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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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At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.
“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.
And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.
These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.
Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary Europe Denmark * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Cathy Keaton’s health insurance premium will jump nearly $400 each month if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that she’s ineligible for a federal subsidy to lower the price she pays.
The 63-year-old part-time College of Charleston student said she couldn’t afford coverage without the substantial discount she receives.
“It’s very scary for me,” Keaton said. “If I lose this, it means that I will have to make some really hard decisions until I can get Medicare.”
She’s not alone. Insurance premiums for thousands of HealthCare.gov customers in South Carolina could increase by 400 percent if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that they’re ineligible for subsidies this summer.
Read it all.
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 * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?
I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.
We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?
When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.
It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”
The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.
“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”
Read it all.
At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell. If you're reading this at 30,000 feet, relax—Host is still safe, in terms of getting planes from point A to point B. But it's unbelievably inefficient. It can handle a limited amount of traffic, and controllers can't see anything outside of their own airspace—when they hand off a plane to a contiguous airspace, it vanishes from their radar.
The FAA knows all that. For 11 years the agency has been limping toward a collection of upgrades called NextGen. At its core is a new computer system that will replace Host and allow any controller, anywhere, to see any plane in US airspace. In theory, this would enable one air traffic control center to take over for another with the flip of a switch, as Howard seemed to believe was already possible. NextGen isn't vaporware; that core system was live in Chicago and the four adjacent centers when Howard attacked, and this spring it'll go online in all 20 US centers. But implementation has been a mess, with a cascade of delays, revisions, and unforeseen problems. Air traffic control can't do anything as sophisticated as Howard thought, and unless something changes about the way the FAA is managing NextGen, it probably never will.
This technology is complicated and novel, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that NextGen is a project of the FAA.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Science & Technology Travel * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.
"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.
"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Health & Medicine Movies & Television Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."
The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.
Alito's hypothetical continued this way: The first of the four applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Abercrombie's lawyer: "Do you think that those people have to say, we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement." Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dressed that way?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.
The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.
Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Sociology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Samantha Elauf was apprehensive to interview for a sales job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because the 17 year old wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim faith. But a friend of hers, who worked at the store, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as the headscarf wasn't black because the store doesn't sell black clothes.
Ultimately Elauf failed to get the job, and her story has triggered a religious freedom debate regarding when an employer can be held liable under civil rights laws . The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday.
Like many retailers Abercrombie has a "look policy" aimed to promote what it calls its "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.
An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.
Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
After analyzing the record to find that TEC had waived any right to claim that there were separate funds in the single account, the Court observed:
During the argument on these issues, TEC argued that it did not freeze the account, PNC did. To say this argument lacks merit would be charitable. While TEC, in a very literal sense, is correct on “who” froze the account, the “why” is the more important issue. PNC froze the account because it received a letter from counsel for TEC which threatened to hold PNC liable if funds were disbursed.There is much more to savor in the Court’s order. It is gratifying to have a trial judge (not the one who rendered the original Quincy decision) see so clearly through TEC’s bullying tactics, and to deal with them accordingly.
The court finds, based upon this record, that the continued threat made to PNC Bank to hold it accountable if funds were disbursed and the continued attempt to collaterally attack the clear order of this court dated October 9, 2013 even after this case had run its course through the appellate process constitutes bad faith, is not grounded in fact or existing law and has resulted in needless, ongoing and expensive litigation.
Accordingly, the court grants the request of the Plaintiffs for fees incurred from December 30, 2014 onward pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 137.
Read it all and make sure to follow the link to the full order.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Quincy * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?
Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.
You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?
For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
About a year and a half ago, [Nina} McCarthy took out another, different kind of loan. She went to her pastor, Rodney Hunter, at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Richmond. Hunter helped her borrow $700 so she could make a dent in paying off her mounting credit card debt, then about $8,000.
Here’s how it worked: McCarthy’s church offered funds as collateral so she could qualify for a loan through the Virginia United Methodist Credit Union. McCarthy agreed to repay the loan at an annualized interest rate of about 6 percent – meaning monthly payments of $25 for about 2 1/2 years, drawn right out of her bank account.
McCarthy is one month behind on the church loan, but she’s confident she’ll catch up this month. “I’m real grateful for it,” she said.
The program is called the Jubilee Assistance Fund. In 7 1/2 years, it has helped parishioners of the United Methodist Church secure 14 loans – from $500 to $8,800 – according to Carol Mathis, chief executive of the credit union.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
“Luther says we live in and through our neighbor,” Duran explains. “Most of our congregations were planted for the neighborhood.” But when neighborhoods changed, congregations often resisted transformation. Members began commuting to attend church. Then, Duran said, “the neighbors became the object of the church’s ministry rather than the subject.” Duran wants the neighbors to be the subject again.
The church’s strategy is to “shut up and learn”—to listen and reconnect with diverse neighborhoods, including the working poor and young adults who grew up in the suburbs but are now relocating in cities. “There are so many people in our neighborhoods who are doing God’s work,” Duran said, “but they just don’t know it yet.”
The ELCA has set up a process by which men and women who have the gifts and skills for ministry but who haven’t attended seminary can be full-time pastors—“lay mission developers”—serving with the blessing of the community and the bishop.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
President Obama’s top homeland security advisor issued two warnings Sunday as he urged Americans to be “particularly careful” about terror threats at shopping malls and called on Congress to prevent a funding crisis that leaves his department with no money to operate.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson tied the latest round of threats from an al-Qaeda-linked terror group with the pending DHS funding crisis by mentioning them in the same breath on several Sunday morning talk shows.
“It’s imperative that we get it resolved, because if we don’t, by Friday at midnight, homeland security, the homeland security budget for this nation basically evaporates,” Johnson told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”
Read it all.
Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.
That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.
In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Pastor Phillip Heinze began holding church services in a bar when he realized that attending a regular church was uncomfortable for some people. “They say the most difficult thing for us was walking through those doors—that for us church just is a scary place. That was probably the conversation that informed me the most. I said, well, let’s try a new church in place that’s not so scary.” There are a growing number of religious services and conversations in pubs, but the trend has its critics.
Read or watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Dieting/Food/Nutrition Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * Theology
Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts. The growing practice of the same workers closing the doors at night and returning to open them in the morning even has its own name: “clopening.”
“It’s very difficult for people to work these schedules, especially if they have other responsibilities,” said Susan J. Lambert, an expert on work-life issues and a professor of organizational theory at the University of Chicago. “This particular form of scheduling — not enough rest time between shifts — is particularly harmful.”
The United States decades ago moved away from the standard 9-to-5 job as the manufacturing economy gave way to one dominated by the service sector. And as businesses strive to serve consumers better by staying open late or round the clock, they are demanding more flexibility from employees in scheduling their hours, often assigning them to ever-changing shifts.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Prison/Prison Ministry Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
“There’s Moore’s Law and there are Moore’s Outlaws,” he says. Goodman has worked for Interpol, the FBI, even the U.S. Secret Service, and through his new book "Future Crimes"
he’s feverishly trying to sound the alarm that we will soon be more vulnerable than we have ever been. Why?
“Our cell phones and computers are now online,” Goodman says. “But in the future it’s going to be our cars, airplanes, pacemakers, pets, elevators, prisons. Every physical object is going online because of something called 'the Internet of things.'”
Somewhere between 50 and 200 billion things will be connected soon, he says, and that will take the new crime paradigm to a terrifying level.
“Crime used to be a one-on-one affair. Go out and buy a gun or a knife if you’re a criminal, rob one person at a time,” Goodman says. “Now through technology it becomes possible for one person to reach out and touch over 100 million people.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When I dive into time coaching clients’ schedules, I consistently discover that people misdiagnose themselves as having a “productivity” problem when, in fact, their bigger issue is an overcommitment problem. When they have committed to more external projects and personal goals and obligations than they have hours for in the day, they feel the massive weight of time debt. One of my coaching clients suffered from a huge amount of false guilt until he realized he had the unrealistic expectation that he could fit 160 hours of tasks into a 40-hour workweek.
Effective time investment begins with accepting the reality that time is a finite resource. This acknowledgment frees you to make choices about what you will and won’t do so you can invest more in what’s most important, feel good about what you do and don’t get done, and still have disposable time left to relax and enjoy yourself. As one of my time coaching clients put it, “I’ve realized there’s only X amount of time, so I need to invest in my priorities and understand that when I choose one activity, I’m not choosing another.”
The single most important factor in feeling like a time investment success or failure is whether or not your expectations of what you will accomplish align with how much time you have to invest.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
hina’s economy is slowing. Brazil is struggling as commodity prices plunge. Russia, facing Western sanctions and weak oil revenue, is headed into a recession.
As other big developing markets stumble, India is emerging as one of the few hopes for global growth.
The stock market and rupee are surging. Multinational companies are looking to expand their Indian operations or start new ones. The growth in India’s economy, long a laggard, just matched China’s pace in recent months.
India is riding high on the early success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a raft of new business-friendly policies instituted in his first eight months.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Stock Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia India * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all and see how you do.
As an October chill fell on the mountain passes that separate the militant havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small team of Afghan intelligence commandos and American Special Operations forces descended on a village where they believed a leader of Al Qaeda was hiding.
That night the Afghans and Americans got their man, Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti. They also came away with what officials from both countries say was an even bigger prize: a laptop computer and files detailing Qaeda operations on both sides of the border.
American military officials said the intelligence seized in the raid was possibly as significant as the information found in the computer and documents of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after members of the Navy SEALs killed him in 2011.
In the months since, the trove of intelligence has helped fuel a significant increase in night raids by American Special Operations forces and Afghan intelligence commandos, Afghan and American officials said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Conservative party and HSBC are not the only organisations wondering about possible reputational damage from an association with Stephen Green. For the Church of England, whose General Synod met in London this week, he has become a cause of controversy.
Lord Green, an ordained Anglican priest, chaired a report on leadership training for senior clergy that has proved unpopular with some church members, who voiced their concerns at the synod.
“Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach”, published late last year, has been criticised for its heavily corporate language and for failing to include ordained women or theology academics on its 12-strong panel.
Canon Giles Fraser, priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, Newington, south London, called the report “theologically inept and an insult to the way I work as a parish priest”.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Breaking the rules on borrowing from the future is necessary to stave off the "existential crisis" of ever-declining congregations, members of the General Synod were told this week.
The First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, said on Tuesday that for 20 years the Church Commissioners had "religiously" maintained the value of their endowment, so that the same lump sum would always be available for future generations.
But the "doomsday machine", by which C of E membership falls year on year as the deaths of older churchgoers is not matched by the arrival of younger people, meant that the Commissioners' rule on intergenerational equity needed to be broken.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) can set and enforce hiring practices based on its Christian faith, the Six Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. Grounded heavily in the precedent set by the US Supreme Court’s significant Hosanna-Tabor decision in 2012, the verdict maintains that IVCF could legally fire an employee headed for divorce.
In 2013, Alyce Conlon, a former spiritual director at IVCF, filed a lawsuit challenging her firing. She was put on paid leave in 2011 after informing her supervisor she was considering divorce, and terminated that December for what she alleges was "failing to reconcile her marriage." (Her husband filed for divorce the following month.) Conlon claimed that two of her male colleagues in similar situations had not received the same treatment.
“Because IVCF is a religious organization and Conlon was a ministerial employee, IVCF’s decision to terminate her employment cannot be challenged under federal or state employment discrimination laws,” ruled the court. “It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”
Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.
The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Big UK firms face a "crisis of trust" and the next government must prioritise better ethics, a lobby group has said.
In a survey, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that over three-quarters of respondents think big firms put profits before ethical standards.
Tax avoidance, treatment of suppliers, and late payment were all areas of concern, the ComRes poll of 2,000 people found.
Politicians must stand up for people who play by the rules, the FPB said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Watch it all-just so well done.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Animals
The Obama administration is pushing eurozone leaders to compromise more with Athens as fears grow that a protracted stand-off could damage the global economy, say senior EU and US officials.
The US lobbying comes amid mounting concern in Brussels and Washington about the hardline stand taken by some eurozone governments, particularly Germany, that Greece must press on with budget-cutting commitments made under its existing €172bn bailout regardless of last month’s election, which brought anti-austerity party Syriza to power .
“This is a conversation we’re having with people,” said a senior US official involved in the talks.
“There isn’t a special initiative. I don’t think our attitude has changed but what’s changed is that suddenly the situation in Greece is looking more problematic.”
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The best three-month stretch of hiring since 1997 has positioned the U.S. labor market to start delivering stronger wage growth for a wider swath of Americans after more than five years of sluggish recovery from a deep recession.
The economy created more than a million jobs over the past three months, with a steady gain of 257,000 in January and sizable upward revisions to prior months’ figures, the Labor Department said Friday. The hiring spree prompted many previously sidelined American workers to begin the job search, causing the unemployment rate to tick up a tenth of a percentage point to 5.7%.
“The economy seems to be moving full steam ahead,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University Channel Islands. Following years of lackluster growth, “I think it’s the beginning of a healthy recovery.”
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Over the past decade, seminaries of all types have witnessed declining enrollments, especially in M.Div.
programs, the primary degree for those heading into parish ministry. Minority enrollment has shown a steady increase, with Hispanic enrollment leading the way (at a growth rate of 50 percent), but the overall trend is down. The slight growth in advanced degree programs (S.T.D., Ph.D., and Th.D.) and some master’s degree programs has also not compensated for the steady decline in enrollment for the M.Div. degree.
Distance education courses grew more than 100 percent over the decade, but enrollment at seminary extension centers began to decrease. It may be that distance education is pulling students away from extension centers. Time will tell if there is any net gain.
The past decade was difficult financially for most theological schools. Church support declined 24 percent from its high in 2006. Individual gifts grew steadily until 2008 but dropped sharply when the recession hit.
One way that schools compensate for this loss of income is to become more dependent on student tuition, and indeed tuition and fees rose steadily over the decade—by as much as 68 percent...
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform's chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company's failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company's users. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Costolo's comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West's tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.
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With the rise of Tinder, mobile digital dating has become a whole new trend. With this, a slew of mobile dating apps and copycats have rushed to fill the niche.
Online dating is not really something new. Sites like eHarmony and OkCupid have long dominated the market. These sites required users to create elaborate online profiles and used algorithms to suggest matches. All this accoutrements, however, have been transformed by the simplicity of Tinder, reports the New York Times.
The app, available for iOS and Android, enables users to scan potential dates based on photos, distance and a short description. To express interest in a potential date, users just swipe right. It is also a cinch to set up, as it uses one's already established Facebook account.
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Creativity is a basic human function, and a good economy is one that enables creativity to happen. That is why full employment matters, investment in education is essential, skills development is core, and businesses of all kinds should be given the space to develop and create wealth (and to fail), to create employment and prosperity for the society in which they live, it is a God-given call and function.
The market is an extraordinarily efficient mechanism of distribution in a complex society and hugely liberating of human creativity. No better form of allocation of resources has been found, and the alternatives have always led to inhumanity or even tyranny. At the same time the market cannot create or sustain the shared morality needed to ensure that it works carefully and lovingly at every level.
Adam Smith famously spoke with equal conviction of the dangers of market manipulation as he did of the invisible hand. The experience of 2008 shows that the complexity of human motivation and greed can never be left to the market to deal with. There is no such thing as a level playing field if human beings are involved, and there is no such thing as a fully fair and free market. It doesn't exist.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
There's another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you're an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you're not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn't get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There's no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
And it's a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.
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"Who's influenced you the most in your life?" "My principal, Ms. Lopez." "How has she influenced you?" "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." - Vidal Chastanet
When Chastanet, a 13-year-old from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, shared his story in late January with a street photographer who has a popular blog on Facebook, little did he know it would generate a million-dollar fundraising campaign to help his middle school offer inspiring programs to its pupils.
After Brandon Stanton featured Chastanet on his photoblog, "Humans Of New York," the photographer wanted to know more and asked to meet Nadia Lopez, Chastanet's principal at Mott Hill Bridges Academy.
From their meeting, Stanton began profiling the school, its students and staff as he raised funds online to provide a financial boost to the academy's mission. That included helping Lopez fulfill a dream of bringing her students to Harvard.
Read (or better watch) it all from NBC.
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Russia had vowed to pay for what became the most expensive Olympics of all time by getting super-rich private investors to take the cost from the state. Instead, as the first anniversary of the games approaches, at least two of those oligarchs are quietly dumping their toxic assets on the state - forcing taxpayers to pick up the bill.
For the oligarchs, it's a way to recoup billions of dollars as they struggle in an economy battered by plunging oil prices and Western sanctions. For Putin's critics, it's evidence of the crony capitalism that shields powerful businessmen from economic pain.
Two key investors have unloaded properties built for the Olympics at a combined cost of $3 billion, a spokesman to Russia's deputy prime minister confirmed to The Associated Press. The issue is a major headache for Putin, who needs to pay off the oligarchs to keep them happy, while preventing the deals from triggering popular unrest.
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Denys Munby said to me once, "In Heaven there is no scarcity and in Hell there is no choice." In the created world there are both. The dignity of free will would be meaningless if a choice of one good, such as apples, did not have what the economists call an "opportunity cost" in, say, oranges. If we could have all the apples and oranges we wanted, "living in idleness," as Paul put it, with no "budget constraint," no "scarcity," we would live as overfed pet cats, not as human beings. If we have free will, and therefore necessarily face scarcity, we live truly in the image of God.
Scarcity is necessary for human virtues. Humility, said Aquinas, answers among the Christian virtues to the pagan virtue of great-souledness, or magnanimity, which Aristotle the pagan teacher of aristocrats admired so much. To be humble is to temper one's passions in pursuing, as Aquinas put it, boni ardui - goods difficult of achievement. To be great-souled - which, in turn, is part of the cardinal virtue of courage - is to keep working towards such goods nonetheless. No one would need to be courageous or prudent or great-souled or humble if goods were faciles rather than ardui.
The virtue of temperance, again, is not about mortification of the flesh - not, at any rate, for Christian thinkers like Aquinas (there were others, descendants of the Desert Fathers, who had another idea). On the contrary, this side of Christianity says, we should admire the moderate yet relishing use of a world charged with the grandeur of God.
It is the message of the Aquinian side of Christian thought that we should not withdraw from the world. On the contrary, as Jesus was, we should be truly, and laboriously, and gloriously human.
Read it all From ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics website.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Like many, I discovered Drucker through his extensive writings in the discipline of management. But as I read his books, I got little hints that he might be something more than a gifted writer of bestselling business books. Though some credit him with the founding of management as an academic field, and most associate him with such books as The Effective Executive (1967) and Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices (1973), I noticed that his earlier works, from the 1940s and 1950s, had more expansive titles such as The End of Economic Man and The New Society. I also learned that his academic training was not in management but in law; he had obtained his European doctorate in international law. I began to see Drucker as a social and political thinker as well as an astute business mind. This is, after all, the man who viewed management primarily as a liberal art.
Since making that realization, I have studied his earlier books. Drucker thought a lot about such things as totalitarianism, decentralization, limited government, an American type of conservatism that he thought had special characteristics, social harmony, the impact of mass production on human beings, and other topics. One subject that preoccupied him in those earlier decades was the Christian faith. In an attempt to draw more attention to a somewhat forgotten aspect of the man and his work, I will in what follows identify and discuss some of Drucker's key themes regarding the Christian faith in relation to society and government.
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Fears about the impact of technology on the labor market are nothing new. In the early nineteenth century, a group of English textile workers known as the Luddites worried that new technologies like power looms and spinning frames would cost them their jobs. They protested by smashing the machines.
Today, anxiety that new technologies could destroy millions of jobs is as high as ever. In the midst of a major employment crisis, technology continues to reduce the labor needed for mass production, while the automation of routine legal and accounting tasks is hollowing out that sector of the job market as well. The science of robotics is revolutionizing manufacturing; every year, an additional 200,000 industrial robots come into use. In 2015, the total is expected to reach 1.5 million. Adapting the labor market to a world of increasingly automated workplaces will be one of the defining challenges of our era.
Yet no country can afford to ignore the transformation. Globally, some 200 million people are unemployed, up 27 million since 2008. There is a critical need to anticipate coming technological changes and provide the global workforce with the education and skills needed to participate in the modern labor market.
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Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall.
This newfound commitment to frugality was illustrated this past week when the nation’s biggest payment-card companies said they aren’t seeing evidence consumers are putting their gasoline savings toward discretionary items like travel, home renovations and electronics.
Instead, people are more often putting the money aside for a rainy day or using it to pay down debt. That more Americans are saving their bounty at the pump comes as a surprise, because the personal savings rate, after rising during and after the recession, has declined steadily over the past two years.
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A decision made more than three years ago by a committee that no longer exists might deal a major blow to Obamacare in South Carolina this summer.
That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if customers who shop on HealthCare.gov can use federal financial aid to lower the amount they pay for insurance. Those customers include 37-year-old Erin Johnson and more than 140,000 other low- to middle-income South Carolinians who already receive those health insurance subsidies.
“If it’s full price, I honestly don’t think I could do it. I really don’t make much,” said Johnson, a medical courier from Goose Creek. She receives a federal discount worth more than $100 and pays only $56 a month for her policy. Before she purchased the plan in October, she was uninsured. “I needed it. It was pretty awesome.”
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Politics in General State Government * South Carolina
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be all consuming and overwhelming.
It’s not just the grief that can leave you shattered — but the admin.
You have to pick coffins, book flowers, transport, a church, hymns, an order of service, a venue, music, speeches and food (all within a budget) — and that’s just for starters.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I have a confession.
When I was in college, I read a book by a prominent megachurch pastor. The author told me to live like a child of God. He told me God wanted to bless me. He also mentioned that if I only believed, God would give me the nicest house in the neighborhood. That seemed to make sense.
The author explained that he once wanted the nicest house in the neighborhood, and God gave it to him. Here was a man with evidence. Not only did he have the story about the house, and other anecdotes, he also had a very nice set of white teeth (Ah, supernaturally white, I thought).
This was my first introduction to what is popularly called the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth” gospel. At the time, the logic seemed airtight: “If it worked for him, why shouldn’t it work for me?”
If I had dug a bit deeper, though, I would have seen the actual reason it worked for him and not for me. It’s because the prosperity gospel is a pyramid scheme.
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The New Testament gives us two inspiring calls to transform our relationship to money. Jesus tells a young man, “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The early church had an equally compelling model: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44–5).
In the imagination of many Christians there’s a perpetual sense that this is what our relationship to money would be like if we were doing it properly. But on closer look, the picture that Acts 2 offers is different from the one seen in Jesus’ words to the rich young man. The rich young man model is about living vulnerably before God and simply following Jesus. The Acts 2 model is about making a collective commitment and finding the activity of the Holy Spirit in the worship and practices of a community. Both models are compelling, but they’re not the same. The two dominant kinds of medieval monasticism—the mendicant friars and the wealthy monasteries—represent these two poles of the ideal of somehow getting money right. But both models turn out to be flawed when translated into a vision for a whole society.
For the most part the church has found these two models too challenging to implement and too disruptive to be sustainable.
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One study by Mr. Kleiner and Rubert T. Kudrle of the University of Minnesota suggests that tighter licensing of dentists does not improve the quality of dental health. It does reduce the number of dentists. Crucially, it improves their earnings.
The issue goes beyond teeth. Associations for osteopaths have come out in support of North Carolina’s dental board; so have anesthesiologists, midwives, optometrists and even engineers and surveyors.
Supporting the dental board are the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
For them, as for the taxi drivers battling Uber, the most important issue is whether they can maintain a lock on their professions and legally keep competition at bay. But is that a legitimate reason for the public to bear the cost of such cartels?
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The petroleum industry celebrated the proposal, while complaining that it didn’t go far enough. Environmental groups warned of disaster.
“This represents a significant shift in federal policy and, in my view, a threat to the environment, the economy and the lifestyle of living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,” said Chris DeScherer, a Charleston-based senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s not just the coastal waters, wetlands, and wildlife that depend on them, but the businesses and the tourism industry.”
Erik Milito, director of Upstream and Industry Operations for the American Petroleum Institute, said offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling is much safer today than just five years ago.
“We are now in a new age,” Milito said in a conference call with reporters. “We’ve decreased the risk dramatically.”
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Cars are running out of screens. The dashboard is a jumble of numbers, icons, indicator lights, and gauges. In some vehicles, the display built into the center console is bigger than our televisions in certain rooms at home. But drivers' and passengers' appetite for more information isn't subsiding, so the dashboard and entertainment console are about to get a companion: the windshield.
At the Detroit auto show, which runs until Jan. 25, you'll find demonstrations of cars with built-in projectors displaying speed, range, turn-by-turn directions, and other crucial data along the bottom of the windshield. Head-up displays—developed to keep fighter pilots' eyes on the sky rather than on the instruments in the cockpit—have existed in some form for cars since at least the 1980s, but they've mostly functioned as a novelty for high-end clientele. In the past year, however, HUD technology has made its way into some Mazdas and Priuses as a way to manage information overload for everyday drivers.
Automakers have been adding a flood of information designed to keep drivers safe—some requested by customers, others mandated by governments—but it risks having the opposite effect. As weird as it sounds, projecting text and graphics onto the windshield may be less distracting to drivers than forcing them to look down at cluttered in-car screens—or worse, their mobile phones. A HUD, which sits within the driver's line of sight, would be free of "check engine" and "change oil" lights, and only display the alerts a driver might need at any given moment. Hyundai, Toyota, and General Motors expect the HUD to go mainstream very soon.
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WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.
Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.
Now they are beginning to find out...because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.
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...there is no painless way to cut a shrinking pie. When churches age, fade and die, someone gets the assets.
I am not arguing that the Sun team needed to add a dozen inches or more to this story to get into a deep discussion – yes, demographics and doctrine often mix – about why so many of these oldline church pies are shrinking and facing the demographic reaper.
But, in this case, readers certainly needed to know a bit about the statistical health and finances of the local diocese, since those facts are directly linked to claims made by the angry parishioners about why their beloved little church – with its nice views of the water – is being sold out from under them.
It's that old journalism saying: Follow the money.
So how is the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland doing, in terms of finances, converts, babies and demographics? How many other little churches are threatened and how much might the church leaders make by selling some of them? This are fair questions during hard times. Sun editors needed to push their reporters to ask them.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
It is easy to see why Syriza put debt repudiation at the heart of its electoral campaign. John Paul Getty once opined that “if you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank $100m, that’s the bank’s problem”. Greece’s predicament may ultimately force creditors to the negotiating table. To service its debt burden would require Greece to operate as a quasi slave economy, running a primary surplus of 5 per cent of GDP for years, purely for the benefit of its foreign creditors. Even the IMF has dropped hints in favour of some debt forgiveness.
But Greece’s EU creditors have equally strong reasons for refusing. Caving to Syriza’s demands would come at a high political cost, particularly for Germany’s Angela Merkel, who is harried by the eurosceptic AfD on her right. Other struggling countries would find their own radical parties emboldened by Syriza’s success. No country deserves to live beyond its means indefinitely.
Back in 2011, Greece posed an existential threat to the eurozone. Today, Berlin and Frankfurt are no longer as frightened by the prospect of Greece leaving the single currency. Yet for the Greek people this would be a catastrophe: a giant economic step backwards and a blow to living standards just as severe as any endured under austerity.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Christ Church Anglican will end its three-year worship arrangement with Independent Presbyterian Church on Sunday before moving to its own church at a new site on Feb. 1.
The congregation, which left historic Christ Church on Johnson Square in 2011, has gathered to worship at the 207 Bull St. facility since. The congregation will leave the Bull Street site at 10:45 a.m. Sunday and proceed to its new location at Bull and 37th streets.
The first services there will be at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Feb 1, said the Rev. Marc Robertson, senior pastor.
The church’s new home is in the newly renovated 100-year-old church building that was originally home to Hull Presbyterian Church. It most recently was owned by the Christian Revival and Restoration Center.
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Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry, according to a new report obtained by The Huffington Post.
Researchers from The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California, found that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013.
The group surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant, over the course of seven months during 2013 and 2014. ArcView also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In one of his last interviews in the job he's held since February 2013, Hagel refers to the "hidden consequences" of "nonstop war" faced by American combat forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He calls the situation "unprecedented in the history of this country."
He tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that such a protracted combat role means that the same people keep rotating back to the front lines: "four, five, six combat tours — [the] same people."
Hagel says that when spoke with a group of six promising young U.S. military officers in a recent meeting, "five out of the six said they were uncertain over whether they were going to stay in the service and most likely would get out.
"And why? Because of family issues, because of stress and strain," he tells Inskeep.
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The leader of the left-wing Syriza party Alexis Tsipras has said Greece is "leaving behind disastrous austerity", after his party claimed victory in the country's general election.
And the 40-year-old told jubilant supporters the "Troika" of the country's lenders "is finished".
He was speaking after the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who heads the conservative New Democracy party, conceded defeat to Mr Tsipras.
Partial election results suggest Syriza has secured 36.5% of the vote, compared to 27.7% for the New Democracy party.
Read it all from Sky news.
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Now, three weeks into my son’s preschool career and we are already jockeying for a position next year. I’ve spent three paychecks from my part-time job, plus multiple hours of work-at-home time to get the necessary forms filled out and notarized so he can stay in the school.
Earlier this week, a friend dropped off her son’s registration packet with me to hold on to for registration day, since she will be out of town. I asked her how this whole registration thing will go down.
She told me that moms start lining up at 9 a.m. My eyes glazed over. Now I’m starting the registration process again. I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I’m an agent.
Of course, it could be worse. I could be paying for both school AND an admissions coach, who helps parents navigate getting into the best preschools in Manhattan, which cost upwards of $40K in tuition.
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The proposals are presented in a report written by Lord Green, a former British trade minister and HSBC chairman, and prepared with outside help from Christopher McLaverty, a former talent leadership chief at BP, an oil supermajor. As much as £2m ($3m) has been set aside to enact the “talent management programme”, which will provide 150 bishops with the means to study at INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France, over the next two years. The aim is that clergy, who often come into a high-profile post within the church with little training, are given more adequate preparation for their role, including the ability to build and manage a high-functioning support team. “Simply arriving at moments of appointment and then looking to see who might or might not, by a process of amounting to chance, have suitable preparation and gifting, is to abandon all responsibility,” Mr Welby wrote in support of the Green report.
Sending bishops to business school will kickstart a “culture change for the leadership of the church”, the report says. But it admits that the preponderance of phrases such as “talent pool” and “alumni network” peppered throughout the paper may put off more staunch theologians. Yet that hasn’t stopped the language of business breaching the pious institution. In an appendix of Lord Green’s report, the net promoter score (NPS), a loyalty metric developed by Bain & Company, a consultancy, is presented with a straight face as a hypothetical way of evaluating the benefit of the mini-MBA. With a fictionalised NPS of +75 (on a scale of -100 to +100), the church appears to be confident its plans will be well-received.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Education * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A handful of other congregations, including All Saints Anglican Church in Charlotte, NC, Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, NC and Saint John’s Anglican Church of Americus, GA have also announced building plans. This summer All Saints’ Anglican Church in Springfield, MO and All Saints’ Anglican Church in Peachtree City, GA, completed and consecrated new church buildings.
The churches range from a modest colonial-revival brick building in the case of Restoration to a 30,000-square-foot gothic structure built for the congregation of St. Peter’s.
In addition to making the churches more visible in their communities and accommodating growth in the size of congregations, the new structures are allowing for new programs and events. St. Peter’s is partnering with Trinity School for Ministry to offer theological education far from the seminary’s Ambridge, Pennsylvania campus. Other congregations plan to use their news space for conferences, or to begin hosting programs such as Vacation Bible School which were impractical or not possible in leased spaces.
“Our new church is just the beginning of what we hope to build,” explained Fr. Andrew Rowell, associate rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?
When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
‘Fixing our ... roads ... tremendously important’
“Education reform and infrastructure repairs are two of the most challenging economic issues we face. ... Fixing our crumbling roads system is also tremendously important as it directly impacts economic development, which leads to job creation and higher wages.”
— House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington
‘Drop in the bucket’ “It’s just a drop in the bucket to solving the problem. ... There’s many ways to do it, but this is just not going to deal with the real magnitude of the problem that we have.”
— Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington
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Leonardo Maugeri, an associate professor at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and who predicted the current collapse in prices back in 2012, estimates world oil production capacity is about 101 million barrels a day. That’s nearly 10% more than expected demand next year.
Mr. Maugeri says U.S. shale and tight oil production is more resilient than many expected because of lower break-even costs and higher productivity levels. Service fees are also falling at the same time, as hedging still offers a cushion to shale producers until mid-2015, he said.
That resilience may force Saudi Arabia to keep up its price war well into the year before the strategy wrings out some of the oversupply.
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Economic historians have long supposed that Africa’s historically low population density shaped its development. Rulers struggled to exercise control over scattered populations, the theory goes. Malfunctioning states inhibited growth because property rights were insecure and infrastructure was worse.
But why was it that land in precolonial Africa was so abundant, and people were so scarce? A new paper* by Marcella Alsan of Stanford University blames the tsetse fly. The pest, much like the mosquito, lives off the blood of people and animals and in the process transmits disease, in this case a parasite that causes sleeping sickness. To domesticated animals, on which it likes to feed, its bite is fatal. Its prevalence, the paper argues, made it considerably harder for Africans to develop agriculture.
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It should have been a fun occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, complete with tea and balloons.
But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.
The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.
And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Environment Agency’s pension fund has urged BP and Royal Dutch Shell to invest in renewable energy and do more to tackle climate change.
The government-backed agency’s £2.5bn fund has teamed up with more than 150 other investors, including the Church of England and several large local authority pension funds. They have filed shareholder resolutions urging both oil companies to take more action on global warming.
“It was an easy decision,” said John Varley, chairman of the Environment Agency pensions committee. “We believe that it is vital to manage climate risk within investments and that all shareholders have access to clear information to assess how these companies are managing risk and protecting shareholder value.”
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Much of England is experiencing economic crisis. Our economy appears to be, in one sense, a tale of two cities – one being a growing and constantly improving London (and the south-east generally), and the other being most, but not all, other cities, alike in that they are each trapped in apparently inevitable decline.
Of course, London has many economic problems of its own. While on a national level entire cities are being cast aside and left to their own devices, one cannot walk the streets of London for long before realising that this national trend is happening at an individual level in this massive city. There is poverty around the corner from every multimillion and multibillion pound industry – individuals and families similarly trapped in apparently inescapable circles of despair.
This sketch of our current plight will not come as news to many. It is the reality we experience and see on a daily basis. And I believe that many of the prescribed remedies that so often accompany this diagnosis are deeply flawed.
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Instead of being watched by the state through telescreens, we carry our own screens—ones that put more information at our fingertips than an entire government department could have compiled in Orwell’s day. Big Brother has been defeated by capitalist technology.
But if, like most of his contemporaries, he was too gloomy, Orwell got one thing uncannily right. In an appendix to his dystopian novel, he discussed how an idea could be made literally unthinkable if there were no words to express it. The illustration he gave was the word “free.” In Newspeak, “free” could be used only in the sense of “this field is free from weeds” or “this dog is free from lice.” The concept of political or intellectual freedom had disappeared, because no one could put it into words.
What an eerily prescient example to have chosen. In recent years this is more or less what has happened to the word “free.” In 1948, “freedom” still had its traditional meaning of a guarantee against coercion: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship. Since then, however, “freedom” has come to mean “entitlement,” as in “freedom to work,” “freedom from hunger,” “freedom from discrimination,” and so on. Thus, the notion that the state ought not to boss us around becomes harder to convey, and the politician who supports that notion is disadvantaged.
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Four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work, according to the results of a test of nearly 32,000 students.
The test, which was administered at 169 colleges and universities in 2013 and 2014 and released Thursday, reveals broad variation in the intellectual development of the nation’s students depending on the type and even location of the school they attend.
On average, students make strides in their ability to reason, but because so many start at such a deficit, many still graduate without the ability to read a scatterplot, construct a cohesive argument or identify a logical fallacy.
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The SNB was not forced to act by a speculative run. No financial crisis forced its hand, and, in theory, the SNB’s directorate could have held the exchange rate and bought foreign assets indefinitely. But domestic criticism of the SNB’s large buildup of exchange-rate reserves (euro assets) was mounting.
In particular, Swiss conservatives disliked the risk to which the SNB was exposed. Fearing that eurozone government bonds were unsafe, they agitated to require the SNB to acquire gold reserves instead, even forcing a referendum on the matter. Though the initiative to require a fixed share of gold reserves failed, the prospect of large-scale quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, together with the euro’s recent slide against the dollar, intensified the political pressure to abandon the peg.
Whereas economists have modeled financial attacks well, there has been little study of just when political pressure becomes unbearable and a central bank gives in. The SNB, for example, had proclaimed loyalty to the peg just days before ending it. As a result, markets will now hesitate to believe central banks’ statements about future policy, and forward guidance (a major post-crisis instrument) will be much more difficult.
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How big a problem is family fragmentation? “Immense,” says Mitch Pearlstein, head of the Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment. “The biggest domestic problem facing this country.”
So big he went out and interviewed 40 experts of varying ideology across the nation and relayed their answers in his book Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Future. That’s the good news. The bad news is that none of the experts is confident he has an answer, and neither is Pearlstein.
What is family fragmentation? The facts are easy to state. About 40 percent of babies born in America these days are born outside of marriage. That’s true of about 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites, more than 50 percent of Hispanics and more than 70 percent of blacks.
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As 2015 begins, the global economy remains weak. The United States may be seeing signs of a strengthening recovery, but the eurozone risks following Japan into recession, and emerging markets worry that their export-led growth strategies have left them vulnerable to stagnation abroad. With few signs that this year will bring any improvement, policymakers would be wise to understand the factors underlying the global economy’s anemic performance – and the implications of continued feebleness.
In the words of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, we are experiencing the “new mediocre.” The implication is that growth is unacceptably low relative to potential and that more can be done to lift it, especially given that some major economies are flirting with deflation.
Conventional policy advice urges innovative monetary interventions bearing an ever expanding array of acronyms, even as governments are admonished to spend on “obvious” needs such as infrastructure. The need for structural reforms is acknowledged, but they are typically deemed painful, and possibly growth-reducing in the short run. So the focus remains on monetary and fiscal stimulus – and as much of it as possible, given the deadening effects of debt overhang.
And yet, the efficacy of such policy advice remains to be seen.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets European Central Bank Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia India Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.
“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”
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The San Francisco online ride-sharing company that is causing a storm among S.C. taxi companies and regulators is finding bipartisan legislative support of its efforts to keep operating legally in the Palmetto State.
The state Public Service Commission ordered Uber to stop picking up riders Thursday while regulators weigh the company’s request for a state taxi license.
But Uber drivers were defying the order with cars available Friday in the four S.C. cities where the company operates – Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.
“We will challenge the order and remain committed to providing South Carolinians with greater opportunity and choice,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said.
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Crumbling roads like the ones Gould encounters are found statewide, as well as many congested thoroughfares, according to a report released Thursday from The Road Information Program, or TRIP, a national nonprofit organization. Those conditions make the roads unsafe and cost state drivers $3 billion each year in lost time and additional operating, fuel and crash-related costs. The report said nearly half the state’s roads are in poor condition.
In the Charleston area, the report found poor road conditions cost motorists, on average, $1,168 per year: $294 in additional vehicle operating costs, $647 for fuel and lost time on congested roads and $227 in crash-related costs.
Gould said he has lost a lot of time commuting on congested roads, especially during rush hours. He avoids driving on Maybank Highway because of traffic snarls there, especially at the intersection with River Road.
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We didn't question a Baltimore district court judge when she said she couldn't trust Heather Cook's judgment if released from jail pending trial. After all, the Episcopal bishop is charged with being a repeat drunk driver who recklessly took the life of a bicyclist on Roland Avenue last month, then left the scene. But we do wonder why Judge Nicole Pastore Klein allowed Bishop Cook bail at all, even one as high as $2.5 million. Does Ms. Cook suddenly become trustworthy if she wins the lottery?
Judge Klein took a gamble on the public's behalf and lost. Bishop Cook, whose attorney earlier in the week said she couldn't afford release, posted bail today through Fred Frank Bail Bonds, according to court records.
The scenario underscores why a recommendation submitted last month to legislative leaders proposing that the state's asset-based bail system be "completely eliminated" should be given swift and thorough consideration. Whether defendants are incarcerated before trial should be based on the likelihood they'll return to court and won't harm the public rather than on their ability to afford release.
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The expansion of congregations suggests that the drop in religious affiliation is not as dramatic as it seems, and that a stealthy revival might even be coming. The growth may not yet offset disaffiliation, but it is part of the American religious pattern. Early colonists included the highly religious Puritans. But their children and grandchildren strayed, even forcing churches to loosen qualifications if they were to keep members.
In the century that followed, Methodists and Baptists began spreading Christianity largely through small groups, or “bands,” as the Methodists called them. They used nontraditional gathering places, including open fields, to bring their message to the masses. By 1850, 34% of Americans were church members, and by 1900 half were, according to Mr. Stark. By the early 1990s, nearly two-thirds of Americans were members of a congregation.
Fewer new churches these days are going up with drywall and spackling, but members are probably still stacking chairs and warming coffee on Sunday morning.
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Cheaper oil prices and a resurgent US economy are unlikely to be enough to pull the global economy out of a growth pattern that is “too low, too brittle and too lopsided”, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said on Thursday.
Despite what ought to be the benefits for many economies from sharp falls in oil prices, which has more than halved since the summer, and the strengthening US recovery, the world still faces “a very strong headwind”, seven years on from the financial crisis.
Speaking in Washington, Ms Lagarde said: “The oil price and US growth are not a cure for deep-seated weaknesses elsewhere.
“Too many countries are still weighed down by the legacies of the financial crisis, including high debt and high unemployment. Too many companies and households keep cutting back on investment and consumption today because they are concerned about low growth in the future.”
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The Swiss National Bank's shock move today to stop intervening in the foreign exchange market all but guarantees the European Central Bank will finally introduce quantitative easing when it meets Jan. 22. Switzerland is surrendering before a wave of post-QE money fleeing the euro threatens to make a mockery of its currency policy. It's also capitulating as slumping oil brings global deflation ever closer.
t's an astonishing U-turn. Just two days ago SNB Vice President Jean-Pierre Danthine told Swiss broadcaster RTS that “we’re convinced that the cap on the franc must remain the pillar of our monetary policy.” He added, though, that it was "very possible" that QE would make defending the threshold more difficult. It seems highly probable that the ECB has winked about its policy intentions to its Swiss counterparts.
The ensuing whipsaw in the currency market is unprecedented. The franc immediately appreciated almost 30 percent against the currencies of the Group of Ten industrialized nations, and surged to a record against the euro...:
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A standing joke in Silicon Valley is that the smartest people go into online advertising, virtual currency, or dumb online games. And you surely have to wonder what has gone wrong when the industry’s heavy hitters and venture capitalists provide $1.5 million to seed a useless app such as Yo.
Fortunately, there are many tech start-ups that are solving real problems — and many entrepreneurs who care. The venture capital community is also beginning to see the light. Witness the recent decision of Google Ventures to back away from consumer Internet start-ups and focus more on health care and life-sciences companies, and Y Combinator, the most powerful start-up accelerator in the world, backing seven nonprofits in its latest class.
There is surely hope for tech. Here are seven companies that stand out....
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Britain under the Coalition is a country in which the poor are being “left behind” and entire cities “cast aside” because politicians are obsessed with Middle England, the Church of England says today in a damning assessment of the state of the nation.
In a direct and unapologetically “political” intervention timed for the beginning of the General Election campaign, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, warn party leaders are selling a “lie” that economic growth is the answer to Britain’s social problems.
Questioning David Cameron’s slogan “we're all in this together” they condemn inequality as “evil” and dismiss the assumption that the value of communities is in their economic output as a “sin”.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Entire regions of the country are trapped in an apparently inescapable economic downward spiral. It is "a tale of two cities", and turning the tide will come only through a commitment to solidarity, the Archbishop of Canterbury says.
"The hard truth is that [many cities and towns where there is long-term decline] are in what appear to be lose-lose situations," he says. "Already in decline, the road towards recovery and growth is made even more difficult. . . As the south -east grows, many cities are left feeling abandoned and hopeless."
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Declining population growth that shrinks the pool of available labor over the next 50 years will reduce by 40% the rate of growth in global economic output for the world’s 20 largest economies compared to the past 50 years, according to a new study.
The report from the McKinsey Global Institute says that to compensate for the drop in the growth of the labor force, productivity needs to accelerate 80% from its historical rate to keep global growth in gross domestic product from slowing.
Over the past 50 years, global growth increased six-fold, and average per capita income nearly tripled. McKinsey researchers estimate that around half the increase stemmed from gains in productivity and half from the growing labor force.
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Every month for about three years, Nina McCarthy followed the same routine after payday. She’d go into a Check Into Cash near her home in the Richmond area, and pay off an open-end loan for $700 or $800 – and then she’d take out a new one for the same amount, never accumulating interest in the process.
Then McCarthy’s overtime hours at work were cut. With rent, a car payment and a 3-year-old granddaughter to feed, McCarthy didn’t have $700 for Check Into Cash. McCarthy made a partial payment, but interest piled up rapidly, at a rate she recalls was 24.9 percent a month, or a nearly 300 percent annualized rate.
McCarthy estimated that she paid more than $1,100 on the bill in the first three-quarters of 2014, including payments that Check Into Cash began collecting directly out of her bank account. Then in September, she had a stroke. She closed her bank account and hasn’t made any payments since. When she went back to the Check Into Cash store on Friday, an employee directed her to the collection line that has taken over her account. McCarthy was told she still owes nearly $650 on the line of credit and doesn’t know when she’ll be able to pay it off.
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An adviser to Europe’s top court on Wednesday said the European Central Bank can legally buy large quantities of eurozone government debt to stabilize the currency area’s economy, delivering a key endorsement for the bank as it prepares another round of stimulus measures.
The opinion from the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Pedro Cruz Villalon, comes in response to a lawsuit brought by German opponents of loose monetary policy claiming that the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions program, announced in August 2012 and widely credited with saving the euro, violates the European Union treaty. While the opinion isn’t binding on the court, the judges usually follow the advocate general’s reasoning. A ruling is expected in four to six months.
A negative opinion could have thrown the ECB’s next stimulus efforts into turmoil. ECB President Mario Draghi and other officials have been drawing up “quantitative easing” plans, in which the bank would buy large amounts of eurozone government debt, to boost the economy of the 19-nation currency area and prevent an extended period of deflation, a broad-based decline in prices that can have disastrous economic consequences.
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A study of more than 86,000 users of Facebook has demonstrated the power of intelligent machines to predict an individual’s character based on what they have listed as their “likes”.
Researchers said the day when computers are able to judge a person’s personality accurately has almost arrived, and even suggested that science fiction films like Her, based on a man’s attachment to an intelligent computer, are closer than we think.
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Serving as another indication of the public's perceptions of an improving economy, 45% of Americans now say it is a good time to find a quality job, up from 36% in December, and as high as this indicator has been since May 2007.
Gallup has asked Americans about their views of the job market on a monthly basis since August 2001, when 39% of Americans agreed that it was a good time to find a quality job. These views became less positive through 2003, but then turned the corner. By January 2007, 48% said it was a good time to find a quality job -- the highest Gallup has recorded. Positive views of the job market began to drop that year and dropped further with the onset of the Great Recession, reaching the all-time low of 8% in November 2009 and again in November 2011. Since 2012, these attitudes have been recovering, breaking through the 30% line in 2014 for the first time in six years, and jumping to 45% this month.
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PROFESSOR JAMES GRIMMELMAN: When you start experimenting on people, you start manipulating their environment to see how they react, you’re turning them into your lab rats.
CHRISTIAN RUDDER: The outrage that greeted that particular experiment far outstripped its practical implications.
DANAH BOYD: Why the controversy blew up at the time and in the way that it did is that we’re not sure we trust Facebook.
LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: There were tremors of ethical outrage when a major scientific journal revealed that the social media site Facebook had conducted experiments, altering what customers see on their own pages. The outrage was voiced across all forms of media, both traditional ones and digital outlets like YouTube.
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Navigating the Internet used to mean painstakingly typing the exact address you wanted into your computer. The web browser and the search engine simplified that, giving us the Internet we take for granted today.
Now, across Silicon Valley, companies from tiny start-ups to titans like Google and Facebook are trying to bring the same simplicity to smartphones by teaching apps to talk to one another.
Unlike web pages, mobile apps do not have links. They do not have web addresses. They live in worlds by themselves, largely cut off from one another and the broader Internet. And so it is much harder to share the information found on them.
It is not just a matter of consumer convenience. For Google and Facebook, and any company that has built its business on the web, it is a matter of controlling the next entryway to the Internet — the mobile device.
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Oregon holds on to its title as "Top Moving Destination" and continues to pull away from the pack, while the Northeast loses residents for the third consecutive year.
Those are the key findings from United Van Lines' 38th Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers' migration patterns state-to-state during the course of the past year. The study found that Oregon is the top moving destination of 2014, with 66 percent of moves to and from the state being inbound — that's a nearly 5 percent increase of inbound moves compared to 2013. Arriving at No. 2 on the list was South Carolina (61 percent inbound), followed closely in third by its northern neighbor, North Carolina (61 percent).
The District of Columbia, which held the top spot on the inbound list from 2008 to 2012 and ranked fourth last year, fell to No. 7 this year with 57 percent inbound moves. New additions to the 2014 top inbound list include Vermont (59 percent), Oklahoma (57 percent) and Idaho (56 percent).
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We now are in the sixth year of economic recovery since the end of the “Great Recession” in mid-2009, says the National Bureau of Economic Research, a group of academic economists that dates business cycles. But, if upbeat economic forecasts come true, this could be the first year that feels like a recovery. There would be huge implications. It would soothe Americans’ bruised sense of self-worth and alter popular psychology for the 2016 elections.
It has been a slog. Below, you’ll find some economic indicators comparing where we are now with the peaks of the last economic expansion, which ended in the fourth quarter of 2007. Generally, the numbers aren’t impressive. At best, they show modest gains from those previous peaks.
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The world’s churches have become an arena for the debate over whether it is better to tackle global warming by divesting from fossil fuel companies or by holding shares and engaging with energy groups to spur more climate-friendly business models.
The World Council of Churches, which represents around 560m Christians in 140 countries, has adopted a divestment strategy for its SFr16.7m investment portfolio. Its finance policy committee decided in July that fossil fuels should be added to the list of sectors in which the council would not invest.
“The use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced and by not investing in those companies we want to show a direction we need to follow as a human family to address climate changes properly,” said Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary.
But the Church of England, which has an investment portfolio worth around £9bn, has opted for engagement. It announced last month it would use its stakes in Royal Dutch Shell and BP to urge the companies to cut their carbon emissions and invest more in renewables.
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What has fueled China’s remarkable economic growth that has lifted more than 500 million people out of abject poverty and positioned it to become the world’s largest economy?
In part, it’s been fueled by the pipeline of market mechanisms, modern technology and Western management practices that former paramount leader Deng Xioaping untapped in the 1980s.
But according to Yukong Zhao, a China expert at Siemens Corporation, these explanations are insufficient given the potential drags on the economy from government inefficiency and corruption, which President Xi Jinping is struggling to contain.
Zhao argues that Western learning and pro-growth government policies have set loose the real creators of China’s economic success—its people and the largely Confucian culture that makes them, in his words, “ambitious, hardworking, thrifty, caring for their families and relentlessly pursuing good education and success.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Every year, the American Time Use Survey asks thousands of Americans to record a minute-by-minute account of one single day. For many “prime-age” adults, those between the ages of 25 and 54, a significant chunk of time on weekdays is taken up by work. But for the almost 30 million prime-age Americans who don’t work, a typical weekday looks far different.
Nonworkers spend much more time doing housework. Men without jobs, in particular, spend more time watching television, while women without jobs spend more time taking care of others. And the nonemployed of both sexes spend more time sleeping than their employed counterparts.
One way to see these patterns is to look at what the “average” nonemployed person does with his or her time. That’s the view you see in the charts above. But averages are by nature a simplification, one that can sometimes obscure reality. For example, in the chart above, you can see that from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., about 10 percent of men are consistently spending time on education. That could mean that many men spend a small portion of their days — albeit at different times — on education, or it could mean that about 10 percent of men spend nearly all of their time on education.
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In the early 20th century Henry Ford combined moving assembly lines with mass labour to make building cars much cheaper and quicker—thus turning the automobile from a rich man’s toy into transport for the masses. Today a growing group of entrepreneurs is striving to do the same to services, bringing together computer power with freelance workers to supply luxuries that were once reserved for the wealthy. Uber provides chauffeurs. Handy supplies cleaners. SpoonRocket delivers restaurant meals to your door. Instacart keeps your fridge stocked. In San Francisco a young computer programmer can already live like a princess.
Yet this on-demand economy goes much wider than the occasional luxury. Click on Medicast’s app, and a doctor will be knocking on your door within two hours. Want a lawyer or a consultant? Axiom will supply the former, Eden McCallum the latter. Other companies offer prizes to freelances to solve R&D problems or to come up with advertising ideas. And a growing number of agencies are delivering freelances of all sorts, such as Freelancer.com and Elance-oDesk, which links up 9.3m workers for hire with 3.7m companies.
The on-demand economy is small, but it is growing quickly....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The substantial increase in middle-aged Americans seeking second careers in the pulpit has been a godsend for seminaries faced with overall declines in enrollment and budget shortfalls.
And for many pursuing a clerical career in their 40s and 50s, it is a dream come true, a chance to follow what they consider God’s call and do meaningful work in their later years.
But the realities of a shrinking clergy labor market, and seminary tuition costs outpacing inflation, leave some facing debts of $80,000 or more trying to find work in a relatively low-paying profession.
The burden is falling particularly hard on prospective minority clergy with the fewest resources, analysts state.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Physician Praveen Arla is witnessing a reversal of health care fortunes: Poor, long-uninsured patients are getting Medicaid through Obamacare and finally coming to his office for care. But middle-class workers are increasingly staying away.
"It's flip-flopped," says Arla, who helps his father run a family practice in Hillview, Ky. Patients with job-based plans, he says, will say: " 'My deductible is so high. I'm trying to come to the doctor as little as possible. … What is the minimum I can get done?' They're really worried about cost."
It's a deep and common concern across the USA, where employer plans cover 60% of working-age Americans, or about 150 million people. Coverage long considered the gold standard of health insurance now often requires workers to pay so much out-of-pocket that many feel they must skip doctor visits, put off medical procedures, avoid filling prescriptions and ration pills — much as the uninsured have done.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the past, this season was marked by a greater interest in divinity, the family hearth and the joy of children. Increasingly our society has been turning away from such simple human pleasures, replacing them with those of technology.
Despite the annual holiday pageantry, in the West religion is on the decline, along with our society’s emphasis on human relationships. Atheism seems to be getting stronger, estimated at around 13 percent worldwide but much higher in such countries as Japan, Germany and China. “The world is going secular,” claims author Nigel Barber. “Nothing short of an ice age can stop it.”
In contrast, the religion of technology is gaining adherents. In a poll in the U.K., about as many said they believe Google to have their best interests at heart as God. Religious disbelief has been rising particularly among U.S. millennials, a group that, according to Pew, largely eschews traditional religion and embraces technology as a primary value. Some 26 percent profess no religious affiliation, twice the level of their boomer parents; they are twice as irreligious at their age as any previous generation.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology
Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of "my countrymen" and the "army in general." This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: "I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping."
For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.
Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life." Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.
This was -- is -- the most important moment in American history.
The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America's government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.
Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. "The moderation. . . . of a single character," he later wrote, "probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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