Catholic Bishops Pass Measure to Draft Statement Prohibiting Some Politicians from Receiving Communion

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelmingly approved a measure to draft a statement laying out whether politicians who counter church teaching may be denied Communion during Mass.

Nearly 170 out of the 229 total U.S. bishops, or roughly 75% of the conference, voted in favor of the measure on Friday, according to The Pillar reporter J.D. Flynn. The vote, which only needed two-thirds of the bishops to vote in favor to pass, suggested that a broad range of bishops across the ideological spectrum supported drafting a statement.

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Commentary: As Great as a Mom May Be, Kids Still Need Their Dads

by Christopher Becker   “Smokin’ Joe,” a biography of late heavyweight boxing champion and 3-time Muhammad Ali foil Joe Frazier, was recently reviewed by Gordon Marion in The Wall Street Journal. Among the notable details is the fact that five different women gave birth to Frazier’s eleven kids. This occurrence…

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Judge Rules Christian Baker Jack Phillips Must Make ‘Gender Transition’ Cake

Jack Phillips

A Colorado baker and self-described cake artist who won a 2018 victory at the Supreme Court faced a related setback this week when a state court ruled in another case that the law requires him to make a cake to celebrate a gender transition. 

Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones ruled against Jack Phillips, the Christian owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, in the case of Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop. 

“The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others,’” Jones wrote Tuesday in a 28-page opinion.

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Sticky Baseballs: The Physics of Major League Baseball’s Latest Scandal

Close-up of a baseball mitt and ball

Cheating in baseball is as old as the game itself, and pitchers’ modifying the ball’s surface is part of that long history. Adding to the lore of cheating is a new scandal involving pitchers who may be applying sticky substances – what players refer to as “sticky stuff” – to baseballs.

Major League hitters are striking out this season nearly one in every four times they step to the plate, compared with one in six times in 2005.

As a sports physicist and longtime baseball fan, I’ve been intrigued by news reports that applying sticky substances to balls can make pitches spin faster. And if pitchers can throw their fastballs, curveballs and sliders with more spin than in previous years, their pitches will be tougher to hit. How does science explain all this?

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Commentary: New Harvard Data (Accidentally) Reveal How Lockdowns Crushed the Working Class While Leaving Elites Unscathed

"Closed until further notice" sign

Founding father and the second president of the United States John Adams once said that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” What he meant was that objective, raw numbers don’t lie—and this remains true hundreds of years later.

We just got yet another example. A new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calculates how different employment levels have been impacted during the pandemic to date. The findings reveal that government lockdown orders devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper-tier actually better off.

The analysis examined employment levels in January 2020, before the coronavirus spread widely and before lockdown orders and other restrictions on the economy were implemented. It compared them to employment figures from March 31, 2021.

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Ancient Giant Rhino Was One of the Largest Mammals to Walk the Earth

Hornless Rhino

The remains of a 26.5-million-year-old giant, hornless rhino — one of the largest mammals ever to walk Earth — have been discovered in northwestern China, a new study finds.

The newly identified species, Paraceratherium linxiaense — named after its discovery spot in the Linxia Basin in Gansu province — towered over other animals during its lifetime. The 26-foot-long (8 meters) beast had a shoulder height of 16.4 feet (5 m), and it weighed as much as 24 tons (21.7 metric tons), the same as four African elephants, the researchers said. 

The new species is larger than other giant rhinos in the extinct genus Paraceratherium, said study lead researcher Deng Tao, director and professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. A new family tree analysis of Paraceratherium species, including P. linxiaense, reveals how these ancient beasts evolved as they migrated across Central and South Asia at a time when the Tibetan Plateau was lower than it is today, Tao told Live Science in an email.

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Commentary: What Greek Epics and Their Teachings on the Special Relationship Between Fathers and Sons

Greek statue of man's face

Father’s Day inspires mixed emotions for many of us. Looking at advertisements of happy families could recall difficult memories and broken relationships for some. But for others, the day could invite unbidden nostalgic thoughts of parents who have long since died.

As a scholar of ancient Greek poetry, I find myself reflecting on two of the most powerful paternal moments in Greek literature. At the end of Homer’s classic poem, “The Iliad,” Priam, the king of Troy, begs his son’s killer, Achilles, to return the body of Hektor, the city’s greatest warrior, for burial. Once Achilles puts aside his famous rage and agrees, the two weep together before sharing a meal, Priam lamenting the loss of his son while Achilles contemplates that he will never see his own father again.

The final book of another Greek classic, “The Odyssey,” brings together a father and son as well. After 10 years of war and as many traveling at sea, Odysseus returns home and goes through a series of reunions, ending with his father, Laertes. When Odysseus meets his father, however, he doesn’t greet him right away. Instead, he pretends to be someone who met Odysseus and lies about his location.

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Portland Police Department’s Rapid Response Team Unanimously Resigns

Portland Police SUV

On Wednesday, every single police officer on the city of Portland’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) submitted their resignations from the team, according to the Daily Caller.

All 50 officers from the RRT will continue to serve as regular police officers, but will no longer lend their services to the volunteer division that was aimed at combating riots and other forms of widespread unrest. In a press release announcing the resignations, the RRT described its “primary role” as being “to provide public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community.” Its members were all trained in “crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, de-escalation, and arrests.”

The most likely motivation for the mass resignation was the recent indictment of one member of the RRT, Officer Corey Budworth, who faces a single charge of “assault in the fourth degree” after using force to stop a violent rioter in August of 2020.

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U.S. Government Allocates $3.2 Billion for COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services will invest $3.2 billion to develop and manufacture COVID-19 antiviral medicines, it announced Thursday.

The initiative, funded as part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to accelerate research into antivirals as well as build platforms for urgent response to future viral threats, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement Thursday. Specifically, the plan expands antiviral clinical trials, forms partnerships between health agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and funds “drug discovery groups” tasked with innovating new antiviral medicines.

“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in the statement.

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Commentary: Vegan Diets and If It Makes Kids Shorter and Weaker

Vegan dish

Diets that exclude meat and fish (vegetarian) or all animal products including dairy and eggs (vegan) are becoming increasingly popular for health, environmental and ethical reasons.

Past research in adults has linked vegetarian and vegan diets with a reduced risk of heart disease but a greater risk of fractures, caused by low calcium intakes. But the impact on children has not been evaluated, until the release of a new study this week.

The researchers found a link between shorter heights and lower bone mineral content among vegan children, compared to meat-eaters. But they didn’t show vegan diets caused the difference. Nor can they say the differences will last into adulthood.

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First Democratic State Will End Its Unemployment Benefits

John Bel Edwards

Louisiana will be the first Democratic-controlled state to roll back its $300 a week unemployment benefits enacted by federal programs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill Wednesday that stops the weekly payments on July 31, but raises Louisiana’s maximum jobless benefits to $275, starting in 2022, according to the legislation.

Louisiana is joined by 25 other Republican led states that have prematurely slashed the weekly pandemic benefits from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which were not set to expire until Sept. 6, 2021. Jobless claims were up 412,000 last week, according to the Department of Labor.

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Black Young Adults Raised by Two Parents Are Way More Likely to Obtain College Degree, Study Finds

A study released Friday demonstrates a “clear connection” between incarceration for black young adults and family structures.

Children of all races are much more likely to go to college and to avoid both poverty and prison if they are raised in a two-parent family, a study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies found. Forty-eight percent of black children live in single parent homes, the study said, citing data from the March 2020 Current Population Survey, while 37% of black children live in homes headed by both their biological parents.

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LinkedIn Blocks Profile That Mentions Tiananmen Square Massacre

Tiananmen Square Protest

A Swedish journalist living in Taiwan was told by LinkedIn to edit his profile Thursday due to the presence of prohibited content.

Jojje Olsson, a journalist who writes prolifically on China, posted a tweet Thursday with an email from LinkedIn informing him that his profile and activity was not viewable in China as it contained “prohibited content” in the education section. The email told Olsson that LinkedIn would review his profile’s accessibility if he was willing to “update” the education section of his profile.

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Arizona Republicans Negotiate Budget, State Debt Paydown

Arizona Republicans Negotiate Budget

Two Arizona lawmakers are attempting to make changes to the state’s budget bills, which held up the signing of the law last week. 

“The changes include smaller tax cuts until actual revenue comes in above projections and a much larger paydown of state debt,” as reported by Fox 10. 

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