enlargeIn other timesExcuse me, but who appointed the Catholic Bishops Gods and Guardians of All Things? As one who spent her time in the Girl Scouts along with her friends in elementary school all those years ago, I have only good things to say about them. While I wasn't exactly a master of cookie sales, I limped along in other areas, but certainly don't recall any outside groups having anything to say about our activities.
So could someone please explain to me how this is possible? Via Washington Post:
Long a lightning rod for conservative criticism, the Girl Scouts of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances.
The inquiry coincides with the Scouts? 100th anniversary celebrations and follows a chain of other controversies.
Earlier this year, legislators in Indiana and Alaska publicly called the Scouts into question, and the organization was berated in a series aired by a Catholic broadcast network. Last year, the Scouts angered some conservatives by accepting into a Colorado troop a 7-year-old transgender child who was born a boy but was being raised as a girl.
Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that have been denied by the Girl Scouts? head office repeatedly and categorically. It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion.
?It?s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,? said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts? director of inclusive membership strategies.
In other instances, the scouts have modified materials that drew complaints ? for example, dropping some references to playwright Josefina Lopez because one of her plays, ?Simply Maria,? was viewed by critics as mocking the Catholic faith.
The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops? Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts? ?possible problematic relationships with other organizations? and various ?problematic? program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.
With due respect (which is very little), why don't the Girl Scouts tell the Bishops to take a flying leap off a high cliff? I checked, and sure enough, the Girl Scouts are a qualified nonprofit organization with this stated purpose: "Girl Scouting builds girls of confidence, courage and character who make the world a better place."
Gosh, that's terrible. Clearly antithetical to any Christian teachings to help girls make the world a better place, right?
What has possessed these Bishops to act like they're dictators of the world? As it turns out, there's an answer to that, via Sojourners, writing on the question of who sparked the attack on Catholic nuns:
Now it turns out that conservative American churchmen living in Rome?including disgraced former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law?were key players in pushing the hostile takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR, which they have long viewed with suspicion for emphasizing social justice work over loyalty to the hierarchy and issues like abortion and gay marriage.
Vatican observers in Rome and church sources in the U.S. say Law was ?the person in Rome most forcefully supporting? the LCWR investigation, as Rome correspondent Robert Mickens wrote in The Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly. Law was the ?prime instigator,? in the words of one American churchman, of the investigation that began in 2009 and ended in 2011. The actual crackdown was only launched in April.
Law was joined by a former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was named to a top Vatican judicial post in 2008 ? a move that was seen as a case of being ?kicked upstairs? because Burke?s hard-line views made him so controversial in the U.S. Also reportedly backing the probe was Cardinal James Stafford, a former Denver archbishop who has held jobs in the Roman curia since 1996.
The investigation itself was conducted by Cardinal William Levada, a former archbishop of San Francisco who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican?s powerful doctrinal watchdog, when Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, represents everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church. Look at this list of his merry men! Cardinal Law, enabler of sexual abusers and clinic bombers. Cardinal Raymond Burke, rabid anti-abortion fanatic and political enforcer. William Levada, sexual abuse enabler and apologist, now the top dog in charge of Catholic doctrine in Rome.
I still don't understand what jurisdiction these people have over the Girl Scouts. I can at least understand the nuns a little bit, but the Girl Scouts are an organization independent of the Catholic Church. If these testosterone-twisted men have a problem with it, let them simply send an edict down from on high to their minions, who will disobey it anyway the same way they do the birth control and yes, even abortion, edicts.
There is no way any church should have the right to "investigate" an independent, civic-minded organization for the dreadful sin of supporting organizations like Oxfam, the Sierra Club, and Doctors Without Borders. That's an overreach by all stretches of the imagination, and someone ought to whack those moles back into their hidey hole in Rome. Enough of this nonsense.
I'm heading to my neighbor's house to stock up on Thin Mints. I think I'll give an extra donation as a gesture of support for an organization supporting girls which is now under attack by a group of fat self-righteous old men.
This post contains spoilers through the May 10 episode of Community.
I should start this off by saying how pleased I am by Community‘s renewal, even at thirteen episodes rather than a full season. It’s really nice to see this wonderful, experimental little show that’s been so marvelously dedicated to exploring the boundaries of television’s forms get a chance to go out at a logical time for the world in which it’s set, as its characters get the degrees they came to Greendale to get and head out into the world. Though now that we’ve achieved this and are one year closer to six seasons and a movie, I think it’s time to set a new impossible dream: a season of Community set in all the remaining timelines.
As for the episode itself, this was more clip show than anything else, but I think it got at an important point that the show doesn’t always address head-on: what if landing at Greendale hasn’t been great for all of these characters? Of course, their shrink is lying in Chang’s service when he tells the now-former study group that “There is a place called Greendale, and you all spent three years there, but it’s not a community college.” But as we journey through it, the show kind of suggests that their time there has been neither educational nor salutary. There are classes in advanced breathing and the ability to fry things. Parking spots are determined by chess matches with human pieces. Abed may be going through the early experimental period of his filmmaking career, and the Dean may be getting his jollies, but making movies with him isn’t exactly what everyone else came to school to do. “If you’d gone to school there, you’d be obsessed with it too,” Jeff explains. And oh, we are. But that’s not the same thing as it being what all of them needed or intended.
And now that we get one more season, I’ll be curious to see if and how Community sets up these people to go out into the world. Will Troy go to air conditioning repair school? Will Jeff actually get his law degree back? Will Shirley open her business? What about Annie? And what experiments are yet to come? As Gareth put it, “I want to see what happens if we confiscate one of their pens.” So do I, Gareth. So do I.
While the targets don?t feature a photo of Martin, they do depict a silhouette of a hoodie clutching a can of iced tee and a pack of Skittles hanging out of the pocket, details pulled directly from the descriptions of Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26, when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
According to a local news station in Orlando, the seller of the targets readily admits he?s hoping to make a profit over the tragic shooting of a teenager:
In an email exchange with reporter Mike DeForest, the seller wrote, “My main motivation was to make money off the controversy.”
The seller would not disclose how many paper targets had been made, but said in an email, “The response is overwhelming. I sold out in 2 days.”
Some of those targets were sold to two Florida gun dealers, according to the seller.
The listing, which appeared to have been posted on the online gun outlet store gunbroker.com, has been removed, although as of publication the Google Cache of the page is still available. For $8 plus shipping, anyone could purchase a 10-pack of the paper targets.
Mark O?Mara, the lawyer for Trayvon?s killer George Zimmerman, strongly rebuked the targets, calling it ?hate-mongering.?
Gun owners, even those who believe George Zimmerman is innocent, were quick to criticize the targets and the person behind them. “Even though I fully believe Zimmerman was justified in shooting, Trayvon was still a human being and does not deserve that kind of disrespect in death,” one member of the firearm owners association told the Orlando station.
President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality this week is a significant milestone in the inevitable arc toward its universality. Though conservatives have expressed outrage, their comments also reflect how much public opinion has shifted in even the last decade.
Consider the four comparisons below. In the left column is how various social conservative spokespeople responded in November, 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. In the right-hand column, see how they (or their successors) responded this week to Obama’s announcement:
The players may not have changed much, but the rules have. There are certainly some conservatives whose anti-gay screeds continue to be explosive, but in general, it seems that changing public opinion has forced them to tame their rhetoric. Less than a decade ago, marriage equality threatened the survival of society, but now it’s just “disappointing” and “a mistake.” It won’t be long before even these timid responses alienate voters who understand that marriage equality is good for communities, good for families, and good for everybody everywhere.
Rising ocean temperatures are driving major changes in fisheries throughout western Europe, bringing warm water species typically seen in the Mediterranean to the coast of the United Kingdom.
A new report card issued by European marine researchers details the ecological and economic impact that climate change is having on fisheries in the UK and Scotland — concluding that there are “clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks” in the region.
The report card features a map of changes currently underway. In southwest England, there are increases in blue fin tuna, triggerfish, thresher sharks, stingrays, and ocean sunfish; In the North Sea, fisherman are catching far more squid, shifting from a traditional focus on haddock and cod; and on the coast of eastern England, fisherman are seeing major declines in cod due to overfishing and changing temperatures.
A rise in ocean temperatures could have mixed results in Europe, wiping out some fish stocks and making others more abundant. But the net impact would be unquestionably bad, warn the researchers:
Projected global redistributions of fish will affect different parts of the world unequally. By 2050, tropical regions could experience significant declines in landings with gains in some high latitudes. The overall cost of adaptation of the fisheries sector worldwide in response to climate change is predicted to be large and could lead to losses in gross fisheries revenues of $10?31 billion by 2050.
If ocean temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius, the report predicts that mussel harvests could fall by half, while increasing storms could damage salmon farms — potentially introducing new predators or causing farmed salmon to escape in the wild and hybridize wild stocks.
The report card was put together by Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, a group of scientists from government agencies and NGOs. While some of the long-term predictions for fisheries are sketchy, the impacts today are already being seen: “There are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish ? many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures.”
Thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, 16 million consumers and businesses are expected to receive about $1.3 billion in rebates from health insurance companies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The medical loss ratio rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premiums on patient care; if not, then the companies owe rebates to their customers. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains, “We want to know that most of what we are paying for is for health care, not advertising, executive bonuses or overhead. It?s pretty simple: we want to get a good value for our premium dollars.”
The Kaiser estimates show that rebates add up to $541 million in the large employer market, $377 million in the small business market, and $426 million for those buying insurance on their own. Roughly one-third of people nationally who bought individual insurance plans can expect a rebate, but the percent of consumers expecting rebates ranges from almost zero in some states to 86 percent in Oklahoma and 92 percent in Texas. “This study shows that asking insurance companies to put more of their premium dollar towards patient care rather than administration and profits is not only popular but also effective,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.
Insurance brokers unsuccessfully tried to block this regulation, and Florida officials asked the federal government for less stringent requirements that would have likely reduced the rebate amounts in that state. But if this rule had gone into place in 2010, 15 million people would have seen $2 billion in rebates that year.
Washington Examiner reporter Tim Carney appeared on MSNBC this afternoon with host Tamron Hall, but was apparently uninterested in discussing what he agreed to come on to discuss, leading to a heated confrontation between the two. Hall asked Carney about the Romney campaign’s response to allegations that he bullied a perceived gay classmate in high school, but Carney refused to accept the premise, calling her question a “typical media trick.” Carney said Hall was trying to justify the initial allegations, which he claimed were bogus, by discussing the “meta story” of the response. Hall slapped Carney down for apparently going back on his agreement to discuss the topic and using the platform to criticize her. Watch it:
With all the talk over Mitt Romney’s bullying of a presumed gay classmate, some have questioned whether it’s fair to judge someone on their actions in high school. But everyone agrees that anything from a recent political career is fair game.
So it’s telling that one doesn’t have to reach that far back to find other incidents of LGBT bullying from Romney’s close staff. Romney campaign senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom (of Etch-a-Sketch fame) outed a transgender woman in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, effectively ending her political career, when he was a reporter for the Boston Herald.
Fehrnstrom saved his cheap shots for smaller-time Massachusetts pols. When a political activist and gadfly named Althea Garrison was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the fact that she was transgender was an open secret in Boston political circles. But Fehrnstrom was the first one to put that information into print?”I can remember his glee when he found the birth certificate,” says former Herald reporter Robert Connolly?thus bringing a swift end to Garrison’s future on Beacon Hill.
Romney himself also abolished a commission working against LGBT bullying in Massachusetts as governor.
Mitt Romney held a fundraiser in Kansas City, Missouri last night with hundreds of supporters and several local officials, including Kansas Secretary of State Kirs Kobach, Romney’s informal immigration adviser. Kobach is a controversial figure who authored the harsh anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama, and South Carolina and has become the leading spokesperson of the hardcore restrictionist immigration movement. The Romney campaign apparently tried to sever ties with Kobach last month after using him to win over conservatives in the primary, but Kobach told ThinkProgress that he is still a key policy adviser to the campaign. Romney’s PAC was also one of the biggest donors to Kobach’s campaign.
Over the last few decades, the gap between the richest Americans and everybody else has grown substantially. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, one of the driving factors has been the growth in pay going to executives and employees of financial firms:
The significant income growth at the very top of the income distribution over the last few decades was largely driven by households headed by someone who was either an executive or was employed in the financial sector. Executives, and workers in finance, accounted for 58 percent of the expansion of income for the top 1 percent and 67 percent of the increase in income for the top 0.1 percent from 1979 to 2005. These estimates understate the role of executive compensation and the financial sector in fueling income growth at the top because the increasing presence of working spouses who are executives or in finance is not included.
Over the last 30 years, CEO pay has increased 127 times faster than worker pay. The average Fortune 500 CEO is now pay 380 times as much as the average worker; in 1980, those CEOs received 42 times the average worker’s pay.
And of course, it’s no secret that Wall Street employees are pulling in humongous paychecks, even after they crashed the global economy. As one former Wall Street trader put it, “There?s no other industry where you could get paid so much for doing so little.” And while they’ve been collecting bigger and bigger bonuses, the rest of the American workforce has dealt with stagnating wages and the Great Recession.