A message from Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, Palestinian pastor and evangelical Christian

(This message was sent to my sister in England.  She and her family met the writer during a visit to Israel) “Christians in the middle east are both worried and upset by the American declaration that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. They are particularly concerned about the uncritical support given by American Evangelical …

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Fighting back against data harvesting (No. 2)

Privacy and security? All is not lost. The techies are working on it. Read on………… We need to combine the control and personal autonomy of the early web with the ease and usefulness of the one we have today. A project called Solid, led by none other than Tim Berners-Lee himself, seeks to separate our …

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Fighting back against data harvesting, No.1

Data harvesting: the problem The original World Wide Web, invented by Tim Berners-Lee at the particle physics centre CERN near Geneva in 1999, was a “decentralised” affair. There were no central servers; websites ran on individual machines in universities, offices and bedrooms. Hosting a site just meant plugging a computer into your internet connection and …

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Killer air pollution

“Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe,” says the European Environment Agency (EEA), which estimated the toll in a report.  By far the biggest killer was PM2.5 pollution: tiny particles measuring 2.5 micrometres across or less. These caused 428,000 early deaths across the 41 European countries tracked in 2014. The main …

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Just in case you think Americans are alone in massacring the language!

British churches are quite famous for their parish bulletins.  The following sentences have actually appeared in  bulletins or have been announced at church services.  Mistakes inadvertent, we are led to believe! The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals. ————————– Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used …

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The Anatomy of a British CEO

55% of FTSE 100 chiefs have a background in finance or accounting. 15% come from marketing; 14% technology. The best industries for working through the ranks are retail and hospitality, where around 21% of bosses started out in lowly roles. Education The majority of CEOs have at least one university degree; more than a quarter …

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Ominous noises. Brexit again.

“Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I’ll be spending a lot more time there. #Brexit.” Thus tweeted Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Executive of Goldman Sachs, on 19th October. It was the first time a major American financial services firm had signalled a shift of its European operations away from London …

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Trump supporters and authoritarianism

“Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination …

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The crippling cost of zero interest rates

They used to say there are but three ways to ruin the class of petit-bourgeois savers who form the backbone of all successful democracies: a banking collapse (as in the 1929 crash); hyperinflation (as in banana republics); or straightforward state expropriation (as in oppressive taxation). Now we’ve invented a fourth. The introduction of zero to …

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Epicurus: the simplest philosopher to understand

Epicurus proposed that we typically make three mistakes when thinking about happiness. 1. People fret if they don’t have a romantic relationship Then, as now, people were obsessed with love. But Epicurus thought that happiness and love (let alone marriage) seldom go together. There is too much jealousy, misunderstanding and bitterness. Sex is always complicated …

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Brexit

Ministers including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are reported to be plotting to scrap the EU working time directive.  This is a crucial piece of EU law that protects working people – and which working people were promised would still apply after Brexit.  If Johnson and Gove succeed, 7 million workers could lose their guaranteed …

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Leaders

Without realising, we can tell who is likely to become a leader, automatically giving them more of our attention. When a group of people who don’t know each other meet for the first time, leaders naturally emerge, signaling charismatic behaviour and a variety of vocal cues. A group from Vrije University in Amsterdam have studied …

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Is the US military as good as it claims to be?

In June, an American Green Beret was reportedly strangled to death in Mali by U.S. Navy SEALs, allegedly in connection with a shadowy money-skimming scheme. (The military is currently investigating.) In July, The Intercept, the London-based research firm Forensic Architecture, and Amnesty International. revealed that a drone base used by U.S. forces in Cameroon was …

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Endless drone warfare, over- geared, and getting out of hand

America’s robotic killers, the drones that long ago were grimly named Predators (retired this year) and their more advanced cousins, the Reapers (as in Grim…), who have taken a once-illegal American activity, political assassination, and made it the well-respected law of the land and increasingly of huge swaths of the globe. In these years of …

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Christmas presents

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant …

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Making fun of British scientific studies

Apparently, British scientists are the butt of constant jokes in Russia. Can you work out which of these are Russian headlines about real studies, and which are jokes? 1. British scientists have established the height of Cinderella’s heels. 2. British scientists have found that women more often reach orgasm if they have sex in their …

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Bribery and corruption

Earlier this year both houses of Congress voted to nix a bi-partisan law that would have forced US oil, gas and mining companies to disclose annually, and project by project, royalty, licensing and backhanders to foreign governments. As you can imagine the American Petroleum Institute labelled this more big government interference that puts US companies …

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