Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Belfast bakery discriminated by refusing gay cake order, court rules

By Ian Graham

BELFAST (Reuters) - A Northern Ireland bakery owned by devout Christians who refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan was found guilty of discrimination in Belfast on Tuesday and fined.

The case has become heavily politicized in Northern Ireland with members of the province's largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party, proposing the introduction of a Conscience Clause Bill to allow the withholding of services on grounds of religious belief.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a member of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, welcomed the judgment as "a good result for equality".

Gay rights activist Gareth Lee took Ashers Baking Company in Belfast to court in a civil action after it canceled his order for a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage" on it. The case was funded by the British province's Equality Commission.

The firm initially accepted the order but later contacted Lee to cancel it and refund his money. Lee told a court hearing over three days in March that the bakery's refusal made him feel "unworthy" and "a lesser person".

Speaking outside the court just before the judgment on Tuesday, bakery owner Daniel McArthur said: "We happily serve everyone but we cannot promote a cause that goes against what the Bible says about marriage."

In her judgment, District Judge Isobel Brownlie said that while the defendants had a right to religious beliefs "they are limited as to how they manifest them".

For it to be otherwise "would be to allow religious belief to dictate what the law is," she added.

The court found that Ashers had discriminated against Lee on the grounds of his sexual orientation as well as his political beliefs and ordered the bakery to pay £500 ($776).


Monday, May 18, 2015

Bishop: Catholics Should Abstain from Yoga

By SBrinkmann

(Women of Grace) The recently retired Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, sent a letter to our ministry in which he advised Catholics to steer clear of yoga because of its basis in Hinduism and to take up other methods of exercise that don’t place the faith in unnecessary danger.

Even though many people claim to use yoga as an exercise regime, Bishop Bruskewitz warns that yoga’s background is much more complicated than that because it has “the intention to strengthen and expand human consciousness and the rational and mind level of the person who engages in Yoga.”

He correctly points out that yoga originated in, and is an important part of, various forms of the Hindu religion which is, in the Catholic perspective, “a pagan religion based on heathen beliefs and false doctrine of revelation involving such things as transmigration of souls, and so forth..." (continued)


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jim Harbaugh's Missionary Pilgrimage

By Steve Schrader, Detroit Free Press

And why is Jim Harbaugh tweeting from Peru? Is he doing a satellite Michigan football camp there, too?

No, he's on his annual missionary pilgrimage to help the Santisimo Sacramento Catholic parish in the village of Piura, a poverty-stricken town 600 miles north of Lima.

It's something Harbaugh has done since 2009. Last year's eight-day trip was documented by Comcast Sports Network Bay Area for an hourlong special: "Peruball: Jim Harbaugh in South America."

"You can pretty much help someone from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed," Harbaugh told Comcast then. "It's beyond rewarding; it's a chance to do something..."


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vatican recognizes state of Palestine in new treaty


VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty.
The treaty, which was finalized Wednesday but still has to be signed, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes an official diplomatic recognition.

"Yes, it's a recognition that the state exists," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Pope Francis on Saturday before the canonization of two new saints from the Holy Land a day later.

The Vatican has been referring unofficially to the state of Palestine for at least a year.

During Pope Francis' 2014 visit to the Holy Land, the Vatican's official program referred to Abbas as the president of the "state of Palestine." In the Vatican's latest yearbook, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See is listed as representing "Palestine (state of)."

The Vatican's foreign minister, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, acknowledged the change in status, given that the treaty was initially inked with the PLO and is now being finalized with the "state of Palestine." But he said the shift was simply in line with the Holy See's position.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sunset on Mars

(Jet Propulsion Laboratory) NASA's Curiosity Mars rover recorded this view of the sun setting at the close of the mission's 956th Martian day, or sol (April 15, 2015), from the rover's location in Gale Crater.

This was the first sunset observed in color by Curiosity. The image comes from the left-eye camera of the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam)...


Why owning a cat could damage your SIGHT: Exposure 'to felines increases risk of glaucoma' - but having a dog guards against the disease

  • People diagnosed with glaucoma found to have 'significantly higher levels' of an allergic antibody to cats and cockroaches 
  • Raise possibility the immune system plays a role in the eye disease 
  • Second-leading cause of blindness globally and is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eyeball, triggering damage to the optic nerve or retina 

(Daily Mail) Owning a cat can increase a person's risk of developing the eye disease glaucoma, experts have warned.

In contrast, however, having a pet dog could protect against the disease, which can cause blindness.

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered those people diagnosed with glaucoma had 'significantly higher levels' of immunoglobulin E.

This is a type of allergic antibody produced by the body in response to cats and cockroaches.

Levels of the allergic antibody are elevated in those people who suffer hay fever and asthma.

Researchers said their findings raise the possibility that the immune system plays a role in glaucoma.

The condition is the second-leading cause of blindness across the world.

Often affecting both eyes, it develops when fluid, which is constantly produced by the eye, cannot drain properly and pressure builds up in the eyeball.

The pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve - which connects the eye to the brain - and the nerve fibres from the retina.

As part of the study, experts examined data from 1,678 people, aged in their 50s and 60s.

Each volunteer underwent an allergy test for dust mites, cats, dogs, cockroaches and rodents, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Around five per cent of those taking part were diagnosed as having the eye disease.

Of those, 14.3 per cent had significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin E, to cats and 19.1 per cent to cockroaches.

That was compared with 10 per cent in non-glaucoma patients.

Levels associated with dogs were elevated in just six per cent of glaucoma patients, compared with nine per cent of those without the eye disease.

The report stated: 'Participants with glaucoma had significantly higher odds of sensitisation to the cockroach and cat allergens compared to those without glaucoma.'

The authors suggest that the difference in cat and cockroach allergens and those of dogs may have different effects because dogs spend more time outdoors.

The study was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pope Francis met the Harlem Globetrotters and it was magical

 L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP

From Avery Stone at USA Today:

On Wednesday, Pope Francis met the Harlem Globetrotters in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The team named the Pope an honorary Globetrotter, and even gave him his own jersey.

The players also taught the 78-year-old to spin a basketball. All in all, it was a magical interaction.


Conan: The 2016 Presidential Race Movie