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8379NEWS -- 2013.12.19.Thursday evening

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  • James Martin
    Dec 19, 2013
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      1) GOP Politicians Defend 'Duck Dynasty' Star's Right to Anti-Gay Comments
      2) Methodist Defrocking of Minister Widens Split Over Gays
      3) The American Humanist Association receives hate mail
      4) 5 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
      5) Wall Street Guy Goes To Wal-Mart To Mock Protesting Workers
      6) Majority of high school seniors don't think smoking pot regularly is a big deal
      As expected --->

      GOP Politicians Defend 'Duck Dynasty' Star's Right to Anti-Gay Comments

      By Arlette Saenz | ABC News Blogs – Thursday 19 December 2013

      The A&E network's suspension of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson has prompted an outcry from Republican politicians, including Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz.

      "Free speech is an endangered species. Those 'intolerants' hatin' and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us," former Alaskan governor Palin wrote on Facebook Wednesday night in a post featuring a photo of her with the cast of "Duck Dynasty."

      READ: Should A&E Have Suspended 'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson for Anti-Gay Comments

      Not to be outdone, Cruz, R-Texas, wrote on his Facebook page, "The reason that so many Americans love Duck Dynasty is because it represents the America usually ignored or mocked by liberal elites: a family that loves and cares for each other, believes in God, and speaks openly about their faith.

      "If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson. Phil expressed his personal views and his own religious faith; for that, he was suspended from his job. In a free society, anyone is free to disagree with him - but the mainstream media should not behave as the thought police censoring the views with which they disagree."

      READ: 'Duck Dynasty' Suspends Phil Robertson After Anti-Gay Comments

      A&E suspended Robertson Wednesday after he said he believes homosexuality is sinful and compared it to bestiality in an interview with GQ.

      "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson said. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

      He also paraphrased a passage from the biblical book of Corinthians, saying: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

      Robertson's home-state GOP governor, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, weighed in on the decision, expressing his dismay that a TV network would suspend Robertson while Miley Cyrus was not reprimanded for her twerking antics on MTV.

      "Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana," Jindal said in a statement. "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV.

      "In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views."

      Jindal added, "In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."


      Defrocking of Minister Widens Split Over Gays

      Published: December 19, 2013

      The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a Methodist minister, was stripped of his clerical credentials on Thursday for violating church law by presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding. The punishment, imposed by the United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania, was requested by the church prosecutor to deter other ministers from blessing same-sex marriages.

      But far from intimidating others, the trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have galvanized a wave of Methodist ministers to step forward to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.

      Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.

      “After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.

      In Philadelphia last month, 36 Methodist ministers recited the Declaration of Marriage on the steps of a Methodist church for two gay men in a 25-year relationship. In New York, Methodist clergy members have been triumphantly posting accounts on a blog of the same-sex marriages they have been performing.

      And in what is considered a brazen act of church boundary-crossing, a retired San Francisco bishop, Melvin Talbert, flew in October to Birmingham, Ala., where same-sex marriage is not legal, to conduct a church ceremony for two gay men against the will of the local bishop. Bishops are considering bringing ecclesiastical charges against him.

      Church conservatives, however, say they have the momentum. About a half-dozen more ministers are facing church trials, and the defrocking of Mr. Schaefer proves to them that church juries have the courage of their convictions. In addition, they say the church is losing members in its liberal-leaning regions and growing in conservative regions.

      John Lomperis, the United Methodist director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative religious think tank, said the same-sex weddings performed by Methodist clergy were “publicity stunts” that were backfiring.

      “It’s very noisy, but I just don’t see it as being a sustainable campaign in the long run,” Mr. Lomperis said in an interview. “It’s like burning down a house to try to take it over from the residents.”

      Mr. Schaefer is hardly the first Methodist minister to be defrocked for disobeying church teachings on homosexuality. Jimmy Creech was stripped of his credentials in 1999 for performing a same-sex ceremony. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, a lesbian living with her partner, was defrocked in 2005.  

      Mr. Schaefer said at a news conference on Thursday after his defrocking, “Here we are 10 years later, and they are doing the same thing.” 

      He added, “The church needs to recognize that things have changed and times are changing and people are changing.”

      Mr. Schaefer has four children, three of whom are gay. He performed the wedding for his son, Tim, in Massachusetts in 2007 after same-sex marriage was legalized there.

      Mr. Schaefer, who is 52, had been serving as the pastor of a small church in Lebanon, Pa., for 11 years when charges were brought against him this year, weeks before the church’s statute of limitations was set to expire. The man who brought the complaint was the son of a choir director whom Mr. Schaefer had removed, according to news reports and confirmed by Mr. Schaefer in an interview on Thursday.

      The church’s Book of Discipline, which contains its law and doctrine, forbids same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay people, and says that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Efforts to amend the Book of Discipline have been defeated by increasingly wide margins at the church’s quadrennial conferences as delegates representing the church’s growing branch in Africa have bolstered the votes of conservative Methodists in the United States.

      Mr. Schaefer was found guilty last month by a 13-member jury of pastors of disobedience and violating the Book of Discipline. He was given 30 days to decide whether he would comply with church law.

      At a short meeting Thursday morning at the church’s conference center in Norristown, Pa., Mr. Schaefer appeared before about 45 members of the church’s ministry board. He was asked, “Will you uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety?”

      He answered, “Unfortunately, I cannot.”

      In an interview afterward, Mr. Schaefer said that as he got into the car to go home, his wife noticed he was shaking. “For 20 years, I’ve served this church, and it has now put me outside,” he said. “I find myself totally shunned, excluded. It just felt awful.”

      He said he would not consider leaving the Methodist Church for a denomination that has changed its teaching on homosexuality.

      “It’s not that easy when a church is your spiritual home,” he said. “All my children have been baptized in the United Methodist Church. I don’t know how to be a minister out of the United Methodist Church.”

      He said his lawyers had already filed an appeal with a judicial body akin to a church appellate court.

      Those watching the trial were stunned when Bishop Peggy Johnson, who leads nearly 900 United Methodist churches in Pennsylvania and who is Mr. Schaefer’s superior, posted a note on her blog this week, saying that she believed the prohibitions on gay ordination and marriage in the Book of Discipline were “discriminatory.”

      The prohibitions, Bishop Johnson continued, taken together with the church’s message of inclusion, “has led to confusion by many from the outside of the church wondering how we can talk out of two sides of our mouth.”

      Timothy Williams contributed reporting from New York, and Jon Hurdle from Philadelphia.

      see also
      The American Humanist Association receives hate mail. Here are some of the best. --->
      December 2013
      Don't miss the comments.

      5 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

      By vetstreet.com | Pets – Thursday 18 December 2013

      By Kristen Seymour

      Think your dog deserves to sit at the head of the class? If your pooch is one of these breeds, you're probably right! We surveyed 122 veterinary professionals to learn which dog breeds are the smartest, and the five listed below garnered the most votes.  

      The Border Collie is an intense, hardworking, highly energetic dog whose ability to impose his will upon sheep is legendary. In fact, he's so good, he just might impose his will on you, too. He has astounding focus, which is a real plus in the field, but if he's left without a job to do, that focus can be a problem.

      Still doubt this dog's smarts? Check out Chaser, the Border Collie who learned a thousand words!

      No. 2: German Shepherd Dog

      The German Shepherd is an adaptable, fearless dog who's a natural protector, making him a great fit for military and police work. However, even if you don't carry a badge, he's still a loyal, energetic companion. He loves spending time with his family, especially if that time is spent playing, running, hiking, working or doing something else that uses up some of that energy.

      No. 3: Poodle

      Don't judge the Poodle by his fancy fur and pretty face. This dog has beauty and brains, along with a serious sense of humor. Poodles are far from prissy; they're active dogs who thrive on learning and attention from those they love. Poodles are fabulous choices for agility and obedience competitions - but keep in mind that even though he's not a froufrou show dog, your Poodle will still need intense grooming.

      See Also: 9 Poodle Dog Breeds

      The Australian Shepherd is one devoted dog, and he's not afraid to show his love by leaning on your leg, sitting on your foot or finding a way into your lap (never mind the fact that he might weigh as much as 65 pounds). But he's not just a snuggle bug; he's a total braniac who excels in just about anything he puts his sharp mind to - obedience, agility, flying disc competitions, herding trials, you name it.

      No. 5: Golden Retriever

      The gentle Golden Retriever is a people pleaser, to be sure, but this sweet face has a big brain behind it. Originally developed to hunt, today's Goldens are fiercely devoted family dogs who need plenty of exercise in order to keep destructive tendencies at bay. Like the other smarties on this list, he's a good choice for activities that utilize his mind and body, so go ahead and sign him up for that dock diving or fly dog competition. As long as you're willing to put in the work to teach him, he'll do the rest.

      See Also: Golden Retriever Tops List of 18 Best Breeds for New Dog Owners


      Wall Street Guy Goes To Wal-Mart To Mock Protesting Workers

      Dec. 17, 2013, 2:02 PM

      There's been a growing number of protests and demonstrations at Wal-Mart as workers demand higher wages. So libertarian investor Peter Schiff — who believes Wal-Mart is under no obligation to pay its workers a dime more — went to Wal-Mart and staged an absurd, fake version of their rally in an attempt to prove his point.

      Schiff, the founder of Euro Pacific Capital, approached shoppers in the retailer's parking lot and told them he was representing an organization called "15 For 15." He said the organization — which doesn't actually exist — wants Wal-Mart to raise its prices by 15% to support a $15 minimum hourly wage for workers.

      In reality, the campaign for higher wages at Wal-Mart, led by the labor group OUR Walmart, is asking the retailer to pay its employees at least $25,000 annually, or $13 an hour.

      Schiff recorded his stunt on video. He asked Wal-Mart patrons whether they supported higher wages for the retailer's workers, and then demanded that they prove their allegiance by giving him 15% of whatever they spent at Wal-Mart that day. He claimed the money would go to Wal-Mart workers.

      "Would you contribute 15% of the price of that TV for the Wal-Mart workers?" he shouted at a man who was walking across the parking lot carrying a boxed television. The man declined.

      "But they are counting on you to pay higher prices!" Schiff yelled.

      The video was clearly edited, but in every case, the shoppers declined to donate money.

      Perhaps they didn't support the cause. Perhaps they recognized Schiff was a phony.

      --- Click on URL to watch the video, or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLr5oWfoWRY --- Sick.

      Majority of high school seniors don't think smoking pot regularly is a big deal

      By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News | Yahoo News – Wednesday 18 December 2013

      More than 60 percent of American high school seniors do not think regular marijuana use is harmful, a new survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health's Monitoring the Future project finds.

      That figure is up from 55 percent in 2012 and considerably higher than rates from the past two decades.

      The survey also found 6.5 percent of 12th-graders smoke marijuana daily, up from 6 percent in 2003 and 2.4 percent in 1993.

      It also showed that marijuana use increases with age.

      Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the seniors say they smoked marijuana in the month before the survey, and just over 36 percent say they smoked it during the past year.

      Among 10th-graders, 4 percent say they use marijuana daily, 18 percent within the past month and 30 percent in the past year.

      More than 12 percent of eighth-graders say they used marijuana in the past year, the survey found.

      By contrast, use of alcohol and cigarettes among teens continues to steadily decline.

      "These increases in marijuana use over the past few years are a serious setback in our nation’s efforts to raise a healthy generation of young people,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement.

      Researchers say the results are also troubling because pot has gotten stronger over the years.

      “This is not just an issue of increased daily use,” National Institute on Drug Abuse director Nora D. Volkow said in announcing the findings. “It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC — the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — have gone up a great deal, from 3.75 percent in 1995 to an average of 15 percent in today’s marijuana cigarettes. Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago.”

      Marijuana legalization advocates quickly called on the institute to study whether regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could produce similar reductions in use among teens.

      "The results suggest that regulating alcohol and cigarettes is successfully reducing teen use, whereas marijuana prohibition has been unsuccessful," Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. "At the very least, this data should inspire NIDA to examine the possibility that regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could be a more effective approach than the current system."

      For anti-drug advocates, there was at least some good news: The survey showed decreases in abuse of pain relievers and synthetic drugs among teens.

      Just 2.3 percent of seniors admitted they abuse Ritalin, while abuse of the pain reliever Vicodin (5.3 percent) was down more than 50 percent from 2003. The use of synthetic marijuana dropped to 7.9 percent among high school seniors from 11.3 percent last year.

      And the use of bath salts is "at or under 1 percent in all three grades."

      Abuse of Adderal, however, remains high, with 7.4 percent of seniors reporting taking it for nonmedical reasons in the past year.