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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.
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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 * General Interest Humor / Trivia * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life
Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.
But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology
Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”
I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”
In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.
“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.
Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.
Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.
But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.
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The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.
The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.
All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
For more than a half-century, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Monroeville has played an important, if not unique, role in the life of our diocese as a whole, as I know it has for many of you individually. Its visibility along the Parkway provided the means to proclaim to thousands of drivers every day that Jesus is alive. It was a Spirit-charged community, and members of our clergy and lay leaders alike have been fostered by that charism. And, it was the final resting place for some of our departed sisters and brothers.
As I am sure you are aware, there has not been an active Episcopal Church congregation worshiping at St. Martin’s for several years and the diocese now intends to sell the property.
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The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.
In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Climate Change, Weather Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.
What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up....
The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The U.S. Government Federal Reserve Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district's five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.
But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.
The dispute highlights a controversy that a growing number of school districts face as they struggle with an issue that few parents of today's teens encountered. The Department of Education has settled two similar allegations of discrimination of transgender students in California, with both districts eventually agreeing to allow the students to use female-designated facilities.
Read it allfrom the Chicago Tribune.
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Record numbers of Syrian, Iraqi, and North African migrants have been flooding into Europe, generating a massive humanitarian crisis. Host Bob Abernethy and managing editor Kim Lawton talk with Sean Callahan, chief operating officer of Catholic Relief Services, about how faith-based groups are trying help the refugees and what the US can do to address the crisis. Says Callahan, “What we would like to do is see, at the call of Pope Francis, that we all open our doors a little bit more, and we expedite the process. Currently for the refugees to get in it takes about 18 to 24 months for them to be reviewed, and we’d like to expedite that, because these families are in tragic situations and really need to move quick.”
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Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.
At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children’s lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.
From her position at one of the world’s most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education History Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Church leaders have expressed their anger at the government for denying them a say over new Sunday trading laws, in a major clash between ministers and bishops.
Senior aides to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, protested to ministers that the Church was not properly consulted before George Osborne announced plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays.
The Church of England now fears the government will attempt this week to sneak the new law through Parliament without it being scrutinised properly by the Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The U.S. Department of Justice has established a new office to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks, something civil rights advocates say is a partial response to Dylann Roof and the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.
“It very likely took the Charleston massacre to make this a reality,” said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the newly created position of Domestic Terrorism Counsel.
Potok said that for much of the past decade, the focus of federal law enforcement has been on foreign terror threats, such as al-Qaida and ISIS. The Justice Department’s move this week represents a return of focus onto warnings that rise at home.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.
Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.
But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Science & Technology Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * South Carolina
The Church of England should ask the Government to find more money to support listed churches and cathedrals, a report has recommended.
The Church Buildings Review Group, which was set up under the Reform and Renewal programme earlier this year, and chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, set out the proposal in a report released on Tuesday.
Although the report noted "conspicuous success" in recent years in securing state funds for church buildings, it urged the C of E and the Government to find new ways of funnelling money into maintaining the 16,000 churches under the Church’s care.
"By European standards, the Church of England bears an unusually heavy financial burden of maintaining part of the nation’s built heritage," the report says.
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Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.
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As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.
The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England's stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church's approach and makes some specific recommendations.
The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England's churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Architecture Art History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The Church Commissioners for England has announced that it has signed the PRI Montreal Pledge, an initiative that commits signatories to measuring and publicly disclosing the carbon footprint of their equity portfolio each year.
The Pledge was launched last year in Montreal during the annual conference of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which the Commissioners signed up to in 2010, and is also supported by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). It aims to attract commitment from portfolios totalling US$3 trillion in time for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December 2015. At present, nearly 100 organisations representing over US$8 trillion have signed the pledge.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the spring, Aeterna Zentaris announced the transfer of its library of 100,000 drug compounds to the Medical University of South Carolina in a collaborative venture it hopes will lead to new treatments.
MUSC can make that available to researchers within the University of South Carolina system. It also will own any therapeutic compounds it discovers outside of the company’s areas of interest.
Under the agreement, MUSC will try to provide Aeterna Zentaris with at least 10 development candidates over 10 years starting in 2018. The company also will get the rights to license any of those ideas.
Read it all from the local paper.
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underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.
The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.
Levy speaks of an 18-year-old patient who had started smoking marijuana several times a day in 10th grade, dropped out of high school, and been stealing money from her parents. “She and her family were at their wits’ end trying to find appropriate treatment in a health care system that doesn’t consider addiction to marijuana a serious problem,” Levy says. “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A college degree practically stamped Andres Aguirre’s ticket to the middle class. Yet at age 40, he’s still paying the price of admission.
After a decade of repayments, Aguirre still diverts $512 a month to loans and owes $20,000.
The expense requires his family to rent an apartment in Campbell, Calif., because buying a home in a decent school district would cost too much. His daughter has excelled in high school, but Aguirre has urged her to attend community college to avoid the debt that ensnared him.
“I didn’t get the warmest reception on that,” he said. “But she understands the choice.”
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Wall Street’s biggest banks are beginning to build their defences against downturns, signalling an end to the steady thinning of reserves that has helped boost profits in the past five years.
Tapping into reserves set aside for bad loans has become a reliable source of income for the banks in the post-crisis environment, allowing them to offset the effects of weak demand and ultra-low interest rates. Regulators let lenders dip into reserves in this way if they can argue that an improving outlook makes losses less likely.
But the practice is expected to have a limited impact on the banks’ third-quarter profits, which begin to be presented this week, because reserves have been run down about as far as they can go.
While some banks with plump cushions of reserves could still make net reductions, others are at an “inflection point,” said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York. Lenders with big exposures to energy could see “dramatic” increases in reserves, she said, while related sectors such as materials, commodities and industrials also look vulnerable to rises.
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Clergy are being urged to talk about funeral costs during their pastoral visits to grieving families, to help people avoid getting into debt paying for a good send-off for their loved one.
In the past ten years, prices have soared by 80 per cent. The average cost of a funeral in the UK is now £8427.
Last year alone, the cost of dying rose seven times faster than the cost of living, and funeral services were the top transaction on credit cards in 2013.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The building towers over its sprawling parking lot, its windowless slabs of off-white concrete giving it the authoritative look of a government building. People of all ages trickle into the building seven days a week, sometimes in large crowds. Outside the six floors of the main structure are a number of signs guiding visitors to other parts of the surrounding campus,
including a satellite building and a large courtyard. But this isn’t any kind of government, school or office building — it’s Raleigh’s Providence Baptist Church, one of many megachurches in the Triangle. Findings from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research show these churches attract younger participants to their congregations — more so than many other, smaller churches. That includes college students, who tend to drop out of church for at least part of their college careers, research says.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
A Florida congregation has successfully won the right to build a church in a Jacksonville Beach neighborhood despite objections from local residents and an attempt by the city to prevent construction.
Church of Our Savior, a congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, will soon build a church in Jacksonville Beach, thanks to a settlement reached earlier this week with city officials.
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Hypochondria among Americans may be jeopardising the development of new medicines, as a study reveals that the placebo effect is becoming worryingly powerful in the US.
Huge American drugs trials are increasingly foundering on the unexplained scientific phenomenon, which does not appear to be happening anywhere else in the world.
The findings leave US drugs companies with a serious dilemma. As the difference between receiving a new painkiller and simply thinking that you are receiving a new painkiller evaporates, it is becoming ever harder to tell whether the drug works or not.
This may explain why more than nine out of ten new pain-relief drugs fail at the testing stage.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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The rooms in the intensive care unit are filled with folded-up walkers and moving boxes. In the lobby, plaques and portraits have been taken off the wall. By this weekend, the last patients will be discharged and Mercy Hospital Independence will close, joining dozens of rural hospitals around the country that have not been able to withstand the financial and demographic challenges buffeting them.
The hospital and its outpatient clinics, owned by the Mercy health care system in St. Louis, was where people in this city of 9,000 turned for everything from sore throats to emergency treatment after a car crash. Now, many say they are worried about what losing Mercy will mean not just for their own health, but for their community’s future.
Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010, according to one research program, and many more could soon join the list because of declining reimbursements, growing regulatory burdens and shrinking rural populations that result in an older, sicker pool of patients. The closings have accelerated over the last few years and have hit more midsize hospitals like Mercy, which was licensed for 75 beds, than smaller “critical access” hospitals, which are reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.
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A Church on the corner of London’s tech hub is starting to build links with the industry. St John’s, Hoxton, is close to Old Street roundabout, often nicknamed Silicon Roundabout because of the proliferation of start-ups and technology firms in the area.
The Vicar, the Revd Graham Hunter, said that he had begun to try to bring Christian technologists together two years ago. “Being in Hoxton, and having Silicon Roundabout and Shoreditch right on the doorstep, I had this sense we needed to engage with that sector,” Mr Hunter said on Wednesday.
In 2013, he met two Christians who worked in the industry, and they began using St John’s to host a fortnightly gathering, Tech City Christians. “They wanted to network, and also pray for each other, and support one another in living out their faith in this sector; getting people to share their stories about what’s going well, and what their struggles are.”
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At the agency, “I was fascinated by the creative guys,” he said, especially the copywriters. While there was a lot of interesting characters to be seen at such a firm, there were less savoury aspects of the job that he, as a Christian, had to learn to contend with.
“I went to the cathedral at the time,” he remembered. “I was the only person in the agency who went to church…I was always perplexed by people my age who had no ethical qualms about how we did our business and who we represented.”
Around this time, the United Church of Canada was taking part in a boycott of Nestle, the chocolate maker, for their role in milk formula sales to Third World countries. Nestle was one of his clients and a friend asked a co-worker of his, “ “‘Doesn’t that bother you?’ She said, ‘No, this was business.’”
He began to question his direction in life, wondering: “Maybe it’s not possible to live in this world and be a Christian.” (He now believes it is so.)
It was at this time that “God moved me to look somewhere else.”
Read it all.
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Short on savings? You're not alone.
Twenty-eight percent of Americans have nothing in their savings accounts and another 21 percent don't even have a savings account, according to a new survey from GOBankingRates.
The rate comparison website surveyed 5,000 people and found just 29 percent of them had $1,000 or more in savings account.
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A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.
But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.
What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
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In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.
The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.
"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.
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The eight-hour workday hasn't changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer—an average 8.7 hours—though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?
In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.
"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think," says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things."
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The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.
The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25.
It forecasts the proportion of the world's population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%.
However, it said the "growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern".
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Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser, three of the largest World Cup sponsors, are demanding that Sepp Blatter step down immediately from his presidency of Fifa, a week after he personally became the subject of a criminal investigation into a corruption scandal that has engulfed the organisation.
Visa, another important sponsor, also joined the call for Mr Blatter to fall on his sword. But the defiant head of Fifa pushed back in a statement through his lawyer, refusing to heed the companies whose deals with Fifa contributed to more than $1.6bn in sponsorship revenue for the body between 2011-14, according to consultancy IEG.
The demands from Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser’s owner Anheuser-Busch InBev are the strongest yet. All three have urged Fifa to make swift progress in cleaning itself up but to date they had not called outright for Mr Blatter’s resignation.
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I did know that the whole student body had been summoned to the auditorium—and I was one of a few people who knew why. All morning long I’d known what was coming, much as I would have liked to stay in the dark. I got a tip the day before that Sweet Briar’s board had determined the college’s financial challenges to be insurmountable. I knew the board had voted to close the school, effective at the end of the semester. I knew that the students and staff whose names I was just learning were on the brink of having their world torn apart. And I knew that I was the chaplain, and that I was going to have to watch it happen.
During lunchtime, while the president delivered the fatal news to the faculty and staff, I attended the regular meeting of students working for the Office of Spiritual Life. My secret charge was to gather as many as possible into the auditorium for the chance to hear the news directly from the president, before it hit Twitter with explosive force. But as we walked up the hill to the auditorium, my phone was already lighting up. A friend at a nearby college forwarded her own faculty announcement: “Is this for real? What’s going on out there?” I responded with brevity bordering on hostility, typing as I walked: “Students don’t know yet. We need ten minutes. Stay off Facebook.”
The assembly was brutal. I sat with a few friendly students but could hardly engage, knowing what I knew and they didn’t. I stared at my phone, waiting for social media to beat the president to his own job. The sound system wasn’t working, and we waited for an eternity of troubleshooting. And then there was no more time, and the president came out and spoke without a mic, projecting his voice. He said he wanted to get right to the point. He said it broke his heart to be there. Then he said Sweet Briar would close its doors. The class of 2015 would be the last graduating class.
And then the whole auditorium burst into tears.
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Those of you who are shortly going to be commissioned as Church Credit Champions have heard God’s call, as the whole church has in recent years, to be a church of the poor for the poor; to seek justice and the common good for all in our society.
You have set up credit union access points in your churches, brought new people onto the boards of local credit unions, supported people struggling with debt through signposting them to debt advice resources.
You have seen the need, and you have met it with love, grace and hope.
We all know that the Christian relationship with money is, at best, slightly ambivalent. We recognise when it’s got the wrong place, but we find it quite hard to find the right place.
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The church has heard a fresh call to be “a church of the poor for the poor” in recent years, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night as he commissioned volunteers to help churches engage with issues of credit and debt in their communities.
Speaking during a special service at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, London, the Archbishop told more than 50 volunteers – who have taken part in a pilot scheme in London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses – that they had “seen the need, and met it with love, grace and hope.”
The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network is on course to secure benefits worth over £2million for local communities.
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I would put it this way: corruption involves, not restriction of voice in general, but its illegitimate restriction, defined in terms of the rules of a given game. When those rules are established and accepted, then the issue of “voice” becomes less problematic: bowling clubs are not acting illegitimately when they restrict their membership to bowlers, rather than opening it up to ping-pong players. Similarly, churches are not acting illegitimately, and therefore are not restricting voice, when they limit ordination to baptized and believing Christians. Thus, the inevitable question of whether “orthodoxy” should restrict the voices of the “unorthodox” must be answered as both “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if this restriction is built into the canonical structures of the church in question; “no”, if these restrictions derive from structures that are extra-canonically constrained by manipulations of influence. For when there is canonical space for diverse embodiments of, e.g. theological positions in a church, as in both “evangelical” and “catholic” views within the older Anglican ecclesial structures, engaging the Influence Market in a way that restricts those voices becomes a matter of corruption.
This can arguably be shown with the Episcopal Church (TEC): what was once a relatively theologically diverse church, within the limits of its formularies, has become one of the most theologically monochromatic churches in America. This has happened through the ever more deeply engaged Influence Market. On the one hand, there has been nothing “illegal” about the outworking of that market: bishops can ordain whom they wish and appointments can be made according to personal preferences of those in power. But the end result of caving into, let alone deliberately manipulating, these dynamics is corruption, and on two scores.
First, through the suppression of legitimate voices in the Church, it is inevitable that the truth — in this case, the truth of the Gospel — suffers, simply for lack of adequately trained hearts and minds to engage that truth. More corruption follows, through the perversion of critical Christian inquiry. Second, when Influence Markets such as TEC’s are moving ahead at full steam, it is inevitable that more concrete and classical acts of corruption take place: misuse of funds and misuse of canons (the church’s legal process). In an institution where everybody is “on the same side” (because there are few left on any other side), no one wishes to hurt their “friends” by raising questions. This has happened on a number of fronts in TEC in matters involving the national budget (e.g. misusing trust funds to balance the bottom line), discipline (manipulating canons to silence dissenting voices), and the legislative process (not following canonical procedures at General Convention). It represents a matter of corruption, at least in Johnston’s paradigm, where the “legal” Influence Market has finally given way to quite “illegal” activities.
Read it all from the Living Church's Covenant blog (emphasis his).
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“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.
“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”
“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.
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A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.
An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.
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The US State Department is seeking a counter-narrative to the propaganda being spread by ISIL, and it is reportedly turning to some of America’s preeminent storytellers for help. According to The Daily Beast, executives from both HBO and Snapchat are part of a team of filmmakers and social media specialists that’s brainstorming how to hamper the effectiveness of ISIL’s messaging.
Citing unnamed industry and government sources, The Daily Beast reports that HBO and Snapchat representatives were invited to Sunnylands, a California retreat known for hosting important government figures, in June to meet with State Department officials on how best to counter the ISIL narrative, which has lured young men from the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States, to join its violent ranks. Mark Boal, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, is reportedly part of the team assisting the State Department.
Neither HBO nor Snapchat have responded to requests for comment. The State Department, in a statement to Quartz, neither confirmed nor denied the Daily Beast report but noted that film “is an especially powerful medium for building cross-cultural understanding” of world issues.
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Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.
As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.
But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.
Read it all from the front page of today's New York Times.
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Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.
The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.
In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union — it doesn’t have to be your sole bank — and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”
Read it all from the FT.
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Facebook is down. There's water on Mars. And a red moon. End of days.— Paul B (@paulbestfit) September 28, 2015
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After the Obergefell decision, Time magazine writer Mark Oppenheimer was quick to declare that the state should “abolish, or greatly diminish” property tax exemptions for churches that “dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”
Punishing “dissent” seems a strange new role for the American government. In the mid-twentieth century, the Catholic church was a leading advocate against anti-miscegenation laws. The church was able to take a stand contrary to the state on marriage and not be penalized for it, a position now almost unquestionably supported by Americans. And despite the confidence of those like Oppenheimer, the dissenters aren’t even a minority in the more recent marriage controversy. Most Americans favor religious liberty, and a plurality oppose Obergefell.
Allowing conscientious objection is an acknowledgment that the state does not have all the answers. The state has an obligation to make laws, but the state has no obligation to be correct. The independent voices that critique the state make the state better, and should not be silenced. Lose churches, lose the independent voices that prevent the state from having an absolute say in complicated moral matters.
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After two days of denials, the Pentagon disclosed late Friday that a U.S.-trained and equipped proxy force in Syria had turned over some of its supplied weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate.
U.S. officials said rebels told them a commander of a group of trained fighters gave six pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and a portion of their ammunition, or about 25% of their issued equipment, to Al Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage within their operating area in northern Syria.
The information "is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military effort in the Middle East.
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Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”
In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.
In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.
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Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
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When Muhammad Maiyagy Gery heard about a new mobile app from Facebook Inc. that provides free Internet access in his native Indonesia, he was excited.
But after testing it, the 24-year-old student from a mining town on the eastern edge of Borneo soon deleted the app, called Internet.org, frustrated that he was unable to access Google.com and some local Indonesian sites.
Mr. Gery said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is an “inspiration in the tech world,” but added that the company’s free Internet effort is “inadequate.”
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Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.
The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”
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In the year following the death of Michael Brown, America has seen its share of racial disquiet. The Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of the black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked weeks of protest, and drew attention to a brand new civil rights campaign for the modern era: Black Lives Matter.
The organization, and the phrase itself, has been the center of controversy and tension since it gained nationwide attention last year. Candidates on the 2016 presidential campaign have stumbled while trying to find the perfect pitch in addressing its significance.
On the evening of June 17, 2015, America once again was forced to confront racial tensions with the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, nearly a year after Brown’s death.
It is with this backdrop that PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans that illustrates the contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans.
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If the church is the body of Christ, then the megachurch is like an athlete on steroids.
Every major city has a bevy of churches drawing between 5k-25k people. To get a body to grow that big leaders have to use some sort of performance enhancer. These things—typically models, strategies, and techniques gleaned not from the gospel or the Christian narrative, but from the world of business and the narrative of consumer capitalism—serve as performance enhancers that help create enormous congregations with huge facilities and hundreds of programs.
The impact of these practices is akin to using performance-enhancing drugs. They actually alter the form and function of the body, causing real and serious long-term consequences for the church universal.
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The discussion, which will be condensed into an hourlong broadcast, touched on a wide range of issues, including racial disparities in education, health care, wealth, the judicial system and politics.
Former North Carolina state Sen. Malcolm Graham, whose sister Cynthia Hurd was killed in the shooting, rebuffed what he described as generalizations of forgiveness made about the families of the victims that suggested that forgiveness was something they had all expressed.
“The attack was an attack on a race of people. It was an attack on humanity. ... I have a forgiving spirit,” Graham said, pausing for a beat before landing his point. “I do not forgive.”\
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Here and elsewhere, the people press and beseech, and Jesus needs a respite.
But, of course, the isolation has a positive content. It’s not about getting away from others but about going toward something else. Jesus isn’t alone. He’s with the Father. Prayer can happen in company. Church worship is corporate prayer. But there must be times when a soul petitions the Father in solitude. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone,” but Jesus’s example shows the periodic necessity of making God your only companion. Too often the world draws you away from him, and so you must slough off your circumstances and address him by yourself, oriented toward nothing else, no outside distractions or commitments. The first commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Loving your neighbor comes second.
We are in danger of losing these replenishing, corrective moments of solitary faith. Silence and seclusion are harder to find, and fewer people seek them out. You find a lone bench in the park on a fall afternoon, gaze up at the sky through the branches, and begin the Rosary only to have a power walker march by barking into an invisible mic. It’s not just the noise, it’s his connection to absent persons, as if to say that being in one place alone with the Lord is insufficient.
Social media is the culprit. Texting, selfies, updates, chats, snapchats, tweets, multiplayer games, blogs, wikis, and email enable people to gossip, boast, rant, strategize, self-promote, share, collaborate, inform, emote, and otherwise connect with one another anywhere and all the time. The volume is astounding. Earlier this year, Facebook boasted 1.23 billion active users, while late last year Twitter’s 200 million users sent 400 million tweets per day. According to Nielsen Media, a teen with a mobile device sends or receives on average around 3,300 text messages per month, in addition to logging 650 minutes of phone calls.
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Three in four Americans (75%) last year perceived corruption as widespread in the country's government. This figure is up from two in three in 2007 (67%) and 2009 (66%).
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Tiny living (a gentle, left-leaning alternative to hard-edged right-wing survivalism) is a way for people who are already slim to go on dieting. In both its real and imaginary versions, but especially in the latter, it’s invigorating and clarifying. Lack of closet space concentrates the mind, challenging us to reflect on our priorities, or develop some if we don’t have any. In my own life, I’ve noticed in recent years that the pleasures of divestiture — of carting stuff off to the thrift store or the dump — far exceed the pleasures of acquisition. When I see a photo of a clever loft space perched above a compact, TV-free living room with a cool kitchenette in the corner and views of pine trees, I drift off into an alternate existence where smartphones and antacids have no hold over me.
Is any of this new? Of course not. Back in the 1930s, during the Depression, the businessman and tinkerer Wally Byam founded a company called Airstream. Its signature product, a streamlined RV, was a miracle of miniaturization promising freedom and self-reliance. ‘‘I’m here today and gone tomorrow/ I drive away from care and sorrow,’’ reads a vintage postcard from the era that depicts a grumpy bill collector gazing after a departing trailer hitched to a car whose driver wears a huge grin. But Byam’s goals for his homes on wheels weren’t merely escapist; he truly believed that his trailers could save the world, or at least substantially improve it. He organized caravans of the vehicles with the intention, similar to Zach Klein’s, of fostering understanding and togetherness and building, what we now call ‘‘community.’’ Humble spaces, smiling faces — that was the general notion. And it endures. The American Dream is like that. You think it has receded, that it has died, but really, it’s only downsized.
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A few years ago, Tim Kreider wrote this for the New York Times:
I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sector but simply to simultaneously make every e-mail and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe; the fabric of society would instantly evaporate, every marriage, friendship and business partnership dissolved.An utterly chilling thought, isn’t it? It makes the Ashley Madison hack look quaint in comparison. I have certainly said and done things in one context that would be troublesome in another. I suspect that my private e-mails, made public, could undo me in a quick minute.
We affirm a right to privacy, yet privacy is largely an illusion. As Sproul rightly if unwisely pontificated, we hide nothing from God. Ironically, the Internet, in becoming such a powerful force in our lives, illustrates this—albeit as a mere idol. If you took the sum total of everything the Internet knows about any one user—search history, website memberships, financial data, e-mail archive—you might well be able to conjure up a reasonable facsimile for Who You Really Are, secrets and all.
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A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots that can be used for sex.
Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson.
Sex dolls already on the market are becoming more sophisticated and some are now hoping to build artificial intelligence into their products.
Those working in the field say that there is a need for such robots.
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We’ve built computers that can outplay the finest chess grandmasters in the world, virtual personal assistants that can schedule tasks and control our homes, and algorithms that can predict with increasing accuracy what we’ll want to watch, read, or listen to next.
But true artificial intelligence – a computer that can solve a wide range of problems through reason, planning, abstraction, and learning – hasn’t come about yet. There are machines that are better than humans at specific tasks, but no machine that’s as good as or better than a human at thinking.
We’re getting close to that point, though, Google chairman Eric Schmidt argued in an op-ed for the BBC on Saturday. Mr. Schmidt says artificial intelligence (AI) research has been steadily building since the term was first coined in 1955, and that scientists have made a few big breakthroughs in the past several years.
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Sam Espada led friends in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for his sombrero-wearing brother at a Mexican restaurant. After dinner, they saw the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
The five-story mall could have been anywhere in America, except that every storefront sign was in Arabic as well as English. The group was in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“This place is like Disneyland,” said Espada, a Christian from New Jersey. “But I don’t feel fully free. You can definitely tell you are living in a Muslim country.”
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(Be forewarned--gruesome subject--KSH).
The 29-year-old said others forced her to sell sex for money from age 10 until 17, while she was in the foster care system. She recounted beatings, starvation, forced cocaine and heroin use and seeing the disappearance of other girls who stepped out of line with their traffickers.
The experience left her hooked on crack cocaine and dependent on turning tricks to feed her habit. Yet she still refers to herself as “one of the lucky ones.”
“I was caught and pulled out,” she said. “If it wasn't for an officer here, I think I'd be dead today.”
This is the dark reality of sex trafficking in the Holy City and across South Carolina. Vulnerable children and young adults are forced to sell their bodies and held against their will, deprived of food and sleep and sometimes beaten until they meet a quota of men to service.
Read it all from the local paper.
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I had put effort into figuring out who to be so that I could succeed as the host of a Sunday news show. But last year when I lost that job, which offered me satisfaction and a high profile, I had to find out who I was without cameras or prestigious titles. This hasn’t been rosy or easy, though I tried to leave NBC with grace, mostly as an example to my children.
It has been faith that steadied me. The humbling loss turned out to be a gift, because I have seen how many fresh opportunities for growth and happiness await—even if it hasn’t gone according to my plan. Most plainly, I understand: In joy, pain and even in personal failure, God is close.
Erica Brown wrote me a note on my last day in the job. She reminded me to trust God, quoting Isaiah 46:4. “I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
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...on Labor Day Americans should also be celebrating the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act's most important and immediate effect was to help end racial segregation and race-based discrimination.
But the Civil Rights Act also reflected what Americans had learned through ugly episodes of hostility and discrimination against Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and others. Title VII of the Act prohibits religion-based discrimination in the workplace and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees' religious exercise unless doing so would cause "undue hardship."
In a decision this summer involving clothier Abercrombie & Fitch and a young Muslim woman, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Title VII's strong protections for people of all faiths. The company denied employment to Samantha Elauf, a young Muslim American woman, because her religious headscarf violated the company's "look" policy.
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Boko Haram militants have destroyed infrastructure that may cost more than $1 billion to rebuild in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, the main theater of the government’s six-year fight against the Islamist insurgency, according to Governor Kashim Shettima.
“Hospitals, bridges, roads that they mined will require about 79 billion naira ($397 million)” to rebuild, Shettima, 49, said in an interview at his office in the state capital of Maiduguri. “If you are to quantify the homes, the figure may reach even three times the figure I quoted.”
The conflict has displaced 1.6 million people in Borno state, or 27 percent of the population, and about 121,000 live in camps in Maiduguri, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. With Boko Haram razing villages, schools, hospitals, clinics and businesses in 22 of 26 of Borno’s local government areas, residents have abandoned their homes and sought refuge in the relative safety of the state capital and the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
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Economists at Citigroup argue in a new report that a global recession is now "the most likely outcome" over the next two years.
What exactly do they mean by a global recession?
They point out:
We use the only definition of a recession we know that makes sense when it is used consistently. As stated earlier, we define a recession as a period during which the actual unemployment rate is above the natural unemployment rate or Nairu, or during which there is a negative output gap: the level of actual real GDP is below the level of potential real GDP.
To avoid excessive attention to mini-recessions, the period of excess capacity should have a duration of a year or longer.
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....it seems to me that Davis has a much stronger claim under state law for a much more limited exemption. Davis’s objection, it appears (see pp. 40, 133, and 139 of her stay application and attachments), is not to issuing same-sex marriage licenses as such. Rather, she objects to issuing such licenses with her name on them, because she believes (rightly or wrongly) that having her name on them is an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Indeed, she says that she would be content with
Modifying the prescribed Kentucky marriage license form to remove the multiple references to Davis’ name, and thus to remove the personal nature of the authorization that Davis must provide on the current form.
Now this would be a cheap accommodation that, it seems to me, a state could quite easily provide. It’s true that state law requires the County Clerk’s name on the marriage license and the marriage certificate. But the point of RFRAs, such as the Kentucky RFRA, is precisely to provide religious objectors with exemptions even from such generally applicable laws, so long as the exemptions don’t necessarily and materially undermine a compelling government interest.
And allowing all marriage licenses and certificates — for opposite-sex marriages or same-sex ones — to include a deputy clerk’s name, or just the notation “Rowan County Clerk,” wouldn’t jeopardize any compelling government interest. To be sure, it would have to be clear that this modification is legally authorized, and doesn’t make the license and certificate invalid. But a court that grants Davis’s RFRA exemption request could easily issue an order that makes this clear.
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It is not only intimate life and family dramas that are twisting in the chasm between the elite and the rest of us. CBS recently aired an instantly notorious reality show called The Briefcase, in which a struggling family is given a briefcase full of money and told they can either keep it all or give some to another, similarly struggling family. The twist is that the second family has been given an identical briefcase and told the same thing. The scenario recalls the classic “prisoner’s dilemma” of game theory—though in this case the tension comes not from rational decision making but from the anguish of the participants. The show’s producers step into the Christian Grey role, an entity with effectively limitless resources that finds a random family on which to lavish its attentions at an emotional cost it determines for them in advance.
Even philanthropy cannot seem to escape the sadistic thrill of playing Christian Grey—of dangling something people need on the far side of some ludicrous obstacle. Last year the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway invited university students to make videos explaining why their tuition should be paid for. The top entrants were invited to compete in a contest at a college football halftime show. If they managed to throw enough footballs into an oversized Dr. Pepper can, they won up to $100,000 in tuition support. If not, at least they had an all-expenses-paid trip to the conference championship game. It’s astonishing that this was called a giveaway, as if hustling up a viral video, earning the most votes, and then performing a circus trick in a stadium were not a rather taxing sort of labor.
There is a lurid odor about these entertainments. The sight of real people wriggling and dancing and chucking footballs to win a cruise makes a very slight claim on our sense of fairness and decency. The sight of them doing it for tuition or medical bills shreds it beyond any recognition.
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O Almighty God and Heavenly Father, who by thy divine providence has appointed for each of us our work in life, and hast commanded us that we should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving thee; help us always to remember that our work is thy appointment, and to do it heartily as unto thee. Preserve us from slothfulness, and make us to live with loins girded and lamps burning, that whensoever our Lord may come, we may be found striving earnestly to finish the work that thou hast given us to do; through the same Jesus Christ our Saviour.
O God, who givest to every man his work and through his labours dost accomplish thy purposes upon earth: Grant thy blessing, we beseech thee, to those who are engaged in the industries and commerce of this land. Defend them from injustice and oppression; give them the due reward of their labours; and deepen within them the spirit of humble and unselfish service, according to the pattern of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
We honor too the contributions of labor to the strength and safety of our Nation. America's capacity for leadership in the world depends on the character of our society at home; and, in a turbulent and uncertain world, our leadership would falter unless our domestic society is robust and progressive. The labor movement in the United States has made an indispensable contribution both to the vigor of our democracy and to the advancement of the ideals of freedom around the earth.
We can take satisfaction on this Labor Day in the health and energy of our national society. The events of this year have shown a quickening of democratic spirit and vitality among our people. We can take satisfaction too in the continued steady gain in living standards. The Nation's income, output, and employment have reached new heights. More than 70 million men and women are working in our factories, on our farms, and in our shops and services. The average factory wage is at an all-time high of more than $100 a week. Prices have remained relatively stable, so the larger paycheck means a real increase in purchasing power for the average American family.
Yet our achievements, notable as they are, must not distract us from the things we have yet to achieve. If satisfaction with the status quo had been the American way, we would still be 13 small colonies straggling along the Atlantic coast. I urge all Americans, on this Labor Day, to consider what we can do as individuals and as a nation to move speedily ahead on four major fronts.
First, we must accelerate our effort against unemployment and for the expansion of jobs and opportunity.
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Union leaders have forgotten the religious roots of organized labor in this country. Terence Vincent Powderly, who led the Knights’ outreach across the nation, was a devout Catholic influenced by his Baptist lay preacher predecessor, Uriah Stephens. Powderly, a nonsmoking teetotaler, attributed the roots of the labor movement to Christianity.
Writing in 1893 on the history of the Labor Day observance — which had begun only the year before and wasn’t declared a national holiday until President Grover Cleveland acted in 1894 — Powderly recounted centuries of labor history:
“Trades-unionists, members of guilds, leagues and other organizations of workingmen embraced Christianity and proclaimed its doctrines as being especially advantageous to the welfare of the toiling poor,” he said.
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Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer
O God, who hast taught us that none should be idle: Grant to all the people of this land both the desire and the opportunity to labour; that, working together with one heart and mind, they may set forward the welfare of mankind, and glorify thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But in case you’d like to ring in your Labor Day by reading up on how labor itself is changing in America, I’ve compiled a collection of recent coverage from The Atlantic that covers just that theme. One refrain in this coverage is the idea that Americans take less vacation time and work more hours than their counterparts in other rich countries. So if you are grilling today, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve probably earned it. Enjoy your Labor Day.
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On this day—this American holiday- we are celebrating the rights of free laboring men and women.
The preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them—but to the whole future of Christian civilization.
American labor now bears a tremendous responsibility in the winning of this most brutal, most terrible of all wars.
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Gallup's measure of underemployment in August is 14.5%, up 0.3 points from July. This rate is still lower than in any month other than July 2015 since Gallup began tracking it daily in 2010. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (6.3%) and those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.2%).
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As South Carolinians observe the Labor Day weekend, more are discovering it’s easier to find a job. Unemployment has dropped from a high of 11.6 percent during the depths of the Great Recession in June 2009 to 6.4 percent in July. But South Carolina workers also know wages for those jobs are growing ever so slowly.
South Carolina ranked 36th in the nation in wage growth from 2013 to 2014 –expanding only 2.6 percent, according to the most recent year-to-year comparisons from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
North Dakota was first at 6.4 percent, buoyed by the rising oil shale industry. Nevada was last at 1.4 percent, with its wages tied to the service and tourism industries.
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On this three day weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor—in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living.
We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name.
We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.
May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.
May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
--The Archdiocese of Detroit
Unfortunately, being a worker in America today isn't what it was a decade ago, and not all the changes can be blamed on the recession, though that certainly was economically cataclysmic for millions of people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' data show that the country still hasn't recovered fully, let alone returned to the heights reached during the late 1990s' dot-com boom. Compared with late 2006, about 1.3 million more people are unemployed today and about 1 million more have been jobless for more than six months. Almost 6.5 million Americans currently working part time want full-time jobs, which is 2 million more than a decade ago.
Relationships with employers have changed as well. More people now work as independent contractors, which means they aren't covered by wage and overtime laws and don't receive workers' compensation if injured or unemployment insurance if laid off. Some workers prefer such jobs because of the flexibility it gives them, which also appeals to employers who may only need a worker for a specific task for a short time. But many companies exploit the system by misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they really are acting as employees and entitled to protections.
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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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O Lord Jesus Christ, who in thy earthly life didst share man’s toil, and thereby hallow the labour of his hands: Prosper all those who maintain the industries of this land; and give them pride in their work, a just reward for their labour, and joy both in supplying the needs of others and in serving thee their Saviour; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
In the year that the U.S. economy was supposed to take off, an odd thing has happened: Americans are finding new jobs, but they aren’t finding employers willing to dole out meaningful pay increases.
It’s the tension at the center of an economy that is only growing more perplexing as it enters a perilous autumn.
Fresh data released Friday — showing unemployment at a seven-year low and a cooling pace of jobs growth — provided conflicting signals about the nation’s economic momentum as the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. The U.S. added 173,000 jobs, slightly below expectations, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent. Never before has the nation’s unemployment rate plunged so low — a point when companies should be competing aggressively for workers — while wages have stayed so flat.
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Wellness is prized these days. We want to balance our work and life, ensuring a healthy lifestyle. We try to carve out time for exercise, avoid fatty foods, and shun smoking (and smokers). Positivity is considered a virtue.
But Stockholm Business School professor Carl Cederstrom believes we have gone overboard with our walking meetings, treadmill desks, and meditation classes. “Wellness has become an ideology,” he says in an interview – a dangerous ideology because not all of us can live up to the wellness creed and there can be an intolerance towards smokers and people with weight issues, for example. But it’s also dangerous because it obscures the fact economic and social factors – and political decisions – can have a much greater determinant on overall health than the individual actions of the higher-income folk who have bought into what he and fellow critic André Spicer, a professor at London’s City University, call in their new book The Wellness Syndrome.
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“The moral foundation of political economy,” to use Lord Acton’s phrase, rests on the connection of liberty with right, of right with duty, of duty with leisure and delight, and of all with transcendence.
Our most unsettling economic problems are actually not economic but moral—moral ones that cannot be simply passed on from generation to generation. They need to be chosen and internalized by each person in each generation at the risk of deflecting material goods from their proper purposes.
Work likewise is not exclusively for its own sake. Rather work, while being an expression of human dignity and concrete accomplishment, aims at a product, aims at the material wellbeing in which something more than work can happen. The basis of culture, as Josef Pieper wrote in a famous thesis, is not only work but also leisure that lies beyond work. We work in order to have leisure, not the other way around.
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U.S. employment growth slowed in August but the jobless rate fell to the lowest level since 2008, a mixed labor-market reading that leaves the Federal Reserve with a challenging decision on whether to raise short-term rates at its September meeting.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000 in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 44,000 new jobs in June and July than previously estimated.
However, the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey of U.S. households, fell to 5.1%, from 5.3% the previous month. The unemployment rate is now lower than at any point since 2008 and right in the middle of the Fed’s long-run projections.
The decline in the unemployment rate strengthens the case for an interest rate increase at the Fed’s Sept. 16-17 meeting.
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As recent events have demonstrated, we should not. China’s stock market crash is not the work of malicious financial journalists and short-selling hedge funds, but a signal of difficult time ahead and perhaps even of an economic road-crash to come. After nearly 35 years of spectacular progress, the Chinese economy faces multiple challenges on many fronts which are not going to be solved by denying harsh realities and imprisoning journalists.
The progress of recent decades belies an industrial sector which in truth has become quite seriously uncompetitive by international standards. Many of China’s factories need completely retooling to keep up with developments in robotics and other forms of mechanisation. Yet if industry is to get less labour intensive, this only further steepens the challenge of employment creation.
It is reckoned that China needs to create some 20 million jobs a year just to keep pace with employment demand as the population shifts from land to town, eight million of them in high-end professions to cater for the country’s burgeoning output of graduates. China’s modernisation has created a monster which it is struggling to feed.
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Germany and France pressed the rest of Europe to end squabbling over its exploding migration crisis that is sowing new political divisions across the Continent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande called for a burden-sharing system to distribute across the European Union the swelling numbers of people arriving from violent regions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Their call for action came as hundreds of migrants faced off with Hungarian police and after a photograph of a Syrian boy lying dead on the beach in Turkey, drowned trying to reach a Greek island, appeared on the front pages of newspapers across Europe. The image sparked outrage at what critics say is the European Union’s timid response to the crisis.
“It’s a tragedy,” Mr. Hollande said of the boy’s death, “but it’s also an appeal to the European conscience.”
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[Courtney] Holmes tries to encourage the kids to do more than just read and sound out words —he wants them to understand and learn from the books.
"Their memory is being challenged," he said. At the end of each hair cut he asks, "What is this book about?"
"Trims 4 Tales" also sends each child home with a bag of books, encouraging them to keep reading until their next visit — which Holmes hopes will be very soon.
"The joy on their face — it makes me feel like a million bucks just to see that," he said.
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A new chemical plant is being built in the small African-American town of Mossville in southwest Louisiana, raising significant concerns about health, safety, and environmental impact. The plant’s owner has offered to pay Mossville residents to move out of their homes and sell their churches. The company says it is being generous, but some longtime residents and religious leaders feel they are being forced out. “The church is the hub of the community, as far as relationships and as far as love and caring for one another,” says LaSalle Clarence Williams Sr., chairman of the deacon board at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Mossville’s oldest house of worship.
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Within the space of a couple of decades, a robot may be writing this article. It will probably be delivering your post. And if it isn’t driving your car, you’ll need to get with the times.
In the last half a decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved from a pipedream, or the domain of science fiction, to a reality that is certain to have a profound impact on our lives.
Not only is AI certain to make millions of jobs that exist today obsolete, it will also force us to ask major questions, about privacy, laws and ethics.
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There are at least three reasons why China’s growth might suffer a discontinuity: the current pattern is unsustainable; the debt overhang is large; and dealing with these challenges creates the risks of a sharp collapse in demand.
The most important fact about China’s current pattern of growth is its dependence on investment as a source of supply and demand (see charts). Since 2011 additional capital has been the sole source of extra output, with the contribution of growth of “total factor productivity” (measuring the change in output per unit of inputs) near zero. Moreover, the incremental capital output ratio, a measure of the contribution of investment to growth, has soared as returns on investment have tumbled.
The International Monetary Fund argues: “Without reforms, growth would gradually fall to around 5 per cent with steeply increasing debt.” But such a path would be unsustainable, not least because debts are already at such a high level. Thus “total social financing” — a broad credit measure — jumped from 120 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 193 per cent in 2014. The government can manage this overhang. But it must not let the build-up restart. The credit-dependent part of investment has to shrink.
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As a reader, I expected that Putnam would exhort me to tutor, attend a diverse church, babysit for a single mom, move to a poorer neighborhood—to take action. After all, his fond memories of Port Clinton emphasize its warm social cohesion. Perhaps Putnam assumed the exhortation to personal action was obvious, and omitted it. If so, he missed an opportunity to turn theoretical discussions of inequality into a non-political social movement toward renewed community.
Putnam’s proposals for government transfers, better-paid teachers, and free sports teams may represent helpful stepping stones to children who are socially secure and were raised in a stable, disciplined home, as his poor classmates were. But the children of Our Kids demonstrate painfully that outside influences are too little, too late for those from broken homes.
In 1959, eight out of eight poor parents in Our Kids had been present throughout their children's lives.* In 2015, that was true of two out of twelve. Putnam does not have a plan that will help the kids whose parents have fled.
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A new report suggesting that marriage is “alive and well” among the rich, but not the poor, is evidence that the “liberal elite” are hypocrites, a researcher said this week.
“It’s very striking that the liberal elite will happily tell everyone that it does not matter if you marry or not, yet nearly 90 per cent, even today, get married if they have children,” Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, said on Tuesday.
“They talk a good liberal story, but act in very conservative ways for themselves. . . These modern-day Pharisees tell us how to live our lives, but live their own lives in a completely different way.”
The report from the Marriage Foundation, The Marriage Gap, looks at mothers with children under the age of five. In 2012, 87 per cent of mothers with an annual household income of above £45,000 were married.
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No looking, networking, googling or anything else--guess first before you look.
The matinee crowd was anything but typical, as the New York Yankees paid a visit to The Prospector Theater to recognize one theater's incredible off-screen mission.
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