From Denny: The Vatican is still deservedly on the hot seat. Turns out they didn't want to discipline current said, now long dead, molesting priest because he was a great fund raiser. Now if that isn't depraved indifference I don't know what is. This pope needs to resign. He's a complete disgrace to decency and The Catholic Church.
There just may be some credence to the prophetic predictions he is the last Pope. He certainly will be the last Pope to wield global power over the Catholic flock. I expect to see the churches on different continents or countries begin to elect their own pastor Popes and break from Rome - or at the least, keep a tenuous relationship with the Vatican, never blindly following again.
The Tea Pary fools are getting more and more violent. This week when the House passed the Health Care Reform bill they spit on the lawmakers and screamed ugly names, have been phoning in death threats to their offices and at their homes, all with the approval of the Republicans. In this story, the Tea Party is busy screaming at a guy with Parkinson's disease at a health care rally. Check out the video as it went viral on YouTube.
And good news: the King of Heroin in Mexico who has been creating such a mess here in America has been caught and jailed.
As the Obama administration finishes up on the Health Care Reform bill with what Speaker Pelosi terms "benign fixes" they are turning their full attention to the economy, jobs, helping families with college student loans and stemming foreclosures.
Senate Passes Reconciliation Health Bill: (CBS) The Senate on Thursday passed the reconciliation bill to amend the health care reforms recently signed into law, bringing the health care debate one step closer to an end.
The package of changes passed by a vote of 56 to 43 and now goes to the House for a final vote. The House will take up the measure this evening.
"The American people have waited for this moment for a century," Senate Majority Harry Reid said after the vote.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., called the moment a "tectonic plate shift" for the nation.
Three Democrats sided with Republicans and voted against the measure: Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). One senator missed the vote -- Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is hospitalized in Georgia with an infection.
The Senate would have been the final stop for the bill before President Obama's desk, but Senate Republicans learned early Thursday that they could kill some language in the measure. Even though the House passed the reconciliation bill on Sunday, they have to pass it again now that the language has been altered.
Democratic leaders say the changes are minor and passing the bill again in the House will not be a problem.
"Of all the things they could have sent back, this is probably the most benign, easily fixed," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
Alleged Abuse Victim: Pope "Did Nothing": (CBS) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI - "did nothing" about a priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys when he led the Vatican office in the 70s, one of the alleged victims said Thursday.
Arthur Budzinski, appearing at a press conference with his daughter Gigi, said he initially reported being molested by Rev. Lawrence Murphy to the Milwaukee Police Department but no one helped him and his classmates who were allegedly molested.
When Budzinski met with the Archbishop in 1974, two members of the Vatican dismissed his allegations.
"They didn’t believe him and yelled at them," Gigi Budzinski said.
Two Wisconsin bishops urged the Vatican office to let them conduct a church trial against Rev. Lawrence Murphy, but the Vatican ordered the process halted, church and Vatican documents show.
Despite the grave allegations, Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the alleged molestation had occurred too long ago and Rev. Murphy should instead repent and be restricted from celebrating Mass outside of his diocese.
Mark Salmon, a spokesman for the Budzinski family, said that Father Murphy was a great fundraiser so the Catholic church had a dilemma.
"The decision was to keep him in a position to raise money and worry about the kids later," Salmon said.
"It's time they step up and take responsibility and stop with these vacant apologies," Salmon added. "The pope has to fess up..."
For more on this story, click on the title link.
Health Bill Is Rx for Student Loans, Too: (CBS) Provisions of Democrats' Health Reform will Boost Pell Grants for College and Cut Out Banker Middlemen, Trimming the Deficit. Part of the Democratic health care reform was sent back to the House of Representatives Thursday because of two minor changes to a section of the bill that has nothing to do with health care.
In fact, until now, many people didn't know that tucked into the health care bill are some of the most sweeping changes in decades in a different area - helping students pay for college.
CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports Colin and Corey Fequa are caught in the middle of the fight raging in Congress. They had to drop out of Delaware State after racking up a combined $55,000 in debt for tuition, room and board, and books - in just two years.
"You need some type of degree to go far and get some type of career," Corey Fequa said.
For their single mom, Karen, the college costs were crushing.
"I try to be a good mother," she said. "I felt I failed as a mother."
But now they may get help from the health care bill. The new law includes $36 billion for Pell Grants, free government funds given to 6 million low-income students. The maximum Pell Grant would jump from $5,300 this year to nearly $6,000 by 2017. Without the new law, it would have dropped to $2,150 next year.
"It adds up to $1,600 over four years," said Lauren Asher, president of the Project for Student Debt. "That's a lot of money that people won't have to borrow and will help them pay for college."
President Obama wants the United States to lead the world in the number of college graduates by 2020. The nation now ranks 14th. South Korea is first.
But critics say this new student aid is still not enough to make college affordable. Thirty years ago, Pell grants covered 77 percent of the average tuition. Now they cover just 35 percent.
"The buying power of the Pell Grant will be much less over the next 10 years than it has been in the past," said Mark Kantrowitz, founder of finaid.org. "It will not keep pace with inflation."
And banks give the new college aid plan an 'F' - because they lose business.
Right now the government offers loans to students, but it also pays private banks to do the same thing. The government even covers the bank's losses when students default on their loans. Now the government is cutting out the middleman and going to make all the loans itself.
"It is not enough to take over car companies?" Sen. Lindsey Graham recently griped. "Do we have to become the only bank in America to give a student loan?"
But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says bypassing the banks will save taxpayers $61 billion in bank subsidies over 10 years and cut the deficit by at least $10 billion.
For Colin and Corey, the grant money will help pay for community college - a much less expensive way to get the diploma they can't afford to lose.
Gov't Plans New Anti-Foreclosure Measures: (CBS) White House to Announce Expansion of Existing Effort, Plus Program to Reduce Loan Balances Friday. The Obama administration will announce Friday a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans, three people briefed on the matter said...
Officials are close to expanding the administration's $75 billion foreclosure relief effort. The plan to be unveiled Friday at the White House is expected to include at least three months of temporary assistance for borrowers who have lost their jobs. It also is expected to include an expanded effort to allow borrowers refinance into Federal Housing Administration loans.
The plan would expand the administration's foreclosure-prevention program, which has been a disappointment to date. Critics have complained the program does little to encourage banks to cut borrowers' principal balances on their primary loans. Nearly one in every three homeowners with a mortgage are "under water" — they owe more than their property is worth — according to Moody's Economy.com.
Obama administration officials have been studying such issues for months. An expansion of its foreclosure-prevention program has long been expected because only 170,000 homeowners have completed the process out of 1.1 million who began it over the past year...
Tea Party Protester Sorry For Mocking Man with Parkinson's: (CBS) The protester at an anti-health care reform rally who yelled and threw money at a pro-reform advocate with Parkinson's disease has apologized for his "shameful" actions and blamed them on impulse.
"I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can't explain it any other way," Chris Reichert told the Columbus Dispatch. "He's got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful."
The man Reichert verbally abused, Robert A. Letcher, 60, is seen in the video sitting on the ground as Tea Party activists demonstrate in front of him. He is holding up a sign that reads, "Got Parkinson's? I do and you might. Thanks for your help."
After one man in the crowd starts mocking Letcher, Reichert steps out of the crowd, throwing money in Letcher's face, and mockingly shouts, "No, no I'll pay for this guy. Here you go, start a pot. I'll pay for you." He then yells, "I'll decide when to give you money...No more handouts," and again throws money at him. In the background, shouts of "Communist" can be heard. (This section begins about 50 seconds into the above video.)
Letcher is a former nuclear scientist with a doctorate from Cornell University. He told Talking Points Memo that he been on disability since 2005 but was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000. His last job was teaching science and technology policy at Ohio State.
"I feel I embody the controversy that was being fought out," Letcher said. "No one was engaging, everyone was screaming. I thought, I don't have to scream, I just have to be there. I walked over and sat down ... I sort of presented myself as an argument by myself." He said the writing on his sign was not as clear as he would like because his disease impairs his motor skills.
The video of the confrontation went viral on the Internet, with many who watched it harshly condemning Reichert and the other protesters who mocked Letcher. The Dispatch reported that Reichert has become fearful for his family after threatening comments surfaced online.
"I've been looking at the web sites," he said. "People are hunting for me."
Reichert, who initially denied that he was the man in the video, expressed his deep guilt about the confrontation and tried to amend his actions. "I made a donation (to a local Parkinson's disease group) and that starts the healing process," Reichert told the Dispatch. "That was my first time at any political rally and I'm never going to another one."
The demonstration took place just days before the House voted on health-care reform legislation. Hundreds of protesters, both for and against the bill, rallied outside the office of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat from Ohio.
Kilroy condemned the incident and brought it up during the House floor speech last Thursday.
"Unfortunately, some of those opposing health-care reform went too far. Instead of making their arguments against the bill, they engaged in abusive language directed at one of my constituents who suffers from the terrible ravages of Parkinson's disease," she said.
Vatican Strongly Defends Abuse Decision: (CBS) The Vatican on Thursday strongly defended its decision not to defrock an American priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin and denounced what it called a campaign to smear Pope Benedict XVI and his aides.
Church and Vatican documents showed that in the mid-1990s, two Wisconsin bishops urged the Vatican office led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - now the pope - to let them hold a church trial against the Rev. Lawrence Murphy. The bishops admitted the trial was coming years after the alleged abuse, but argued that the deaf community in Milwaukee was demanding justice from the church.
An American protester in Rome on Thursday called the Murphy case an "incontrovertible case of pedophilia."
Despite the extensive and grave allegations against Murphy, Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the alleged molestation had occurred too long ago and that Murphy - then ailing and elderly - should instead repent and be restricted from celebrating Mass outside of his diocese.
Murphy was repeatedly accused of abusing boys but was never punished, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips. He died, still a priest, twelve years ago.
Check out the official website of abuse survivors by clergy of any faith and the Boy Scouts. They address abuse from all quarters: SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Mexico's "King of Heroin" Busted: (CBS) Federal police have arrested Mexico's so-called "King of Heroin," a powerful drug trafficker allegedly responsible for running hundreds of pounds of heroin into Southern California each year, authorities said Thursday.
Jose Antonio Medina, nicknamed "Don Pepe," was arrested in the western state of Michoacan on Wednesday and is being held for prosecution, said Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico's federal police.
Medina, 36, ran a complex smuggling operation that hauled 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of heroin each month across the Mexican border in Tijuana for La Familia drug cartel, Pequeno said.
The White House National Drug Threat Assessment says that while heroin use is stable or decreasing in the U.S., the source of the drug has shifted in recent years from Colombia — where production and purity are declining — to Mexico, where powerful drug cartels are gaining a foothold in the lucrative market.
Border Patrol agents seized 4.8 million pounds of narcotics at border crossings last year, and heroin seizures saw the most significant increase during that time, with a 316 percent jump over 2008.
Mexico and the U.S. are working together to counter a handful of increasingly violent drug cartels that supply most of the illicit drugs sold in the U.S. each year. The arrest came the day after top U.S. Cabinet officials, led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visited Mexico to underscore their shared responsibility for the country's drug-related violence...
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