• Can I Say That I Love The Pope? After This (Video), I Certainly Do

    What you see here seems so simple.

    So simple.

    But remember this…

    What you see is anything but simple…

    This man "proves" by example.

    "Teaches" by example.

    "Loves" by example.

    This pope understands the teachings of Christ.

    And none of those teachings stipulate that Christ never, ever said, "DO NOT LOVE."

    On the contrary.

    First, there is no ordination in the Catholic Church higher than bishop.

    Cardinals are appointed. Popes are elected.

    The Pope is Bishop of Rome, and has an incredible amount of authority, power, whatever.

    Which is why this is so striking.

    The pope confessed his sins to "an ordinary priest."

    Wow. Wow. And, Wow.

    Love this guy, forever.

    Francis should be the Patron Saint of Popes, moving forward.

    I love him.

  • Man Framed by New York Detective to Get $6.4 Million



    And more wow.

    From the New York Times:

    A man who was framed by a rogue detective and served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive $6.4 million from the City of New York in a settlement that came before a civil rights lawsuit was even filed, lawyers involved in the case said on Thursday.

    A $150 million claim filed last year by the man, David Ranta, was settled by the city comptroller’s office without ever involving the city’s legal department – which the lawyers involved in the negotiations described as a “groundbreaking” decision that acknowledged the overwhelming evidence the city faced.

    More here.

  • Newark Archbishop John Myers Is America’s Bishop of Bling

    The previous winner of the “Bishop of Bling” awards was Germany’s now-disgraced Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg.

    America has own contender for this ungodly award.

    Meet Archbishop John Myers of New Jersey:

    Newark, N.J., Archbishop John Myers’ decision to expand his summer residence cum retirement home — already a model of luxury with five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, an elevator, a three-car garage and a large outdoor pool and valued at nearly $800,000 — is nothing short of an assault on the goodwill and trust of the people of God.

    The 3,000-square-foot addition, at a minimum cost of $500,000 (it is reported that furnishings, architectural costs and landscaping are not included in that figure), will bring the total area of the residence to 7,400 square feet and the total value to at least $1.3 million.

    More at the National Catholic Reporter

  • IHSA Disqualifies H-F Girls Basketball, Says Coach Is A Cheat

    So it turns out cheaters will not win this year, at least one in particular from H-F.

    I especially feel bad for the kids affected, and, again, for those who were honest from the get-go.

    From Joe Biesk at the Sun-Times:

    Homewood-Flossmoor’s girls basketball team was scheduled to play T.F. North Wednesday. Instead, the Illinois High School Association has disqualified the team from the state playoffs over bylaw violations.

    The Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team and its acclaimed first-year coach Anthony Smith were top contenders for the state title this season. Now, they won’t even play a game in the tournament. In a decision Wednesday, issued about an hour before H-F was to play its opening game in the tourney, the Illinois High School Association dashed all hopes of the team’s postseason glory. Citing several violations of its bylaws, the IHSA banned H-F from competing and forfeited its 21 victories this season. The Vikings, ranked No. 1 by the Sun-Times, was scheduled to play T.F. North at 6 p.m. in Calumet City.

    Read more here.

    From the Chicago Tribune:

    Just hours before the top-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team was to take the floor to begin its playoff march, the state high school athletic association delivered a bombshell Wednesday, suspending the entire team and its highly regarded coach for rules violations.

    The sanctions by the Illinois High School Association come just weeks after a lawsuit rocked the highly touted program, accusing coach Anthony Smith of improperly recruiting star players from other school districts in his first season at H-F. That prompted the school district to conduct an internal investigation that led it to acknowledge it had violated rules, though none for improper recruiting.

    More here at the Trib

  • Watch: US Olympic Speedskater Describes Having to Rely on Food Stamps

    From DemoNews.org:

    Yes, you’ve read that right. Things have gotten so bad in America that even our Olympic athletes are receiving “poverty stipends” in order to help them make ends meet as they struggle to represent our country in the Olympics while putting food on the table.

    In this very telling video, Emily Scott, representing the United States in Olympic speedskating, fights back the tears as she recalls having to apply for food stamps due to her Olympic stipend being cut from $1950 per month to only $600 per month, less than the minimum wage.


  • Video: Republicans in Congress are Blocking Immigration Reform

    Immigration reform. Another GOP lie?

    From Democrats.org:

    While the majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans continue to stand in its way. They have had more than enough time to get this done but continue to hide behind excuses.

    And the worst part is that they could make a choice to pass immigration reform tomorrow. There’s a bipartisan bill that has been in the House for nearly 5 months, which already has enough support to pass — all we need is a vote but Speaker Boehner refuses.

    If we want to move forward with immigration reform and the rest of President Obama’s agenda, we need to elect a new Democratic majority. Watch this video on immigration, then donate so we have the resources it takes to make John Boehner an ex-speaker come 2014.

  • Video: Texas Sports Anchor Delivers Jaw-Dropping Speech On Gay NFL Players

    Hat Tip to the Huffington Post:

    Sports broadcasts are typically known for their punchy lists of best plays, epic goal countdowns and testosterone-fueled commentary.

    Which makes Dale Hansen’s address Monday night all the more remarkable. The Dallas sports anchor for ABC local affiliate WFAA took a break from the standard script to address the issue of Michael Sam, a defensive lineman poised to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

  • Palestine: A Land Forgotten; Isreal: The One Forgetting

    Peace in Palestine!


    How much thought have you given Palestine recently?

    We live in a country (USA! USA!) where celebrity news trumps news of the suffering in the world. News of the starving in the world. News of those still facing genocide. Still facing abuse. Still lacking basic human rights.

    And we thrive to news of celebrity arrests, as if they matter one damn.

    At all.

    Had lunch with a now old friend, my friend is very young (comparable to my scalp line), but very, very wise.

    And very empathetic.

    My friend just returned from a half-month trip to Israel and Palestine (notice I’m naming them separately, as the two separate states the are, should be, shall be, Insha’Allah.

    God willing, that is.

    I will share with you in this space some of the amazing, alarming, and jaw-dropping things I learned from my friend today.

    Israel, the state (not all Israelis, not all Jews), but Israel is persecuting the Palestinians.

    And this must be stopped.

    Did you know, for example, that Israel controls all water and electricity into Palestinian regions?

    And, did you know, that Israel frequentlly cuts off all water and electricity if one Palestinian “misbehaves?”

    Did you know that it is illegal for an Israeli to enter Palestine? Did you know that, on average, Israel demolishes four Palestinian home a day?

    Did you know that Israel will not do trash pick-up in any region inhabited by Muslims, whether in the Old City, or Palestine?

    Did you know that the Israeli government then uses that reality to refer to the Palestinians as filthy, dirty animals?

    In short, did you know that Israel, to put it mildly, discriminates against the Palestinians, that the officials of the Israeli state refer to all Palestinians as “terrorists.”

    Did you know that, at the Dome of the Rock, Israeli soldiers guard the entrance, allowing only a certain number of Muslims to enter each day to pray?

    And did you know that Palestinians just want to live?

    To own property?

    To build homes (which is illegal now)?

    To be human?

    Thank you to my friend.

    More to follow.


  • NYTimes: Third-Quarter U.S. Growth at 4.1% Rate in New Estimate. Good News?

    Underemployment BLS June 2013
    Source: BLS

    The economy is improving, and has been for years under President Obama.

    It’s just been sluggish, and there are plenty of people out of work still. There are even more who are underemployed (above graphic is from June 2013). According to Forbes, the "official" underemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs, or have just given up. These people, properly tracked under what’s called the "U-6" rate, showed underemployment at 14.3% in June 2013.

    So, what exactly are we to infer from the revised estimate, reported today by the New York Times, that third quarter estimates for the economy showed 4.3% growth? The NYTimes reports:

    The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.

    The rate was the fastest in almost two years.

    The Commerce Department said business spending was stronger than it originally thought, leading to the revision up from 3.6 percent. Economists had expected the final estimate of growth to be unchanged from that 3.6 percent.

    According to the Times, the growth rate for quarter two was 2.5%.

    So, this is good news, right?

    Not so certain, given the underemployment rate and other factors. Those of us in the middle and lower are making less, therefore spending less.

    Consider the rise in companies buying back their own shares of stock, to the tune of $211 billion.

    Enter Robert Reich from December 17, via Facebook (emphasis added):

    A big reason why CEOs are about to rake in big year-end bonuses even though their sales are lousy (after all, America’s vast middle class and poor aren’t earning enough to buy much) is CEOs been using their companies’ cash, plus whatever they can borrow at rock-bottom interest rates engineered by the Fed, to buy back their own shares of stock. This maneuver raises the price of the remaining shares, thereby giving the CEOs – whose pay is tied to share prices – huge rewards. This year, the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average authorized $211 billion in buybacks, lifting the Dow (and CEO pay) to record heights.

    This $211 billion could have gone instead to American workers in the form of higher wages – which would have come back to companies in the form of higher sales. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.

    It’s a vicious cycle as long as CEO incentives are directed toward raising share prices rather than sales, and as long as the economy is organized around the stock market rather than good jobs.

    Since many of our pensions were shifted to the stock market via crapshoot 401Ks, we have learned that the stock market is not a safe environment for our retirement funds to exist. Know anyone who was unable to retire because his or her 401K lost half its value or more — just when that person was planning to exit the work force?

    I do. Too many, in fact.

    So, yes, a 4.1% growth in the economy is good news. However, as long as the corporations are defining growth based on the stock market as opposed to job growth, most of us in America will have to wait — and work — for a paradigm shift in the outlooks of corporations.

    Or, we will have to fight for it, just like we did in the early 20th century.

    Let’s begin by organizing the Service Industry.

    More on that to come.

  • From Common Dreams: Reformer or Hypocrite? Understanding Pope Francis

    At first glance, Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” Pope Francis, is a mess of contradictions. On the one hand, he has vehemently denounced the evils of global capitalism, calling it “a new tyranny.” However, as pontiff, he heads the Catholic Church, which has beencharacterized as “probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world.” And, although the pope has championed the importance of women in the Catholic Church, saying in an interview, “The woman is essential for the church. … The feminine genius is needed whenever we make important decisions,” he continues to oppose as strongly as any pope before him the ordination of women, and considers abortion to be evil. How do we make sense of Pope Francis’ views?

    Read more here.