Century Marks

Century Marks

Hospice church

Citrus County, north of Tampa, Florida, is part of what is called the “gray belt,” an area of eight counties with one of the oldest populations in the country. This area foreshadows the future of the country as a whole. In 15 years, one in four residents in Citrus County will be 65 or older. In the not-too-distant future, one in five Americans will be over 65. The First Presbyterian Church in the area is sometimes referred to as a hospice church. The church has a difficult time making the changes that would attract younger families, yet the older members are dying off or moving north to be near family (AP).

Terror Tweets

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is one of the most media savvy militant groups in the Middle East. Its social media director is thought to be an American, Ahmad Abousamra, who was born in France, raised in the Boston area, and has dual U.S. and Syrian citizenship. He studied computer science at Northeastern University, where he was on the dean’s list. Abousamra encourages ISIS militants to use Facebook and Twitter to publicize their exploits, including posting photos of severed heads and executions of prisoners (The Week, September 19).

Healing service

In a service of reconciliation, about 1,000 people gathered in the St. Giles Church in Edinburgh on the Sunday following the vote on Scottish independence, which brought out 85 percent of voters. Representative leaders of both camps were present for a show of unity following the divisive vote for independence, which was defeated by about ten points. In a sermon, John Chalmers, moderator of the Church of Scotland, acknowledged there is more national healing that must be done. “Today and in the weeks to come Scotland needs magnanimity all round, and it needs a process for shaping our future [that] allows every voice (the 45 percent as well as the 55 percent) not just to be heard but to be listened to,” he said (Guardian, September 21).

Revealing news

The demise of American newspapers is well known, but Anya Schiffrin contends that internationally investigative journalism lives on. The amount of data online and the ability of journalists to communicate with each other through the Internet are aiding new forms of reporting across international borders. Schiffrin sites numerous exposés of worker injustice that implicate Western corporations: migrant workers from Nepal making iPhones in Malaysia were laid off and forced to fend for themselves when Apple rejected inferior products, and Indonesians were forced into slave-like working conditions on Korean fishing boats off the coast of New Zealand that were supplying American chains such as Safeway, Walmart, and Whole Foods (Utne, August 27).

History haunts us

Cotton was king in the 19th century, and the industry was dependent upon slavery. It wasn’t only southern plantation owners who reaped its benefits. Northerners and Europeans created a worldwide textile industry on the backs of slave labor, and they lent money to plantation owners to buy more slaves. We are still living with the legacy of that slavery, says Edward E. Baptist, author of the recently released The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Part of the legacy is that white households have almost $15 worth of wealth for every dollar held by African-American households (CNN, September 7).