Hundreds of Mormons resign from church to protest institutional homophobia

About 1,500 Latter-day Saints have submitted letters of resignation from the Mormon Church to protest a new policy barring children of married same-sex couples from being baptized until they are adults…

More than 1,000 people gathered on Saturday near the Salt Lake City headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protest the policy they see as discriminatory and harmful to families, with many standing in long lines to submit their resignations, they said…

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints approved the policy this month. It added same-sex marriage to acts considered to be a renunciation of the Mormon faith and thus subject to church discipline, including excommunication…

“The people in the Mormon Church are finding that this is not a Christ-centered policy,” added Brooke Swallow, one of the organizers of the Saturday protest. “This is a policy that is about the people at the top, and their views and prejudices, and they are not thinking through what this will do long-term to families.”…

The new church policy bars children of gay married couples from being baptized in the faith until they turn 18, leave their parents’ home and disavow same-sex marriage or cohabitation.

Not my place to worry about churches and how they rule their flock. I hope democracy and progress might play a role. Waiting for a demi-savior like Pope Francis to ascend to leadership is often a fool’s game played out over decades. The alternative of course is the decline of religion in general and most pointedly those bodies most ruthless in their exclusion of democracy, fear of progressive change.

Yes, that does sound like the Republican Party.

Income inequality prompts Republicans to change their lies — but not their policies

With the Iowa caucuses less than three months away, the Republican presidential candidates have suddenly begun discussing income inequality a whole lot more.

During the first two debates, GOP candidates used words like “inequality,” “disparity,” “rich,” “poor,” and “middle class” just 0.06 percent of the time, according to an analysis by the communications and consulting firm Logos Consulting Group. That rate tripled in the Oct. 28 debate, the first one after the Democratic debate that featured more discussion of inequality. It rose again to 0.20 percent in Tuesday night’s GOP debate.

But Republicans have resisted policy shifts to match the change in rhetoric, and remain committed to lower taxes and fewer regulations, which took hold under Ronald Reagan – [after the Carter administration] when taxes were higher and the wealth gap narrower.

“The only possible reason Republicans ever talk about inequality is if their polling is telling them they are vulnerable on that issue,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy analyst for Reagan who has since grown highly critical of the GOP. He argued that Republicans generally don’t fret about inequality. “Concern for inequality leads to redistribution, which all Republicans believe is evil.”…

The tax plans of major Republicans feature large tax breaks that would provide disproportionate gains to the affluent, according to the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. Bush’s proposal would raise after-tax incomes for the highest earners by 16.4 percent; more than any other group. Senator Marco Rubio’s plan would give the top 1 percent a 27.9 percent break, higher than an average 17.8 percent cut for all taxpayers. Senator Ted Cruz’s 10 percent individual flat tax would give the top 1 percent a 34.2 percent tax cut, compared to an average 21.3 percent across all groups.

Although Republican front-runner Donald Trump has raised hackles in calling for closing the “carried interest” tax loophole that benefits private equity and hedge fund managers, the billionaire’s overall tax plan also disproportionately benefits the top 1 percent…

Along with Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Bush, Rubio, and Cruz also oppose Democratic-backed proposals to combat inequality such as lifting the federal minimum wage. Republicans unanimously want to repeal Obamacare, the 2010 law that has slowed the rise of inequality by extending health-care coverage to nearly 17 million middle- and low-income Americans, funded in large part by taxes on the affluent. Many Republican candidates are also campaigning on cutting Social Security, which has dramatically reduced poverty among seniors.

Though economic conditions have changed such that ordinary Americans are taking home fewer real wages for higher productivity, the fundamental tenets of Republican economic orthodoxy have not changed — taxes on upper earners should be cut, rules on business activity should be lifted, and national economic growth trumps targeted efforts at assisting those getting left behind.

Just in case you’re silly enough to believe Republican declarations on behalf of economic policies which have been failing the broad ranks of American wage-earners for a century.

The lies may change from generation to generation. The narrow class interests served by the Republican Party only squeeze the rest of us tighter and tighter.

That desert you just ate may shape your eating habits

Findings, published online in the journal Hippocampus, show that neurons in the dorsal hippocampus, the part of the brain that is critical for episodic memory, are activated by consuming sweets. Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events experienced at a particular time and place.

In the study, a meal consisting of a sweetened solution, either sucrose or saccharin, significantly increased the expression of the synaptic plasticity marker called activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) in dorsal hippocampal neurons in rats. Synaptic plasticity is a process that is necessary for making memories.

“We think that episodic memory can be used to control eating behavior,” said Marise Parent, professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State. “We make decisions like ‘I probably won’t eat now. I had a big breakfast.’ We make decisions based on our memory of what and when we ate.”…

Forming memories of meals is important to a healthy diet. A London-based study shows that disrupting the encoding of the memory of a meal in humans, such as by watching television, increases the amount of food they consume during the next meal. Researchers have found that people with amnesia will eat again if presented with food, even if they’ve already eaten, because they have no memory of the meal.

To understand energy regulation and the causes of obesity, scientists must consider how the brain controls meal onset and frequency, Parent said.

Studies have found that increased snacking is correlated positively with obesity, and obese individuals snack more frequently than people who aren’t obese. Research also shows that over the past three decades, children and adults are eating more snacks per day and deriving more of their daily calories from snacks, mostly in the form of desserts and sweetened beverages.

In the future, the research team would like to determine if nutritionally balanced liquid or solid diets that typically contain protein, fat and carbohydrates have a similar effect on Arc expression in dorsal hippocampal neurons and whether increases in Arc expression are necessary for the memory of sweet foods.

Good thing my brain works well enough that I don’t volunteer for studies about food.

If politicians had man buns

It all started when @FigDrewton on Twitter uploaded a photo of Donald Trump with a man bun. The Internet applauded and everyone was happy.

That’s when design crowdsourcing website DesignCrowd decided to host a contest, challenging their community to imagine what other politicians and world leaders might look like with a man bun.

101 submissions were received and some of them were pretty hilarious. Click here for some of the Sifter’s personal favourites, but you can see all of the entries on DesignCrowd along with the winners here.


My personal favorite

Thanks, Ursarodinia