Seventh-Grader Teaches All of Us

This speech was written and presented to her 7th grade class by the little girl in this video. Maybe she needs to run for president.

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So, there’s this monastery with a great bell tower …

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Pope Francis Talked to President Obama About Religious Liberty

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Early media reports made it sound as if the Holy Father and President Obama concentrated all their conversation on what the press termed “areas of agreement.”

It turns out that they were talking through their press badges.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis and the Holy Father discussed “questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life, and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.”

I believe that’s a polite way of saying that the Pope talked to the Prez about the HHS Mandate, and other administration attacks on religious freedom, as well as the president’s support for abortion, and embryonic stem cell research. 

Pope Francis has a history of being gentle in his dealings with ordinary folks and downright tough about the things he says to those with power and authority. I never thought for minute that he would make an exception for the President of the United States.

Will the Pope’s words affect President Obama’s actions? The knee jerk reaction is to say probably not. But I am someone who God turned upside down. I not only believe that the Holy Spirit can change people. I know He does. 

Let’s pray that something got through to our President. 

And in the meantime, let’s also thank God for giving us this good and holy man to be our Pope. 


 


Georgetown University Students Hold “Choice Week” to Promote Abortion

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Since we live in a world where the holy is us, and the moral is everybody doing whatever he or she wants, this makes a kind of sense.

Georgetown University, an ostensibly Catholic school, is playing host to its seventh annual “Choice Week.”

They planned to send a delegation to rally at the US Supreme Court in favor of the HHS Mandate. This year’s “Choice Week” theme has the catchy title “My Choice, My Choice. Events include “Queer Voices, Queer Voices.

The festivities will include a panel consisting of representatives from NARAL, the Religious Coalition for Choice and the Great American Condom Campaign.

H*yas for Choice, which is the group organizing this event, is not an officially recognized campus organization. It is partnering with other organizations that are officially recognized, such as GUPride. According to the H*yas for Choice Facebook page, the group hosted Catholics for Choice on the university campus proper.

I don’t know how others feel about it, but as a Catholic, I am ashamed of this school.

From Vox Populi:

Here’s a breakdown of Choice Week’s events:

Monday: HFC will be hosting Catholics for Choice, a pro-choice and dissenting Catholic organization, in ICC 116 at 7:30 p.m. “HFC co-sponsoring with religious organizations is a way for many of our members to reconcile their identity as a religious individual and as pro-choice,” Grace said. “We really want Choice Week to be an event for the Georgetown community at large. We recognize that there are many Catholic, pro-choice students at Georgetown, and we think that this event is a great way to bridge the divide between Georgetown as a religious institution and healthy dissent.”

Tuesday: HFC will be riding the Law Center shuttle at 7:55 a.m. to attend Planned Parenthood’srally at the Supreme Court while justices hear Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, a case about whether employers can use religious beliefs to deny women birth control coverage. In the evening, HFC and GU Pride will host “Queer Voices, Queer Choices,” a panel on pro-choice and gay rights issues with representatives from NARAL, the Religious Coalition for Choice, and the Great American Condom Campaign. The panel will be held in Car Barn 204 at 8 p.m.

Wednesday: HFC will host a talk, “Democratic Women’s Political Voices,” in Walsh 392 at 7 p.m to examine the importance of women’s political voices in the pro-choice movement in light of new Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws across the country.

Thursday: Reproductive rights activist and Cornell MPA student Renee Bracey Sherman will host a workshop on how to talk about abortion to others and how to listen when others share their stories on abortion at Maguire 103 at 7:00 p.m.

MS Office is Coming to the iPad!

Microsoft Office 365 logoMicrosoft is finally bringing Office to the iPad.

I know this doesn’t qualify as earth-shaking news, but I’m uber glad to see it.

The discussion in the news articles questioned why Microsoft would release a product that benefits its rival tablet maker, Apple. The answer — at least to me — is obvious. It looks like this: $$$$.

Everytime Microsoft sells another copy of Office, it makes $$$$.

Whatever the reasoning that took place inside Microsoft, I’m glad to see the decision. I’m not so sure about buying a subscription service instead of just buying the app outright. Since that’s the only way I can get Office for my iPad, I may take a pass. The free stuff that Apple offers, coupled with iCloud, seems to be working just fine for my needs.

But if you need Office to do your work, it’s a no-brainer.

Office for the iPad: What will they think of next?

From CBS:

One of the most epic tech rivalries around has taken another twist. Microsoft officially launched Office for Apple’s iPad on Thursday, after holding out against the competitor’s iconic tablet for almost four years.

Microsoft’s new CEO, Sayta Nadella, ushered in a new era for the company by promising to focus more on the popular mobile devices.

Nadella made his first major public appearance as CEO at Thursday’s event, and said he felt rejuvenated after his 22 years at the company,.

“You see things from a fresh set of eyes and fresh perspective,” Nadella told a crowd of reporters gathered for the announcement in San Francisco.

When former CEO Steve Ballmer was in charge, a Windows-centric view dominated the company’s decision-making process. In making such a paradigm shift, Nadella is betting that Microsoft can win back some of the business professionals that now run competing productivity apps on the popular tablet,reports CNET.

The new Microsoft Office apps will allow iPad users to edit and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations — for a price. With the “freemium” download, users will be allowed to view a document or presentation without needing a paid subscription. However, in order to edit or create a document, users will need a subscription to Office 365.

Hospital-Acquired Infections: 1 in 25 Patients Becomes Infected While in the Hospital

I know several people who went into the hospital for a routine surgery, came through the surgery just fine, and then died from an infection they had gotten while in the hospital.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me angry.

Hospitals and doctor’s offices (not to mention dentists) need to beef up their sterile procedures, beginning with washing their hands between every single patient. When you see a doctor look down someone’s throat and then not wash their hands afterwards, you are looking at an infection-carrier.

It turns out that the people I’ve known who died from hospital-acquired infections are not alone. According to a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 25 patients who went into a hospital in 2011 come out with a hospital-acquired infection. That means 721,800 people were infected by germs they encountered while they were in the hospital. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 75,000 people died from hospital-acquired infections.

This rate of infection is evidently down from past years. In 2002, there were 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections and 155,668 deaths. Getting down to 75,000 deaths is quite a reduction, and hospitals are to be applauded for the changes they’ve made. But 75,000 deaths in one year from hospital-acquired infections is still totally unacceptable.

It may be necessary for patients to start reminding medical personnel to wash their hands, since they are not doing it on their own. As for other sterile procedures, particularly surgical sterile procedures;  if they aren’t washing their hands (and they aren’t) then what else are they not doing?

The families and friends of 75,000 people who die each year would like to know.

From CNN:

(CNN) – About 1 in every 25 patients seeking treatment at hospitals acquired an infection there in 2011, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients acquired some 721,800 infections at hospitals that year, according to the research. Of those infected, about 75,000 died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — although the study did not investigate how often an infection actually caused or contributed to the patient’s death.

Pneumonia and surgical-site infections were the most common types of infection — each accounting for about 22% of all infections — followed by gastrointestinal infections such as Clostridium difficile, urinary tract infections and infections of the bloodstream.

While highlighting the grim reality that too many people become infected when seeking medical treatment in hospitals and other health care facilities, the study also shows progress from past estimates.

So, a mother comes into her son’s room …

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5th Circuit Upholds Texas Pro Life Law

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling and upheld Texas’ pro life law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital privileges. A provision of the law that requires that abortion clinics to provide the same level of safety to patients as other free-standing surgery centers will take affect later this year.

The law became a national cause when Texas state Senator Wendy Davis derailed the first attempt at passage with a filibuster. Since its passage, the Texas statute has resulted in the closure of a number of abortion clinics in the state of Texas.

From Fox News:

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld Texas’ tough new abortion restrictions that shuttered many of the abortions clinics in the state.

A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the U.S. Constitution and served no medical purpose. In its opinion, the appeals court said the law “on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman.”

Texas lawmakers last year passed some of the toughest restrictions in the U.S. on when, where and how women may obtain an abortion. The Republican-controlled Legislature required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and placed strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills.

Knights of Columbus Win Prize for Ethical Business Practices

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Hooray for the Knights!

Ethisphere Institute has named the Knights of Columbus life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Companies. The Knights were one of only two life insurance companies to earn this honor.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- The fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus has been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies by a research center on best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

“This really speaks to the fact that a company can be committed to Church teaching, committed to Catholic values, and still provide a top quality service and be very successful at what they do,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media with the Knights, told CNA March 21.

Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, announced the award March 20, saying, “the Knights of Columbus join an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at Knights of Columbus for this extraordinary achievement.”

The institute named the New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic fraternal organization and life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company list. The Knights is only one of two companies in the life insurance category to be recognized.

Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

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When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics.

At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened.

There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political camps that the answers look more like responses to a roll call than genuine thinking.

Liberal Democrats, say no, of course not; only ignorant fools think so. Liberal Protestants, who are also almost entirely liberal Democrats, say no; only bigots who want to cling to their bigotry say yes. Conservative Republicans say yes; only liberal flat-liners who’ve sold this country out doubt it. Conservative Protestants, who are becoming more and more a solidified conservative Republican front, say yes; only weak Christians think otherwise.

Catholics? As the religious group that is Liberal Democrats, Conservative Republicans and every single thing in between, all sitting around the same table, we answer, yes/no/what did you say? and whatever.

So what do I, a decidedly liberal Democrat who is also a decidedly devout Catholic, say?

Before I answer that, I’m going to narrow that question to whether or not religious freedom is threatened in United States of America. I think the answer for much of the rest of the world is so obviously yes that those who doubt it fall into the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Even when I narrow the question to the United States, I am tempted to reply … Duhhhh … Is this a trick question?

Rather than go for the golden one-word/one-off, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding answer, let’s review the obvious, public and undeniable facts.

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

It heard three cases brought before it by people who feel so strongly that their religious freedom is being violated that they are willing to risk their businesses and life’s work to stand against it. These are not rabble rousers. They are stable, quiet, pillars-of-the-community types, who normally eschew both litigation and the spotlight. They are the people who are the foundations of this country.

These people didn’t want to be part of a Supreme Court case. They were backed into this position by an overweening government that is so bent on enforcing an agency regulation that infringes on religious liberty that it is willing to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to do it.

What is happening in court rooms all over this country? We have mom and pop businesspeople — again quiet, apolitical, non-litigious, pillars of the community types — who are being forced to risk their livelihoods rather than violate their religious beliefs. This is happening because of overweening government force.

Not one of these people wanted to do this. Not one of them is the type who loves standing in front of microphones and sounding off. Every single one of them is putting their livelihoods on the line to stand for what they believe against a government that has taken hubris as its operating standard.

According to court testimony by administration attorneys, the fiction that is driving these government attacks on religious liberty is a deliberate narrowing of the First Amendment. Instead of religious freedom that applies to every man, woman and child in this great nation, the Obama Administration is seeking to shoe-horn it into the box of a narrow “freedom of worship.” In other words, keep your faith behind the closed doors of church sanctuaries, or suffer government-mandated penalties.

The standard argument against all this is either a stubborn sophistry which simply denies the obvious, or an insulting version of the hayseed argument. The hayseed argument goes like this: We sophisticates in the know understand that these hayseeds out in the hustings are deluded fools for thinking that their rights are being violated. We morally superior denizens of right-thinking also know that the hayseeds in the hustings are so blighted morally that their outdated ideas of religious fealty need to be shut down for a greater good that is defined by — you guessed it — us.

The hayseed argument, stupid and arrogant as it is, is actually the driving argument behind all these initiatives against individual freedom. It is the insider’s view of what they think is outsider foolishness for opposing the obviously higher morality and wisdom of their betters.

A slightly different version of the hayseed argument is the moral ingrate argument. It goes something like this: Moral imperatives which have been discovered in the last five years require that the moral ingrates of this country abandon their claims to religious freedom in order to serve the higher morality that we sophisticates have fashioned for ourselves and which we are going to use government force to enforce on everyone else.

The hayseed and moral ingrate arguments often overlap in actual practice. Sometimes they merge. The subtle difference between them is that one appeals to the pretension of moral superiority on the part of those who purvey it, and the other feeds their pretensions of intellectual superiority. Both arguments are at base a pose and a sham that have far more to do with bell-jar/echo-chamber thinking than anything approaching reality.

There is one other argument that surfaces in these discussions. That is the every-kid-in-China argument. This one is familiar to mothers of previous generations who were faced with recalcitrant children who wouldn’t eat their veggies. You know: The every kid in China would love to have that spinach on your plate, so you’d better eat it argument.

Applied to the question of attacks on religious freedom in America today, it goes something like this. Christians in other parts of the world are suffering real persecution. They are being burnt, beheaded, raped, imprisoned and tortured. So how dare you complain about government oppression of your little rights?

The irony is that this particular argument is usually advanced by someone who, in other contexts, does everything they can to deny and minimize the horror of Christian persecution.

I’m going to circle back here and take another look at the original question: Is religious freedom threatened in America today?

The answer is, of course. That’s obvious. The parsing — and that’s all it is — runs along lines of party affiliation and prejudice.

 

Note: This post is my reply to the discussion about Patheos’ Public Square Question: Is Religious Freedom Threatened? 


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