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In a marked shift in tone likely to be discussed in parishes around the world, an assembly of Catholic bishops convened by Pope Francis at the Vatican released a preliminary document on Monday calling for the church to welcome and accept gay people, unmarried couples and those who have divorced, as well as the children of these less traditional families.

The bishops’ report, released midway through a landmark two-week meeting, does not change Roman Catholic doctrine or teaching, and will now be subjected to fierce debate and revision at the assembly.

But it is the first signal that the institutional church may follow the direction Francis has set in the first 18 months of his papacy, away from condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness and mercy.

Previous synods have produced little, but some participants in this one have likened it to the historic Second Vatican Council convened just over 50 years ago, which produced monumental changes in church liturgy, relations with other faiths and the conception of the roles of priests and laypeople.

The 12-page report, written by a committee picked by Francis, says that without abandoning church teaching on the sacrament of marriage, pastors should recognize that there are “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.” That is a striking departure from traditional Catholic preaching that such couples are “living in sin.”

The report also says that gay people have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that some gay couples provide one another “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners.”

The document was read aloud to the nearly 200 bishops gathered at the synod, as the assembly is called. The reading was followed by responses and objections from 41 bishops in the synod hall, a portent of disputes to come.

The New York Times, "Vatican Signals More Tolerance Towards Gays and Divorce."

This is nice and all, but ask a Catholic priest if they believe gay people will go to Hell.  The answer won’t surprise you.

Women make less than men for doing the same job. On average, 22 percent less. They also are less likely to ask for a raise.

While there is some evidence the pay gap is narrower in the tech sector, the gender imbalance is real, including at Microsoft, which last week reported that women make up 29 percent of its global workforce.

Presumably Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella considered these issues before he sat down for an interview with fellow Microsoft board member Maria Klawe at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a high-profile annual event for leading women in tech.

Near the end of the interview, Klawe asked Nadella what advice he would give to women who aren’t comfortable asking for a raise.

His answer?

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Nadella said.

The system hasn’t done a good job of addressing the pay gap thus far. But hey, there’s always “karma.”

Nadella continued: “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have … It’s good karma. It will come back.”

“This is one of the very few things I disagree with you on,” said Klawe, drawing applause. Klawe maintained Nadella is “an amazing leader” whom she adores.

“Oh dear. Oh my. No, no, no,” was the response of Re/code’s Kara Swisher, one of the aforementioned leading women in tech. The blog Readwrite has a roundup of similar reactions registered on Twitter.

Several hours later, Nadella tweeted an apology: “Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias.”

The Washington Post, "Walkback? Microsoft CEO Saying Women Should Rely on ‘Karma’ for Raises."

A fail more epic than Windows ME.

The Supreme Court on Thursday evening stopped officials in Wisconsin from requiring voters there to provide photo identification before casting their ballots in the coming election.

Three of the court’s more conservative members dissented, saying they would have allowed officials to require identification.

Around the same time, a federal trial court in Texas struck down that state’s ID law, saying it put a disproportionate burden on minority voters.

The Wisconsin requirement, one of the strictest in the nation, is part of a state law enacted in 2011 but mostly blocked by various courts in the interim. A federal trial judge had blocked it, saying it would “deter or prevent a substantial number of the 300,000-plus registered voters who lack ID from voting” and would disproportionately affect black and Hispanic voters.

The law was provisionally reinstated last month by a unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Chicago hours after it heard arguments. The full court was deadlocked, five to five, on a request for a new hearing.

“It is simply impossible, as a matter of common sense and of logistics, that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin voters will both learn about the need for photo identification and obtain the requisite identification in the next 36 days,” the appeals court judges opposed to the requirement wrote.

The three-judge panel upheld the law on Monday, reasoning that it was similar to one from Indiana that the Supreme Court upheld in 2008.

The challengers to the Wisconsin law asked the Supreme Court to block the voter identification requirement for now, saying it would “virtually guarantee chaos at the polls.” Whatever the legality, they said, the state cannot issue enough IDs and train enough poll workers before the November election.

The law requires absentee voters to submit identification. But forms sent before the appeals court acted did not include that requirement. State officials had said they would not count ballots returned without copies of valid ID.

The officials argued that voters knew of the appeals court’s ruling and that blocking it would cause confusion. “Voters would get the pinball treatment,” they wrote. They told the justices that opponents “legitimately raise issues regarding absentee ballots,” but that local election officials were trying to inform voters that they might have to take more steps for their votes to be counted.

The New York Times, "Court Strikes Down Voter ID Laws in Wisconsin and Texas"

Jon Stewart railing against AIG CEO Hank Greenberg for suing over his taxpayer-funded, $186 billion bailout: perfect.

Jon Stewart railing against AIG CEO Hank Greenberg for suing over his taxpayer-funded, $186 billion bailout: perfect.

A federal judge on Monday issued an injunction barring police from enforcing what became known as “the five-second rule,” in which protesters in Ferguson, Missouri could only stay still for that brief amount of time. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry ruled that the statute was unconstitutional because it violated protesters’ freedom of speech rights, as well as due process.

“[T]he policy fails to provide sufficient notice of what is illegal and because it was enforced arbitrarily,” wrote Perry in response to a case brought by the ACLU.

In the aftermath of unarmed, black teen Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of a white Ferguson police officer, local police commonly relied on the rule as a crowd control tactic and even insisted that reporters had to be in the media staging area or keep walking. It led to one of the defining images from nights of upheaval in Ferguson: Bands of protesters marching along city streets, helping those who were elderly stay moving.

Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, noted that such rules tend to increase tension when applied “haphazardly.” He add that “Judge Perry’s injunction is a huge win for peaceful protesters and those who believe in the rule of law.”

The police-enforced rule also prevented people from gathering on sidewalks, which also violated freedom of speech, according to Perry’s ruling.

“Citizens who wish to gather in the wake of Michael Brown’s tragic death have a constitutional right to do so, but they do not have the right to endanger lives of police officers or other citizens,” Perry wrote, adding that the ruling still allows officers to enforce refusal-to-disperse laws, one of the most commonly used charges used to arrest protesters in Ferguson. “The police must be able to perform their jobs, and nothing in this order restricts their ability to do that.”

NBC News, "Judge Bars Ferguson Police From Enforcing ‘Keep Moving’ Rule"

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand appeals court rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states, a major surprise that could signal the inevitability of the right of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The development cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Gay and lesbian couples started getting married in those states within hours.

The decision to let the appeals court rulings stand, which came without explanation in a series of brief orders, will have an enormous practical effect and may indicate a point of no return for the Supreme Court.

Most immediately, the Supreme Court’s move increased the number of states allowing same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19. Within weeks legal ripples from the decision could expand same-sex marriage to 30 states.

That means nearly two-thirds of same-sex couples in the United States will soon live in states where they can marry, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

Should the court then take up a same-sex marriage case next year or in another term, the justices may be reluctant to overturn what has become law in the majority of American states, said Walter E. Dellinger III, who was an acting United States solicitor general in the Clinton administration.

“The more liberal justices have been reluctant to press this issue to an up-or-down vote until more of the country experiences gay marriage,” Mr. Dellinger said. “Once a substantial part of the country has experienced gay marriage, then the court will be more willing to finish the job.”

There is precedent for such an approach: The court waited to strike down bans on interracial marriage until 1967, when the number of states allowing such unions had grown to 34, even though interracial marriage was still opposed by a significant majority of Americans. But popular opinion has moved much faster than the courts on same-sex marriage, with many Americans and large majorities of young people supporting it.

The New York Times, "Supreme Court Delivers Tacit Win to Gay Marriage"

A cyberattack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised the accounts of 76 million households and seven million small businesses, a tally that dwarfs previous estimates by the bank and puts the intrusion among the largest ever.

The details of the breach — disclosed in a securities filing on Thursday — emerge at a time when consumer confidence in the digital operations of corporate America has already been shaken. Target, Home Depot and a number of other retailers have sustained major data breaches. Last year, the information of 40 million cardholders and 70 million others were compromised at Target, while an attack at Home Depot in September affected 56 million cards.

But unlike retailers, JPMorgan, as the largest bank in the nation, has financial information in its computer systems that goes beyond customers’ credit card details and potentially includes more sensitive data.

“We’ve migrated so much of our economy to computer networks because they are faster and more efficient, but there are side effects,” said Dan Kaminsky, a researcher who works as chief scientist at White Ops, a security company.

Until just a few weeks ago, executives at JPMorgan said they believed that only one million accounts were affected, according to several people with knowledge of the attacks.

As the severity of the intrusion — which began in June but was not discovered until July — became more clear in recent days, bank executives scrambled for the second time in three months to contain the fallout and to reassure skittish customers that no money had been taken and that their financial information remained secure.

The hackers appeared to have obtained a list of the applications and programs that run on JPMorgan’s computers — a road map of sorts — which they could crosscheck with known vulnerabilities in each program and web application, in search of an entry point back into the bank’s systems, according to several people with knowledge of the results of the bank’s forensics investigation, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Operating overseas, the hackers gained access to the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of JPMorgan account holders. In its regulatory filing on Thursday, JPMorgan said that there was no evidence that account information, including passwords or Social Security numbers, had been taken. The bank also noted that there was no evidence of fraud involving the use of customer information.

The New York Times, "Hackers’ Attack on JP Morgan Affects Millions."

I’ll just pay in cash from now on.

THE STRESSED WING   We will be told that one of the reasons why a knife-wielding suspect made it as far into the White House as he did — almost getting into the Green Room — is because he did not seem to be armed, he didn’t have a gun, yadda yadda yadda.  But in this world of “See Something / Say Something” and being scared out of our wits into reporting every single suspicious thing ever to law enforcement, there is just no excuse that this happened.  (Illustration of the route taken by Omar J. Gonzales into the White House via The New York Times)

THE STRESSED WING   We will be told that one of the reasons why a knife-wielding suspect made it as far into the White House as he did — almost getting into the Green Room — is because he did not seem to be armed, he didn’t have a gun, yadda yadda yadda.  But in this world of “See Something / Say Something” and being scared out of our wits into reporting every single suspicious thing ever to law enforcement, there is just no excuse that this happened.  (Illustration of the route taken by Omar J. Gonzales into the White House via The New York Times)

A wave of protest in Hong Kong extended into the working week on Monday as thousands of residents defied a government call to abandon street blockades across the city, students boycotted classes and the city’s influential bar association added to condemnation of a police crackdown on protesters a day earlier.

The continued public resistance underscored the difficulties that the Hong Kong government faces in defusing widespread anger that erupted on Sunday, after the police used tear gas, pepper spray and batons to break up a three-day sit-in by students and other residents demanding democratic elections in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

On Monday afternoon, the Hong Kong government canceled the city’s annual fireworks show to mark China’s National Day, which falls on Wednesday — an implicit acknowledgment that officials expect the protests to continue for days.

The police crackdown Sunday not only failed to dislodge protesters from a major thoroughfare in the heart of Hong Kong but appeared Monday to have motivated more people to join the student-led protests. A government announcement that the riot police had been withdrawn from the protest centers also seemed to open the door to growing demonstrations. The number of protesters, which had ebbed overnight, swelled again by midday Monday, as office workers in slacks and dress shirts mixed with crowds of students in black T-shirts.

Many of the new arrivals said they were angered by the police’s actions on Sunday, which they called excessive.

“This morning I was happy to see that they stayed and insisted on continuing the protest,” said Cindy Sun, a 30-year-old bank worker who joined protesters in the Admiralty district during her lunch hour.

“What they were doing was not appropriate, especially the tear gas,” she said. “The students were completely peaceful.”

Chloe Wong, 46, a mother of two, said she was inspired to join the protesters in Admiralty by the scenes of tear gas being fired the day before. She said she could find time to participate for only an hour but wanted to show her support.

“The protesters, they are so young,” she said. “They are fighting for our future, for my children’s future.”

Demonstrators were also blocking major streets in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay and in Mongkok in Kowloon, one of the world’s most densely packed places.

Hong Kong has maintained a reputation as a safe enclave for peaceful demonstration and commerce, and the crackdown here has raised the political cost of Beijing’s unyielding position on electoral change in Hong Kong. Late last month China’s legislature called for limits on voting reforms here and barriers for candidates for the position of chief executive, the city’s top leadership post.

The New York Times, "Hong Kong Residents Defy Officials’ Call to End Protests."

How soon until China murders these protestors?

  • I’ll give it an hour until a Fox “News” personality or another conservative says something completely inappropriate or just downright rude and misogynistic about Chelsea Clinton’s newborn baby.