Feds bust priest on child pornography charges

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A Roman Catholic priest in Missouri has been indicted on federal child pornography charges.

The indictment…charges the Rev. Shawn Francis Ratigan still took sexually suggestive photographs months after church officials removed him from a parish position and ordered him to stay away from children, The Kansas City Star reported. At the time, Easter Sunday this year, officials had not yet reported Ratigan to police.

Ratigan also faces state charges.

“When a person who has been placed in a position of trust exploits and victimizes children, he victimizes the entire community,” U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said. “The indictment today sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Ratigan was ordained in 2004. The indictment charges that a year later he took lewd photographs of a 6-year-old girl at St. Joseph Church in Easton, Mo.

Late last year, Ratigan was removed from parish work and transferred to the Vincentian Mission House in Independence, Mo. but his alleged activities were not reported to police until May. The official in the Kansas City diocese in charge of dealing with allegations of clerical abuse was removed in June largely because of his [non] handling of the case.

Time and again the Catholic Church figures they know better than the law of the land. In any case they think they need not answer to secular civil law.

Wrong! Again.

Pix of the Day – from WW2

This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Long Beach, Calif. She’s one of many capable women workers in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant. Better known as the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17F is a later model of the B-17 which distinguished itself in action in the South Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men, and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions. (Alfred Palmer 1942 Oct.)

And some of the photos that didn’t often make the Sunday Magazine section:

Negro Engineers color guard at Fort Belvoir

Japanese-American camp, war emergency evacuation, Tule Lake Relocation Center

Republicans compete to lead Christian political party

“I will rise into the air and you will see God embrace me…”

When Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting in Houston, world-famous televangelist John Hagee answered enthusiastically…

When Perry officially launches his presidential campaign this weekend, he will not be the only Republican candidate to carry the banner of Christian piety…Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty discovered his inner Honest Abe at the Faith and Freedom Conference in June. Heedless of the risks to his campaign, Honest Tim read from the Bible and thundered to the mostly evangelical audience, “We need to be a nation that turns toward God, not away from God!”

Another presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, refers to God so frequently in the context of her political ambitions that you would think He was her running mate. At the Faith and Freedom Conference, she treated the audience to a prayer of her own design: “Lord, we know there are things we have done in our nation that have not been pleasing in your sight,” she sorrowfully intoned, “Lord, we ask your forgiveness for that…”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may not be able to boast about Christian values in his personal life, but he has vowed to defend his grandchildren from the imminent threat of “a secular atheist country” or, somewhat inconsistently, political domination by radical Islamists. Gingrich has also promised to resist the fearsome “homosexual agenda” on the grounds that he supports “pro-classical Christianity,” a hitherto-undiscovered Christian sect that may be imaginary.

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Message to Obama: Cut military spending – Bring the Troops Home!

On Tuesday, 24 February 2009, two days before Obama presented a proposed budget to Congress, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and other House Democrats called on the Obama administration to reduce military spending, setting up a potential clash between House liberals and the White House. At a White House summit on fiscal responsibility the day before, Obama had cast doubt on the future of an $11.2 billion project to upgrade the fleet of presidential helicopters. But Obama has shown no indication that he plans to reduce, or even freeze, overall defense spending, which will be around $650 billion this fiscal year.

Frank says that’s a mistake. “To accomplish his goals of expanding health care and other important quality of life services without ballooning the deficit,” Frank noted, Obama has no choice but to decrease military spending. He said that spending excessive amounts of money on the defense budget “precludes” the Obama administration from addressing other priorities: “If we do not get military spending under control, we will not be able to respond to important domestic needs.”

Acknowledging that Obama does plan to save hundreds of billions of dollars by withdrawing from Iraq, Frank said the President must go further and take big whacks at big-ticket military projects. He pointed to programs like the Air Force’s F-22 fighter, the Osprey troop transport, and missile defense as expensive, unnecessary Cold War-era boondoggles. He singled out missile defense in Eastern Europe as a particularly wasteful use of American taxpayers’ money. “I will confess that I am not a regular reader of Iranian-issued fatwahs,” Frank quipped. “And probably one of the ones I missed was the one where they threatened devastation against Prague. We plan to spend several billion dollars to protect the Czech Republic against Iran. That’s either a great waste of money or a very belated way to make up for Munich…”

But don’t look to Congress to reduce military spending on its own, Frank said: “Left entirely on our own, the Congress will not do the cuts in the military budget that ought to be there.” Military spending cuts will only come, he said, if there’s grassroots pressure for them…

Overdue. We can cut over 20% of the military budget just by bringing our troops home from the 175 countries where they are stationed. At a minimum, the cost of maintaining someone in the military is doubled when they are stationed outside the continental US.

You needn’t worry about what we can do with all these folks if and when they are returned home. First off, they can be put to work doing something more useful than painting and maintenance work on property leased from foreign nationals. They can work on infrastructure more useful to our whole nation’s economy than dirt roads in Afghanistan.

Go to www.congress.org and email your Congress-critter and President Obama. Tell ’em to Bring the Troops Home Now!

Trojan t-shirt fools right-wing “Rock for Germany” fans

Before and After

Music fans who took souvenir T-shirts from a rock festival in Gera, eastern Germany, have discovered they hold a secret message.

The so-called Trojan T-shirts bore a design of a skull and right-wing flags and the words “hardcore rebels”. But, once washed, the design dissolves to reveal a message telling people to break with extremism.

Some 250 T-shirts were donated to organisers, who handed them out at the nationalist rock festival in Gera.

The stunt was organised by a left-wing group called Exit, which seeks to reduce the influence of the right-wing in Germany.

What your T-shirt can do, so can you – we’ll help you break with right-wing extremism,” the message reads, and provides a contact number for the group.

On its website, Exit said it had made contact with the organisers of the Rock For Germany festival, in its ninth year, using a false name and had offered the T-shirts for free.

Har! I wouldn’t be such a nice guy. I’d probably add a message about the wearer being a fool.

Of course, this all requires proto-fascists who wash their clothing – and themselves.

Warwick researchers really know their onions

Research led by the Warwick Crop Centre…at the University of Warwick has developed a unique collection of information about the disease resistance of 96 of the world’s onion varieties. It will be a crucial resource for commercial growers and seed producers trying to combat one of the most difficult diseases affecting onion crops. This work may also have key-benefits of reduced fertiliser consumption and enhanced drought tolerance.

The work on onions, in this research funded by Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), is being carried out by Dr Andrew Taylor…who has tested and recorded key traits of 96 varieties of onion from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa , India, the US and Japan. The data provides information that will be crucial to growers seeking to create onion varieties that can resist Fusarium oxysporum (which causes basal rot in onions), and which also respond well to Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi – beneficial fungi. An improved interaction with these fungi assists nutrient uptake in onions potentially decreasing the amount of fertiliser required. These fungi can have other beneficial effects such as increased disease resistance and drought tolerance.

This research will not only help individual commercial growers and seed producers but will also contribute significantly to global food security, particularly in situations where rising temperatures are an issue. Enhanced resistance to Fusarium oxysporum will be of importance in dealing with rising temperatures as basal rot is more active and acute in warmer conditions…

A Defra spokesperson said: “This important research shows how farmers can farm smarter – producing crops that are naturally resistant to rot and disease can help them reduce the amount of fertiliser and pesticides they need in our changing climate.”

A topic near and dear to my heart. My wife’s wonderful organic garden has a critical bed dedicated to onions. We are high and hot and dry – though we have sufficient irrigation rights to take care of water needs. She has proven year after year that our alkaline soil needs only slight modification and moderate organic fertilizing to produce a bumper crop of those wonderful bulbs.