Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all (subsciption required).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So much soot belched from the old power plant here that Mike Zeleny would personally warn the neighbors.

“If the wind was blowing in a certain direction,” Mr. Zeleny said, “we’d call Mrs. Robinson down the street and tell her not to put out her laundry.”

That coal plant is long gone, replaced by a much larger and cleaner one along the vast Saskatchewan prairie. Sooty shirts and socks are a thing of the past.

But as with even the most modern coal plants, its smokestacks still emit enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, the invisible heat-trapping gas that is the main contributor to global warming. So this fall, a gleaming new maze of pipes and tanks — topped with what looks like the Tin Man’s hat — will suck up 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from one of the boilers so it can be shipped out for burial, deep underground.

Read it all.

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

15 Comments
Posted July 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England’s prolonged struggle to sell its stake in Wonga, the payday lender, illustrates the problems that investors can encounter when they lock up their capital in illiquid private vehicles instead of buying publicly traded securities that offer a straightforward exit.

However, buying and selling positions in existing private equity funds in the secondary market is becoming increasingly popular, attracting growing interest from institutional investors.

Ardian, a Paris-based manager, raised $9bn earlier this year to create the largest private equity secondary market fund to date while Lexington Capital Partners is looking to raise $8bn to $10bn for its latest secondary vehicle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As many as 1 in 5 of the people in the top half of the tax credit range might actually end up having income that puts them out of the tax credit range, which means whopping bills at tax time," Brandes said. "We're talking about millions of people here."

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.

“I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.

This is the face of the new subprime boom. Mr. Durham is one of millions of Americans with shoddy credit who are easily obtaining auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in intolerant times. A former Secretary of State is disinvited from speaking on campus. Corporate leaders are forced to resign because of their views on marriage. People are forced by the courts to violate their consciences. A prominent Senate leader calls Tea Party activists “anarchists” and, in a speech reminiscent of McCarthyism, brands the businessmen-philanthropist Koch brothers “un-American.” The Internal Revenue Service—harking back to the Johnson and Nixon eras—is accused of targeting individuals and groups for their political views. And government leaders routinely ignore laws they are sworn to uphold.

This is more than intolerant. It is illiberal. It is a willingness to use coercive methods, from government action to public shaming, to shut down debate and censor those who hold a different opinion as if they have no right to their views at all.

Read it all and read part two there also.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As long as that phone is acting as a kind of electronic umbilical cord, parents can tell themselves their children are safe.

But increasingly the smartphone itself is an instrument of harm. Such is the case with a 16-year-old Houston girl named Jada, who entered the spotlight as she publicly confronted the evidence that she had been raped at a party by at least one other teenager. She says she passed out after drinking a beverage that was spiked and only learned of the crime after her classmates began tweeting photos and videos taken of her unconscious, partly nude body. (Houston police are investigating; no one has been charged.)

What happened next is remarkable in ways that instill faith in the human spirit and at the same time provoke disgust at the depravity and lemming-like behavior that teenagers with smartphones are capable of.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. Yellen, in downplaying concerns about financial stability, said the economic recovery remained incomplete and the Fed’s help was necessary.

“Too many Americans remain unemployed, inflation remains below our longer-run objective and not all of the necessary financial reform initiatives have been completed,” Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee.

Ms. Yellen’s testimony is likely to reinforce a sense of complacency among investors who regard the Fed as convinced of its forecast and committed to its policy course. She reiterated the Fed’s view that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace, and that the Fed is in no hurry to start increasing short-term interest rates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cyberspace has become shorthand for the computing devices, networks, fibre-optic cables, wireless links and other infrastructure that bring the internet to billions of people around the world. The myriad connections forged by these technologies have brought tremendous benefits to everyone who uses the web to tap into humanity’s collective store of knowledge every day.

But there is a darker side to this extraordinary invention. Data breaches are becoming ever bigger and more common. Last year over 800m records were lost, mainly through such attacks.... Among the most prominent recent victims has been Target, whose chief executive, Gregg Steinhafel, stood down from his job in May, a few months after the giant American retailer revealed that online intruders had stolen millions of digital records about its customers, including credit- and debit-card details. Other well-known firms such as Adobe, a tech company, and eBay, an online marketplace, have also been hit.

The potential damage, though, extends well beyond such commercial incursions. Wider concerns have been raised by the revelations about the mass surveillance carried out by Western intelligence agencies made by Edward Snowden, a contractor to America’s National Security Agency (NSA), as well as by the growing numbers of cyber-warriors being recruited by countries that see cyberspace as a new domain of warfare. America’s president, Barack Obama, said in a White House press release earlier this year that cyberthreats “pose one of the gravest national-security dangers” the country is facing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently we learned that]...a critical threshold has now been reached in the 10,000-year history of urban civilization. On Thursday, the United Nations declared for the first time that more than half of the people on the planet live in cities. Only 70 years ago, less than a third did. And by 2050, two-thirds of people will be living in cities.

The rapid pace in urbanization has many causes, such as better transportation and a rise in manufacturing. China, for example, has seen the world’s largest migration as more than 150 million rural people have moved to cities in recent decades for factory jobs and better education after the country embraced a market economy.

But a deeper cause likely drives people to live in close proximity to each other and put up with noise, traffic, pollution, and high prices....Cities are escalators to the good life. They are dream factories. Urban migrants put up with squalor in order to lift their families out of generations of rural stagnation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 13, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.

The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.

At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has jettisoned its stake in the payday lender Wonga, finally distancing itself from the firm it accused of exploiting the poor.

The move by the Church’s financial arm, the Church Commissioners, represents a victory for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby who has waged a high-profile campaign against high interest lenders.

He faced acute embarrassment last summer when, just a day after the publication of an interview in which he spoke of hoping to force Wonga out of business, it emerged that the Church’s financial arm, the Church Commissioners, had an indirect investment in the company....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Supreme Court yesterday vindicated two Christian-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, that have a pro-life objection to including in their employee health plans certain contraceptive drugs and devices. In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the government did not meet the test set up by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law passed with overwhelming support in Congress and proudly signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The controversy is over the contraceptives mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, which requires employers’ health plans to cover a wide range of contraceptive drugs and devices, including some the companies and others regard as abortifacients. Churches are exempt from the mandate; after widespread protest, religious nonprofits such as colleges and hospitals were offered an “accommodation”: the insurer provides to the organization a health plan excluding objectionable contraceptives and then announces to the employees that those contraceptives will be paid for by the insurer. No relief at all was offered to companies like those in the cases decided yesterday: religion has no place in commerce, the government claimed. Some 100 lawsuits, by businesses as well as religious nonprofits, have been launched against the contraceptives mandate.

Besides the relief granted to the two companies and others with similar religious claims, what’s most important is the Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s effort to make business a religion-free zone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Google it” is synonymous with seeking information. Now Google Inc. (GOOG) is struggling with a new rule: “Hide it.”

The world’s biggest search-engine company is grappling with how to apply a European Union court decision that said citizens have a so-called right to be forgotten when Internet searches throw up results that are “inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, or excessive.”

The company faces criticism from all sides for its response. It made a U-turn by restoring links to Daily Telegraph and Guardian newspaper stories in the U.K. after it was attacked for playing the role of press censor. Meanwhile, the country’s privacy watchdog said complaints have started to come from citizens who want information blocked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMedia* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”

Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1, for its successful suit against the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and potential abortifacients.

But this isn’t just a point about the company’s particular virtues. The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev is on track-ish. But like many commentators and politicians, he has not done his segmentation analysis to A-grade standard. His focus is too much on the "what" and not enough on the "for whom", which is a marketing motherhood error.

The Archbishop's concern is mainly with the grip of poverty that forces the zero-income, deprived and desperate sections of society deeper into the darkness of debt. He is bringing his formidable intelligence and experience to bear in highlighting their plight and is contributing significantly to bringing them alternative and better support. To have an Anglican Primate showing the wit and will to do more than posture and politicise, is a refreshing novelty for the Church of England. His ideas around the Credit Champions Network and for using the churches as financial advisory centres for those in poverty are genuinely original. After all, when Jesus threw over the tables of money-changers in the temple of Jerusalem, he didn't specifically object to advisory-only services.

But, knowingly or not, The Archbishop is nonetheless grossly over simplifying the situation by claiming that the Credit Unions' "responsible credit and saving are real alternatives to the services currently provided by payday lenders".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back”

There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, except you. Opinions and data and milestones are being thrown around and you don’t know your CTA from your OTA. This is a great point to go, “Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?” Everyone will turn their heads toward you, amazed at your ability to silence the fray. Follow it up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve?” and, boom! You’ve bought yourself another hour of looking smart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The high number of involuntary part-time workers is consistent with an average workweek that was unchanged at 34.5 hours for the fourth straight month in June, says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist of The Economic Outlook Group.

"It stands to reason that if the economy is improving, we would see employees put in more time on the job," Baumohl says. "This is usually a leading indicator of both future hiring and pay increases."

Instead, he notes, the economy has been running in place this year. Second-quarter growth will likely offset a 2.9% first-quarter contraction caused partly by bad weather.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Graduates around the world gather at the end of spring for one final lesson: the commencement speech.

It’s a time when luminaries from business, politics and the arts deliver wisdom (and humor) to students eager for the next stage. Susan Wojcicki recalled watching the first item uploaded to Google Video—a purple, furry puppet, dancing and singing in Swedish—with no idea what to think. Until her children saw it—and cheered. Marc Benioff shared that time he did “what all lost thirty-somethings do: travel to India.”

We’ve pulled together memorable addresses from 2014 (with a splash from the speeches of yore). Did we miss any? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Wonga may not be at the most aggressive end of the payday loan spectrum, its “in-your-face” approach has made it the face of the post-crisis explosion in high-cost consumer credit. The volume of payday loans, designed to tide the borrower over to the next pay cheque, more than tripled in the UK between 2007 and 2013 as the economy soured and mainstream banks withdrew from riskier areas of consumer credit.

The growth in such lending may be a classic post-bubble phenomenon, and the less well-off do sometimes need access to short-term credit to deal with unexpected shocks, but most people are made understandably uneasy by the idea of encouraging those of slender means to borrow expensively to finance elective consumption. Against this background, calls for tighter regulation have fallen on fertile ground.

As the sector’s most visible lender, Wonga has become a focus for public disapprobation. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has condemned Wonga for usurious practices and called for it to be competed “out of existence”....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you have a job, you know some people take their job titles way too seriously. Many of them just sit around and do the bare minimum all day long.

Whether you’re a sales associate taking on a retail position at a high-end store, or a director at a major corporation, there’s a high chance you should just be called a more simplified name rather than whatever your business card says you are.

In a recent photo series released by Someecards, we’re all exposed to the harsh reality of what our job titles actually entail.

These are really good and deserve a careful look--KSH.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traci Butler and her husband cut out vacations after the U.S. recession five years ago. This week, the couple is taking their two boys on a weeklong trip that includes a July 4th visit to the nation’s capital, just a few weeks after touring Italy on their own.

In the aftermath of the recession, “things were much tighter,” said Butler, a special education teacher from Washington, Illinois, whose husband works for construction machinery maker Caterpillar Inc. “We didn’t have bonuses for a while. The last two years have been better.”

About 34.8 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more from home during the five days ending July 6, up from 34.1 million last year and the most since 2007, AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring organization, said June 26. The travel recovery is boosting sales for hotels and attractions, a sign that consumer confidence and consumer spending are on the mend, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church, which invests in Wonga, is currently facing an ungodly dilemma of its own making.

Previously Most Rev Welby had made it clear that he believed that payday lenders should be put out of business. Entirely.

But, oops, this was before he was informed that the CoE's financial wing had sunk something in the region of £100,000 into the company.

Following criticism of this odd state of affairs, the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group launched a review. (Although you would think that "Church investing in Wonga" would fairly obviously constitute an ethical no-no.)

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judge not.

That’s the central message in a Supreme Court ruling Monday that found the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) cannot be used to force a privately held corporation to act against the religious beliefs of its owners.

The high court decided that the 2010 health-care law violates religious liberty by demanding such owners pay for contraceptive insurance that they regard as immoral. Government must not force the employers to act against their faith, the court found, because that would be the same as judging their religious views to be “flawed.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How shocking: Facebook had the temerity to conduct an experiment on its users without telling them and now the results have been published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Actually, no one should be surprised.

For a week in 2012, the social network's staff scientist Adam Kramer and two collaborators used algorithms to doctor the news feeds of 689,003 English-speaking Facebook users. They reduced the number of posts containing "positive" and "negative" words, tracked their lab rat users' own posts, and found that their mood was influenced by that of the news feed. The term, well-known to psychologists studying real-world communications, is "emotional contagion."

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why are people dishonest? From Main Street to Wall Street, at home and at work, questionable behavior defies people’s best intentions. Now experts in the social sciences are examining why people so often behave contrary to their own ethical aims and what can be done about it, especially in the world of business. “What we find is that when people are thinking about honesty versus dishonesty,” says Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, “it’s all about being able, at the moment, to rationalize something and make yourself think that this is actually okay.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the "Wonga controversy." As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a speech in Westminster, Welby pointed out that loan sharks sometimes turn up with baseball bats if customers do not pay. It now turns out that Wonga sends out menacing letters from non-existent solicitors if its customers miss their repayments.

And, herein lies the problem for the Church of England. Its Church Commissioners arm has a £100,000 stake in Wonga – albeit less than it was but a stake nonetheless, held through the Accel Partners investment vehicle which backed one of the payday lenders' funding rounds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many will tell you that we can save the planet by switching from gas-guzzling automobiles to electric cars. But Zack Rosen says there’s a better way. He’ll tell you the impact would be greater if we just switched from virtual machines to Linux containers.

Virtual machines are those things that let anyone run software on the massive cloud computing services offered up by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Rather than setting up its own computer servers, a startup like Netflix or Pinterest can build almost its entire operation atop virtual servers running in the cloud–pieces of software that work much like a real machine. But Rosen believes we can seriously reduce the world’s energy consumption if we swap these virtual machines for containers, a suddenly red-hot cloud computing technology that fits neatly into the open source Linux operating system, the OS of choice on the modern web. Among other things, containers can run large software applications in significantly more efficient ways.

Citing multiple studies on power used by cars and data centers, Rosen estimates that, with so much of our software running on cloud services and other operations that use virtual machines, we have a better chance of saving the planet if we just embrace containers. “They’re an order of magnitude more efficient,” says Rosen, whose company, Pantheon, has long used containers to run its online service, a kind of website publishing platform. “I think you can say–with an absolute straight face–that the containerization of software applications in the age of the cloud will save more CO2 emissions than electric cars.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite Americans being more secure in their jobs and more comfortable with their debt since the recession ended, their savings capacity remains weak even among those with highest-income household. Only 46% of those with annual income of $75,000 or above have enough savings to cover six months of expenses.

“People are not making progress. Incomes are stagnating and expenses are high,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. He said that many people are still struggling with payments from the past years and high household costs.

The report also indicates that the segment of the population aged between 30 and 49 are the most likely to have no emergency fund compared with younger people. “That is alarming because those are the people with a house, two cars and a dog but still with no emergency savings. You need emergency savings,” he added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A blueprint to lift one million people out of low pay by 2020 is published...[this week], and could adopted by Labour if it wins power at next year’s general election.

A commission chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, calls on the Government to champion the gradual introduction of a living wage higher than the national minimum wage in sectors that could afford it. But it rejects the idea of imposing a higher wages floor by law.

The living wage is currently £8.80 an hour in London and £7.65 an hour outside the capital. The minimum wage is £6.31 an hour.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Slippersnails, olives, periwinkles, tulips - thousands of species of sea snails live in saltwater off the Lowcountry, uncounted millions of creatures.

If they all were wiped out by an ecological catastrophe it would take out the "base line" food of the marine food chain, the food eaten by foraging fish that in turn are eaten by larger fish. It would starve the ocean, the economies and the people who depend on it.

That's not a dire prediction linked to climate change. It's already starting to happen as the ocean gets more acidic. And for the Lowcountry, ocean acidification might not even be the real threat. It might be what scientists call the one-two punch of acidification and low oxygen in the estuaries, the nursery for the shellfish we eat - shrimp, oysters, clams.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted June 23, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nowadays, just about everyone says that everything in our homes will soon be connected to the internet. And some companies, including Google, Apple, and Amazon, are actually making it happen, offering internet-connected televisions, smoke alarms, and thermostats.

But Pandora has been actively pushing this idea even longer than most. Since at least 2006, the company has been working on ways to expand its free online streaming radio service beyond the personal computer. It started with mobile phones, and before long, Pandora was in the car, on the television, and even in the kitchen. In 2011, thanks to a partnership with Samsung, it became the first music service you could use via the refrigerator–for better or for worse, the abiding symbol of the “smart home.”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"...from wages and retirement plans to vacation policies and commutes—workers are less content with their jobs than they were in 1987, when the research group started tracking the topic. Back then, 61.1% of workers said they were satisfied with their work.

The decline suggests a steady erosion of trust and loyalty between employers and employees, said Rebecca Ray, leader of the organization’s human capital research unit.

“Certainly, the employer contract is dead for the most part,” she said, noting that benefits such as pension plans, 401(k) matches and robust healthcare coverage, which once glued employers and their employees together in a long-term relationship, are disappearing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a generation, we have shifted from parents trying to stop teenagers slumping in front of the TV to young people losing all interest in the box. US teens are so occupied with social networks and mobile video that they watch only about 21 hours of broadcast TV a week.

The ad industry is suffering from attention deficit disorder – the audience that once sat obediently in front of TV spots lovingly devised by its creatives is hard to pin down. Millennials are out there, on their phones and tablets, but they are as likely to be tweeting angrily about a brand as noticing its ads in the content stream.

“I am nervous about us all being out of a job a year from now if Reed Hastings [chief executive of Netflix] takes over the world,” Laura Desmond, chief executive of Starcom MediaVest, one of the largest advertising buying agencies, told a Cannes gathering. Netflix, the video streaming service, and cable TV network HBO rely on subscription fees alone and do not carry ads.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the impetus for reforming the banking system is fading, even though taxpayers risk having to bail out the biggest banks – six years after the financial crisis.

“The elephant in the room is that banks are still too big to fail,” Justin Welby said in a speech to the New City Agenda group at the House of Lords on Tuesday. “It is going to take some time to fix this and I hope it will stay front and centre of people’s minds.”

Mr Welby, who was an outspoken member of the parliamentary commission on banking standards, was asked by a JPMorgan Chase banker in the audience if the wave of banking regulation since the crisis had removed the risk of a taxpayer bailout.

The archbishop resisted this idea. “If JPMorgan had to go into insolvency, are we seriously saying it would not cause a systemic crisis? Do we really think the US government would say: ‘No, we are not going to put a penny into this’?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 18, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I thought this was fun to look through--see what you make of it.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryMovies & Television* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

1 Comments
Posted June 18, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina is on one heck of a roll when it comes to tires.

The Palmetto State in the fourth quarter of 2013 elbowed aside Oklahoma as the nation’s leading tire producer, churning out 89,000 a day compared to the Sooner State’s 88,000 a day, according to estimates by Tire Business magazine.

It is also expanding its lead as the export king – last year shipping 30 percent of the nation’s overseas market, three times as many tires as its nearest competitor, Ohio.

“South Carolina is No. 1,” Dave Zielasko, the magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief, said. “And its not surprising. South Carolina has really been aggressive in attracting these factories.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers.

The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Internet's impact on religion might not be entirely positive. A recent report in MIT Technology Review suggests a correlation between increased Internet use and the decline of religious affiliation. After analyzing data from the University of Chicago's General Social Survey, Olin College of Engineering professor Allen Downey found that the percentage of people in the U.S. population who claimed no religious affiliation increased to 18% in 2010 from 8% in 1990. That's a jump of 25 million people.

After examining education, socioeconomic status and religious upbringing, each of which contributed to the decline of affiliation, Mr. Downey was left with a great deal of the change unexplained. His hypothesis? The dramatic rise in Internet use. In the 1980s, almost no one used the Internet, but by 2010, according to the Social Survey, more than half of the population spent at least two hours online a week, and one quarter spent more than seven hours a week. Mr. Downey believes that as much as 25% of the decline in affiliation can be explained by this new habit.

Readers of the study should keep two things in mind: It measures "affiliation," that is, identification with a particular religious tradition, not belief in God. A strong majority of U.S. adults profess belief in God (although that number has also declined), but a smaller number are affiliating with institutions that promote those beliefs. Mr. Downey's study also measures correlation, not causation; he is not arguing that Internet use caused the decline, only that it occurred alongside it and might help explain it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

0 Comments
Posted June 13, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From a Christian point of view, within the context of the church, this drive that we feel to engage 16,000 parish churches and 8,500 full-time stipendiary clergy in this springs from our sense of our faith. There’s a story that Jesus tells of two debtors, one who owes a huge sum of money, one who owes a little. The one who owes a huge sum of money is summoned by his creditor, who says, 'You’re going to pay or you’re going to prison.’ The guy begs for forgiveness and gets it, and goes away and beats up the guy who owes him a little sum of money in order to get repaid, and Jesus points out the injustice of that.

There are a lot of meanings to that parable, but one of them is that debt is a form of slavery - and debt to a bad lender is a particularly unendurable form of slavery. The credit unions are trying to be the merciful lender, the one who has a clear system of values and ethics, and builds what they do around a value of the common good.

We’ve seen a huge increase in people’s knowledge about the existence of credit unions. In the past there have been three significant areas of challenge. First of all, as you know the regulatory system was virtually impossible for a credit union to make any money in in other words to pay its cost of capital and therefore to survive. They all needed subsidy – that can’t work, it’s not sustainable. Secondly, credit unions needed a lot of help and support in some of their systems and the way they worked. And thirdly, they weren’t known.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rap song aimed at warning young people about the possible dangers of pay day lenders is released today.

Inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on responsible lending, songwriter and music producer Charles Bailey approached the Church of England with the idea for the rap.

The song, called "We Need a Union on the Streets" by Charles Bailey, feat. Question Musiq and Delilah also features Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com and tells the stories of young people who get into debt because of payday loans with high interest rates. It aims to highlight credit unions as a better way to borrow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMusicReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This artificial conception of money perhaps lies behind the pathological tendencies of high finance which are destructive of real wealth. Our governments and finance sectors are so often permitted to act in a criminal manner because we assume that money is amoral, disconnected from any right order, and thus open to manipulation by the masters of high finance. If we are to change this situation in a lasting way, we need to change the way we think about money, wealth and power.

We are not, of course, going to banish extortion or amoral instrumentalism just by having better metaphysics. Criminals, extortionist and abusers of power were as common and as powerful in the Middle Ages as they are today. Yet if we do not appreciate the relationship between the prevailing order of wealth and power and the metaphysical assumptions upon which they rest, we will be condemned to repeat the same cycle of inequity and instability.

The main game, indeed, is the struggle for our minds. Plato saw this most clearly. As long as we believe that illusions are reality, we are controlled by those who manipulate the collective illusions that structure the operational norms of the world as we know it.

How do we get money tied to the realities of real human life so that it becomes a fair function of the actual production and distribution of real wealth?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Air Force veteran Charles Fitch is alive today, most likely because of "personalized" cancer treatment that used to be the stuff of science fiction, all thanks to cancer research and treatment based on genomics.

In regards to medicine, genomics basically refers to the analysis of a individual's complete set of DNA, or genome, and how to treat diseases based on the mutations or other changes that have occurred to genes in the sequence.

Fitch, a 53-year-old grandfather who lives in Mount Pleasant, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in June 2011, a few weeks after he started having chest pains. Lab results showed that he had a low, and later plummeting, level of platelets in his blood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Book authors Mian and Sufi] argue that, rather than failing banks, the key culprits in the financial crisis were overly indebted households. Resurrecting arguments that go back at least to Irving Fisher and that were emphasised by Richard Koo in considering Japan’s stagnation, Mian and Sufi highlight how harsh leverage and debt can be – for example, when the price of a house purchased with a 10 per cent downpayment goes down by 10 per cent, all of the owner’s equity is lost. They demonstrate powerfully that spending fell much more in parts of the country where house prices fell fastest and where the most mortgage debt was attached to homes. So their story of the crisis blames excessive mortgage lending, which first inflated bubbles in the housing market and then left households with unmanageable debt burdens. These burdens in turn led to spending reductions and created an adverse economic and financial spiral that ultimately led financial institutions to the brink.

This interpretation resolves the anomalies that Mian and Sufi highlight. Households do not spend while they are still overly indebted, which precipitates slow growth even after banking is restored to health. Spending slowdowns are caused by household over-indebtedness, so of course they precede problems in the banking system. And, when consumers do not spend, businesses have less need to borrow to finance investment, inventories or receivables.

Their analysis, presented with far more depth and subtlety than I have been able to reflect here, is a major contribution that furthers our understanding of the crisis. It certainly affects what I will examine in trying to predict and forestall future crises. And it should influence policies aimed at crisis prevention by demonstrating the insufficiency of keeping financial institutions healthy and by making a case for macroprudential measures directed at preventing runaway growth in household debt.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s college graduates will have to be more creative to land a job they want.

The unemployment rate for college graduates ages 22 to 27 fell to 5.6 percent in 2013 from 6.4 percent at the recession’s peak in 2009. Among 22-year-old degree holders who found jobs in the past three years, more than half were in roles not requiring a college diploma, said John Schmitt, a labor economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Many graduates have traveled nontraditional pathways to find employment in their desired fields. Rory Molleda, 22, started an unpaid internship at Washington’s D.C. United soccer team a week after finishing Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, a year ago.

Forty job applications later, he networked his way to a paid position at another company that wasn’t exactly what he wanted. In January, he landed his “dream job” as a team operations coordinator for D.C. United and said he feels lucky.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 5, 2014 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bill that would have established the Lowcountry's first comprehensive research university may have lost its best chance of passing Wednesday when some of the S.C. Senate's most powerful voices put up a significant roadblock to the measure.

The lengthy Senate debate also featured an emotional plea from Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, the Senate majority leader, who lamented the aggressive, often personal politics that he said Charleston legislators employed to see the bill passed.

While the bill is not entirely dead, Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, who has fought for the measure, worries that a failure to get a vote on the bill with just one full day left in this year's legislative session means the Senate may have lost its best chance to pass it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With five months to go until the Affordable Care Act’s 2015 open enrollment season, states that had troubled exchanges during the inaugural sign-up period are scrambling to either upgrade their sites or transition to the federal exchange—all on the taxpayer’s dime.

A new analysis from the Wall Street Journal finds that the cost for Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon to overhaul their exchanges or transition to healthcare.gov will be as high as $240 million in total.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consumers’ willingness to pay for digital content is in danger of being held back by their rising spending on internet access, according to a new forecast that raises questions about the media industry’s hopes for streaming music and video subscriptions.

The report from consultancy PwC, to be released on Wednesday, estimates the total size of the industry will grow to $2.15tn by 2018. But the fortunes of the market’s three segments will vary, with internet access revenues growing faster than both consumer spending and advertising.

That suggests internet providers such as Time Warner Cable and AT&T will be poised to capture a growing share of industry revenue. Streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify , the latter of which had Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as its most popular music artists last year, will also be well-positioned to lead growth in consumer spending, as they capture subscribers willing to pay for round-the-clock access to movies, television shows and music.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationMovies & TelevisionMusicScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologySacramental Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When 83-year-old Maybell Prewette spent one night in an Eden, N.C., hospital a few years ago because she felt dizzy, she was stunned to find out that a couple puffs of allergy nasal spray cost her more than $600.

Medicare didn't cover the prescription because Prewette was never admitted as a patient at the hospital.

Instead, she was kept overnight for observation. The federal Medicare program doesn't cover the cost of drugs self-administered by "observation status" patients.

Prewette called her local pharmacy after she was discharged and discovered it charges $30 for the same nasal spray. The hospital marked the medicine up 2,000 percent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentMedicare* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging.

Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.

There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities say. Some hospital officials say they are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana. Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming out of Colorado and through their towns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bond markets have grasped something that continues to elude many economists. We live in a confused world. Yet the underlying story is simple. The US middle continues to hollow out, even as the economy continues to grow.

But the latter’s upside is limited by the crisis in the former. Unless the middle class starts to post healthy income gains, we will be stuck in what has been annoyingly named the “new normal”.

Neither the Democratic nor the Republican party – nor most of their European counterparts – appears to have an answer. President Barack Obama pushes for a higher minimum wage, which would certainly help the poorest sections of the US labour force. But it would do nothing to fix the central problem. And Republicans keep arguing for lower taxes on the wealth creators. Ditto. They have argued each other to a standstill.

Both parties might find it instructive to look north to Canada, which has endured its harshest winter in 20 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

FIFA’s investigative report and related documents, which were obtained by The New York Times and have not been publicly released, raise serious questions about the vulnerability of the World Cup to match fixing. The tournament opens June 12 in Brazil.

The report found that the match-rigging syndicate and its referees infiltrated the upper reaches of global soccer in order to fix exhibition matches and exploit them for betting purposes. It provides extensive details of the clever and brazen ways that fixers apparently manipulated “at least five matches and possibly more” in South Africa ahead of the last World Cup. As many as 15 matches were targets, including a game between the United States and Australia, according to interviews and emails printed in the FIFA report.

Although corruption has vexed soccer for years, the South Africa case gives an unusually detailed look at the ease with which professional gamblers can fix matches, as well as the governing body’s severe problems in policing itself and its member federations. The report, at 44 pages, includes an account of Mr. [Ibrahim] Chaibou’s trip to the bank, as well as many other scenes describing how matches were apparently rigged.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what can leaders do to improve their chances of successfully implementing organizational change? They should use an intentional, structured approach to determine where they are now, where they want to be in the future, and how they will bridge the gap.

--Assess the current state to understand where the organization is starting from as it begins the change process. What are the organization's strengths? What are its barriers to change? Are employees ready and willing to embrace the change and adopt new behaviors?
--Paint a clear, compelling picture of the future state and explain why change is necessary. Employees are more motivated to change if leaders can give them hope and inspiration. Workers need to envision the change and understand how their efforts will contribute to achieving it.
--Create a plan of action to bridge the gap between the current and future state. This plan serves as a road map for the journey and identifies the specific steps required to achieve the desired change.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is a privilege to be able to speak to you today on such an important topic.

Financial distress is one of the principle causes of social detriment. Archbishop Justin has emphasised that helping alleviate financial distress should be central to the Church's mission.

A few statistics to remind us why:

the debt of the average UK household, excluding mortgages, is now almost £13,000

7 million people are using high cost credit providers

1m payday loans are taken out each month

1.4 m people have no bank account

These statistics are in themselves justification for action, but for me, even more concerning is encountering the impact of financial distress at the personal level.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.

The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.

Under a central provision of the health care law, larger employers are required to offer health coverage to full-time workers, or else the employers may be subject to penalties.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxes

5 Comments
Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.

Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”

Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages—administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament—that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the answer to problems with the free market is not to reject economic liberty in favor of government control. The church has consistently rejected coercive systems of socialism and collectivism, because they violate inherent human rights to economic freedom and private property. When properly regulated, a free market can certainly foster greater productivity and prosperity. But, as the pope continually emphasizes, the essential element is genuine human virtue.

The church has long taught that the value of any economic system rests on the personal virtue of the individuals who take part in it, and on the morality of their day-to-day decisions. Business can be a noble vocation, so long as those engaged in it also serve the common good, acting with a sense of generosity in addition to self-interest.

In speaking to the U.N. leaders, Pope Francis recalled the story of Zacchaeus, in which Jesus inspires the repentant tax collector to make a radical decision to put his economic wealth at the service of others. This reminds us that a spirit of sharing and solidarity with others, in the words of Francis, "should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity." Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 23, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most important change in the world over the past 30 years has been the rise of China. The increase in its average annual GDP per head from around $300 to $6,750 over the period has not just brought previously unimagined prosperity to hundreds of millions of people, but has also remade the world economy and geopolitics.

India’s GDP per head was the same as China’s three decades ago. It is now less than a quarter of the size. Despite a couple of bouts of reform and spurts of growth, India’s economy has never achieved the momentum that has dragged much of East Asia out of poverty. The human cost, in terms of frustrated, underemployed, ill-educated, unhealthy, hungry people, has been immense.

Now, for the first time ever, India has a strong government whose priority is growth. Narendra Modi, who leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has won a tremendous victory on the strength of promising to make India’s economy work. Although we did not endorse him, because we believe that he has not atoned sufficiently for the massacre of Muslims that took place in Gujarat while he was chief minister, we wish him every success: an Indian growth miracle would be a great thing not just for Indians, but also for the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall's congressional elections.

Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a "bailout" for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marina has it all. She has the job, she has the looks, and, depending on her mood, she has her choice of Frankie the acrobatic dancer, Harrison the revolutionary or Eric the actor.

Marina is using a service called Rent-A-Gent. Starting at $200 an hour, users can pick from a list of handsome, intelligent men listed on the service’s website to be their companion and either book online or call to reserve a “gent.” The men can serve as a date to an event, cook meals or even repair a sink.

But what they are not allowed to do is hook-up -- no kissing, and definitely no sex, while on the job.

Marina ended up choosing Eric, whose Rent-A-Gent profile described him as someone who “loves the outdoors, culture and also active and social causes,” for a rock-climbing date -- something she had never done before but always wanted to try.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 21, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Justice Department on Monday accused five members of the Chinese military of conducting economic cyber-espionage against American companies, marking the first time that the United States has leveled such criminal charges against a foreign country.

Industries targeted by the alleged cyberspying ranged from nuclear to steel to solar energy, officials said. The hacking by a military unit in Shanghai, they said, was conducted for no other reason than to give a competitive advantage to Chinese companies, including state-owned enterprises.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Years before Narendra Modi won this month’s election that now allows him to become India’s next leader, the former tea-stall worker asked this question on behalf of the world’s second most-populous nation:

“It is often said that India does not dream big and that is the root cause of all our problems. Why can’t we dream like China, Europe or America?”

Note how Mr. Modi compares India to other continental powers. This reveals just how much today’s 1.25 billion Indians, who are digitally hitched to the global flow of ideas, have adopted new views of their capacity for progress – not only for India but for themselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ali Husain is a prosperous young Indian Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.

In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community's fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.

Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state's pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Modi’s new government cannot – indeed, must not – abolish the democratic rules that permit minorities to flourish. With its various ethnic groups, religions, castes, and 30 languages used by more than a million native speakers each (and another 105 spoken by at least 10,000 people), India is more culturally diverse than the entire European Union – but with twice as many people. Without the emphasis on compromise, peaceful dispute resolution, and minority rights inherent to democracy, a united India could not exist.

So Modi’s challenge is to overcome the obstacles to growth-promoting polices using democratic methods. Here, the election has brought good news: the growing strength of India’s growing middle class, a potent ally in the cause of pursuing the needed economic reforms.

That middle class consists of propertied, salaried people, many of them young, who see government as an impersonal enforcer of the law and a neutral arbiter of disputes, rather than as a source of funds and favors. The votes of such people helped Modi win the election. His success in office will depend on how well he can harness the power of the middle class to overcome the political obstacles to the economic growth that its members demand.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previous studies suggest that many people will use the new coverage to obtain medical care for conditions that went untreated while they were uninsured.

The new health law reduces special payments to hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients, on the assumption that many of the uninsured will gain coverage through Medicaid.

But hospital executives are unsure that the savings will materialize. Dr. Campbell said the cuts could create serious financial problems for hospitals treating large numbers of Medicaid patients.

Recent research in other states has raised similar questions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentMedicaidThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rise of the Internet means that lies and misunderstanding now spread around the world faster than the truth, Lord Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned.

An increasing reliance on instant communications, effectively means that people should expect their words to be routinely misinterpreted, he said.

It has also changed the way people communicate, making it less and less common for people to be able to see those they are talking to, he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Chinese weapons supplier on Friday rejected claims that it sold Syria chlorine gas, an unusual statement from a tight-lipped company that reflects Beijing's desire to distance itself from chemical weapons.

In a statement, China North Industries Corp. said a "comprehensive review" of company records revealed that it has never exported chlorine or chlorine products to Syria. The company, known as Norinco, said it is "a responsible major international defense company" that conforms to the Chinese government's goals on non-proliferation.

The statement followed a report Tuesday from the group Human Rights Watch that documented what it said were signs of the use of chlorine gas in northern Syria in April. Images on the group's website showed yellow canisters with the markings "CL2," the chemical symbol for chlorine gas, and "NORINCO." Chlorine is lethal in high concentrations and was used in chemical warfare as early as the World War I.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The euro zone's economy expanded at a weak pace last quarter despite a strong recovery in Germany, putting added pressure on the European Central Bank to enact fresh easing measures to prevent the region from sliding into a lengthy period of low inflation and economic stagnation.

Gross domestic product grew 0.2% in the euro zone during the first quarter compared with the final three months of 2013, the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat said Thursday, well short of the 0.4% quarterly gain expected by economists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narendra Modi, the man most likely to become India’s next prime minister, has a wicked turn of phrase. In one of his most memorable remarks, he subverted his strong association with Hindu asceticism by declaring his support for “toilets before temples”. The same phrase, spoken by a Congress party cabinet minister, had provoked outrage from the Bharatiya Janata party of which Mr Modi is head. The BJP said the remark threatened to “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. But the party hierarchy, knowing that its fate depends on the so-called “Modi wave”, barely demurred when its candidate adopted the slogan as his own.

The BJP leader is quite right to declare that India should spend less money on devotion and more on sanitation. According to 2011 census data, nearly half of households have no access to a toilet, forcing inhabitants to defecate in the open. More Indians own a mobile phone than a lavatory of their own. Poor hygiene, not lack of food, is the main reason that 40 per cent of children are malnourished. Much of Mr Modi’s appeal, which has swept through India like a brush fire, lies in his promise to conjure the growth that will eradicate such dire conditions and set his supporters on the road to a middle-class life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Security Agency might be tracking your phone calls. But private industry is prying far more deeply into your life.

Commercial data brokers know if you have diabetes. Your electric company can see what time you come home at night. And tracking companies can tell where you go on weekends by snapping photos of your car’s license plate and cataloging your movements.

Congress and the administration have moved to rein in the National Security Agency in the year since Edward Snowden disclosed widespread government spying. But Washington has largely given private-sector data collection a free pass. The result: a widening gap in oversight as private data mining races ahead. Companies are able to scoop up ever more information — and exploit it with ever greater sophistication — yet a POLITICO review has found deep reluctance in D.C. to exercise legislative, regulatory or executive power to curb the big business of corporate cybersnooping.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may never find a better example of the sprawling sameness of suburbia than Southern California. From San Diego to Santa Clarita and beyond, middle class hamlets of homogeny epitomize the master-planned neighborhoods that first sprang up in the 1950s.

These suburbs, like others across the globe, impose their will on the natural environments. Endless stretches of green lawns and golf courses defy the area’s arid climate, and perfectly uniform rows of houses transform any hillside or empty canyon into a ready-made community.

Living in LA during the housing boom of the late ’90s, photographer Robert Harding Pittman was troubled by the loss of nature to these environments. An expanding creep of paved valleys, leveled hillsides, and cloned homes with thirsty lawns were a cookie-cutter contagion. He decided to document its spread on a global scale.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 5:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A European Union top court ruling that may require technology companies to delete personal information on request pits Europeans’ rights to privacy against the freedom to publish.

Google Inc. (GOOG) risks being ordered to remove search results where citizens’ fundamental rights are harmed by personal information posted online and where there is no public interest in publishing it, the EU Court of Justice said today.

The result could “open the floodgates for tens of thousands of requests to have legal, publicly available information about Europeans taken out of a search index or links removed from websites,” said James Waterworth, the head of the Brussels office of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Read it all. Astute blog readers will remember this phrase "right to be forgotten" because it has resonances with Jeffrey Rosen's NY Times Magazine: The Web Means the End of Forgetting in 2010.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the first large-scale study to directly measure wasteful spending in Medicare, researchers found that Medicare spent $1.9 billion in 2009 for patients to receive any of 26 tests and procedures that have been shown by empirical studies to offer little or no health benefit.

By analyzing Medicare claims data, researchers in the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy found that at least one in four Medicare recipients received one or more of these services in 2009. What’s more, those 26 services are just a small sample of the hundreds of services that are known to provide little or no medical value to patients in many circumstances.

“We suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said study author J. Michael McWilliams, associate professor of health care policy. The study appears today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During the past school year, several leading American universities, including Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Carnegie-Mellon, welcomed new presidents. These men were leading scholars, and they were experienced administrators; in some cases, they held degrees from the universities they now lead. And none of them — not one — inherited the job from his father or mother.

That goes without saying, right? Nonprofit, tax-exempt universities are not typically family dynasties. People would think it queer if Drew Gilpin Faust’s daughter succeeded her mother as president of Harvard. But at evangelical Christian colleges, including some of the most prominent, there are different expectations.

Since 2007, the world’s largest Christian university, Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., has been led by Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the famous founder. The presidency of Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Okla., passed from father to son (although it has since passed out of the family). Until Friday, when Stephen Jones stepped down as president of Bob Jones University, in Greenville, S.C., the college had been led only by Bob Jones and three generations of his direct descendants.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The freeway exits around here are dotted with people asking for money, holding cardboard signs to tell their stories. The details vary only slightly and almost invariably include: Laid off. Need food. Young children.

Mary Carmen Acosta often passes the silent beggars as she enters parking lots to sell homemade ice pops, known as paletas, in an effort to make enough money to get food for her family of four. On a good day she can make $100, about double what she spends on ingredients. On a really good day, she pockets $120, the extra money offering some assurance that she will be able to pay the $800 monthly rent for her family’s three-bedroom apartment. Sometimes, usually on mornings too cold to sell icy treats, she imagines what it would be like to stand on an exit ramp herself.

“Everyone here knows they might have to be like that,” said Ms. Acosta, 40, neatly dressed in slacks and a chiffon blouse, as she waited for help from a local charity in this city an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles. Both she and her husband, Sebastian Plancarte, lost their jobs nearly three years ago. “Each time I see them I thank God for what we do have. We used to have a different kind of life, where we had nice things and did nice things. Now we just worry.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

State Infrastructure Minister Christian Pegel has traveled to Russia twice since the Ukraine crisis broke out, in part to drum up business for the Sassnitz ferry. "We are especially closely connected" to Russia, Mr. Pegel says of his region. "Perhaps also especially dependent."

U.S. politicians have voiced frustrations in recent weeks about Germany's reluctance to take a more confrontational stand against Russia. But for Germans, the risk in pursuing a hard line is unmistakable. Places like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania—a region of 1.6 million with the country's lowest average income—have much to lose.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘Late modern society is principally concerned with purchasing things, in ever greater abundance and variety, and so has to strive to fabricate an ever greater number of desires to gratify, and to abolish as many limits and prohibitions upon desire as it can. Such a society is already implicitly atheist and so must slowly but relentlessly apply itself to the dissolution of transcendent values. It cannot allow ultimate goods to distract us from proximate goods. Our sacred writ is advertising, our piety is shopping, our highest devotion is private choice. God and the soul too often hinder the purely acquisitive longings upon which the market depends, and confront us with values that stand in stark rivalry to the only truly substantial value at the center of the social universe: the price tag.’
Read it all (Hat tip: AH).

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

0 Comments
Posted May 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At this moment in history, we have catapulted ourselves to a crossroads of two possible paths for mankind. We have developed the technology and amassed the financial capability to go either way. The direction we take cannot result from inertia but rather intentional choice.

The time for that decision is urgently upon us.

This choice will be informed by our technology, our financial systems and our policy, but it must also be indisputably steered by the overarching moral compass innate to all of us.

The crossroads is defined by science. Since 1988, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists have aggregated peerreviewed evidence of climate change. The latest 5th Assessment Report leaves no room for doubt. Due to human activity, you and I are today breathing air that contains 400 ppm of CO2 for the first time in human history.

Read it all and note that the speech was given last night.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Breakthroughs in IVF could ‘threaten our humanity’ by prompting parents to demand designer babies, Robert Winston has warned.

The fertility pioneer said that he feared a time when the rich could alter the appearance and ability of children by tinkering with their genes.

And he claimed a ‘toxic’ climate had been created by the desperation of childless couples and the pace of scientific developments in the booming IVF industry.

Warning of a resurgence in eugenics, the broadcaster and Labour peer said there was a ‘real risk that we could see that kind of attitude in our humanity occurring again’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If realized, the larger move to marketplace coverage would shift more of the cost and responsibility for employee health insurance to workers themselves.

"Once a few notable companies start to depart form their traditional approach to health care benefits, it's likely that a substantial number of firms could quickly follow suit," the report noted. "The result would be a dramatic departure from the legacy employer/employee payroll deduction benefit provision relationship, and could quickly be the modern day equivalent of companies moving from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution programs."

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some current and former Republican lawmakers from South Carolina say that climate change does pose a threat, but that more regulations aren't the solution.

"The assessment that came out today is another reminder that climate change is going to present real challenges for the Lowcountry, and the nation as a whole," said U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, South Carolina's former governor. "I've watched rising sea levels play out at our family farm in Beaufort over the last 50 years, and I think others in our area could also point to impacts they've seen.

"As Congress confronts these challenges, I think we should be searching for solutions that embrace free market principles, rather than increasing already burdensome government regulations," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Netflix is now paying two major internet providers for a more direct path into the homes of all those people watching movies and TV shows on its popular video streaming service.

This week, the company announced it has reached an agreement with Verizon to connect its service directly to the ISP’s network, a deal similar to the one Netflix reached with Comcast in February. In the past, Netflix delivered its service into Comcast and Verizon through middlemen networks — “transit networks” that provide the backbone for the internet. But in order to ensure that its video streams arrive in homes without too many hiccups, it’s following in the footsteps of Google and Facebook, building a straighter path into ISPs.

The rub is that Netflix doesn’t want to pay. Netflix has been loudly complaining about this sort of deal, saying that Comcast unfairly forced the agreement after allowing transmit network links to “clog up.” Comcast, Netflix says, is setting itself up as a gatekeeper that can charge whatever it likes for access to American homes.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. economy slowed in the first quarter to one of the weakest paces of the five-year recovery as the frigid winter appeared to have curtailed business investment and weakness overseas hurt exports.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast growth at a 1.1% pace for the quarter.

The broad slowdown to start the year halted what had been improving economic momentum during much of 2013. In the second half of last year, the economy expanded at a 3.4% pace. The first quarter reading fell far below even the lackluster average annual gain of near 2% since the recession ended.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted April 30, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A day seldom goes by when we don’t read about the ouster of a chief executive officer, owing to a failure to produce promised results, a merger that falls apart, a product launch that does not to live up to its hype or a technology meltdown.

Companies like Hewlett-Packard, J.C. Penney, United Airlines’ no-frills carrier Ted, Gap Inc., and many others come to mind. The single most common reason for being turfed? A failure to execute, of which there are several causes....

3. Unproductive meetings

Too often, meetings occur where attendees either discuss mundane, pointless subjects that don’t affect the overall success of the project and waste everyone’s time, or where consultant firms present findings yet participants leave the meeting without a precise commitment to implement the agreed-upon game plan. Meetings need to have an adhered-to agenda, as well as start and finish times with which everyone complies. If someone is late, shut him or her out, and it won’t likely happen again.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there’s a difference between consumer-driven clutter and the hoarding of HGTV that stems from deep psychological trauma. But truth be told, as 2014 began, I’d begun to feel as if moss were gradually growing over my life, the rooms around me narrowed by the presence of things that burdened rather than blessed my existence.

As Easter approached, a pledge formed. I promised myself that day by day, I’d say goodbye to at least one book no longer read, or shirt no longer worn, or tool no longer used. My inspiration came from the writer Elizabeth Bishop, who famously urged her readers in a poem called “One Art” to “lose something every day.”

Bishop’s poem is about a great many things, including the maturity that comes from deep loss. But on one level, it can be read as a hymn to traveling light. What Bishop seems to say is that losing what we own can be a form of liberation, allowing us to move more freely toward fresh possibilities. It’s an idea as old as the Scriptures, at the heart of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” and as topical as the latest blog post about simple living.

But like any ideal, household economy is easier embraced than achieved, as I quickly discovered during my 40-Days-to-a-Thinner-House Plan.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google said Monday that its self-driving cars are now capable of maneuvering through city streets, a more complex challenge than the highway driving the project initially focused on.

The project, launched in 2009 as one of Google’s first long-term “moonshot” research initiatives, has logged about 700,000 autonomous driving miles using roughly 24 sensor-loaded Lexus RX450h vehicles. That is up from more than 300,000 miles in August 2012, the last time Google issued an update. Google said it has caused no accidents so far when its vehicles are in self-driving mode.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"While the economy is recovering and families are beginning to have more financial flexibility, they are still very cautious when making major purchases. If they can spend less, but still get something very tasteful and befitting their loved one, a family may choose that option," says Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association.

And if any movement is changing the monument business most, it is the huge rise in cremations.

Today, about 43 percent of people are cremated. Compare that to 2000 when only one in four people were cremated. In 1970, fewer than 5 percent of people were cremated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I find...[Mozilla’s executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker's] words chilling. [Brendan] Eich did not, as far as I can find and I’m willing to be proved wrong, say anything inflammatory or hateful, he merely disagreed with some people on an issue, one that did not even exist as an idea before the millennium. It was ‘controversial’ only in the sense that the media-Left use the word, to mean ‘ideas we disagree with and therefore deem beyond the pale’ (likewise ‘divisive’, another weasel word employed to dull the mind into submission).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The highest-grossing animated film of all time is Disney’s “Frozen.” The second highest is Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”

One common denominator between them: The same man is in charge of both companies.

Ed Catmull may not be a household name, but you’ve seen his movies -- and his imagination. He helped create the entire field of computer animation.

“As a child, my heroes were Walt Disney and Albert Einstein,” Catmull said. “So I basically wanted to be an animator, but when I left high school, I didn’t know how to proceed. There were no schools for it.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The firing Tuesday of coach David Moyes followed Manchester United's worst on-pitch performance in 24 years, seemingly vindicating those fans who foresaw failure under the team's American owners.

From the point of view of those owners, the acquisition is hardly a bust. Since the Glazer family—owners of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers—gained control of United in 2005, team revenue has nearly doubled on the strength of licensing deals with corporate giants around the world. Since a 2012 offering that transferred 10% of the English soccer club to the public, the value of United shares has climbed 34% to $18.78. That suggests that the franchise is worth $3.1 billion—more than twice what the Glazers paid.

But their quick firing of Moyes—who only this season took over following the retirement of the legendary Alex Ferguson —suggests the Glazer family doesn't regard United's popularity as unshakable, especially at a time when other Premier League teams are pursuing global sponsors and audiences and spending lavishly on players.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle Age* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recovery from the recession has been nasty, brutish and long. It also is shaping up as one of the most enduring.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the semiofficial arbiter of business cycles, judges that the U.S. economy began expanding again in June 2009, just over 58 months ago. That means the current stretch of growth, in terms of duration, is poised to drift past the average for post-World War II recoveries.

Yet after almost five years, the recovery is proving to be one of the most lackluster in modern times. The nation's 6.7% jobless rate is the highest on record at this stage of recent expansions. Gross domestic product has grown 1.8% a year on average since the recession, half the pace of the previous three expansions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Efforts to fix the notorious Heartbleed bug threaten to cause major disruptions to the Internet over the next several weeks as companies scramble to repair encryption systems on hundreds of thousands of Web sites at the same time, security experts say.

Estimates of the severity of the bug’s damage have mounted almost daily since researchers announced the discovery of Heartbleed last week. What initially seemed like an inconvenient matter of changing passwords for protection now appears much more serious. New revelations suggest that skilled hackers can use the bug to create fake Web sites that mimic legitimate ones to trick consumers into handing over valuable personal information.

The sheer scale of the work required to fix this aspect of the bug — which makes it possible to steal the “security certificates” that verify that a Web site is authentic — could overwhelm the systems designed to keep the Internet trustworthy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CareerCast is out with their annual ranking of the 10 best and 10 worst jobs for 2014, and let's just say that math and science guys everywhere are about to high-five.

Nine out of 10 of the best jobs fell into the STEM career category (science, technology, engineering and math), with the "numbers guys," in particular, locking in 3 of the top 4 spots.

"This absolutely verifies the importance of STEM careers," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism....But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a time when hitting a fresh cycle low in initial jobless claims was something to cheer. That doesn’t seem like the appropriate response this cycle. The labor backdrop at present is punctuated not by the fact that layoffs are diminishing, but rather by the sheer lack of hiring. We have gone through this calculus ad nausea but it bears repeating. The pace of hiring (as measured by the hiring rate, which is hiring relative to employment) at present is not just lower than the previous cycle low, it also shows a stunning lack of momentum. Make no mistake, the level of hiring is trending in the right direction, but at best the pace is quite modest. Part of the problem is the difficulty filling job openings…while the hiring rate remains weak by any standard, the ratio of hires-to-job openings continues to print cycle lows and remains at levels that are more consistent with a very tight labor backdrop
--RBC Capital Market’s Tom Porcelli as quoted this afternoon by Barrons

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)