Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, September 30, 2011

Swami 4 Precedent!

Swami Beyondananda for Precedent!

How You Can Help Move the Upwising Forward

One of the most heartening aspects of our two-month sojourn from the Northwest to the East is meeting people and finding projects that are truly healing and transformational. You won't read about this newly-emerging butterfly in the caterpillar press, but believe me ... the evolutionary upwising is happening everywhere. Everywhere!

Meanwhile, the contrast of our collective political dysfunction has become universally palpable. Wherever we go, whether we meet progressives or conservatives, everyone gets that the unchecked power of money is out of control. As the Swami puts it:

"We have a deeply divided body politic. Half of our population believes our
elections are broken. The other half believe they are fixed. We have been
weakened by division, as we've been divided into two rival tribes ... the red
tribe and blue tribe, who spend their time squabbling about whether it's worse
to kill the born or the unborn ... while the commonwealth is being devoured by
uncommonly wealthy sociopathogens.

"So here is how we heal the body politic. Red tribe and blue tribe, sitting together in sacred circle talking until they're purple in the face. And then, when we stand as One Purple People, the peeps will far outnumber the perps, and the Golden Rule can finally overrule the rule of gold."

The entire notion of the "peeps outnumbering the perps" always gets the biggest laugh and the biggest cheer.

Consequently, I have decided to re-launch the Swami For Precedent Campaign for 2012, where we encourage and promote a "new precedent:" government of, by and for the people where the government does our bidding and not the bidding of the highest bidder. On this platform alone, we have the support of 95% of Americans. Doing the campaign in the guise of comedy will enable us to keep it "informal" and empower local groups to promote "heartland security" in the form of political collaboration and economic innovation to regrow the local economy from the grassroots up.

We already have a media-savvy campaign director signed on, and will officially launch after the 1st of the year. Informally, if you support this idea for evolutionary upwising by laughing together (sure beats crying separately), there are a number of ways you can help if you're so inspired. First and foremost, you can become a paid subscriber, sponsor, founding sponsor or profound founder for Notes From the Trail, my current vehicle for reporting on the upwising. You can do that here.

Every subscriber will receive a copy of our 2004 Swami For Precedent book, which (unfortunately) is even more relevant in the Obama era. It contains - in addition to the comedy - a lot of valuable information for political self-education. And moving these books will create the space to issue an entirely new and streamlined version for 2012. If you'd like to purchase these books for gifts or mass distribution, please respond to this email.

In coming weeks, we will be sending a more formal announcement for the campaign.

Another way you can help is to bring Swami and I to your town or region in 2012. We still have some openings for living room events and larger public events in California in early October, November and December. Next year, we plan to cover every region in the States. If you have an organization that wants to sponsor a public (or private) event, or would like to sponsor a living room event (40 or more people), please contact us. As our good friend Caroline Casey says, "Co-operators are standing by."

Again, thank you all deeply for being co-hearts on the path ... and thank you for keeping the faith as we restore heart-core values to our lives and world.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bottled Lightning

Just finished another book.  This one is "Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy" by Seth Fletcher.  It's a look back at the development of batteries and the electric car starts and stops over the decades, and a look forward into the future, which seems to have lithium playing a huge role. 

It's rather sad to see Bolivia, which probably possesses the largest reserves of lithium on the planet, floundering to produce it for market because they are so afraid of being exploited by foreign mega-corporations.  The fear is grounded in fact, but it's hampering their development, big time.  Highly recommended.

Our next car will absolutely be an electric car, but not until one of our current cars falls apart!

There is a good review of the book here.

Losing our religion

Hopefully, this trend will continue!  We are long overdue to shed that metaphysical metaphorical religious straightjacket.  Religion is so ... 19th Century.

5 Signs That America Is Moving Away from Religion

If you look closely there are promising signs that American attitudes are changing in a way that may blunt the impact of religion on politics and culture.

In between bragging about the number of people they've killed and vilifying gay soldiers, the GOP presidential candidates have spent the primaries demonstrating how little they respect the separation of church and state. Michele Bachmann seems to think God is personally invested in her political career. Both she and Rick Perry have ties to Christian Dominionism, a theocratic philosophy that publicly calls for Christian takeover of America's political and civil institutions. (Even Ron Paul, glorified by civil libertarians for his only two good policy stances -- opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and drug prohibition -- sputtered about churches when asked during a debate where he'd send a gravely ill man without health insurance.)

GOP pandering to the Religious Right is just one of those facts of American public life, like climate change denial and Creationism in schools, that leave secular Americans lamenting the decline of the country, and of reason and logic. Organized religion's grasp on the politics and culture of much of Europe has been waning for decades -- why can't we do that here?

But there are signs that American attitudes are changing in ways that may tame religion's power over political life in the future.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, tells AlterNet that she thinks what happened in Europe is (slowly) happening here. While questioning religion remains controversial -- Gaylor says the group's work on church and state issues often elicits hate-mail strongly suggesting they move to, you know, Europe -- atheism, skepticism, and agnosticism are becoming more widely accepted.
1. American religious belief is becoming more fractured

2. Non-belief -- and acceptance of non-belief -- on the rise

3. Growing numbers of young people who do not identify as religious

4. Hate group that exploited religion to bash gays hemorrhaging funds
5. Getting married by friends

Click here to read the details.  Hallelujah!

Happy Birthday, JG!

On this date in 1964, actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo was born into a conservative family in Newton, N.J. Her family relocated to Houston when she was in high school. She majored in history at Providence College, where she quickly shed her parents' politics.

While a college student, Garofalo entered a Showtime-sponsored comedy talent search and won the title of "Funniest Person in Rhode Island." After college, she became a standup comedian. To make ends meet she worked briefly as a bike messenger in Boston. Garofalo's breakthrough came when she befriended actor/comedian Ben Stiller in 1992 and joined the cast of his acclaimed sketch comedy program, "The Ben Stiller Show." She starred in the 1994 Ben Stiller film, "Reality Bites," and was nominated for an Emmy, in 1996, for her role on Gary Shandling's HBO series, "The Larry Sanders Show." She briefly joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1994, worked as a correspondent on Michael Moore's news magazine, TV Nation, and hosted "Comedy Product," a standup showcase on Comedy Central. Garofalo appeared in or starred in films such as, "Now and Then" (1995), "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" (1996), "Larger Than Life" (1996), "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" (1997), "The Matchmaker" (1997), "Cop Land" (1997) and "Dogma" (1999), a film satirizing religion. She starred with Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughan in 1998's "Clay Pigeons," and worked again with Stiller in "Permanent Midnight" (1998) and "Mystery Men" (1999).

In addition to her extensive acting and comedy career, Garofalo has been an outspoken critic of religion. Calling herself an atheist on her radio show, "The Majority Report," Garofalo has become a favorite of the left and a target of right-wing criticism. She helped launch Air America and has been a guest on Freethought Radio (June 2, 2007). Also a noted peace activist, Garofalo has said, "[God] just seems very man-made to me. There are so many theories, and not everyone can be right. It's human nature to need a religious crutch, and I don't begrudge anyone that. I just don't need one" ("Showbiz," Aug. 1995). Garofalo's celebrity has only grown, with appearances on the final season of "The West Wing" (2005-2006), the series finale of "Mad About You" (1999), the voice of Stith on "Titan A.E." (2000), the voice of Colette in "Ratatouille" (2007), and a recurrent role in the 2009 season of the hit show, "24." Garofalo received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001 , for "telling it like it is" about religion, and in 2007 became a Lifetime member of the Foundation.

"Organized religions and their dogmas only serve to indoctrinate the participants into sheeplike common behaviors. This type of blind assimilation promotes the popularity of top-forty count down radio stations and movie sequels. Skepticism towards groups, holy or otherwise, is enriching and makes you a far more entertaining person."
— Feel This Book: An Essential Guide to Self-Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy, and Sexual Satisfaction by Janeane Garofalo & Ben Stiller, 1999, p. 172-173.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Open Letter

from Occupy Wall Street

Please join us:

This is an open letter to all Americans, and particularly to progressive magazines, Web Sites, TV programs, etc. Please spend most of your time focusing on the Occupy Wall Street protests. This is real, this is serious, and this will become a mass movement. I have been here every day for the past week. Everyone is dedicated and determined. People have come from all over the country, and they plan to stay for months. Many have been sleeping outside, on the floors of Zuccotti Park, and others have been arrested, sacrificing their comfort for the most important of all causes. It’s safe to assume the mainstream media either will not cover the demonstrations at all or will do so only to ridicule us. But liberal media outlets must get on board. If you do not, you are essentially useless.

As a journalist myself, I know the only reason any serious progressive does reporting is because he or she wants to motivate people to get off the couch and hit the streets. We journalists write articles, participate in TV segments, appear in documentaries… For what? To inform people of how they’ve been enslaved by the corporate state. And to make them understand that they have the power to restore their democracy if they choose to.

Read the rest here.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street -- financial institutions generally -- has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" -- seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity -- not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."

The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course.

Noam Chomsky

Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia just might be the "Middle East" of the lithium market!  If they can ever get their act together!  (Sunset on the Salar de Uyuni at top of the blog)

Salar de Uyuni
(or Salar de Tunupa) is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, and is elevated 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above the mean sea level. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted.

Underneath the surface of the Salar is a lake of brine 2 to 20 meters (7 to 66 ft) deep. The brine is a saturated solution of sodium chloride, lithium chloride and magnesium chloride in water. It is covered with a solid salt crust with a thickness varying between tens of centimeters to a few meters. The center of the Salar contains a few "islands", which are the remains of the tops of ancient volcanoes which were submerged during the era of lake Minchin. They include unusual and fragile coral-like structures and deposits that often consist of fossils and algae.

The Salar contains large amounts of sodium, potassium, lithium and magnesium (all in the chloride forms of NaCl, KCl, LiCl and MgCl2, respectively), as well as boraxOf those, lithium is arguably most important as it is a vital component of many electric batteries. With estimated 5,400,000 tonnes (5,300,000 long tons; 6,000,000 short tons), Bolivia holds about half of the world's lithium reserves; most of those are located in the Salar de Uyuni. Lithium is concentrated in the brine under the salt crust at a relatively high concentration of about 0.3%. It is also present in the top layers of the porous halite body lying under the brine; however the liquid brine is easier to extract, by boring into the crust and pumping out the brine.

The brine distribution has been monitored by the Landsat satellite and confirmed in ground drilling tests. Following those findings, an American-based international corporation has invested $137 million to develop lithium extraction. However, lithium extraction in the 1980s and 1990s by foreign companies met strong opposition of the local community. Despite their poverty, locals believed that the money infused by mining would not reach them. There is currently no mining plant at the site, and the Bolivian government doesn't want to allow exploitation by foreign corporations. Instead, it intends to build its own pilot plant with a modest annual production of 1,200 tonnes (1,200 long tons; 1,300 short tons) of lithium and to increase it to 30,000 tonnes (30,000 long tons; 33,000 short tons) tonnes by 2012.


George Gershwin

reprinted with permission of FFRF

On this date in 1898, composer George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York. Of the three boys in the family, only Ira, later George's lyricist, was subjected to a bar mitzvah. "This religious milestone apparently meant little to Ira himself. The fact that Rose and Morris never imposed it upon George and Arthur means that, by the time they became teenagers, the family had left their East European Jewish origins behind and were living a secularized existence in New York's cosmopolitan melting pot. . . . Rose made sure the living room curtains were drawn closed on the eve of sabbaths or festivals, so that her Jewish neighbors would be unaware she had not lit the ceremonial candles," according to Rodney Greenberg, in his biography, George Gershwin.

Gershwin's named sources of "inspiration" were not gods or prophets but two other nonbelieving songwriters: Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern, according to biographer Edward Jablonski, Gershwin: A Biography.

Self-taught as a piano-player, Gershwin began writing songs and musicals as a teenager, quickly advancing from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway musicals. Considered by many to be America's greatest song composer, Gershwin wrote memorable standard after standard, including: "Lady, be Good!" "Strike Up the Band," "Funny Face," "The Man I Love," "Embraceable You," "Somebody Loves Me" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me." His more serious work: Rhapsody in Blue (1924), Piano Concerto in F (1925), Porgy & Bess (1934-5), and Three Preludes (1926).

At the height of his career, the ambitious 38-year-old, who had been sent to see a psychiatrist after complaining of debilitating headaches, collapsed from an undiagnosed brain tumor and tragically died during surgery. D.1937.

It Ain't Necessarily So

It ain't necessarily so, (repeat)
De t'ings dat yo' li'ble
To read in de Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.

Li'l David was small, but oh my! (rpt)
He fought big Goliath
Who lay down an' dieth!
Li'l David was small, but oh my!

Oh, Jonah, he lived in de whale, (rpt)
Fo' he made his home in
Dat fish's abdomen.
Oh, Jonah, he lived in de whale.

Li'l Moses was found in a stream, (rpt)
He floated on water
Till Ole Pharaoh's daughter
She fished him, she says, from that stream.

It ain't necessarily so, (rpt)
Dey tell all you chillun
De debble's a villun,
But 'tain't necessarily so.

To get into Hebben don' snap for a sebben!
Live clean! Don' have no fault.
Oh, I takes dat gospel
Whenever it's poss'ble,
But wid a grain of salt.

Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
But who calls dat livin'
When no gal'll give in
To no man what's nine hundred years?

I'm preachin' dis sermon to show,
It ain't nessa, ain't nessa,
ain't nessa, ain't nessa,
Ain't necessarily so.

Music by George Gershwin. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Copyright 1935 by Gershwin Publishing Co.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seasons from space

download large winter solstice image (1 MB, JPEG)
download large spring equinox image (1 MB, JPEG)
download large summer solstice image (1 MB, JPEG)
download large fall equinox image (1 MB, JPEG)
download web resolution animation (6 MB, QuickTime)
download high definition animation (23 MB, QuickTime)

(see pic at top of post)

Seeing Equinoxes and Solstices from Space

One of the most frequently misunderstood concepts in science is the reason for Earth’s seasons. As we experience the September equinox today—anyone try to balance an egg yet?—we thought we’d offer a space-based view of what’s going on.

Around 6 a.m. local time each day, the Sun, Earth, and any geosynchronous satellite form a right angle, affording a nadir (straight down) view of the terminator, the edge between the shadows of nightfall and the sunlight of dusk and dawn. The shape of this line between night and day varies with the seasons, which means different lengths of days and differing amounts of warming sunshine. (The line is actually a curve because the Earth is round, but satellite images only show it in two-dimensions.)

The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT's Meteosat-9 captured these four views of Earth from geosynchronous orbit. The images show how sunlight fell on the Earth on December 21, 2010 (upper left), and March 20 (upper right), June 21 (lower left), and September 20, 2011 (lower right). Each image was taken at 6:12 a.m. local time.

On March 20 and September 20, the terminator is a straight north-south line, and the Sun is said to sit directly above the equator. On December 21, the Sun resides directly over the Tropic of Capricorn when viewed from the ground, and sunlight spreads over more of the Southern Hemisphere. On June 21, the Sun sits above the Tropic of Cancer, spreading more sunlight in the north and turning the tables on the south. The bulge of our spherical Earth blocks sunlight from the far hemisphere at the solstices; that same curvature allows the Sun’s rays to spread over more area near the top and bottom of the globe. (Click on the animation link above to download and watch this changing light pattern through the year.)

Of course, it is not the Sun that is moving north or south through the seasons, but a change in the orientation and angles between the Earth and its nearest star. The axis of the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane. The axis is tilted away from the Sun at the December solstice and toward the Sun at the June solstice, spreading more and less light on each hemisphere. At the equinoxes, the tilt is at a right angle to the Sun and the light is spread evenly.

The equinox and changing of the seasons occurs on September 23, 2011 at 9:05 a.m. Universal Time. (Our September image above is a few days early.) Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet. That is true of the Sun's presence above the horizon, though it does not account for twilight, when the Sun's rays extend from beyond the horizon to illuminate our gas-filled atmosphere.
  1. Related Reading

  2. Stern, D. (2005) From Stargazers to Starships: Seasons of the Year. Accessed September 22, 2011.
  3. U.S. Naval Observatory Day and Night Across the Earth. Accessed September 22, 2011.
  4. U.S. Naval Oceanographer Earth's Seasons. Accessed September 22, 2011.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A litre of light

A very bright idea, indeed! I wonder how the world's energy companies will crush it?

Litre of Light

Isang Litrong Liwanag can be translated in English as ‘Litre of Light’. This is a project brought about by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The product a sustainable light bulb that uses no source of energy except the sun!

The main purpose of this light project was to benefit the developing communities who are affected by fires caused by dodgy electricity and many who have no light at all.

There are currently three million households that are ‘powerless’ in the Philippines; hopefully this project can help brighten up their homes. MyShelter Foundation, established by Illac Diaz, aims to brighten up one million homes in the Philippines by 2012.

But how does it work? My crude description is: you fill a clear plastic bottle with water and add a little bit of bleach. You then cut a small hole in the roof to fit the bottle snuggly half in and half out. The outside light streams through the bottle and refracts around 55 watts of light into the otherwise dim house. The bleach prevents algae building up, meaning the Solar Bottle Bulbs should last about five years after only taking an hour to install.

While the lights are obviously functional only during the day, they're a great step toward reducing poverty, not to mention energy independence.

Watch the below video to see the light in action.

Perry toons

I'm sure there will be many, many more. We haven't had a hypocrite as blatant as Rick Perry since, well, Gee Duhbya Bush. Does anyone wonder why Texas gets a bad rap?

Eat and die!

Maybe this story will be enough to put a stop to this stupid, ridiculous, absurd, embarrassing, and dangerous spectacle called "competitive eating." But probably not, because people are stupid and absurd.

Man wins dumpling eating contest, then dies

KIEV (Reuters) - A 77-year-old Ukrainian man won a jar full of sour cream for coming first in a dumpling eating contest and then promptly died, local media reported on Wednesday.

Ivan Mendel ate 10 dumplings in half a minute to win first place and a one-liter jar of sour cream in the contest held in the town of Tokmak in the southeastern Zaporizhya region on September 18, Fakty I Kommentarii newspaper said.

Shortly afterwards, Mendel became unwell and died, according to local news websites.

Dumplings, called "vareniki" in the former Soviet republic, are a staple of Ukrainian cuisine and are often stuffed with a range of fillings from mushrooms to cherries.

Original. And hey, what a "prize" they gave on this contest, huh? Things must be really fucked up in Russia.

Make a creationist weep

In his inimitable style, Mark Morford somehow gives me a bit of hope that we won't all go down in flames.

How to make a creationist weep

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do you want to know the real reason Barack Obama is going to win the 2012 election? The big, grinning hunk of overwhelming evidence that has little to do with the not-very-terrific job he's doing and not nearly enough to do with the fact that the man has actually accomplished quite a lot, despite being savaged and hobbled and compromised at nearly every turn?

The reason, as most comparable explanations are, is sort of awesome in its pureform power. The most interesting part is that it has almost nothing to do with Obama at all and everything to do with the fact that his opponents are, largely and comfortably, insane.

What, too harsh? Too mean? Not even close, honeybomb.

Let me back up for a second. Because here I am, reading over this swell little science item that whipped through the newswires recently, all about how some paleoecologists just discovered some stunning prehistoric feathers locked in a tiny hunk of amber they calculate to be about, oh, 70 million years old.

It's a fascinating little finding, really, one of thousands like it happening all the time in the science world; it tells of life long past, how protofeathers later evolved into actual feathers, how flight first came to be. Wonderful.

Then it strikes me. There was that magic word, "evolved." Oh my sweet goddess, to many Americans, these scientists are totally lying. They are part of some mass liberal conspiracy begun hundreds if not thousands of years ago, specifically designed to ruin homeschooled kids' minds and taint the blood of virgins and demean angry Almighty God.

Is it not true? Is this not the belief of many of the nation's current crop of top GOP presidential candidates? You bet it is.

See Rick Perry over there? He doesn't really believe in evolution. Says "It's a theory that's out there" which "has some gaps in it," which is not even remotely true, but he's been far too busy killing inmates in his home state and rallying evangelical homophobes to, you know, care much for book learnin'.

Perry "knows" only one thing. We came from God. That's it. He's just not really sure what happened next. Probably some combination of confused monkeys and flying iguanas and, like, oil or something. Poor Rick. The world must be so weird.

Over there, it's Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann, who, aside from being a grade-A nutball conspiracy theorist of terrifically paranoid dimensions, is an avowed creationist, believing all existence began less than 10,000 years ago, during which man and dinosaurs co-existed, prehistoric cave paintings never happened and the planets are nothing but God's little sack of marbles.

Bachmann believes in teaching creationism in schools. She says we should "put all the science on the table and let kids decide," as if creationism has the slightest whiff of fact behind it, as if there was some sort of valid debate happening anywhere but in her own madly short-circuited brain, as if kids were somehow savvier than, say, Richard Dawkins. Isn't she adorable? Keep her away from your pets.

Mitt Romney! He's not so bad, right? Romney actually believes evolution is fact, more or less. He believes God created everything and then, well, then Joseph Smith found it all etched on some shiny plates under a rock one day while out evading his seventeen petulant wives. Yes! Who needs creationism when you've got a whole religion to "translate" on a whim?

Awesome. Let's sum up! To the majority of the "serious" GOP presidential hopefuls -- and let's toss Sarah "I Really Love the NBA" Palin in there for kicks and adulterous, coke-snortin' giggles -- our little 70-million-year-old golden nugget, well, it does not actually exist in current spacetime.

It's a fake. A sham. It cannot be real. Carbon dating is a gimmick. The Ph.D scientists in question are frauds and swindlers as are the major university programs and departments to which they belong. And the media? Oh, honey. The media is clearly the devil himself for reporting such bogus findings as "fact."

Do you see? It all provides a deliriously high level of raging ignorance against which, I firmly believe, the nation will calmly recoil when it comes time to weigh the presidential options at the polling place.

Put the other way: No matter what you think of Obama's performance to date, the man's intelligence is undeniable, his education formidable, his values regarding science and truth unshakable. Among this gaggle of science-denying misfits, he's the only real adult in the room.

And me, I believe in intuition. I believe in a certain collective wisdom, a deep instinct among the hoi polloi when it comes time to pull the lever. I still believe most Americans, if they actually vote, will sense at some deep level just how destructive it would be to basic human intelligence to have a single one of these mental infants at the helm.

Of course, I said the same thing about Bush versus Gore. And Kerry. Whoops. But now the chasm is, unbelievably, even wider.

We must be careful. We must not deride these creationist nutballs too nonchalantly. We must remember that a mere 20 years ago the vast majority of the nation, upwards of 93 percent of us, knew evolution to be a fact, and only seven percent walked around smacking themselves in the face with coloring books and wondering when Jesus was going to return with lollipops and hugs.

And now? Bad news, America. According to a new survey, in a scant two decades, the number of Americans "uncertain" about evolution has tripled. What's worse, roughly third of the nation believe evolution to be "absolutely false." Only Turkey ranks lower in such basic smarts. Thanks, megachurches!

But is this sad report really irrefutable evidence that we're on a collision course with a great wall of dumb and the gas pedal is nailed to the floor and the passengers are all snorting oxycontin and chortling at Rush Limbaugh as we hurl toward the great Walmart in the sky? I'm not so sure.

For here is our not-so-big secret. (And here, for that matter, is how to make a creationist weep. I know! Finally!)

Tell them advanced civilizations do not ever really intellectually degenerate. Tell them that, developmentally speaking, the human brain is not really designed to unfurl and regress, to suddenly erase complex, deeply learned wisdom. It is not our nature to understand, say, electromagnetic waveform and photosynthesis and suddenly revert to thinking it's all magic fairies and gnome spit.

You can say we will never return to slavery. Our hospitals will never again lop off gangrenous limbs with rusty hacksaws and no anesthesia. Never again will we believe the earth is flat, that we are the center of the universe, that trepanning will release evil spirits from your skull. And sorry, but we will never again believe that everything was created when angry bearded grandpa suddenly snapped his fingers and belched.

You can thusly summarize: If the arc of history bends toward justice, it also lurches, hiccups and stumbles toward basic progressive intelligence. Barring some sort of environmental cataclysm and starting all over, there really is no going back.

As the tears begin to flow, you can offer solace: "It's OK," you can smile, "we just evolved that way."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Krugman under attack

The "left" in America?? Uh, right.

Last week in crazy

Plenty of crazy to go around. After all, ignorance seems to be celebrated in this country these days. At least on the right end of the political spectrum.

This again? Forever 21 was caught selling a shirt aimed toward young girls that bears the message, "Allergic To Algebra" and other "school is boring" slogans. Only weeks ago, JC Penney yanked a shirt with the message "I'm Too Pretty For Homework!" Seems like the perfect opportunity for some crafty retailer to launch a line of Brainy Girls attire.

Pat Robertson was candid about what he believes people should do when their spouses are afflicted with Alzheimer's: Divorce them. Hey, it's not like there's anything in the Bible about staying married till death, right?

A San Diego man named Jacob Kiss finally turned himself into police after holding up a 7-Eleven dressed as Gumby. At least it wasn't a bad publicity stunt for Eddie Murphy's Oscar-hosting stint.

Oh, Canada. Don't you know you're supposed to be the polite, sensible version of America that we gently mock but secretly want to be best friends with? So when a bunch of white University of Montreal students dressed up in blackface for an "Olympics tribute," we forget how tenderly you seduced us with your socialized medicine and John Candy movies. As an apology, we'll gladly accept Ryan Gosling in every movie.

After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley went on a taxpayer-funded state trip and racked up quite a bill, she was called out by Renee Dudley of The Post and Courier. In response, Haley told Laura Ingraham, "God bless that little girl at The Post and Courier. I mean, her job is to try and create conflict." She later apologized -- in the cattiest way imaginable. "Everyone can have a bad day. I'll forgive her bad story, if she'll forgive my poor choice of words."

Hey, you hear about this? Michele Bachmann learned the hard way how removed she is from mainstream opinion when Jay Leno, the milquiest milquetoast around, took her to task for her more, um, imaginative claims, such as that HPV vaccines cause mental retardation and that gay people can be "cured."

Two Denver men were arrested after they found their friend dead, and instead of taking him to the authorities, they drove his corpse around to restaurants and strip clubs -- all sponsored by their deceased friend's ATM card. It's like if "Weekend at Bernie's" had less Hawaiian shirts and more real-life horror.

Look, we're all for piling on Sarah Palin for her willful ignorance, her petty rhetorical style and her transparent, self-serving hypocrisy. But we're not fans of publicly (and sleazily) mocking her for who she chose to sleep with in the 1980s, especially if the reports focus on the race of said partners. We're looking at you, unofficial Palin biographer Joe McGinniss.

Rick Santorum ended the Tea Party Express GOP Presidential Debate on a note of ignorance when he accused Ron Paul of having the same agenda as al-Qaeda for writing on his website that 9/11 was caused as a result of the United States' foreign policy, not because they "hate our freedom." Worse, the crowd booed loudly at Paul's nuanced response, as it was more complicated than "let's bomb the entire Middle East."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Climate Reality Project

I have little doubt that the climate is changing. We need to take some serious actions, not to save the planet, but to save our civilization. The world will survive the infestation by humans. But for how long will humans survive if we keep pumping tons of pollutants into the atmosphere and plunder the seas and every facet of this gorgeous planet?

There's also no doubt in my mind that special interests, specifically the oil and gas industry, are sowing doubt, trying to keep us from taking serious actions.

If you missed the recent 24-hour "Climate Reality Project" on Current TV, you can see all of it here.

One set of highlights:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Watering trees

I recently heard that Hurricane Ike, three years ago, destroyed 6 million trees around the Houston area. So far with this drought this year, over 15 million trees have died just in the Houston area alone. That's mind-boggling.

What follows is an article from the Texas Forest Service about watering trees. If we don't get any rain anytime soon, we won't have any forests left.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — With the Lone Star State mired in a record-breaking drought, the parched trees that dot the landscape can no longer depend solely on Mother Nature to quench their thirst.

Just like people, trees need water to survive. Without it, they can’t carry nutrients up into their leaves or push the sugar they create down into their roots.

During damper days, a mature tree — a mighty oak, flowering magnolia or even a stately pecan — likely could make-do with just the rain provided by Mother Nature. But as she gets stingier and stingier with her watering can, that’s just not the case anymore.

“We’re seeing trees dying now, and the longer this goes on, the worse it’s going to get,” said Paul Johnson, a Texas Forest Service regional urban forester in San Antonio. “If you’ve got a tree in your yard … it’s stressed.”

Watering is the single most important thing you can do for your tree during a drought. Without water, trees stop growing and drop their leaves in an act of self-preservation. As the drought worsens, so does the tree, making it more susceptible to a potentially-deadly insect infestation or disease.

“Trees are amazingly resilient so things look a little better now than I expected, but they’re still under serious stress,” Johnson said. “It’s worth the investment in your water bill to avoid the very real cost of having a tree removed, never mind losing the shade and cooling effect and all the other things trees do for us.”

The key is making sure you water the right amount, the right way, Johnson said, explaining that watering too much or too little can be just as detrimental.

Texas Forest Service tree experts have compiled a list of watering tips that can help you nurse your trees through the drought:

  • Before you drag out the hose, check for and follow local water restrictions, which often are enacted during a prolonged drought. In San Antonio, for example, residents can water just one day a week during early morning and late evening hours.

  • Well-established, valuable, mature trees should be watered every week or two during times of major drought.

  • When you water, do so deeply — 6 to 8 inches into the soil under the foliage of the tree. Avoid shallow, frequent watering. You can measure the depth with a long screwdriver; taking note of how easy it slides into the soil.

  • The easiest way to give your tree a good, deep soak is with a soaker hose or sprinkler system. A mature tree needs about an inch of water — or 60 gallons per 10-foot by 10-foot area — every week or two.

  • Time your sprinkler or soaker hose so you’ll know how long to run them. With a sprinkler, place an empty tuna or cat food can near the tree and time how long it takes to fill it up. With a soaker hose, curl it up inside a kiddie pool, let it run for a set period of time and then measure how much water is released.

  • Young, newly-planted trees should be watered three times a week. During each watering, they need 5 gallons of water for every inch of stem — or trunk — diameter, which is measured 6 inches above the ground. So if your tree measures 6 inches in diameter, that’s 30 gallons of water, three times each week.

  • Water should be concentrated at the base of a new tree, which is why water bags are ideal. If you don’t have access to them, drill a few holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, place it next to the tree, fill it up and let the water slowly drain out.

  • Generally, a tree is considered established about two to three years after planting, but the ongoing, extreme drought is causing some older trees to struggle. Keep a close eye on any trees planted within the last seven years.

  • Another option is to reduce your watering needs by removing plants that surround your tree. Grass and trees often fight for available water. Replacing that grass — especially around new trees — with a 6-foot diameter, 2-inch deep circle of mulch can help keep moisture on the ground and available to the tree.

Don't bother praying for rain. It might make YOU FEEL better, but it won't do any good.

Avoid GMO foods

Do we really need genetically modified foods? Have we had them around long enough to know if they are truly safe or not?

GMO Foods to Avoid or

1. Learn about crops most likely to be genetically modified:

Soybeans - Gene taken from bacteria (Agrobacterium spp. strain CP4) and inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides.

Corn - There are two main varieties of GE corn. One has a Gene from the lepidoptera pathogen microorganism Bacillus thuringiensis inserted to produce the Bt toxin, which poisons insect pests. There are also several which are resistant to various herbicides. Present in high fructose corn syrup and glucose/fructose which is prevalent in a wide variety of foods in America.

Rapeseed/Canola - Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to herbicide.

Sugar beets - Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

Rice - Genetically modified to resist herbicides; not currently available for human consumption, but trace amounts of one GM long-grained variety (LLRICE601) may have entered the food supply in the USA and Europe. More recently, golden rice, a different strain of rice has been engineered to produce significantly higher levels of beta carotene, which the body uses to produce vitamin A. Golden rice is still undergoing testing to determine if it is safe for human consumption.

Cotton - engineered to produce Bt toxin. The seeds are pressed into cottonseed oil, which is a common ingredient in vegetable oil and margarine.

Dairy - Cows injected with GE hormone rBGH/rBST; possibly fed GM grains and hay.
Aspartame/AminoSweet - Addictive and dangerous artificial sweetener commonly found in chewing gum and "diet" beverages. A building block ofaspartame, the amino acid phenylalanine, is usually manufactured with the aid of genetically modified E. coli bacteria. This process has been used industrially in the USA for many years.

Papayas - Virus resistance: ''immunization" of papayas through transfer of the gene for the envelope protein of the pathogenic virus (particularly papaya ringspot virus – ( PR virus) are a major problem in papaya cultivation; they can lead to a drastic loss of yield. In Hawaii during the 1990s, half of the papaya harvests were lost due to PR virus infections. The development and cultivation of virus-resistant papayas have largely solved this problem.

Farm Raised Salmon - The genetically altered salmon eggs include a growth hormone gene that cause them to reach full size in about half the time it takes regular salmon to reach the same size. Farm-raised salmon contain significantly more dioxins and other potentially cancer-causing pollutants than salmon caught in the wild, says a study that could confuse consumers long told the fish is heart-healthy. Eating more than a meal of farm-raised salmon per month, depending on its country of origin, could slightly increase the risk of getting cancer later in life.

2. Buy food labeled 100% organic.

The US and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to label something 100% organic if that food has been genetically modified or been fed genetically modified feed. However, you may find that organic food is more expensive and different in appearance from conventional products. Also, just because something says "organic" on it does not mean that it does not contain GMs. In fact, it can still contain up to 30% GMs, so be sure the labels say 100% organic.

This applies to eggs, as well. Eggs labeled "free-range", "natural", or "cage-free" are not necessarily GE-free; look for eggs to be 100% organic.

3. Recognize fruit and vegetable label numbers.

If it is a 4-digit number, the food is conventionally produced.

If it is a 5-digit number beginning with an 8, it is GM. However, do not trust
that GMO foods will have a PLU identifying it as such, because PLU labeling is optional.

If it is a 5-digit number beginning with a 9, it is organic.

4. Purchase beef that is 100% grass-fed.

Most cattle in the U.S. are grass-fed, but spend the last portion of their lives in feedlots where they may be given GM corn, the purpose of which is to increase intramuscular fat and marbling. If you're looking to stay away from GMOs, make sure the cattle were 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed (sometimes referred to as grass-finished or pasture-finished)? The same applies to meat from other herbivores such as sheep. There is also the slight possibility that the animals were fed GM alfalfa, although this is less likely if you buy meat locally. With non-ruminants like pigs and poultry that cannot be 100% grass-fed, it's better to look for meat that is 100% organic.

5. Seek products that are specifically labeled as non-GM or GMO-free.

However, it is rare to find products labeled as such. You can also research websites that list companies and foods that do not use genetically modified foods, but be aware that information is often incomplete and conflicting interests may not be declared.

6. Shop locally.

Although more than half of all GM foods are produced in the US, most of it comes from large, industrial farms. By shopping at farmers' markets, signing up for a subscription from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, or patronizing a local co-op, you may be able to avoid GM products and possibly save money at the same time.

More and more small farms are offering grains and meat directly to customers, in addition to the usual fare (vegetables, fruit, and herbs).

Shopping locally may also give you the opportunity to speak to the farmer and find out how he or she feels about GMOs and whether or not they use them in their own operation.

7. Buy natural foods.

Favor foods that you can cook and prepare yourself, rather than foods that are processed or prepared (e.g. anything that comes in a box or a bag, including fast food). What you lose in convenience, you may recover in money saved and satisfaction gained, as well as increased peace of mind. Try cooking a meal from scratch once or twice a week--you may enjoy it and decide to do it more often.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

4 More Years

I feel somewhat the same way. Obama has severely disappointed me, and no doubt millions of other Democrats, but considering the alternatives, and as it appears that Obama will have no primary opponents ... (sigh)


What a day, September 14. Three great people were born on this day, that I am aware of. Two of them are noted below, and the other, my wonderful wife, who turns 56 today. Perhaps someday she will be written about like these two below. Kinda doubtful, but I'll see what I can do.

On this date in 1879, Margaret Sanger (née Higgins), was born.

Watching her mother die at age 48 of tuberculosis after bearing 11 children changed not only the course of Margaret's life, but world history.

As a young child, Margaret was introduced to the power of the Catholic Church when the local priest locked the doors of the town hall to prevent agnostic Robert Ingersoll from speaking in Corning, N.Y. Margaret wrote in her autobiography of the spellbinding experience of hearing Ingersoll speak in the woods instead.

She herself would later personally repeatedly experience being locked out of public halls, even countries, under Catholic pressure. Her experience doing obstetrical nursing of the poor in New York City as a young mother herself galvanized her conviction that women had the right to control fertility.

Sanger's turning point was witnessing the death of patient Sadie Sachs from a second illegal abortion. When the 28-year-old mother had pleaded with her doctor for birth control, he had responded: "Tell Jake to sleep on the roof." Sanger researched contraception (coining the term birth control), while editing a monthly newspaper, The Woman Rebel (1914). Its purpose: to challenge the 1873 Comstock Act classifying contraception as "indecent articles" and preventing dissemination of contraceptive information.

Facing 45 years in prison when indicted under the Act, Sanger fled the country, leaving behind a book, "Family Limitation." It sold 10 million copies while Sanger continued research in England and the Netherlands. When she returned to the United States, she was rearrested. Then her young daughter, Peggy, died of pneumonia in November 1915. Devastated, Sanger went on a headline-making speaking tour to challenge the charges, which were dropped in 1916.

She opened the first birth control clinic that year, which was raided, and spent the next two decades educating physicians about birth control and overseeing the creation of birth control clinics around America. In 1934, she brought the lawsuit that finally overturned much of the repressive Comstock Act. Over her lifetime, she was jailed eight times, brought diaphragms to the United States and distributed them, helped develop contraceptive jelly, founded Planned Parenthood, and commissioned the creation of the birth control pill.

Doing more to free women than any other individual, she was hailed as the "heroine" of history by H.G. Wells and named "Woman of the Century" by a U.S. magazine the year of her death. D. 1966.

“No Gods—No Masters”
— Motto of Margaret Sanger's newspaper, The Woman Rebel.

For more about Sanger and her views on religion, see Women Without Superstition. Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor


Alexander von Humboldt
September 14, 2011

On this date in 1769, Alexander von Humboldt, who would come to be known as one of the greatest explorers of his time, was born in Berlin.

Humboldt and his older brother, Karl Wilhelm, were educated by private tutors in the classics, French, mathematics, philosophy, politics and law. Botany quickly became Humboldt's favorite subject and, even at an early age, he collected and classified insects and plants at his family's estate in Tegel, near Berlin.

At 16 years of age, Humboldt attended physics lectures at a physician's home, learned of Benjamin Franklin, and ultimately installed a lightning rod on Castle Tegel, which the local orthodox clergy deemed "blasphemous."

In 1792, at 22 years of age, Humboldt completed his studies in geology (a new science at that time), became an inspector of mines and, later, an advocate for the welfare of miners. Humboldt was introduced to Goethe in 1794, and the two became close friends and intellectual comrades. Goethe reportedly said that he could learn more in one hour of conversation with Humboldt than in a week of reading books.

Restless and curious about the world, Humboldt resigned from the mining business, traveled around Europe (developing revolutionary theories on the geological structure of Spain), and, in 1799, embarked on an expedition of scientific discovery. He traveled for 5 years, visiting and exploring the Americas, where he became horrified by the practice of slavery.

On this voyage, in addition to establishing the foundations of geography and meteorology, Humboldt met Thomas Jefferson, and was deeply impressed by his enlightened political views but could not reconcile that he nevertheless owned slaves.

While in South America, Humboldt contracted malaria and was nursed back to health by cannibals. He wrote with dismay about their treatment by the Jesuits and remarked at their deep sense of humanity.Upon his return to Europe, Humboldt published writings of his travels and scientific discoveries, which brought him fame throughout Europe.

He became an active voice in politics, supporting the 1848 revolutions, universal political rights, the emancipation of the Jews, and championing the rights of poor artists and scientists that faced persecution. In 1845, at 77, Humboldt wrote Kosmos: Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung, hailed as one of the century's most extraordinary scientific works. Kosmos attempted to explain the unity of the Universe with naturalistic (rather than spiritual) laws, easily understandable to the public. It was never finished but it was an encyclopedic treasure of all that was known of the physical sciences in the mid-nineteenth century.

Among Humboldt's other achievements, he was the first to raise anthropologists' awareness of the neglected Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations; he was the first in astronomy to observe a meteor shower with scientific instruments; for the field of botany he collected over 60,000 plants and identified 3,500 new species; his maps of Central and South America were the first for geographers; and in geology, he was the first to accurately understand volcanic activity.

Humboldt died at age 89 in the same year Origin of the Species was published. A state funeral was held for him with more than 600 people (including many students) in attendance. He was buried in Tegel next to his brother. D. 1859.

“One of the most encyclopedic scientists of the time, Humboldt was a
Pantheist like his friend Goethe, and a contemptuous anti-clerical like his
friend F. Arago . . . His letters use very strong language about the Churches to
the end of his life. He calls Luther ‘that diabolical reformer.’ ”
— Joseph McCabe, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists 1998, p.

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

Sunday, September 11, 2011

FFRF Houston chapter?

I have the opportunity to found the Houston Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. All I have to do is locate 10 Houston-area freethinkers. A city of this size? No problem. You just have to hope that the Christinistas don't pull a gun on you. But do I want to go to the hassle? And become a target?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Perry Tales

Sounds like ... "fairy tales!"

How Rick Perry Has Been on the Public Dole His Whole Life
by Jim Hightower

When this taxpayer-supported lifer flits into your town to declare that he will slash public benefits, he means in your life, not his.

September 6, 2011 - Presidential wannabe Rick Perry is flitting all around the country -- hither, thither and yon -- spreading little "Perry Tales" about himself and the many wonders he has worked as governor of Texas.

His top Perry Tale is a creationist story about what he has modestly branded "The Texas Miracle." While the rest of the country is mired in joblessness, says the miracle worker, his state has added 1.2 million jobs during his 10-year tenure.

I've built "a job-creating machine," the governor gushed during one of his recent flits across Iowa, and a Perry PR aide smugly added, "The governor's job creation record speaks for itself."

Actually, it doesn't. Far from having the best unemployment rate in the nation, the Lone Star State ranks a middling 26th, behind New York, Massachusetts and other states whose "liberal" governments he routinely mocks.

Even more damning, Perry's Texas is not creating nearly enough jobs to keep up with its fast-growing population. Those 1.2 million new positions are 629,000 short of the jobs needed just to bring the state's employment level back up to where it was in 2007. Some miracle.

Worse, probe even a millimeter into the million-jobs number that he is sprinkling around like fairy dust, and you'll learn that Perry's jobs are mostly "jobettes" that can't sustain a family. They come with very low pay, no health care or pension, and no employment security, labor rights or upward mobility -- many are only part-time and/or temporary positions.

Here's a particularly revealing stat that the Perry pixies don't want us to see: On his watch as governor, Texas added more minimum wage jobs than all the other 49 states combined. More than half a million Texans now work for $7.25 an hour or less. He can brag that he's brought Texans down into a tie with Mississippi for the highest percentage of workers reduced to poverty pay.

Spreading even more fairy dust, Perry claims that his Texas Miracle is the result of him keeping the government out of the private sector's way. But peek behind that ideological curtain, and you'll find this startling fact: During Perry's decade, the greatest job growth by far has come from the public sector, which has more than doubled the number of new jobs created by the private sector.

One out of six employed Texans are now teachers, police officers, highway engineers, military personnel or other government workers -- and many of these jobs were created with the federal money that Perry-the-candidate now loudly denounces. Indeed, he's running around ranting about President Obama's stimulus program, but he gladly accepted the third highest amount of stimulus funds taken by the 50 states. There's his miracle.

Interestingly, even his tea-partyish hatred -- nay, loathing! -- of big government's intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens turns out to be just another Perry Tale. In fact, there would be no Rick Perry without the steady "intrusion" of government into his life.

Local taxpayers in Haskell County put him through their public school system -- for free. He and his family were dry-land cotton farmers, and federal taxpayers helped support them with thousands of dollars in crop subsidies -- Perry personally took $80,000 in farm payments.

State and federal taxpayers financed his college education at Texas A&M, even giving him the extracurricular opportunity to be a cheerleader. Upon graduation, he spent four years on the federal payroll as an Air Force transport pilot who never did any combat duty.

Then, in 1984, Perry hit the mother lode of government pay by moving into elected office -- squatting there for 27 years and counting. In addition to getting regular paychecks from taxpayers for nearly three decades as a state representative, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor, he also receives platinum-level health care coverage and a generous pension from the state, plus $10,000 a month for renting a luxury suburban home, a covey of political and personal aides and even a publicly paid subscription to Food & Wine magazine.

So when this taxpayer-supported lifer flits into your town to declare that he will slash public benefits and make government "as inconsequential as possible," he means in your life, not his.

Perry literally puts the "hype" in hypocrisy. Forget his tall tales and political B.S. -- look at what he actually does.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, "Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow." (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly "Hightower Lowdown," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We're Cool

Oh, what a relief! We may be getting pretty fucked up financially and politically as a country, but we're still the coolest!

The world still thinks Americans are "coolest" - poll

LONDON (Reuters) - They may be witnessing their global superpower influence decline in the face of challenges from other emerging players on the world stage, but Americans have been voted the world's "coolest nationality" in an international poll.

Social networking site ( asked 30,000 people across 15 countries to name the coolest nationality and also found that the Spanish were considered the coolest Europeans, Brazilians the coolest Latin Americans and Belgians the globe's least cool nationality.

"We hear a lot in the media about anti-Americanism," says Lloyd Price, Badoo's Director of Marketing. "But we sometimes forget how many people across the world consider Americans seriously cool."

Of course, not all Americans are cool far from it. Some like Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Samuel L. Jackson, Johnny Depp and Quentin Tarantino are way cooler than others.

Americans, however, are the dudes who invented cool and who still embody it in many fields from music to movies and TV to technology.

"America," says Price, "boasts the world's coolest leader, Obama; the coolest rappers, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg; and the coolest man in technology, Steve Jobs of Apple, the man who even made geeks cool."

Brazilians are ranked the second coolest nationality in the Badoo poll and the coolest Latin Americans, ahead of Mexicans and Argentinians. The Spanish, in third place, are the coolest Europeans.

The French are voted cooler than the British, and Canadians cooler than the Belgians. This may come as a relief for Canadians, who are sometimes viewed as chronically uncool.

Or, as Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian politician, once put it: "Paris, Texas stands as a metaphor for broken dreams; Paris, Saskatchewan just sounds ridiculous."

1. Americans
2. Brazilians
3. Spanish
4. Italians
5. French
6. British
7. Dutch
8. Mexicans
9. Argentinians
10. Russians

1. Belgians
2. Poles
3. Turks
4. Canadians
5. Germans


Monday, September 5, 2011

Black Collar Crime Blotter

It's that time, once again, kids, for the Black Collar Crime Blotter. Some have argued against publishing lists such as this by stating that this just shows that the priesthood is beset with the same afflictions and problems as the non-priesthood is.

To which I say, exactly! Becoming a priest, or preacher, or rabbi, or whatever your particular branch of superstition calls it, does NOTHING to improve on men's character. One might think that those who are "called" to the clergy are somehow "special," but no, they are still the same old perverts they were before joining the clergy. Its possible that joining the clergy makes them WORSE, giving them access to all sorts of ... things.

This is certainly not to say that those in the clergy have done absolutely no good. Indeed, there are many good people in the clergy, just as there are many people NOT in the clergy.

Does God try to communicate with us through the weather, Michelle Bachmann?

Someday the mass will reach critical and turn away from the old superstitions and finally "come into the light" of reason.

(general time frame for all of these offenses is December 2010-January 2011)

Rev. Otis Holland, Henderson, NV: Sexual assault of a minor under 14 and lewdness with a child. Holland, pastor of United Faith, is accused of molesting a girl over a period of 2 years. The small congregation meets in the lobby of Rob's Tax Service in Henderson.

The girl told police Holland had a "secret room" in his home with a video camera and that her mother dropped her off there for counseling. The girl said he threatened her with going to hell and breaking up the church if she told anyone. The girl told police Holland "snowballs the parents to get to the kids." Source: KNTV News, 1-10-11

Rev. Felipe DeJesus Coronel, 55, San Antonio, TX: Conspiracy to defraud the government, manufacturing counterfeit permanent resident cards and making a false statement to authorities. Coronet, pastor of Ministerios Epicentro Donde Nace La Bendicin in Austin before moving to San Antonio, was indicted for selling fake "green" cards and Social Security cards. Luis Angel Tovar, 28, faces similar charges.

Undercover agents placed orders through Tovar for the false documents and watched secretly as he got them from Coronel, an affidavit said. Source: San Antonio Express-News, 1-611

Rev. Donald Belcher, 82, Yaak, MT: Indicted by a Maryland grand jury on child sexual abuse charges. Belcher was vicar of Church of the Holy Cross in Street, MD, from 2001 -07. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has started the process of barring him from exercising priestly functions and determining whether pastoral care is needed for alleged victims. Source: Baltimore Sun, 1-5-11

Robert Klatt, 32, San Jose, CA: Lewd and lascivious conduct. Klatt, a volunteer youth minister at an unnamed San Jose church, was arrested in Las Vegas, NV. The incidents with 2 teen boys allegedly occurred from January to June 2009. Authorities are seeking information from more possible victims. Source: Mercury News, 1-5-11

Rev. Eric Dejaeger, 63, a Catholic priest wanted in Canada since 2002 on child sex charges, was arrested in his native Belgium for overstaying his visitor's visa. A Canadian citizen since 1994, Dejaeger served 18 months of a 5-year sentence in 1990 for assaulting lnuit children in what is now Nunavut Territory.

New allegations surfaced after he was released, and he fled the country. Officials hope to extradite him as soon as possible. Source: BBC, 1-5-11

Rev. Tommy Gene Daniels, 48, Rio Linda, CA: 6 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old and sexual conduct with a child. Daniels, head pastor at First Baptist Church who has been a foster parent and day care provider, is accused in incidents alleged to have occurred between June 2004 and June 2007. Two alleged victims have come forward.

Daniels actively worked for the passage of Prop. 8 to ban gay couples from marrying. Source: Sacramento Bee, 12-30-10

Rev. Sandy McGriff , 52, Grand Prairie, TX: Burglary and resisting arrest. McGriff, pastor of Church of the Living God (located in the back of her husband's furniture store) is accused of stealing more than $10,000 worth of clothing, designer purses and electronics on Christmas Eve from the home of a church member, Serita Agnew.

McGriff told police she was in the neighborhood to pick up a peach cobbler from a friend when she saw 2 men leaving Agnew's house. When she saw a broken window, she pulled her black Jaguar in the driveway and climbed through the window. Police found items from the house in the back seat of her car after a neighbor called to report a burglary. McGriff told police she was trying to protect Agnew's property in case the men returned. The neighbor told police a different story, and the arrest affidavit said she was carrying fur coats out the back door when police arrived.

Police said she appeared to have been drinking. McGriff admitted having a criminal record, including a prostitution conviction, but said since 1988 she has "walked the straight and narrow path." Source: Dallas Morning News, 12-28-10

Rev. Earl Post Jr., Canton, TX: Felony stalking. Post, founder of Road to Hope Ministry, is accused of stalking a 1 7-year-old girl and is suspected of allowing at least one registered sex offender to volunteer when children are present.

Police arrested him for stalking while a reporter was at the ministry talking to Post, volunteers and charitable donors about the sex offender allegation. Source: KLTV News, 1222-10

Jonathan Hinton, 37, Venice, FL: 4 counts of child molestation on a warrant from Madison County, IN. He is contemporary worship director at Grace United Methodist Church in Venice. Hinton is alleged to have molested a girl over a period of 2 years, starting when she was 12, while he was youth pastor at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Tipton, IN.

Rev. Jay Kowalski said Hinton had been working at Grace Church for about a year and had passed a background check. The church has a policy of never leaving a child alone with a single adult, Kowalski said. Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12-21-10

Paula Kay Sparks, 47, Lincoln, NE: Suspicion of theft. Sparks was director at Holy Family Catholic Child Care Center, where a shortfall of $24,411 was detected after she left the job.

Police Officer Katie Flood said Sparks allegedly erased financial records and did not deposit payments from parents. A backup of financial records at an offsite location showed the missing sum. Source: Journal Star, 12-21-10

John W. Elder, 61 , Bremen, PA: 9 counts of theft, 12 counts of forgery and 3 counts of insurance fraud. Elder, treasurer of the Calvary United Methodist Board of Trustees and a former agent with Monumental Life Insurance, is accused of collecting premiums from victims and diverting the money to his personal accounts. Church leaders started investigating after finding overdrawn accounts. Source: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 12-21-10

Rev. Ivory McDaniels, 68, Fordyce, AR: 4 counts of 2nd-degree sexual assault. McDaniels, pastor at Greenville First Baptist Church for 16 years, is alleged to have had sexual contact with 4 teen girls as a substitute high school teacher.

A police report said, "McDaniels grabbed her by her arm, pulled her in his lap, touching her." Another girl said, "McDaniels put his arms around her legs and started rubbing her legs up and down while he talked to her."

No assaults are as yet alleged at church, but a parent told a news crew, "They say everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but I wouldn't go back to that church. That's my opinion. I wouldn't go back and I wouldn't send my kids back." Source: KATV News, 12-20-10

Rev. David Pomales, 51, Bridgeport, CT: 2nd-degree breach of peace. Pomales, pastor at La Primera Iglesias de Dios Church, his son and daughter and 3 other persons were all arrested on the same charge for "heavy fighting" outside the church on a Saturday night. Police used pepper spray to break up the fight, which stemmed from a domestic dispute. Source: Connecticut Post, 12-20- 10

Rev. Mark Griggs, 48, Olmsted Falls, OH: 112 counts of downloading, trading and possessing child pornography. Griggs, co-pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, is among 27 adults and 3 juveniles charged in a probe called "Operation Lake Effect." Prosecutors alleged he traded child porn images from his home and church computers. Source: WJT-TV, 12-16-10

Baron Hopgood, 35, Oklahoma City, OK: 4 counts of obtaining under false pretenses. The founder of Baron Hopgood Ministries also had an outstanding warrant for defrauding an innkeeper. It's alleged he knowingly wrote checks for $5,467 on a closed bank account. He's also being sued by ex-employees who said their paychecks bounced. Source: The Oklahoman, 12-16-10

Rev. Robert Bumham, 36, Bentonville, AR: Sexual solicitation. Bumham, pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, was among 7 people arrested in a prostitution sting at a hotel.

According to his wife's Twitter account, they moved to Bentonville from Denver in November. A spokesman confirmed that the church has accepted Bumham's resignation. Source: KSPR News, 12-10-10

Sister Marie Thornton, 62, New Rochelle, NY: Embezzlement. Thornton, a Sisters of St. Joseph nun and chief financial officer at Iona College, is charged with embezzling $850,000. The Catholic college, 15 miles from Manhattan, has fired her, and her religious order has restricted her activities.

Iona disclosed the theft to the IRS on its 2008 tax forms, which showed an employee stole about $80,000 a year over 10 years by using false vendor invoices, fraudulent checks and credit card bills. The college did not reveal the theft publicly or report the crime to law enforcement. Source: AP, 12-10-10

Rev. Edward E. Davis, 74, Geneva, AL: 2nd-degree sodomy. David, a retired pastor, is accused of assaulting a teen boy from Florida at Davis' home and in another county.

"He just basically baited, (ured him in and befriended him," said police Lt. Ricky Morgan. "He met him in a church in Holmes County." Source: Dothan Eagle, 12-3-10

Joshua Amoroso, 21, Colorado Springs, CO: Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. Amoroso, youth pastor at Gateway Church, is alleged to have had sex with a 14-year-old girl at least 15 times, the first time in his home while his wife was at work.

The arrest affidavit said the girl told police they had sex several times in the home of Gateway Senior Pastor Derek Sissel while Amoroso was house-sitting. Police went to Amoroso's home to verify her description of its blue walls and blue bedding she'd earlier described to a sexual assault counselor. Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, 12-4-10

Edwin Benjamin Rosette Sr., 57, Newport News, VA: Rape. Rosette, who listed his occupation as ordained minister and rape crisis counselor at Hampton Mental Health Associates, is accused of sexually assaulting a girl, now 19, starting when she was about 10 until she was 18. He faces a single rape count.

"Mr. Rosette had sex with her after she said, 'No I dont want to,' " the criminal complaint said.

Police suspect he may have been producing child porn. The girl noticed a video camera with a red light on at times. They confiscated several video and still cameras, 60 CDs, 80 VHS tapes, 21 floppy disks, several laptops, hard drives, thumb drives and 7 cell phones. Source: Daily Press, 12-4-10

Rev. Alberto Maullon, 52, Nassau Bay, TX: Public lewdness. Maullon, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, was granted a leave of absence after his arrest in a sting at Big City Adult Bookstore. A vice officer said Maullon "whipped his junk out" in a private viewing booth with the officer present. Source: KPRC News, 12-3-10

Curtis Burkhardt, 43, Grand Blanc, Ml: Indecent exposure by a sexually delinquent person. Burkhardt is a youth volunteer at First Baptist Church. He's accused of exposing himself to an 11 -year-old girl at a campground last August while his own 5-year-old daughter sat on his lap. The girl told police he asked on the way to the campground about her 16-year-old sister's sexuality and if she'd ever seen male genitalia.

The sister then told police Burkhardt had exposed himself about 2 years ago when she was babysitting at his home. He was convicted in 2001 for exposing himself in a McDonald's restaurant to a 3-year-old girl and her mother. Source: Mt. Clemens Daily Tribune, 11-29-10

Yahudah Israel, 51 , Demopolis, AL: 1 st-degree rape and 2nd-degree rape. Israel, pastor of an independent church, was indicted by a grand jury in a case involving a female minor. Police Chief Tommie Reese said the investigation lasted nearly a year. Bail was set at $500,000. Source: Demopolis Times, 11-20-10

Pleaded / Convicted

Brian Spillane, 67, Sydney, AUS: Convicted of 9 counts of indecent assault. Spillane, who left the Catholic priesthood in 2004, faces 135 similar charges, set for 4 trials in 2011. Allegations by 44 former pupils, male and female, at St. Stanislaus College, Bathurst, detail various abusive sexual practices Spillane is accused of as far back as the 1 970s. Others involve alleged incidents while Spillane was a traveling Vincentian Order priest visiting remote areas.

Two sisters, ages 8 and 10 at the time, are among his accusers. The older girl testified, "I can still taste the scotch in my mouth and I can feel the stubble of him on my face."

Spillane was refused bail after the 9 convictions. As he was led away, he called out, "Please God, help me." Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 12-1-10


Rev. Timothy Dillmuth 34, Stowe, ME; Richard Eland, 62, Robert Gagnon, 70, both of Brownfield, ME: 30 days in jail, suspended, fines of $2,000 each and probation. Dillmuth is pastor at Valley Christian Church, a storefront church in Redstone where Eland and Gagnon are elders. They were found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report they suspected a 12-year-old girl was sexually abused by another church member.

An investigator said Eland told him "God is a higher authority" than the police and they would not hesitate to act similarly in the future. Source: WMWV News, 12-22-10

Rev. Timothy Parker, 40, Westgate, IA: 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to 2 counts of 3rd-degree sexual abuse. Parker, pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church, admitted molesting a 12-year-old female relative at the church in 2009. Prosecutors said he fondled or performed oral sex on the girl on 3 occasions. Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, 12-21-10

Rev. Daniel Lynch, 62, Takoma Park, MD: Pleaded guilty to creating a public disturbance and was fined $90. Charges of illegal use of a facsimile firearm and 2nd-degree breach of peace were dropped. A Catholic priest for 40 years, Lynch was staying at his sister's in Bridgeport, CT. Police responding to a complaint of a man firing a gun at another man burst in and tackled Lynch.

Lynch 's lawyer said it was a practical joke by Lynch on an old friend and that the gun was a starter pistol used for races. Source: Connecticut Post, 12-10-10

Salvatore LoRusso, 68, Montauk, NY: 95 days in jail and 6 years' probation on harassment and stalking convictions in 3 separate cases. LoRusso, founder of a religious group called House of David, was sentenced in Honesdale, PA.

Some of the victims were former House of David members.

From 2005-07, LoRusso and several accomplices sent thousands of malicious faxes to businesses and institutions frequented by his daughter, her family and other victims. Source: Wayne Independent, 12-10-10

Vaughn Reeves, 66, Sullivan, IN: 54 years in prison for 9 counts of securities fraud. Reeves, a former pastor, and his sons used a nowdefunct company, Alanar, to convince 11,000 investors to buy bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on construction projects at about 150 churches. They used sales pitches that included prayers and bible passages, then diverted money from new investors to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million. Source: Indianapolis Star, 12-8-10

Tony Walsh, 57, Dublin, IRE: 16 years in prison, with 4 suspended. The defrocked Catholic priest was convicted of serially raping 3 boys more than 20 years ago, but other investigators compiling the Murphy Report concluded he raped and molested hundreds of boys as a priest from 1978-96.

Walsh often impersonated Elvis in a song-and-dance production popular with children called the "All Priests Show." One victim, age 7 at the time, testified Walsh tied him up with cords from his vestments before raping him on the altar. He played an Elvis album to drown out the noise. He later said the boy would "bum in hell for all eternity" if he told anyone.

While appealing a 1993 attempt to defrock him, he sexually assaulted the 11 -year-old grandson of the deceased in a pub restroom after the funeral. The Vatican had overruled the verdict of the archdiocese's canonical trial and ordered him to be sent to a monastery. Not until 16 years after the first complaint did the Vatican agree to defrock him in 1996.

The Murphy Report documented how by 1985 at least 7 priests were aware of concerns about Walsh's behavior but nothing was done. The first complaint came from an 8-year-old boy's parents in 1978, 2 days after his appointment to Ballyfermot parish. Irish civil and church authorities and the Vatican failed to pursue multiple abuse allegations, the report said.

On Jan. 2, Walsh was attacked with a sharp weapon by a fellow inmate after Mass at Midlands Prison, County Laois, and needed 12 stitches to close a head wound. Source: AP, 1217-10; Irish Independent, 1-4-11

Ramon Moreno, 20, Boca Raton, FL: 3 years in prison and 5 years' probation after pleading guilty to 9 counts of possession of child pornography. Moreno told police he was a youth leader at Frontline Christian Center, but a pastor there said Moreno was merely a church member who often volunteered and was never in a leadership position.

The arrest report said Moreno had images of children having sex with adults. Source: Sun Sentinel, 12-3-10

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Diocese of New Ulm, MN, is being sued by a Nevada man who claims he was sexually abused as an 8-year-old by Rev. Francis Markey, a Catholic priest recently extradited from Indiana to Ireland on charges he sexually abused a boy there in 1968.

The suit alleges Markey abused the plaintiff in 1982 at St. Andrew's Parish in Granite Falls. The suit also names treatment facilities in Ireland and New Mexico as defendants and the Irish Diocese of Clogher. Source: KSTP News, 1-11-11

The Diocese of Worcester, MA, and defrocked priest Ronald Provost are defendants in a suit filed by a Worcester County man in his late 30s who alleges Provost sexually assaulted him during the priest's tenure at Holy Angels Church in Upton between 1979-82.

Provost was convicted in 1993 of soliciting a child to pose in a state of sexual nudity, said Carmen Durso, the Worcester County victim's lawyer.

During the 1993 investigation, Provost showed police at least 100 nude photos of boys, but the diocese didn't try to determine victims' identities, Durso said.

Durso said according to a study he conducted, victims on average were 46 years old before they reported abuse. "Males in particular suppress this because of all the shame that's involved with another male having sexual contact with them." Source: Milford Daily News, 1-9-11

The Catholic Knights of Columbus organization is being sued separately for $5 million by 2 men from Texas and Kansas who allege that Juan "Julian" Rivera, a former leader of the Columbian Squires in Brownsville, TX, sexually abused them in the 1970s and 1980s. The Squires is a Knights-sponsored group for males ages 10-18. The suits were filed in New Haven, CT, the Knights' national headquarters.

Kansan Jim Dennany, 49, alleges Rivera sexually abused him in 1973-77, plying him with alcohol and pornography. Hector Stone, 42, Brownsville, made similar allegations, and alleges Rivera told him if he said anything he'd cut off a body part and send it to Stone's mother.

"I was going to take this to my grave. Julian Rivera sexually abused me for 6 years from the ages of 12 to 18 years old," Stone said, with his lawyer by his side.

Rivera also "shared" the boy with another adult leader of the Squires in another city, the lawsuit states.

Stone said he reported the abuse to the Knights in 1986, who supposedly concealed his claim and intimidated him into not making it public. The Knights claim no knowledge of the allegations until December 2009.

Rivera ended his affiliation with the Brownsville Knights in January 2010. Source: Washington Post, 12-14-10; KGBT News, 12-15-10

Civil Lawsuits Settled

St. Dennis Catholic Parish, Galena, MD, reached a $1.7 million settlement with Joseph Curry, 40, Smyrna, DE, who alleged that he was molested starting in 1981 by the late Rev. Edward Carley. The parish agreed to also issue a public apology and acknowledge that Carley molested Curry while he was learning to be an altar boy. The suit said the abuse continued until 1986.

The parish is part of the Diocese of Wilmington, DE, which named Carley in 2005 as an abuser of children. He died in 1998. Curry also sued the diocese, but that part of the suit was delayed when the diocese declared bankruptcy. Source: AP, 1-5-11


The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to past, current and pending sexual abuse suits. The archdiocese has paid $29 million to settle about 200 claims. Suits are pending that accuse 6 more priests, including a case with about 200 alleged victims at a school for the deaf. The petition lists $50 million in debts, not including payments related to upcoming lawsuits.

The archdiocese, with assets of $98.4 million, is the 8th to seek bankruptcy since 2002. Others are Davenport, Iowa; Fairbanks, Alaska; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; Spokane, Wash.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Wilmington, Del.

Attorney Jeff Anderson said he thought the filing was an attempt to delay the plaintiffs' deposition of former Bishop Richard Sklba. Church officials elsewhere have filed on the eve of trials of major depositions to avoid making information public, he said.

Chapter 11 reorganization means normal activities can be continued, said spokesman Jerry Topczewski. "People should know this doesn't mean we're going out of business." Source: AP, 1-4-11

Legal Developments

A New York state appeals court dismissed a suit against Rev. Lawrence Carrino and Grace Gospel Church of Suffolk for breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Carrino was conducting love affairs with Valerie Spielman and Cindy Gallo, who are sisters. Once they found out, they both ended the relationship.

The sisters did not prove Carrino had "control and dominance" over them, the court said. "Although both sisters allege facts which they contend made them uniquely vulnerable and incapable of self-protection, that contention is belied by the acknowledgement in the complaint that they both promptly ended their relationships with Carrino once they learned he was having affairs with both of them." Source: Courthouse News, 12-9-10


Rabbi Gershon Kranczer, 58, Brooklyn, NY: Kranczer, who resigned in September as executive director and principal at Yeshiva Tehila L'Dovid, a school for boys with learning disabilities in Midwood, is suspected of engaging in a long-term sexual relationship with at least one of his daughters.

His son, Asher Kranczer, 21 , and the rabbi are believed to have fled to Israel. Another son, Yechezkel Kranczer, 24, turned himself in and faces 70 counts of sexual abuse and 2 counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Another son, age 15, is charged with sexual abuse of his 8-year-old sister.

The rabbi and his wife have 14 children, ranging in age from 8 to 28, police said. The children under 18 have been removed from the home. The allegations surfaced when a 20-year-old daughter working as a teacher's aide told a staff member she had been raped by her father repeatedly for 15 years. The alleged female victims are now 20, 19, 17 and 8. Source: Wall Street Journal, 12-4-10

Resigned / Removed

Rev. David Tolliver, Jefferson City, MO: Tolliver, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, resigned "due to immoral behavior with a woman," according to a statement from the 600,000-member organization with about 2,000 Southern Baptist churches.

"It is disheartening to learn of any fellow believer succumbing to sinful choices," said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee

Tolliver was a pastor for 20 years before becoming a church executive. Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1-10-11

Rev. Marshall Brown, 57, Fairfax City, VA: Brown, associate rector at Truro Church, was fired for accessing "websites that would be considered pornography," said Truro Executive Director Warren Thrasher. Truro is one of the largest conservative U.S. Anglican churches.

Truro was one of 14 Virginia parishes to break away from the Episcopal Church after the 2003 election of the denomination's first openly gay bishop.

Brown was treated in 2005 for an Internet addiction after he reported having a problem, said Bishop Martyn Minns, adding that back then he didn't ask Brown about the details of his addiction. He said he was told by counselors that "there was nothing illegal or involving children," but beyond that, Minns said, "I didn't ask too many questions." Source: Washington Post, 1-8-11

Bishop Ronald Gilmore, 68, decided it was time to get out of Dodge - the Diocese of Dodge City, KS, that is. In his resignation statement on the diocesan website, Gilmore said, "Sometimes, being a bishop feels like a blessing. Sometimes, being a bishop feels like a cursing. For me, being a bishop has always felt like a burden." He'd been bishop since 1998.

Barbara Dorris, outreach coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the diocese "one of the most secretive dioceses in the U.S. regarding child sex crimes." Source: AP, 12-15-10

Rev. William R. Gould, 71, Post Falls, ID: Diocese of Boise Bishop Michael Driscoll stripped Gould of all ministerial duties due to allegations he had sexually inappropriate conduct with a male under 18 in Idaho Falls 29 years ago. Gould was put on administrative leave in 2005 after an investigation substantiated claims he engaged in sexual misconduct with an adult. Source: AP, 12-13-10

Rev. Dennis Shaw, Auburn, NY: Removed as pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church by the Diocese of Rochester for allegedly sexually abusing a child in the late 1970s. Shaw, ordained in 1972, was placed on administrative leave. No further details about the allegations were given. Source: Auburn Citizen, 12-13-10

Rev. Edmund Penisten, Sitka, AK Penisten, pastor of St. Gregory Catholic Church in Sitka, resigned and left Alaska for evaluation at an undisclosed location after being suspended from the public ministry by Diocese of Juneau Bishop Edward Burns.

"A computer program that had been installed on the computers at St. Gregory's indicated that some questionable material had been accessed," said Rev. Pat Travers, diocesan vicar general. A software program alerted the diocese that pornographic websites had been accessed. Source: KFSK News, 12-10-10

Walter D. Salisbury, 79, Bar Harbor, ME: Salisbury, a former Catholic Josephite priest, resigned from the Bar Harbor Housing Authority board after being told his criminal past was being investigated. He was convicted in 1979 in Texas for committing indecency with a child and in 1993 for committing an indecent act on a minor in a church rectory in Washington, D.C.

Brian Tucker, a Baltimore lawyer representing the Josephite Society, said Salisbury has been barred from representing himself as a priest since 1993. Salisbury was listed as "Father W. Dayton Salisbury" on the Housing authority website.

"I called the town and told them to take ["father"] off of there," Tucker said before Salisbury's resignation. "He is not to hold himself out as a priest." Source: Bangor Daily News, 12-3-10


George Neville Rucker, 90, Los Angeles, CA: The Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests objected to Rucker, a defrocked priest accused of sexually molesting 38 girls but never prosecuted due to the statute of limitations, being allowed on a 3-month, $12,000 cruise to South America.

David Clohessy, SNAP executive director, likened it to Voyages of Discovery saying, "Welcome aboard criminals. Just make sure your coat tails are tucked in and say please and thank you."

Rucker was charged with molesting 12 girls in 2002 and was arrested by Alaska state troopers on a cruise ship bound for Russia. Charges were dropped in 2003 after a U.S. Supreme Court struck down California's attempt to prosecute older molestation cases.

Clohessy also criticized the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for not keeping tabs on Rucker after his defrocking. "Rucker really is one of the very worst, and for church officials to claim that they are monitoring them, watching them like a hawk, is ridiculous."

Rucker was officially accused of 38 molestations occurring between 1947-80. He retired in 1987. The archdiocese paid millions of dollars starting in 2006 to settle civil suits against Rucker and other priests. Source: Miami New Times, 1-4-11

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wl, denies allegations by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests that the diocese is still covering up sexual abuse by priests. SNAP asked for a court order to stop the diocese from destroying personnel records and asked federal prosecutors to investigate whether former Bishop David Zubik, now of Pittsburgh, and other officials obstructed investigations.

"It's an intentional, deliberate act of destroying what's in the file," said Peter lsely, Midwest director of SNAP. "This is a potential record of crimes committed against us, and criminal evidence, and it's evidence of potential fraud, which is the concealment or transference of clerics" guilty of sexual abuse.

Deacon Tim Reilly, diocesan director of administration, denied the allegations. He said the diocese's new records management policy calls for destruction of personnel records only in the cases of priests who have been dead for a year or more, and in no case are the records destroyed if they concern pending court cases.

SNAP based its accusations on recent court testimony given by Rev. James Doerfler. The group quoted Doerfler as saying Zubik issued orders in 2007 to destroy records pertaining to pedophile priests. Source: Green Bay PressGazette, 12-22-10

The Catholic Diocese of Stockton, CA, paid $300,000 on Sept. 22 to settle a sexual abuse claim against Rev. Leo Suarez. Half that amount will come from insurance. Suarez was defrocked in Jan. 2010 after admitting he'd molested a minor 20 years ago at St. Anthony's Parish in Hughson.

No lawsuit has been filed against the diocese or Suarez. A spokeswoman said the diocese doesn't know his whereabouts. Source: Sacramento Bee, 12-17-10

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Boise, ID, won't be charged with failure to report child molestation by a church member due to Idaho's clergy privilege law.

Stephen R. Young, 59, Eagle, a longtime Boise policeman and school resource officer, was sentenced to 25 years prison in September after pleading guilty to molesting a child who was between 12 and 18 months old in 2006. Other charges, which named 4 victims between the ages of 1 month and 21 months, were dropped. Prosecutors said Young may have had as many as 20 victims.

He confessed to his wife in August 2009 and moved to an apartment. He confessed to his bishop in January 2010. That confession was part of the LDS disciplinary process which resulted in his excommunication. But not till a fellow police officer who attended Young's church heard of the punishment and spoke to him was Young arrested in March, 2 days after his abrupt retirement.

According to church attorney Randy Austin, as soon as Young confessed to church officials, they urged him and his wife to tell the authorities. Making that recommendation was all clergy members could legally do until Young turned himself in, Austin said. Violating the clergy privilege could have jeopardized the prosecution, he said.

An underage girl in a similar case told the Idaho Statesman that before her molester pleaded guilty in 2008 (the abuse was reported in 1999), she was forced to meet with him and a bishop. "At that point, I was really scared. My family was about to be torn apart. They wanted me to forgive him. I was 14. I was put on the spot. What are you going to say?" Source: Idaho Statesman, 12-13-10

and on and on ... oh, Father!