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Marilyn Mosby
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby
On Friday, the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sent a letter to State Attorney Mosby's office noting "very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest" involving her office prosecuting six officers for the death of Freddie Gray. The letter also brought up allegations that the "lead prosecutor's connections with members of the local media", and concerns over Mosby's marriage to a councilman which would represent a conflict of interest.

The president of the FOP asked her to appoint a special prosecutor. You can check out the full letter here, which the FOP satates:

[A]t all times, each of the officers diligently balanaced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharge their duties to protect the public.
The president of the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP, Tessa Hill-Aston, sent an open letter to the FOP. In it, she tackles each point brought up by the FOP, usually exposing their hypocrisy.

The FOP notes that the attorney of the Gray family, William ‘Billy’ Murphy donated to Mosby's election fund. NAACP reminds the union that they too donated to Mosby's election fund ($250). The FOP also donated $4,000 to the mayor's campaign.

FOP worried Mosby would be inclined to help her husband's political career. The NAACP calls BS on that, saying "when you supported her candidacy last year by way of your financial contribution, and should have had an idea that such a “conflict” could occur in the future; however, you chose to ignore that reality for your own personal convenience."

The NAACP's letter also takes issue with the FOP's request that Department of Justice conduct a "Patterns and Practice" investigation of Baltimore's city government, followed by calling out the FOP's racist and sexist dog whistles.

Your intended goal is clear, to all but subtly threaten these women who are merely doing the job we elected them to do, while making borderline racists statements that you know will provoke negative perceptions in the minds of those in full support of law enforcement in order to tear down the fabric of our elected leadership in Baltimore and only further deepen the racial divide within our city. Well we are letting you know that we will not sit by idly and allow you to do such!
Some responses from local media/reporters about the letters.

WBAL/NBC - NAACP letter criticizes Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police

David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun media critic - He took issue with the FOP's claim certain reporters represent a conflict of interest, but won't say whom.

The FOP declined to provide any clarification of these blind charges Friday in response to phone calls from The Baltimore Sun. Who are these reporters? What are their conflicts? How widespread are the conflicts in the press corps? Can readers and viewers trust anything in the press about this case? Ryan's reckless allegations strike at the heart of press credibility on the case and surely must confuse some of the many readers and viewers looking for the truth.
...
The kindest thing I can call what the FOP did Friday is reckless. It reminds me of what U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy did in the 1950s when he said the State Department was filled with Communists but then failed to name names or offer evidence of his allegations.

...
I am going to stay on the FOP and its president when they start answering their phones again. They besmirch every media outlet in this town with their allegations, and we need to either nail those allegations down or expose the FOP for innuendo and smear.

So far, it seems State Attorney Mosby and her office are ignoring the FOP's request and responded to the defense allegations in the Gray case as 'frivolous;' "like a pinball on a machine far past TILT.''
Discuss

Updated part below the fold.
Break out the frankincense! Spit shine the Sistine Chapel! For the next two weeks, Cardinals, Bishops, Catholic Leaders and one nun (instead of a married lay person) will join Pope Francis to discuss family life in contemporary society. This synod (an assembly of the clergy and sometimes  the laity) was announced when The Vatican sent out that 39 question survey asking how Catholics deal with modern society. While church doctrine wasn't set to change from that survey, it did show a church out of step with its members:

The report describes “an increasing number of couples” living out of wedlock and a rise in divorce. “In North America, people often think that the Church is no longer a reliable moral guide, primarily in issues related to the family, which they see as a private matter to be decided independently,” it states.

Focusing on complaints from Catholics denied the sacrament after they divorce and remarry, the report states that such denial  “does not mean that they are excluded from the Christian life and a relationship with God.”

The results of the survey will be in use at the synod, which kicked off on October 5th. Dennis Coday of the National Catholic Review thinks Pope Francis will run things differently.

1st - Pope Francis wanted this event and will be an active participant.  Pope John Paul II usually prayed and Pope Benedit XVI was a quiet observer at prior synods. Pope Francis, least based on past events, is expected to engage with the participants.
2nd - Coday expects Pope Francis to run the synod in a similar manner "from his time as a member of the Latin American Episcopal Conference, especially when he chaired a general meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007." Speeches will be limited to 4 minutes and should only address one point. Further discussion on that topic would continue on in other groups during the second half of the synod (after all the speeches). The synod secretariat (the organizers) are setting up the meeting to foster discussion, even to the extent of getting input from local churches.

According to Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga there will be further consultations held also via the net. On the table at the moment is a procedure split into phases that will involve the Synod’s work continuing into the future and will seek to involve local Churches more by asking them to express themselves on the subject being discussed. After the initial meeting in Rome (this may account for the shorter duration), proposals will be shared with local Churches and then returned to Rome.
3rd - While Coday doesn't expect any new doctrine, a report on what was discussed and various views or adjustments is likely. And come the 2015 synod, those changes in doctrine could occur.

So another bit of slow movement from The Catholic Church. But slow as these developments seem, we may witness the start of anti-gay evangelicals breaking with Catholics.

Pope Francis has already signaled that he’s not thrilled with bishops who think the Church is a better dressed version of the GOP. When it came time to appoint a replacement for Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, the pope reached well into the ranks to come up with Blase Cupich, the bishop of Spokane. Cupich opposed Washington state’s marriage equality measure in 2012, but he made a point of saying the Church “has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

We're already witnessing the Religious Right freak out over SCOTUS's recent move of inaction. The pope has already toned down the culture wars, demoting Cardinals Raymond Burke and Justin Rigali while elevating moderates. One of Pope Francis's US buddies, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley recently gave an interview saying that Catholic schools’ firings of LGBT teachers is a situation that “needs to be rectified.”

"I think the Holy Father's notion of mercy and inclusion is going to make a big difference in the way that the church responds to and ministers to people of homosexual orientation. The Holy Father is talking about reaching out to the periphery and very often this is a group that is on the periphery. It is not necessarily that the church is going to change doctrine, but as somebody said, the Holy Father hasn't changed the lyrics, but he's changed the melody."
A significant change is highly unlikely. But at least The Vatican is trying to focus more on the loving part of the bible, something the religious right has problems with.
Continue Reading

Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 01:01 PM PDT

Buy DailyKos.GOP for only $20.16

by Aximill

ZOMG the sales!
You heard that right folks! Buy your own .GOP site and no longer waste your time on that unregulated morass of an internet. What does "com" mean anyway, COMMUNIST?! The latest outreach effort from the Republicans let you have a custom domain name for what ever floats your boat!
As the only web ending run by a political party, .gop makes history by connecting conservatives, Republicans and all who identify with the GOP movement with an easily identifiable online presence to create a national support structure for the Republican Party.

The .gop registry is a technology endeavor dedicated to positioning the Republican Party at the forefront of innovation and advancing Republican principles. .gop is the place where you can find conservative people and ideas on the web.

Not all sites are created equal though. Gawker.GOP (where I first found this) is only $20.16 but Jezebel.GOP is $5,000.

Y'all need to hurry! While the sites NoBlacksAllowed.GOP, ShariaNow.GOP, and Defeat.GOP may still be available, LegitimateRape.GOP and other sitesmay be unavailable.

Discuss

Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 12:09 PM PDT

Seafoods newest ingredient: Plastic!

by Aximill

Humans produce almost 300 million tons of plastic each year. There's ~40,000 tons of plastic currently bobbing along in the ocean, travelling the currents or spinning around in gyres. And that has scientists worried since there should be a lot more.

"A conservative first-order estimate of the floating plastic released into the open ocean from the 1970s (10^6 tons) is 100-fold larger than our estimate of the current load of plastic stored in the ocean," Cozar wrote. "Large loads of plastic fragments with sizes from microns to some millimeters are unaccounted for in the surface loads. The pathway and ultimate fate of the missing plastic are as yet unknown."
Andres Cozar, of Spain's University of Cadiz, offered up some suggestions to how the plastic is unaccounted for from shore deposits to nano-fragmentation to biofouling. While it's likely a combo of processes, Cozar and other scientists think ingestion by wildlife is the most likely way plastic is being removed from the oceans.
[Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley] suspects that a lot of the missing plastic has been eaten by marine animals. When plastic is floating out on the open ocean, waves and radiation from the sun can fragment it into smaller and smaller particles, until it gets so small it begins to look like fish food—especially to small lanternfish, a widespread small marine fish known to ingest plastic.

“Yes, animals are eating it,” says oceanographer Peter Davison of the Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research in Petaluma, California, who was not involved in the study. “That much is indisputable.”

If it didn't die from it, the digested plastic would likely have been passed by sea critter and has since sunk to the bottom of the ocean. We don't know a lot about the ecosystems of the ocean floor to know the extent of the impacts. Maybe the plastic is carried (eventually) into a subduction zone and is melted in the Earth's mantle. Plastic is already creating new types of rocks.

A bigger worry though is that plastic will allow pollutants to bio-accumulate in the food chain.

[R]esearchers soaked small pellets of polyethylene in the waters of San Diego Bay for three months, then tested them and discovered that they’d absorbed toxins leached into the water from nearby industrial and military activities. Next, they put the pollution-soaked pellets in tanks (at concentrations lower than those found in the Great Pacific garbage patch) with a small, roughly one-inch-long species called Japanese rice fish. As a control, they also exposed some of the fish to virgin plastic pellets that hadn’t marinated in the Bay, and a third group of fish got no plastic in their tanks at all.
...
“We saw significantly greater concentrations of many toxic chemicals in the fish that were fed the plastic that had been in the ocean, compared to the fish that got either clean plastic or no plastic at all,” Rochman says. “So, is plastic a vector for these chemicals to transfer to fish or to our food chain? We’re now fairly confident that the answer is yes.”
...
One particular plastic-fed fish had even developed a liver tumor during the experimental period.
Even plastics supposedly chemical free still contain suspect chemicals that can influence hormones.

“There is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web,” explains Duarte. “And we are part of this food web.”

Discuss

When Pope Francis made tentative steps towards accepting modern family issues, less damnation for the LGBT community and a deseclation of the culture wars in general, a lot of us were at least hopefully this could signal a new approach to issues.

Now one of the top figures in the Italian Catholic wing of the church, Bishop Galantino, is advocating for his country's bishops to embrace the liberal and progressive path Pope Francis is cultivating.

“My wish for the Italian Church is that it is able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favour of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality."
...
Bishop Galantino, 65, said that the Church had invested a lot of its time on issues relating to the sanctity of life, perhaps at the expense of other important issues. He said: “In the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing.

“I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”

Galantino appears to echo the views of the Pope, who said last year that the Church risked falling “like a house of cards” if it was “obsessed” only with issues related to “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods”.

Personally, I'm pro-life, but it is also a private personal choice. I'm all for lowering abortion rates via increase prenatal care, early childhood education, competent sex ed and other policies that help the child and mother during and after pregnancy. Bans just lead to illegal and many other ills.

ThinkProgress notes that this is big due to Bishop Galantino's position among Italian Catholics. He's already high in the hierarchy there, and is likely the next leader for the group. Also, there's a vast overrepresentation of Catholic Bishops.

There are ~7.5 more Catholics in Latin America, but Italy gets more bishops than all those nations combined. A change in their political and cultural direction would have an outsized impact on a lot of Catholic policies and votes. Secondly, there's the Extrordinary Synod of the Family in October. The Catholic Church is expected to discuss controversial issues such as contraception, married priests and homosexuality. Bishop Galantino's statements could be a trial balloon. While American Bishops have chosen to ignore the Pope's directive to ask their flock what issues should be important to the church, thankfully other bishops followed those instructions. If the dismay of German Catholics are widespread, the Vatican has a lot to do to adapt to the times.
The outcome is devastating for the guardians of pure doctrine. Even the reactions of committed Catholics reflect disinterest, enmity and deep displeasure. Many can no longer relate to the old dogmas and feel left alone by the church. Even in conservative Bavaria, 86% of Catholics do not believe it is a sin to use the pill or condoms, both condemned by the church.

A look into the congregations reveals that Rome could soon be facing a wave of protest unlike anything the Vatican has experienced in a long time.

For most Catholics, the deep divide between everyday reality and doctrine is not a recent phenomenon. But popes have shown little interest in this reality. Pope Benedict XVI, in particular, turned his back on modern life and insisted on upholding ancient dogmas.

And the comments from the bishop reinforce the Pope's recent statements on income inequality and economic concerns.

Change seems to be slowly coming to the Catholic Church.

Discuss

A while back, I mentioned that Pope Francis is working on an encyclical focusing on the environment. No word quite yet on when it is expected to come out. In the meantime however, The Vatican is kicking off a 5 day conference focused on sustainability called "Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility".

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga gave the opening address, focusing on ethics and ending with this:

The solution to mankind’s sustainability issues is not to be improvised:
we must prepare ourselves through education by developing
discerning citizens that are committed with the ideals of democracy,
justice, and respect for one another and the environment.
The conference won't be focusing on documenting the long list of environmental woes. Instead, it's main purpose will be fostering dialogue between the natural sciences and the social sciences. Climate change has been suggested as at least a contributor to the Syrian civil war, the Sudan genocide and could spark a war over water and other resources.

The National Catholic Reporter notes some of the fields represented are microbiology, law, labor, economics, philosophy, business and astronomy from 14 countries. On Fri, the conference will start with looking at demands on food, health and energy and how climate change impacts those areas. Day 2-3 will be on the needs of nature, the cryosphere (ice caps) and the biosphere. Social issues will be addressed on Mon and Tue, ranging from unsustainable growth, inequality and ownership of nature.

Catholic Ecology notes that this conference will also build upon the United Nation’s Rio+20 Summit on biodiversity preservation.

The Rio+20 conference failed in many respects because it fostered “no collective endeavour among natural and social scientists,” the Vatican announcement notes. “That is why we are proposing a joint PAS-PASS workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature.”

[Basically,] the pontifical academies are offering the world's academicians a platform to gather, share, and listen to each other—and thus to better understand how their individual efforts can, when brought together, create a symphony of the sciences that can shore up human dignity and the common good (two aims mentioned by Pope Francis is a recent Tweet).

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times is expected to give the closing comments. Catholic Climate Covenant will also be live blogging the event.
Discuss

Using data from the US Conference of Mayor's U.S. Metro Economies report, redditor atrubetskoy tallied up the economic activities of cites and metro areas and created the map below. While it is probably not surprising to most, it is still visually stunning.

Orange and Blue areas each generate 50% of national GDP
It's slightly modified from atrubetskoy's original map, which did not include Denver or Atlanta areas.  

Still, either version shows the economic prowess of cities. The Bos-Wash megalopolis is the largest thanks to having over 43 million people, large instiutions, federal spending and the impact of the financial sector, which is also mirrored on a smaller scale in the Chicago area. Manufacturing hubs from Michigan to Washington still generate a lot of economic activity. Specialization helped Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle's economic fortunes, while others like Denver, St. Louis and Atlanta benefit from being regional hubs.

The common link among all areas, at least to me, is the large population they all share, usually being the highest or second highest in the state.

atrubetskoy also did a map with how the areas voted in 2012.

2012 election overlay
While most are Democratic strongholds, there are pockets of Republican voters, especially in Tucson, Dallas-Ft Worth, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.

But aside from how the regions vote, policy makers would be wise to focus on improving the infrastructure of these regions. Germany, China and Brazil are investing in advanced research, renewable energy, modern ports, high-speed rail and urban transit in Munich, Shanghai and São Paulo, metros that drive their economies. We must do the same. These cities are hotbeds of economic development and talent. A little investment in them can go a long way.

Discuss

Rep. Rush Holt, five-time “Jeopardy!” champion who also beat IBM's supercomputer Watson, former assistant director of the Plasma Physics Lab, and a bonafide rocket scientist will be retiring from Congress at the end of this term:

“From my point of view, Congress, even with its frustrations, is the greatest instrument for justice and human welfare in the world,” he said, citing the debt-ceiling extension passed last week despite doubters. “The stories trying to puzzle out why someone would do something else are based on this rather narrow way of thinking that the only purpose for a member of Congress is to be re-elected. I’ve never viewed it that way, and I think everybody who’s worked with me knows that I think there are a lot of things that I can and should be doing.”

Mr. Holt’s retirement is not expected to affect the Democrats’ chances in 2014; a seat that he barely wrested from a Republican in 1998 has been made reliably Democratic in two redistrictings.

As noted, this will unlikely result in a Republican pick up, but Congress will be losing a very smart guy and major advocate for science.
He has consistently pushed for more money for scientific research, and better science education, securing $22 billion for research in the stimulus bill, and grants of $16,000 for students who prepare to teach math, science or foreign languages.

“I’m not sure we have anyone in the Congress with his level of deep understanding of what it is going to take for the American scientific enterprise to thrive in the future,” said Shirley M. Tilghman, a molecular biologist and former president of Princeton.

Discuss
Chesapeake Bay Landsat photo
Satellite picture of Chesapeake Bay (center) and Delaware Bay (upper right) - and Atlantic coast of the central-eastern United States.
Maryland's main natural resource is The Chesapeake Bay. About 200 miles long, the water increases in salinity as it goes from the Susquehanna River to the Atlantic Ocean. Back in colonial times, there were enough bivalves to filter the total volume of water in about a week and oyster reefs were so large they often caused shipping problems. The blue crab and rockfish, a regional name for striped bass, are other popular fisheries in the bay.

Over the years, due to overharvesting, pollution, daming waterways and lack of planning, oysters are now at 1% of their historical population levels, rockfish had a near brush with extinction, and blue crabs populations can vary greatly year to year. There is also a sizeable deadzone that crops up year after year due to pollution runoff, further hindering recovery efforts.

Aside from putting into place catch limits, Maryland has been trying to put into place pollution controls. In 2004, Gov. Ehrlich (R) lobbied for and got the "Bay Restoration Fund" derisively known as the "Flush Tax" to upgrade the state's 67 wastewater treatment plants, 35 have been upgraded with others in various stages of completion. Once complete, the upgrades are expected to reduce ~7.5 million pounds of nitrogen/year and ~0.22 million pounds of phosphorus/year below the year 2000 levels.

So what does this have to do with the Farm Bureau and Attorney Generals from 21 other states? They are fearful of the next steps that Maryland and the EPA are undertaking to rehabilitate The Chesapeake Bay.

“The issue is whether EPA can reach beyond the plain language of the Clean Water Act and micromanage how states meet federal water-quality standards,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “We think the clear answer is ‘no,’ and we would prefer to get that answer while the question surrounds land use in the Chesapeake Bay instead of waiting for EPA to do the same thing along the Mississippi River basin.”
...
The case in which Kansas filed its amicus brief this week is American Farm Bureau Federation, et al., v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Case No. 13-4079. Kansas is supporting the plaintiff, American Farm Bureau Federation.

States joining the Kansas-led brief are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The programs that have conservatives and the American Farm Bureau in a tizzy for The Chesapeake Bay are:
1) An interstate compact for The Chesapeake Bay - this agreement, started in 1983, has states in The Chesapeake Bay's watershed sets goals and coordination to reduce pollution. The EPA, thanks to an executive order, is now heading and controlling the implementation of the program.
2) A Stormwater Management Fee, aka "Rain Tax" for Maryland's 10 largest jurisdictions to raise money to fund restoration efforts and pollution controls. This state law, along with other state and EPA efforts like the flush tax, is part of that "land use" Schmidt was referring to.  

What concerns Agribusiness and the other suing states is if restoration efforts are successful, they can be implemented on the nation's largest watershed, The Mississippi River's watershed.

The Mississippi River watershed is the fourth largest in the world, extending from the Allegheny Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. The watershed includes all or parts of 31 states and 2 Canadian Provinces. The watershed measures approximately 1.2 million square miles, covering about 40% of the lower 48 states.
Currently, the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone, off the coast of Louisiana and Texas, is the largest in the United States. The Mississippi River dumps the same high-nutrient runoff that is carried into The Chesapeake Bay, from untreated sewage to agricultural runoff. It wouldn't be too difficult to scale up the program currently underway to those in the Mississippi's. And that is exactly what Kansas AG is afraid of:
In a press release about his amicus (or "friend of the court") brief, Schmidt explained that he’s afraid that EPA will “do the same thing along the Mississippi River basin.” In other words, he is afraid the federally-mandated cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay will become a model for waterways across the nation. What they fear is that states will be held accountable for controlling the total amount of runoff pollution from farms and urban areas that they allow into their own streams and rivers.
Read on to learn how the issue came to be in Maryland and the current stakes.
Continue Reading

As an update to the post I had here in mid-November, it is now being confirmed that Pope Francis is prepping an encyclical, a letter to bishops and people worldwide, on the environment:

 

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the document was still very much in its early stages and that no publication date has been set. He said it would be about ecology and more specifically the "ecology of man."

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, dubbed the "green pope" for his environmental concerns, used the term "ecology of man" to describe not only how people must defend and respect nature but how the nature of the person — masculine and feminine as created by God — must also be defended.

I think the Pope will have a part talking about fracking as well. Brian Roewe at the National Catholic Reporter thinks so too:
Francis held up anti-fracking and gold-mining shirts -- the pope "mentioned that he is preparing an encyclical about nature, humans and environmental pollution."
Back in Nov, the Pope was photographed with activists from South America protesting fracking and mining. Check out my old post for more info on that.
Discuss
One of the main, and overlooked, aspects of pumping over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is ocean acidification. As CO2 levels go up in the atmosphere, greater amounts of CO2 are absorbed by the ocean. The CO2 combines with H2O and a Carbonate ion (CO3) to make 2 bicarbonate ions (2 HCO3), pushing the acidity of the ocean down and threatening to destroy the shells of many organisms as the picture above shows.

While this is certainly dire news for oysters, clams and pretty much any hard shelled critter in the seas, corals were seen as the biggest losers of ocean acidification. No only would their shells dissolve, their algae symbiotes would die off or leave the host.

Then again, maybe not:

Cohen says this raucous coral ecosystem shouldn’t even exist. The water is way too acidic.

“We started taking water samples,” she says, casting back to an earlier visit here. “We analyzed them, and we couldn’t believe it. Of the 17 coral reef systems (around the world) that we’ve been monitoring, this is the most acidic site that we’ve found.”

The higher acidity of the water here is natural, but it defies all expectations. Conventional wisdom is that corals don’t like acidic water, and the water in Nikko Bay is acidic enough that it should dissolve the animals’ calcium carbonate skeletons.

Even weirder, Cohen says, is that the acidity goes up as you move from the barrier reefs offshore into Palau’s island bays, and that as that happens, the coral cover and the coral diversity increase as well.

This suggests that the corals may have an ability to to calcify in more acidic waters, or that they have adapted to low carbonate levels.

This backs up research showing corals can adapt to higher temperature and levels of CO2.

Kathryn Shamberger of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and her colleagues were surprised to find that coral reefs around the Palau archipelago in the west Pacific were dense and diverse – even though the pH of the water and the amount of carbonate were unusually low (Geophysical Research Letters, doi.org/qnj).

This suggests that the corals have a way to calcify in more acidic waters, says Philip Munday at James Cook University in Brisbane, Australia, or that they have adapted to low carbonate levels.

Of Note: I originally linked/quoted the above to CO2science.org, a climate skeptic site. The update below explains my error.

These reefs should move to the top of the global coral conservation list, not just for conservation purposes, but to find out how these corals are able to thrive in acidic waters. By the end of the century, the world's oceans are likely to be as acidic as Palau's Nikko Bay. Start by lobbying your Congressional Representative, especially if they are part of the Ocean Caucus as Sen. Cardin of MD is, to push for larger marine sanctuaries.

Continue Reading

The Congregation for Bishops oversees the selection of new bishops and their picks usually are confirmed by the Pope. Whoever is named to this committee has a large say in who should be a new bishop, especially from his home region/country.

During a recent round of appointments, Francis decided to not appoint Cardinals Raymond Burke and Justin Rigali to the committee.

The fact that Burke was not on the list may raise eyebrows, in part because some observers see him as representing a more aggressive line than the pope on the Western culture wars.
Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter is not a fan of either:
Burke is the consummate culture warrior and he has encouraged the appointment of men to prominent sees who, like himself, look out at the world and see nothing but dread, who have bought into a narrative in which all the Church’s problems and challenges are someone else’s fault, and that the Gospel is best preached from a defensive crouch, with finger wagging at any and all who do not see the world as they do. I cannot think of a single churchmen who is less like Pope Francis...  

Cardinal Rigali’s problem is of a different sort. He has ruined everything he ever touched, as one archbishop reportedly said to a friend of mine. He left Philadelphia a mess, a string of Grand Jury reports detailing malfeasance in dealing with clergy sex abuse that rivaled the pro-Dallas Charter days. Rigali left St. Louis a mess...

Burke has also gone on to kinda refute what the Pope has been saying in regards of abortion, sexuality and capitalism. Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke to the Congregation of Bishops in 2009, but with today's announcement, Burke is off the committee. Don't be too sad, it seems Burke may have a great career in designing fashion.

So what about the people Pope Francis did appoint? Cardinal William Levada is still on the committee and Winters had overall nice things to say about him:

Levada is razor sharp smart, and in his pastoral assignments, demonstrated a preference for non-culture warrior approaches to the challenges facing the Church. As early as 1996, he famously worked out a solution to the conundrum of same-sex partner benefits for Catholic Church agencies that contract with the city government.
But the big praise was saved for the new appointee, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, of Washington D.C.
In addition to the enthusiasm, though, Wuerl has the competence to see that Pope Francis is getting the kinds of names for new bishops that reflect the priorities the Holy Father has identified, men with the “smell of the sheep,” upon them, men who have worked in the trenches, not just the chanceries. I would look for more directors of diocesan Catholic Charities, more parish priests, and fewer seminary rectors or former curial officials on ternas going to the pope in the months and years ahead.
While not a flaming liberal, Cardinal Wuerl has said it is wrong to deny communion due to political beliefs.
The Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has issued an apology to a woman who was denied Communion by a priest who had just learned of her lesbian relationship.
...
A spokesman for the Washington archdiocese said that Father Guarnizo’s action showed “a lack of pastoral sensitivity,” and was not in accordance with archdiocesan policy.
...
Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl has indicated that he is not prepared to deny Communion even to prominent politicians who continue to support legal abortion despite repeated warnings from the hierarchy.
And Wuerl says that married gay Catholics are "not a great problem".
“We do that same thing with people who are married, divorced and remarried,” Wuerl said on the church’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages. “We say, you know, you’re still part of the family, but we can’t recognize that second marriage… and it’s never been a great problem.
I know he is comparing a gay marriage like mine to that of a person who remarried after a divorce which is a no-no in Roman Catholic theology. But A) small steps here and B) in most parishes, divorce is usually ignored. Neither Rome or The Vatican were built in a day. But these changes point to a new day, especially for leaders in the US branch of the church.
Discuss
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