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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a curfew Saturday in the city of Ferguson and declared a state of emergency after fresh violence erupted overnight amid public anger over the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer.
The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m., starting Saturday night.
“This is a test,” Nixon said at a news conference, saying “the eyes of the world” are watching to see how the city handles the aftermath of the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown, 18.
The announcement comes after community activists had taken to the streets and social media Saturday in hopes of preventing another night of looting and violence in Ferguson after at least three businesses fell victim to a predawn rampage by young men who targeted local stores as others tried desperately to stop them.
Read it all and join us in praying for all invovled.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
An ethics committee has been set up to tackle moral issues faced by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the area's police and crime commissioner.
The independent committee is one of the first of its kind in the country and aims to make recommendations on moral and ethical dilemmas.
It will look at issues such as surveillance operations and the use of body cameras and water cannon.
Members of the public can make referrals to the committee.
The panel of 13 is chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
On a fall day in 2008, the kitchen phone rang inside the Arnetts’ ranch home in Southwick. It was a state social worker, asking if they would consider taking in a “foster child with disabilities.”
The couple didn’t hesitate. They had completed foster-care training two years before, already had cared for a handful of children, and refused to turn away anyone in need.
As devout Christians, they believed God’s work requires sacrifices, including from busy families like theirs raising three boys.
But the social worker didn’t want a quick answer over the phone, insisting instead on a face-to-face visit. A week later, when she and two supervisors showed up at the Arnetts’ house, carrying files and a videotape, they wasted little time before asking, “Have you heard of Haleigh Poutre?”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The letter arrived in Sue Galloway's mailbox with no return address and a brief message warning Galloway, who is Jewish, to "be careful." It was signed "666."
Across town, Linda Stephens, an atheist, received a similarly worded letter, along with a verbal suggestion from a neighbor that she leave town, because "nobody here likes you."
The women's perceived sin? Challenging the Town Board's long-standing practice of opening monthly meetings with a prayer, a policy the Supreme Court upheld in May in a 5-4 ruling that has done little to calm the debate over what place prayer should have in local politics.
Political leaders in Greece, a quiet, middle-class suburb of Rochester, say the ruling affirmed that there is nothing wrong with what they have been doing since 1999, and with what goes on in scores of state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court itself. "It's like you do the Pledge of Allegiance, and you do a prayer," said William Reilich, the town supervisor, a position that serves as head of the board. "This is supposed to be a very light greeting. It's not a service."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
An atheist is set to deliver the invocation in a western New York community whose town board won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding its right to open meetings with a prayer.
Dan Courtney, 52, a mechanical engineer, said he asked the town of Greece right after the 5-4 decision in May for an opportunity to deliver the "non-theist" message.
The court's conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don't denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.
Read it all.
William "Jackrabbit" Large pulls his SUV onto the side of a downtown Seattle street, parking behind an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and carrying a product the online retailer doesn't offer: marijuana.
The thin, bespectacled Large is a delivery man for Winterlife, a Seattle company that is among a group of new businesses pushing the limits of Washington state's recreational pot industry by offering to bring marijuana to almost any doorstep.
"It's an opportunity that should not be missed," Large says with the kind of fast-talking voice meant for radio.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Recently we learned that]...a critical threshold has now been reached in the 10,000-year history of urban civilization. On Thursday, the United Nations declared for the first time that more than half of the people on the planet live in cities. Only 70 years ago, less than a third did. And by 2050, two-thirds of people will be living in cities.
The rapid pace in urbanization has many causes, such as better transportation and a rise in manufacturing. China, for example, has seen the world’s largest migration as more than 150 million rural people have moved to cities in recent decades for factory jobs and better education after the country embraced a market economy.
But a deeper cause likely drives people to live in close proximity to each other and put up with noise, traffic, pollution, and high prices....Cities are escalators to the good life. They are dream factories. Urban migrants put up with squalor in order to lift their families out of generations of rural stagnation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General City Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Politicians around the country speak of him reverently, casting him as the sagacious Obi-Wan Kenobi (or maybe Yoda) of local government and noting that no current mayor of a well-known city has lasted so long.
“To maintain enormous popularity in your city and equal reservoirs of respect professionally among your peers — I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been able to do that like he has,” Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, told me.
I had to visit him. I was exhausted with all the cynicism, including my own, about politics and politicians, and I craved something and someone sunnier. I was curious about the perspective of a leader who had clearly gotten a whole lot right.
What makes for good governance? Riley’s observations warranted attention.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A church centre in Norwich that helps homeless people, stranded strangers and elderly people is to shut after landlords rejected a rescue plan.
The All Saints Centre needs £100,000 a year to keep going but has hit money difficulties because of the recession.
A plan by Bishop of Norwich Graham James to assume the lease, which could have brought a rent cut, was rejected by Norwich Historic Churches' Trust.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
“I just don’t think the evidence is there for these long lists,” said Dr. Molly Cooke, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who helped research a position paper on cannabis for the American College of Physicians. “It’s been so hard to study marijuana. Policy makers are responding to thin data.”
Even some advocates of medical marijuana acknowledge that the state laws legalizing it did not result from careful reviews of the medical literature.
“I wish it were that rational,” said Mitch Earleywine, chairman of the executive board of directors for Norml, a national marijuana advocacy group. Dr. Earleywine said state lawmakers more often ask themselves, “What disease does the person in a wheelchair in my office have?”
Read it all from the front page of today's NY Times paper copy.
Also, make sure you did not miss this post earlier this week on the same topic featuring Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Politics in General City Government House of Representatives Senate State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
For Jerry Conkle, life in America’s fastest-growing metropolitan area moves as slowly as the golf carts that meander through his palm-lined neighborhood at dusk. Most days, he wakes early, reads the newspaper, and then hops into his four-wheeled buggy for a 20-mile-per-hour ride to one of the 42 golf courses that surround his home.
“It’s like an adult Disney World,” Conkle, 77, said of The Villages, Florida, whose expansion has come with virtually no crime, traffic, pollution -- or children.
The mix has attracted flocks of senior citizens, making The Villages the world’s largest retirement community. Its population of 110,000 has more than quadrupled since 2000, U.S. Census Bureau data show. It rose 5.2 percent last year, on par with megacities like Lagos, Nigeria, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday approved a "yoga tax" on gymnasiums and yoga classes that has angered fitness buffs in the U.S. capital.
The Democratic-controlled council voted 12-1 to give final approval to a $10.6 billion budget for 2015 that included a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and other athletic businesses, a spokeswoman for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.
The budget also includes a substantial income tax cut that would be offset by expanding the existing 5.75 percent sales tax to such services as tanning salons, health clubs, car washes and bowling alleys. The move is expected to raise $5 million a year.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Taxes Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For those who argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol, [Nora] Volkow has two main answers: We don’t entirely know , and, simultaneously, that is precisely the point .
“Look at the evidence,” Volkow said in an interview on the National Institutes of Health campus, pointing to the harms already inflicted by tobacco and alcohol. “It’s not subtle — it’s huge. Legal drugs are the main problem that we have in our country as it relates to morbidity and mortality. By far. Many more people die of tobacco than all of the drugs together. Many more people die of alcohol than all of the illicit drugs together.
“And it’s not because they are more dangerous or addictive. Not at all — they are less dangerous. It’s because they are legal. . . . The legalization process generates a much greater exposure of people and hence of negative consequences that will emerge. And that’s why I always say, ‘Can we as a country afford to have a third legal drug? Can we?’ We know the costs already on health care, we know the costs on accidents, on lost productivity. I let the numbers speak for themselves.”
Read it all from Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The nanny state may have drained civil society, but simply removing the nanny state will not restore it. There have to be programs that encourage local paternalism: early education programs with wraparound services to reinforce parenting skills, social entrepreneurship funds to reweave community, paternalistic welfare rules to encourage work.
Second, conservatives should not be naïve about sin. We are moving from a world dominated by big cross-class organizations, like public bureaucracies, corporations and unions, toward a world dominated by clusters of networked power. These clusters — Wall Street, Washington, big agriculture, big energy, big universities — are dominated by interlocking elites who create self-serving arrangements for themselves. Society is split between those bred into these networks and those who are not. Moreover, the U.S. economy is increasingly competing against autocratic economies, which play by their own self-serving rules.
Sometimes government is going to have to be active to disrupt local oligarchies and global autocracies by fomenting creative destruction — by insisting on dynamic immigration policies, by pumping money into research, by creating urban environments that nurture innovation, by spending money to give those outside the clusters new paths to rise.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General City Government House of Representatives Office of the President Senate State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A bill that would have established the Lowcountry's first comprehensive research university may have lost its best chance of passing Wednesday when some of the S.C. Senate's most powerful voices put up a significant roadblock to the measure.
The lengthy Senate debate also featured an emotional plea from Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, the Senate majority leader, who lamented the aggressive, often personal politics that he said Charleston legislators employed to see the bill passed.
While the bill is not entirely dead, Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, who has fought for the measure, worries that a failure to get a vote on the bill with just one full day left in this year's legislative session means the Senate may have lost its best chance to pass it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Urban/City Life and Issues Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General City Government State Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Police in downtown Brighton are cracking down on disorderly conduct by issuing tickets to people who swear or cause problems following complaints about the behavior of teenagers and young adults in the area.
Colin Andersen told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell that he was simply venting when he swore after a friend was ticketing for skateboarding in Brighton, a community about 35 miles northwest of Detroit.
The 19-year-old from Brighton said he was in the parking lot near the Imagination Station playground in April when he was ticketed for disorderly conduct. Andersen said he swore under his breath and no children heard him, but he ended up with a $200 fine.
Read it all.
When we actually start asking God for things, it’s rarely the high and grand things that flatter our self-image... It’s not flattering to the pride of an anxious commuter, for instance, to admit that what he really, really, really wants right now is not peace, it’s not justice, it’s not environmental integrity. It’s a parking space.
— The Rev. Gavin Dunbar, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in remarks before the Chatham County Commission meeting, April 26, 2013
OUR NATION’S Constitution grants Americans the right to practice — or, not to practice — religion.
It doesn’t shield Americans from signs of faith that other Americans are practicing.
On Monday, a divided and slightly muddled U.S. Supreme court seemed to affirm that correct position, in a case involving faith-based invocations before government meetings.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers at the start of government meetings, even if those prayers are overwhelmingly Christian.
The 5-4 decision in favor of the any-prayer-goes policy in the town of Greece, N.Y., avoided two alternatives that the justices clearly found abhorrent: having government leaders parse prayers for sectarian content, or outlawing them altogether.
It was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the court's conservatives agreeing and its liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
It’s said that nobody ever died from a marijuana overdose. Nobody ever died from a tobacco overdose either, but that doesn’t prove tobacco safe. Of all the dangers connected to marijuana, the most lethal is the risk of automobile accident. Marijuana-related fatal car crashes have nearly tripled across the United States in the past decade.Marijuana legalizers may counter: Can’t we just extend laws against drunk driving to stoned driving?
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. What exactly defines marijuana impairment remains fiercely contested by an increasingly assertive marijuana industry. It took Colorado four tries to enact a legal definition of marijuana impairment: five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Yet even once enacted, the standard remains very difficult to enforce. Alcohol impairment can be detected with a Breathalyzer. Marijuana impairment is revealed only by a blood test, and long-established law requires police to obtain a search warrant before a blood test is administered.
More important than catching impaired drivers after the fact is deterring them before they get behind the wheel. In the absence of a blood-testing kit, marijuana users themselves will find it difficult to know how much is too much.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
(For those interested in these sorts of things, the newspaper headline is "Puff by puff, a puritan land is learning not all drugs are evil"--KSH.
I got a text the other day from a close friend. He was excited. “I just bought legal weed in Colorado! A small step for me but a giant leap for mankind. They had a huge line. All dudes. Busy all day every day, the women behind the counter said.”
And here’s the thing. My friend is not a slacker. He’s a father of two, a hugely successful media entrepreneur with a constant stream of ideas, arguments and facts. He’s hard to keep up with on most days we spend together, and he’s a near fanatic on the need to legalise cannabis across the US.
He represents in one small way a seismic social shift in America on the status and use of some recreational drugs. To give you a simple example, the Pew Research Centre just released an extensive study of attitudes toward drugs and found the following statistic: 67% of Americans favour treatment rather than prison for users of hard drugs. In 2001, the country was evenly divided, 47% versus 45%, on the question of harsh minimum sentences for drug offenders. Today, we’re in a different universe.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine History * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ah, ah, ah--you need to guess before you look. Check it out from Forbes.
A true story: This chimney, planted like a limbless live oak on a residential street, was built by imprisoned German soldiers during the final year of World War II.
City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.
They are Jewish, and they want it gone.
“Every time I see the structure, it makes me think about the ovens,” says Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, 79, who co-owns the land. “I don’t see any reason to make a shrine to Nazis.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Prison/Prison Ministry Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary Europe Germany * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A big-hearted restaurant owner known as "Momma" leads a group in Arlington, Washington called the Soup Ladies who for 10 years have been dishing up meals for first responders. They are feeding hot meals to search and rescue workers at the site of a tragic mudslide roughly 70 miles away in Oso.
Watch the whole thing from NBC.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Dieting/Food/Nutrition Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
The referendum will have done nothing to have diminished the risk of inter-ethnic violence.
Against this uncertain and volatile background, the Christian churches of Europe, through the Conference of European Churches, have been in contact with the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, a body that includes Jewish and Muslim representatives as well as Christian churches. A letter signed by the present CEC president, known to many Members of your Lordships’ House as the recently retired Bishop of Guildford, expresses solidarity and support, urges an end to further polarisation in Ukrainian society and assures them that churches elsewhere in Europe are urging a democratic and diplomatic solution to the problems facing Ukraine. I know that Bishop Christopher Hill will be talking later this week to other European church leaders about how this solidarity and support can be given more tangible shape through the Conference of European Churches.
Even if this crisis has cast a Cold War shadow over Europe, it is important that we remain in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. That is not always an easy task given the Russian orthodox world view. I am encouraged that only last month the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London met representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church to discuss the theological education of students from the Russian Orthodox Church here in the UK. However this crisis plays out, and I pray as I am sure many of us do for a speedy and peaceful resolution, it is important that we do not sanction measures that put such dialogue at risk.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Russia Ukraine * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church
Residents in a remote village who have been left without a church should be the ones to benefit from a sale of the listed building, claims a local councillor.
After parishioners in Rookhope, County Durham, learned just over a week ago that their Sunday service at the 110-year-old St John The Evangelist C of E Church was to be the last, councillor and resident John Shuttleworth is demanding recompense.
The attractive stone-built church was actually paid for and constructed by villagers so he says it’s the community who should benefit from any sale. “I think it’s fair that the money from the sale should go back to the village,” said Coun Shuttleworth who aired his views in a letter to the Diocese of Durham.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary England / UK
For healthcare reform to mature unimpeded, the debates surrounding the Affordable Care Act require concentrated, nonpartisan attention. And for reform to succeed, we also need hospitals to flourish, especially in places with few options.
Every hospital has a story to tell. Lower Oconee Community Hospital will not keep the nation's attention for long, but its absence and that of other hospitals that close will certainly leave profound voids throughout their communities. Rather than ignore these continuing cracks in the foundation of our evolving healthcare system, there is much to be learned from these now-defunct facilities. We would do well to address the underlying problems behind the closures.
As any medical practitioner will tell you, it is wiser to treat the cause today than alleviate the symptoms tomorrow.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
South Carolina's military communities are bracing for an uncertain future after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday called for deep cuts to the Army in 2015.
While Fort Jackson in Columbia - where more than 45,000 recruits are trained annually - is the obvious target, Charleston's and other installations also may be in the cross hairs since Hagel also called for a new round of base-closure reviews in 2017.
Still, the decision on rekindling a Base Realignment and Closure Commission depends on Congress, which has delayed the assessments in recent years in the interest of protecting jobs at home.
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General City Government State Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Two months ago, an escaped mentally ill inmate was walking down the street, blocking traffic. I stopped, and the next thing I knew he started accusing me of killing his mother. Then he attacked me. Fortunately, I was able to subdue him, and we returned him to prison.
Mental illness is not a crime, and the vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous. People whose mental illness goes untreated, however, may become dangerous. Tragic headlines around the country too often provide evidence of that fact.
It is against this background that S.C. Circuit Judge Michael Baxley recently found that mentally ill inmates in S.C. prisons receive grossly inadequate treatment. His 45-page order sets forth in shocking detail the deficiencies in the Department of Corrections’ mental health system.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Prison/Prison Ministry Psychology Mental Illness * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
New York City is moving to close school for two Muslim holidays and the Lunar New Year — but Mayor de Blasio isn’t so sure about the Hindu festival Diwali.
Appearing on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, the mayor said he hadn’t taken a position on whether Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated in India and other South Asian countries, should be a day off from school.
But he said he’d move forward with closing schools for Lunar New Year and for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Muslim holy days.
“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.
Read it all.
A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.
“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.
Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary Africa Algeria * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
“This is not about the adult being able to smoke a joint,” said Mr. Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “It’s about widespread access, it’s about changing the landscape of a neighborhood, it’s about widespread promotion and advertising, and it’s about youth access.”
Supporters of legalization say that because voters statewide approved a system guaranteeing adults access to legal marijuana, they will push state regulators and lawmakers to meet that mandate, possibly by pushing for penalties against local governments that enact bans.
But Dave Ettl, a Yakima City Council member who voted for the ban, said he was willing to risk penalties, saying he considered the promised tax revenues from marijuana sales tainted.
“There’s some money that’s not worth getting,” he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
America, you may have a new Sodom and Gomorrah.
The two least “Bible-minded” cities in the United States are the adjacent metros of Providence, R.I., and New Bedford, Mass., according to a study out Wednesday from the American Bible Society.
The study defines “Bible-mindedness” as a combination of how often respondents read the Bible and how accurate they think the Bible is. “Respondents who report reading the bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as ‘Bible Minded,’” says the study’s methodology.
Read it all.
In 1973, Evelyn Wynn-Dixon was standing at the Pryor Street Bridge overlooking Atlanta’s I-75, preparing to jump. She had four babies, no husband, no job and no self-esteem. At the time, she never would have believed what her life would become decades later.
If she killed herself, she thought, her children “would be rich” from her insurance policy. “I saw a tractor-trailer comin’. I said, ‘I am not gonna be able to do that.’ So I went home and I had a .22. It had no bullets.”
She also tried over-dosing on aspirin and cutting her wrist, without success. After those suicide attempts, she says she heard her late mother’s voice telling her, “School is the answer.”
Read it all (also the video report is highly recommended).
...a new program initiated five years ago in Georgia suggests, these hurdles aren’t insurmountable. The nonprofit FaithBridge was started by Bill Hancock, a director of counseling programs who had lived on the streets as a teenager, and Rick Jackson, an Atlanta businessman who had spent time in the foster-care system.
Hancock wondered why churches weren’t more involved in finding solutions. He said he noticed that in Cobb County, Georgia, there were 1,100 churches and 300 children in foster care. He liked the odds. Plenty of people he knew had an extra bedroom and understood the needs of children. He began to break down the problem.
He would find out the number of children in a particular zip code in need of a foster home, go to a church in the area to present their stories without using their names, and see what happened. He announced at one church that there were 11 kids in his own zip code, representing four sibling groups. Four dozen people showed up at a meeting to volunteer. Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Children Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Charleston Police Department is seeking to set up a family violence squad to combat often hidden crimes that scar families, turn children into tomorrow's criminals and contribute to the state's dubious distinction as the nation's No. 1 place for women killed by men.
The 433-officer police department is applying for a nearly $150,000 federal grand to hire, train and equip a full-time investigator to handle criminal domestic dispute cases as the first step toward what Chief Greg Mullen envisions as establishing a special family violence squad.
Mullen said the plan is to focus exclusively on family violence so police can investigate better, prepare for more effective prosecutions, be more supportive of victims and possibly head off more violence.
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Texas has seen the future of the public library, and it looks a lot like an Apple Store: Rows of glossy iMacs beckon. iPads mounted on a tangerine-colored bar invite readers. And hundreds of other tablets stand ready for checkout to anyone with a borrowing card.
Even the librarians imitate Apple’s dress code, wearing matching shirts and that standard-bearer of geek-chic, the hoodie. But this $2.3 million library might be most notable for what it does not have – any actual books.
That makes Bexar County’s BibiloTech the nation’s only bookless public library, a distinction that has attracted scores of digital bookworms, plus emissaries from as far away as Hong Kong who want to learn about the idea and possibly take it home.
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The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.
After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.
This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.
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(Please note the headline above is from the Internet edition of the story, the print edition uses "Hundreds hungry, homeless in city" as its headline--KSH)>
"One hundred and fifty-six people slept here last night," said Amy Zeigler, vice president for development at the Crisis Ministries shelter on Meeting Street. "And the reality is that 156 people will be sleeping here tonight...."
In terms of providing meals to the hungry in Charleston, access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food still remains a factor. And the Lowcountry Food Bank reported that difficulties in food delivery could arise even further as the climate of federal cutbacks continues to be fought in Washington.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP and formerly known as the federal food stamp program, is part of the philosophical battleground.
Read it all from the front page of the local paper.
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A federal bankruptcy judge granted Detroit unprecedented powers Tuesday to shed billions of dollars in debt, including the ability to slash city employee pensions despite a state constitutional provision protecting them.
In approving the nation’s largest-ever municipal filing, Judge Steven Rhodes cleared the way for Detroit’s emergency manager to develop a plan to reorganize the city’s estimated $18 billion in debt. Beyond cutting worker pensions and retiree health benefits, the city could stiff bondholders and sell city assets such as its water and sewer authority and its priceless art collection.
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Today, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to ban the manufacturing of guns by 3-D printers, making Philly the first city to do so. Which is interesting, because the author of the bill, Kenyatta Johnson, isn’t aware of of any local gun-printing 3-D printers. ”It’s all pre-emptive,” says Johnson’s director of legislation Steve Cobb. “It’s just based upon internet stuff out there.”
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Imagine you are an entrepreneur in Greece, a town of 96,000 in upstate New York, wanting to open a restaurant inside a billiard parlour. Before you pitch the idea at a public hearing, hoping to win a special-use permit, a Catholic priest delivers a prayer, a tradition in Greece since 1999. Suppose you’re not a believer. Do you bow your head with everyone else? Glare? Walk out?
In Town of Greece v Galloway, the Supreme Court is considering whether Greece’s brand of public prayer violates the constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion. It is 30 years since, in Marsh v Chambers, the court upheld the Nebraska legislature’s right to a chaplaincy. If religious invocations in legislative bodies were acceptable to the men who drafted the first amendment, the court reasoned in Marsh, they are all right now.
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“This case is about Christians aggressively imposing themselves upon their fellow citizens with the power of government,” says plaintiff lawyer Douglas Laycock. But defense attorney Tom Hungar warned that the case could lead to “government regulating the theological content of prayers, prescribing what is orthodox and what is not in religion.”
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The local option sales tax proposal was defeated again Tuesday in Dorchester County, ending a bruising campaign marked by short tempers and personal attacks.
More than 65 percent of voters cast ballots against the proposal, according to unofficial election results.
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A group of experts in medicine, law and ethics has issued a blistering report that accuses the United States government of directing doctors, nurses and psychologists, among others, to ignore their professional codes of ethics and participate in the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The report was published Monday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, an ethics group based at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Open Society Foundations, a pro-democracy network founded by the billionaire George Soros.
The authors were part of a 19-member task force that based its findings on a two-year review of public information. The sources included documents released by the government, news reports, and books and articles from professional journals.
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. While prayers before legislative sessions do not necessarily violate the Constitution, the court said, the “overwhelming predominance” of the prayers was explicitly Christian, leading a reasonable observer to understand the town to be endorsing that religion over others, regardless of the town’s intent. (After the suit was filed, the board invited representatives of other religions, including Judaism, the Baha’i faith and Wicca, to deliver the prayer, but after four months the prayers were almost exclusively Christian again.)
Defenders of the board’s practice rely on a 1983 Supreme Court case that upheld prayers before legislative sessions — including those of Congress — because they are “deeply embedded” in American history. The prayers in Greece are constitutional, the defenders say, because they may be delivered by anyone, and the town does not compel citizens to pray.
But compulsion is not the only issue. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a 1984 case, when a government appears to endorse one religion, it “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” After the Greece lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs received a letter, signed “666,” that read, “If you feel ‘unwanted’ at the Town of Greece meetings, it’s probably because you are.”
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Anne Stoehr, a one-time resident of Detroit who now lives in nearby Grosse Pointe Woods, is tired of the doom and gloom she keeps reading about Detroit. “Keep telling people that it’s hopeless, they’re going to believe it,” she says. “It’s not true; not if we just pull together.”
Indeed, not all the news from Detroit is bleak. Local corporations have joined in an $8 million campaign to provide 23 new emergency medical service vehicles and up to 100 new police cars to replace the city’s aging and poorly maintained municipal fleet. Quicken Loans brought its headquarters and 7,000 jobs to downtown Detroit in 2010, inspiring a rush of tech start-ups to join in. Cafes and restaurants are opening. New jobs are being created by entrepreneurs attracted to the city by its low overhead.
Mrs. Stoehr is volunteering along with some friends on a Tuesday morning at On the Rise, a bakery sponsored by the Capuchins. The business provides its east side community with wholesome fare that would otherwise be completely lacking and offers its employees, one-time inmates of Michigan’s jails and prisons, steady work and new, marketable skills.
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If Dorchester County passes a local-option sales tax next week, the people most apt to be hurt are renters. The reason: Property owners who rent to them don’t always use their tax savings to cut rental rates, officials say.
But based on what has happened in Berkeley and Charleston counties where they have approved the tax, paying an extra one-percent sales tax doesn’t sting for many owners when compared with the benefits of the property tax credit they get.
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[Many voters]... are angry that their County Council has scheduled its fourth attempt to pass LOST in a special election on Nov. 5, 2013, when they know that low voter turnout and $33,000+ special costs are assured, rather than in a regularly scheduled, no extra cost election in, say, Nov. 2014. They also are angry about Council’s misinformation (until corrected by citizens) that LOST would not tax groceries (it does) and its annual costs would be much lower than they are; some Councilmen’s expressing disdain for opposition to LOST, denouncing citizen statements as false but refusing to give corrections, refusing to provide evidence of Councilmen’s claims, and not understanding the consequences of LOST; and one Councilman at a public meeting uncivilly tossing away two anti-LOST flyers on a nearby table, yelling they were all “lies” and wagging his finger at a LOST opponent as he derisively challenged that opponent to a debate at which the Councilman declared he would “shred” the opponent.
Citizens are angry to realize that, while LOST would give property tax relief to some, large numbers of citizens essentially would not benefit at all; most would pay more sales tax than they would save in property tax; most benefits would go to a wealthy few who need them the least; the costs of getting LOST tax benefits would be exorbitant; and the LOST tax would grow government by increasing government spending.
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It would be nice if more Christians understood that our faith always has local implications, including our life in public, which is in the polis, and therefore our faith has local political ramifications. The are derivative, yes, they are always penultimate, but they do matter.
This whole campaign makes me sad. It is a pitch to lessen property taxes by raising sales taxes. Allegedly.
It is immoral in all sorts of ways but here are two principle reasons why I will vote no. First, it is a regressive tax. Those least able to will have to pay more tax (and yes it goes on groceries!). And secondly, the other argument I hear all over is all the other counties are doing it so we should to, otherwise we will lose business etc. to nearby counties which already have the (dumb, immoral) tax. This is right out if 1 Samuel where Israel asks for a King since all the other nations have one.
Now this may cause property taxes to be slightly higher, and since we own our home, that will involve us. I don't know anyone who likes higher taxes, but if this is the implication of my vote this coming November, so be it.
County Leaders should be ashamed of themselves (especially since this is the fourth time they have tried this)--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance Taxes Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Larry Hargett might be right: Dorchester County residents might not know enough about a local option sales tax yet to vote on it.
If the county councilman is, that's not good news for leaders pushing the Nov. 5 referendum.
Earlier this year, County Council unanimously approved a referendum for the local election Nov. 5. Now they are visibly frustrated by the sometimes hostile opposition.
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Herewith the question as it will read on the ballot November 5.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance Taxes Politics in General City Government * South Carolina
A push to forge community partnerships and attack lawlessness at its roots helped Charleston buck a national trend and post substantial declines in violent crime and property offenses last year, according to FBI statistics released Monday.
Charleston saw a 26 percent drop in violent crime in 2012, despite having one more killing than in the previous year. Driving the decline were noticeably fewer rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults than in 2011, the FBI numbers show.
The total number of property crimes such as burglaries and car thefts in the city also dropped, by 10 percent, during the same time period.
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Down the block, we spotted my friend Pastor Steve, the proprietor of a storefront church on an otherwise entirely abandoned block. Driving by, I’d noticed the motley assortment of characters hanging out front and an unruly garden taking up much of the vacant corner lot next door, and eventually I stopped by and introduced myself. It turned out that most of the folks out front were struggling addicts and prostitutes and criminals from the neighbourhood.
Pastor Steve had gone through his own period of felonious hard living – heroin, pills, booze, glue-sniffing, bank-robbing, you name it – before being saved and then called to the ministry. A rangy white guy in his early sixties, Pastor Steve had an obvious love for a certain era of countercultural accoutrement which had somehow managed to survive this spiritual journey intact. He had a bushy handlebar moustache and flowing grey hair, the curly ends of which spilled to his chest, and favoured cowboy boots, earrings with topaz beads, and the sorts of silver rings you might buy at a Native American souvenir stand. On his motorcycle, a parishioner had painted a picture of Chief Joseph, “who was one of the main, awesome Indians”, in Pastor Steve’s words. He continued, “After we’d been here a while, I got stories coming back to me that people in the neighbourhood thought we were a motorcycle gang. They saw me, saw the Harley, and they thought the building was filled with weapons and we were here to take over.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Right now the remains of about 100 people are lined up neatly in small white boxes, waiting for their turn to be buried. Finegan says it's basic, but it helps to keep costs down, allowing his funeral home and the county to afford the things they think are far more important, like the grave site and the memorial service. This is something Pamela Hirst, who couldn't pay for a friend's burial, says she doesn't take for granted.
"It is a great burden when you can't properly do what you want to do in your heart for someone that you've loved so much," she says.
For Hirst, that someone was Joe Speer. He was a poet who lived his life performing and traveling the country in a green Volkswagen van. Hirst still has trouble talking about Speer. Two years ago, he died from pancreatic cancer. And for a while, Hirst says she carried around a lot of guilt because she couldn't afford to give him a proper burial.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government
In the worldwide battle to get dog owners to clean up after their pets, enter Brunete, a middle-class suburb of Madrid fed up with dirty parks and sidewalks.
ome cities hand out steep fines. But in these tough economic times, the mayor here, Borja Gutiérrez, did not much like that idea. Instead, this town engaged a small army of volunteers to bag it, box it and send it back to its owners.
“It’s your dog, it’s your dog poop,” Mr. Gutiérrez said. “We are just returning it to you.”
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When Greece ran into financial trouble three years ago, the problem soon spread. Many observers were mystified. How could such a little country set off a continental crisis? The Greeks were stereotyped as a nation of tax-dodgers who had been living high on borrowed money for years. The Portuguese, Italians and Spanish insisted that their finances were fundamentally sound. The Germans wondered what it had to do with them at all. But the contagion was powerful, and Europe’s economy has yet to recover.
America seems in a similar state of denial about Detroit filing for bankruptcy.... Many people think Motown is such an exceptional case that it holds few lessons for other places. What was once the country’s fourth-most-populous city grew rich thanks largely to a single industry. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler once made nearly all the cars sold in America; now, thanks to competition from foreign brands built in non-union states, they sell less than half. Detroit’s population has fallen by 60% since 1950. The murder rate is 11 times the national average. The previous mayor is in prison. Shrubs, weeds and raccoons have reclaimed empty neighbourhoods. The debts racked up when Detroit was big and rich are unpayable now that it is smaller and poor.
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In the thirty or so years that I have been following EU affairs – or is it nearer 35 years now since I studied in French literature in Paris, and German philosophy in Mainz – I have never seen ties between Europe’s two great land states reduced so low.
The French Socialist Party crossed a line by lashing out at Chancellor Angela Merkel in person. It is one thing to protest “German austerity”, it is quite another to rebuke the “selfish intransigence of Mrs Merkel, who thinks of nothing but the deposits of German savers, the trade balance recorded by Berlin and her electoral future”.
There is no justification for such an ad hominem attack. German policy is indeed destructive, but that is structural. It is built into the mechanisms of EMU and the anthropological make-up of the enterprise.
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After four years of increasing tensions between some Christian missionaries and local Muslims, the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn is being moved from a street that has open access to a public park that could restrict admission to paid attendees.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said Friday that the city plans to shift the festival — the biggest annual outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. — from Warren Avenue to Ford Woods Park, near the corner of Ford and Greenfield roads. One of the reasons for the move is liability concerns; the city has been hit with lawsuits from some Christian missionaries alleging their free speech rights were curtailed at the festival.
“Considering everything we’ve been through and what happened in the past,” said O’Reilly, the city wanted a place “where you can have a controlled site.”
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The security planning for last week's Boston Marathon, where two bombs went off killing three people and wounding 264, included preparation for such an emergency, a top Massachusetts public safety official said on Wednesday.
"We spend months planning for the marathon. We did a tabletop exercise the week before that included a bombing scenario in it," Kurt Schwartz, the state's undersecretary for homeland security, told a panel at Harvard University.
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Whatever struck you, provoked you, moved you; whatever part of it which you believe is most significant or worthy of further consideration. Remember the more specific you are, the more other blog reads can participate in what you say--KSH.
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In the waning moments of daylight, police descended Friday on a shrouded boat in a Watertown backyard to capture the suspected terrorist who had eluded their enormous dragnet for a tumultuous day, ending a dark week in Boston that began with the bombing of the world’s most prestigious road race.
The arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Cambridge ended an unprecedented daylong siege of Greater Boston, after a frantic night of violence that left one MIT police officer dead, an MBTA Transit Police officer wounded, and an embattled public — rattled again by the touch of terrorism — huddled inside homes....
“It’s a proud day to be a Boston police officer,” Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis told his force over the radio moments after the arrest. “Thank you all.”
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The desperate 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon terror bombings ran over his own wounded brother as he fled police, officials said. Considered armed and dangerous and possibly wearing a suicide vest, he remains on the loose, sought by legions of heavily armed police as nearly a million residents of Boston hunker down behind locked doors, in an unprecedented security measure.
The search for Dzhokhor A. Tsarnaev of Cambridge comes after a chaotic, violent night in which his brother died in a firefight with police, and one police officer was killed and another was seriously wounded.
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The search for one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects -- the man seen wearing a white baseball cap -- this morning led to the sudden shutdown of the MBTA’s entire network of commuter rail, bus, and subway services.
State authorities also asked people who live in Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Belmont, Cambridge, and Allston-Brighton to stay home and for businesses in those cities and towns to stay closed.
“We are asking you to stay indoors, to stay in your homes for the time being,’’ Kurt Schwartz, who leads the state’s homeland security department, said at a 6 a.m. press conference today. “We are asking business in those areas to cooperate and not open today until we can provide further guidance.’’
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On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Planning Commission will consider the general development plan for Christ Church Anglican’s proposed new sanctuary and parish house with meeting and education facilities at the northeast corner of Drayton and 37th streets.
It’s a proposal that raises many interesting questions about the role of large-scale institutional development in a mixed-use area where narrower lots are common.
Of course, the Thomas Square neighborhood is already home to a significant number of large churches and institutions, as Christ Church Anglican’s proposal details. Similarly sized structures nearby include the Bull Street Library, New Covenant Church, the Christian Revival Center, Sisters Court Apartments and SCAD’s Wallin and Arnold halls.
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On top of the possible employment losses, what messages are we sending when the government penalizes marriage at any level? One message is clear. The decision by Congress to impose a marriage penalty only discourages couples from getting married and subsidizes cohabiting households. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute studies the social science data and research on the impacts of marriage and religious practice on the lives of children and the future of the nation. Statistics show that homes headed by married couples are less likely to need government assistance. Analyzing the data, they have found that children in homes headed by married couples are more likely to be higher-achieving students and better citizens, and are less likely to become dependent on the failing government subsidy system.
Add in the higher taxes (an average of $2,425 per employee) from the 2 percent tax increase in everyone’s paychecks to pay for Social Security and the myriad tax increases all families will pay thanks to the malady known as Obamacare, and it is likely that families will end this year with their own personal fiscal cliffs. If Congress is serious about tax reform, easing the burdens on all families should be at the center of any transformation.
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More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they've taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years — leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.
In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.
Charles Ramsey, president of the school board, says he needed that $2.5 million upfront, but the district didn't have it.
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Another day of loud booms and deadly weaponry plummeting from the sky wracked Israel and Gaza on Sunday, with fresh casualties reported on both sides of a conflict that international leaders scrambled to end.
Rescuers pulled the bloodied bodies of children from the wreckage of a Gaza home Sunday after an Israeli airstrike, which Israel said targeted a top Hamas militant. The Israelis initially said the operative was killed, but they later said he may have survived.
And about 120 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces reported. At least 38 were intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" missile-defense system, the IDF said -- but one struck a car in the Israeli town of Ofakim, injuring an unspecified number of people, while another hit a woman's carport while she was inside her house in Ashkelon. Fresh sirens sounded Sunday in Tel Aviv, but the IDF said it had intercepted at least two rockets headed for the city.
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Heavenly Father we ask that you will have mercy on America today and bless us in spite of ourselves. We ask that you will give wisdom to all who go to the polls to cast their votes. Help us as we make difficult decisions on a variety of issues and as we seek to elect men and women who will hunger for righteousness and seek the common good to positions of authority in our towns and cities, in our states and in our nation. We pray against any voter fraud or any corruption of proper voter access and ask that justice be done in each and every election, whatever the locale. We also pray for peace and grace with one another as the results are received and digested, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in glory everlasting, Amen--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Politics in General City Government House of Representatives Office of the President Senate State Government US Presidential Election 2012 * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On the third day after Hurricane Sandy soaked Hoboken in several feet of water, leaving the city one of the most crippled in the region, those with the least found themselves suspended in the storm’s cold, dark aftermath. Late this week, Hoboken started to hum with generators and a taco truck.
The projects where [Grace] Rodriguez and her daughter, Jayleen Avalos, lived were still at the bottom of the world. The 25 or so buildings operated by the Hoboken Housing Authority were clustered together on 17 acres at the city’s southern edge. They were hemmed in by gentrification on one side — $600,000 lofts with same-day shirt service dry cleaners — and a steel fence in the back. Two feet of floodwater created a moat around the buildings. The National Guard brought water and MREs. The Red Cross brought bologna-and-cheese sandwiches.
But the one commodity residents were starved for was information, and the absence of it deepened their sense of isolation. The city government used social media to update citizens. Grace Rodriguez would have appreciated a bullhorn.
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I come this morning very grateful for the chance to promote an initiative I consider crucial and promising for this city and state I am now proud to call my earthly home;
I come with deep admiration for the prophetic leadership of Chief Judge Lippman, encouraged by other esteemed jurists like Judge Gail Prudenti and Mr. Thomas More; as well as our own Catholic Lawyers Guild.
I come, hardly as a legal expert or politician…but only as a pastor, to heartily support an endeavor that I’m convinced will bring justice to people who, simply put, have nowhere else to go but to the courts, which enflesh the assurance of this great country that there is, indeed, “equal protection under the law.”
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(Please note that you can find a map of all New Jersey counties here. You may know that I grew up in Lawrenceville, which is in Mercer County--KSH).
Just 30 minutes outside Philadelphia, amid the rolling farmland that produces some of the nation's largest peach and bell pepper crops, more Gloucester County parents are seeking help to feed their children, while others live in tents in the wooded areas near major shopping centers.
From 2010 to 2011, the rate of child poverty in Gloucester County more than doubled, a shocking statistic in a county where the median income is more than $72,000, according to census data. In 2011, 7,395 children in Gloucester County were living in families earning about $22,000 a year or less, up from 4,687 children in 2010, according to census figures.
"Gloucester County is a distinctly middle-class place," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D., Gloucester). "When you see those kind of numbers, it's a reflection of what's happening with the national economy."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Dieting/Food/Nutrition Marriage & Family Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government
The York Fairness Commission will present its Final Report to the leaders of City of York Council on Thursday 27th September at an event at Bishopthorpe Palace.
The presentation of the report will be the culmination of months of work to see how inequality and unfairness can be tackled across York, in the face of a difficult economic situation nationally.
Whilst research shows two fifths of York residents are relatively well off, living in the best 20% of places in the country, around 13,000 residents in the City live in the most deprived 20% of the country. In addition , City of York Council must make £19.7m worth of savings over the next two years due to cuts imposed by central government.
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Entrepreneurs say their technology could smooth revolutionary reforms of medical care in the US, which spends $2.6tn a year on health, or 17 per cent of gross domestic product. As policy changes roll out over the next few years, insurance companies will be forced to limit their profits, and hospitals will face penalties if patients return to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. Doctors will no longer be paid for how many X-rays they take or laboratory tests they run but for how well their patients are doing.
However, while the entrepreneurs exude optimism about their ability to streamline the healthcare system, the sprawling industry proved resistant of reforms in the 1990s. It was difficult to translate the vision of a few bright technology experts to the massive healthcare administration sector.
Fears about the proposed technology revolution resonate in several other countries that have hit roadblocks when turning to technology to address healthcare problems. Doctors and other medical professionals around the world have historically been slow to adopt new technology, wary of the costs and the time needed to learn and adjust to new administrative procedures.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government State Government
A new documentary, “Sanford: the Untold Story,” highlighting the racial reconciliation journey being experienced in Sanford, Fla., following the tragic death of Trayvon Martin in February, is being released on iTunes, YouTube, and aired nationwide around Labor Day weekend.
In this 30-minute film, CHARISMA founder and program host Steve Strang reveals how local pastors – including black, Hispanic and Caucasian--have taken the lead to confront the racial divide that spans generations in their city by regularly meeting, sharing and prayingtogether.
"I was genuinely moved to see how these pastors have passionately stood together and are now reaching out to help hurting people," Strang said. "Their story will inspire audiences across the country to initiate a similar approach in their communities--because racism isn't limited to Sanford, Fla."
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The ban is proposed by Councilman George O'Kelley Jr. and would prohibit cellphone use by drivers younger than 18 and texting by all drivers. Drivers who break the law would be cited and face fees starting at $50 and increasing to $150 for repeated violations, according to the ordinance.
"If we save a life, I don't care if they are convicted or not in court," O'Kelley said. "If we stop it, we can save an innocent person's life. And if word gets around that if you do this in the city you get in trouble -- that's a deterrent in itself."
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Access to fast Internet is spreading in the U.S., but about 19 million Americans can't get it, according to a new government report out Tuesday....
The lack of access continues to hamper rural Americans in particular. About 14.5 million rural Americans — or 23.7% of 61 million people living in rural areas — had no fast Internet service offered for their homes. In contrast, only 1.8% Americans living in non-rural areas — 4.5 million out of 254.9 million — had no broadband access. The FCC categorizes an Internet service as "broadband" if it transmits at a speed of at least 4 megabits per second.
The report's ranking of states again underscored the correlation between broadband access and economic productivity. Economically struggling states fared worse than more thriving areas of the country. West Virginia had the least amount of access, with 45.9% of the state without broadband access. Montana (26.7%), South Dakota (21.1%) and Alaska (19.6%) followed.
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Nearly half a million people in the UK have a problem with gambling. This is about the same number as are addicted to Class A drugs, and the problem is growing at an alarming rate. Since the Gambling Act 2005 was fully implemented, the number of people classed as problem gamblers has risen by about 50 per cent.
There is no single factor that has prompted this rise. The Act changed so many things: it brought advertising for gambling into our living rooms, and opened the doors of casinos to non-members - quite apart from attempting to address the increasing availability of online gambling. But there is one culprit that appears to have contributed significantly to the problem: the gambling machines that have been set up in betting shops across the country; because of their profitability, they have led bookmakers to open more branches.....
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No one expected Campaign 2012 to be positive or uplifting. The country’s problems are too severe and the battle lines between Republicans and Democrats have been hardened by almost four years of conflict between the White House and Congress.
But what is most striking about the campaign at this point is not just the negativity or the sheer volume of attack ads raining down on voters in the swing states. It is the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back. The other guy does it, so we’re going to do it too.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his vice presidential running mate seemed like an opportunity for the both sides to pause and reset after one of the ugliest weeks of the year. Instead, this week has produced the harshest rhetoric and the angriest accusations of the campaign.
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Fiscal woes that have caused high-profile bankruptcies in California are surfacing across the country as municipalities struggle with uneven growth and escalating health and pension costs following the worst recession since the 1930s.
Budget crunches already have prompted Michigan lawmakers to authorize emergency fiscal managers, and led the mayor of Scranton, Pa., to temporarily cut the pay of all city workers to the minimum wage.
In a majority of the nation's 19,000 municipalities—urban and rural, big and small—stagnant property tax revenues, less aid from states and rising costs are forcing less dramatic but still difficult steps.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Pensions Taxes The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government
San Bernardino, California, filed for municipal bankruptcy after disclosing a $46 million shortfall in the city’s budget, the third California city to seek court protection from creditors since June 28.
California cities from the Mexican border to San Francisco Bay are confronting rising pension costs as they contend with growing unemployment and declining property- and sales-tax revenue. The costs stem from decisions made when stock markets were soaring and retirement funds were running surpluses.
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The problems began shortly after Tajul Muluk, a Shiite cleric, opened a boarding school in 2004. The school, in a predominantly Sunni Muslim part of East Java, raised local tensions, and in 2006 it was attacked by thousands of villagers. When a mob set fire to the school and several homes last December, many Shiites saw it as just the latest episode in a simmering sectarian conflict — one that they say has been ignored by the police and exploited by Islamists purporting to preserve the purity of the Muslim faith.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has long been considered a place where different religious and ethnic groups can live in harmony and where Islam can work with democracy.
But that perception has been repeatedly brought into question lately. In East Java, Sunni leaders are pushing the provincial government to adopt a regulation limiting the spread of Shiite Islam. It would prevent the country’s two major Shiite organizations from organizing prayer gatherings and sermons.
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Facing the same financial stressors that pushed San Bernardino toward bankruptcy, cities across California are slashing day-to-day services and taking other drastic actions to skirt a similar fiscal collapse.
For some, it may not be enough.
San Bernardino on Tuesday became the third California city to seek bankruptcy protection in the last month and, while no one expects the state to be consumed by municipal insolvencies, other cities teeter on the abyss.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Taxes The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government
Stockton, California--This Gold Rush-era port city, an epicenter of California's agricultural exports, will become the nation's largest city to seek protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code after its City Council on Tuesday stopped bond payments, slashed employee health and retirement benefits and adopted a day-to-day survival budget.
City Manager Bob Deis likened the process to cutting off an arm to save the body. He is expected to file bankruptcy papers immediately.....
Stockton..[had] been in negotiations with its creditors since late March under AB 506, a new California law requiring mediation before a municipality can file for reorganization of debt. It was the first use of the law, and policy analysts who watched its torturous and tedious progress have titled their report on it "Death by a Thousand Meetings." Mediations ended Monday at midnight.
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The new rules could hit pension plans in states like Illinois and New Jersey particularly hard, and even raise borrowing costs for certain municipalities, analysts say. "This could be the event that incites a bigger policy response than what we've seen so far," says Matt Fabian, managing director at Municipal Market Advisors, a research firm.
The exact impact of the new rules by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board isn't clear. According to researchers at Boston College, pension liabilities at 126 state and municipal pension plans would jump by roughly $600 billion, or about 18%. The estimate is based on 2010 financial data and doesn't reflect the stock market's recent rebound or moves by many U.S. states to rein in pension costs.
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Joining a move toward nonsectarian prayer, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has asked its chaplains to stop including Jesus in their invocations at official department ceremonies.
The change, which applies to such events as police graduations, promotions and memorials, took place about a month ago, said Maj. John Diggs, who heads the department’s volunteer chaplain program. The goal: greater sensitivity to all religions practiced by the more than 2,000 police employees.
“This is not in any way an effort to demean anybody’s Christian beliefs,” Diggs said. “It’s to show respect for all the religious practices in our organization. CMPD is not anybody’s church.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government
State and local governments are keeping the tightest lid on spending in three decades, even though tax revenue is rising again and powerful interest groups are asking for more money.
he tight budget controls represent a sharp reversal from several years ago when states struggled to control spending, despite a drop in tax collections, and got a $250 billion bailout from the federal government. Today, both Republicans and Democrats are rejecting spending requests even from traditional allies -- police, businesses, teachers, doctors and others -- and keeping budgets balanced as federal aid recedes.
"We're seeing some incredibly significant examples of groups not getting what they want," says Scott Pattison, head of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "There doesn't appear to be that much pushback. Maybe there's an acceptance that cuts have to occur."
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Most of the renovated library will look the same as it does today. Its special collections and manuscripts will remain in place, and readers will be able to consult them in the same quiet setting of oak panels and baronial tables. The great entrance hall, grand staircases, and marble corridors will continue to convey the atmosphere of a Beaux-Arts palace of the people. But the new branch library on the lower floors overlooking Bryant Park will have a completely different feel. Designed by the British architect Norman Foster, who will coordinate the renovation, it will suit the needs of a variety of patrons, who will enter the building from a separate ground-level entrance and may remain only long enough to consult magazines or check out current books, videos, and works in other formats. But it will also be used by scholars and writers who want to take home selected books that formerly could only be read in the building.
Will the mixture of readers who take home books and researchers who work inside the library, of premodern and postmodern architecture, of old and new functions, desecrate a building that embodies the finest strain in New York’s civic spirit? Some of the library’s friends fear the worst. A letter of protest against the plan has been signed by several hundred distinguished academics and authors, including Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize–winning novelist, and Lorin Stein, the editor of The Paris Review. A petition of less-well-known but equally committed lovers of the library warns that the remodeling “will be ruining a functional element of its architecture—and its soul.” Blogs and Op-Ed pages have been sizzling with indignation.
The shrill tone of the rhetoric—“a glorified Starbucks,” “a vast Internet café,” “cultural vandalism”—suggests an emotional response that goes beyond disagreement over policy.
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The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral received approval Friday to demolish two historic buildings in the 3700 block of Chestnut Street, clearing the way for construction of a 25-story apartment tower.
At a lengthy hearing of the city Historical Commission, the cathedral and its private development partner agreed to conditions imposed by the commission that seek to insure that a portion of development profits flow into repair and renovation of the historic cathedral's bell tower.
"We are committed to preserving the church itself," the Rev. Judith Sullivan, cathedral dean, told the commission. "We are all about preservation."
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A growing number of cities across the United States are making it harder for the homeless.
Philadelphia recently banned outdoor feeding of people in city parks. Denver has begun enforcing a ban on eating and sleeping on property without permission. And this month, lawmakers in Ashland, Ore., will consider strengthening the town's ban on camping and making noise in public.
And the list goes on: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Diego and more than 50 other cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
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Every generation has an incentive to borrow money from the future to spend on itself. But, until ours, no generation of Americans has done it to the same extent. Why?
A huge reason is that earlier generations were insecure. They lived without modern medicine, without modern technology and without modern welfare states. They lived one illness, one drought and one recession away from catastrophe. They developed a moral abhorrence about things like excessive debt, which would further magnify their vulnerability.
Recently, life has become better and more secure. But the aversion to debt has diminished amid the progress. Credit card companies seduced people into borrowing more. Politicians found that they could buy votes with borrowed money. People became more comfortable with red ink....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance Pensions Taxes The U.S. Government The National Deficit Politics in General City Government State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Should the Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia be allowed to destroy two historically recognized buildings it owns, and build a 25-story apartment, office, and retail complex in their place, in order to finance cathedral repairs and expand its ministry?
That is the question coming Friday before the Philadelphia Historical Commission, which deadlocked on the issue May 11 when it first arose. The four representatives of the Nutter administration voted in favor of demolition of the properties on the 3700 block of Chestnut Street, while all four independent members opposed the plan.
In an unusual step, Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development, endorsed the demolition and development in a letter passed out to commissioners just before the hearing.
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Take a look.
The city of Chicago is near insolvency. City workers are bracing for pay and benefit cuts. And Rich Daley, the former mayor who had his behind kissed by the powerful in this town and by much of the media for two decades, has an inside deal that should make sane people sick to their stomachs:
An eventual pension of more than $180,000 for life, according to a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.
Daley did it on the sneak, our reporters found....
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...it is tempting for progressives to dismiss complaints about redistribution of wealth as ignorant or hypocritical, as in many cases they probably are. Yet all naïveté about public budgets aside, a strong presumption in favor of being able to keep the money you earn is a valuable and powerful thing. Progressives who embrace the concept of wealth redistribution on egalitarian grounds, or who join the refrain of “tax the rich” as the main solution to our fiscal and economic problems, tend to miss the many ways in which economic unfairness can remain untouched or even affirmed by redistributive policies....
It’s important to focus rhetoric and activism on making the rich “pay their fair share”—especially during this austerity season, in which the practical alternative is watching services for the poor dramatically cut....
This can’t, however, be the final analysis of redistributive policies. Throughout the Old Testament, inequality itself is hardly the only issue. There is also the question of fair access to the means of making a living—which, in the Old Testament world, means fair access to land ownership.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Spain's sickly economy faces a "crisis of huge proportions", a minister said on Friday, as unemployment hit its highest level in two decades and Standard and Poor's weighed in with a two-notch downgrade of the government's debt.
Spain's unemployment rate shot up to 24 percent in the first quarter, the highest level since the early 1990s and one of the worst jobless figures in the world. Retail sales slumped for the twenty-first consecutive month.
"The figures are terrible for everyone and terrible for the government ... Spain is in a crisis of huge proportions," Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in a radio interview.
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With economic growth still anaemic and tax revenue down, governments are hoping that they can find additional funds by allowing more gambling.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to change the state Constitution in order to legalize commercial casinos.
In Michigan two separate casino development campaigns are under way to persuade voters, who have to approve new casinos, to allow a total of 15 new casinos across the state....
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Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement has the authority to charge the man who killed him.
The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country, many of them passed within the last few years. In Florida, it was pushed heavily by the National Rifle Association but opposed vigorously by law enforcement.
It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. In Florida, if people feel they are in imminent danger from being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.
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"What concerns us is the message that it sends," said Atheist of Florida member Rob Curry. "A very chilling message that, if you're not a Christian, if you don't believe as we do, then you're not welcome."
Curry's referring to a road-anointing performed on CR 98 last year as part of the "Polk Under Prayer" campaign, where Christians poured olive oil on the asphalt and prayed over it, calling for a revival in the area.
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It is crisis time in Trenton, where the city is literally running out of toilet paper.
"It's about one of the last boxes of toilet paper we have for the city buildings," said maintenance supervisor Paul Heater, pointing to a large box.
Supplies have dwindled down to almost nothing because City Council has failed to approve the mayor's $42,000 order for paper products.
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