As Minnesota voters gear up to vote on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, the Catholic Church’s archbishop for Minneapolis and St. Paul has ordered priests in his diocese to show their support for the amendment effort — and the church’s stand on the institution of marriage, which they promised to defend when they were ordained — or remain silent.  According to the Progressive Catholic Voice, a blog that supports same-sex marriage, the letter from Archbishop John Niensedt was addressed to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese and was originally published in the Archdiocesan Updates newsletter.   In the epistle to his fellow priests, Niensedt, who has been a vocal supporter of the marriage amendment, wrote, “I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that in this movement to protect and defend the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman we are faced with one of the greatest challenges of our times.” He warned that the goal of those who oppose passage of the marriage amendment “is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.”
In what some legal analysts consider the most significant decision covering religious freedom in the last 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled January 11 that a religious organization has the right to fire an employee under the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s “ministerial exception” clause.    
Moments after placing a strong second in the New Hampshire primary, Ron Paul sent a message to all the other Republican presidential candidates who have never been Governor of Massachusetts: Get out of the race so I can beat Mitt Romney.  In a statement, Paul’s national campaign chairman Jesse Benton asserted that Paul’s strong finish in the Granite State, and his “top-tier showing in Iowa,” demonstrate that “he is the sole Republican candidate who can take on and defeat both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.”  
Iranian officials are accusing the U.S. and Israeli governments of assassinating another senior nuclear scientist in Tehran, using a car-bomb terrorist attack as part of the expanding covert war against Iran. American authorities denied the allegations and condemned the violence, but a spokesman for the Israeli military left room for speculation.  
In November 2011, Commentary magazine asked 41 members of the cultural elite — writers thinkers, and professors — whether or not they were optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future. While most of the comments dwelt on political and economic issues, some of the contributors pointed to our education system as a source of their pessimism.  
President Obama lauded the hard work and dedication of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees on Tuesday, assuring them that he will stand by their side amid a burgeoning sentiment from congressional Republicans that the EPA's environmental regulations will devastate the economy and kill American jobs. He also told EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the roughly 800 EPA employees who gathered at the headquarters in Washington that new government regulations on power plant emissions will save "thousands" of lives and inhibit "cases of childhood asthma."   "Just a few weeks ago, thanks to the hard work of so many of you, Lisa and I were able to announce new common-sense standards to better protect the air we breathe from mercury and other harmful air pollution," Obama professed, referring to new federal rules adopted in December to regulate mercury and other emissions from coal power plants. "And because we acted, we’re going to prevent thousands of premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks and cases of childhood asthma."   In his succinct monologue, the President added that EPA regulations can help generate jobs and promote economic growth, such as through jobs wherein people work to restore contaminated areas and through fuel-efficient vehicles that will ease the burden of high gas prices so that consumers can "go spend on something else."
While discussing on The View recently how North Korean heir Kim Jong Un enjoyed the luxury of being sent to a Swiss boarding school, Whoopi Goldberg said the following, “This is what happens with communism. It’s a great concept; on paper it makes perfect sense. But once you put a human being in power, it shifts. We saw it in Russia; we’ve seen it all over the world.”  
One of the unintended consequences of the ongoing and accelerating crisis in the eurozone is that ordinary citizens are taking their money out of the banks and burying it. Lack of both confidence in the stability of the European economy and credible solutions to the crisis have led to the exit of currency from banks in Greece, Italy, and other European countries.  
Newt Gingrich’s campaign, now in a free fall after dismal results in New Hampshire and Iowa, is unloading what’s left of his arsenal on the victor in those two races — Mitt Romney. Gingrich calls Romney a  “Massachusetts moderate” and is warning voters that he is looking to “European Socialist ideas” to rescue America from the current economic quagmire.   Of course, sour grapes might account for Gingrich’s charges, but regardless of the motivation behind these accusations, it behooves Republicans to analyze the allegations and see if there is any truth behind the bitterness.   There’s a lot about Mitt Romney that doesn’t appeal to advocates of limited government within the GOP. He is the man who signed the individual mandate into law, he’s wishy-washy on his commitment to reform Social Security, and he’s a champion of ethanol subsidies. These are not the hallmarks of a candidate keen on attracting conservatives, true constitutional conservatives.   Regardless of his policy positions and his record as Governor, Mitt Romney is winning. Perhaps there is a prevalent spirit among Republican voters that anybody would be better than President Obama. That theory might be based on the correct premise that President Obama is systematically usurping powers not given him by the Constitution and then employing those unlawfully gotten powers to convert the United States of America into a socialist democracy based on the European model. In that case, Mitt Romney is no different from Barack Obama.
The White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, President Obama’s point person on immigration, will be director of the Domestic Policy Council, a high-ranking aide position that oversees policies on issues including education, healthcare, and immigration. Muñoz is currently director of intergovernmental affairs, acting as a liaison between the White House and Mayors, Governors, tribal leaders, and other officials in state and local governments. "Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted advisor who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out," President Obama professed in a statement. "Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families, and I'm confident she'll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position."   Muñoz is an immigration specialist and worked for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, until she joined the Obama administration in 2009. The organization works on an array of issues affecting the Hispanic community, including healthcare, housing, education, and workforce development — as well as advocating legislation which would grant a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
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