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Attention

'Smoking Gun' Letter Reveals Official Vatican Cover-up of Child Sex Abuses

Pope Pious
© Unknown

A letter written by a Vatican official in 1997, marked "strictly confidential," warned Irish bishops to avoid reporting the sexual abuse of children in the church, in hopes of avoiding public fallout from the scandals that were sure to ensue.

Victims' groups the world over were calling the letter -- first obtained by Irish broadcaster RTE - the "smoking gun" which proves institutional complicity in untold thousands of reported sexual abuses.

The church has long maintained that it did not and would never instruct its bishops to engage in a cover-up of such heinous crimes: a claim that appeared to be false.

"And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," Colm O'Gorman, with the Irish chapter of Amnesty International, told the Associated Press.

The AP also noted that the Vatican has refused to acknowledge policies passed by Irish churches that command bishops to report any instances of suspected or confirmed sexual abuse.

Alarm Clock

African Food Riots Spread To Persian Gulf As Oman Is Next; Adverse Implications For Oil Prices?

hands on bread
© pakalertpress
While deadly protests in Africa have been largely ignored, because, well, they are in Africa, and they don't even have iPads there and Kindle WhisperNet coverage is spotty if any, the world may be forced to start paying just a little more attention as food riots get ever closer to the center of the oil extraction infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. From BBC Monitoring, which discusses the latest outbreak of protests sweeping Oman "Most participants in the protest were reluctant to be quoted as they were government employees. However, some said they protested against low salaries and soaring prices." Luckily, for now the protest is still peaceful. The thing about hunger is that it doesn't go away if you ignore it. And as Oman borders the UAE, all it takes is for the riots to jump one more border and then it gets interesting. And to all those observent enough to note that soaring prices continue to occur in countries with "growing unemployment" i.e., economic slack, and wonder how this is possible, after all the Fed said record slack can never lead to inflation, don't worry - you are certainly not alone.

Cow

Cattle Network Warns Farmers: Big Time Inflation Is Coming and You Better Have an Explanation

cattle @ fence
© Lalo de Almeida / New York Times
The insiders know, they see it coming. A spike in food prices is just around the corner. Here's what Drovers Cattle Network is telling farmers:
Americans have spent less than 10 percent of their disposable income on food for many years now. That's about to change. Food prices are on the rise and there will be new records set for some, actually many goods, this year. Meat, dairy and poultry prices are among the products on pace to set records.

While the general inflation rate was nearly zero in 2010, food and fuel presents another story. Predictions for 2011 food inflation range from 3 percent to 6 percent, with some estimates in recent days pushing into the double digits.

This will come at a time when gasoline and energy prices also are on the rise - oil is projected to reach beyond $100 per barrel....Consumers will see higher prices in the supermarket and hear about record commodity prices and will perceive you as riding waves of money.

Sherlock

Alleged Loughner Postings Paint Disturbing Picture

Erad3
© Pima County Sheriff's Office
Abovetopsecret.com's co-owner says Jared Loughner posted under the name "Erad3."

NASA has never flown a manned space shuttle mission.

There was no Mars rover.

People can make their own currency.

From February 2009 through September 2010, someone using the name "Erad3" made these and a series of other assertions -- unusual at best, disturbed at worst -- on the website abovetopsecret.com.

Erad3, according to site co-owner Mark Allin, was almost certainly Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old man accused of killing six people and injuring 14 others last weekend, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

The site, Allin said, focuses on "alternative news" and information "not covered by the mainstream media." Allin noted that all 130 messages from Erad3 were posted from Loughner's hometown of Tucson, and many of them bear a striking resemblance to postings made by Loughner on the popular social media site YouTube.

Book

Study: Many College Students Not Learning to Think Critically

rodin thinker
© n/a
An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

Arum, whose book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press) comes out this month, followed 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 and examined testing data and student surveys at a broad range of 24 U.S. colleges and universities, from the highly selective to the less selective.

Forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college, according to the study. After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in these so-called "higher order" thinking skills.

Combining the hours spent studying and in class, students devoted less than a fifth of their time each week to academic pursuits. By contrast, students spent 51 percent of their time - or 85 hours a week - socializing or in extracurricular activities.

Arrow Down

Canadian Tourist Accuses Mexican Police of Raping Her

Police deny reports woman beaten, repeatedly raped, robbed


A Canadian woman alleges that Mexican police gang-raped her in jail after she and her fiancé were arrested while on vacation in Mexico for New Year's Eve, CBC News has learned.

Rebecca Rutland, 41, says police in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen took the Ontario couple into custody in the late hours of Dec. 31 following a confrontation between officers and her fiancé.

Once in jail, Rutland, a social worker doing her thesis in Thunder Bay, Ont., says two police officers took turns raping her. Rutland and her fiancé, Richard Coleman, 51, of Toronto, also allege officers robbed them of hundreds of dollars and other valuables.

Mexican authorities deny that Rutland was sexually assaulted and dispute the couple's version of events, saying the two were very intoxicated and quarrelled with police in an exchange witnessed by several people.

After several rum-and-cola drinks, Rutland and Coleman say they stopped at a restaurant to use the washroom on their way back to their nearby resort when a man tried to pick up Rutland. Coleman and the man began to argue on the street packed with partygoers and four police officers intervened, the couple says.

Coleman says he had a heated exchange with the officers when the police wanted to search him for drugs. Coleman, a six-foot-tall man with long hair tied in a ponytail and gold hoop earrings, says he believes police targeted him due to his looks.

"I don't think anything I could've said or not said in that moment in time would have really changed it," said Coleman. "But I believe when dealing with a police officer that is overstepping his authority. I believe it is incumbent on me to point it out to them, even if it means I am going to have to deal with some charges afterwards."

Police threw Coleman to the ground, allegedly causing a gash on his forehead, and handcuffed him. They also arrested Rutland.

On the way to the police station, Rutland said a female officer stole one of her rings. Coleman claims an officer also stole more than $700 cash, his BlackBerry and jewelry. He says he later discovered the word "deceased" posted as his BlackBerry Messenger status, as well as Facebook updates via BlackBerry stating he beat his wife.

Attention

'Explosive' Food Prices the Biggest Risk: Analyst

Image
© Getty Images
Overheating emerging markets, in China in particular, pose the biggest threat to the market and political situation in 2011 according to Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets.

"These economies are clearly overheating and governments are putting measures in place to slow them down to fight inflationary pressure. More than anything else, food inflation is a problem," Gijsels told CNBC.com.

"In countries were 70 percent to 80 percent and sometimes more of a family's budget goes to food, explosive price rises risk to destabilize these societies. Remember the old saying: 'hunger starves civilizations,'" he added.

"We believe that some of these governments will be quite aggressive in their inflation fight. And we do not even want to think about the consequences if this year were to have a disappointing monsoon," Gijsels said.

He is worried that everyone is so bullish on China's ability to engineer a soft landing.

Sheeple

In Defense of Clear Thinking

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
~ Herbert Spencer

My academic life in college was largely spent studying what were then referred to as the "liberal arts." History, geography, economics, philosophy, art, literature, music, psychology, and the genuine sciences, were among the various subject areas we considered essential to becoming mature, self-directed, learned individuals. We also studied one or more foreign languages, not simply to help us navigate our trips to other lands, but to provide us with the perspective that there are other people on the planet who think, live, and speak differently from us.

This approach to learning helped to provide us with the means of thinking clearly, rationally, and logically; to help us understand causal relationships in analyzing the interconnected and unpredictable complexities of our world; to distinguish fact from fantasy, and transcendent truths from fashionable opinion; all for the purpose of living as responsible individuals pursuing our respective self-interests with others.

Bad Guys

Hell house: Pets live in torment among corpses

Image
© Victor Alcorn
ABUSED: An animal-shelter employee (pictured) yesterday trims the matted fur from one of the dogs saved from a Rockville Centre home, along with the other pets above.
Their mouths were muzzled and wrapped in so much tape they couldn't breathe, bark or eat. Their fur was matted with filth and the house was crammed with so much trash, it hid the floor.

A Long Island mother and daughter were arrested yesterday after more than a dozen tortured dogs and cats were rescued from a filth-riddled Rockville Centre home that included more than two dozen decomposing animal remains, cops said.

Judge Anna Anzalone teared up as prosecutors showed pictures of a dog skull with tape still visible on it, as well as the squalor in the small house.

Handcuffs

US: Victim of Arizona Shooting Arrested After Threatening Tea Party Leader at Town Hall

One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled "you're dead."