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Obamacare deserves some credit for the good news about health care

Posted on December 21st, 2014 at 19:49 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

THE RATE of uninsured Americans is down. The once-inexorable ballooning of health-care costs has slowed. And, the Department of Health and Human Services recently announced , U.S. hospitals are making fewer errors, adding to a previous finding that hospitals have significantly cut patient readmissions.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t responsible for all of this, but it is helping. Certainly these and other signs of progress make clear that the ACA is not destroying U.S. health care, contrary to critics’ assertions. There is no good case for the law’s repeal or modification in the ways Republican leaders have proposed. The latest news, though, does point out one of several modest changes Congress could make — if the debate on the ACA were more reasonable.


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Guess how this sentence continues…

Posted on December 21st, 2014 at 16:09 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

[Quote]:

A US pastor who leads a church which preaches against homosexuality has been arrested for…


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Congress Again Buys Abrams Tanks the Army Doesn’t Want

Posted on December 20th, 2014 at 19:28 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

The new defense spending bill includes $120 million for tanks that the Army has repeatedly said it doesn’t want.

For three years, the Army in numerous Congressional hearings has pushed a plan that essentially would have suspended tank building and upgrades in the U.S. for the first time since World War II. The Army suggested that production lines could be kept open through foreign sales.

Each time, Congress has pushed back. Last week, Congress won again in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015.


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Comments:

  1. Perhaps now that the price of fuel is down we can repurpose these as consumer utility vehicles. I mean, who wouldn’t want one of these around the house to keep those pesky varmits at bay?

Digitised Products: How about just giving up?

Posted on December 20th, 2014 at 2:56 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News

Quote

In music, there are people who want to supply music and there are people who want to listen to it. The problem is that the competition for listener’s attention is intense. That’s the core of the economics of the industry. If there is a fundamental imbalance in competition — in this case, favouring listeners — you can’t assume that suppliers will get much. Unless, of course, the suppliers can supply something else that is scarce — for instance, connections through online communities or, mostly likely, through concerts. The Eagles — yes, The Eagles from the 1970s — earned $100 million last year. I don’t recall any Number One albums from them. It was all from other stuff.

 


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Comments:

  1. That was a great read, thanks!

Life on the Edge review – the weird world of quantum biology explained

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 22:04 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

While everything is made up of electrons, protons and other particles that obey the bizarre rules of quantum mechanics (among them, the possibility of particles existing in two places simultaneously), collisions, vibrations and so on within a material generally prevent such “trickery” affecting an object as a whole. As the authors point out: “The weird quantum stuff that happens at the level of the very small doesn’t usually make a difference to the big stuff like cars or toasters that we see and use every day.”

But life, it seems, is different. Indeed the internal compass that enables female robins to migrate in the winter relies on a curious capability that wouldn’t sound out of place in an X-Men line-up: magnetoreception. The theory goes that the eye of a robin contains a chemical that, when it absorbs light of the right energy, can shuffle its electrons around. This shuffling creates a system that exists, thanks to some quantum jiggery-pokery, in two forms at once – each of which leads to a different outcome in the reaction that follows. Which form predominates, and hence which outcome is more likely, is influenced by the angle of the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the robin to detect if it is heading towards the equator or away from it.


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Good News You May Have Missed in 2014 | Bill Gates

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

I ended 2013 by compiling something slightly unusual: a list of some of the good news you might have missed. I thought it was a pretty good note to end the year on, and people seemed to like reading about some of the ways the world is becoming a better place. This year, I thought I’d do it again.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s been a turbulent year, in the United States and many other countries. But it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate some of the good news too. More children are surviving than ever before. We’re making progress against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. These are some of the most fundamental ways to measure the world’s progress—and by that measure, 2014 was definitely another good year.


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Comments:

  1. Isn’t it great he stopped messing around with computers?

German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls.

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 15:46 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?, Privacy, Security

[Quote]:

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world’s cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it’s increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.


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Comments:

  1. SS7 is a published protocol – it’s not really complicated although there’s a lot of it. There is a protocol conversion once mobile calls get into the “real” network, so it’s not a cause for mass panic. The data they’re concerned with is “just” signalling data.

    Presumably if you can make a device spoof a mobile phones’ data interchange to a tower you can find out roughly where any mobile phone is without setting up a call (part of the signalling protocol). And presumably listening in on mobile calls or getting/sending text messages is simple as long as you are in range of the phone or a tower.

    It’s probably of limited surveillance use unless you are able to spoof the law enforcement inter-office intercept protocol, when you can have masses of calls automatically recorded or forwarded wherever; but that’s under local central office control and unlikely.

    As for hacking call forwarding for a double hop, you can’t forward a call to a number that is already forwarded to you, and you couldn’t pick up outbound calls without being in range, so something is not quite right about that explanation.

Claims that boys were murdered by VIP sex ring are credible and true

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 12:48 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ

[Quote]:

Scotland Yard has said claims by a witness that a “VIP” sex abuse ring murdered three boys are “credible and true”.

The allegations made by the witness, known by the pseudonym Nick, have triggered a murder investigation.

Police said the alleged abuse by a Westminster-based paedophile ring lasted a decade at locations across London and the Home Counties, including military premises.

Det Supt Kenny McDonald, who is leading the homicide inquiry, told a press conference on Thursday that detectives believed the witness’s claims.


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Cartoons

Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 9:04 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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Congress Is Finally Going to Make Local Law Enforcement Report How Many People They Kill

Posted on December 18th, 2014 at 12:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Last week, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. Currently awaiting Obama’s signature, it mandates that states receiving federal criminal justice assistance grants report, by gender and race, all deaths that occur in law enforcement custody, including any while a person is being detained or arrested. This would include events like the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, says Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a sponsor of the bill, in an interview with Mother Jones.

The bill also mandates that federal law enforcement agencies annually gather and report these deaths to the US attorney general, who in turn has two years to analyze the data, determine if and how it can be used to reduce the number of such deaths, and file a report to Congress.


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Attorney General Downplays Ties To MPAA… Just As NY Times Reveals MPAA Actually Wrote The Letter He Sent Google

Posted on December 18th, 2014 at 12:08 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property

[Quote]:

Last week, we wrote about how some of the leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA was funding and coordinating various Attorneys General attacks on Google, even over topics that have nothing to do with copyright infringement. In response, Mississippi AG Jim Hood told the Huffington Post that he barely knows anyone at the MPAA, and has no idea who their lawyers are — and that the MPAA has “no major influence” on what he’s working on:


Hood said the MPAA “has no major influence on my decision-making,” although he noted that content creators occasionally provide reports and advice to him. “They’re just reporting wrongdoing. There’s nothing unusual about that,” he said. Hood said he has never asked MPAA a legal question, isn’t sure which lawyers they employ, and doesn’t think he’s ever met the organization’s general counsel.

Okay. Now keep that above paragraph in mind as you read the latest report from the NY Times, in which reporters Nick Wingfield and Eric Lipton (who just a few months ago had written that big article on questionable lobbying of Attorneys General) dig deeper into the Sony emails concerning the MPAA and AGs Jim Hood and Jon Bruning from Nebraska. The Times also uses some public records requests to show that the infamous letter that Hood sent to Google was almost entirely written by the MPAA’s lawyers. You can see the whole thing at the link, but this thumbnail shows a pretty long letter with the only parts actually written by Hood’s office being the intro at the top in green and a few minor word choices. All the rest came from the MPAA’s lawyers at Jenner and Block.


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Comments:

  1. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study

Posted on December 18th, 2014 at 11:51 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits. Approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence. Potential conflicts of interest are rarely addressed. The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.


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Groot dictee

Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 23:16 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Tussen niemendalletje en blankebabybilletjesprivilege

1.

Geef het Dictee terug aan de kijker, kopte De Telegraaf vorig jaar. Daar schrok het Dictee wel even van. De genuttigde zwezeriken lagen plotseling zwaar op de maag. Maar na een medoc te hebben gedronken, toog het Dictee alsnog welgemoed aan de slag.

2.

Dames en heren thuis en in deze parlementariërsruimte, bij dezen proficiat: u hebt, onder toeziend oog van koning Willy de Tweede, nog steeds nul fouten in uw brossel!

3.

O, als gisteren herinner ik me het eerste Dictee: na aankomst in een havelock met andere BN’ers bij de Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal bekroop me het rodelopergevoel. Een halfuurtje later kwam een kokospalm voorbij, en zee-egels uit het Middellandse Zeegebied en een kasuaris en nochtans; en apensoort, apenrots en apekool: een taalkundig houtenjassenpark, en kookte ik vanbinnen want ik kende de Van Dale niet vanbuiten.

4.

De oe’s en a’s waren niet van de lucht tijdens dat gillendekeukenmeidenvertoon van het Nederlands.

5.

Sindsdien hebben we ongelooflijk veel geleerd: aanwensel, bespioneren, ge-sms’t en kippenragout kennen voor ons bollebozen geen trubbels meer, en ook uitentreuren, hawaïshirt of gestrest en een rock-‘n-rolllegende in goeden doen spellen wij foutloos.

6.

Ooit mocht ik het Kinderdictee schrijven en vergastte de bollewangenhapsnoeten op de oeioeimachine, een perubalsempopulier en een tafa of West-Australische penseelstaartbuidelmuis; een gribbelgrabbel van woorden, alle uit de Dikke Van Dale, de toverballenautomaat van onze taal.

7.

Sla de Dikke willekeurig open en ontdek de geheimenissen van de brougham, een gesloten rijtuig voor twee personen getrokken door één paard; blader door die Ali Babataalschatkamer en ontdek dat een turbe een menigte is, en een turco een Noord-Afrikaanse inlandse tirailleur in Franse krijgsdienst.

8.

Dat was het jubileumdictee. Rest de vraag: wilt u de komende jaren meer of minder dicteeën? Het antwoord moet wel luiden: ‘Meer! Meer! Meer!’


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Comments:

  1. I thought the Great Dictator was a movie about Hitler.

Andrew Hawkins Has Some Remarkable Thoughts On Protest

Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 18:37 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.


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Purify her uterus if she isn’t a virgin

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 20:07 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane

[Quote]:

The Islamic State has, believe it or not, released a shocking guidebook on how to treat its female sex slaves. Something out of the dark, middle ages, this guidebook makes your flesh crawl and fill you with disgust.


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Voyager Buffeted by Interstellar ‘Tsunami Waves’

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 19:38 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Since 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced three ‘tsunami waves’ in interstellar space. The most recent, which reached the spacecraft earlier this year, is still propagating outward according to new data. It is the longest-lasting shock wave that researchers have seen in interstellar space.

“Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet. But these shock waves seem to be more common than we thought,” said Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Gurnett presented the new data Monday, Dec. 15 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.


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Rebecca Gordon, The Torture Wars

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 11:26 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Recently, Republican hawks in Washington protested loudly against the release of that Senate report, suggesting that it should be suppressed lest it “inflame” our enemies. The real question isn’t, however, about them at all, it’s about us. Why won’t the release of this report inflame Americans, given what their government has done in their names?


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Police asked university for list of attendees at fracking debate

Posted on December 16th, 2014 at 11:18 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Police asked a university to hand over a list of members of the public who were due to attend a public debate on its campus.Canterbury Christ Church University, which had invited experts to debate the merits of fracking in an open forum, refused to hand over the list, and the police request has drawn sharp criticism, with one of the panellists branding it deplorable.


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Keurig Hack

Posted on December 15th, 2014 at 11:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Comments:

  1. Is it me, or is the Internet fabulous?

  2. You both are, Sue.

  3. and porpentine makes three. Thanks, John, for this blog. It has character.

  4. I hope it’s a disreputable character, Jan!

Congress Just Passed Legislation Ramping Up Mass Surveillance to Super-Steroid Levels

Posted on December 15th, 2014 at 11:44 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?, Privacy

[Quote]:

When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared “passed” with almost nobody in the room)—I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.


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Pirate Bay Shutdown Has Had Virtually No Effect on Digital Piracy Levels

Posted on December 15th, 2014 at 9:04 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property

[Quote]:

The Pirate Bay was deep-sixed this week in its home port of Stockholm, Sweden, after cops raided a data center hosting the world’s most famous piracy organization. But its absence appears to have put hardly a dent in global piracy activity over the last four days.

On Monday, Dec. 8, a total of 101.5 million Internet addresses worldwide were engaged in torrent downloads of relevant titles tracked by anti-piracy firm Excipio (including movies, TV shows, music, videogames, software and other digital media). On Dec. 9, Swedish law-enforcement authorities — acting on a complaint from an anti-piracy group based in the country — descended on a Web-hosting facility used by Pirate Bay and confiscated its servers and other equipment.

The result: The total number of IP addresses engaged in peer-to-peer downloads of content tracked by Excipio dropped slightly from 99.0 million on Dec. 9 to 95.0 million and 95.6 million the following two days, before bouncing back to 100.2 million on Friday, Dec. 12. That’s roughly in line with the daily average of 99.9 million since Nov. 1, according to Excipio.


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Rosetta Reignites Debate on Earth’s Oceans

Posted on December 14th, 2014 at 20:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

The new findings of the Rosetta mission make it more likely that Earth got its water from asteroid-like bodies closer to our orbit and/or that Earth could actually preserve at least some of its original water in minerals and at the poles.


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The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States

Posted on December 14th, 2014 at 16:05 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:


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Comments:

  1. Subtle assertions that she’s a nut job have already been implanted into the people’s psyche. It’s really not very hard when you control the media. Resistance if futile.

  2. Amen sister!

Statsministeren og Stortinget overvåkes med spionutstyr

Posted on December 13th, 2014 at 16:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

De falske basestasjonene kan overvåke bevegelsene til statsråder, politikere, embetsmenn og vanlige mennesker som går inn, ut og rundt sentrale bygninger i Oslo. Om det er kriminelle, utenlandsk etterretning eller andre som står bak, er ukjent.


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The Economic Consequences of Drug Resistance

Posted on December 12th, 2014 at 1:13 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News

Quote

Already, 60,000 people die every year from causes related to antimicrobial resistance in the United States and Europe – some ten times the worldwide death toll from the ongoing Ebola crisis. By 2050, if the problem is allowed to continue to grow, antimicrobial resistance will kill more than ten million people per year. That is more than the number of people who currently die of cancer, diabetes, lung cancer, road traffic accidents, diarrhoeal disease, and HIV/AIDS combined. The economic costs from the resulting panic, including a collapse of travel and trade, could be devastating.

We just got a time machine back to the 1920’s.

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Comments:

  1. This is a direct result of doctors and the drug industry forgetting one important axiom: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is as true for bacteria and viruses as it is for the rest of us. Instead of only using drug regimes when absolutely necessarily, they have been used as a panacea, with the expected results, and we are reaping the consequences of that.

  2. Doctors have been warning of this for years. “Superbugs” developing because of drug misuse, but nature has a way of re-balancing the accounts. The bacteria have been here on earth for billions of years and there are trillions and trillions of bacteria for each human. Long after humans are gone, bacteria will still be here. The only thing constant about the earth is that it is constantly changing.

  3. As I was driving back to Canada after a 2 hour shopping trip to the U.S., the Canadian border guard asked:

    “Have you come back from a trip to West Africa in the last 21 days? Do you know anyone who has come back from West Africa in the last 21 days?”

    I’d have felt safer if he asked me if I’d washed my hands :-)

  4. This assumes, of course, that medical science doesn’t come up with an alternate way of fighting these bacteria by then. There are some ideas that, although still early in the research prices, show promise.

  5. @Mudak: And we have antisepsis (1920’s). Also probiotics and fecal transplants*.

    * I can see it now: celebrity colonic biome capsules :-)

Deuteronomy 15:11

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 14:10 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane, Pastafarian News

[Quote]:

Despite a significant rise in income inequality in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R) is arguing that it’s not something the state ought to be worried about.

“We don’t grapple with that here,” Perry told The Washington Post in a recent interview, while acknowledging that the state’s richest residents have seen the greatest spike in earnings.

“Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion,” he added, an apparent reference to Mark 14:7.


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Cartoons

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 11:09 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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5 Awful Things Congress Snuck Into the Omnibus Budget Deal

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 10:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

If you’re a Congressperson looking to sneak through something shady, the omnibus budget bill is the perfect opportunity since 1.) It’s 1600 pages long and very easy to hide things in, and 2.) Congress kind of has to pass it or the government shuts down. Again.


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Comments:

  1. I give these people full marks for consistency and persistence. They never lose sight of their values.

  2. It seems Congress and the President are perfectly capable and willing to screw everyone, except the rich.

  3. It would have been a political victory if the Democrats hadn’t supported the bill and let the Republican House shutdown the government again, but the Dems were too smart for that. I doubt these Democrats will win either House or the Presidency for the next 12 years.

UN Officials Demand Prosecutions for US Torture

Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 0:09 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

It’s not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Simple – the moment any of them travel outside the US, whatever country they arrive in arrests them and prosecutes. The crimes are serious to make that possible. Or even go ahead and do it in absentia, that’s been done before. It’s no use waiting for the US, they can’t even prosecute a simple cop with overwhelming video evidence against him.


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Comments:

  1. And, of course, the fellow travellers should be prosecuted too. Ex ambassador Craig Murray on his blog – https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/12/jack-straw-the-guilty-man-lies/ explains why he was sacked for reporting the rendition/torture programme and protests at not being able to talk on this matter, now that the redacted report has been issued, in spite of contacting the major UK news services, while Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary at the time has been interviewed by everyone and allowed to make statements protesting his innocence, Craig had to resort to RT to air his side of the matter.

    Wow, what a long sentence.

  2. Thanks for the link, pete.

Pope Francis: ‘All Animals Go To Heaven’

Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

[Quote]:

Pope Francis has declared that all animals go to heaven during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope made these remarks after he received two donkeys as early Christmas presents. During his discussion, Pope Francis quoted the apostle Paul as he comforted a child who was mourning the death of his dog.

Francis quoted Paul’s remarks as, “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”

Oh shit


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Comments:

  1. Heaven must be more than knee deep in arthropods.


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