Posted by Kendall Harmon

A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.

A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The man who built Chobani yogurt into a multi-billion dollar brand is giving thousands of employees the financial surprise of a lifetime.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection...

Financial impotence goes by other names: financial fragility, financial insecurity, financial distress. But whatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the ’90s we millennials heard stories about a time when kids performed plays at home and families gathered around their pianos, but we consumed our entertainment from TVs that kept growing in size and programming.

In following our individual channels, choices, and pursuits, we became more isolated. We became anxious, de­pressed, and exhausted and began to wonder if bigger was really better. Now something new is happening. Farmer’s markets are springing up. People are turning off their televisions and creating their own stories on social media through status updates, blogs, and vlogs. People upcycle, knit, and quilt.

Those who grew up with big-box stores and mega­churches are longing for small, deep, and creative communities. These worshipers reject a worship service where paid professionals entertain those attending and instead are committed to making liturgy, art, music, and relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like that checkout assistant, many of us remain unconvinced by Chancellor George Osborne packaging up what is essentially an increase on the National Minimum Wage for over 25s and rebranding it the “National Living Wage”. Of course it is to be welcomed that Mr Osborne is increasing wages at the bottom level for over 25s. But let’s call it what it is: a new legal minimum wage for over 25s. It is not a living wage in any real sense; it is not paying workers what they deserve and it is not paying workers what they need in order to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK.

The real Living Wage is set according to what experts and the public believe is needed to achieve an above-poverty standard of living. Not earning this can mean having to rely on a food bank even if you are in work. Let’s think about that for a second. Working people should not have to rely on food banks to feed their families.

The new minimum wage also risks setting young against old. There are two million under 25’s who will not benefit from the increased minimum wage. The realLiving Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) makes no distinction for how old someone has to be to expect to be paid fairly for a day’s work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Denver’s business community took notice of [Karla] Nugent because of her philanthropy. As leader of sales, marketing, and human resources, she’s created a culture of generosity at Weifield. The company donates to more than 30 nonprofits in the city, including organizations that support women, veterans, at-risk youth, and the urban poor. Employees join in the generosity as well, taking bike rides to raise money for MS and building houses for Habitat for Humanity on company time.

In 2014, Nugent won the Denver Business Journal’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award as well as the award for Outstanding Woman in Business for architects, engineers, and construction.

But light began to flood into Weifield when, several years ago, Nugent decided to bring the community’s needs into the company. After seeing growing income inequality in Denver, she created the Weifield Group apprenticeship program.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anticipate staffing needs and factor them into any policy or accommodation discussion in order to identify limits and possible areas of flexibility. The Cargill facility had specific staffing requirements on the assembly line. Other types of business can anticipate staffing and productivity issues, for example, during tax season, earnings reporting, or the holiday retail rush.

Conflict avoidance and ethics aren’t the only reason to work toward solutions to religious accommodations. A recent study shows that workers who feel religiously comfortable in the workplace have higher job satisfaction. And, as Noelle Nelson demonstrates in her book Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, higher job satisfaction among employees leads to greater profitability for the employer.

As Cargill and other employers are discovering, faith is a part of the whole person that employers ignore at their peril.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The groundswell of residents who opposed opening the Lowcountry’s offshore waters to drilling for oil and natural gas had help from an unlikely white knight: the Navy.

Federal regulators Tuesday removed the Southeast coast from a proposed final ruling on leasing new areas for the work.

The ruling did open more of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. It now goes to a 90-day public comment period and must be approved by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The decision does not end the leasing process for seismic testing and exploratory drilling, but profit for that work is in fees paid by oil industry companies for the results, and the lease applications are widely expected to be dropped.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Commons has defeated the Government’s attempt to relax Sunday trading restrictions. On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 317 to 286 to maintain the current rules.

Twenty-seven Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote against a proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours.

They were joined by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), who announced their opposition to the changes on Tuesday, after press reports had earlier suggested they would abstain or vote in favour. Although there are no Sunday trading restrictions in Scotland, and the Government’s plans affect only England and Wales, the SNP argued that allowing seven-day shopping across the UK would lower the premium pay-rates that Scottish workers currently receive for working on Sundays.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been dropped after they were rejected by MPs.

The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebelled.

Ministers had sought to limit the rebellion by promising to trial the changes in 12 areas but said afterwards they would respect MPs' views.

Critics of the plans said they would "chip away" at Sunday's special status and put undue pressure on workers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Socher appeared nervous as he waited for his artificial intelligence program to answer a simple question: “Is the tennis player wearing a cap?”

The word “processing” lingered on his laptop’s display for what felt like an eternity. Then the program offered the answer a human might have given instantly: “Yes.”

Mr. Socher, who clenched his fist to celebrate his small victory, is the founder of one of a torrent of Silicon Valley start-ups intent on pushing variations of a new generation of pattern recognition software, which, when combined with increasingly vast sets of data, is revitalizing the field of artificial intelligence.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 7, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unusual woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an outsider, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extraction. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading utility meters -- gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept puzzling over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind.

Read it all; cited by yours truly in the morning sermon.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chick-fil-A is offering free ice cream to families who silence their phones and place them inside a box known as a “cell phone coop” for the entire meal.

The so-called challenge is available at more than 150 of the chain’s locations.

“We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another,” Brad Williams, a Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, said in a statement. Williams is responsible for the coop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 4, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s an improbable sight, but the Whitechapel Bell Foundry still stands on east London’s busy Whitechapel Road, an island in an area all but obliterated in the Second World War. Moreover, it is a business that has been fighting for survival for years, centuries even, and in a high-tech, ever more competitive world is still going strong. It’s no more than what you’d expect from a company that has been in continuous operation since 1570 and claims the title of Britain’s oldest manufacturer.

Alan Hughes’s family has run what is one of only two remaining bell foundries in the UK for four generations. “In its early years,” he says, “there was very little by way of continuity of ownership. The company changed hands frequently, usually staying with one family for just one generation.”

He can be forgiven for having little sympathy for businesses that have seen profits crumble because of something as recent as the arrival of the internet. His sector peaked in the 18th century, shrank and then levelled off again before sinking into steady decline for the past hundred or so years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve been at the heart of the ‘Aiming for A’ engagement initiative, which successfully filed shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs last year. These companies were keen to work with us and our partners, and recommended that shareholders approve the resolutions. The companies are now legally required to step up their reporting of their strategic response to the challenges – and opportunities – posed to their businesses by climate change. This was an excellent example of what investors and companies can achieve when they work together. On the back of similar engagement, Aiming for A has filed more resolutions in the UK mining sector for this year’s AGMs which have been received by the companies in the same spirit.

Sadly, not all companies are responding constructively to the urgent need to mitigate climate change. We’ve been working with the New York State pension fund in the US to file a resolution at ExxonMobil in the United States. Rather than working with us to provide the reporting that institutional investors require, Exxon have gone to the US regulator – the Securities and Exchange Commission – to try to get the resolution struck off so that shareholders do not get the opportunity vote on it at Exxon’s AGM later this year. This week New York State have written to the SEC to ask them to deny this request, and to make sure that shareholders can indicate to Exxon’s board their desire for fuller reporting on the implications of climate change policy.

We are extremely disappointed that even after the Paris climate change agreement ExxonMobil has contested the relevance of the resolution we have co-filed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2016 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unlike his predecessor Steve Jobs, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has never shied away from taking a political and social stand.

He was the first head of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. He pledged to one day donate his personal fortune to charity, and he talks passionately about the importance of social justice, diversity and the environment.

But it's his hard-line stance on privacy that could define his legacy at Apple and set the tone for the way big corporations deal with big government at a time when so much of our lives unfold on the devices we use every day.

How far Cook is willing to take the fight is being tested on a national level now. He ramped up the debate Wednesday when he publicly and vehemently opposed a federal judge's order to provide access to encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the terrorist couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--so on target its painful!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD's global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are a lot of empty pews in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec's churches, but the treasury is fuller than it has been in years.
As shrewd investing is replacing weekly parishioner offerings as a main revenue source, the diocese is looking to ethical investment to build its portfolio in a socially responsible way that better reflects its values.
In December, the diocese completed the process of selling off its $1.72 million in fossil fuel investments and the $525,000 it had invested in gold and copper mining. In doing so, it added its name to the growing list of organizations that have chosen to divest from oil and gas over climate change concerns.
Bishop Dennis Drainville says the next step for the Quebec Anglicans is an investing shift to renewable energy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What’s striking — and crucial for understanding our populist moment — is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.

The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shops will be allowed to open for longer on Sundays after the Government revealed it was pressing ahead with controversial plans to give local councils powers to relax trading laws.

A host of measures to shake-up shop opening hours will be put forward as amendments to the Enterprise Bill, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, announced today. It comes less than three months after David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was forced to scrap a vote on plans to relax trading laws after they sparked a revolt by 20 Conservative MPs.
However, despite opposition to the proposals from MPs and some retailers, Mr Javid has pushed ahead by unveiling measures to allow councils to introduce zones where shops can trade for longer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 300 eminent academics at Oxford and Cambridge have signed a joint statement calling on the institutions to pursue more “morally sound” investment policies that have no basis in fossil fuels.

The signatories, who include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams and the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, say that Oxford and Cambridge should put their multibillion-pound endowment funds to better use in the light of “looming social, environmental, and financial pressures”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s ask a question: Why was David Blatt fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers? The man who fired him said it was a matter of “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.” Possibly true. But it would be more useful to say this: David Blatt got fired because Chip Kelly got fired before him, and Jose Mourinho before him, and Kevin McHale before him, and so on nearly ad infinitum.

That is to say: firing coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.

And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociologySports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standing at a microphone in September holding up a baby bottle, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, said she was deeply worried about the water. The number of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had risen alarmingly since the city changed its water supply the previous year, her analysis showed.

Within hours of Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s news conference, Michigan state officials pushed back — hard. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that the state had not seen similar results and that it was working with a much larger set of data. A Department of Environmental Quality official was quoted as saying the pediatrician’s remarks were “unfortunate,” described the mood over Flint’s water as “near-hysteria” and said, as the authorities had insisted for months, that the water met state and federal standards.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha said she went home that night feeling shaky and sick, her heart racing. “When a state with a team of 50 epidemiologists tells you you’re wrong,” she said, “how can you not second-guess yourself?”

No one now argues with Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings. Not only has she been proved right, but Gov. Rick Snyder publicly thanked her on Tuesday “for bringing these issues to light.”

Read it all from the New York Times.

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Posted January 25, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Entering 2016, the future never felt more within reach.

Science fiction will become science fact this year when you take virtual-reality vacations and your dishwasher reorders its own soap. Are you ready for a drone that follows you around like paparazzi?

When we gazed ahead at the devices, breakthroughs and ideas most likely to make waves, two themes emerged. One is liberation: We’re increasingly less shackled, be it to a phone charger or a cable subscription. The other is intelligence: As processing power and bandwidth increase, our machines, services and even messaging apps become more capable.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The data in the economic background paints]...a very murky picture. This is the first time the Fed has ever embarked on tightening cycle when the ISM gauge of manufacturing is below the boom-bust line of 50. Nominal GDP growth in the US has been trending down from 5pc in mid-2014 to barely 3pc.

Danny Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor and a former UK rate-setter, said the US labour market is not as tight as it looks. Inflation is nowhere near its 2pc target and the world economy is still gasping for air. He sees a 50/50 chance that the Fed will have to pirouette and go back to the drawing board.

“All it will take is one shock,” said Lars Christensen, from Markets and Money Advisory. “It is really weird that they are raising rates at all. Capacity utilization in industry has been falling for five months.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the Federal Reserve proceeds as expected and raises US interest rates for the first time in almost a decade on Wednesday it will be an affirmation of what Janet Yellen and her fellow policymakers see as the strength of the US recovery.

It will also be at odds with what many in the US’s industrial economy are seeing.

From manufacturing behemoths like Caterpillar and Deere & Co to companies supplying the industrial sector the common theme in recent months has been that, thanks to a strong dollar and a collapse in commodity prices, tough times are back. Some are going so far as to declare the arrival of an industrial recession.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 16, 2015 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of his push for the Affordable Care Act in 2009, President Obama came to Central High School to laud this community as a model of better, cheaper health care. “You’re getting better results while wasting less money,” he told the crowd. His visit had come amid similar praise from television broadcasts, a documentary film and a much-read New Yorker article.

All of the attention stemmed from academic work showing that Grand Junction spent far less money on Medicare treatments – with no apparent detriment to people’s health. The lesson seemed obvious: If the rest of the country became more like Grand Junction, this nation’s notoriously high medical costs would fall.

But a new study casts doubt on that simple message.

Price has been ignored in public policy,” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who was unconnected with the research. Dr. Berenson is a former vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commision, which recommends policies to Congress. “That has been counterproductive.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

10 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking as the Church of England's lead on the environment, Bishop Nicholas has welcomed today's agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris. After two weeks of talks, participants have committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to 'well below' 2-degrees above pre-industrial levels, alongside clear rules on transparency and reviews of carbon emissions every five years.

Speaking about the COP21 agreement, Bishop Nick Holtam, said, "is good to have an ambitious agreement about the aspiration. What matters now is that governments actually deliver a low carbon future - the transparency of accountability and process of review will be what ensures that happens. This looks like real progress - there is now a much more positive spirit about what now needs to happen than after Copenhagen six years ago, but we are still at an early stage on the journey."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 200 delegates from nations around the world on Saturday approved a framework to contain carbon emissions, in a move being hailed as a groundbreaking accord that requires the world's economies to take concrete steps to regulate gases linked to global warming.

After two weeks of marathon negotiations conducted in the shadow of the Paris terrorist attacks which shocked the world, national representatives appeared put a stamp of approval on a blueprint that commits signatories to curbing climate-altering greenhouse gases.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the "historic" measure for transforming the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turn the tide on global warming.

Read it all.

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's the season of kindness, so one Florida restaurant is doing its part to help others get into the spirit, by offering food that's priced with a "suggested donation." For TODAY NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Watch it all.

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

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Paris summit on climate change, St James’s Church Piccadilly highlighted the perilous state of the polar ice caps by hosting a giant melting ice sculpture.

The artwork entitled ‘Her floe-fall lament (COP21)’ was created by artist and placemaker Sara Mark.

The installation, which lasted less than a day, was created by a column of frozen water, on top of an oil steel drum melting into the cavity below. The steel drum was burnt and was made as hot as possible before installation, and then surrounded by wood ash, not only to separate the sculpture from people who might touch, but to suggest that destruction of trees are not helping the environment.

The work, placed in the centre of the nave, to disrupt normal church proceedings, was an accompaniment to discussions on the end of days and looking to Christ for hope, which is central to the Advent message. After the evening service, everyone processed around the sculpture, to a fire in the courtyard of the church, which cemented the idea of the delicate balance in the environment of heat and cold, which makes up the world.

Read it all.

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After walking more than 200 miles in 14 days from London to Paris to highlight the need for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal at the UN climate talks, over 30 pilgrims are returning from Paris on the Eurostar in just a couple of hours. It has been quite a journey, both individually and for the group as a whole.

The pilgrimage began with a wonderful service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, where more than 150 people came to show their support, including the Bishop of Salisbury and Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, and Bishop John Sherrington from the Catholic Diocese of Westminster.

Later that morning we were joined by 150 primary school children from Archbishop Sumner School, who sang and played instruments to welcome the pilgrims as they walked through Kennington. There was even a steel band! It was especially moving since many of the pilgrims were walking for the futures of their own grandchildren.

Read it all.


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1 Comments
Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".

Read it all and please take the time to watch the Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.

But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.

“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”

Read it all.

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

6 Comments
Posted November 16, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted November 13, 2015 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.

Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.

Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.

But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 8, 2015 at 6:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.

The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.

All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted November 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.

In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.

What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up....

The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders have expressed their anger at the government for denying them a say over new Sunday trading laws, in a major clash between ministers and bishops.
Senior aides to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, protested to ministers that the Church was not properly consulted before George Osborne announced plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays.

The Church of England now fears the government will attempt this week to sneak the new law through Parliament without it being scrutinised properly by the Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.

Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.

But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* South Carolina

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Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England has announced that it has signed the PRI Montreal Pledge, an initiative that commits signatories to measuring and publicly disclosing the carbon footprint of their equity portfolio each year.

The Pledge was launched last year in Montreal during the annual conference of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which the Commissioners signed up to in 2010, and is also supported by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). It aims to attract commitment from portfolios totalling US$3 trillion in time for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December 2015. At present, nearly 100 organisations representing over US$8 trillion have signed the pledge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2015 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the spring, Aeterna Zentaris announced the transfer of its library of 100,000 drug compounds to the Medical University of South Carolina in a collaborative venture it hopes will lead to new treatments.

MUSC can make that available to researchers within the University of South Carolina system. It also will own any therapeutic compounds it discovers outside of the company’s areas of interest.

Under the agreement, MUSC will try to provide Aeterna Zentaris with at least 10 development candidates over 10 years starting in 2018. The company also will get the rights to license any of those ideas.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.

The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.

Levy speaks of an 18-year-old patient who had started smoking marijuana several times a day in 10th grade, dropped out of high school, and been stealing money from her parents. “She and her family were at their wits’ end trying to find appropriate treatment in a health care system that doesn’t consider addiction to marijuana a serious problem,” Levy says. “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wall Street’s biggest banks are beginning to build their defences against downturns, signalling an end to the steady thinning of reserves that has helped boost profits in the past five years.

Tapping into reserves set aside for bad loans has become a reliable source of income for the banks in the post-crisis environment, allowing them to offset the effects of weak demand and ultra-low interest rates. Regulators let lenders dip into reserves in this way if they can argue that an improving outlook makes losses less likely.


But the practice is expected to have a limited impact on the banks’ third-quarter profits, which begin to be presented this week, because reserves have been run down about as far as they can go.

While some banks with plump cushions of reserves could still make net reductions, others are at an “inflection point,” said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York. Lenders with big exposures to energy could see “dramatic” increases in reserves, she said, while related sectors such as materials, commodities and industrials also look vulnerable to rises.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The building towers over its sprawling parking lot, its windowless slabs of off-white concrete giving it the authoritative look of a government building. People of all ages trickle into the building seven days a week, sometimes in large crowds. Outside the six floors of the main structure are a number of signs guiding visitors to other parts of the surrounding campus,
including a satellite building and a large courtyard. But this isn’t any kind of government, school or office building — it’s Raleigh’s Providence Baptist Church, one of many megachurches in the Triangle. Findings from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research show these churches attract younger participants to their congregations — more so than many other, smaller churches. That includes college students, who tend to drop out of church for at least part of their college careers, research says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hypochondria among Americans may be jeopardising the development of new medicines, as a study reveals that the placebo effect is becoming worryingly powerful in the US.

Huge American drugs trials are increasingly foundering on the unexplained scientific phenomenon, which does not appear to be happening anywhere else in the world.

The findings leave US drugs companies with a serious dilemma. As the difference between receiving a new painkiller and simply thinking that you are receiving a new painkiller evaporates, it is becoming ever harder to tell whether the drug works or not.

This may explain why more than nine out of ten new pain-relief drugs fail at the testing stage.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thank you for reading this article on the Internet.

E-mail the author here! Buy my book here!

Click here to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn.

I invite you to subscribe to my RSS feed.

I also invite you to sign up for my twice-daily e-mail newsletter, The PS, a free, twice-daily distillation of news and views on everything under the sun, delivered fresh to your mailbox every six to eight hours.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rooms in the intensive care unit are filled with folded-up walkers and moving boxes. In the lobby, plaques and portraits have been taken off the wall. By this weekend, the last patients will be discharged and Mercy Hospital Independence will close, joining dozens of rural hospitals around the country that have not been able to withstand the financial and demographic challenges buffeting them.

The hospital and its outpatient clinics, owned by the Mercy health care system in St. Louis, was where people in this city of 9,000 turned for everything from sore throats to emergency treatment after a car crash. Now, many say they are worried about what losing Mercy will mean not just for their own health, but for their community’s future.

Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010, according to one research program, and many more could soon join the list because of declining reimbursements, growing regulatory burdens and shrinking rural populations that result in an older, sicker pool of patients. The closings have accelerated over the last few years and have hit more midsize hospitals like Mercy, which was licensed for 75 beds, than smaller “critical access” hospitals, which are reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church on the corner of London’s tech hub is starting to build links with the industry. St John’s, Hoxton, is close to Old Street roundabout, often nicknamed Silicon Roundabout because of the proliferation of start-ups and technology firms in the area.

The Vicar, the Revd Graham Hunter, said that he had begun to try to bring Christian technologists together two years ago. “Being in Hoxton, and having Silicon Roundabout and Shoreditch right on the doorstep, I had this sense we needed to engage with that sector,” Mr Hunter said on Wednesday.

In 2013, he met two Christians who worked in the industry, and they began using St John’s to host a fortnightly gathering, Tech City Christians. “They wanted to network, and also pray for each other, and support one another in living out their faith in this sector; getting people to share their stories about what’s going well, and what their struggles are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the agency, “I was fascinated by the creative guys,” he said, especially the copywriters. While there was a lot of interesting characters to be seen at such a firm, there were less savoury aspects of the job that he, as a Christian, had to learn to contend with.
“I went to the cathedral at the time,” he remembered. “I was the only person in the agency who went to church…I was always perplexed by people my age who had no ethical qualms about how we did our business and who we represented.”
Around this time, the United Church of Canada was taking part in a boycott of Nestle, the chocolate maker, for their role in milk formula sales to Third World countries. Nestle was one of his clients and a friend asked a co-worker of his, “ “‘Doesn’t that bother you?’ She said, ‘No, this was business.’”
He began to question his direction in life, wondering: “Maybe it’s not possible to live in this world and be a Christian.” (He now believes it is so.)
It was at this time that “God moved me to look somewhere else.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted October 8, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.

But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.

What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.

The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.

"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eight-hour workday hasn't changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer—an average 8.7 hours—though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?

In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.

"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think," says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser, three of the largest World Cup sponsors, are demanding that Sepp Blatter step down immediately from his presidency of Fifa, a week after he personally became the subject of a criminal investigation into a corruption scandal that has engulfed the organisation.

Visa, another important sponsor, also joined the call for Mr Blatter to fall on his sword. But the defiant head of Fifa pushed back in a statement through his lawyer, refusing to heed the companies whose deals with Fifa contributed to more than $1.6bn in sponsorship revenue for the body between 2011-14, according to consultancy IEG.

The demands from Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser’s owner Anheuser-Busch InBev are the strongest yet. All three have urged Fifa to make swift progress in cleaning itself up but to date they had not called outright for Mr Blatter’s resignation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I would put it this way: corruption involves, not restriction of voice in general, but its illegitimate restriction, defined in terms of the rules of a given game. When those rules are established and accepted, then the issue of “voice” becomes less problematic: bowling clubs are not acting illegitimately when they restrict their membership to bowlers, rather than opening it up to ping-pong players. Similarly, churches are not acting illegitimately, and therefore are not restricting voice, when they limit ordination to baptized and believing Christians. Thus, the inevitable question of whether “orthodoxy” should restrict the voices of the “unorthodox” must be answered as both “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if this restriction is built into the canonical structures of the church in question; “no”, if these restrictions derive from structures that are extra-canonically constrained by manipulations of influence. For when there is canonical space for diverse embodiments of, e.g. theological positions in a church, as in both “evangelical” and “catholic” views within the older Anglican ecclesial structures, engaging the Influence Market in a way that restricts those voices becomes a matter of corruption.

This can arguably be shown with the Episcopal Church (TEC): what was once a relatively theologically diverse church, within the limits of its formularies, has become one of the most theologically monochromatic churches in America. This has happened through the ever more deeply engaged Influence Market. On the one hand, there has been nothing “illegal” about the outworking of that market: bishops can ordain whom they wish and appointments can be made according to personal preferences of those in power. But the end result of caving into, let alone deliberately manipulating, these dynamics is corruption, and on two scores.

First, through the suppression of legitimate voices in the Church, it is inevitable that the truth — in this case, the truth of the Gospel — suffers, simply for lack of adequately trained hearts and minds to engage that truth. More corruption follows, through the perversion of critical Christian inquiry. Second, when Influence Markets such as TEC’s are moving ahead at full steam, it is inevitable that more concrete and classical acts of corruption take place: misuse of funds and misuse of canons (the church’s legal process). In an institution where everybody is “on the same side” (because there are few left on any other side), no one wishes to hurt their “friends” by raising questions. This has happened on a number of fronts in TEC in matters involving the national budget (e.g. misusing trust funds to balance the bottom line), discipline (manipulating canons to silence dissenting voices), and the legislative process (not following canonical procedures at General Convention). It represents a matter of corruption, at least in Johnston’s paradigm, where the “legal” Influence Market has finally given way to quite “illegal” activities.

Read it all from the Living Church's Covenant blog (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 8:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.

Read it all from the front page of today's New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Heh.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”

In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.

In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Muhammad Maiyagy Gery heard about a new mobile app from Facebook Inc. that provides free Internet access in his native Indonesia, he was excited.

But after testing it, the 24-year-old student from a mining town on the eastern edge of Borneo soon deleted the app, called Internet.org, frustrated that he was unable to access Google.com and some local Indonesian sites.

Mr. Gery said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is an “inspiration in the tech world,” but added that the company’s free Internet effort is “inadequate.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2015 at 2:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church is the body of Christ, then the megachurch is like an athlete on steroids.

Every major city has a bevy of churches drawing between 5k-25k people. To get a body to grow that big leaders have to use some sort of performance enhancer. These things—typically models, strategies, and techniques gleaned not from the gospel or the Christian narrative, but from the world of business and the narrative of consumer capitalism—serve as performance enhancers that help create enormous congregations with huge facilities and hundreds of programs.

The impact of these practices is akin to using performance-enhancing drugs. They actually alter the form and function of the body, causing real and serious long-term consequences for the church universal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here and elsewhere, the people press and beseech, and Jesus needs a respite.

But, of course, the isolation has a positive content. It’s not about getting away from others but about going toward something else. Jesus isn’t alone. He’s with the Father. Prayer can happen in company. Church worship is corporate prayer. But there must be times when a soul petitions the Father in solitude. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone,” but Jesus’s example shows the periodic necessity of making God your only companion. Too often the world draws you away from him, and so you must slough off your circumstances and address him by yourself, oriented toward nothing else, no outside distractions or commitments. The first commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Loving your neighbor comes second.

We are in danger of losing these replenishing, corrective moments of solitary faith. Silence and seclusion are harder to find, and fewer people seek them out. You find a lone bench in the park on a fall afternoon, gaze up at the sky through the branches, and begin the Rosary only to have a power walker march by barking into an invisible mic. It’s not just the noise, it’s his connection to absent persons, as if to say that being in one place alone with the Lord is insufficient.

Social media is the culprit. Text­ing, selfies, updates, chats, snapchats, tweets, multiplayer games, blogs, wikis, and email enable people to gossip, boast, rant, strategize, self-promote, share, collaborate, inform, emote, and otherwise connect with one another anywhere and all the time. The volume is astounding. Earlier this year, Facebook boasted 1.23 billion active users, while late last year Twitter’s 200 million users sent 400 million tweets per day. According to Nielsen Media, a teen with a mobile device sends or receives on average around 3,300 text messages per month, in addition to logging 650 minutes of phone calls.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, Tim Kreider wrote this for the New York Times:
I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sector but simply to simultaneously make every e-mail and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe; the fabric of society would instantly evaporate, every marriage, friendship and business partnership dissolved.
An utterly chilling thought, isn’t it? It makes the Ashley Madison hack look quaint in comparison. I have certainly said and done things in one context that would be troublesome in another. I suspect that my private e-mails, made public, could undo me in a quick minute.

We affirm a right to privacy, yet privacy is largely an illusion. As Sproul rightly if unwisely pontificated, we hide nothing from God. Ironically, the Internet, in becoming such a powerful force in our lives, illustrates this—albeit as a mere idol. If you took the sum total of everything the Internet knows about any one user—search history, website memberships, financial data, e-mail archive—you might well be able to conjure up a reasonable facsimile for Who You Really Are, secrets and all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots that can be used for sex.

Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson.

Sex dolls already on the market are becoming more sophisticated and some are now hoping to build artificial intelligence into their products.

Those working in the field say that there is a need for such robots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve built computers that can outplay the finest chess grandmasters in the world, virtual personal assistants that can schedule tasks and control our homes, and algorithms that can predict with increasing accuracy what we’ll want to watch, read, or listen to next.

But true artificial intelligence – a computer that can solve a wide range of problems through reason, planning, abstraction, and learning – hasn’t come about yet. There are machines that are better than humans at specific tasks, but no machine that’s as good as or better than a human at thinking.

We’re getting close to that point, though, Google chairman Eric Schmidt argued in an op-ed for the BBC on Saturday. Mr. Schmidt says artificial intelligence (AI) research has been steadily building since the term was first coined in 1955, and that scientists have made a few big breakthroughs in the past several years.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...on Labor Day Americans should also be celebrating the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act's most important and immediate effect was to help end racial segregation and race-based discrimination.

But the Civil Rights Act also reflected what Americans had learned through ugly episodes of hostility and discrimination against Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and others. Title VII of the Act prohibits religion-based discrimination in the workplace and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees' religious exercise unless doing so would cause "undue hardship."

In a decision this summer involving clothier Abercrombie & Fitch and a young Muslim woman, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Title VII's strong protections for people of all faiths. The company denied employment to Samantha Elauf, a young Muslim American woman, because her religious headscarf violated the company's "look" policy.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Economists at Citigroup argue in a new report that a global recession is now "the most likely outcome" over the next two years.

What exactly do they mean by a global recession?

They point out:

We use the only definition of a recession we know that makes sense when it is used consistently. As stated earlier, we define a recession as a period during which the actual unemployment rate is above the natural unemployment rate or Nairu, or during which there is a negative output gap: the level of actual real GDP is below the level of potential real GDP.

To avoid excessive attention to mini-recessions, the period of excess capacity should have a duration of a year or longer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChinaEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As South Carolinians observe the Labor Day weekend, more are discovering it’s easier to find a job. Unemployment has dropped from a high of 11.6 percent during the depths of the Great Recession in June 2009 to 6.4 percent in July. But South Carolina workers also know wages for those jobs are growing ever so slowly.

South Carolina ranked 36th in the nation in wage growth from 2013 to 2014 –expanding only 2.6 percent, according to the most recent year-to-year comparisons from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

North Dakota was first at 6.4 percent, buoyed by the rising oil shale industry. Nevada was last at 1.4 percent, with its wages tied to the service and tourism industries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unfortunately, being a worker in America today isn't what it was a decade ago, and not all the changes can be blamed on the recession, though that certainly was economically cataclysmic for millions of people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' data show that the country still hasn't recovered fully, let alone returned to the heights reached during the late 1990s' dot-com boom. Compared with late 2006, about 1.3 million more people are unemployed today and about 1 million more have been jobless for more than six months. Almost 6.5 million Americans currently working part time want full-time jobs, which is 2 million more than a decade ago.

Relationships with employers have changed as well. More people now work as independent contractors, which means they aren't covered by wage and overtime laws and don't receive workers' compensation if injured or unemployment insurance if laid off. Some workers prefer such jobs because of the flexibility it gives them, which also appeals to employers who may only need a worker for a specific task for a short time. But many companies exploit the system by misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they really are acting as employees and entitled to protections.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Courtney] Holmes tries to encourage the kids to do more than just read and sound out words —he wants them to understand and learn from the books.

"Their memory is being challenged," he said. At the end of each hair cut he asks, "What is this book about?"

"Trims 4 Tales" also sends each child home with a bag of books, encouraging them to keep reading until their next visit — which Holmes hopes will be very soon.

"The joy on their face — it makes me feel like a million bucks just to see that," he said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new chemical plant is being built in the small African-American town of Mossville in southwest Louisiana, raising significant concerns about health, safety, and environmental impact. The plant’s owner has offered to pay Mossville residents to move out of their homes and sell their churches. The company says it is being generous, but some longtime residents and religious leaders feel they are being forced out. “The church is the hub of the community, as far as relationships and as far as love and caring for one another,” says LaSalle Clarence Williams Sr., chairman of the deacon board at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Mossville’s oldest house of worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are at least three reasons why China’s growth might suffer a discontinuity: the current pattern is unsustainable; the debt overhang is large; and dealing with these challenges creates the risks of a sharp collapse in demand.

The most important fact about China’s current pattern of growth is its dependence on investment as a source of supply and demand (see charts). Since 2011 additional capital has been the sole source of extra output, with the contribution of growth of “total factor productivity” (measuring the change in output per unit of inputs) near zero. Moreover, the incremental capital output ratio, a measure of the contribution of investment to growth, has soared as returns on investment have tumbled.

The International Monetary Fund argues: “Without reforms, growth would gradually fall to around 5 per cent with steeply increasing debt.” But such a path would be unsustainable, not least because debts are already at such a high level. Thus “total social financing” — a broad credit measure — jumped from 120 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 193 per cent in 2014. The government can manage this overhang. But it must not let the build-up restart. The credit-dependent part of investment has to shrink.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The matinee crowd was anything but typical, as the New York Yankees paid a visit to The Prospector Theater to recognize one theater's incredible off-screen mission.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySportsTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 19, 2015 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pennsylvania pastor who’s the key suspect in a global insider-trading scheme must remain in custody while being sent to New York for a bail hearing.
A judge in Philadelphia, whose decision on Tuesday to free Vitaly Korchevsky on $100,000 bail was blocked by a judge in Brooklyn, ordered the pastor temporarily detained while he’s transported by U.S. Marshals to the New York borough for the hearing.
Korchevsky made no comments Friday in court in Philadelphia. He whispered to his wife and brother-in-law across the courtroom. Bob Levant, one of his attorneys, said the father of two is the “centerpiece” of a close-knit Ukrainian community in the Glen Mills area.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate the current economy and whether they feel the economy is "getting better" or "getting worse." The index's theoretical maximum is +100, if all Americans rated the economy as positive and improving, while the theoretical minimum is -100, if all Americans rated the economy as negative and getting worse.

Both components were level for the week ending Aug. 9. The current conditions component averaged -6, the result of 24% of Americans rating the economy as "excellent" or "good," while 30% rated it "poor." The economic outlook component averaged -18, as 39% of Americans said the economy is getting better while 57% said it is getting worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wright’s self-discipline, as demonstrated by his daily running routine, is legendary: when he lived in Ottawa, he’d set out every morning before work on a half-marathon from his condo at 700 Sussex Dr. next to the Château Laurier. It was such a reliable habit that CTV’s Danielle Hamamdjian once ambushed him as he loped by the Mac’s on Laurier Avenue in Sandy Hill, at 4 a.m., to ask him about Duffy. He didn’t say much, except that he’d made some mistakes and was co-operating with the authorities.

Succeeding in private equity, as Wright has, takes management talent, steel nerves, and a willingness to do hard things — to make deals worth billions with other people’s money, to combine and break up companies other people built, to cut other people’s jobs. In Wright, those qualities are combined with a moral code derived from his devotion to a traditionalist strain of Anglicanism. It’s a throwback to the faith’s Catholic roots followed in just a few Canadian churches (St. Barnabas in Centretown is the one in Ottawa), featuring ornate services and a social conservatism that’s in deepening tension with the Anglican Communion’s increasingly liberal positions on things such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Wright’s a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto — known for its training of Anglican priests and its adherence to some of British academe’s more amusingly stuffy traditions — and has been a lay leader at his Toronto church. He raises money for charity, particularly Camp Oochigeas (for kids with cancer, where he’s also volunteered during his vacations), and serves at soup kitchens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Silicon Valley version of that “green rush” looks a little different. It involves slick apps, software and founders who talk about big data and algorithms. AngelList, a website where micro start-ups can look for angel investors, lists more than 300 marijuana start-ups in the US — half were founded this year, and a third of those are in California. (Examples include an Amazon for cannabis, a Kickstarter for cannabis, inventory management software and dozens of delivery companies.) Investments in marijuana-related companies have reached $200m over the past 12 months, quadruple the levels of the previous year, according to CB Insights, a venture capital database.

This rush of funding has attracted software engineers such as Austin Heap, a veteran of some half-dozen start-ups. Heap didn’t initially know much about the marijuana industry, other than being a medical marijuana consumer himself. He and a friend (now co-founder) started batting ideas about last autumn and came up with Potbox, a monthly subscription delivery service for organic, farm-to-table cannabis. They met their other co-founder, a 20-year veteran of the industry, because they had been using his marijuana delivery service.

“It feels like a very normal start-up, it just happens to be cannabis,” Heap told me, the day before their launch on July 8. Later that night, he would put the final touches on their social media accounts and website. “Hopefully at about 2:30 in the morning I will be a) still awake and b) getting Cloudflare in place, which will help us deal with any huge spikes in traffic,” he explained with a geeky enthusiasm. “I’m largely tech focused.” Heap says the huge investor interest in cannabis is “refreshing” after years of doing the venture capital dog-and-pony show. “No start-up I’ve worked on has said no to so many investment requests. I think we have something the cannabis industry has never seen.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug Addiction* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many of you, I’m continuing to reflect on the tectonic philosophical and moral shifts in our culture crystallized in the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage—and what that decision means not only for our religious liberties, but for our evangelism, discipleship and mission as followers of Jesus Christ.

Four weeks ago I quoted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who stated that there will be a new generation of “refugees” from the current metaphysical-sexual expression culture that we now live in. Yes, there will be refugees—because turning in on yourself and pursuing your own sexual desires as a fundamental liberty never ends well. (See Romans 1:18-32 for a picture of what that looks like). Such a culture cannot keep its promises of personal happiness and fulfillment for individuals whose needs and cravings will inevitably be at odds! Sexual and relational brokenness, desperate loneliness, divorce, broken families, spiritual and emotional wounds will increase with the ever-accelerating sexual revolution which has been blessed by the highest courts of our land. Not only that, but abortion as a gruesome method of birth control and fetal tissue extraction and euthanasia at the other end of life will also increase as the exaltation of personal desires trumps traditional biblical values on the sanctity of life.

In a culture where it’s all about me and my choices, where the bottom-line world view is that the self is the only thing that can be known, and where freedom of sexual expression, self-interests and narcissism reign supreme, here’s the question: what do we as a church, as followers of Jesus Christ, have to offer to those who will be refugees of this new metaphysical-sexual expression regime?

Read it all (his emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. employers are adding jobs at a steady clip though the labor market is showing little sign of overheating, factors likely to reassure Federal Reserve officials as they weigh their first interest-rate increase since 2006.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 215,000 in July, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 6,000 more jobs in May and 8,000 more in June than previously estimated.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, held steady at 5.3% in July.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nestled amongst the nondescript concrete buildings of Silicon Valley, home to start-ups and tech giants, are a surprising number of churches and temples.

They cater to the highly successful and wealthy population of the world’s tech capital. It is surprising because this is a region that is known for its agnosticism, rather than religiosity.

"Silicon Valley attracts people with a type-A personality,” said Skip Vaccarello, author of Finding God in Silicon Valley. "[That type has] the lowest number of people that go to a church on any Sunday. The gods become the things like money, technology, success and so on."

A recent survey listed San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as having the least church-going population of any place in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers will challenge the Church of England to support the biggest shake up of Sunday trading laws in a generation to help boost high streets and cut shopping bills for every household in Britain.
Under plans unveiled in a consultation today, local authorities will be given the power to prevent large supermarkets from opening longer in an attempt to revive Britain's high streets.
The Government will encourage councils to use the new powers to help town centre stores at the expense of larger out-of-town shops.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sun rises over the Port of Charleston and with it, the start of another day where a new symbol of Made in America buzzes with activity.

Workers are preparing to load another cargo ship of BMW vehicles, built at the German automaker's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

While Michigan is still the heartbeat of America's auto industry, South Carolina is one of several southern states that have become a greater focal point for automakers scouting out locations for new plants.

"We really focus on foreign investment, on adding new jobs to our country [and] not just our state," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told CNBC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier this year, Dan Price, a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, made headlines nationwide after announcing plans to raise his employees’ base salary to $70,000 a year.

But not everyone at Gravity Payments agrees with his plans to share the wealth. ­­­­­­

Two of his top employees quit in protest. His brother, a co-owner of Gravity Payments, filed suit. Other local companies complained that Price made them look stingy, according to The New York Times (NYT).

It’s as if Jesus’s parable about the workers in the vineyard—where latecomers got the same pay as those who worked all day—has come to life, the NYT points out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells, located in the piney woods of East Texas about three hours northeast of Houston, disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, and astutely analyzed by historian Charity Carney, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor, not unlike the one evangelist Adam Key had with Osteen in 2007.

It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers and Key as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers. However, as my book Salvation with a Smile argues, their actions are part of a longer history of public castigation of popular preachers. And Molly Worthen’s insightful description of evangelicalism’s crisis of authority speaks powerfully to the rhetorical combat between Osteen and his critics, as does Todd Brenneman’s post for this blog.

Lakewood’s heckler episode this summer, while documenting one way to understand Osteen’s popularity, also prompts historical reflection about the summer of 2005 when Joel and his congregation moved into Houston’s Compaq Center, a sports-arena-turned-megachurch. The last decade encompassed Joel Osteen’s ascendancy to the peak of American evangelicalism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m sure you’ve seen them in the media: attractive, well-off, smiling parents holding adorable infants created by third-party reproduction and assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Of course, the narrative goes, this development is a win-win for all. Who could object to children being created for those who through either infertility or biological sex are unable to reproduce?

But this picture hides the highly profitable fertility industry’s dirty secrets. It ignores what is required to create these children: exploitation, health endangerment, and the commodification of human life. An honest look at the facts and circumstances surrounding third-party reproduction and ART should give any thinking person pause.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lasch understood that democracy is a fiction when people spend their lives working in conditions over which they exert little or no control, compensated by shoddy consumer goods that bring faint comfort when the things that really matter—such as adequate schooling and homeownership, the last vestige of proprietorship for most people today—are out of reach. These social facts don’t produce citizens capable of self-governance but a people who are ruled over by a remote technocratic elite, as Murray has correctly observed, who make decisions for the masses they know little and care even less about.

Even with President Obama’s recent championing of “middle-class economics” and the Republican Party’s occasional concessions to belief in the social destructiveness of economic inequality, both parties cling to different branches of what Lasch called the ideology of progress, redistribution on the left and “a rising tide lifts all boats” on the right. By contrast, Lasch’s vision of the good life is truly radical yet profoundly conservative; it harkens back to traditions now largely dormant in American life where those who worked for a living wanted to build local communities, in the words of 19th-century labor leader Robert MacFarlane, based upon the now forgotten American ideal of “small but universal ownership” of property, which was the “true foundation of a stable and firm republic.” In other words, independence rooted in both liberty and equality.

This producerist ideology, according to Lasch, “deserves a more attentive hearing, on its own terms, than it has usually received.” It holds the answer to the questions critics like Charles Murray raise—and reveals that too many libertarians and conventional conservatives are confused apologists for a system that produces everything they despise: authoritarianism, centralization, and widespread dependence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For Danny Ludeman, God’s call came in the form of a letter.

In the fall of 2013, Ludeman, then 56, announced he would step down after 15 years as CEO of St. Louis–based Wells Fargo Advisors. In a subsequent interview with the local press, he mentioned that after leaving Wells, he wanted to spend 100% of his time “helping other people,” perhaps by running a nonprofit organization. As you might expect, his mailbox was flooded with offers. But one in particular caught his eye.

“I don’t know, there was something about the letter, the way it was written, and the case it made—it just called out to me,” he remembers.

The letter came from Candace O’Connor, a professional writer and the volunteer president of Project Cope, a five-person nonprofit group in St. Louis dedicated to helping ex-convicts adapt to life after prison. O’Connor’s letter carried a suggestion: “Why not head a small organization that does tremendous good—on a very lean budget, for an underserved population—and help it move to a larger sphere where it can help even more people?”

Ludeman was intrigued. He felt that working with Project Cope could dovetail nicely with the main activity he planned to pursue after leaving Wells: obtaining a Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. “That was very much my retirement plan,” Ludeman says. “Learn to love God with all my heart and soul, and learn to love my neighbor as myself.”

Read it all (or there is another link Read it all.)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General Interest

3 Comments
Posted July 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.

“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”

While the euro zone has a common currency, fiscal and economic policies remain mostly in the hands of each member state. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi made a plea this week for deeper cooperation between the euro members after political squabbles over Greece almost led to a rupture in the single currency.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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