Skip to content

More a la carte pricing for Carnivals room service menu

first_imgMore a la carte pricing for Carnival’s room service menu << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, Room Service Posted by Sharecenter_img Thursday, January 3, 2019 MIAMI — Carnival is implementing an a la carte pricing policy for just about everything on its room service menu.Carnival has been making the move to the a la carte price structure over many months.Many items had already switched over to new pricing grid but some light options including several salads, sandwiches and desserts were still free. Starting in mid-January everything will have a price tag – with the exception of the continental breakfast.In a statement to USA Today the cruise line said it was making the move in part of cut back on food waste, and said it was committed to continue offering many free food options across its fleet. Travelweek Group last_img read more

Virgin Australia employee engagement critical

first_imgVirgin Australia COO Sean Donohue addresses the airline’s expansion. Virgin Australia is not interested in chasing market share and stresses employee alignment as the key to its current and future success, according to the airline’s chief operating officer Sean Donohue.Speaking to delegates at the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) Australia Pacific Aviation Summit 2013 in Sydney, Mr Donohue discussed Virgin Australia’s rapid transformation over the past three years.While training and recognition are vital when growing business, Mr Donohue highlighted comprehension and perception as the most significant attribute of employee engagement.“The most valuable aspect, in terms of engagement with our employees, is what I would call alignment… what I mean by that is every single member of staff is excited about our strategy and are absolutely clear about what we’re doing and where we are going as a company,” Mr Donohue said.In January 2013, Virgin Australia transitioned to the Sabre Global Distribution System (GDS), consolidating its previous reservations platforms, Navitaire (domestic) and Amadeus (international).Virgin Australia is progressively introducing its new wireless in-flight entertainment option, allowing passengers to directly stream over 300 hours of content through their own devices at no cost.The airline has also heavily invested in developing its lounge product across the country, quadrupling the size of lounges, in terms of capacity, in Melbourne and Brisbane over the past three to four years.“Coming from the United States to Australia, one of the things that really struck me was just how important lounges were to business and government customers here – not only in providing the sufficient capacity but providing the right type of product,” Mr Donohue said.In terms of investment outside of its own airline, Virgin Australia acquired full ownership of Skywest Airlines and secured a 60 percent stake in budget carrier Tigerair Australia earlier this year.Through continued investment and the development of strategic partnerships and codeshares, Virgin Australia has expanded its network to reach over 400 destinations worldwide.“We will continue to make the right fleet decisions, we will continue to grow intelligently, but we are not an airline chasing market share,” Mr Donohue said.Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Melbourne welcomes inaugural Air China flight

first_imgMelbourne Airport has welcomed the inaugural direct Air China service from Beijing to Melbourne.Melbourne Airport CEO, Mr Chris Woodruff, said it was an exciting milestone.“As the first airline to provide Victorians with a direct service to Beijing, I am delighted Air China has chosen to commence this service,” said Mr Woodruff.“China continues to be our most important and number one long haul market, growing more than 20 per cent in the last quarter alone. I thank Air China for their continued support in improving connections to this important market.”“Chinese visitors account for more than a quarter of visitor spending by international visitors in Victoria and inject more than $1 billion a year into Victoria’s economy. And this figure is growing, averaging nearly 20 per cent growth a year since 2010.”“This new non-stop service will further strengthen our tourism, education and business ties with Beijing and the growing number of Chinese people travelling to our great state.”“Victorians travelling to Beijing will also benefit with more choice and more convenience as they no longer need to travel through other airports. Connectivity will also be improved through access to Air China’s extensive network of global destinations.”The four times weekly service is operated on an A330-200 and provides 28 business class seats and 199 economy class seats.Source = Melbourne Airportlast_img read more

The 10 Priciest New York Neighborhoods

first_img Big Apple Brooklyn Districts homes Housing Values manhattan Median Sales Price New York PropertyShark SoHo TriBeCa 2018-04-16 Radhika Ojha April 16, 2018 629 Views The 10 Priciest New York Neighborhoods Sharecenter_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News The Big Apple is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but when it comes to New York neighborhoods, the TriBeCa area is the most expensive area in the city according to an analysis by PropertyShark that looked at median sale prices of homes across 10 New York neighborhoods. TriBeCa, the abbreviation of Triangle Below Canal Street in the lower Manhattan area saw median sales prices zooming to more than $3.5 million during the quarter according to the PropertyShark analysis and replaced Soho that came a close second on the list of New York’s most expensive neighborhoods.It was no surprise that nine of the 10 leading neighborhoods were all in Manhattan. According to PropertyShark, despite its growth during the quarter, TriBeCa actually saw a 30 percent decrease in median sales on a year-over-year basis. “The neighborhood couldn’t outperform Q1 2017 due to pricey sales that closed last year at two new luxury developments and inflated the median sale price,” the analysis found. “These included 37 transactions at 30 Park Place, with a median price of $5.6 million, and 21 deals at 56 Leonard Street, with a median price of $7.2 million.”SoHo too recorded a 5 percent decrease in median sale prices on a year-over-year basis and closed the first quarter with a median sale price of $3.2 million. However, the analysis noted that the West Village, which came third on the quarterly list, reflected the biggest change in prices during the quarter with the neighborhood recording an 88 percent year over year increase and ended the first quarter of 2018 with a median sale price of $2.3 million. Speaking of increases, Fort Greene in Brooklyn, which was otherwise fourteenth on the list saw its median prices more than double to end the first quarter at just under $1.3 million. With a median sale price of $2.2 million and a year over year decrease of 10 percent, Hudson Square was placed fourth on the list. At fifth place, DUMBO or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was the only Brooklyn neighborhood to make it to the top 10 listing. DUMBO had a median sale price of $1.9 million during the quarter and showed a 13 percent decrease over the same period in 2017.Flatiron District, Garment District, Central Park South, East Village, and Chelsea were other Manhattan neighborhoods that made it to the 10 most expensive neighborhoods in New York.last_img read more

by The Associated Press Posted Oct 10 2018 1

first_img by The Associated Press Posted Oct 10, 2018 1:32 pm PDT Last Updated Oct 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Coroner: Verne Troyer death suicide by alcohol intoxication LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles County coroner says actor Verne Troyer, who was best known for his “Austin Powers” role of Mini-Me, died last April of suicide by alcohol intoxication.The coroner’s office released its findings Wednesday following an autopsy and investigation into Troyer’s April 21 death.His representatives said at the time he was struggling with depression.The coroner’s office certified that the manner of death was a suicide.Troyer, 49, was best known as Mike Myers’ sidekick “Mini-Me” in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and 2002’s “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”He also played banker-goblin Griphook in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and appeared in dozens of TV shows and videos.Troyer, who stood 2-feet-8-inches tall, was born with achondroplasia, a genetic condition that limited his height.last_img read more

Speed boat stolen from marina found tied to buoy

first_imgA speed boat found tied to a buoy in Meneou on Sunday afternoon had been taken from Larnaca marina without the knowledge of its owner.Police were informed on Sunday that the boat was found in the swimming area near Meneou beach.When the owner was alerted she said she didn’t know how it got there, adding that it had been moored in the Larnaca marina since June 30.Police officers identified two people, residents of Cyprus, aged 20 and 25 who had been driving the speed boat and who, when questioned, made some statements which are being investigated.The boat was taken back to Larnaca marina.You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppHow to Become Fully Anonymous Online in Less Than 3 Minutes? Better safe than sorryFigLeaf Beta AppUndoClassmates.comLook For Any High School Yearbook, It’s FreeClassmates.comUndoTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

Rep Runestad bill on police body camera privacy to receive committee testimony

first_img House Bill 4234, a bill that creates protections for currently unregulated police body camera use will be discussed in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, April 14 announced State Rep. Jim Runestad, the bill’s sponsor.“I am pleased to see this legislation take the next step forward in the process,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The call for body camera use is increasing and many departments around the state have started pilot programs. As their use increases it is important to have protections in place for both the citizens on these videos and the officers who wear the cameras which is what House Bill 4234 will do.”The legislation deals with exemptions from the “Freedom of Information Act” for body camera videos taken in private areas. Video access will be limited to recordings that are relevant during a pending criminal prosecution or civil action. These recordings can be requested by anyone who is the subject of a recording, an individual whose property was seized or damaged in the process of a crime that a body camera is related to or a parent/legal guardian or lawyer of an individual who is the subject of a recording. The legislation also requires law enforcement to retain body camera recordings for at least 30 days, unless the recording is relevant to a complaint against a law enforcement agency or has been requested by an interested party, in which case it must be kept for three years.The ACLU, Michigan State Police and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police will all be testifying in support of the legislation on Tuesday. 10Apr Rep. Runestad bill on police body camera privacy to receive committee testimony Categories: Runestad Newslast_img read more

Rep Hornberger invites residents to indistrict office hours

first_img31Jul Rep. Hornberger invites residents to in-district office hours State Rep. Pamela Hornberger will host office hours on Friday, Aug. 18 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Kimball Township Hall located at 2160 Wadhams Road in Kimball.“My job as your state representative is to listen to you in order for my votes to best reflect the opinions of our district,” said Hornberger of Chesterfield Township. “I encourage anyone that would like to discuss concerns regarding state government to join me.”No reservation is necessary. Those unable to attend may call Rep. Hornberger at 517-373-8931 or via email at to schedule an alternate meeting time and location. Categories: Hornberger Newslast_img read more

House approves Victory bills to help Michigan farmers

first_img Categories: News,Victory News 13Mar House approves Victory bills to help Michigan farmers Legislation keeps food inspections on a local levelcenter_img The Michigan House today approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Roger Victory that helps growers and producers meet new federal food inspection rules.Victory, of Hudsonville, said the bills are necessary to align with federal standards and avoid additional inspections that could delay getting Michigan products on the market.Victory, a farmer by trade, said the legislation aligns Michigan standards with new federal guidelines and allows the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to assist farmers and producers in meeting the new requirements.“If we are not in line with the federal standards, MDARD inspections will not meet the requirements of the federal Food and Drug Administration, which would require an additional federal inspection of farmers’ products,” Victory said. “Keeping the inspection process as simple and as local as we can is in the best interest of the agricultural community.”Victory also said companies that use local agricultural products use the federal guidelines as the minimum requirement when making purchases.“Fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan have a strong market among national distributors, and we need to ensure our rules align with the federal rules to preserve the national market,” Victory said.House Bills 4811 and 4812 now go to the governor for consideration.#####last_img read more

Governor signs Rep Millers plan to solve farmers water withdrawal woes

first_imgState Rep. Aaron Miller joins Gov. Snyder and stakeholders, many from Cass and St. Joseph counties, who worked on House Bill 5638 for the bill-signing ceremony Thursday.State Rep. Aaron Miller’s plan to streamline the approval process for farmers who use irrigation to grow crops was signed into law today by Gov. Rick Snyder.Miller, of Sturgis, said the new law fixes a broken process previously used by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to review water well applications.“Government inefficiency was unnecessarily costing our local crop farmers a tremendous amount of time and money,” Miller said. “Under the old, broken system, some farm families reported waiting as long as two years before finally getting the go-ahead to drill a well and water their crops – even though all of the data showed no risk to the environment. It’s time for the government to get out of the way so our farm families and other businesses can get back to work.”Under the plan laid out in House Bill 5638, the DEQ would have 20 working days to review these alternative water withdrawal applications. The following rules would then apply, depending on the type of watershed that contains the potential well:If an application isn’t flagged by the DEQ within 20 days, the property owner may register the withdrawal and proceed.If the DEQ classifies the application as a “Zone C” withdrawal, the property owner must submit documentation from a certified geologist or hydrogeologist stating that they are implementing environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures. They would then be allowed to register and proceed with the withdrawal. Five sets of water level recovery measurements would also be required within two years.If the DEQ classifies the application as a “Zone D” withdrawal, the property owner would not be allowed to make withdrawals unless they obtain a special permit. The DEQ would be required to provide justification for denying the withdrawal.“This is a practical solution that takes subjectivity out of the process and inserts science,” Miller said. “It allows the DEQ to focus on water withdrawal applications with higher risk potential, streamlining the process, but most importantly still protects the environment.”The rules do not apply to municipal water systems or bottled water companies, which fall under different permitting.Miller, who spent three years working with local farmers, environmental experts, and other stakeholders to develop the legislation, said he was proud to see the legislation receive bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. He pointed out that this was entirely a team effort over the last three years.He also acknowledged the work of the late Sen. Patty Birkholz, who developed the water withdrawal assessment tool on which the current legislation was built.“Sen. Birkholz built the foundation for where we are now, and I want this work to stand on her shoulders,” Miller said. “I would also like to thank the dozens of people – especially the farmers from Cass and St. Joseph counties – who helped develop this solution. They deserve the credit for this reform and I did this for them.”The legislation is now Public Act 209 of 2018.### Categories: Miller News 22Jun Governor signs Rep. Miller’s plan to solve farmers’ water withdrawal woeslast_img read more

Rep Matt Hall announces MDOT grant for village of Climax

first_img31May Rep. Matt Hall announces MDOT grant for village of Climax Categories: Hall News State Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Twp.) applauded the Michigan Department of Transportation for awarding the Village of Climax a Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category B grant for year 2020. The grant totals $50,637.50.“I commend the Village of Climax for the hard work they put into earning this grant.” Hall said. “Category B grants go a long way to help local communities repair their crumbling roads. I will continue to support policies that invest in our local villages and small cities.”The grant money will help fund the full reconstruction of North Church Street from Cherry Street to the dead end of North Church, Sheldon Street from the guardrail to Maple Street, and Ebinger Street from Maple Street to the dead end of Ebinger.The Category B program was created by 2018 P.A. 473, which was signed by Governor Snyder on December 26, 2018 and effective on March 29, 2019.  The purpose of the program is to provide additional road funding for cities and villages with populations of 10,000 or less.last_img read more

Californias Brown Must Choose Help the Poor or Invest for Rainy Days

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesFebruary 3, 2014; Los Angeles TimesCalifornia is turning into an interesting battleground, pitting fiscal austerity against social needs. Governor Jerry Brown leads a state with the largest population of people below the poverty level: nine million. The state has been historically quite aggressive in tackling social issues like poverty and spending money to make a dent. However, Brown’s latest “State of the State” address urged lawmakers to exercise fiscal prudence with state funds.Unlike past years of budget-torturing deficits in California, Brown’s message was against the backdrop of a fiscal surplus in the state. Critics are suggesting that Brown’s limited budget increases for welfare and other programs are “penny-wise and pound-foolish” vis-à-vis the needs of the poor. Writing for the Times, Anthony York indicates that Brown “bristles” at the idea that he is not doing what he can or should for the poor, suggesting that California is actually ahead of other states and even the federal government: “I really think California, relative to the rest of the country, is doing a very credible job in responding to the needs of our people,” Brown reportedly said recently.It is rare that poverty platforms become issues in gubernatorial campaigns, but it might happen in California when the poverty population is the size of a small country. One possible Republican candidate, Wall Streeter Neel Kashkari, has made education and poverty key themes in his campaign. He indicated that Brown has “forgotten the millions of Californians who are struggling.” Former Republican candidate Ron Unz has authored a plan to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, which he believes would save California tons of money that the state currently spends “subsidiz[ing] low-wage businesses” that pay much less.Republicans as the party that cares for the poor? Are California Democrats now the party of tightfisted fiscal policies? Senate President Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, responded to Brown’s speech that the fiscal restraint was good, but he nonetheless advocated budget room for “smart investments” restoring some social services and pre-K education. Assembly Speaker John Perez (from Los Angeles) advocated putting money back into welfare, food stamps, public health, and student financial aid.“Prudence is never easy,” Brown said when he announced his budget proposals. “When the money’s in, people want to go for it.” Will California end up devoting its surplus to a rainy-day fund or try to provide some more assistance to the state’s population of poor people? –Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Reporter Views Lack of Salary Disclosure as Provocative Indicator

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares July 8, 2014; Asheville Citizen-TimesWriting for the Citizen-Times in Asheville, North Carolina, Patrick Gannon says that, whether a nonprofit or a for-profit, when an entity operating in the social realm does not disclose salary information when asked, it does not, in his opinion, bode well. He cites three examples:The New Hanover County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board refused to release salary information to the Wilmington StarNews about five years ago. The public got involved, and eventually the salaries were released. The salary of the executive, Billy Williams, was relatively high itself at $232,000, plus bonuses which varied, but additional scrutiny revealed that Williams had also hidden personal costs in institutional invoices.Another nonprofit running a Head Start program in Wilmington also refused requests for salary disclosure. They were eventually defunded for mismanagement.Gannon sees these two cases as justifying his pursuit of the Roger Bacon Academy, a for-profit company managing three charter schools in southeastern North Carolina. The schools received about $13 million in taxpayer dollars for the 2013-14 fiscal year, Gannon points out, and thus they should be more transparent on the issue of compensation.Gannon writes, “In articles posted on Roger Bacon’s website, company officials criticize the media for pursuing ‘fake’ news. Instead, they say, reporters and editors should focus on the educational successes at the charter schools and the money they spend educating their students compared to traditional public schools.” But, he adds, “The media isn’t going to take that advice. Reporters and editors have encountered these situations before and remember the outcomes, which were far from fake.”NPQ covers stories all the time regarding this unwillingness to divulge. Recently, NPQ correspondent Rick Cohen challenged the practice among the highly paid of demurring when asked about compensation. He was discussing the refusal to disclose by Judy Belk, the new president of the California Wellness Foundation, but his point was more general. He wrote:“It seems to be the norm that people choose not to disclose their otherwise publicly disclosable salaries. It would probably be hard to get them to submit to these profiles if they were compelled to reveal the salaries they had signed on for in their new jobs. [But with] some digging, one can find for each of these persons, as we did for Belk, the individual’s previous salary and his or her predecessor’s compensation. Why make the process so mysterious going forward? It isn’t a strong statement in support of transparency.”And, apparently, it is like waving a red cape in front of some intrepid reporters who view it as an indicator of secretive goings-on.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Michelle Rhee Leaves StudentsFirst Assessing Her Accomplishments

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesAugust 13, 2014; PoliticoIt is important for the nonprofit sector to acknowledge the departure of Michelle Rhee from the school privatization advocacy organization she founded, StudentsFirst. Her public written explanation cited personal reasons: “It’s…time for my next step in life, which will be focused on my family and supporting my husband [Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson],” Rhee wrote. “His focus and passion for underserved communities…will be central to whatever comes next for us.” That probably means that KJ, as he was known as a star NBA guard with the Phoenix Suns, has political aspirations higher than Sacramento, boosted by his recent role as the spokesperson for NBA players who were aghast at the continued ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers by Donald Sterling and, more recently, by his election as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.Everyone wishes Rhee well with her focus on husband and family, but her departure from StudentsFirst does create an opening for analysis of what she accomplished at StudentsFirst and where and how she might have fallen short. Although a nominal Democrat, Rhee’s organization provided campaign support to candidates of both parties who favored privatization of elements of the public schools and the diminishment of teachers unions. Rhee drew a great deal of support from private contributors, including privatization-oriented hedge fund moguls such as Romney campaign bundler David Teppler and hedge fund manager Dan Loeb and Democratic foundation leaders such as John and Laura Arnold and Eli Broad (as well as much more conservative philanthropists such as the Walton Family Foundation). She put together a powerhouse board with the likes of Connie Chung, Bill Cosby, former NBA player Jalen Rose, former N.Y. Representative Rev. Floyd Flake, former CNN anchor Roland Martin, and Michael Bloomberg’s chancellor of the New York Department of Education Joel Klein (with Bloomberg himself as a funder of StudentsFirst).In this brief space, we don’t propose to do a complete retrospective of Rhee’s leadership of StudentsFirst, much less the broader elements of her career, but rather raise some issues that have emerged in the press coverage of her resignation that merit discussion.Fundraising for privatization education: Rhee’s original pledge was to raise a billion dollars for her education reform agenda. She fell well short, as she was undoubtedly going to, but even beyond that impossible goal, she was not as successful a fundraiser as some expected. She raised some big dollars for her version of education reform, but the fundraising had declined in recent years. Without her at the helm, does StudentsFirst have a future of being able to raise anything like the money Rhee raised? Politico notes that StudentsFirst has scaled back its operations in several states, closing five of 18 state offices, including Florida and Minnesota, which may or may not be related to the organization’s recent declining fundraising take.Building coalitions: Politico suggested that Rhee’s “imperious” style frustrated and defeated the ability of StudentsFirst to build effective coalitions. In particular, observers cited her tactical inflexibility, which those of us who experienced her in Washington, D.C. view as what did her in as the head of the public school system under former mayor Adrian Fenty. Politico cites examples that sound like StudentsFirst coming into states where other education reformers were already doing work and taking a stance that sounded like a “my way or highway” approach. Was the coalition weakness of StudentsFirst simply due to Rhee’s personality, or is there something more that undermines the ability of privatization advocates to effectively coalesce?Political leanings: StudentsFirst put big money into Republican candidates over the years and even honored Tennessee state representative John Ragan, a Republican, as “education reformer of the year” in 2013, notwithstanding Ragan’s other claim to fame as the author of the state’s proposed “don’t say gay” bill. Her appreciation of politicians favoring her school privatization positions meant that their support of other reprehensible policies, such as the anti-gay position of Ragan, could be ignored. Her stance taking on the teachers unions made her popular with generically anti-union Republicans, to be sure, but did Rhee’s position reveal an increasing move by Democrats into what has been the longtime Republican animosity to the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association? Might Rhee have been revealing that significant Democratic leaders, notably President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, are moving toward the anti-union school privatization movement despite their nominal liberal Democratic backgrounds?Some of the press debate is on whether StudentsFirst can survive without Rhee as its president and CEO. However, reports suggest that Rhee will continue on the board of directors, and the organization is aiming toward hiring another high-profile person as CEO, such as former NBC-TV anchor Campbell Brown, who founded the Partnership for Educational Justice, which challenges teacher tenure laws, and the Parents’ Transparency Project.Rhee may have less time to devote to StudentsFirst, since she has been elected chair of the board of St. Hope Public Schools, the 1,800-student charter school network established by Johnson. She has also joined the board of Scott’s Miracle-Gro. It may be interesting to note that Miracle-Gro’s company PAC contributed to the election campaigns of George W. Bush in 2004 and Rudolph Giuliani in 2008, though no presidential candidates in 2012, and overall, its contributions to House and Senate candidates over the years have leaned heavily Republican.Because of slow sales, Miracle-Gro just announced staff layoffs; the number is unspecified, but the news coverage implies that the layoffs will not be inconsequential. Having controversially laid off teachers in D.C. and now closing StudentsFirst offices in five states, Rhee might have a lot to bring to the board of Miracle-Gro.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Why Obama Is Visiting Saudi Arabias New Ruler—and Why He Shouldnt

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 24, 2015;QuartzIt’s tough to be President Obama, having to choose where to go for which event. The White House admitted that it was a mistake that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden showed up in Paris for the march in support of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo murders, instead sending the U.S. ambassador to represent the world’s greatest democracy among Merkel, Netanyahu, Abbas, and other national leaders included in the crowd. Some of us thought that President Obama might have showed up in Ferguson as a statement on police violence toward young black men.One place the President is going is to Saudi Arabia in recognition of the death of 90-year-old King Abdullah and to meet with his successor, 79-year-old and reportedly dementia-afflicted King Salman. Can you spell O-I-L? Or maybe it is I-S-I-L? Whatever the motivation, making Saudi Arabia a must-go raises questions about what values the U.S. government is upholding.President Obama’s visit to the kingdom of the house of Saud will come during a brief interregnum in the flogging of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who has been convicted of “insulting Islam” due to his calls for greater religious and political liberty. According to Quartz, one piece of evidence against the blogger was that he was found to have liked a Facebook page for Arab Christians. For these “crimes,” Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 50 lashes per week, presumably a humanitarian decision after having been also charged with apostasy, which in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death. Saudi Arabia delayed Badawi’s second flogging ostensibly because his wounds from the first round of punishment haven’t yet healed sufficiently for the next stage of punishment.Saudi Arabia is an ally of the freedom-loving U.S. against the ISIL extremists who have garnered significant attention in the West due to ISIL’s predilection for decapitating its captives. But Saudi Arabia commonly conducts its own public beheadings as its implementation of the death penalty. Quartz added that Saudi Arabia is one of only four countries in the world to still execute minors. Famously, Saudi Arabia punishes women with death by stoning for adultery and anyone with hand amputations if caught stealing.Saudi’s proclivity for extreme punishment such as beheadings a la ISIL appears to reside partly in the nation’s support for Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islam originating with eighteenth-century Islamic scholar Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. According to Middle East Eye, which developed the visual below, the standards of punishment of ISIL are almost identical to those practiced by the Saudi regime: Given the freedoms that are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, notably the prohibition against extreme forms of punishment, Saudi Arabia makes a strange and uncomfortable ally for the U.S. Although Saudi Arabia news isn’t frequently found in the NPQ Newswire, the kingdom’s nine-day jail punishment of a woman for the crime of driving a Lexus and the support that woman, Manal al-Sharif, received from 50 other Saudi women who took to the wheel in solidarity demonstrated the huge risks people in Saudi Arabia must assume when they challenge even the most outrageous of the nation’s rules.President Obama has already planned to cut his trip to India short to chat with King Salman, assuming there is much of a chat to be held. Add this visit to the president’s failure to go to Paris as another miscue that will require White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to eventually utter some sort of apology.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Pope Suggests Greedy Christians Give Religion a Bad Name

first_imgShare70TweetShare3Email73 Shares“Greed” from Rox Steady’s “Seven Deadly Sins”February 23, 2017; ReutersPope Francis is turning out to be one of the most quotable pontiffs in recent history. His simple statements about love, service, and humility and his willingness to engage with current issues have made him popular among liberal Catholics who have been yearning for the Church to redeem itself after the scandals and struggles of the early 2000s.His most recent statement was particularly welcome among people frustrated with skyrocketing economic inequality and double-talking public figures. Francis accused Catholics who do not care for the poor, who take advantage of others, of leading a “double life.”So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard—all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere, “But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.” It is that: scandal…But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another.Francis is an excellent example of the “practice what you preach” model of leadership. The Jesuit America Magazine has described him as:A pope who dresses modestly, pays his own lodging bills, rides around Vatican City in a Ford Focus or in foreign cities in small cars. A pope who invites street people to his birthday breakfast. A pope who tells the driver of his vehicle to stop at the dividing wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem so that he may pray before this glaring sign of division and pain. A pope who invites Muslims clerics to ride with him in the Popemobile in the war-torn Central African Republic.After setting his own example, Francis turned to his clergy, admonishing them not to live like “princes” and suspending one bishop who didn’t take him at his word.His unwavering devotion to the downtrodden and his unwillingness to undertake hardline campaigns for some of the Church’s more conservative moral teachings have made Pope Francis unpopular in some circles. When it comes to judgment and exclusion for divorced couples, homosexuals, and others who flout Church law, though he has not changed traditional Catholic positions, Francis has stressed mercy and compassion over moral grandstanding.“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and he has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Francis asked. Plenty of people, comes the answer from conservative circles. But in the true tradition of the moral warrior, he has not let his critics take him down.As NPQ has reported, the pontiff has said, “I like to use the image of the field hospital: Some people are very much injured and are waiting for us to heal their wounds, they are injured for a thousand reasons. We must reach out to them and heal their wounds.”Francis’s frustration with hypocrisy and selfishness is evident in his willingness to join battle on current events. He has advocated for the acceptance of refugees, criticized Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall, and castigated the wealthy for not sharing with the poor. In fact, he has been seen to embrace tenets of liberation theology, which his predecessor Pope Benedict opposed and which is often branded (with some inaccuracy) as Marxist Catholicism.The consistency of his message and his ability to shape his life around the mission of caring for the less fortunate have made him a powerful worldwide leader. Though Catholic theology involves some mind-bendingly complicated debates, Francis has distilled it into simple principles and demonstrated what it looks like to put them into practice, making it easier for wayward followers to return and feel accepted. He has even reached out to atheists, saying, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”Pope Francis’s practices in stewardship, humility, and leading by example are a valuable lesson for leaders in all sectors, but especially in the nonprofit sector, where moral factors are especially prone to play a role and service is an important guiding motive. His admonition this week to follow deeds and not words guides not only the faithful, but anyone looking to assess their leaders.—Erin RubinShare70TweetShare3Email73 Shareslast_img read more