Monday, September 15, 2014

Pope’s Marriage Celebrations Hint At Coming Changes for Church

Pope’s Marriage Celebrations Hint At Coming Changes for Church

Pope’s Marriage Celebrations Hint At Coming Changes for Church

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 11:10 AM PDT

Pope Francis dropped a big hint this weekend.

The Holy Father presided over the wedding of 20 couples Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica. From a distance, the group seemed fairly typical: the couples ranged from ages 25 to 56 and were all from the Diocese of Rome. But the underlying storyline is far more telling: one bride was already a mother, some of the couples had already been living together, and others had previously been married.

Popes rarely preside over public marriage ceremonies, but when they do, they tend to be linked to moments when the Church is trying to make a bigger point about the place of the family in society. Pope John Paul II performed the last public marriage ceremony in 2000 as part of the Jubilee for Families, an event that focused thematically on the gift of children and the harm of abortion. Before that, in 1994, he presided over a public wedding ceremony for the International Year of the Family, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.

For Francis, now is a similar moment of historical importance. In a matter of weeks, he will convene the October Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the first big-ticket item Francis put on the papal agenda when he became Pope last year. The Holy See reserves such Extraordinary Synods for moments of urgency in the Church’s life—October’s event is only the third Extraordinary Synod ever to be called since the Synod of Bishops was created in 1965—and this gathering’s topic will be “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” In other words, the event will explore how churches can show compassion in the context of modern views and practices on sexuality.

Francis has continually emphasized the importance of pastoral care in the conversation about what the Church condones and condemns. In the Francis papacy, tone, and not just content, matters. The Vatican’s official position is that remarriage can only happen if a previous marriage is annulled, meaning declared to never have truly existed. Cohabitation is frowned upon. But the document that the Vatican has circulated about the Synod indicates that Francis’ priority will be on mercy when it comes to the Church’s characteristically controversial teachings on divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation.

Sunday’s wedding ceremony is another sign that Rome is signaling a new openness to including married people who have been divorced or who have cohabitated in the church’s sacraments. Marriage itself, like communion, is a sacrament in Catholic theology, and both are a way that the faithful can experience life in community with fellow believers. Since local churches currently tend to make their own decisions about serving communion to divorced and remarried, or cohabitating Catholics, any overarching guidance from the Holy Father this October could mean significant change. Cohabiting couples cannot be denied marriage by policy in the Catholic Church, but a priest is not obliged to marry a couple, and so Pope Francis’ example of presiding over a wedding for couples who had lived together will likely encourage other priests to follow suit.

Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics is groundbreaking enough for the Synod without putting the issue of gay marriage on the table. Major change on that topic, however, is highly unlikely at the moment. Pope Francis did not preside over the weddings of any gay couples last weekend. Moreover, his homily at the wedding affirmed that marriage in the Catholic Church remains between a man and one woman. “This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man,” he preached. “Here we see the reciprocity of differences.”

But, by celebrating the marriages that he did, Pope Francis offered a sacramental blessing that will not go unremembered when the bishops gather in Rome next month.

Watch These Sports Anchors’ Emotional Reactions to the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson Situations

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Following arguably the worst week in NFL history, several sports anchors got emotional over the weekend talking about issues of domestic violence in the league.

At the beginning of last week, TMZ leaked a video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife, Janay. At the end of the week, Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson was indicted for child injury charges. Fans and reporters expressed outrage that it took the video of Rice beating his wife leaking for the NFL to indefinitely suspend him, even though reports suggest that the NFL had already seen the video and heard from Rice himself about the incident. Now, the Vikings are saying that Peterson will play on Sunday, despite the child abuse arrest. In the wake of these incidents, fans are beginning to demand that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell step down.

The NFL’s seeming indifference to these domestic abuse incidents has brought some sports anchors close to tears. ESPN anchor Hannah Storm, NFL Hall-of-Famer and ESPN analyst Cris Carter and former NBA all-star and commentator Charles Barkley all shared powerful, personal stories about their relationships with their parents or with their children when debating how the NFL should handle these cases.

Hannah Storm, voice quivering, came close to tears while speaking about the Ray Rice situation as a mother trying to answer her daughter’s questions. “One of my daughters has her first fantasy football team this season. But at breakfast this week, instead of discussing how her team was doing, we watched the Ray Rice video play out again in all its ugliness. I spent this past week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league’s biggest stars: ‘Mom, why did he do that? Why isn’t he in jail? Why didn’t he get fired?'”

The answer she points to ties the inherent violence of the game with the violence we’re seeing off the field. “Are we supposed to compartmentalize a violent game on the field from violent acts off the field? And if we do, what message does that send?” she concludes.

In another emotional appeal, Cris Carter referenced his single mom’s struggle. “My mom did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me, and I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them,” said Cris Carter, who once played for the Minnesota Vikings where Peterson is now a running back. “You can’t beat a kid to make them do what they want to do.”

Unlike Carter, Barkley drew on his own experiences growing up in the South to help put Peterson’s actions in perspective. “Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances,” he said. “We all grew up in different environments…I’ve had many welts on my legs. I got beat with switches.”

When another anchor, Jim Rome, suggested that perhaps in 2014 we ought to re-evaluate what was acceptable in the south in the 1960s, Barkley conceded, “Maybe we need to rethink it.”



NFL Recruits 4 Women to Advise on Domestic Violence and Sex Assault Policy

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:44 AM PDT

In an effort to show the NFL’s commitment to making domestic violence and sexual assault a priority, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced four women who will help shape NFL’s policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault.

In a letter to NFL staff, Goodell announced that Anna Isaacson, who is currently the NFL’s vice president of community affairs and philanthropy, will undertake a greater role as vice president of social responsibility.

Additionally, three experts in domestic violence will serve as senior advisors on domestic violence and sexual assault: Lisa Friel, the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, will focus on the evaluation process of alleged violence and assault incidences and will advise Goodell and the NFL staff on law violations. Jane Randel, the co-founder of NO MORE (a national initiative to raise the profile of violence and assault and Rita Smith), and Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, will work on several related initiatives, including: workplace policy, training curricula, education programs, Employee Assistance Programs and distributing information about resources outside of the NFL as related to these issues.

The announcement comes after the NFL and Goodell received significant public backlash over the handling of Ray Rice, who punched his wife in the face, knocking her unconscious. You can read Goodell’s full letter here.

Robin Thicke Admits He Didn’t Really Write “Blurred Lines,” Was High in the Studio

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:38 AM PDT

Robin Thicke admitted in court that he didn’t really help write the 2013 smash “Blurred Lines” — in part because he was high on the painkiller Vicodin when the song was being written.

Instead, Thicke testified, it was producer Pharrell Williams who really wrote the song. The testimony was taken from depositions Thicke and Pharrell made in April as part of an ongoing legal dispute with the children of Marvin Gaye over whether or not “Blurred Lines” lifted beats and rhythms from Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up.”

Here’s how Thicke said he contributed to the writing of the song, from depositions obtained by The Hollywood Reporter:

“I was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted — I — I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I — because I didn’t want him — I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.”

Williams said he was “in the driver’s seat” for this song, but explained that sharing credit is the norm for the music industry. “You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that’s where the embellishment comes in.” When asked whose words were used in the lyrics, Williams answered: “Mine.”

Williams also said that it’s “Robin Thicke’s voice” that makes the song great: “Because it’s the white man singing soulfully and we, unfortunately, in this country don’t get enough — we don’t get to hear that as often, so we get excited by it when the mainstream gives that a shot.”

Thicke also admitted he lied to media outlets about the genesis of the song, like when he described the creative process to GQ: “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”

As for why, exactly, he lied, Thicke says that he “had a drug and alcohol problem for the year” and “didn’t do a sober interview.”

[via THR]


Islamic State Group Issues New Curriculum in Iraq

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:33 AM PDT

(BAGHDAD) — The extremist-held Iraqi city of Mosul is set to usher in a new school year. But unlike years past, there will be no art or music. Classes about history, literature and Christianity have been “permanently annulled.”

The Islamic State group has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and ordered that certain pictures be torn out of textbooks.

But instead of compliance, Iraq’s second largest city has — at least so far — responded to the Sunni militants’ demands with silence. Although the extremists stipulated that the school year would begin Sept. 9, pupils have uniformly not shown up for class, according to residents who spoke anonymously because of safety concerns. They said families were keeping their children home out of mixed feelings of fear, resistance and uncertainty.

“What’s important to us now is that the children continue receiving knowledge correctly, even if they lose a whole academic year and an official certification,” a Mosul resident who identified himself as Abu Hassan told The Associated Press, giving only his nickname for fear of reprisals. He and his wife have opted for home schooling, picking up the required readings at the local market.

The fall of Mosul on June 10 was a turning point in Iraq’s war against the jihadi group that calls itself the Islamic State. The U.S.-trained Iraqi military, harassed for months by small-scale attacks, buckled almost instantly when militants advanced on the city. Commanders disappeared. Pleas for more ammunition went unanswered. In some cases, soldiers stripped off their uniforms and ran.

The city would come to represent the expanding power and influence of the extremist group, which was born in Iraq but spread to Syria, where it grew exponentially in the chaos of the country’s civil war. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s reclusive leader, made his first video appearance in Mosul in July to announce his vision for a self-styled caliphate — an Islamic state — of which he would be the caliph, or leader.

Part of the Islamic State group’s core strategy is to establish administration over lands that it controls to project an image of itself as a ruler and not just a fighting force. In parts of Syria under its control, the group now administers courts, fixes roads and even polices traffic. It recently imposed a curriculum in schools in its Syrian stronghold, Raqqa, scrapping subjects such as philosophy and chemistry, and fine-tuning the sciences to fit with its ideology.

In Mosul, schools have been presented with a new set of rules, advertised in a two-page bulletin posted on mosques, in markets and on electricity poles. The statement, dated Sept. 5, cheered “good news of the establishment of the Islamic State Education Diwan by the caliph who seeks to eliminate ignorance, to spread religious sciences and to fight the decayed curriculum.”

The new Mosul curriculum, allegedly issued by al-Baghdadi himself, stresses that any reference to the republics of Iraq or Syria must be replaced with “Islamic State.” Pictures that violate its ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam will be ripped out of books. Anthems and lyrics that encourage love of country are now viewed as a show of “polytheism and blasphemy,” and are strictly banned.

The new curriculum even went so far as to explicitly ban Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution — although it was not previously taught in Iraqi schools.

Abu Hassan and his fellow residents acknowledge the risks involved in keeping the children at home, but say that protecting their minds is equally important. “They will brainwash them and contaminate their thoughts,” he said.

This past weekend, some families said that a new statement from the Islamic State group began circulating through the city, demanding that students show up for class on Tuesday. Others said they never received the notice.

Since the earliest days of the militant onslaught on Mosul, some residents who have remained have welcomed the insurgents wholeheartedly, while others have risked death to protect their city and assert their defiance. In July, militants threatened to blow up its most prominent landmark, the 840-year old Crooked Minaret that leans like Italy’s Tower of Pisa. Residents sat on the ground and linked arms to form a human chain, protecting the ancient structure from sharing the fate of more than half a dozen mosques and shrines flattened by the militants who declared them dens of apostasy.

Even as foreign intervention, led by U.S. airstrikes, begins to take form and make headway, the group’s tight grip on Mosul appears, for now, unrelenting, with many of the militants burying themselves in heavily populated city centers.

It was unclear whether teachers and school administrators have also stayed home rather than show up for work.

In the Sept. 5 statement posted across Mosul, the “caliph,” al- Baghdadi, calls upon professionals in Iraq and abroad “to teach and serve the Muslims in order to improve the people of the Islamic state in the fields of all religious and other sciences.”

Gender-segregated schools are not new to Iraq, which legally prohibits co-ed classes beyond age 12, with some segregating from a much younger age. However, in Mosul, the new guidelines declared that teachers must also be segregated, with men teaching at boys’ schools, and women teaching girls.

The Education Ministry in Baghdad says it has virtually no contact with Mosul and other towns and cities in nearly one-third of the country ruled to some degree by the Islamic State group. “The situation in Mosul is so difficult because it is far too dangerous for us to know exactly what is happening,” said Salama al-Hassan, a spokeswoman for ministry.

Students also face hardships elsewhere across Iraq amid growing pressure to cater to more than 1.8 million people people displaced by the militants’ advance. Nationwide, the school year has been delayed by a month, because many schools have been converted into makeshift shelters for displaced people from regions seized by the Islamic State group. In Baghdad alone, 76 schools are occupied by displaced Iraqis, al-Hassan said.

“All of this has a serious impact on the psychology of the students,” she added. “We want to approach this subject in a way that boosts the confidence and spirit of the students and helps them to understand what is happening in the country without instilling them with fear.”

For residents in Mosul and other areas now ruled by the militant group, fear is unavoidable.

The education statement put out by the militants in Mosul ends with a chilling reminder of its willingness to use brutal force. “This announcement is binding,” it concludes. “Anyone who acts against it will face punishment.”


Associated Press reporters Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Zeina Karam in Beirut, Lebanon contributed to this report.

U.N. Taking Over Central African Republic Peacekeeping

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:30 AM PDT

(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — The United Nations is set to take over a regional African peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic on Monday, nine months after sectarian violence erupted that has left at least 5,000 people dead and has forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee into exile in neighboring countries.

About 1,800 additional peacekeepers and police are joining the mission as the United Nations takes over, though the force when combined with the existing African troops is still only about 65 percent of what was authorized by the U.N. Security Council in April.

Human rights groups and others called for the full deployment of a nearly 12,000-strong force, which diplomats have said won’t take place until early 2015.

“The switch from AU to U.N. peacekeepers must be more than a cosmetic change: the swapping green berets for blue helmets. Instead it must serve as a fresh start for the peacekeeping operation in CAR,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s campaigns deputy regional director for West and Central Africa.

The U.N. says it has taken months to solicit contributions from member states and mobilize the force now coming to reinforce the mission previously led by peacekeepers from neighboring countries including Cameroon, Congo, Gabon and Republic of Congo.

The U.N. has “worked tirelessly” since the April resolution was passed, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary-General, who emphasized that Central African Republic is “an extremely, extremely complicated logistical situation” because it is land-locked with dilapidated roads that date back to independence from France in 1960.

“I think the last thing we have been doing is sitting on our hands, but we’ve been meeting logistical challenges … mobilizing troops for a peacekeeping mission takes time,” he said last week. “We have to go knock on doors for troops, for equipment, helicopters and in the meantime I think we’ve been working very actively in the CAR, both on the political end and, of course, on the humanitarian end.”

At least 5,204 people have been killed since the sectarian violence erupted last December, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press. That figure is based on a count of bodies and numbers gathered from survivors, priests, imams and aid workers in more than 50 of the hardest-hit communities.

Civilians are still being killed “at an alarming rate,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch who conducted a field mission this month on the ground.

“There is no time to lose,” he said. “The new U.N. mission urgently needs to get more troops into eastern and central areas and take bold steps to protect civilians from these brutal attacks.”

In other developments, the United States announced that it will reopen its embassy in the capital, Bangui. The U.S. suspended operations in Central African Republic and urged Americans to leave the country in December 2012 when the violence erupted. Secretary of State John Kerry said in statement Monday progress has been made at putting the nation on “a path toward peace and stability.”


Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Why That Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt Caused an Uproar

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:13 AM PDT

A sweatshirt offered for sale by Urban Outfitters on the retailer’s website caused outrage Monday as it seemed to market a bloody shirt from one of the most shocking episodes of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The sight of a faded “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt with red accents, which is no longer for sale, caused many people to notice that the marks on the fabric looked like blood. From there, the conclusion was simple: the sweatshirt seemed to be a reference to the May 4, 1970, Kent State shootings.

The resemblance was mere coincidence, the company later said, in an apology: “There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” Urban Outfitters may not have intended to offend (even though, as a consumer psychology expert told Money this morning, controversy is good for business) and it does seem possible that nobody at the millennial-centric company even thought of — or, perhaps, had ever heard of — a protest that happened more than four decades ago.

So what exactly happened at Kent State?

It took half a century to transform Kent State from an obscure teachers college into the second largest university in Ohio, with 21,000 students and an impressive array of modern buildings on its main campus,” TIME reported shortly after the shooting. “But it took less than ten terrifying seconds last week to convert the traditionally conformist campus into a bloodstained symbol of the rising student rebellion against the Nixon Administration and the war in Southeast Asia. When National Guardsmen fired indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing four students, the bullets wounded the nation.”

On the night of May 1, as students at the Ohio university danced in the street, an unlucky driver attempted to get through the crowd. The mood in the country, amid a wave of student protests over the Vietnam War, was tense, and the confrontation over a traffic jam quickly became more serious, as students in the crowd started anti-war chants. The police used tear gas to get the students back to campus, but the conflict was still fresh when an administration-approved rally began the next day, a Saturday. The protest turned violent, and the local mayor requested help from the National Guard. On Sunday, Ohio governor James Rhodes said that the student protesters were “the worst type of people that we harbor in America” and, despite requests to close the campus, declared a state of emergency instead. When nearly 1,000 students staged a sit-in that night, it was against his order banning all protests.

Though classes started as usual on Monday, the protest ban still rankled students. Many — again, about 1,000 — assembled on campus, flaunting the ban and prompting the National Guard to respond with tear gas. Some students picked up the canisters and threw them back. To the student demonstrators, taunting the Guardsmen was a more serious game of catch. “…Delighted spectators, watching from the hilltop, windows of buildings and the roof of another men’s dorm, cheered,” TIME reported. “Many demonstrators were laughing.”

But then the tear gas ran out. The Guardsmen retreated to the top of a hill, watching the crowd. They fired.

The protest, noisy and chaotic, stopped. Four students were dead. William K. Schroeder, 19, had been a spectator. Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20, had been walking to class. Jefrrey Glenn Miller, 20, had called his mother to let her know that he felt he had to take part in the protests. Allison Krause, 19, had recently placed a flower in the rifle of a Guardsman at the protest. Ten others were wounded.

The deaths of the Kent State students inspired another wave of student protests across the country, as well as the Neil Young song “Ohio”:

Read a May 1970 report on the Kent State shootings here, in TIME’s archives: Kent State: Martyrdom that Shook the Country

Jennifer Hudson Teams Up With Pharrell and Iggy Azalea on “He Ain’t Going Nowhere”: Listen

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 10:06 AM PDT

Jennifer Hudson‘s ongoing flirtation with the dance floor continues. After supplying the satisfyingly slick “Dangerous” several weeks ago, the American Idol alum returns today with “He Ain’t Going Nowhere,” another strut-friendly, nostalgic cut from her forthcoming LP JHUD, due out on September 23.

Crafted by Pharrell, the sass-filled disco ditty packs dirty bass licks and sparkling synths, recalling many of the producer’s nu-disco revival gems released over the past few years, (including the bulk of Madonna’s Hard Candy, Miley Cyrus’ “On My Own” and Kylie Minogue’s “I Was Gonna Cancel”). Later on, Aussie rapper and Song of the Summer ’14 supplier Iggy Azalea comes in over the beat with a spitfire verse for arguably one of her stronger assists to date: “See, I know your weak spot so I always go there/And I bet that’s the reason he ain’t goin’ nowhere,” she taunts.

“[Pharrell and I] were able to use music and soul to actively reminisce on those fantasy nights of the ’60s and ’70s,” Hudson said of the track to Buzzfeed. “We really worked to keep the sound relatable but the way the bass hits your chest and the guitar licks sort of tingle your ear really work well to transport you to a time in music history I just live for,”

It’s a catchy offering, although truthfully, Pharrell has supplied this sort of production time and time again. Rather, it’s J-Hud’s full-bodied, diva-sized vocal delivery that makes the song a standout. Listen up top.

Bill Murray Crashed Another Party and This Time He Danced to ‘Turn Down For What’

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 09:54 AM PDT

Bill Murray is quickly becoming one of the most prolific party crashers of his generation. This weekend, he showed up at a birthday celebration in the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, and, of course, was totally the life of the party.

As always, the details of why and how Murray ended up at this gathering are a bit hazy. According to the Post and Courier, the actor’s invitation came from Marvin Larry Reynolds, who hosted the party. Charleston chef Bret McKee, who the Post and Courier describes as Murray’s “long-time friend,” catered the event and was kind enough to share photos and videos on Facebook.

Here he is at the head of the table:

Here he is dancing to “867-5309/Jenny”:

And also “Turn Down For What”:

And then, since Murray’s own birthday is coming up (he’s turning 64 on Sep. 21), he blew out some candles:

The actor owns a home in Charleston and it seems like he’s been spending a decent chunk of his time there recently, so if you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled. He could be anywhere. Though if you see him, no one will ever believe you.

This Is the Worst Paying, Fastest-Growing Job in America

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 09:45 AM PDT

This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at

By Claire Zillman

On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation making the state the second in the nation to institute statewide paid sick leave.

At the signing ceremony, Brown said that the legislation—expected to bring paid sick leave to most of the 6.5 million Californians currently without it—“helps people—whether it’s a person working at a car wash or McDonald’s or 7-Eleven.”

Well there’s one group of people it doesn’t help: home health care workers.

Because of cost concerns, Brown negotiated a last-minute amendment that exempts home health care workers from the law.

The carve-out of these workers is not surprising, says Abby Marquand, director of policy research at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a nonprofit advocacy organization. Why? Workers who care for the elderly and disabled in their homes are “an easy target for holding down costs,” she says. “Collectively, as a society, we haven’t valued the work they do in the way we should.”

That’s a problem in and of itself, and it has been amplified by the fact that the home care industry is the fastest-growing sector of the American economy.

For the rest of the story, please go to



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