Sunday, September 3, 2017

In the news, Monday, August 14, 2017


AUG 13      INDEX      AUG 15

Information from some sites may not be reliable, or may not be vetted.
Some sources may require subscription.


from Anglican Journal

Charlottesville clergy hold anti-racism prayer meeting
Clergy from the U.S.-based Episcopal Church joined other Christians leaders in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend in a show of solidarity with members of minority communities. Priests from across the diocese of Virginia took part in the rally, which was held to counter what became a deadly protest by white-supremacists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other extreme right-wing groups. The right-wing protest was sparked by a decision to remove a statue of Civil War Confederate military leader Robert E. Lee and change the name of the city’s Lee Park into Emancipation Park. The decision to remove the statue is currently being challenged in court. There is growing pressure to erase Lee from public view, or celebration, because of the way that far-right groups across America have turned him into a rallying symbol and icon for racism.


from Asia Times Online

North Korea, the ultimate Black Swan
Next month’s International Olympic Committee meeting will be a uniquely dramatic affair as officials mull new risks to the Pyeongchang winter games to be staged in South Korea, 80 kilometers from North Korea. That event is five months out, but the sudden focus on missiles rather than medals speaks to the geopolitical threats emanating from Pyongyang. Economic ones, too. In recent years, Pyeongchang has gone to great pains — and marketing expense — to stress it’s not the similar-sounding North Korean capital. That didn’t stop a Kenyan official from flying to Kim Jong Un’s biggest city in 2014 by accident. But there’s no confusing what’s at stake as investors from Seoul to New York mull how a rhetorical arms race between Kim and newish US President Donald Trump might play out.

Syrian fair to attract a limited crowd
While China and Russia will send prominent commercial delegations to the showcase investment event, the US, France and Great Britain will all be notable no-shows

Get ready for the ‘droid’ of autonomous vehicles
Search giant Google made its Android operating system wildly popular by giving free access to its software to mobile-device makers and wireless carriers so they could utilize its platform. Now, Chinese Internet company Baidu wants to do the same thing with its driverless-car operating software. A host of companies are climbing on board – including Microsoft, Uber rival Grab, mapping specialist TomTom and big carmakers such as  Ford. The more than 50 partners are grouped under Baidu’s Apollo project to distribute its driverless software to other companies and also develop a self-driving vehicle that can be mass-produced.

US may curb China’s help in developing driverless cars
US President Donald Trump has touted driverless cars as a tech and investment area that can help revitalize America’s aging transport infrastructure. There’s also talk about enlisting the help of Chinese companies such as Baidu in developing such autonomous systems.  If there is to be Sino-US collaboration, Baidu is a leading candidate. The Beijing-based Web services company has grabbed the lead in developing artificial intelligence (AI) and driverless-vehicle technology in China. But some experts say there’s a potential roadblock to Baidu’s involvement in stateside driverless-car development – US national-security concerns.

Baidu needs to develop global brand for driverless cars
Chinese Internet search company Baidu is easing into the passing lane for driverless cars. The Beijing-based firm plans to mass-produce its own autonomous “Apollo” car by 2021 with help from such heavyweights as Daimler, Ford and nearly a dozen Chinese carmakers. A prototype is due next year and Baidu is testing driverless vehicles in California. Baidu, which is at the fore of developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology in China, has also made its self-driving-car software available for any company to download. The idea is to promote the use of Baidu’s platform (which already works “out of the box” on some vehicles) by allowing free access and data collection. More than 50 partners, including Microsoft, have signed on, allowing Baidu to close the gap with Waymo, the Google spin-off that’s considered the current leader in autonomous-vehicle technology.

Beijing banks raise mortgage rates
Several banks in Beijing have adjusted the mortgage rate for first-time home buyers by 15% above the benchmark mortgage rate, while major state-owned banks in Guangzhou raised the rate by 5 percentage points, Sina Finance reported. Also, mortgage rates for a second home increased by 15% above the benchmark rate in Guangzhou. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Construction and Administration said it would put forward rules on changing unsold commercial homes into homes for residential leasing.


from BBC News (UK)

Australia church abuse: Priests 'must report' confessions
Catholic clerics should face criminal charges if they do not report sexual abuse disclosed to them during confession, an Australian inquiry has recommended. It is among 85 proposals to emerge from a landmark inquiry into institutional abuse in the nation. The Church has indicated it will oppose altering the rules around confession.


from FEE (Foundation for Economic Education)
[Information from this site may not be reliable.]

There Is a Way Out of Hate
The good news is that almost everyone in the nation is united in condemning the Nazi and white supremacist marchers. But let us be clear about why, and what the alternative to hate truly is. The main thing is to cast aside the collectivism of racism and group-think.


from First Things

“Genocide” is the most accurate term for what is happening to Christians in the Middle East. Persecution may well eliminate Christians from the Middle East, yet too many remain reluctant to declare ISIS guilty of genocide.


from The Heritage Foundation
[Information from this site may be unreliable.]

Clothing Suppliers Want Free Trade, Not Protectionism
A recent study shows that anti-trade rhetoric in the nation’s capital is worrying U.S. executives who represent clothing brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers. This rhetoric should concern the rest of us, too.

There’s Good History, and Not-So-Good History
Fortunately, there’s at least one way to tell them apart. The tip off: simplicity. History — real history — is complicated. Just remember: if it makes history seem simple, it’s probably not good.

Add Homebuilders to the List of Industries Hurt by Tariffs
New data show that protectionism is taking a toll on the confidence of homebuilders. Last month, homebuilder confidence hit its lowest reading since November 2016, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market. The Index fell two points from 66 to 64, upsetting economists’ predictions that confidence would actually improve.

Trump-Endorsed Immigration Bill Would Save Taxpayers Trillions
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump endorsed the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., a bill to reform the merit-based immigration system and limit low-skill immigration. Low-skill immigration is very costly to U.S. taxpayers. For example, a legal immigrant without a high school degree typically receives $4 in government benefits for every one dollar he pays in taxes. By limiting future low-skill immigration, the RAISE Act has the potential to save U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars in future years.


from LifeZette (& PoliZette)

Why Fox News Remains Dominant in the Ratings
While MSNBC has made gains, new data reveal one network is still king — for very good reasons

Three Distinct Brands of Conservatism Battle in Alabama
Social conservatives, Tea Party, and Establishment will clash Tuesday in Senate special election

Attacks on Trump Korea Rhetoric Undermine U.S. Credibility Abroad
Standoff with Pyongyang warrants tough language, but Dems more concerned with scoring political points

What Trump Had to Say About Merck CEO Who Quit Business Council
President slams pharmaceutical exec, 'He will have more time to lower ripoff drug prices'

Bill Maher’s Wacky Theory About the President
Television host shares his extreme thoughts about our country — and about the elected leader of our nation

Trump: KKK, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacists Are ‘Criminals and Thugs’
President explicitly denounces hate groups by name after media criticism, 'repugnant to everything we hold dear'

Korean Crisis, Charlottesville Firestorm Bring Trump Back to D.C.
President cuts trip short to get tough with Beijing on trade, tackle racially charged media frenzy

Democrats Fractured Over Ideological Purity Tests
Party rejects center after bruising 2016 election, demands fealty to pro-abortion, single-payer policies

Not So Long Ago, Democrats Favored Immigration Curbs
Controversial RAISE Act is 'second coming' of 1990s commission headed by civil rights icon Barbara Jordan


from The Living Church

Do we as Christians truly believe that white supremacy is a problem that must be addressed, or is it an insignificant issue that flares up now and again at the fringes of society? Do we feel compelled to condemn the rally in Charlottesville, or do we speak with our chests against racism with the same passion that we defend the sanctity of the life of children in the womb? On our list of theological priorities, where exactly is the condemnation of the white supremacy that has oppressed people of color for generations? I do not expect the world to understand everything about the intricacies of Christian faith. But at least this much must penetrate everyone’s conscience: the Church believes that all people bear the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect. God’s love calls us out from our biases, sins, and prejudices into the beloved community whose unity testifies to God’s desire to reconcile the world to himself through his Son. Therefore, the Church is for the gospel and against all false gospels, including the false gospel of white supremacy.


from Mashable
[Information from this site may not be reliable.]

Obama responds to Charlottesville with one of the most liked tweets in history
After a "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly on Saturday, former president Barack Obama reached out on Twitter to comfort Americans. While President Trump was silent on the platform, refusing to address the violent clash between hate groups and protesters for hours, Obama shared a powerful message in the form of a Nelson Mandela quote about hate and the potential to love. The first of Obama's three tweets has since become the third most-liked tweet in history at the time of writing this article, according to Esquire.


from RAND Corporation

The recent North Korean missile tests and other provocations have sent shock waves through the global national security community and have predictably heightened tensions throughout the region. The tests have also made North Korea one of a small number of nations with an intercontinental ballistic missile capability and ominously gives it the potential to reach the United States. Much of the recent debate has centered on the important questions of deterring further North Korean tests and potential response options. Yet another important topic that urgently needs to be investigated surrounds how North Korea's missile capabilities have increased so dramatically in such a short period of time.


from Reason Magazine
[Information from this site may not be reliable.]

Violent Charlottesville Protester Claims 'Free Speech Does Not Protect Hate Speech'
That is not the law, and it shouldn't be. The idea that "the Government has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend...strikes at the heart of the First Amendment," Justice Samuel Alito noted last January in Matal v. Tam, which overturned the federal ban on registration of disparaging trademarks. "Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express 'the thought that we hate.'"

For Sake of Civil Liberties, Use of Word 'Terrorism' Should Be Restricted, Not Expanded
The rhetorical use of the term "terrorism" leads to erosions of civil liberties and poor policy making.

The Federal Government Is Finally Exploring Marijuana As a Medical Alternative to Opioids
Cannabis research turns another corner. Medical marijuana advocates have claimed for years that cannabis is an effective and safe alternative to prescription opioids for the treatment of pain. But no one put up the money to prove it until last week.

No, Virginia State Police Weren't Outgunned By Militiamen
Gov. Terry McAuliffe says militia members at Saturday's Charlottesville rally had better equipment than state troopers. Not really. The notion that police are outgunned by heavily armed private citizens is a common trope among gun-control advocates, but it bears little resemblance to reality.


from The Spokesman-Review


from The Telegraph (UK)

Proms conductor in row with musicians' church after it bans 'non-religious' concerts
It's the spiritual home of musicians where Proms founder Sir Henry Wood is buried. But a London church has become embroiled in a row with one of Britain's best-known composers after it announced it would close its doors to choirs and orchestras because their music was not religious. Now part of a network founded by evangelical church Holy Trinity Brompton, St. Sepulchre Without Newgate Church, in Holborn, central London, will stop taking bookings from the classical musicians which have relied on it as a rehearsal and concert venue for many years.


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