated hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, whose ranks are believed to have increased during the country's crushing financial crisis that started in 2008 and lingers with unemployment at 24 percent.
But advocates for sex workers said Tuesday that Judge Juan Agusti Maragall's decision is important because it recognizes the legal inability of some brothel workers to get benefits mandated for employees of companies.
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In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.
But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.
The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.
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The crisis of adulthood, then, feeds off of the crisis of Enlightenment values. In an age in which freedom, human resilience and reason are seen as dangerous ideas, if not Eurocentric illusions, our ability to remake our world is diminished. All that’s left is fatalistic, pity-me politics, in which young people languish in a state of permanent imperilment.
But the desire to make your mark in the world is not only expressed politically. It is also a case of just getting on with things – experiencing, experimenting and taking risks. In an age in which 40-year-olds out-drink their children, in which young people would rather stay at home than slum it, young people seem incapable of going out into the world – let alone changing it.
Neiman posits these sorts of growing pains as age-old problems, but they are particularly acute today. For her, the rise of Islamist extremism – and the allure it has to disaffected Western youth – is a direct consequence of the crisis of the Enlightenment and adulthood. The West’s lack of moral purpose, its inability to find meaning in modern experience, leads some to submit to the deadest of dogmas. ‘There is nothing grown-up about behaviour that’s dictated by religious authority. But what alternatives do we offer?’, she asks.
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Putnam then goes on to explain, through the lens of accumulated social-science research, how important parenting and family structure are to life outcomes for children. Early childhood stimulation, appropriate role models, stable expectations and family dinners are all part of the environment needed to produce upwardly mobile adults, and almost all are lacking today for Americans from less educated backgrounds. Many people overcome dysfunctional families, but it is far easier to do so with adequate resources. Economic inequality thus becomes self-reinforcing through the mechanism of absent families.
Putnam points out that while both gender and racial equality have greatly improved over this period, the gains have been completely offset by widening class differences. College-educated Americans have been pulling away from their high school-educated peers within subgroups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and women. There is today a substantial upwardly-mobile black middle class that, like its white counterpart, has moved to the suburbs and segregated itself from the poor.
Back in the 1980s, the debate over black poverty was polarised between liberals who blamed structural (ie economic) factors such as the decline in manufacturing jobs, and conservatives who denounced permissiveness and shifting cultural norms for the breakdown of families. Putnam makes very clear that both of these causes are at work in the present crisis. The huge erosion of middle-class jobs in countless manufacturing industries has led to a decline in real incomes of 22 per cent since 1980 for high-school dropouts, and 11 per cent for high-school graduates. But culture also matters: while rising joblessness produces social dysfunction in all societies, the stresses of the Great Depression did not lead to an explosion of single-parent families because of cultural norms then in place, such as the stigmatisation of unwed parenthood and shotgun weddings. Conservatives who see family breakdown as a simple matter of cultural decay, however, have to explain the emergence of “helicopter parents” and steadily strengthening family bonds among the college-educated.
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Live at your full potential. Become a better you. Be happier. It’s your time. Live an extraordinary life. Achieve your dreams. Go beyond your barriers. You can, you will.
This is the therapeutic message of Joel Osteen, lifted right from his dust jackets. In contrast with the more classical and philosophically grounded evangelicalism of a Billy Graham or a C.S. Lewis, Ross Douthat termed Osteen’s brand of TV preaching “the gospel of self-help.” But notice it’s not the self-help of the Gospel; self-help is the gospel. The Gospel is the cask to deliver it, shucked and cast out as soon as the intoxicating wine of self-improvement is imbibed.
Contrast this with Pope Francis who, quoting St. Basil of Caesarea of the fourth century, recently referred to money as the “devil’s dung.” We can follow this line of thinking right back to the New Testament. St. Paul used an even stronger word: skubula. Some translations of the Bible use “filth” or “refuse” in its place in the third chapter of the letter to the Philippians. But that’s not what he said. The nearest English equivalent of the vulgar Greek word is…well, you can Google it. Paul, I suspect, wanted to make an unambiguous point: all of his worldly respect, progress, and prosperity – in short, all of his “self-help” – was all skubala compared to the Cross and Resurrection.
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Mr. Cleary’s bill would put the cap at $1,400 and would have all of the sales taxes collected for motor vehicles applied to road and bridge improvements. The bill also seeks additional funding by closing other tax exemptions. And it would make long-term cost cuts possible by turning over local roads under state control to local jurisdictions, with funding assistance for their maintenance. Of the 41,000 miles of state roads, almost 45 percent are a mile or less in length.
Mr. Cleary estimates that his plan would raise $800 million a year, all of which would be directed to the specific purpose of improving the state road system. Indeed, the gas tax should be viewed as a user fee, by which motorists pay for the wear and tear on the state’s highways and bridges. It is evident that the gas tax hasn’t kept pace with the need, and that additional sources of revenue will have to be tapped.
Funding for a safe transportation system is a primary responsibility of the Legislature, and the evidence clearly available to the motoring public shows just how badly the Legislature has fallen down on the job. Lawmakers should take a simple, direct approach that will begin to address the specific problem of road needs, without getting sidetracked on issues of tax neutrality and agency restructuring. Keeping highways and bridges functional and safe shouldn’t be such a difficult problem for the Legislature to address.
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The nation’s shortage of doctors will rise to between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025 as the U.S. population grows, more Americans gain health insurance and new alternative primary care sites proliferate.
A new study announced by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a lobby for medical schools and teaching hospitals, said “the doctor shortage is real” with total physician demand projected to grow by up to 17 percent as a population of baby boomers ages and the Affordable Care Act is implemented.
“It’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need,” said Dr. Darrell Kirch, AAMC’s president in a statement accompanying the analysis by research firm IHS.
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Mercedes-Benz Vans will build a new assembly plant for its Sprinter vans in this Lowcountry town, investing a half-billion dollars and creating 1,300 jobs, the company said Friday.
The company said the plant will allow vans to be more economically produced for the growing U.S. market. It will manufacture vans under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner nameplates.
Last year the company, a division of Daimler AG, sold almost 26,000 Sprinters in the United States, second only to sales in Germany.
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...there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.
Randa Jama pushes airline passengers on wheelchairs to their gates at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This had been a full-time job when she took it last fall, but then a couple of months later, that changed.
"They told me that you're working only Saturday and Sunday from now," she says.
That cut her hours to 12 a week. Sometimes, her supervisors ask her at the last minute to stay late or do an extra shift. Since she cut back on babysitters, she can't accommodate.
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When Penny King told her university friends in Canterbury that she was moving to Manchester, they were horrified. “They said ‘you’ll get shot! You’ll get mugged! It’s depressing. It’s all grey and the weather’s awful’. ”
The perception that life is “grim up north” has greatly damaged the Church of England’s attempts to fill posts in the north, where some jobs for vicars, in both inner cities and rural outposts, have remained unfilled for some time.
King, a 28-year-old Church of England curate at St Elisabeth’s, Reddish, Machester, has become one of the poster girls for a CoE campaign to attract a young generation of male and female vicars to fill posts in deprived areas where Christian pastoral work is often most needed. She has no regrets about her move: “Manchester is no more dangerous than anywhere else,” she says. “I feel safer here living on my own as my neighbours look out for me. I’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
Her story appears on the website for Clergy North West, a campaign aimed at combating a hidden crisis in the Church of England.
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The real point is that the economic landscape in which we are operating is not only competitive; it is changing constantly. This year, our industry reached an important milestone. For the first time, people are spending more time on mobile devices than on their desktop computers. Time spent on desktops has now fallen to just 40%. And people use mobile devices very differently from the way they use desktops. Seven out of every eight minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app, and the most popular app in the world is Facebook.
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These days Persson pays less attention to the heckling on Twitter and more to the insults hurled his way by close friends on a WhatsApp group they’ve crudely titled Farts. The unleashed Persson has regressed toward adolescence. At the temporary office for Rubberbrain, jokes about male genitalia and laughter bounce off the ceiling and elicit annoyed floor banging from the upstairs neighbor.
Persson ignores the foot-thumped berating much like he’s done with the armchair trolls. He says he’s taken fondly to the mute button on Twitter, which allows him to tune out unkind people without notifying them that they’ve been blocked. Occasionally, though, his curiosity will get the best of him, and he’ll reply. Lately he’s been responding to his haters with a moving image from the movie Zombieland of Woody Harrelson wiping tears away with a wad of money. “I’m aware that tweeting the image is a little douchey,” he shrugs. He’s equally gauche with people he likes, broadcasting his vacations via chartered jet on Snapchat. As for girls, “I tried to use Tinder, it didn’t work. In Sweden it’s horrible; there’s only like four people.” Hence the $180,000 nightclub bills.
“I’m a little bit making up for lost time when I was just programming through my twenties,” he says. “Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun. When we were young we did not have a lot of money at all, so I thought, if I ever get rich I’m not going to become one of those boring rich people that doesn’t spend money.”
Right now he’s spending on the permanent office for his new company–a teenage boy’s fantasy that will include a full-service bar, a DJ booth (he’s learning how to spin) and secret rooms hidden by bookshelves–despite the fact that Rubberbrain is nothing more than a name waiting for an idea.
Little inspiration seems imminent.
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Based on oral arguments this morning, the latest Supreme Court showdown over Obamacare could lead to another narrow ruling determining the fate of the health-care program. Here are five important takeaways from the hearing in King v. Burwell, a challenge an IRS rule providing financial assistance to millions purchasing health insurance through federal-run exchanges offered in states that did not create their own online marketplaces....
(1) The vote will be close. The four justices from the court's liberal wing appear on board with the Obama administration's argument that all exchanges -- whether state or federal -- can offer subsidies. Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts are still potential swing votes. Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito seem to sympathize with the plaintiffs' argument that the text of the Affordable Care Act only authorizes subsidies in state-run exchanges....
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It is somewhat rare today that the church can gather an overflow crowd but the Anglican Diocese of Niagara has succeeded in doing that — unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
The crowd that gathered were neighbours of Saint Matthias Anglican Church (at the corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads) concerned that the Anglican Diocese is planning to sell the church and land to a developer who will build 81 units of rental housing geared to students.
It is understandable why the neighbourhood would be concerned. But I would suggest that it should be of concern for all of us in the rest of the city as well. In the whole south end of Guelph, there are only two church buildings — the Salvation Army and Saint Matthias.
Regardless of what you think of churches, these are often the only free or low-rent spaces available for community groups such as scouts, guides, AA, moms and tots groups or places where people can gather in times of celebration or mourning. And while it is true that many churches could do a better job connecting with their community, the Saint Matthias Church community has always had an open and welcoming presence in their neighbourhood. Unfortunately, they themselves now have no say in the matter.
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With all the changes in healthcare over the past few years, many system and hospital leaders now acknowledge the importance of employee engagement. Employees are the one constant in the healthcare equation, and their ability to persevere during times of change can determine whether a healthcare system maintains its quality of care and patient service.
Yet, for some reason, the concept of physician engagement isn't getting the attention it deserves. Perhaps healthcare leaders assume that physicians are self-motivated and their interest in their patients or research trumps the need to engage them.
But physician engagement is vital to a hospital's or system's success. I
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday considers the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices upheld it as constitutional almost three years ago.
At issue is whether millions of Americans who receive tax subsidies to buy health insurance are doing so illegally. If the justices rule that the payments are not allowed, the entire health-care law could be in jeopardy.
The latest showdown between the Obama administration and the conservative legal strategists who have targeted the law since its passage in 2010 focuses on a once obscure phrase in the legislation: “established by the State.”
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In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, the cybersecurity firm FireEye demonstrated that the sort of breach that Sony experienced is not likely preventable with conventional network defenses.
Instead, the firm noted that “organizations must consider a new approach to securing their IT assets ... [they] can’t afford to passively wait for attacks. Instead, they should take a lean-forward approach that actively hunts for new and unseen threats.”
But what constitutes a "lean-forward" approach to cybersecurity, and why are more organizations not already taking one?
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I just loved this--Watch it all.
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The church near the corner of Peace and Blount streets looks as though it could have been there for centuries, with its peaked roof and mottled brick walls – except for the insulating wrap that still sheaths half its exterior.
It’s the first new church building to be built in downtown Raleigh for half a century.
“We wanted to build a transcendent space,” said the Rev. John Yates III, his breath hanging beneath the arching steel bones of the sanctuary. To his left, a construction worker rode an accordion lift to finish the details of a window that reached toward the 60-foot ceiling.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church formed about a decade ago, splitting off from the national Episcopal church alongside scores of other groups.
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