Posted by Kendall Harmon

Comedian and actor Robin Williams, who died earlier this year, was the top search on Google during 2014.

The search engine has released its list of this year’s most searched for news events and top trending subjects. Williams’ death drew more attention than the World Cup (2nd), Ebola (3rd) or Malaysia Airlines (4th).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineMediaMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ruble meltdown and accompanying economic slump marks the collapse of Putin’s oil-fueled economic system of the past 15 years, said an executive at Gazprombank, the lender affiliated to Russia’s state gas exporter. He asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The higher interest rate will crush lending to households and businesses and deepen Russia’s looming recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief emerging-markets economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia is in the middle of a currency crisis. On December 15th its currency lost 10% of its value, having already lost about 40% this year. The central bank increased interest rates sharply, but instead of calming the market the hike was seen as a sign of desperation. The following day the rouble was at one point down a further 20% (and ended the day 10% lower). The central bank reckons that GDP could fall by 5% in 2015. Inflation is currently at 10% but is expected to accelerate rapidly. Russians are panic-buying; banks are running out of dollars. What’s gone wrong with Russia’s economy?

The problems were long in the making. Russia is highly dependent on oil revenues (hydrocarbons contribute over half the federal budget and two-thirds of exports) and over the past decade it has failed to diversify its economy. It is horribly corrupt, has weak institutions and no real property rights. The Kremlin distributes oil money via state banks to firms and projects which it selects on the basis of their political importance and their pro-Putin stance, rather than trusting the market to allocate capital to the most efficient firms. If you look at wealth, Russia is the world’s second-most unequal country. Its working-age population is shrinking fast.

Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine have dealt a blow to the economy. But the proximate cause of the turmoil of the last few days is concern about Russia's corporate sector. During 2015 Russia’s firms must repay $100 billion-worth of foreign debt. But as the rouble falls, paying back dollars becomes more difficult.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hours after five hostages escaped from the Lindt cafe, one of the remaining women switched off the lights inside.
Premier Mike Baird has asked Sydneysiders to go about their day as usual on Tuesday
There is an exclusion zone near the cafe, bordered by Pitt, Elizabeth, Hunter and King Streets.
NSW Police have activated Task Force Pioneer, which they use in terrorism related incidents.
A coalition of Muslim groups has expressed their shock and horror at the siege. They have urged calm.
Sydneysiders have united under the hashtag #illridewithyou offering company to Muslims wearing religious garments as they travel in the city.

Read it all and there are loads of links to follow.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 15, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the ECB is split over whether to embark on full-blown quantitative easing as a way to achieve growth. Such a policy is strongly opposed by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann and other hawkish members of the bank’s governing council.

They believe the central bank’s existing measures, which include buying covered bonds and asset-backed securities and auctioning cheap cash to eurozone lenders, are enough to lift inflation to the ECB’s target of below but close to 2 per cent.

But analysts think the disappointing take-up at Thursday’s auction has weakened their hand. “The result reduces the strength of the ECB hawks’ argument that existing policy measures are enough,” said Nick Matthews, economist at Nomura.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church giving is serious business. Scores of newsletters, workshops, and books are devoted to it, and consultants exist to advise institutions on how to maximize funds. A five-year study released last year estimated that "tithers"—Christians who donate 10% or more of their income to church or charity—contribute more than $50 billion a year. (And that’s not counting the many who give a smaller percentage of their income.) There's even crime associated with tithing: In March, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s church was robbed of $600,000 in donations from a single weekend.

Somehow, though, the offering process, when ushers pass baskets down the rows and worshippers voluntarily drop in checks or cash, has remained basically unchanged since the 19th century. But who carries cash, let alone checks, anymore?

Luckily for churches, a wave of apps and other digital giving options have risen up to bridge the gap.

Call it the 21st-century offering plate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* Theology

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The origin of Christmas gifts lies in the Christian tradition that says God gave his son, Jesus, as a gift to bring us life; we reflect that generosity by giving gifts to each other. Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.

However, our gifts can, in small ways, reflect and point to the self-giving love of God. But the most meaningful gifts are about expressing life, not luxury. This is especially true if, as money-saving expert Martin Lewis tells us, people feel pressured into tit-for-tat giving at Christmas – buying something equally as luxurious as what they’re given.

There is nothing wrong with giving something small, something that is meaningful and reminds the person that you care for them – something from a charity shop, perhaps. It also gives the recipient the freedom to buy you something similarly small but meaningful.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* Theology

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Santa Claus is going to be bringing lots of presents in a couple of weeks, but lower health-insurance costs for most Americans won't be one of them.

People with insurance through an employer—that is, most people with health coverage—are paying "more in premiums and deductibles than ever before" as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new report finds.

Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers' personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a society where people are validated by numbers of likes and re-tweets and where weddings are grand spectacles, publishing images from the big day for the admiration of others is de rigueur. As with our culture at large, extreme weddings and ‘destination’ weddings are both more private and more public.

Throughout the past century, the trends of the elite have filtered down to the public who, inspired by media and commercial culture, adopt and adapt, mirror and modify. Unlike weddings in the past, where people married as a means of uniting families or property, or where weddings were about deferring to parents’ expectations, contemporary couples use weddings as sites for personal expression and distinction. Yet, even extreme or destination weddings incorporate the past in the present. Though weddings can be sites of resistance of traditional values or gender roles, they are rarely sites of rebellion. Ultimately, as couples publicly pledge their love, they pledge allegiance to convention and to the new.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barn No. 5 at Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs is about to become a state-of-the-art multiplex for hens. Two massive scaffolding-like structures, each the length of four school buses, are getting their final nuts and bolts, and in a few weeks, 8,000 cage-free chickens will come thronging and clucking into these new “aviary” roosts. Moving freely around the barn, they will perch on rows of shiny bars, nest on private mats, and quench their thirst from tiny water nipples. While one conveyor belt whisks chicken waste out the door, another one will collect the bounty – a nonstop supply of brown and white eggs.

The roosts, which line both sides of the barn, are replacing dense rows of wire cages that housed chickens for some 60 years. Frank Hilliker, a third-generation egg farmer in this dusty town north of San Diego, strolls through the barn, hoists himself up to the top of the roosting tiers, and surveys the chickens’ new domain.

“Those are privacy curtains,” he says, pointing down at a strip of tomato-red plastic flaps. “Inside is a little AstroTurf pad that they get to lie on, and that’s where they lay their eggs!”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestAnimals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Uber this week flunked its first test drive around Charleston's legal system.

Taft Navarro, the first known Uber driver to be cited in the region for violating local or state transportation rules, was found guilty Thursday in a Charleston County courtroom. He was required to pay the full fine of $437 for operating a ride-for-hire service at Charleston International Airport without the necessary permit.

Chief Magistrate David Coker's ruling might set something of a precedent for how similar violations will be handled at the airport in the future, Navarro said.

Read it all from the front page of today's local paper.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 6, 2014 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.

So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.

The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaAsiaChina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. economy is on track for its strongest year of job creation since 1999, as employers last month ramped up hiring and wage growth posted a small—but potentially significant—pickup.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 321,000 in November, the strongest month of hiring since January 2012, the Labor Department said Friday. Hiring was broad across industries, led by gains in the professional and business-services sector.

“The economy may not yet be a big mean jobs machine but it is just about there,” Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors Inc., said in a note to clients.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bills arrive as regularly as a heartbeat at the Vories’s cozy bi-level brick house just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It’s the paychecks that are irregular.

These days, Alex Vories, 37, is delivering pizzas for LaRosa’s, though he has to use his parents’ car since he wrecked his own 1997 Nissan van on a rainy day last month. In the spring and autumn, he had managed to snag several weeks of seasonal work with the Internal Revenue Service, sorting tax returns for $14 an hour. But otherwise the family had to make do with the $350 a week his wife, Erica, brought home from her job as a mail clerk for the I.R.S.

“We just kind of wing it every month,” said Mr. Vories, whose unemployment benefits ran out at the end of 2013, 10 months after he lost his job answering phones at Fidelity Investments. Ever since, the family’s income has bounced up and down from one week to the next, like the basketball he and his two sons play with in their driveway, next to the Kentucky Wildcats pennant planted in their front yard.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American middle class has absorbed a steep increase in the cost of health care and other necessities as incomes have stagnated over the past half decade, a squeeze that has forced families to cut back spending on everything from clothing to restaurants.

Health-care spending by middle-income Americans rose 24% between 2007 and 2013, driven by an even larger rise in the cost of buying health insurance, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of detailed consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That hit has been accompanied by increases in spending on other necessities, including food eaten at home, rent and education, as well as the soaring cost of staying connected digitally via cellphones and home Internet service.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted December 3, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across the country, laborers are hard at work lifting 700-pound shelves full of multivolume encyclopedias, propane grills or garden gnomes and dragging them across vast warehouse floors. Carefully trained not to bump into one another, the squat workers are 320 pounds and a mere 16 inches tall.

No, they’re not Christmas elves—they’re some of the most advanced robots that e-commerce giant Amazon now uses to ship its goods. In an exclusive video for TIME, photographer and videographer Stephen Wilkes captured these Amazon robots in action at the company’s Tracy, Calif., warehouse.

Read it all+watch the video.




Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Ouija boards are flying themselves off shelves and under trees this Christmas, according to trends data released by Google. The company has recorded a 300 per cent increase in searches for the spirit-bothering devices, fuelled by a terrible movie that was effectively a feature-length ad for a board game, an appearance on The Archers, and the Victorian belief that if the dead could speak, they would use a plank of a wood and the alphabet.

Ouija, released in October in time for Halloween, was, by all accounts, a cliché-ridden turkey about a group of teenage girls who experiment with a board and get scared. It has a disastrous 7 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregating site, but became an occult hit, to the delight of its backers. Hasbro, the toy company behind Monopoly, pushed for the revival of the film, which had stalled in development, and partnered with Universal to make it happen. Its Ouija Game, including a glow-in-the-dark version, is – sure enough – the biggest seller online.

Read it all from the Independent. One C of E clergyman is concerned: ‘It’s like opening a shutter in one’s soul and letting in the supernatural,’ says Peter Irwin-Clark, a Church of England vicar who has witnessed the dark side of Ouija. ‘There are spiritual realities out there and they can be very negative.’


Filed under: * Culture-Watch* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

2 Comments
Posted December 2, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Foreigners are dreaming big, but the locals seem a bit overwhelmed with all the interest in a new law that was passed legalizing marijuana in the last year.

The law allows Uruguayans to register to grow their own weed, or join growing clubs — cooperatives of up to 45 people — for personal consumption.

Under President Jose Mujica's maverick leadership, Uruguay went further than any country in the world: The government will plant, cultivate and ultimately distribute marijuana, too.

Mujica says decades of failed drug war policies necessitated a radical new approach to curb drug violence and addiction. If the government sells dope, the idea goes, the criminals can't. But the reality has proven complicated, and some advocates say the government has bitten off more than it can chew.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaUruguay* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration's challenge to certain "workplace wellness" programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.

Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama's healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don't.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 1:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states are also major oil exporters, they differ from other producers in two important ways. First, their cost of extracting oil is extremely low, which means that they will be able to produce profitably at the current price – or even at a much lower price. Second, their enormous financial reserves allow them to finance their domestic and international activities for an extended period of time, as they seek to transform their economies to reduce their dependence on oil revenue.

A further decline in the price of oil could have major geopolitical repercussions. A price of $60 a barrel would create severe problems for Russia in particular. President Vladimir Putin would no longer be able to maintain the transfer programs that currently sustain his popular support. There would be similar consequences in Iran and Venezuela.

It is not clear whether these countries’ current regimes could survive a substantial and sustained future decline in oil prices. By contrast, it is obvious that oil-importing countries would benefit greatly – as they already are.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 29, 2014 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Black Friday in the U.S.: like a regular weekend at the malls, only a little more so. Black Friday overseas: like Black Friday used to be in the U.S., including the shoving and fistfights.

Call it America's latest export.

As Americans hunkered down on their couches to score Black Friday bargains online, shoppers in other parts of the world took part in what had been a uniquely American experience: Risking life and limb for dirt-cheap sweaters and discounted TVs.

British police officers were called to stores across the country on Friday to quell surging crowds and fights over deals. Retailers had adopted American-style Black Friday discounts to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season, according to Reuters. Even Brazil got in on the act, with stores offering Black Friday deals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The family of Lee Rigby have said they hold Facebook partly responsible for his murder, after a report found it failed to take action over an online chat in which one of the killers vowed to slay a soldier.

The Intelligence and Security Committee’s long-awaited report yesterday labelled an unnamed internet company, widely reported to be Facebook, a “safe haven for terrorists” because it did not flag up the online exchange between Michael Adebowale and a foreign jihadist, which took place five months before Fusilier Rigby’s murder.

The parliamentary watchdog’s chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind stated that the web firm could have made a difference by raising the conversation, and said there was “a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack” as Adebowale would have become “a top priority.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sunday morning is an inconvenient time for church services because people are busy shopping and doing DIY, the Church of England has admitted.

Worshippers are increasingly turning their backs on the centuries-old practice of attending worship on Sundays because of other leisure and social “commitments”, it said.

The admission came alongside new figures showing that attendances at midweek services in cathedrals have doubled in a decade while numbers in the pews in parishes on Sundays continue to fall.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, said many people still crave quiet reflection, but are seeking out less “pressurised” times in the week to worship than Sunday mornings.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

4 Comments
Posted November 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe - or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe - only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted November 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.

The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At this year's Acton University conference, you spoke on how love is an indispensable basis for economic life. To some, that might seem odd if economic life is viewed as the maximization of utility and material well-being.

We can’t enter the marketplace as something other than what we really are, and real human love demonstrates the impossibility of being merely homo economicus (“the economic man”), which is essentially a thesis that reduces human beings to their materiality.

Humans are simultaneously material and transcendent, individual and social. We are not merely individual entities, though we are uniquely and unrepeatably that, even from the first moment of our conception. Yet the whole of our lives we are social and individual, material and spiritual. If we ignore this existential reality, then we fail to understand what it means to be human.

Love—authentic human love—helps us understand this anthropological reality. Even conjugal love offers more than physicality. In this act of love, we offer our whole selves, including our ideals, dreams, and indeed our future to one another—none of which exists in material reality. Love, especially in the biblical sense, is not merely what one wants for oneself, but is a free decision that wills the good of the person one loves. And this transcendent act, this non-material dimension of human anthropology—when open to new life—normatively results in other human persons who are made from the dust of the earth and the breath of life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The war between the giants of the technology industry for the attention of the world’s office workers look like it is about to take an unexpected turn.

Fundamental changes in the daily lives of millions of so-called “information workers” have already triggered a corresponding upheaval in the technology tools on which they rely. Staples such as email and Microsoft’s Office suite of products still hold sway, but they are increasingly being supplemented by services like group chat, internal social networks and shared online document editing.

Now, Facebook’s ambition to create a version of its social network for the office, first reported in the Financial Times this week, promises a new twist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The upcoming OPEC meeting is going to be the most difficult one during this century,” said Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to Mr. Naimi. “It seems that OPEC has forgotten how to cooperate.”

Within the group, officials are increasingly worried its divisions contribute to weaker prices. “If OPEC fails to reach an agreement,” one OPEC official said, “oil prices will keep on falling....”

A collective move to cut output could boost prices, but it would also rob OPEC members of revenue. It is unclear how long such vulnerable OPEC economies as Venezuela and Nigeria could afford to limit production without reopening the spigots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle EastSouth AmericaVenezuela* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Maria Fernandes died for the sake of a nap. The 32-year-old held three part-time jobs, and between shifts at two different Dunkin’ Donuts locations she stopped in a parking lot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to sleep in her car. Fumes from a spilled fuel container that had tipped over—she worried about running out of gas—and exhaust from her vehicle ended her life on August 25. According to her manager, this was the first time Fernandes failed to show up or answer her phone. Her friends remembered a generous, sentimental, spirited young woman.

Fernandes was part of what economist Joe Seneca calls the “real face of the recession”: 7.5 million American workers cobbling together a living from part-time jobs. While the shortage of full-time jobs at adequate wages is a familiar story in America’s lingering downturn, the cruel shortage of sleep is not.

It should be. “A battle against leisure is unfolding,” Ryan Jacob claims in a Pacific Standard article called, provocatively enough, “Are Sundays Dying?” Citing Canadian survey data, Jacob found that even in this last citadel of repose, religious observances, socializing, eating at home, and, yes, sleep had all declined on Sundays between 1981 and 2005. During the same period, time spent working increased dramatically.

Read it all and alert blog readers may remember that I posted Ms. Fernandes tragic story back in October.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another day, another football player arrested for domestic violence.

Frank Clark, a senior defensive end for the University of Michigan, was arrested Sunday for allegedly attacking his girlfriend in a Perkins, Ohio hotel room. Sports analysts predict Clark will be a third-round NFL draft pick next year. It’s the latest in a string of scandals involving football players this year–including Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson–that has prompted the NFL to implement a revamped domestic violence policy.

But Drew Pittman, a Christian NFL sports agent whose firm has negotiated almost $1 billion in player contracts, claims we’re missing the real problem. He says America–not just sports–is experiencing an epidemic of men who are not equipped to be husbands and fathers. He’s compiled stories and principles from his career in a new book, First Team Dad: Your Playbook for a Winning Family (foreword by Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy), and argues that our real problem is ungodly men. Here we discuss his book, sports scandals, and what he believes every parent can learn about parenting and marriage from professional sports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenSportsViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 17, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.

Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society—in American churches as well.

Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Terrorists and criminals are exploiting a European court ruling to hide internet records about their pasts, a cabinet minister has warned.

Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, unleashed a fierce rebuke to “unelected judges” in Luxembourg who passed the “right to be forgotten” law. It grants anyone the right to demand the removal of damaging or embarrassing information from search engines, even if it is factually true.

Mr Javid hit out at the ruling as “censorship by the back door”. In a speech to newspaper editors, he said that thousands of requests to remove links to articles were pouring in to companies such as Google from people who “for one reason or another, would prefer their pasts to be kept secret”.

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 12, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a kid, Tim Scott badly wanted to fit in with the majority white kids at Stall High School, and the black kids, too. And he didn't want any outward signs of his family's poverty.

A pair of Converse high tops were the ticket.

But his mom said no.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesSenate* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.

More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.

But challengers say the administration is violating the plain language of the law. They are represented by the same conservative legal strategists who fell one vote short of convincing the court that the law was unconstitutional the last time around.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 8, 2014 at 10:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Besides choosing lawmakers, on November 4th voters in three American states and the District of Columbia considered measures to liberalise the cannabis trade. Alaska and Oregon, where it is legal to provide “medical marijuana” to registered patients, voted to go further and let the drug be sold and taken for recreational purposes, as Colorado and Washington state already allow. In DC, a measure to legalise the possession of small amounts for personal use was passed. A majority of voters in Florida opted to join the lengthening list of places where people can seek a doctor’s note that lets them take the drug. However, the measure fell just short of the 60% needed to change the state constitution. Even so, that such a big state in the conservative South came so close to liberalising shows how America’s attitude to criminalising pot has changed.

After this week’s votes only 27 states outlaw all sale or possession of marijuana. In the rest, a thriving “canna-business” is emerging...: trade in the drug is escaping the grasp of organised crime and becoming normal, just as alcohol did after the end of Prohibition. But even as moves to legalise and regularise the business continue at state level, the federal government and Congress remain dead set against the drug. A panoply of federal laws to curb the marijuana trade remain in place; and in recent months the Drug Enforcement Administration has raided cannabis dispensaries in California that are operating under state licences.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTaxesPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 8, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An unusual email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.

The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.

It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted November 7, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NYU's Pankaj Ghemawat discusses the top 10 countries that are wired and ready to make money. He speaks with Bloomberg's Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internet is moving to a shopping center near you.

In Fort Wayne, Ind., a vacated Target store is about to be home to rows of computer servers, network routers and Ethernet cables courtesy of a local data-center operator. In Jackson, Miss., a former McRae’s department store will get the same treatment next year. And one quadrant of the Marley Station Mall south of Baltimore is already occupied by a data-center company that last year offered to buy out the rest of the building.

As America’s retailers struggle to keep up with online shopping, the Internet is starting to settle into some of the very spaces where brick-and-mortar customers used to shop. The shift brings welcome tenants to some abandoned stretches of the suburban landscape, though it doesn’t replace all the jobs and sales-tax revenue that local communities lost when stores left the building.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of the people who read this article will do so because Greg Marra, 26, a Facebook engineer, calculated that it was the kind of thing they might enjoy.

Mr. Marra’s team designs the code that drives Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories that users see. He is also fast becoming one of the most influential people in the news business.

Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics company SimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

0 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The much heralded asset-backed securities purchase programme will only yield about €250bn-€450bn in assets over the next two years. More LTRO (or the newer targeted LTRO) will prove a challenge as sovereign bond yields in Europe are so low that a large balance sheet expansion through this means seems impractical. Perhaps there is another €500bn-€750bn to do over the next year or two. Outright purchases of sovereign debt would prove politically difficult, as many would interpret such purchases as violating the ECB’s mandate and the matter would probably end up in the European courts.

The bottom line is that none of the tools currently on the table will get the job done. There are not enough assets to purchase or finance and the timetable to get anything done is too long. Policy makers do not have the luxury of a year or two to figure this out. The ECB balance sheet shrinks virtually daily and as it shrinks, the monetary base of Europe is contracting and putting downward pressure on prices. Europe is clearly in danger of falling into the liquidity trap, if it is not already there. The likelihood of a “lost decade” like that experienced in Japan is rapidly increasing. The ECB must act and act quickly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally.

These new types of products alter industry structure and the nature of competition, exposing companies to new competitive opportunities and threats. They are reshaping industry boundaries and creating entirely new industries. In many companies, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question, “What business am I in?”

Smart, connected products raise a new set of strategic choices related to how value is created and captured, how the prodigious amount of new (and sensitive) data they generate is utilized and managed, how relationships with traditional business partners such as channels are redefined, and what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded.

The phrase “internet of things” has arisen to reflect the growing number of smart, connected products and highlight the new opportunities they can represent. Yet this phrase is not very helpful in understanding the phenomenon or its implications. The internet, whether involving people or things, is simply a mechanism for transmitting information. What makes smart, connected products fundamentally different is not the internet, but the changing nature of the “things.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 26, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.

One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.

Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.

You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.

But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even if one ignores some very important issues – such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) – serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.

This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the American and British economies it has been a long road out of the woods, but the journey is nearing its end. America’s unemployment rate fell below 6% in September. Britain’s economy, where output was up 3.2% in the year to June, is growing faster than any other big rich country’s. Central bankers are counting the days until they can raise interest rates.

Virtually everywhere else, however, the news is grim and getting grimmer. The euro zone, the world’s second-biggest economic area, seems to be falling from a feeble recovery back into outright recession as Germany hits the skids. Shockingly weak industrial production and export figures mean Germany’s GDP is likely to shrink for the second consecutive quarter—a popular definition of recession. Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, may also be on the edge of a downturn, because April’s rise in the consumption tax is hurting spending more than expected. Russia’s and Brazil’s economies are stagnant, at best. Even in China, still growing at a suspiciously smooth 7.5% a year, there are worries about a property bust, a credit bubble and a fall in productivity

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 15, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.

The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 10:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 30 cities and counties internationally have made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford. The announcement also comes hot on the heels of similar divestment commitments made by Local Government Super and the Anglican Diocese of Perth.

The decision affects millions of dollars in council investments - a May report showed the council had cash and investments of 36 million dollars. Moreland's principal bank is the Commonwealth Bank, which like each of the 'Big 4' is a major lender to fossil fuel projects around the country, including controversial coal projects on the east coast.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingStock Market* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.

Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.

It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Huge expansions in credit followed by crises and attempts to manage the aftermath have become a feature of the world economy. Today the US and UK may be escaping from the crises that hit seven years ago. But the eurozone is mired in post-crisis stagnation and China is struggling with the debt it built up in its attempt to offset the loss of export earnings after the crisis hit in 2008.

Without an unsustainable credit boom somewhere, the world economy seems incapable of generating growth in demand sufficient to absorb potential supply. It looks like a law of the conservation of credit booms. Consider the past quarter century: a credit boom in Japan that collapsed after 1990; a credit boom in Asian emerging economies that collapsed in 1997; a credit boom in the north Atlantic economies that collapsed after 2007; and finally in China. Each is greeted as a new era of prosperity, to collapse into crisis and post-crisis malaise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChinaEurope

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American banks are loading up on U.S. government debt, a sign they remain cautious on the economy even with the jobless rate at a six-year low and corporations at their healthiest in a generation.

Commercial lenders increased their holdings of Treasuries (BUSY) and debt from federal agencies in September by $54 billion to an unprecedented $1.99 trillion, data from the Federal Reserve show. Banks have now been net buyers for 12 straight months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.

Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.

Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.

But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks into its crystal ball, it sees an aging population in need of care and a construction industry still rebounding from the Great Recession. In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the fastest growth in U.S. employment will take place in the health care, health care support, construction, and personal care fields. These four categories are expected to account for more than a third—about 6.6 million—of all new jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “squeezed middle” is being forced to endure a lower standard of living more than a decade on from the credit crunch, keeping consumer spending growth below pre-crisis levels.

The EY Item Club predicts that real take-home pay in 2017 will still be below the rate in 2007 because of subdued wage growth.

The economic forecaster’s report will make for uneasy reading for George Osborne as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference today, and it is compounded by further evidence from a free market think-tank of the existence of a “cost of living crisis”.

Read it all (requires subscription).



Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--adorable.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestAnimalsPhotos/Photography

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the eight years since, Facebook’s News Feed — that LED-lit window through which we glimpse news, memes and snatches of other people’s lives — has not exactly gotten less controversial. But the nature of that controversy has fundamentally changed. Where early college users raged against sharing, and seeing, too much information — of being subsumed, in effect, by the social media noise — our anxieties today frequently involve getting too little of it. Facebook’s latest changes to the News Feed, announced just last week, are essentially tooled to give users more content, more quickly.

Both concerns relate to control. Whether we see too much content or too little, everything we see in Facebook’s News Feed is determined by an algorithm — an invented mathematical formula that guesses what you want to see based on who posted it, where it came from, and a string of other mysterious factors known only to the programmers and project managers who work on it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans' views of current economic conditions and their opinions on whether the economy is getting better or worse. Last week, 18% of Americans said the economy was "excellent" or "good," while 35% said the economy was "poor," resulting in a current conditions index score of -17. Over the past four weeks, the current conditions index has fallen one point per week.

Meanwhile, 38% of Americans last week said the economy was "getting better," and 57% said it was "getting worse." This resulted in an economic outlook score of -19, down three points from the week before, but similar to several prior weeks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is one of 12 global institutional investors backing a new project to study how climate change will impact the investment landscape.

The Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the three national investing bodies are supporting the project as part of a group concerned about climate change and its investment implications.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Religions for the Earth initiative at Union seeks to create a place where visionary religious and spiritual leaders from around the world will convene to find common ground and offer new strategies to deal with a crisis that politicians have been unable to solve.

In meeting after meeting, from Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen to Durban, politicians and technocrats have been thwarted, because at its core, climate change is not just about science, or zero-sum financial negotiations between emitters: it’s about values. It relates profoundly to the meaning of life rather than just its mechanics—to the essence of how we experience our being, share our resources, and regard one another across space and time. It has implications for the existence of the world itself, and humanity’s place within it.

It will take a values-driven conversation to change the materialistic and consumer-oriented culture that assigns worth only to financially quantifiable things. The unchecked profit-driven model of maximum production devours what we care most about: clean air, clean water, and the wellbeing of the most vulnerable families. We need a new moral equation.

Read it all from Time Magazine.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve took two steps toward winding down the historic easy-money policies that have defined its response to the financial crisis, but stopped short of the move markets are awaiting most: signaling when interest rates will start to rise.

With the economy gradually improving, U.S. central-bank officials plan to end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing after October, hoping to finally stop expanding a six-year experiment in monetary policy that has left the Fed holding more than $4 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds.

The Fed on Wednesday also detailed a new technical plan for how it will raise short-term interest rates, something most officials currently don't intend to do until next year. The central bank has kept the federal-funds rate near zero since December 2008 and offered assurances along the way about rates remaining low, another part of its varied efforts to boost the post-financial-crisis economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ideal Home Show has been running since 1908 and the International Motor Show began in 1903 so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar show and earlier this month the Beeches in Bournville, Birmingham played host to the first Ideal Death Show.

The event billed itself as a 'weekend gathering of entrepreneurs, pioneers and progressives from the funeral industry'.

Open to members of the public, the show allowed discussions about death, planning a funeral and some of the more eccentric ways people select to mark their own passing....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Scotland votes Yes to independence the knee-jerk response in the markets is easy to predict: sell sterling, sell UK equities, sell Scottish financials and short Spanish debt on Catalonia fears. UK gilts may offer a safe haven but this is not certain given questions about the allocation of debt in divorce, enhanced risk of rump UK exit from the EU and potential contingent liabilities associated with a messy break-up of the UK.

In particular there has been insufficient attention to the challenge that would be faced by the Bank of England maintaining unlimited liquidity provision to Scottish banks during the transition to independence, particularly if uncertainty about future currency arrangements were to result in cross-border capital flight. There is a non-trivial risk this could end in a credit crunch in Scotland.

The onset of divorce negotiations would lay bare that Scotland faces an impossible trinity: full independence, financial stability and deep economic integration with the UK. It can have any two of these but not all three.

Read it all Krishna Guha of the FT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please note--be warned this contains content that is very disturbing--KSH.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.

By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.

But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.

The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsTaxesEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

0 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previously, Business Insider examined ranked every state by how quickly the economies were growing. This time around, we calculated which states had the best economies outright.

We ranked each state on seven economic measures: the July unemployment rate; the change in nonfarm payroll jobs from June to July 2014; the 2013 GDP per capita; the 2012 per capita consumption; the 2013 average annual wage; the 2013 exports per capita; and the 2012 government expenditures.

No fair looking until you guess where your state falls if this applies to you. Then go and read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 307-year-old union between England and Scotland has been one of history's most successful, but a possible split has investors and lawmakers fearing the potential aftershocks.

A "no" vote against Scottish independence was once a foregone conclusion for the Sept. 18 referendum, but a recent narrowing of polls — with some putting "yes" in the lead — has made the United Kingdom's biggest constitutional change since the Irish Free State's creation in 1922 a distinct possibility.

Secession could throw a wrench into the U.K.'s economic recovery, which has been among Europe's strongest. Scotland's share of U.K. gross domestic product is around 9.2%, or 148 billion pounds ($238.3 billion). Its 5.3 million residents comprise 8.3% of the total population.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Now]...this week, his name now as much a part of NFL culture as its most famous players and teams, the 55-year-old commissioner began taking on heavy fire for his judgment and ability to perform his self-described job description. Scrutiny, particularly recently, is nothing new, but it has never been harsher than this week, following the publishing of a video Monday that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. It was footage, Goodell told the “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday, he had not seen during the NFL’s earlier investigation into the matter.

Goodell’s words eased little of the pressure on the commissioner, and in fact, those in and around the NFL community have begun scrutinizing Goodell’s priorities and, in some cases, calling for his job.

Depending on viewpoint, the NFL was either unable despite its vast resources to procure the same video from the Revel Hotel and Casino that TMZ somehow acquired and published. Or, as TMZ reported Tuesday morning, the league simply never asked for it in an effort to ferry out a lighter punishment for Rice.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenSexualitySportsViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With oil and natural gas production soaring in the US, consumers might expect lower prices at the pump and on their electric bills.

But that’s not happening. The summer driving season was the fourth most expensive on record, and residential electricity costs ballooned in the first half of 2014.

Meanwhile, US oil and natural gas production surges, fueled by innovative drilling in states like Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Today, the US is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and oil production rivals energy giants like Russia and Saudi Arabia.

So why are American consumers paying more, even as the supply of American fuel expands?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

4 Comments
Posted September 7, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Next year, even more corporate workers are likely to be offered high-deductible plans — sometimes known more benignly as consumer-directed plans — and at a rising share of large companies, it will be the only option remaining.

Just as employers replaced pensions with retirement savings plans, more large companies appear to be in a similar cost-sharing shift with health plans. Besides making workers responsible for more of their care, employers hope these plans will motivate employees to comparison-shop for medical services — an admirable goal but one that some say is hard to achieve.

Several big companies started offering consumer-driven plans as their only option in the last couple of years, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, General Electric and Honeywell, among others; it is the only choice for Bank of America employees earning more than $100,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2014 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gap between the richest and poorest Americans widened even as the U.S. economic recovery gained traction in the years after the recession, the Federal Reserve said.

Average, or mean, pretax income for the wealthiest 10% of U.S. families rose 10% in 2013 from 2010, but families in the bottom 40% saw their average inflation-adjusted income decline over that period, according to the Fed's Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted every three years.

The report showed little change in average take-home pay for middle- and upper-middle-class families, who "failed to recover the losses experienced between 2007 and 2010," it said.

Overall, average income rose 4% from the 2010 survey while median—the midpoint with half higher and half lower—income fell 5%, "consistent with increasing income concentration during this period," the report said. Median income fell for every income bracket except the top 10%.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 4, 2014 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judged in theological terms, the Osteen message is the latest and slickest version of Prosperity Theology. That American heresy has now spread throughout much of the world, but it began in the context of American Pentecostalism in the early twentieth century. Prosperity theology, promising that God rewards faith with health and wealth, first appealed to those described as “the dispossessed” — the very poor. Now, its updated version appeals to the aspirational class of the suburbs. Whereas the early devotees of Prosperity Theology prayed for a roof over their heads that did not leak, the devotees of prosperity theology in the Age of Osteen pray for ever bigger houses. The story of how the Osteens exercised faith for a big house comes early in Joel Osteen’s best-seller, Your Best Life Now.

According to Osteen, God wants to pour out his “immeasurable favor” on his human creatures, and this requires a fundamental re-ordering of our thinking. “To experience this immeasurable favor,” Osteen writes, “you must rid yourself of that small-minded thinking and start expecting God’s blessings, start anticipating promotion and supernatural increase. You must conceive it in your heart before you can receive it. In other words, you must make increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those things to pass.”

There is nothing really new in this message. Anyone familiar with the New Thought movement and later books such as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich will see a persistent theme. The important issue is this — Prosperity Theology is a false Gospel. The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth — and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 4, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual with Facebook, this is not the whole story. For one, it has begun tracking users’ browsing history to identify their interests better. Its latest mobile app can identify songs and films playing nearby, nudging users to write about them. It has acquired the Moves app, which does something similar with physical activity, using sensors to recognise whether users are walking, driving or cycling.

Still, if Facebook is so quick to embrace – and profit from – the language of privacy, should privacy advocates not fear they are the latest group to be “disrupted”? Yes, they should: as Facebook’s modus operandi mutates, their vocabulary ceases to match the magnitude of the task at hand. Fortunately, the “happiness” experiment also shows us where the true dangers lie.

For example, many commentators have attacked Facebook’s experiment for making some users feel sadder; yet the company’s happiness fetish is just as troubling. Facebook’s “obligation to be happy” is the converse of the “right to be forgotten” that Google was accused of trampling over. Both rely on filters. But, while Google has begun to hide negative results because it has been told to do so by European authorities, Facebook hides negative results because it is good for business. Yet since unhappy people make the best dissidents in most dystopian novels, should we not also be concerned with all those happy, all too happy, users?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Insurance fraud complaints in South Carolina have reached an all-time high with more than 1,200 pouring in last year, according to a report released Friday by Attorney General Alan Wilson.

The annual report from his office's Insurance Fraud Division noted attorneys prosecuted cases that resulted in 37 convictions and in more than $700,000 being returned to the victims of insurance fraud.

The report cites several notorious cases.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 9, 2014 at 8:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Americans with Ebola received at least half of the world's supply of a drug that might be able to change the course of the deadly virus.

Some people are asking how to allocate additional doses of this drug and whether it was ethical to give those drugs to American missionaries when they weren't available to West Africans suffering from or fighting the outbreak.

The World Health Organization will convene a panel of medical ethicists early next week to discuss the use of such experimental treatments. The group will probably decide how to allocate medications should more become available.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We should not be surprised if parents who have ordered a baby and rented a woman’s womb refuse it at birth if it is not healthy and perfect,” said an article published in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“In fact if a child becomes a product to buy, it is obvious that as with any acquisition it must meet with the buyer’s approval.”

The strongly worded commentary was written by prominent Catholic feminist and regular contributor Lucetta Scaraffia, who argued the child’s rejection was to be expected in the “explosive mix” of consumerism combined with a “throwaway culture.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will robots ease our toil or become a tool for automation and oppression? People who care about technology seem sharply divided, and passionate, about the topic.

The Pew Research Center asked 1,900 technology experts if robots will help or hurt the workforce over the next 10 years. Nearly half (48%) envision a future in which robots displace significant numbers of workers. The remaining 52% say automation will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025.

But the numbers were just the starting point for some heated opinions.

“We, as a society, have a lot of decisions to make,” said study co-author Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet Project. “There’s going to be a lot of debate.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

The records, discovered by Hold Security, a firm in Milwaukee, include confidential material gathered from 420,000 websites, ranging from household names to small Internet sites. Hold Security has a history of uncovering significant hacks, including the theft last year of tens of millions of records from Adobe Systems.

Hold Security would not name the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable. At the request of The New York Times, a security expert not affiliated with Hold Security analyzed the database of stolen credentials and confirmed it was authentic. Another computer crime expert who had reviewed the data, but was not allowed to discuss it publicly, said some big companies were aware that their records were among the stolen information.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even in death, you can’t escape the property bubble.

From New York to London, growing populations are competing with the deceased for land, driving up real-estate costs well into the afterlife. In Asian megacities, where cremation is the norm, even space for urns is in short supply.

“At the end of the day, it’s like any other piece of real estate,” says Amy Cunningham, a New York state licensed funeral director. “Prices have conspired to put burials out of the range of most people’s budgets.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate Market* Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rush of newly insured patients using health services has boosted hospital operators' fortunes but has racked up costs that insurers didn't anticipate, corporate filings and interviews with executives show.

People are getting more back surgeries, seeking maternity care and showing up at emergency rooms more frequently, executives say, boosting income for hospital operators.

At Tenet Healthcare Corp....patient volumes rose 4% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, while uninsured inpatient admissions slid 22%....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Keep Me Posted campaign, which is pressing for the consumer’s right to choose how they are contacted by banks, utility companies and other service providers, has been joined by The Church In Wales.

In the face of an increasing trend for businesses to switch their customers to mainly digital communication, the campaign is calling for service providers to give customers the choice to retain paper bills without charge. Research from the campaign shows that it is often the poor and most vulnerable people in society who rely the most on traditional methods of communication.

The Church, which takes very seriously the economic, social and environmental needs of the communities of Wales, and works in areas of deprivation facing economic inactivity, poverty, debt and low skills, has recognised the barriers many people have to using the internet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 10:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.

Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.

So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It may have seemed like the makings of a perfect opening night: perhaps popcorn, soda, great seats, the whispering of an excited crowd as the lights went down for a midnight first peek at "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The previews rolled, and then ... whaaaat?

"omg," one moviegoer tweeted. "they started playing rise of the guardians instead of guardians of the galaxy."

How in the galaxy did that happen?

"EVERYONE IN THE THEATRE IS CRYING," the tweeter added.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pattaramon [ Chanbua] was promised 300,000 baht ($9,300) by a surrogacy agency in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, to be a surrogate for the Australian couple, but she has not been fully paid since the children were born last December.

She said the agency knew about Gammy’s condition four to five months after she became pregnant but did not tell her. It wasn’t until the seventh month of her pregnancy when the doctors and the agency told her that one of the twin babies had Down syndrome and suggested that she have an abortion just for him.

Pattaramon recalled strongly rejecting the idea, believing that having the abortion would be sinful. “I asked them, ‘Are you still humans?’ I really wanted to know,” she said Sunday.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAsiaThailandAustralia / NZ

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, is increasing premiums by an average of 17.6 percent for its Affordable Care Act exchange plans next year, company officials say.

The nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate blames higher health costs that are a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected.

Florida insurance regulators plan to release rate information for all companies next week. The exchange plans cover individuals who are not covered by employer-based policies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Bob Russo is sure of it. He's a radiologist and he's also the president-elect of the Connecticut State Medical Society. He says that the low rates and administrative burdens that come along with the ACA could make it a financial loser.

"You get what you pay for," he says. "If you can't convince [doctors] that they're not losing money doing their job, it's a problem. And they haven't been able to convince people of that."

He, like Counihan, worries about creating a tiered health care system. Think about Medicaid, he says. Before a recent rise in rates, it paid doctors even less than Medicare, so many stopped accepting Medicaid patients.

"There's no question that Medicaid, under its old rates, wasn't working," he says. "So, have we just invented a new Medicaid that kind of slid the scale up a little more to make access a little more?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.

Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online — plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.

Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.

What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a Vatican conference held July 29 to mark the World Day Against Trafficking, a U.S. diplomat said that the scourge of modern slavery will not be ended until the economic attitudes that lead to human trafficking are changed.

“One cannot simply protect the victims, and bring the victims into a place of safety, if one doesn’t do anything to change the underlying cultural assumptions that help create and foster this slavery, this exploitation, if one does not change the underlying economic assumptions that treat people as commodities,” Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. ambassador at large for trafficking in persons, said July 29 via video conference.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boeing Co. soon will assemble all three versions of the 787 Dreamliner at its non-unionized plant in North Charleston.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant said Wednesday it will produce the 787-10 - the largest version of the popular, back-ordered commercial jetliner - exclusively at its factory beside Charleston International Airport.

The expansion won't result in any new jobs or new buildings, a company official said. But at least one aviation analyst says the airplane manufacturer will have to boost its work force to meet increased production goals while introducing a new line.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* South Carolina

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia’s Vladimir Putin threaten to shut off some of the world’s largest energy companies from one of the biggest untapped energy troves on the planet.

As violence escalates in eastern Ukraine between government and separatist forces, the EU yesterday sought to punish Russia for its involvement by restricting exports of deep-sea drilling and shale-fracturing technologies. The U.S. followed suit, with President Barack Obama announcing a block on specific goods and technologies exported to the Russian energy sector.

“Because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we’re announcing today will have an even bigger bite,” Obama told reporters yesterday at the White House. “Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors are feeling the pain.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Robert Mutuku hangs “Out of Africa” T-shirts in his craft shop in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, he worries that the scarcity of tourists because of Islamist-militant attacks may doom his chances of keeping his five children in school.

Mutuku, 47, has had to fire three people who made souvenirs at his workshop for the tourists who once crowded the alleys of the city’s Old Town to savor its spice aromas and admire its Portuguese and Islamic architecture. Now Mutuku is certain he won’t be able to fulfill the dream of his eldest daughter, Catherine Ndinya, 21, to attend college.

“I have spent three days without selling anything,” Mutuku said in a July 25 interview. “I already took a bank loan to send the others back to school this term. I don’t know what I’ll do next term.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two of the EU’s most senior figures have urged the bloc’s prime ministers to approve a sweeping set of new sanctions against Russia next week.

The move marks the clearest signal to date that Europe is prepared to change its cautious approach towards the Kremlin over the Ukraine crisis.

In a letter sent late on Friday to Europe’s prime ministers, Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, said the sanctions package – which is directed at Russia’s financial, energy and defence industries – “strikes the right balance”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If ever a kitchen appliance captured the zeitgeist, this is it: you can now eat your own face, thanks to a selfie toaster.

The toasters are custom built to scorch a particular image into a piece of bread. They cost $75 (£45), and to order one you must send a picture of yourself to the manufacturer.

Read it all (subsciption required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States isn't job loss or irresponsible use of credit. It's medical expenses.

An analysis this year by NerdWallet Health found that about 60% of all bankruptcies are health related. And a comprehensive study by Harvard researchers who examined a large sample of 2007 bankruptcy filings found that, "using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies … were medical." That research, published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that most of these "medical debtors were well educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations."

And although access to health insurance can help stave off medical debt, it doesn't solve the problem. About 10 million insured Americans have medical bills they are unable to pay. The Harvard researchers found that three-quarters of the medical debtors they studied had health insurance.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

t's not exactly "The Golden Girls," but for Marcia Rosenfeld, it'll do.

Rosenfeld is among thousands of aging Americans taking part in home-sharing programs around the country that allow seniors to stay in their homes and save money while getting some much-needed companionship.

"It's a wonderful arrangement," said the white-haired Rosenfeld, who when asked her age will only say she's a senior citizen. "The way the rents are these days, I couldn't stay here without it."

She shares her two-bedroom, $1,000-a-month Brooklyn apartment with Carolyn Allen, a 69-year-old widow who has suffered two strokes and no longer wants to live alone.

Agencies that put such seniors together say the need appears to be growing as baby boomers age and struggle to deal with foreclosures, property taxes and rising rents. The typical situation involves an elderly woman, widowed or divorced, who has a house or an apartment with extra room and needs help with the upkeep.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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