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Catholic church suspends 21 priests suspected of child abuse

Archbishop of Philadelphia acts after grand jury named dozens of clergymen accused of paedophilia
Cardinal Justin Rigali
© Matt Rourke/AP
Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, should have suspended the priests suspected of paedophilia much sooner, campaigners say.

The Philadelphia archdiocese has suspended 21 Roman Catholic priests who were named as suspected child abusers in a scathing grand jury report last month.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, said the priests had been removed from ministry while their cases were reviewed. The names of the priests were not being released, a spokesman for the archdiocese said.

"These have been difficult weeks since the release of the grand jury report, difficult most of all for victims of sexual abuse but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community," Rigali said.

The two-year grand jury investigation into abuse in the archdiocese of Philadelphia resulted in charges against two priests, a former priest and a Catholic schoolteacher who are accused of raping boys. A former high-ranking church official was accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without revealing they had been the subject of sex abuse complaints.

Calculator

Food prices in Britain are rising three times faster than G7 nations

Food prices in Britain are rising at three times the rate of the world's seven biggest economies.
supermarket shopper
© Alamy
Costly: UK food inflation is at 6.3 per cent


Figures from the OECD put UK food inflation at 6.3 per cent, well ahead of the average of 2.1 per cent for the G7 group of nations.

The cost of putting meals on the table is also rising much faster than most of Europe.

The average annual rise in Ireland is only 0.3 per cent, while it is running at 0.1 per cent in France, 0.8 per cent in the Netherlands and 2.1 per cent in Belgium.

The figures will anger British shoppers amid mounting suspicion that UK supermarkets are turning the screw on consumers to boost profits.

The OECD said only Turkey, Estonia, Hungary and Korea had a higher rate of food price inflation among the 34 countries it surveyed.

There is a suggestion that the 'big four' supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - have used concerns about increasing global commodity prices to push through unfair increases.

Heart - Black

Georgia Republican wants death penalty for miscarriages

Rep. Bobby Franklin
© Unknown
Rep. Bobby Franklin
If you thought last year's proposed bill in Utah to criminalize miscarriages was bad, just look at what they're trying to do in Georgia.

Via Mother Jones:
There's a new bill on the block that may have reached the apex (I hope) of woman-hating craziness. Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin - who last year proposed making rape and domestic violence "victims" into "accusers" - has introduced a 10-page bill that would criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any "prenatal murder" in the words of the bill, including "human involvement" in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Basically, it's everything an "pro-life" activist could want aside from making all women who've had abortions wear big red "A"s on their chests.

...

Under Rep. Franklin's bill, HB 1, women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was "no human involvement whatsoever in the causation" of their miscarriage.

Cow

US: Sedgwick Maine Declares Local Food Sovereignty for Raw Milk, Meat etc.

Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
© Deborah Evans
Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
Here's a Way to Eliminate the Regulators and Lawyers, and Build Community At the Same Time: Organize and Declare "Food Sovereignty," Like Sedgwick, Maine

Maybe the citizens of tiny Sedgwick on the Maine coast were listening to the calls of Dave Milano, Ken Conrad, and others for more trust and community, and less rigid one-size-fits-all food regulation.

On Saturday morning, Sedgwick became likely the first locale in the country to pass a "Food Sovereignty" law. It's the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the "Five Musketeers", a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive state food regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town's citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, enact potentially far-reaching laws with national implications. They've been holding these meetings in the Sedgwick town hall (pictured above) since 1794. At Friday's meeting, about 120 citizens raised their hands in unanimous approval of the ordinance.

2 + 2 = 4

82 Percent of US Schools May be Labeled 'Failing'

no child left behind, schools
© The Berkeley Daily Planet
The number of schools labeled as "failing" under the nation's No Child Left Behind Act could skyrocket dramatically this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

The Department of Education estimates the percentage of schools not meeting yearly targets for their students' proficiency in in math and reading could jump from 37 to 82 percent as states raise standards in attempts to satisfy the law's mandates.

The 2002 law requires states to set targets aimed at having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014, a standard now viewed as wildly unrealistic.

"No Child Left Behind is broken and we need to fix it now," Duncan said in a statement. "This law has created a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed."

Duncan presented the figures at a House education and work force committee hearing, in urging lawmakers to rewrite the Bush-era act. Both Republicans and Democrats agree the law needs to be reformed, though they disagree on issues revolving around the federal role of education and how to turn around failing schools.

A surge in schools not meeting annual growth targets could have various implications. The most severe consequences - interventions that could include closure or replacing staff - would be reserved for those schools where students have been failing to improve for several consecutive years.

Info

US: Senate Democrats Push Facebook on Privacy

Image
© The Associated Press
Franken (left), Schumer, Whitehouse and Blumenthal wrote to Facebook about privacy.

Democrats on the Senate's newest privacy panel are urging Facebook to "reverse" a plan that would allow app developers the ability to request access to users' addresses, phone numbers and other contact information.

It's the strongest signal of concern yet coming from Capitol Hill, where other members have questioned Facebook's new feature since the social network disabled it amid controversy in January.

This time, the letter is from Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The lawmakers stress that access to a user's contact information threatens a person's other sensitive data - including his or her e-mail address and family members' names.

The members are calling on Facebook to "reconsider this policy," or at least "block this feature for Facebook users between 13 and 17 years of age."

Franken and his colleagues are also asking Facebook to disclose to users clearly how this information can be abused. They would like to require - if "operationally possible" - that all apps still be available to users who decline to grant apps access to their contact information.

"The changes Facebook is contemplating would allow countless application developers to access a vast repository of personal information with just one or two clicks from a user's mouse," wrote Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee's new privacy panel, which Franken chairs.

Laptop

US: Dearborn Republican Sues Facebook for Shutting Down Account During Election, Foiling his 'Attempt to Overthrow the Dingell Dynasty'

Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni says he lost his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell last year, in part, because he lost his Facebook account.

Moughni, who finished fourth in the Republican primary with only four percent of the vote, filed a lawsuit against the social networking website last month in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Feb. 24, The Detroit News: "In an attempt to overthrow the Dingell Dynasty, (I) devised a plan to use Facebook to accumulate thousands of friends, who in turn would spread the message and overseat the longest-serving member of Congress," the suit states.
Instead, his Facebook page was yanked June 10.

It came as Moughni, 40, was using the site to criticize Dingell for questioning a blown call that cost Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga a perfect game, rather than focusing on important issues.

"I had no chance without Facebook," said Moughni, 40. "They disorganized us in the middle of our campaign and we lost. Facebook took us off the market. They took us off the face of the earth."

Stormtrooper

Yemen: Anti-Government Protesters May Have Been Hit With Nerve Gas, Doctors Say

Image
© Agence France-Presse
Yemenis protest against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, where demonstrators were allegedly fired on with nerve gas by government forces.
Doctors from the scene of violent anti-government protests in Yemen's capital said that what was thought to be tear gas fired by government forces on demonstrators may have been nerve gas, which is forbidden under international law.

Military personnel opened fire on Tuesday night and used what was originally assumed to be tear gas to disperse a group of demonstrators who were trying to bring additional tents into the protest area outside Sanaa University.

At least two people were killed in a fresh round of clashes across the country, where anti-regime protests have been raging since late January, medical and security officials said.

One protester died of gunshot wounds early Wednesday when police opened fire on student demonstrators near the university in the capital Sanaa overnight, a medical official said.

According to witnesses, the soldiers fired warning shots into the air before shooting gas - and in some cases live bullets - into the crowd, killing one and injuring at least 50.

Green Light

Saudi prince Questions Ban on Women Driving

Image
© Bloomberg News /Landov
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
  • Saudi women should be allowed to drive, senior prince says
  • Royal family is facing calls for change
A senior Saudi prince questioned the need for a ban on women driving on Wednesday and said lifting it would be a quick first step to reduce the Islamic kingdom's dependence on millions of foreign workers.

The Gulf Arab state is a monarchy ruled by the al-Saud family in alliance with clerics from the strict Wahhabi school of Islam. Women must be covered from head to toe in public and are not allowed to drive.

But the ruling family has been facing calls from activists and liberals, empowered by protests across North Africa and the Middle East, to allow some political reforms in the absolute monarchy that has no parliament.

Using social media, activists have called on King Abdullah to allow women to participate for the first time in municipal elections expected later this year.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah and advocate of his reforms, said the kingdom could send some 750,000 foreign drivers home if women could drive.

"A lot of Saudi women want to drive their car in line with strict regulations and wearing a headscarf. But now they need a driver ... This is an additional burden on households," he said.

X

United Arab Emirates: Two suicides, mystery death within 14 hours

The Sharjah Police have launched investigations into two cases of suicide and the mysterious death of an elderly man, all of which were reported in a span of 14 hours in different areas of the emirate.

The deceased are Indians and working in companies based in Sharjah and Dubai. According to the police, they were informed at 6.45pm on Wednesday about the death of a worker in his room at a labour camp in Industrial Area 4.

The police found the worker's body hanging on a cord from the ceiling fan. He was identified as Sandy K., 28, who was working for a contracting company based in Dubai.

His co-workers told the police that the deceased had been going through some financial problems.

The body was shifted to Al Kuwaiti Hospital.