This post is for all my Catholic in/out-laws and friends, and the world.  If you’re breathing, and even marginally listening, you’ve been hearing a lot about Pope Francis lately.  He’s standing up, speaking out, and sounding like a “Christian” expressing moral and ethical positions that go to the crux of what’s wrong with the world these days.  WOW!  This is SO refreshing, what with all the wingnut CINO’s trying to shove their belief system on the rest of us.  Pope Francis, I’m pleasantly stunned…

Let’s take a look at what all the fuss is about, the real thing — SIT DOWN AND READ THIS:

Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis 2013

#202 – Inequality is the root of all social ills.

204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

And how is the media is handling this?  In the Wall Street Journal, reporting on a Pope holding up the mirror to the capitalists:

Pope Francis Criticizes Economic Inequality in Mission Manifesto

In Slate:

Pope Francis strafes libertarian economics

In Washington Post:

Pope Frances denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in sharp criticism of inequality

USA Today, with a headline that tells it like it is:

Pope Francis: ‘I prefer a church which is bruised, dirty and hurting’

And the New York Times, toning down the message:

Pope Sets Down Goals for an Inclusive Church, Reaching Out on the Streets

CNBC distances itself by putting ‘quotes’ around it:

Pope Francis attacks ‘tyranny’ of unfettered capitalism, ‘idolatory of money’

A couple of the economic based tidbits from the Evangelii Gaudium:

35. Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed

38. It is important to draw out the pastoral consequences of the Council’s teaching, which reflects an ancient conviction of the Church. First, it needs to be said that in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained. This would be seen in the frequency with which certain themes are brought up and in the emphasis given to them in preaching. For example, if in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results, and precisely those virtues which ought to be most present in preaching and catechesis are overlooked

48. If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbours, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). There can be no room for doubt or for explanations which weaken so clear a message. Today and always, “the poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel”, and the fact that it is freely preached to them is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. We have to state, without mincing words, that “there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”. May we never abandon them.

49. Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door peole are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

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Nuclear Waste Confidence? NOT!

November 22nd, 2013

DATE: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TIME: Open House: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (CST)
Meeting: 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (CST)

LOCATION: Minneapolis Marriott Southwest
5801 Opus Parkway
Minnetonka, Minnesota 55343
Lake of the Woods Meeting Room


Prairie Island nuclear plant

That’s an old photo of Prairie Island, appropriate for an early winter day.  There is nuclear waste from the plant stored in casks just outside of the plant, and this whole nuclear compound is right next to the Mississippi River and the Prairie Island Indian Community.  Great… just great.  It’s just a couple miles upriver from us here in Red Wing, and it’s been incorporated into the City so the City could get utility personal property tax revenues, but that’s another can of worms for another day…

Nuclear Waste isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it’s allowed to keep piling up, and the nuclear reactors are allowed to continue to generate electricity and waste, based on the “Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision,” which was first issued in 1984, and then revisited since, and it’s essentially myopia in action:


A federal court didn’t buy the NRC’s policy:

NY v NRC-Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision 11-1045-1377720

So now they’re getting more public input into the rule.

NRC Nuclear Waste Confidence Page

What’s at issue now is the proposed Rule and the Environmental Impact Statement, and they’re soliciting comments on that EIS with the final due out about a year from now.  Here it is, and the EIS is BIG, 585 pages — yup, that’s what you’ve got to comment about (anything else will be tossed out and disregarded):

Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule_Proposed

Nuclear Waste GEIS

From the NRC’s page, the important documents/info:

So now it’s up to us to sort through all of this and explain why this is utterly insane policy… New York managed to get through to the federal court, so it isn’t hopeless.  But the NRC’s persistence in its “Nuclear Waste Confidence” is inexplicable.



Domestics over the weekend

November 17th, 2013

Getting caught up on some stuff, like recycling an entire van of electronics (thank you Best Buy) and getting speakers, 3 amps and a tuner in for repair, but of all the “normal” stuff, the best of all is getting the “new” buffet into the dining room, what a thrill.  Soon it will be up on the wall, and there’s a window behind it, behind the plaster … why plaster over a window?  Probably because it went into the attached garage that was added some time ago.  And it looks from that window like there was a buffet there.  I mean, this is a 4 square, it has the archway with the cabinets on the sides, and there’s no buffet!  What gives?  Well, folks, there is one now!  Soon it will be on the wall up to the ceiling, and we’ll have a “new” 12 foot long countertop, oak or marble, and we’re good to go!  The window… well, we’re pretending with the picture frame.  I’m not convinced we need to see the top of the van in the garage, but the jury is out…



Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 6 p.m.

Goodhue County PAC Meeting

Silica sand ordinance

The packet for this meeting wasn’t posted as of Friday, so county staff sent it right away.  Their system needs help, not only was the packet not on the county site, but on the “Events Calendar” it said the meeting time was 7 p.m.  NOT GOOD.

But on the other hand, the packet has some glimmers of hope.  It’s a hearing on the Save the Bluffs application for a Overlay District to protect natural resources.  Here’s the packet:


MSC Summary Report3

PAC Report_Save the Bluffs Zoning Amendment Request 11-18-13

What’s on the table is EVERYTHING and then some:

  • The “Four Points” as presented in the Aug. 11, 2013 PAC Packet:

4Points            There are later versions of these points, as Alan “pointed” out (cut and pasted):

The MSC met on September 4, 2013 to discuss these requests. The Save the Bluffs representatives provided the following four items instead of the ones provided to the PAC:  [Alan’s emphasis added]

1.   1 mile setback from high population areas, such as cities, hamlets, and residential subdivisions;

2.   1 mile [setback?] from the high water mark of the Mississippi – which protects the Great River Road and related tourism;

3.   Prohibit the use of flocculants (or better yet, permit only dry processing); and

4.   Set harsh penalties (such as canceling the permit) for violations.” [The Staff Report uses the above language.]

The items called out in the PAC agenda (“public hearing”) for Monday are different still:

a.   No frac-sand operations (mining, processing, washing, trans-loading) within 1 mile of cities, R1 zoned districts, and campgrounds;

b.   No frac-sand operations (mining, processing, washing, trans-loading) within a mile of the high water mark of the Mississippi;

c.   Prohibit the use of flocculants in the washing and processing of frac-sand.(permit only dry processing so chemicals won’t get into surface or ground water and far less water is used), and;

d.   Set harsh penalties for mining, processing and trans-loading violations (such as canceling the permit). The means of these different version seem similar but not identical and some of the differences could be important.

  • The MSC’s Recommendation (remember, they’re merely ADVISORY, as is the PAC):

MSC Summary Report3

  •  Any combination you like, one from Column A, one from Column B… it’s wide open.

And I’m rather attached to that “Any combination you like, one from Column A, one from Column B…” option.  First, the map, above.  And there are more in the MSC Report.  Here’s a map showing Setbacks, but it’s only PART of Goodhue County, we need the whole County mapped:


Here’s a map with the StB “four points” 1 mile buffers (why is this map such poor quality?):

1mileBuffermapAnd this map, showing the green “Blufflands” Sub-Eco Classification:

Sub-EcoClassSysAnd another showing public waters and blufflands (again, why is the quality of this map sooooo poor?):

PublicWaters&BlufflandsSo “Any combination you like, one from Column A, one from Column B…” to me means to take these maps, put them together, and what do you get?  Pretty good protections of the natural resources of our County!

This is a good start on the request of the original application.  Not the be-all and end-all, but a good start!


What’s up with Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Georgetown, Delaware?

Here’s a youtube before the shelter opened up:


State police were there today, animals carted off to who knows where.  The SPCA took it over, they were going down, down, down, but people were coming in to adopt animals prior to the December 1 closing and were turned away, locked out, and the police called!  Is this any way to run a rescue?

Youtube of facility under construction, nearly complete Marcy 7, 2012

Another youtube, pretty weird!

I first learned of the problems there about a year ago, and problems exacerbated last summer:

Keeping Safe Haven open goal of shelter’s restructured board

Other things online:

Animal shelter eyes east Dover location

On change.org there’s a 10 month old Petition to US Senate, Delaware A.G., IRS and Department of Agriculture to Investigate Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary for abuse/neglect of animals, misappropriation of funds and donations and prevent recurrence of prior wrongdoings.

This place is one of those weird stories that doesn’t add up.  The 2009-2011 IRS 990s are on file, and in 2009 they had a $300k+ bank note, same for 2010, and in 2011, a $2,300,000 million loan from USDA ostensibly to build their building.  And now they’re closed?  How does that happen?  Is there any plausible explanation?  What of the Board’s fiduciary duty?

2009 IRS 990 – Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary

2010 IRS 990 – Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary

2011 IRS 990 – Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary

Here’s the thing that looked like a big warning sign to anyone who bothered to look at their 990s:

WOW! No review by the Board, no availability to the public? WTF?

More to be posted as this develops, after today’s police presence, there will probably be more in the news tomorrow…