Friday, March 28, 2014

Italy Bishops Say They Don’t Have To Report Abuse

Italy Bishops Say They Don’t Have To Report Abuse

Italy Bishops Say They Don’t Have To Report Abuse

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 11:25 AM PDT

(ROME) — Italy’s bishops have adopted a Vatican-backed sex abuse policy that says they have no obligation to inform police if they suspect a child has been molested.

The Italian Bishops’ Conference said the guidelines published Friday reflected suggestions from the Vatican’s office that handles sex abuse investigations.

Victims have long denounced how bishops systematically covered up abuse by shuffling pedophile priests around while keeping prosecutors in the dark. Only in 2010 did the Vatican instruct bishops to report abuse to police — but only where required by law.

The Italian guidelines cite a 1985 treaty between the Vatican and Italy stipulating that clergy aren’t obliged to tell magistrates about information obtained through their religious ministry. The guidelines remind bishops, however, they have a “moral duty” to contribute to the common good.

Confirmed: April Is the Cruelest Month

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 11:24 AM PDT

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

That’s a quote from a T.S. Eliot poem, but according to everybody’s favorite astrologer Susan Miller, April 2014 is going to be an absolutely horrific month for almost all of us. Of course, that’s only if you believe in astrology.

New York Magazine points out that in an interview given to the Guardian in January, Miller noted that two “angry eclipses” destined for us in April will cause some intense emotional upheaval, particularly for anyone born between April 15 and 29. From NY Mag:

Eclipses have a mission to expose truths, Miller writes, and thereby sweep away elements that are no longer relevant in your life. You might think they are relevant or important, she notes, when they are taken from you on April 15 or April 29, but they’re not.

And it gets worse. From the Guardian story:

“Look at 29 April!” I look. “Some people feel the stock market is…” She pauses for such a long beat that I offer to complete her sentence: “…going to crash?” She shakes her head. “This is even worse – we’ve not had this since the American Revolution.”


Miller also said that April looks so scary she’s “giving classes on it.”

At least Mercury won’t be in retrograde?

The Climb: African Migrants Jump Fence and Enter Europe

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 11:19 AM PDT

There’s a Good Chance You Dumped Your Supermarket Last Year

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Long waits, dirty stores, and, most importantly, high prices are among the reasons so many consumers are breaking up with their once-steady supermarkets.

In a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports, one-third of subscribers said that they stopped shopping at a nearby grocery store last year. By far, the biggest reason cited for the breakup was the store was just plain too expensive. Year after year in this survey, 20% to 30% of shoppers have said that they’ve given up on a supermarket due to poor selection or quality, long checkout waits, or a general lack of cleanliness. This year, however, there was a significant rise in consumers pointing to exorbitant prices as a reason for dumping a store, named by 58% of those surveyed, compared to 43% in 2011.

Certainly, the increasingly fierce competition for grocery shoppers being fought not only by traditional supermarkets but warehouse clubs, drugstore chains, and dollar stores as well, combined with rising prices for meat and other grocery staples, are among the factors causing consumers to jump ship to a new, likely cheaper shopping outlet.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, tended to give Consumer Reports’ readers the most reasons to shop elsewhere. Walmart finished dead last in the ratings among 55 supermarkets. Roughly 80% of the Walmart shoppers surveyed said they had at least one complaint about their experience, compared to 56% of shoppers overall citing at least one gripe with their grocery store. Whereas 19% of all consumers complained about not enough checkout lines being opened at supermarkets, 53% of Walmart shoppers said the number of checkouts wasn’t up to snuff. Likewise, 27% of Walmart shoppers complained about basic items being out of stock, compared to just 6% of everyone surveyed.

Of course, most people shop at Walmart because of its “everyday low prices,” and for many, the prospect of saving money outweighs the downsides. But CR readers claim that 14 of the top 20 grocery chains have prices on par with Walmart, including Costco and Trader Joe’s—two chains that also get consistently high customer ratings in terms of quality and service.

(MORE: Meet the Low-Key, Low-Cost Grocery Chain Being Called ‘Wal-Mart’s Worst Nightmare’)

And if it’s truly the cheapest of cheap prices you’re after, the cheapskates at Cheapism just published a grocery price-comparison showdown, pitting Walmart against traditional supermarket Kroger and Aldi, a sister brand of Trader Joe’s that sells almost no national brands. Secret shoppers rounded up a basket of 37 standard grocery items (though not necessarily the same brands), and Aldi was named the cheap champ, with a total bill that was 15% less than Walmart and 23% less than Kroger.

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise: In previous surveys, Aldi has come out on top as shoppers’ favorite low-cost grocery store. Mind you, there are tradeoffs to shopping at a place like Aldi, starting with the absence of brands you’d recognize, and continuing on to its small stores and small selection, as well as policies that some find a turnoff, including no coupons and no credit cards accepted.

California Senate Suspends 3 Democratic Lawmakers

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 11:16 AM PDT

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — The Democratically controlled California Senate has voted to suspend three Democrats who face criminal charges, after the latest lawmaker to be hauled into court refused to step down.

Friday’s 28-1 vote in the 40-member chamber came amid one of the most severe ethical crises in modern times for the Legislature in the nation’s most populous state.

The resolution prevents Democratic Sens. Ron Calderon, Leland Yee and Rod Wright from exercising any power of their office until the pending criminal cases against them have been resolved. Even so, they will continue receiving their $95,000 annual salaries.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg acknowledged the public criticism of the chamber but told his fellow lawmakers before the vote that “this is not what this Senate is about.”

Teen Wins $70,000 Settlement After School Demanded Her Facebook Password

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 10:43 AM PDT

A Minnesota teen is getting a $70,000 payday because school administrators demanded her Facebook password to investigate her social media history when she was caught doing totally normal tween things in sixth grade.

Riley Stratton, now 15, was questioned by school administrators and a police officer after posting on Facebook that she hated a mean school hall monitor and had a sexually-charged conversation with a boy in her class. This was a shocking allegation, since everyone knows that sixth grade girls LOVE hall monitors and HATE flirting with boys.

Administrators demanded that she tell them her Facebook password so they could investigate her social media history, even though both the post and the conversation happened off-campus and outside of school hours. "I was in tears," Stratton told the Star Tribune Tuesday, "I was embarrassed when they made me give over my password."

The ACLU took up Stratton’s case, and won her $70,000 in damages from the school district, and the administration has promised to rewrite its privacy policies. "A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it's easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus," said Wallace Hilke, the Minnesota ACLU lawyer who argued Stratton’s case. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators.”

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt did not admit any district liability in the incident, but said the case highlights the debate over how big a role schools should play in parenting their students, especially when it comes to delicate issues like cyberbullying.

“Some people think schools go too far and I get that," Schmidt told the Star Tribune. "But we want to make kids aware that their actions outside school can be detrimental.”

Now, thanks to the justice team at the ACLU, tweens everywhere can sleep at night knowing their principle will never see their steamy convos with Josh from P.E.

[Star Tribune]

My Little ‘My Little Pony’ Dilemma

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 10:03 AM PDT

My son loves trains, cars, blocks, and…accessorizing. Simon struts around the house wearing his sister Penny’s headband, necklace, and bracelets. He watches Thomas the Train, but his favorite shows are the ones Penny initially chose for him: Sofia the First, Dora the Explorer, and, yes, My Little Pony. Penny has already outgrown some of these shows. Maybe he will, too.

Simon just turned two. No one is judging his preferences. When he wore a Sofia amulet to a holiday party, no one batted an eyelash. At some point, however, a line is drawn in the sand: There are girl things and there are boy things. Anyone who dares cross that line suffers the consequences.

Even with a mysteriously missing airplane in Malaysia and a return to Cold War machinations in the Ukraine, the story of a little boy and his backpack has filled our Facebook newsfeeds over the past two weeks. Grayson Bruce did nothing more than love a show, My Little Pony, that is geared towards girls, and he was tortured for it. He’s only nine years old. At some time in those seven years between Simon and Grayson, the reaction changes from “Let’s get him a necklace to match his tiara!” to “Let’s get him!”

It’s easy to say that, like Grayson’s parents, I would have no problem letting my son wear My Little Pony paraphernalia to school. If it got some snickers and pointing from some students (and parents, who can be just as judgmental), I’d probably dig my heels in and become a card-carrying Brony…because “screw them!” But if, like Grayson, Simon was being punched, pushed, and tormented every day, maybe my attitude would change. Maybe I would tell him he’s better off not wearing that stuff to school. I want my kids to freely express themselves, but the thought of either of them being mercilessly bullied kills me.

We teach our kids to see differences. We all do. “Which one of these things is not like the others?” At first it’s just about categorizing shapes and colors, but then children pick up on differences between people: gender, race, religion. It’s not a bad thing, so long as we also teach acceptance.

Gender identification occurred at a young age in our house. Penny, who was a daddy’s girl for the first three years of her life, started allying herself with her mom once Simon was born. When she sees someone acting contrary to what she views as their prescribed gender-norm it turns her head slightly askew. (Kind of funny from a girl who has grown up with a stay-at-home dad…) That look in her eye makes me smile. It reflects an interest in the world around her and the potential for change in her preconceptions. Not everyone, however, is willing or able to alter their assumptions.

Do we want our kids to fit in or stand out? Grayson Bruce stood out… and his parents are currently negotiating a way to safely transition him back into school. (They pulled him out after the school would not allow him to carry his backpack and this whole thing blew up.) And that’s a story with a potentially happy ending that can become a real teachable moment for everyone involved. What about the all the bullied kids whose stories don’t rise to national prominence? What is the price of being unique? What advice do we give the child who we love because of his differences, but who has no friends because he’s different? These are some of the topics that aren’t covered in What to Expect When You’re Expecting or any of the other baby books I read.

It’s something that seems so innocuous…what television show your kid watches! How can it have this big an impact on someone’s life? There are so many things that could put a target on either of my kids’ backs as they get older. I can’t protect them! Not forever. And I don’t want to.

Grayson’s parents seem to have done a fantastic job raising him. He is an articulate kid who defended his right to stand apart from the crowd. I don’t want my kids to get hurt. I don’t want them to suffer like Grayson has. But I also don’t want them to be so afraid of getting made fun of that they hide in the shadows of what’s popular and refuse to explore their individuality. If my kids turn out like Grayson, I’ll know I did something right somewhere along the way. And I will be proud as hell of them.

Lesser blogs at Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter (@amateuridiot).

Study: Marriage is Good For The Heart

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 10:02 AM PDT

Lovelorn singles, that ache in your heart will subside once you get married. Sort of.

A study of 3.5 million American adults has found that married people have lower odds of cardiovascular disease than those who are single, divorced or widowed.

“Our survey results clearly show that when it comes to cardiovascular disease, marital status really does matter," Dr. Carlos Alviar, who led the study at New York University’s Lagone Medical Center, told the Associated Press. He called it the largest study to ever look at the link between marriage and heart health.

"A spouse can help keep doctor's appointments and provide transportation, making for easier access to health care services," Dr. Jeffrey Berger, another senior member of the project, says in an infographic laying out the study’s findings.

The study found that married people had a five-percent lower risk of any cardiovascular disease compared to single people, that widowed people had a three-percent greater risk, and divorced people a five-percent greater risk. Those numbers improved significantly for younger married couples, as those under age 50 had a 12-percent lower chance of heart disease than other young single people.

The study also found that smoking, a major cause of heart disease, was highest among divorced people and lowest in widowed ones. Obesity was most common in those single and divorced, and widowed people suffered from the highest rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and inadequate exercise.

The study was conducted from 2003 through 2008 at more than 20,000 screening sites in all 50 states. The average age was 64 years, and 63% of the participants were women. Almost 90% were white.

The study will be presented March 29 in Washington, D.C., at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology.

White House Looks to Cut Methane Emissions

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 09:51 AM PDT

The Obama administration on Friday announced a new initiative to cut methane emissions, as part of its efforts to go around Congress to combat climate change.

Central to the administration’s methane emissions reduction strategy are new regulations on the oil and gas industry, believed to be a significant emitter of methane, which is the primary ingredient in natural gas. The Environmental Protection Agency will study the matter this year to identify key sources of methane emissions, and later in the year will announce specific strategies for reducing those emissions, the White House said in a statement. The Bureau of Land Management later this year will also announce new standards to reduce methane emissions on BLM land.

Methane gas escapes from leaky pipes and wellheads, though exactly how much is not known. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, though it doesn't last as long in the atmosphere. Methane accounts for nearly nine percent of all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity in the U.S.

“Reducing methane emissions is a powerful way to take action on climate change; and putting methane to use can support local economies with a source of clean energy that generates revenue, spurs investment and jobs, improves safety, and leads to cleaner air,” the White House said. “When fully implemented, the policies in the methane strategy will improve public health and safety while recovering otherwise wasted energy to power our communities, farms, factories, and power plants.”

The plan also includes new regulations on landfills, coal mines—which can release fugitive methane in mines—and the dairy industry. The new emission regulations are a part of the administration's Climate Action Plan announced last June.

Cabrera Inks Record $292-Million Deal With Tigers

Posted: 28 Mar 2014 09:41 AM PDT

Miguel Cabrera will spend the next decade with the Detroit Tigers for the high price of $292 million after signing the biggest contract in baseball history.

The two-time American League MVP agreed to the terms of an extension with the Tigers, the team announced Friday. The contract covers the two remaining years of Cabrera’s current contract plus eight extra years. The deal includes additional vesting options for the 2024 and 2025 seasons for $30 million apiece. The contract makes Major League Baseball history as the largest 10-year contract ever signed. It’s even bigger than Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal with the New York Yankees, which he signed in 2007.

Cabrera, 30, is an eight-time All-Star and a .321 career hitter with 365 home runs. The first baseman from Venezuela won the Triple Crown in 2012.

“Miguel is the most prolific hitter in baseball and one of the best players in the game,” said Tigers President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski. “We are thrilled Miguel had a desire to continue his stellar career in Detroit and remain in a Tigers uniform for many years to come.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to stay in a Tigers uniform for the rest of my career,” Cabrera said. “Since coming to Detroit, my family and I have been treated so great by the organization, so we’d like to thank Mr. Ilitch, Mr. Dombrowski and all the Tigers fans for all the support. I’m thrilled that I’ll continue to represent the great city of Detroit and the amazing fans for many years to come.”

Some rival executives have their doubts about the wisdom of the contract, according to ESPN. Cabrera—who turns 31 in April—doesn’t become a free agent until after 2015, and the Tigers could have waited until 2014 to negotiate a more modest three-year extension.


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