Pope Francis preaches tolerance, yet gay teachers like Mark Zmuda get fired

Have you heard the one about the gay teacher who was being fired for marrying his male partner, then was told he could possibly stay on if he got a divorce? This may sound like a joke – in theory the church is equally opposed to both divorce and gay marriage – but it was an actual suggestion made to Mark Zmuda, a vice principal at the Eastside Catholic School in Seattle, Washington, who was being forced to resign from his job a few weeks ago when school administrators learned that he is both married and gay.

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Direct your anger at the greedy rich, not 'Wolf of Wall Street' movie

Bank of America and JP Morgan's CEOs are more productive targets for rage at injustice than a Hollywood blockbuster

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Walmart and Downton Abbey: rampant inequality and detachment from reality

I'm not exactly sure what it is about the hit British TV series, Downton Abbey, that has enthralled so many of us. The scenery is great, Lady Mary's wardrobe is just fabulous, but there are plot holes so huge one could drive Lady Edith's car through them. I suspect the fascination it provokes has something to do with nostalgia – a hankering for a simpler time, when everyone knew their place and where the classes, though separate and unequal, were at least able to be polite to one other. Whatever it is that we find so charming about the series, however, we should try to keep in mind that the rampant inequality it celebrates is not something we should be hankering after.

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Atheist 'megachurches' undermine what atheism's supposed to be about

A so-called godless church wants to establish more US congregations. These 'places of worship' come across as a joke

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Want to end corporate welfare for McDonald's? Raise the minimum wage

You've got to feel for McDonald's. Every time the misunderstood corporation tries to offer its' low-wage employees a hand, it backfires. First the fast food giant was ridiculed this past summer for dispensing helpful budgetary advice to its struggling workers (in a nutshell: get another job). Now the company is in hot water again after a recorded call to its' McResource helpline, in which an employee who reported not being able to make ends meet was advised to sign up for food stamps and other government assistance programs, went viral online. Strangely though, the very people who ought to be most upset about this state of affairs – small government loving republicans who don't want anyone relying on federal assistance for anything – have raised little or no objection.

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How the Koch brothers' beer offensive against Obamacare fell flat

A Koch-funded front is using free beer to entice students away from health exchanges. But Obamacare is made of stronger stuff

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Are Americans dumb? No, it's the inequality, stupid

Are Americans dumb? This is a question that has been debated by philosophers, begrudging foreigners and late night TV talk show hosts for decades. Anyone who has ever watched the Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" segment in which host Jay Leno stops random passersby and asks them rudimentary questions like "What is Julius Caesar famous for?" (Answer: "Um, is it the salad?") might already have made their minds up on this issue. But for those of you who prefer to reserve judgement until definitive proof is on hand, then I'm afraid I have some depressing news. America does indeed have a problem in the smarts department and it appears to be getting worse, not better.

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Supreme Court's DNA ruling is yet another blow to civil liberties

A divided US supreme court ruled this week to uphold a Maryland law that allows the police to collect without warrant DNA material from persons who are arrested. The 5-4 decision was greeted with dismay by civil liberties advocates who see it as a body-blow to privacy and a further erosion of the US constitution's fourth amendment, which is supposed to protect individuals from excessive government intrusion. The truth is, in an era of mass surveillance, we have little privacy left to lose – and the courts have shown little willingness to resist law enforcement claims that access to our personal and physical data is necessary for them to do their job.

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Overreach on sex offenders makes Americans' lives living hell

Around two years ago, six ICE agents entered the home of a 20-year-old man named Adam while he was sleeping. They put a gun to his head and informed him they had a warrant to search his premises for child pornography.

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