Category Archives: Liberals/Democrats/Left

Pope Francis praises homosexual children’s book

In 2006, when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William J. Levada authored “The Family in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in which he states that The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator” (1603) and that “In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution” (2203). Levada writes:

Since marriage and family have their basis in the created order, confirmed by the explicit Revelation of God, the Church necessarily opposes the adoption of human laws that would abandon or overturn this order, such as is the case with laws that would recognize same-sex or polygamous “marriage.” Human laws and judicial decisions that fail to respect this fundamental and perennial teaching are contrary to God’s law, and are rightly considered unjust.

And yet Pope Francis is praising a children’s book celebrating homosexual parenting and same-sex families.

Rosie Scammel reports for The Guardian, Aug. 28, 2015, that the Italian children’s book is titled Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), with a cover adorned by cute hippos, kangaroos and penguins. While following the adventures of an egg may seem harmless enough, its discovery of different family types – including same sex – has prompted a backlash by conservatives who accuse Italian author Francesca Pardi of promoting a pro-homosexuality gender theory.

Francesca Pardi (l) with wife and adopted children

Francesca Pardi (l) with wife and adopted children

Pardi is a lesbian in a same-sex relationship with her business partner, Maria Silvia Fiengo. The two women traveled to Spain to be legally married and adopted four children in the Netherlands.

In the book, the egg encounters a pair of gay penguins, lesbian rabbits successfully bringing up a family, as well as other family models, including a single parent hippo, a mixed race dog couple, and kangaroos that have adopted polar bear cubs.

Piccolo Uovo

The book was met with disapproval by Venice’s new mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, who in June banned Piccolo Uovo and about 50 other titles from schools. The decision led more than 250 Italian authors to demand their own books be removed from the city’s shelves, a move one writer described as a “protest against an appalling gesture of censorship and ignorance”.

Now Pardi has found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis, who through his staff has written to the author praising her work. Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state wrote in a July 9 letter to Lo Stampatello, the publisher of Piccolo Uovo, commending the book for spreading “Christian values”:

“His holiness [Pope Francis] is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values.”

Msgr Peter Wells

Peter B. Wells

Msgr. Peter Brian Wells was born in Oklahoma, was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1991, and is now the number 3 man in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

Wells’ letter was a response to a parcel of children’s books sent by Pardi to the pontiff in June, all published by Lo Stampatello. In addition to Piccolo Uovo, 7 or 8 books also deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues (LGBT). Pardi accompanied the books with a letter bemoaning the attacks she has come under in recent months:

“Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics … A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

Pardi said she had not expected a reply and was surprised to receive the letter at her Milan home.

The Vatican said the closing blessing of the private letter was addressed to Pardi and not in support of teachings which went against church doctrine on ‘gender theory’.

The Vatican deems homosexual relationships “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law”, preaching that gay people must live a life of chastity in order to be good Catholics. While such a doctrine has effectively excluded people in same-sex relationships from the church, Pope Francis has adopted a more welcoming approach during his papacy. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said in 2013. The same year, a gay man in France told his local newspaper he had received a reassuring phone call from the pope – a claim the Vatican denied.

Catholics worldwide have started campaigning against the pope’s openness, with more than half a million signing a petition calling on Francis to reaffirm church teachings on gay people and divorcees. Signatories of the Filial appeal aim to have an impact on the Vatican’s synod on the family in October, when church teachings will be discussed by the world’s leading churchmen. The petition has notably been signed by traditionalist Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was demoted by the pope last year.

As in the United States, attitudes on homosexual marriage in Italy are changing, with recent polls showing the majority of voters are in favor of “gay” marriage and adoption. Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has pledged to legislate for same-sex unions this year. He has come under growing pressure to fulfil the promise following a decision by the European court of human rights, which ruled that Italy failed to protect same-sex couples.

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~Éowyn

We now bring you “Andy Parker, the Actor”!

Andy Parker is the father of WDBJ TV reporter Alison Parker who, together with cameraman Adam Ward, allegedly was shot dead on August 26, 2015 by disgruntled former colleague Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, while conducting a live television interview near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, VA.

See “Father of slain TV reporter Alison Parker is a former professional actor“.

An enterprising person named Bill Sullivan found these commercials featuring Andy Parker.

Andy’s corny acting is face-palm groan-inducing. No wonder he never made it big time in New York and dropped out of the acting profession after 6 years.

Meanwhile, Andy Parker says now that he is campaigning for gun control he will probably have to get a firearm to defend himself: “When you’re in the media, as you know, and when you are taking on an issue like this, there are a lot of people who take exception to what you are saying, so I will probably have to do that.” (Source:The Guardian)

Mr. Parker seems to be unclear on the concept of HYPOCRISY.

A big h/t to FOTM’s Glenn47.

See also:

~Éowyn

California taxpayers have never paid more for public worker pensions, but it’s still not enough

kick the can down the road

LA Times: California taxpayers have never paid more for public worker pensions, but it’s still not enough to cover the rising number of retirement checks written by the state’s largest pension plan. Even before the stock market’s recent fall, staffers at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System were worried about what they call “negative cash flows.”

The shortfalls — which totaled $5 billion last year — are created when contributions from taxpayers and public employees who are still working aren’t enough to cover monthly checks sent to retirees. To make up the difference, CalPERS must liquidate investments.

With more than $300 billion in investments, the nation’s largest public pension fund is in no danger of suddenly running out of cash. But even its staff acknowledges in a recent report that despite fast-rising contributions from taxpayers, the pension fund faces “a significant amount of risk.”

To reduce that financial risk, CalPERS has been working for months on a plan that could cause government pension funds across the country to rethink their investment strategies. The plan would increase payments from taxpayers even more in coming years with the goal of mitigating the severe financial pain that would happen with another recession and stock market crash.

Under the proposal, CalPERS would begin slowly moving more money into safer investments such as bonds, which aren’t usually subject to the severe losses that stocks face. Because the more conservative investments are expected to reduce CalPERS’ future financial returns, taxpayers would have to pick up even more of the cost of workers’ pensions.

are you serious

Most public workers would be exempt from paying any more. Only those workers hired in 2013 or later would have to contribute more to their retirements under the plan.

The changes would begin moving CalPERS — which provides benefits to 1.7 million employees and retirees of the state, cities and other local governments — toward a strategy used by many corporate pension plans. For years, corporate plans have been reducing their risk by trimming the amount of stocks they hold. The plan is the result of CalPERS’ recognition that — even with significantly more contributions from taxpayers — an aggressive investment strategy can’t sustain the level of pensions promised to public workers. Instead, it could make the bill significantly worse.

At an Aug. 18 meeting, CalPERS staff members laid out their plan for the fund’s board, saying the changes would be made slowly and incrementally over the next several decades. That isn’t fast enough for Gov. Jerry Brown. A representative from the governor’s finance department addressed the CalPERS board, saying the administration wants to see financial risks reduced “sooner rather than later.” “We know another recession is coming,” said Eric Stern, a finance department analyst, “we just don’t know when.”

economicsBehind the growing cash shortfalls: the aging of California’s public workforce. As more baby boomers retire, CalPERS estimates that the number of government retirees will exceed the number of working public employees in less than 10 years. Another reason for the cash shortages: the large hike in pension benefits that state legislators voted to give public workers in 1999 when the stock market was booming.

CalPERS lobbied for those more expensive pensions. In a brochure, the fund quoted its then-president, William Crist, saying the pension-boosting legislation was “a special opportunity to restore equity among CalPERS members without it costing a dime of additional taxpayer money.” That has turned out to be wishful thinking. Now, cities and other local governments are cutting back on street repairs and other services to pay escalating pension bills.

Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said governments are in the midst of a six-year stretch in which CalPERS payments are expected to rise 50%. Some cities are now paying pension costs that are equal to as much as 40% of an employee’s salary, according to CalPERS documents. The cost is highest for police, fire and other public safety workers who often receive earlier and more generous retirements than other employees. In recent years, three California cities have declared bankruptcy, in part, because of the rising costs.

McKenzie said that despite the escalating pension bills, most cities are in favor of the plan by CalPERS staff. Many city finance officials believe that CalPERS’ investment portfolio is currently “too volatile,” he said. About 10% of cities don’t support the plan, McKenzie said. “Some said they simply can’t afford it,” he added.

Representatives from two public employee labor unions speaking at the Aug. 18 meeting said they generally supported the plan. The plan must be approved by CalPERS’ board, which is scheduled to discuss it again in October.

Last year, governments sent CalPERS $8.8 billion in taxpayer money, while employees contributed an additional $3.8 billion, according to financial statements for CalPERS’ primary pension fund. Those combined contributions fell $5 billion short of the $17.8 billion paid to retirees.

At the heart of the plan is the gradual reduction in what CalPERS expects to earn from its investments. Currently, CalPERS assumes its average annual investment return will be 7.5% — an estimate that has long been criticized as being overly optimistic. After several years of double-digit returns, the giant pension fund’s investments earned just 2.4% in 2014, according to preliminary numbers released in July. Under the new plan, as CalPERS moved more money to bonds and other more conservative investments to reduce risk, the 7.5% rate would gradually be reduced.

CalPERS is still recovering from the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, when it suffered a 24% loss on its investments. Today its $300 billion in investments is estimated to be only about 75% of what it already owes to employees and retirees. A market downturn would create an even deeper hole.

In presentations, CalPERS told city finance officials that if its investments drop below 50% of the amount owed for pensions, even with significant additional increases from taxpayers, catching up becomes nearly impossible.

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DCG

3 killed, 23 wounded in weekend shootings across Chicago

No where to be seen in Chicago...

No where to be seen in Chicago…

MyFoxChicago: Three people were killed and at least 23 others, including a 7-year-old girl, have been wounded in shootings across Chicago since late Friday.

The most recent fatal shooting happened about 1 a.m. Sunday in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side, police said. Two boys, ages 16 and 17, were standing on the sidewalk in the 8200 block of South Ingleside when someone walked up and fired shots at them, police said. Crime

The 16-year-old suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was later pronounced dead, police said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office couldn’t immediately confirm the death. The 17-year-old was shot in the leg and was also taken to Christ Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized. A police source said the 17-year-old is a known gang member.

About two hours earlier, a 44-year-old man was shot to death in the West Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. He was standing on a sidewalk about 11:05 p.m. Saturday in the 6000 block of South Throop when someone got out of a black SUV and opened fire, police said. The man was struck in the head and back and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, police said. The medical examiner’s office confirmed the fatality, but did not release additional details early Sunday.

The weekend’s first fatal shooting happened shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. Two men, ages 28 and 34, were sitting in a parked vehicle in the 2900 block of West Lexington when a black vehicle pulled up alongside them and someone inside opened fire, according to Chicago Police.

The older man was shot in the chest and shoulder and pronounced dead at the scene at 4:36 a.m., authorities said. The younger man was shot in the neck, chest and shoulder and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where police said his condition stabilized. Investigators think the shooting was gang-related.

The weekend’s first shooting left a 7-year-old girl and 32-year-old man wounded in the Kenwood neighborhood on the South Side. They were in a vehicle about 10:40 p.m. in the 4600 block of South Ellis when someone walked up and opened fire, police said. The man then drove them to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The girl was shot in the arm and was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where she was expected to be treated and released Saturday morning, police said. The man was shot in the back and was treated and released at the University of Chicago. A police source said the man is a documented gang member and a convicted felon.

The most recent shooting happened about 4:45 a.m. Sunday in the Calumet Heights neighborhood on the South Side. A 52-year-old man was sleeping in his car in the 9100 block of South Anthony about 4:45 a.m. when he heard gunshots and felt pain, police said. He was shot in the ear and taken to Christ Medical Center where his condition was stabilized.

Less than an hour earlier, two men were shot in the East Garfield park neighborhood on the West Side. About 4:05 a.m., the men, ages 28 and 30, were standing outside in the 3300 block of West Walnut when someone walked up and fired shots, police said.

The 28-year-old suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken in critical condition to Mount Sinai Hospital, police said. The older man was shot in the left thigh, police said. He was also taken to Mount Sinai, where his condition was stabilized. A police source said both men are documented gang members.

At least 16 other people have been shot across Chicago in separate attacks since 11:45 p.m. Friday.

Additionally, Chicago Police officers shot and killed a man who they claim tried to run them over with a car early Saturday in Pilsen.

Welcome to Chicago sign

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DCG

How many days could you be late to work before you were fired? How about 111?

What exactly does it take to get a public employee fired?

The teacher who can't manage his time

The teacher who can’t manage his time

Fox News: An elementary school teacher who was allowed to keep his job despite being late for work 111 times in two years said Friday that breakfast is to blame for his tardiness.

“I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning, and I lost track of time,” 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson told The Associated Press.

In a decision filed Aug. 19, an arbitrator in New Jersey rejected an attempt by the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick to fire Anderson from his $90,000-a-year job, saying he was entitled to progressive discipline. But the arbitrator also criticized Anderson’s claim that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness.

Anderson was late 46 times in the most recent school year through March 20 and 65 times in the previous school year, the arbitrator said. Anderson said he was one to two minutes late to school “at the most” but was prepared and was never late for class. “I have to cut out eating breakfast at home,” he said Friday.

Anderson remains suspended without pay until Jan. 1. A message seeking comment was left Friday with the school superintendent’s office.

The arbitrator found that the district failed to provide Anderson with due process by not providing him with a formal notice of inefficiency or giving him 90 days to correct his failings before terminating his employment.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie referenced the case in a tweet on Friday. Christie wrote: “Think I’m too tough on the teachers union? This is what we’re dealing with in NJ.”

Anderson said he was “very upset” to be suspended but conceded that losing his job would have been worse. When he returns to school in January, “I will be early,” he said.

DCG

Virginia TV shooting and Sandy Hook: WDBJ general manager and the coroner

Jeffrey A. Marks is the president and general manager of WDBJ TV, a CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, which is now infamous because two of its employees — reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward — were gunned down and killed on August 26, 2015, by disgruntled ex-employee Vester Lee Flanagan II, aka Bryce Williams, who killed himself after a 5-hour manhunt.

H. Wayne Carver was the chief medical examiner of the State of Connecticut who oversaw the autopsies of the 20 children and 6 adults allegedly killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Five months after the massacre, on May 23, 2013, Carver announced he was retiring, after 31 years as a medical examiner.

Here are pictures of the two men. Note that the pic of Marks was taken more than 3 years after the pic of Carver. If they are the same person, Marks’ pic would be Carver 3 years older.

WDBJ station general manager Jeff Marks; Sandy Hook coroner Wayne Carver

Now let’s compare the two men’s ears. You can’t fake ears.

Jeff Marks & Wayne Carver ears

Here are close-ups of the two men’s ears. Note the similarities in folds and other anatomical features:

Jeff Marks & Wayne Carver right ear

Below are two videos to compare the two men’s voices. Note that both men punctuate their speech with “urr”.

WDBJ president and station general manager Jeffrey Marks:

Sandy Hook medical examiner Wayne Carver’s press conference:

Jeffrey Marks has a barebone page on LinkedIn, with none of the usual professional information one usually finds on LinkedIn, such as education and employment history. Marks’ LinkedIn page contains only:

  1. Under “Experience,” his present job title of President and General Manager, WDBJ TV Inc.
  2. A recommendation for a woman named Faith York, Senior Training Specialist, who seems to train choruses. The recommendation ends with this cryptic sentence: “January 27, 2011, Jeffrey was with another company when working with Faith at Spurwink Services”. (Spurwink Services or Spurwink School is a mental health and special education agency in Portland, Maine serving people diagnosed with autism and other behavioral special needs in the nursery, elementary and secondary educational levels and young adults.)

Wikipedia, however, says that “On July 1, 2007, Jeffery A. Marks was named as the [WDBJ] station’s general manager.

Are Marks and Carver the same man? What do you think?

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~Éowyn and Victoria Rivera (née Muramoto)

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news stories

FBI

Joe Mullin writes for ArsTechnica, August 27, 2015:

The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

FBI director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey defended the action in a New York Times op-ed. “We do use deception at times to catch crooks, but we are acting responsibly and legally,” he wrote.

In the op-ed, Comey admitted that not only did the FBI create a fake news story, one of its agents impersonated an AP journalist.

The 2007 operation began when the FBI was contacted by police in Lacey, Washington, after a series of bomb threats were placed to Timberline High School in May and June of that year.

The FBI e-mailed the fake news story via a link to a suspect’s MySpace account. The e-mail was made to look like it came from The Seattle Times. When the suspect clicked on the link, FBI software revealed his location and IP address to agents working the case. A juvenile suspect was arrested on June 14, 2007.

A month later, the student was sentenced to 90 days’ juvenile probation and ordered to pay $8,852 to compensate the school for additional security.

The Associated Press filed today’s lawsuit together with the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, which put in its own FOIA request last year. The lawsuit notes that it has been nearly 300 days since the original request was made and says the FBI failed to respond to the request as it’s legally required to do.

~Éowyn