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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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(Alert readers are asked to note that the title above is the one used in the paper's National edition in print this past week--KSH.
A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.
Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.
And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
What a strange week it’s been in Hollywood. Tuesday night we actually had a thunderstorm. For those who don’t know Southern California, that’s like saying House Republicans think our country might have a race problem. Or Woody Allen is considering property in Malibu. Or the new Missal really seems to be catching on. (“Under our roof,” translators? “Under our roof”?)
There was even lightning, for God’s sake.
Then yesterday, hack-beleaguered Sony Pictures actually stopped distribution of major motion picture “The Interview,” maybe forever, after the United States’ five major theater chains refused to show it for fear of a 9/11-style attack on any theater that did.
To say the Internet was not happy with this series of events would be an understatement. Hollywood writer/director/producer Judd Apatow called the chains’ decision “disgraceful” and wondered, along with many others, what’s next: “Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Many called it a sad day for creative expression, and feared that this forebodes a dangerous new self-censorship. Rob Lowe compared Hollywood to Neville Chamberlain (to which the nation of Czechoslovakia replied, “Mmm, Rob, I think not”). Newt Gingrich went so far as to call the hackers’ threat an “act of war,” forgoing the need for an act of war to involve an actual act. Forget the pesky details, there’s really never a bad time for a little preemption.
Read it all from America.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Movies & Television Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia North Korea * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Some nonprofit hospitals around the country don't ever seize their patients' wages. Some do so only in very rare cases. But others sue hundreds of patients every year. Heartland, which is in the process of changing its name to Mosaic Life Care, seizes more money from patients than any other hospital in Missouri. From 2009 through 2013, the hospital's debt collection arm garnished the wages of about 6,000 people, according to a ProPublica analysis of state court data.
After the hospital wins a judgment against a former patient in court, it's entitled to take a hefty portion of the patient's paychecks going forward: 25 percent of after-tax pay. For patients who are the head of household, if they tell the hospital or court that information, the hospital can seize only 10 percent of each paycheck.
But Heartland, through the debt collection company Northwest Financial Services, often sues both adults in a household — garnishing one at the 10 percent rate and the other at the full 25 percent of their pay. The hospital also charges patients 9 percent interest, the maximum allowed under state law.
Read or listen to it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Comedian and actor Robin Williams, who died earlier this year, was the top search on Google during 2014.
The search engine has released its list of this year’s most searched for news events and top trending subjects. Williams’ death drew more attention than the World Cup (2nd), Ebola (3rd) or Malaysia Airlines (4th).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Health & Medicine Media Movies & Television Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Terrorism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The ruble meltdown and accompanying economic slump marks the collapse of Putin’s oil-fueled economic system of the past 15 years, said an executive at Gazprombank, the lender affiliated to Russia’s state gas exporter. He asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The higher interest rate will crush lending to households and businesses and deepen Russia’s looming recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief emerging-markets economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Russia * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Russia is in the middle of a currency crisis. On December 15th its currency lost 10% of its value, having already lost about 40% this year. The central bank increased interest rates sharply, but instead of calming the market the hike was seen as a sign of desperation. The following day the rouble was at one point down a further 20% (and ended the day 10% lower). The central bank reckons that GDP could fall by 5% in 2015. Inflation is currently at 10% but is expected to accelerate rapidly. Russians are panic-buying; banks are running out of dollars. What’s gone wrong with Russia’s economy?
The problems were long in the making. Russia is highly dependent on oil revenues (hydrocarbons contribute over half the federal budget and two-thirds of exports) and over the past decade it has failed to diversify its economy. It is horribly corrupt, has weak institutions and no real property rights. The Kremlin distributes oil money via state banks to firms and projects which it selects on the basis of their political importance and their pro-Putin stance, rather than trusting the market to allocate capital to the most efficient firms. If you look at wealth, Russia is the world’s second-most unequal country. Its working-age population is shrinking fast.
Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine have dealt a blow to the economy. But the proximate cause of the turmoil of the last few days is concern about Russia's corporate sector. During 2015 Russia’s firms must repay $100 billion-worth of foreign debt. But as the rouble falls, paying back dollars becomes more difficult.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets The Banking System/Sector Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Russia * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The findings suggest the supply glut that has sent prices tumbling could soon vanish as the oil majors delay big-ticket production projects — the lifeblood of future petrol supplies, heating fuels and chemicals.
Brent, the international benchmark, has fallen more than 45 per cent since mid-June amid surging US shale production, strong supply from the Opec cartel and weak oil demand in Europe and Asia.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Saudi Arabia * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the high-stakes contest between the United States, the biggest shale oil producer, and Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, America has blinked first.
The OPEC refusal to cut production at its November meeting was widely seen as the declaration of a price war against booming U.S. shale oil producers, which had sent their country’s oil production soaring. Saudis had watched as their market share dropped precipitously in the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation, and they wanted to send a clear message across the global energy market that they weren’t about to back off.
Oil prices have been in freefall ever since. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, sank another 3 per cent Friday to $61.85 (U.S.) a barrel, while West Texas intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, dropped 3.6 per cent to $57.81, extending its slide from well over $100 a barrel in the summer.
If the global oil standoff pits the industry stalwart Saudi Arabia against the surging U.S. rival, other global players are coping with the pricing fallout, including Canada. Oil companies around the world are being forced to revisit their spending and production plans for 2015, and in the offices towers of downtown Calgary, those changes are already well under way.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Canada Middle East Saudi Arabia
The American economy has stopped delivering the broadly shared prosperity that the nation grew accustomed to after World War II. The explanation for why that is begins with the millions of middle-class jobs that vanished over the past 25 years, and with what happened to the men and women who once held those jobs.
Millions of Americans are working harder than ever just to keep from falling behind; Green is one of them. Those workers have been devalued in the eyes of the economy, pushed into jobs that pay them much less than the ones they once had.
Today, a shrinking share of Americans are working middle-class jobs, and collectively, they earn less of the nation’s income than they used to. In 1981, according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of American adults were classified as “middle income” — which means their household income was between two-thirds and double the nation’s median income. By 2011, it was down to 51 percent. In that time, the “middle” group’s share of the national income pie fell from 60 percent to 45 percent.
For that, you can blame the past three recessions, which sparked a chain reaction of layoffs and lower pay.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Hours after five hostages escaped from the Lindt cafe, one of the remaining women switched off the lights inside.
Premier Mike Baird has asked Sydneysiders to go about their day as usual on Tuesday
There is an exclusion zone near the cafe, bordered by Pitt, Elizabeth, Hunter and King Streets.
NSW Police have activated Task Force Pioneer, which they use in terrorism related incidents.
A coalition of Muslim groups has expressed their shock and horror at the siege. They have urged calm.
Sydneysiders have united under the hashtag #illridewithyou offering company to Muslims wearing religious garments as they travel in the city.
Read it all and there are loads of links to follow.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Disneyland has become a time capsule not of the romantic idea of 19th century Main Street or even the possibilities in Tomorrowland but of a time when Americans believed in a better future — and were willing to invest in it. A half-century ago, we put almost 1 percent of our economy into landing men on the moon, yet today we fall behind other countries in exploring space, supposedly because we cannot afford it.
We pay a huge price for our lack of investment and faith in the future of America. We pay for all the inefficiency of our decrepit infrastructure. We pay with minds that will never be fully developed and with scientific breakthroughs that will enrich other countries. And we pay with lives of daily grind and unpleasantness without hope of respite.
Would that as a people we thought like Walt Disney so we could make America into a happy place.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Budget * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt.
Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations. Research firm CreditSights Inc. predicts the default rate for energy junk bonds will double to eight percent next year.
“Anything that becomes a mania -- it ends badly,” said Tim Gramatovich, who helps manage more than $800 million as chief investment officer of Santa Barbara, California-based Peritus Asset Management. “And this is a mania.”
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets The Banking System/Sector The U.S. Government Federal Reserve Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A radical overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.
A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."
The Church Times has seen the report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
...the ECB is split over whether to embark on full-blown quantitative easing as a way to achieve growth. Such a policy is strongly opposed by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann and other hawkish members of the bank’s governing council.
They believe the central bank’s existing measures, which include buying covered bonds and asset-backed securities and auctioning cheap cash to eurozone lenders, are enough to lift inflation to the ECB’s target of below but close to 2 per cent.
But analysts think the disappointing take-up at Thursday’s auction has weakened their hand. “The result reduces the strength of the ECB hawks’ argument that existing policy measures are enough,” said Nick Matthews, economist at Nomura.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010 * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Here's a change in corporate human resources - more companies are hiring chaplains. These are the same kinds of people with religious training you find in the military or on college campuses. Chaplains work in companies to help people talk through office frustrations. Here's Lauren Silverman of our member station KERA in Dallas.
LAUREN SILVERMAN, BYLINE: Every week, Chaplain John Eaton knocks on the doors of employees at Purdy McGuire, an engineering firm in Dallas.
CHAPLAIN JOHN EATON: Hey Scott. How's it going, man?
SILVERMAN: How's it going is more than a greeting, it's part of Eaton's job. He talks with employees about anything - sports, church, problems at home. Scott Brown is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon faith. He likes the check-ins.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Google is shutting down its Google News service in Spain next week in response to new legislation that requires the search giant to pay for content from Spanish news organizations.
Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, announced the decision on Google’s Europe blog Thursday. “With real sadness,” he wrote, Spanish publishers will be removed from the site on Dec. 16.
The change to Spain's copyright law, which goes into effect in January, allows Spanish newspapers and other publishers to charge Google each time their content appears on Google News. The so-called “Google tax” applies to all news aggregation sites, including Menéame, Google’s Spain-based rival.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Media * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Spain * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Church giving is serious business. Scores of newsletters, workshops, and books are devoted to it, and consultants exist to advise institutions on how to maximize funds. A five-year study released last year estimated that "tithers"—Christians who donate 10% or more of their income to church or charity—contribute more than $50 billion a year. (And that’s not counting the many who give a smaller percentage of their income.) There's even crime associated with tithing: In March, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s church was robbed of $600,000 in donations from a single weekend.
Somehow, though, the offering process, when ushers pass baskets down the rows and worshippers voluntarily drop in checks or cash, has remained basically unchanged since the 19th century. But who carries cash, let alone checks, anymore?
Luckily for churches, a wave of apps and other digital giving options have risen up to bridge the gap.
Call it the 21st-century offering plate.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology
The origin of Christmas gifts lies in the Christian tradition that says God gave his son, Jesus, as a gift to bring us life; we reflect that generosity by giving gifts to each other. Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.
However, our gifts can, in small ways, reflect and point to the self-giving love of God. But the most meaningful gifts are about expressing life, not luxury. This is especially true if, as money-saving expert Martin Lewis tells us, people feel pressured into tit-for-tat giving at Christmas – buying something equally as luxurious as what they’re given.
There is nothing wrong with giving something small, something that is meaningful and reminds the person that you care for them – something from a charity shop, perhaps. It also gives the recipient the freedom to buy you something similarly small but meaningful.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas Parish Ministry Stewardship * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology
Santa Claus is going to be bringing lots of presents in a couple of weeks, but lower health-insurance costs for most Americans won't be one of them.
People with insurance through an employer—that is, most people with health coverage—are paying "more in premiums and deductibles than ever before" as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new report finds.
Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers' personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Falling oil prices are putting a cloud over the one thing Mexico’s struggling government had been clinging to in its attempts to invigorate a sluggish economy — its historic energy reform.
The government had been planning to auction 169 oil and gas blocks next year. It was to be one of the most ambitious bid rounds the industry had seen in a country whose sector has been closed to private investment for nearly 80 years, and where production is at its lowest level in two decades.
But the oil price fall has sobered what one executive called the “frothy, crazy bidding environment” Mexico had been expecting, unsettling a government reliant on oil revenue for a third of its budget. Officials are hastily striking off shale and other fields that might now look unappealing to bidders. Long-awaited initial tender terms are likely to be published on Wednesday.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Mexico
The Church of England said it was in the process of filing shareholder resolutions on climate change at BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
"The resolution is intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses so that they participate constructively in the transition to a low carbon economy", The Church of England wrote in a blog. (bit.ly/1tUBUlN)
The Church said it chose BP and Shell because they have the biggest carbon footprints of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Read it all and make sure to read the whole C of E blog post also.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Barn No. 5 at Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs is about to become a state-of-the-art multiplex for hens. Two massive scaffolding-like structures, each the length of four school buses, are getting their final nuts and bolts, and in a few weeks, 8,000 cage-free chickens will come thronging and clucking into these new “aviary” roosts. Moving freely around the barn, they will perch on rows of shiny bars, nest on private mats, and quench their thirst from tiny water nipples. While one conveyor belt whisks chicken waste out the door, another one will collect the bounty – a nonstop supply of brown and white eggs.
The roosts, which line both sides of the barn, are replacing dense rows of wire cages that housed chickens for some 60 years. Frank Hilliker, a third-generation egg farmer in this dusty town north of San Diego, strolls through the barn, hoists himself up to the top of the roosting tiers, and surveys the chickens’ new domain.
“Those are privacy curtains,” he says, pointing down at a strip of tomato-red plastic flaps. “Inside is a little AstroTurf pad that they get to lie on, and that’s where they lay their eggs!”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Dieting/Food/Nutrition * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Animals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Uber this week flunked its first test drive around Charleston's legal system.
Taft Navarro, the first known Uber driver to be cited in the region for violating local or state transportation rules, was found guilty Thursday in a Charleston County courtroom. He was required to pay the full fine of $437 for operating a ride-for-hire service at Charleston International Airport without the necessary permit.
Chief Magistrate David Coker's ruling might set something of a precedent for how similar violations will be handled at the airport in the future, Navarro said.
Read it all from the front page of today's local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General City Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.
So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.
The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya Asia China * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The U.S. economy is on track for its strongest year of job creation since 1999, as employers last month ramped up hiring and wage growth posted a small—but potentially significant—pickup.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 321,000 in November, the strongest month of hiring since January 2012, the Labor Department said Friday. Hiring was broad across industries, led by gains in the professional and business-services sector.
“The economy may not yet be a big mean jobs machine but it is just about there,” Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors Inc., said in a note to clients.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The bills arrive as regularly as a heartbeat at the Vories’s cozy bi-level brick house just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It’s the paychecks that are irregular.
These days, Alex Vories, 37, is delivering pizzas for LaRosa’s, though he has to use his parents’ car since he wrecked his own 1997 Nissan van on a rainy day last month. In the spring and autumn, he had managed to snag several weeks of seasonal work with the Internal Revenue Service, sorting tax returns for $14 an hour. But otherwise the family had to make do with the $350 a week his wife, Erica, brought home from her job as a mail clerk for the I.R.S.
“We just kind of wing it every month,” said Mr. Vories, whose unemployment benefits ran out at the end of 2013, 10 months after he lost his job answering phones at Fidelity Investments. Ever since, the family’s income has bounced up and down from one week to the next, like the basketball he and his two sons play with in their driveway, next to the Kentucky Wildcats pennant planted in their front yard.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Across the country, laborers are hard at work lifting 700-pound shelves full of multivolume encyclopedias, propane grills or garden gnomes and dragging them across vast warehouse floors. Carefully trained not to bump into one another, the squat workers are 320 pounds and a mere 16 inches tall.
No, they’re not Christmas elves—they’re some of the most advanced robots that e-commerce giant Amazon now uses to ship its goods. In an exclusive video for TIME, photographer and videographer Stephen Wilkes captured these Amazon robots in action at the company’s Tracy, Calif., warehouse.
Read it all+watch the video.
What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Ouija boards are flying themselves off shelves and under trees this Christmas, according to trends data released by Google. The company has recorded a 300 per cent increase in searches for the spirit-bothering devices, fuelled by a terrible movie that was effectively a feature-length ad for a board game, an appearance on The Archers, and the Victorian belief that if the dead could speak, they would use a plank of a wood and the alphabet.
Ouija, released in October in time for Halloween, was, by all accounts, a cliché-ridden turkey about a group of teenage girls who experiment with a board and get scared. It has a disastrous 7 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregating site, but became an occult hit, to the delight of its backers. Hasbro, the toy company behind Monopoly, pushed for the revival of the film, which had stalled in development, and partnered with Universal to make it happen. Its Ouija Game, including a glow-in-the-dark version, is – sure enough – the biggest seller online.
Read it all from the Independent. One C of E clergyman is concerned: ‘It’s like opening a shutter in one’s soul and letting in the supernatural,’ says Peter Irwin-Clark, a Church of England vicar who has witnessed the dark side of Ouija. ‘There are spiritual realities out there and they can be very negative.’
Filed under: * Culture-Watch * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths
Next year, people born between 1981 and 1996 are poised to become the new workforce majority and will eventually remake the workplace in their own image. That means office culture is in for big changes. As a new survey shows, this generation is already chafing at today's traditional company structures.
Freelancer platform Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding, a research consultancy, interviewed more than a thousand working millennials and 200 older hiring managers to arrive at what they call the "disjoints" in thinking between these two generations. The two groups often had different perspectives on what’s important.
Roughly two-thirds of hiring managers agree that millennials have more equal attitudes toward genders in the workplace. But the report suggests that gender-based discrimination—whether it comes to salary or assignments—is still rife. More than 20% of millennial women say that when they arrive at their new jobs, they feel like work is worse than they expected. Only 12% of millennial men feel similarly.
Read it all.
Foreigners are dreaming big, but the locals seem a bit overwhelmed with all the interest in a new law that was passed legalizing marijuana in the last year.
The law allows Uruguayans to register to grow their own weed, or join growing clubs — cooperatives of up to 45 people — for personal consumption.
Under President Jose Mujica's maverick leadership, Uruguay went further than any country in the world: The government will plant, cultivate and ultimately distribute marijuana, too.
Mujica says decades of failed drug war policies necessitated a radical new approach to curb drug violence and addiction. If the government sells dope, the idea goes, the criminals can't. But the reality has proven complicated, and some advocates say the government has bitten off more than it can chew.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Globalization Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary South America Uruguay * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Leading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration's challenge to certain "workplace wellness" programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.
Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama's healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.
The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don't.
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Although Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states are also major oil exporters, they differ from other producers in two important ways. First, their cost of extracting oil is extremely low, which means that they will be able to produce profitably at the current price – or even at a much lower price. Second, their enormous financial reserves allow them to finance their domestic and international activities for an extended period of time, as they seek to transform their economies to reduce their dependence on oil revenue.
A further decline in the price of oil could have major geopolitical repercussions. A price of $60 a barrel would create severe problems for Russia in particular. President Vladimir Putin would no longer be able to maintain the transfer programs that currently sustain his popular support. There would be similar consequences in Iran and Venezuela.
It is not clear whether these countries’ current regimes could survive a substantial and sustained future decline in oil prices. By contrast, it is obvious that oil-importing countries would benefit greatly – as they already are.
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Black Friday in the U.S.: like a regular weekend at the malls, only a little more so. Black Friday overseas: like Black Friday used to be in the U.S., including the shoving and fistfights.
Call it America's latest export.
As Americans hunkered down on their couches to score Black Friday bargains online, shoppers in other parts of the world took part in what had been a uniquely American experience: Risking life and limb for dirt-cheap sweaters and discounted TVs.
British police officers were called to stores across the country on Friday to quell surging crowds and fights over deals. Retailers had adopted American-style Black Friday discounts to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season, according to Reuters. Even Brazil got in on the act, with stores offering Black Friday deals.
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The family of Lee Rigby have said they hold Facebook partly responsible for his murder, after a report found it failed to take action over an online chat in which one of the killers vowed to slay a soldier.
The Intelligence and Security Committee’s long-awaited report yesterday labelled an unnamed internet company, widely reported to be Facebook, a “safe haven for terrorists” because it did not flag up the online exchange between Michael Adebowale and a foreign jihadist, which took place five months before Fusilier Rigby’s murder.
The parliamentary watchdog’s chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind stated that the web firm could have made a difference by raising the conversation, and said there was “a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack” as Adebowale would have become “a top priority.”
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Artificial intelligence, once confined to the realm of science fiction, is changing our lives. Cars are driving themselves. Drones are being programmed to deliver packages. Computers are learning to diagnose diseases. In a recent book, the economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe these recent advances as examples of the beginning of what they call “the second machine age.”
The very name – the first machine age was the Industrial Revolution – suggests an epochal shift. And, indeed, if the predictions are to be believed, these technological advances could have profound implications for the way we live.
One common forecast is that as ever-more advanced robots substitute workers, the cost of labor will become less important, and manufacturing will move back to rich countries. Another is that increasingly intelligent machines will reduce the demand for advanced skills, and that the economic advantage of having these skills will decline as a result.
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Sunday morning is an inconvenient time for church services because people are busy shopping and doing DIY, the Church of England has admitted.
Worshippers are increasingly turning their backs on the centuries-old practice of attending worship on Sundays because of other leisure and social “commitments”, it said.
The admission came alongside new figures showing that attendances at midweek services in cathedrals have doubled in a decade while numbers in the pews in parishes on Sundays continue to fall.
The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, said many people still crave quiet reflection, but are seeking out less “pressurised” times in the week to worship than Sunday mornings.
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A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.
I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.
The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe - or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe - only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.
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At this year's Acton University conference, you spoke on how love is an indispensable basis for economic life. To some, that might seem odd if economic life is viewed as the maximization of utility and material well-being.
We can’t enter the marketplace as something other than what we really are, and real human love demonstrates the impossibility of being merely homo economicus (“the economic man”), which is essentially a thesis that reduces human beings to their materiality.
Humans are simultaneously material and transcendent, individual and social. We are not merely individual entities, though we are uniquely and unrepeatably that, even from the first moment of our conception. Yet the whole of our lives we are social and individual, material and spiritual. If we ignore this existential reality, then we fail to understand what it means to be human.
Love—authentic human love—helps us understand this anthropological reality. Even conjugal love offers more than physicality. In this act of love, we offer our whole selves, including our ideals, dreams, and indeed our future to one another—none of which exists in material reality. Love, especially in the biblical sense, is not merely what one wants for oneself, but is a free decision that wills the good of the person one loves. And this transcendent act, this non-material dimension of human anthropology—when open to new life—normatively results in other human persons who are made from the dust of the earth and the breath of life.
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Dozens of faith leaders and consumer advocates are pressing Congress to create a national interest rate cap for payday lenders instead of the exorbitant three-digit rates currently charged to people in several states. Eighty activists from 22 states came to Washington in hopes of shaping new regulations that are expected from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many of their congregations are surrounded by payday loan businesses that they say prey on poor residents by charging high interest rates and creating a cycle of debt.
“Together, you guys are really bringing a strong message and a light and a moral perspective about predatory lending that’s valuable,” said Rachel Anderson, director of faith-based outreach for the Center for Responsible Lending, which spearheaded a three-day visit and training session for religious leaders on Capitol Hill. “We hope that your message is heard strongly.”
The leaders asked members of Congress on Wednesday (November 19) to pass legislation capping interest rates, citing a 36 percent interest cap required by the Military Lending Act. “If it’s fair for the military, we felt it should be fair for all people,” said the Rev. Susan McCann of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Missouri.
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One80 Place's program isn't unique: There are dozens of similar kitchen-based initiatives across the country, ranging from modest Culinary 101-type classes to full-fledged restaurants serving the public. But it's especially appropriate for Charleston, where severe understaffing threatens to upend the local food-and-beverage economy.
The lurking downer is that the efficacy of such programs remains remarkably unclear. Scholars have scrutinized the causes of homelessness and the demographics of the U.S. homeless population, but whether job training leads to long-term employment remains largely unexplored. Even Catalyst Kitchens, a national network of organizations that "transform lives through foodservice job training and social enterprise," couldn't muster any evidence showing kitchen-centered training results in better outcomes than other interventions.
"We're all sort of finding our way," says Angela DuPree, One80 Place's director of operations.
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Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bid to pass a Keystone XL pipeline bill fell short by the slimmest of margins Tuesday, leaving the $8 billion pipeline still on the table for the ascendant Republican Party to push the project to President Barack Obama’s desk in January.
The 59-41 Senate vote was just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, following a dramatic six days of whipping by the embattled Louisiana Democrat on an issue that almost all of Washington had expected to sit idle until next year.
The defeat deals a blow to Landrieu’s campaign ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, whom polls show running comfortably ahead. Winning on Keystone would have helped her demonstrate her clout on the Hill as a champion of her state’s influential oil and gas industry.
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The war between the giants of the technology industry for the attention of the world’s office workers look like it is about to take an unexpected turn.
Fundamental changes in the daily lives of millions of so-called “information workers” have already triggered a corresponding upheaval in the technology tools on which they rely. Staples such as email and Microsoft’s Office suite of products still hold sway, but they are increasingly being supplemented by services like group chat, internal social networks and shared online document editing.
Now, Facebook’s ambition to create a version of its social network for the office, first reported in the Financial Times this week, promises a new twist.
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“The upcoming OPEC meeting is going to be the most difficult one during this century,” said Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to Mr. Naimi. “It seems that OPEC has forgotten how to cooperate.”
Within the group, officials are increasingly worried its divisions contribute to weaker prices. “If OPEC fails to reach an agreement,” one OPEC official said, “oil prices will keep on falling....”
A collective move to cut output could boost prices, but it would also rob OPEC members of revenue. It is unclear how long such vulnerable OPEC economies as Venezuela and Nigeria could afford to limit production without reopening the spigots.
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Maria Fernandes died for the sake of a nap. The 32-year-old held three part-time jobs, and between shifts at two different Dunkin’ Donuts locations she stopped in a parking lot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to sleep in her car. Fumes from a spilled fuel container that had tipped over—she worried about running out of gas—and exhaust from her vehicle ended her life on August 25. According to her manager, this was the first time Fernandes failed to show up or answer her phone. Her friends remembered a generous, sentimental, spirited young woman.
Fernandes was part of what economist Joe Seneca calls the “real face of the recession”: 7.5 million American workers cobbling together a living from part-time jobs. While the shortage of full-time jobs at adequate wages is a familiar story in America’s lingering downturn, the cruel shortage of sleep is not.
It should be. “A battle against leisure is unfolding,” Ryan Jacob claims in a Pacific Standard article called, provocatively enough, “Are Sundays Dying?” Citing Canadian survey data, Jacob found that even in this last citadel of repose, religious observances, socializing, eating at home, and, yes, sleep had all declined on Sundays between 1981 and 2005. During the same period, time spent working increased dramatically.
Read it all and alert blog readers may remember that I posted Ms. Fernandes tragic story back in October.
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Another day, another football player arrested for domestic violence.
Frank Clark, a senior defensive end for the University of Michigan, was arrested Sunday for allegedly attacking his girlfriend in a Perkins, Ohio hotel room. Sports analysts predict Clark will be a third-round NFL draft pick next year. It’s the latest in a string of scandals involving football players this year–including Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson–that has prompted the NFL to implement a revamped domestic violence policy.
But Drew Pittman, a Christian NFL sports agent whose firm has negotiated almost $1 billion in player contracts, claims we’re missing the real problem. He says America–not just sports–is experiencing an epidemic of men who are not equipped to be husbands and fathers. He’s compiled stories and principles from his career in a new book, First Team Dad: Your Playbook for a Winning Family (foreword by Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy), and argues that our real problem is ungodly men. Here we discuss his book, sports scandals, and what he believes every parent can learn about parenting and marriage from professional sports.
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Federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of National Football League team medical staffs on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league. The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, according to a senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.
The medical staffs were part of travel parties whose teams were playing at stadiums across the country. The law enforcement official said DEA agents, working in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, inspected multiple teams but would not specify which ones were inspected or where.
The San Francisco 49ers confirmed they were inspected by federal agents following their game against the New York Giants in New Jersey but did not provide any details. “The San Francisco 49ers organization was asked to participate in a random inspection with representatives from the DEA Sunday night at MetLife Stadium,” team spokesman Bob Lange said in an e-mailed statement. “The 49ers medical staff complied and the team departed the stadium as scheduled.”
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The Anglican Diocese of Southwark has received accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation as a Living Wage employer.
This means that everyone who regularly works in the diocesan offices in Chapel Court off Borough High Street receives at least the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour.
"The Diocese of Southwark is proud to join more than 1,000 employers nationwide who are determined to help people earn enough to provide their family with the essentials of life by paying the Living Wage, which more accurately reflects the real cost of living," said diocesan secretary Simon Parton.
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The truth is we all lose out from the inequity of low pay. Billions of pounds are spent each year on topping up the incomes of low paid workers at a time when public finances are very tight. Demand is sucked out of the economy by the lack of spending power of a fifth of the workforce. And where inequality grows, we all become diminished. It makes us all poorer.
But amidst this darkness, some light has begun to shine through, and many of you are part of that light, as you have embraced the principle of paying a Living Wage. Over 1,000 employers – from Local Councils, to small and large private businesses, are now accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. The number of Living Wage Employers in the FTSE 100 has risen from four to 18.
I would like to thank you, and the other organisations here that not only support work on the Living Wage but are also accredited themselves. You are leading the way for responsible employers.
The other good news we heard recently is that the Living Wage has now been increased by 2.6%, in line with the actual cost of living.
But there is still a long way to go....
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Terrorists and criminals are exploiting a European court ruling to hide internet records about their pasts, a cabinet minister has warned.
Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, unleashed a fierce rebuke to “unelected judges” in Luxembourg who passed the “right to be forgotten” law. It grants anyone the right to demand the removal of damaging or embarrassing information from search engines, even if it is factually true.
Mr Javid hit out at the ruling as “censorship by the back door”. In a speech to newspaper editors, he said that thousands of requests to remove links to articles were pouring in to companies such as Google from people who “for one reason or another, would prefer their pasts to be kept secret”.
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Advances in robotics and computing could wipe out as much as a third of all UK jobs over the next 20 years, a new report has claimed.
More than 10 million roles are likely to be replaced by automated systems, with repetitive, lower-paid jobs (those earning less than £30,000 a year) five times more likely to be made obsolete than higher-paid jobs.
Experts said the trends identified in the report were already well under way, with “high risk” jobs identified in “office and administrative support; sales and services; transportation; construction and extraction; and production.”
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Investors’ long-term success may increasingly depend not just on the narrow financial performance of the companies whose shares they buy, but on how well they manage the ethical questions that will ultimately shape the outcomes for those companies.
While many asset owners look on responsible investing as an ethical obligation, the growing consensus is that it is also good business.
This view casts responsibility as a question of risk management. If you invest only in businesses with good human rights practices, engagement with local communities, clear accountability through the supply chain and clarity about exposure to resource scarcity, you are less likely to be caught out by an unforeseen problem such as protests over water rights or litigation following an oil spill, such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon debacle in the Gulf of Mexico.
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The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.
More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.
But challengers say the administration is violating the plain language of the law. They are represented by the same conservative legal strategists who fell one vote short of convincing the court that the law was unconstitutional the last time around.
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if we look at just the 25-to-54 age group, which strips out most students and retirees, the employment-to-population ratio has been slowly improving since it bottomed out at 74.6% (not seasonally adjusted) in February 2011. Last month, 77.3% of all 25-to-54-year-olds were employed, which is well below the indicator’s pre-recession high in October 2006, when 80.7% of people in this age group were employed.
Then again, not all employment is created equal, either. During the Great Recession, the ranks of people working part-time either because they couldn’t find full-time work or because their hours were cut back because of slack demand soared from around 3% of all employed people pre-recession to 6.6% in March 2010. There are fewer such involuntary part-timers now, but last month they still accounted for 4.8% of all employed people (and 2.7% of the entire adult civilian non-institutional population).
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An unusual email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.
The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.
It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.
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Searching for a new way to attack Ebola, companies and academic researchers are now racing to develop faster and easier tests for determining whether someone has the disease.
Such tests might require only a few drops of blood rather than a test tube of it, and provide the answer on the spot, without having to send the sample to a laboratory.
The tests could be essential in West Africa, where it can take days for a sample to travel to one of the relatively few testing laboratories, leaving those suspected of having the disease in dangerous limbo.
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NYU's Pankaj Ghemawat discusses the top 10 countries that are wired and ready to make money. He speaks with Bloomberg's Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." Watch it all.
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The Internet is moving to a shopping center near you.
In Fort Wayne, Ind., a vacated Target store is about to be home to rows of computer servers, network routers and Ethernet cables courtesy of a local data-center operator. In Jackson, Miss., a former McRae’s department store will get the same treatment next year. And one quadrant of the Marley Station Mall south of Baltimore is already occupied by a data-center company that last year offered to buy out the rest of the building.
As America’s retailers struggle to keep up with online shopping, the Internet is starting to settle into some of the very spaces where brick-and-mortar customers used to shop. The shift brings welcome tenants to some abandoned stretches of the suburban landscape, though it doesn’t replace all the jobs and sales-tax revenue that local communities lost when stores left the building.
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In 1999, Desert Storm veteran Dale Sutcliffe asked his father-in-law, a Korean War veteran, if he would attend a hypothetical reunion with his old Army unit.
"I'd be on the next plane to Korea to see those guys," Sutcliffe remembers his father-in-law, David Mozingo, saying.
That led Sutcliffe, now of Mount Pleasant but living in Boston at the time, to think about developing an online registry for veterans to reconnect with one another.
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South Carolina ranks 37th in the country in terms of its tax structure being friendly to business.
The state's biggest problems, according to an annual analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation, are its high individual income tax and its unemployment insurance rates.
The issue of tax reform has been touched on during this year's gubernatorial campaign, but it hasn't played a central role.
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Many of the people who read this article will do so because Greg Marra, 26, a Facebook engineer, calculated that it was the kind of thing they might enjoy.
Mr. Marra’s team designs the code that drives Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories that users see. He is also fast becoming one of the most influential people in the news business.
Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics company SimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase.
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The much heralded asset-backed securities purchase programme will only yield about €250bn-€450bn in assets over the next two years. More LTRO (or the newer targeted LTRO) will prove a challenge as sovereign bond yields in Europe are so low that a large balance sheet expansion through this means seems impractical. Perhaps there is another €500bn-€750bn to do over the next year or two. Outright purchases of sovereign debt would prove politically difficult, as many would interpret such purchases as violating the ECB’s mandate and the matter would probably end up in the European courts.
The bottom line is that none of the tools currently on the table will get the job done. There are not enough assets to purchase or finance and the timetable to get anything done is too long. Policy makers do not have the luxury of a year or two to figure this out. The ECB balance sheet shrinks virtually daily and as it shrinks, the monetary base of Europe is contracting and putting downward pressure on prices. Europe is clearly in danger of falling into the liquidity trap, if it is not already there. The likelihood of a “lost decade” like that experienced in Japan is rapidly increasing. The ECB must act and act quickly.
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Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally.
These new types of products alter industry structure and the nature of competition, exposing companies to new competitive opportunities and threats. They are reshaping industry boundaries and creating entirely new industries. In many companies, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question, “What business am I in?”
Smart, connected products raise a new set of strategic choices related to how value is created and captured, how the prodigious amount of new (and sensitive) data they generate is utilized and managed, how relationships with traditional business partners such as channels are redefined, and what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded.
The phrase “internet of things” has arisen to reflect the growing number of smart, connected products and highlight the new opportunities they can represent. Yet this phrase is not very helpful in understanding the phenomenon or its implications. The internet, whether involving people or things, is simply a mechanism for transmitting information. What makes smart, connected products fundamentally different is not the internet, but the changing nature of the “things.”
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Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.
One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.
Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.
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Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.
The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.
Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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Federal Reserve policy makers are missing a key element as they assess the health of the labor market: data that includes whether those who are employed are overqualified for their job or would like to work more hours.
As a result, the "significant underutilization of labor resources" that Fed officials highlighted last month as they renewed a pledge to keep interest rates low for a "considerable period" is probably even more severe than currently estimated. And the information gap means policy makers may have more difficulty gauging the right moment to raise rates off zero.
"We have more slack than the official statistics suggest," said Michelle Meyer, a senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York. "Because it's difficult to measure underutilization, there's still a lot of uncertainty as to how much slack remains, which means there's uncertainty as to the appropriate stance of monetary policy."
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.
You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.
But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.
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Even if one ignores some very important issues – such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) – serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.
This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
For the American and British economies it has been a long road out of the woods, but the journey is nearing its end. America’s unemployment rate fell below 6% in September. Britain’s economy, where output was up 3.2% in the year to June, is growing faster than any other big rich country’s. Central bankers are counting the days until they can raise interest rates.
Virtually everywhere else, however, the news is grim and getting grimmer. The euro zone, the world’s second-biggest economic area, seems to be falling from a feeble recovery back into outright recession as Germany hits the skids. Shockingly weak industrial production and export figures mean Germany’s GDP is likely to shrink for the second consecutive quarter—a popular definition of recession. Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, may also be on the edge of a downturn, because April’s rise in the consumption tax is hurting spending more than expected. Russia’s and Brazil’s economies are stagnant, at best. Even in China, still growing at a suspiciously smooth 7.5% a year, there are worries about a property bust, a credit bubble and a fall in productivity
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They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.
The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital health care worker in Dallas who had “extensive contact” with the first Ebola patient to die in the United States has contracted the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed the news Sunday afternoon after an official test.
The infected person detected a fever Friday night and drove herself to the Presbyterian emergency room, where she was placed in isolation 90 minutes later. A blood sample sent to the state health lab in Austin confirmed Saturday night that she had Ebola — the first person to contract the disease in the United States.
The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the infection in the health care worker, who was not on the organization’s watch list for people who had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, resulted from a “breach in protocol.”
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Two major international companies put a huge stamp on the Lowcountry's economy last week.
French high-voltage cablemaker Nexans officially opened an $85 million facility on the Cooper River in Berkeley County in Bushy Park Industrial Complex on Wednesday, while Japan-based Showa Denko Carbon on Friday celebrated a $300 million expansion of its 31-year-old factory near Ridgeville in Dorchester County.
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Huge expansions in credit followed by crises and attempts to manage the aftermath have become a feature of the world economy. Today the US and UK may be escaping from the crises that hit seven years ago. But the eurozone is mired in post-crisis stagnation and China is struggling with the debt it built up in its attempt to offset the loss of export earnings after the crisis hit in 2008.
Without an unsustainable credit boom somewhere, the world economy seems incapable of generating growth in demand sufficient to absorb potential supply. It looks like a law of the conservation of credit booms. Consider the past quarter century: a credit boom in Japan that collapsed after 1990; a credit boom in Asian emerging economies that collapsed in 1997; a credit boom in the north Atlantic economies that collapsed after 2007; and finally in China. Each is greeted as a new era of prosperity, to collapse into crisis and post-crisis malaise.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life European Central Bank The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia China Europe
A standout member among the new-editions to this very elite club is 30-year old college dropout Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes reportedly “labored in secret” for almost a decade while developing a revolutionary new blood-testing technology. In 2003 she took her findings to the public and founded Theranos-- the company announced partnerships with Walgreens and other major drugstores to bring a new type of blood testing to consumers. Holmes’ technology calls only for a single finger-prick and a very small amount of blood for medical testing—as opposed to the full vial (or vials) of blood typically drawn for testing in most labs and medical offices. The prick is said to be painless and Theranos’ testing-methods only a fraction of the cost of commercial labs.
The biotech founder is the youngest self-made woman on the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Holmes dropped out of Stanford University her sophomore year as a chemical engineering major and used her tuition money to found her company. Holmes’ tests do not have to be performed in a doctor’s office, and by skipping the big labs most results can be ready in a few hours. “She could totally overturn an entire industry if Theranos is as successful as it seems to be,” says Brown.
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American banks are loading up on U.S. government debt, a sign they remain cautious on the economy even with the jobless rate at a six-year low and corporations at their healthiest in a generation.
Commercial lenders increased their holdings of Treasuries (BUSY) and debt from federal agencies in September by $54 billion to an unprecedented $1.99 trillion, data from the Federal Reserve show. Banks have now been net buyers for 12 straight months.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The theme of this week’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is shared prosperity. In years gone by, the Washington consensus was all about opening up markets and cutting public spending. The new Washington consensus is the need to tackle inequality.
Everybody is getting in on the act. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, will share a platform with Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, and Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, next weekend to discuss how to make global capitalism more inclusive.
The World Economic Forum – the body that organises the Davos shindig – thinks it can go one better. It is angling to get the pope along for its annual meeting in January.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.
Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.
Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.
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A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.
But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks into its crystal ball, it sees an aging population in need of care and a construction industry still rebounding from the Great Recession. In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the fastest growth in U.S. employment will take place in the health care, health care support, construction, and personal care fields. These four categories are expected to account for more than a third—about 6.6 million—of all new jobs.
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The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.
“The bronze plans are scaring a lot of administrators because the patient liability is so large,” said Debra Lowe, administrative director of revenue cycle at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Patients are unaware they have this high deductible.”
Upfront payments aren’t usually required, but more hospitals are asking patients to settle the bill in advance. If patients can’t afford the charges, some hospitals place them into financial assistance programs, such as payment plans or low-interest loans. Others help them sign up for Medicaid or individual coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. Patients can still opt to wait until after the bill goes through their insurance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Twice in the last few months I’ve encountered writers taking note of this shift, and both have made a similar (and provocative) point: The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.
The first writer is Philip Jenkins, a prolific religious historian, who argues that the decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” is both “genuine and epochal,” and something that should worry more mainstream religious believers rather than comfort them. A wild fringe, he suggests, is often a sign of a healthy, vital center, and a religious culture that lacks for charismatic weirdos may lack “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry” as well.
The second writer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and controversialist, who includes an interesting aside about the decline of cults in his new book, “Zero to One” — officially a book of advice to would-be entrepreneurs, but really a treatise on escaping what he regards as the developed world’s 40-year economic, technological and cultural malaise.
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In his spare time, he likes to hunt, fish, hike or camp. And some Sundays might find Cartwright in the pulpit. He occasionally serves as a fill-in pastor at Bonneau's First Baptist Church, where he attends.
[Dwayne] Cartwright has not only a degree in history, but also religion. His father, Norman, is a pastor, and the younger Cartwright followed a calling to become ordained as well at age 22. In addition to a full-time job, he served as minister at Corinth Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., for 25 years.
"I enjoy helping people very much," he said. "I am an encourager. It gets back to my gratification from seeing people succeed."
Bonneau First Baptist Church Pastor Ken Owens called Cartwright a model citizen.
"He is a man of integrity with Christian principles," Owens said. "On many occasions when I'm out of town on vacation or at conferences, he preaches for us and does a tremendous job. If he's available, he will be there."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * South Carolina
Boeing Co. projects the Asia Pacific region's demand for new commercial pilots and maintenance technicians over the next 20 years will be 39 percent of the global need for new airline personnel.
The Chicago-based airplane manufacturer's Pilot and Technician Outlook, an industry forecast of aviation personnel demand, projects a requirement for 216,000 new commercial airline pilots and 224,000 new technicians in the Asia Pacific region through 2033, more demand than North America and Europe combined.
"The Asia Pacific region is seeing tremendous economic growth and is set to become the largest air travel market in the world," said Bob Bellitto, a director at Boeing Flight Services. "That growth rate means booming career opportunities for those interested in becoming commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians over the next two decades. These are strong, stable and challenging jobs in one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world."
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The “squeezed middle” is being forced to endure a lower standard of living more than a decade on from the credit crunch, keeping consumer spending growth below pre-crisis levels.
The EY Item Club predicts that real take-home pay in 2017 will still be below the rate in 2007 because of subdued wage growth.
The economic forecaster’s report will make for uneasy reading for George Osborne as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference today, and it is compounded by further evidence from a free market think-tank of the existence of a “cost of living crisis”.
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While Madison Square Garden’s sold-out shows usually include headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna or Arcade Fire, Sunday’s reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to draw an equally massive crowd of nearly 20,000 Indian Americans. Modi’s appearance at the midtown Manhattan entertainment venue is part of his first trip to the U.S. as leader of the world’s largest democracy and comes at a time when people of both countries continue to see each other in a largely positive light.
In India, a majority of the public (55%) has a favorable view of the U. S., including 30% with a very positive outlook, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last spring. Only 16% see the U.S. unfavorably, while 29% offer no opinion. These high ratings are essentially unchanged from late last year, when 56% of the Indian public gave the U.S. positive marks.
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With Atlantic City casino revenue in a steep decline, last year New Jersey began offering online gambling to its citizens. It didn't help much, so now the state wants to take a bigger step.
Gov. Chris Christie has given the go-ahead for casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting, despite a 1992 federal law that bans the practice in all but four states where it previously existed. A federal judge will hear Christie's argument on Oct. 6. If he's successful, online sports gambling will surely follow.
New Jersey is a prime example of how states are the worst offenders in the world of gambling. They are both addicts and pushers. They throw temper tantrums and upset settled policy when their fix of gambling revenue runs low. And rather than compensating for the effects, they encourage their own citizens to gamble more and in different ways.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Gambling Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Politics in General State Government * Theology Pastoral Theology
Watch it all--adorable.
In the eight years since, Facebook’s News Feed — that LED-lit window through which we glimpse news, memes and snatches of other people’s lives — has not exactly gotten less controversial. But the nature of that controversy has fundamentally changed. Where early college users raged against sharing, and seeing, too much information — of being subsumed, in effect, by the social media noise — our anxieties today frequently involve getting too little of it. Facebook’s latest changes to the News Feed, announced just last week, are essentially tooled to give users more content, more quickly.
Both concerns relate to control. Whether we see too much content or too little, everything we see in Facebook’s News Feed is determined by an algorithm — an invented mathematical formula that guesses what you want to see based on who posted it, where it came from, and a string of other mysterious factors known only to the programmers and project managers who work on it.
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Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans' views of current economic conditions and their opinions on whether the economy is getting better or worse. Last week, 18% of Americans said the economy was "excellent" or "good," while 35% said the economy was "poor," resulting in a current conditions index score of -17. Over the past four weeks, the current conditions index has fallen one point per week.
Meanwhile, 38% of Americans last week said the economy was "getting better," and 57% said it was "getting worse." This resulted in an economic outlook score of -19, down three points from the week before, but similar to several prior weeks.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government
The Church of England is one of 12 global institutional investors backing a new project to study how climate change will impact the investment landscape.
The Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the three national investing bodies are supporting the project as part of a group concerned about climate change and its investment implications.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Religions for the Earth initiative at Union seeks to create a place where visionary religious and spiritual leaders from around the world will convene to find common ground and offer new strategies to deal with a crisis that politicians have been unable to solve.
In meeting after meeting, from Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen to Durban, politicians and technocrats have been thwarted, because at its core, climate change is not just about science, or zero-sum financial negotiations between emitters: it’s about values. It relates profoundly to the meaning of life rather than just its mechanics—to the essence of how we experience our being, share our resources, and regard one another across space and time. It has implications for the existence of the world itself, and humanity’s place within it.
It will take a values-driven conversation to change the materialistic and consumer-oriented culture that assigns worth only to financially quantifiable things. The unchecked profit-driven model of maximum production devours what we care most about: clean air, clean water, and the wellbeing of the most vulnerable families. We need a new moral equation.
Read it all from Time Magazine.
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Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.
Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?
Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.
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The Federal Reserve took two steps toward winding down the historic easy-money policies that have defined its response to the financial crisis, but stopped short of the move markets are awaiting most: signaling when interest rates will start to rise.
With the economy gradually improving, U.S. central-bank officials plan to end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing after October, hoping to finally stop expanding a six-year experiment in monetary policy that has left the Fed holding more than $4 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds.
The Fed on Wednesday also detailed a new technical plan for how it will raise short-term interest rates, something most officials currently don't intend to do until next year. The central bank has kept the federal-funds rate near zero since December 2008 and offered assurances along the way about rates remaining low, another part of its varied efforts to boost the post-financial-crisis economy.
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If Scotland votes Yes to independence the knee-jerk response in the markets is easy to predict: sell sterling, sell UK equities, sell Scottish financials and short Spanish debt on Catalonia fears. UK gilts may offer a safe haven but this is not certain given questions about the allocation of debt in divorce, enhanced risk of rump UK exit from the EU and potential contingent liabilities associated with a messy break-up of the UK.
In particular there has been insufficient attention to the challenge that would be faced by the Bank of England maintaining unlimited liquidity provision to Scottish banks during the transition to independence, particularly if uncertainty about future currency arrangements were to result in cross-border capital flight. There is a non-trivial risk this could end in a credit crunch in Scotland.
The onset of divorce negotiations would lay bare that Scotland faces an impossible trinity: full independence, financial stability and deep economic integration with the UK. It can have any two of these but not all three.
Read it all Krishna Guha of the FT.
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Please note--be warned this contains content that is very disturbing--KSH.
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If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.
Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.
By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.
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At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.
But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.
The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.
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Previously, Business Insider examined ranked every state by how quickly the economies were growing. This time around, we calculated which states had the best economies outright.
We ranked each state on seven economic measures: the July unemployment rate; the change in nonfarm payroll jobs from June to July 2014; the 2013 GDP per capita; the 2012 per capita consumption; the 2013 average annual wage; the 2013 exports per capita; and the 2012 government expenditures.
No fair looking until you guess where your state falls if this applies to you. Then go and read it all.
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