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Heeres says work done on mission trips should also be done at home, right here in North Perth

LISTOWEL – Twice a year the council of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church has visioning sessions. This fall they decided to do one on how to be a hands and feet ministry of Jesus here in Listowel. “I don’t know if you know what that means – basically what it means is Jesus talks in the Bible several times about helping the poor, helping those in prison and helping those who are hungry,” said Ray Heeres, vice-chairman of the council. In Matthew 25, Heeres said there is a verse about people getting to heaven. When they arrive Jesus says, ‘I don’t know who you are.’  The people reply, ‘I don’t know what you mean, we’re Christian.’   To which Jesus said, ‘when I was hungry you didn’t feed me. When I was without clothes you never clothed me. When I was in prison you didn’t visit me.’  The people answer, ‘we didn’t know you were in there.’  Jesus told the people that whenever they do that for anybody they are doing it for him. “The whole point being, what good are you as a Christian if you don’t help your fellow neighbour if you don’t help your community,” said Heeres.  That is the background behind why the church council decided to be more involved in the community.  “What good is a church in a community if it is a clubhouse for the members to come every Sunday and they don’t give a hoot about anything in the community,” he said. “Then you’re not doing what you are supposed to do.” So, Heeres met with some other church leaders, Andrea Charest, executive director of It Takes A Village, and some representatives from social services at the old Anglican Church which is in the process of finding a new life as The Village Table.  “I don’t know if you are aware what’s going on there – Ann and Daryl Voskamp have bought it,” said Heeres. “It’s going to be a ministry centre… So we had Ann and Daryl talk to us a bit about what their vision was for the place.” At the meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the homeless in North Perth and other people who need support.  “We learned a lot but of course, now what are we going to do about it,” said Heeres. One idea which has been raised is doing potluck dinners where local families would bring food to The Village Table and people who need a meal would be invited to share in the meal.  “That all sounds great until you try to figure out what the COVID guidelines are and all of a sudden – well you can meet with 50 people there – but the idea was a family sits down at a table with a couple of homeless people and shares a meal,” said Heeres. “The health unit says no you can’t do that. You can only sit at a table with people in your bubble. The other bubble has to be at a table six feet away.” Food also has to be prepared in a certified kitchen and the kitchen in the old Anglican Church building would need to be updated, so there are some obstacles to overcome when it comes to hosting meals.  Heeres said he thinks using the word ‘homeless’ might limit the people who need some help. “What is better terminology to use because I don’t like saying we’re going to sit down with a few homeless people,” he said. “There has got to be something better than that.” The idea of providing a weekly meal was being talked about before the pandemic started. It was going to be a partnership with It Takes A Village.  “We were all gung-ho to do that and then COVID hit and that sort of destroyed everything there,” said Heeres. “So that is still a goal… maybe it has to be take-out meals at this point.”  This work is being done to complement efforts by the North Perth Committee on Homelessness which is working with the Salvation Army. “I know the warming centre was talked about and they are waiting on a grant for that I believe, but again at The Village Table I think we are going to look to see whether we can be open a couple of hours a few days a week just to have coffee and maybe you could provide store-bought cookies so it’s not a matter of food prepared in a certified kitchen,” said Heeres. “Now that will take volunteers to staff it… you’d be open a couple of hours in the afternoon so people could drop in and have a free coffee, hang out and warm up.” A cold snap in the winter could pose issues for this plan, but he hopes they would be able to extend the hours if necessary. He knows from experience there are no local motels which would provide shelter for people in need. “As a church, we’ve had to put somebody up once and we had to bring them to Palmerston because the local (motels) would not do it,” he said. “So that thought is in the back of our minds. So you have a warming centre. People come and you close at 5 p.m. and you have to boot them out the door. It’s howling wind and it’s minus-20. You feel like a jerk for doing it but on the other hand, are you set up?” Using The Village Table as an example, he pointed out the problems such as liability and staffing if people had to stay overnight.   “You need staffing who can be there all night and be awake,” said Heeres. “You can’t be sleeping. Strictly volunteers, that’s asking a lot.” According to Heeres, the Voskamps would like to see The Village Table being used for a variety of programs. One that he recalled being discussed is Celebrate Recovery.  “It’s a fairly intense program for those who are recovering from addictions but also other stuff, mental health issues,” he said. “They tried to have one in town a few years ago but it takes a lot of work and a lot of volunteers so they are hoping to maybe bring this back and operate it out of that building, too.” Heeres did not want to talk too much about programs which will be in the ministry because he is just one of many helpers who will be involved, but he said non-Christians should not worry about the word ‘ministry’, which he said is church talk for a program. “The public says ‘government-run programs’, but to us, in a church, if we are going to do a warming centre we would call it a ministry,” he said. “I don’t think you have to be Christian to be able to work out of there and certainly there will be no ‘we’ll only help you if you are Christian.’ Absolutely not, there is no quiz before you get help. It’s just if you need help, fine.”  Heeres said he respects the model at It Takes A Village where they offer support to anyone without asking questions, but he does realize some other organizations have more administration to deal with and they require more information. “You can be tough and say – well if they want food they just better obey the rules,” said Heeres. “Well, we all know what happens then. They just stay away then and find other ways, so the answer isn’t to say to the poor, to the homeless – if you don’t follow our rules then you can’t get any help… I know some people think you are just enabling them … and I’m thinking to myself, ‘you think they’re living high off the hog if they are on disability and getting $1,000 a month? You try to live off that.’ They should be getting twice that so don’t think they are taking advantage of the system. It’s just not the way it is. I think people who say that kind of stuff have never really been in the trenches.” Heeres is open to people in need being involved in creating the programs which will help them.  “I would want equal representation from both sides because I have done enough foreign mission trips to know you can do a terrible lot of damage if you think you know what people need,” he said. “I take youth to Nicaragua. I’ve gone there seven or eight times now. You can’t go there and say ‘OK, you need this so we’re going to build it for you.’ That’s not how it works.” When they go on mission trips, they work with the YMCA in Nicaragua, which is different than the YMCA here.  “There it’s a community development organization,” said Heeres. “They go into a community and sit down with their council… and they come up with a vision and a plan for what they need… then we will go in and help them do what they need. So the same thing is necessary here. If we are going to ‘help the homeless’, we need to know what they need and I don’t know what they need… so definitely I think the people involved who you are ministering to need input on how the ministry is going to be done or else you can offer something and nobody will show up.” Heeres realizes this might mean they would be working with people who have an addiction and mental health challenges and may not always be reliable.  “One of the first mission trips I went on was when the Mississippi River flooded,” he said. “We drove all night as a youth group… we were going to help some people clean up their place. We… showed up at this house at 10 a.m. and the people weren’t there. We’re all going – what ungrateful people, we drove all the way here – it’s all about us in our heads. They showed up at noon. “The whole point of that being, and I’m going to get into Christianity here, Jesus Christ died for us and we didn’t deserve it but he did it anyway, so we’re just like them and we expect Jesus to love us so how about we return the favour and we love the unreliable and do stuff for them and don’t make them being reliable a precondition for us to do something for them because then you are going to be disappointed.” When they are preparing for the foreign mission trips there is a day of orientation.  “What I instill in these kids is Jesus doesn’t need you to go to Nicaragua for him if you are not willing to do something in your town so you better be willing, when you come back, to be of service in your town. It’s easy to go to Nicaragua and be a hero and it’s a great trip and it’s fun and everybody thinks you are great but it’s a little different ministering to the guy in Listowel who needs some food. The whole point for Christians is if you are not willing to do something in your town with the downtrodden then you’ve got no right to claim you are ‘a great Christian.’”Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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Apple says its big privacy change is coming in 'early spring' as conflict with Facebook heats up – CNBC

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A monorail train displaying Google signage moves past a billboard advertising Apple iPhone security during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The long-awaited privacy update to Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating systems that could dramatically hurt mobile advertising is coming in “early spring,” Apple told CNBC on Wednesday.

To target mobile ads and measure how effective they are, app developers and other industry players currently often use Apple’s (IDFA), or a string of letters and numbers that’s different on every Apple device. But once this update rolls out, app makers will be forced to ask permission to access a user’s IDFA through a prompt. A significant portion of users are expected to say no, reducing the effectiveness of targeted ads.

Apple first announced the change last summer, giving advertisers and app makers ample time to prepare. But it’s become a major point of contention for ad-supported companies, who could lose revenue from the change.

Facebook in particular argues that the change will hurt the availability of free content on the open web and the ability of small business to place personalized ads. On Facebook’s Q4 2020 earnings call Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg slammed the change, calling Apple one of its biggest competitors and claiming that the change “threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers.” 

The timing of Apple’s change has been the subject of intense speculation in the mobile industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to speak Thursday about data privacy at the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels. On Thursday, the company is also releasing new marketing materials, including an update to its website and a report on data usage to illustrate how companies track user data across websites and apps.

Apple told CNBC that the next beta version of iOS will require app developers to ask permission to access the phone’s unique identifier.

The current version of iOS is 14.4, which was released earlier this week. There currently isn’t a public beta version beyond that available to developers. Apple declined to provide additional timing details. 

As companies prepare for the change, they’re letting partners and advertisers know how they plan to approach the change. Google on Wednesday said in a post that it will no longer use any information that falls under Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework for its iOS apps, and doesn’t plan to show the prompt on those apps.

Nominations are open for the 2021 CNBC Disruptor 50, a list of private start-ups using breakthrough technology to become the next generation of great public companies. Submit by Friday, Feb. 12, at 3 pm EST.

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Cyberpunk 2077 bans unauthorized Keanu Reeves sex – The Verge

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Cyberpunk 2077 creator CD Projekt Red would kindly like modders to stop making Keanu Reeves into a sex object. Following a fan mod that allowed players to have sex with Reeves’ character, Johnny Silverhand, the developer told PC Gamer that user-generated content cannot be “harmful towards others” — especially when it comes to mods. “In the case of model swaps, especially those that involve explicit situations, it can be perceived as such by the people who lent us their appearance for the purpose of creating characters in Cyberpunk 2077,” the developer said.

It’s worth noting that Reeves’ character does have an in-game sex scene, though it plays out from his perspective. As Johnny, the player has sex with a blonde woman who inexplicably dumps good liquor onto her white top to a backdrop of guitar riffs, while Johnny bounces her around.

Eurogamer first reported on the Nexus Mods files that swapped a sex worker “joytoy” character model for Reeves’ Johnny. In the mod, Johnny — who remains clothed — is now the sexualized character seen through the players’ eyes. It also uses the joytoy’s voice acting throughout the brief scene.

It’s typical for players to personalize their experience through mods, and the Cyberpunk community has been doing so since the game’s release. CD Projekt Red just released official modding tools. However, the mod — which has since been hidden by the creator on Nexus Mods — crosses that boundary.

“For the characters we’ve invented for the game, we broadly permit you to tweak the game at will and just have fun,” CD Projekt Red told PC Gamer. “When it comes to models of real people whom we’ve asked to participate in the game, we kindly ask you to refrain from using them in any situation that might be found offensive if you don’t have their explicit permission.”

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Meet BMW’s Fastest Production Car, the New Limited-Edition 627 HP M5 CS – Robb Report

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BMW’s M models are high-performance by definition, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Which is why the automaker will release an even more powerful variant of the M5 later this year.

Unveiled on Tuesday, the 2022 M5 CS is a lighter and more muscular version of the high-performance sedan—even with its souped up  Competition package. It’s also a limited-edition model that will only be available for one year and only select markets.

2022 BMW M5 CS 

BMW

The M5 doesn’t lack for power. The base model features a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that delivers 600 horsepower and 553 ft lbs of torque. But the marque’s engineers have been able to take the mill and squeeze in an extra 27 horses (10 more than the M5 Competition). While some purists will roll their eyes at the lack of a manual transmission, the car’s acceleration numbers should more than make up for its exclusion. BMW claims the CS can rocket from zero to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds quicker than the M5 Competition and easily makes it the automaker’s quickest production car, according to CNET Roadshow. A top speed of 190 mph isn’t too shabby, either.

But credit for the car’s lightning-quick acceleration time also belongs to its reduced weight. The CS weighs a full 230 pounds less than M5 Competition. This is mainly due to new carbon-fiber elements, including the hood, front splitter, rear diffuser, rear splitter and mirror housings, as well as all four seats in the cabin. Engineers also cut down on the amount of sound deadening material throughout the car. These tweaks allowed the car to shed some serious pounds, all without having to sacrifice its all-wheel-drive system. And if you’re worried about the reduced weight changing how the car feels, fret not because BMW has adjusted the car’s springs and dampers accordingly.

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS 

BMW

From the outside, the CS doesn’t look all that different from the M5 or M5 Competition, but it does feature several striking gold bronze accents, including on the kidney grilles, badging and forged 20-inch wheels. Inside, you’ll find special CS badging, illuminated M5 logos, Alcantara suede, the company’s latest iDrive 7 infotainment suite and a digital gauge cluster that’ll display even more info than the standard M5.

For the time being, BMW only plans to offer the M5 CS as part of the 2022 model year and only in the North America, UK, Germany and Russia markets. This exclusivity, along with a laundry list of performance and design upgrades, won’t come cheap. The sporty sedan will start at $142,995 when it goes on sale later this year, which is $36,000 more than the standard M5 and nearly $30,000 more than the M5 Competition.

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