Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catholic Priest now Episcopalian Minister

Father Alberto Cutié, who was removed from his Catholic parish in early May after photos surfaced of him sharing physical affection with a woman on a Florida beach, has left the Catholic Church and preached his first sermon before an Episcopalian congregation today, Sunday May 31st.

An exceptionally well known Miami Beach based Catholic Priest, Father Cutié was known as Father Oprah, because of his media popularity.

When the photos first came to light, Father Cutié appeared before a variety of news programs, appearing at times contrite and apologetic for his behavior. In at least one program, he defended the Catholic Church's requirements of celibacy for priests.

Now, he has decided to leave the Catholic Church, but not his profession as a minister.

Although it is certianly not unusual for individuals to change denominations as a result of doctrinal disagreements, for an individual as visible (as now) Rev. Cutié to do so, particularly after he was caught violating a tenet he had vowed to keep is indeed troubling for the following reasons:
  1. It sends the message that the individual is pre-eminent, not the doctrine or the rules of the church or organization to which one belongs,
  2. It diminishes the concepts of integrity and commitment. Certainly it might be said that we must be true to ourselves, but when that concept is used as a justification to ignore or violate commitments that we have made to others, to a community, or in this case to a church, then we are effectively saying that we are not governed by any rules other than the ones we choose to obey at a particular time.

To read the ABC News story, click here.
To read the Fox News story, click here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fairfax High in Los Angeles Elects Gay Male Prom Queen

Sergio Garcia, a gay male Fairfax High student, was elected prom queen this month.

Garcia indicated that this all started out as a stunt and challenge, but ended up being a serious effort which generated discussion at the school about gender roles.

Garcia's success in being elected Prom Queen brings to mind Robin Byler's statement, posted to this blog on August 20, 2008, in which she declared that the Gay Marriage battle was already won, although perhaps for the next generation, because young people already believed in it.
A solid majority of young people under the age of 24 believe that same gender partners should have the right to marry. So the Supreme Court is just one more battle in a war we have already won, be it for the next generation.” (emphasis added) (Robin Byler, Lesbian News, March 2008, Vol. 33 Issue 8, p.
Read more about this story, at

- TwoMinuteBriefing thanks JP for recommending this story.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Overturn Prop. 8

On Wednesday May 27th, the American Foundation for Equal Rights held a news conference and announced the filing of a complaint in federal court requesting a permanent injunction against implementation of Prop. 8 and a judgment that Prop. 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution as well as 42 U.S.C. 1983.

Read more about this story at

Empowering Girls - Brooke Shields Wishes She had Lost Her Virginity Earlier

In an interview posted on, Health Magazine's website, Brooke Shields stated that her biggest health regret was not having had sex earlier.

Shields states that as a consequence of not having lost her virginity earlier than age 22, she carried around a protective 20 extra pounds in college, and was not as in touch with herself as she might have been.

Brooke Shields appears on the cover of the June 2009 issue of Health magazine. The online article is entitled, "Brooke Shields Gives Back: Her Mission to Empower Girls and More".

To access the article, click here. The remarks referenced above appear on page two of the article.

Church of Scotland Endorses Gay Minister

On May 24th, CNN reported that the Church of Scotland's ruling body had voted 326 to 267 to support the appointment of Rev. Scott Rennie who is openly gay. His appointment is causing dissension within the denomination similar to what has been seen in the Episcopal Church over the last few years.

Read a brief summary of the story at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor nominated to serve on the Supreme Court

Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated to fill the vacancy being created by Justice David Souter's retirement.

Sotomayor is currently serving on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She was nominated to that position by President Clinton after having served in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was nominated to her District Court position by President George H.W. Bush.

Although generally considered a judicial centrist, she is on record making comments about the policy making role of the court. Her confirmation to the Court of Appeals was delayed for over a year, an anonymous senator having placed a "secret hold" on her nomination.

Being of Puerto Rican ancestry, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor would become the Court's first Hispanic Justice.

The examination of the arguments made in favor or in opposition to her confirmation, not merely for their content but for the level of divisiveness they may or may not engender, will be as important as examining her judicial background.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Selling of Homosexuality

The din subsequent to the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8 to be issued May 26th at 10:00 a.m. may cause attention to focus on the protests, the protesters, their cause etc. and by doing so, two critical points may become lost: first, the legal decision itself, and second, and perhaps more important, how the protest or celebrations themselves fit into the broader plan of selling homosexuality to America.

Read about how a plan written in 1990 for selling Homosexuality to America is being implemented today in a new TwoMinuteBriefing entitled “The Selling of Homosexuality”.

To access this TwoMinuteBriefing, visit or simply click here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Study contends immigrants don't impact unemployment

The Immigration Policy Center recently released a study entitled The Unemployment and Immigration Disconnect. This study compares immigration and unemployment figures across the United States and concludes that there is no correlation between immigration rates and unemployment figures, and hence that immigration should not be blamed as a cause of unemployment.

A Salt Lake Tribune article reports that Mark Knold, chief economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services questions whether immigration rates can be fairly compared with unemployment rates. Knold does agree, however, that an immigrant population can serve to lubricate a stalling economy.


Immigration Policy Center
Part I of the report: The Unemployment and Immigration Disconnect I
Part II of the report: The Unemployment and Immigration Disconnect II
To read the Salt Lake Tribune article, click here. (Note: The Tribune article mis-identifies the center as the Center for Immigraiton Policy)

A far more conservative agenda for Utah?

A Los Angeles Times blog posting commenting on the "political fallout" from Governor Huntsman's appointment as Ambassador to China, noted that conservatives were pleased to be rid of Huntsman and his relatively moderate stance on various issues.

The Times blog posting quoted Dr. David Magleby, dean at Brigham Young University, as saying:
This state will see, I think, a far more conservative agenda shared by both the governor and the Legislature than we've had in two decades.
A more conservative agenda by both the legislature and the governor's office may, oddly enough, not be all good news for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which has its headquarters in Salt Lake City. Although the Church would likely favor a conservative attitude toward same-sex marriage and perhaps even domestic partnerships, a more conservative approach in dealing with illegal-immigrants might hamper the Church's missionary efforts among that population.

Having the legislature and the governor's office both at the same end of the political spectrum raises the concern that "group think" may develop. In such a situation, either everyone thinks alike, or they are afraid to express a different opinion for fear of retribution.

A statement attributed to General George S. Patton serves as a word of caution here:
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
To read the Los Angeles Times story, click here.

Pope Encourages Bishops of Peru to Relaunch Missionary Spirit

The Vatican Information Service reported in its May 16-18 summary that during their ad limina visit, the bishops of Peru had been encouraged by the Pope to relaunch a missionary spirit. The Pope told the bishops
This means relaunching the missionary spirit, not out of fear of the future, but because the Church is a dynamic presence, and the true disciple of Jesus Christ takes pleasure in freely transmitting His divine Word to others and sharing with them the love that flowed from His open side on the cross.
Although it might seem odd for the Pope to be calling for renewed missionary spirit in a highly predominant country in a highly predominant region, this is very much in keeping with previous conferences of bishops in Latin America where concern was expressed over the success of "North American" churches in obtaining converts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Official - California Supreme Court WILL Issue an Opinion on Proposition 8 on Tuesday

The California Supreme Court website has posted the following information:
The California Supreme Court has announced that it will issue an opinion in three cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. (Strauss v. Horton, S168047; Tyler v. State of California, S168066; City and County of San Francisco v. Horton, S168078.) Tuesday at 10 a.m., the opinion will be available on the California Courts Web site at this link:

California Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage Expected Soon

Several news sources are reporting that the California Supreme Court Decision on proposition 8 and the future of Gay Marriage in California is imminent. Some had speculated that the decision would be handed down yesterday, but are now expecting the decision on Tuesday.

Some groups favoring Gay Marriage are anticipating that proposition 8 will be upheld, meaning that marriages prior to its passage will be held as legal, but no additional same-sex marriage will be allowed. These groups are planning accordingly. One of the more interesting approaches is being taken by the group Equality California. They have started a campaign entitled "Win Marriage Back". Their campaign plans to feature a concerted grass roots effort, along with what they describe as "powerful" TV commercials.


Equality California - Win Marriage Back
Day of
San Francisco Bay Times - Here Comes Da Justice! California to Rule Soon
SF City Hall Examiner - Prop 8 Ruling Will Come Out Soon! It's Prediction Time!

The Pope Reaches Out Online

The Vatican has launched a new website named

The website is designed to make it easier for those of the "digital generation" to receive inspirational messages from Pope Benedict.

The site includes access to a Facebook app, and iPhone app, a YouTube link, and what promises to be a Wiki like site entitled WikiCath.

TwoMinuteBriefing readers may recall that last May the Pope sent thousands of Catholic youth text messages on their mobile phones during World Youth Day in Sydney.

To read the AP story, click here.

To visit the new Vatican website, click here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Arrests on Southern Border Drop

The Washington Post reported today that the number of arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped by 27% over the last year, with the number now standing at the lowest level since the early 1970's.

The Post article notes that the decline in the number of arrests, along with the decline in remittances back to Mexico, and Mexican census data all would seem to indicate that the number of individuals entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico is in fact down. (See also Mexican Data Says Migration to U.S. Has Plummeted)

  • Community organizations, church groups, etc. who have been serving the Hispanic population may notice a decline in the populations they serve, OR
  • They may find that the populations they serve are in greater need because of increased enforcement and fewer opportunities to find employment in the U.S.
  • Additionally, churches who were revitalizing their congregations by recruiting Hispanic immigrants may notice a decline in recent arrivals to the U.S., or
  • They may find that Hispanics are less inclined to join predominantly Anglo congregations or denominations, particularly if members of those congregations/denominations are vocal in decrying illegal immigration.
Perhaps the most disappointing and concerning aspect of the Washington Post article was the virulent nature of some of the comments posted to the story. One commenter suggested:
Solution: Create a "No-man Zone" on the border and let our military constantly use it for bombing practice!
Another wrote:
I prefer a 2,000 mile long, densely packed minefield as a solution. Blow a few limbs off and it becomes more difficult to complete, or re-attempt a crossing. Then Mexico can begin spending all of those remittances they're currently receiving on rehab for all the stumps.

To access the article, click here.
To access the comments page, click here.

- TwoMinuteBriefing thanks GW for recommending this story.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The NEW Brain Drain

In decades past, many eyed the U.S. and bemoaned the brain drain occurring out of their countries, as top scholars and students came to the U.S. to study and then stayed to make their careers.

Two reports now speak of a reverse brain drain, where individuals who came to the U.S., earned their degrees, and commenced their careers are now leaving to return to their countries of origin.

On May 1st, the Christian Science Monitor reported that China was wooing some of their best expatriate scientists back to China with relocation allowances of $146,000 and salaries reported to be as high as $250,000 a year. (To read the story, click here.)

Yesterday, NPR reported that a similar reverse brain drain is occurring with individuals returning to India. NPR reports that a survey of recent returnees found that they were typically in their 30's, married, and have either a master's degree or a Ph.D.

Although these reverse migrations do not currently pose a threat to the U.S. dominance in the sciences, it would be well to consider several other factors.
  1. Although the current reverse brain drain may not currently significantly impact U.S. dominance in the sciences, it may significantly help the countries to which the scientists are returning.
  2. In returning to their countries of origin, what perceptions and attitudes are they taking back with them regarding the U.S., its culture, its religions, etc. If these perceptions are favorable, it is possible that they may to some measure favorably affect the attitudes of others in their countries of origin toward the U.S.
  3. Finally, although the reverse brain drain may not currently significantly impact U.S. dominance in the sciences, we cannot take that leadership for granted.

- TwoMinuteBriefing thanks DW for recommending this story.

Survey delves into high birth rate for young Latinas

Report says 53% of Latina teens become pregnant as teens

According to a study conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, in conjunction with the National Council of La Raza, 53% of Latina teens in the U.S. become pregnant before age 20; this in spite of 81% of Latino teens believing that getting pregnant as a teen will delay or prevent them accomplishing their life goals.

The pregnancy rate among young Latinas is nearly twice the national average.

Although 79% of teens indicated that their parents had talked to them about sex, and 49% indicated that parents were their biggest influence in decisions about sex, 64% felt that parents did not know how to carry on a discussion about sex.

Another noteworthy finding from focus groups conducted in this study was that Latino teens often felt frustrated because of the pressure their parents placed on them to succeed academically, while those same parents were not prepared or in a position to help them reach those educational goals.

In light of all of the long term consequences that may result from a teen pregnancy, this report is very concerning. Community groups, churches, etc. working with and within the Hispanic population in the U.S. would do well to review this report, and particularly note that Hispanic parents may need additional assistance in working with their teen children.

Download the report here: Toward A Common Future: Latino Teens and Adults Speak Out

Read the CNN story here:

Additional Links:

National Council of La Raza

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Friday, May 15, 2009

Schwarzenegger outlines drastic budget cuts for California

Facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing a very strict budget which would include slashing $3 billion from public school budgets.

The $3 billion cut from public school budgets is the optimistic number and assumes that the budget measures on the ballot next week are passed by California voters. If they are not, public schools could face $5 billion in cuts.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey shows that voters do not favor raising taxes, but would rather see government spending cut.

This proposal comes after the news released earlier this week that although the state high school dropout rate had declined by 1 percentage point, the Los Angeles Unified School District high school dropout rate had increased by 3 percentage points to 34.9%. (See blog posting Wednesday May 13)

In addition to cuts to the education budgets, the Governor is proposing to release thousands of inmates from prison early, packing others into county jails, and eliminating healthcare benefits to more than 200,000 children.,0,4954101.story?track=ntothtml

Mexican Data Says Migration to U.S. Has Plummeted

The New York Times is reporting that Mexican Census data shows that approximately 226,000 fewer people emigrated from Mexico to other countries during the year ending in August of 2008.

It is believed that most people emigrating from Mexico to other countries are coming to the United States.

The Center for Immigration Studies attributes this decline to increased enforcement at the border and in workplaces around America. The Center for Immigration Studies could be described as having a strong anti-immigrant agenda.

The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, believes that the decline should more correctly be attributed to the economic decline. When the job market revives, the emigration will revive as well.

Chrysler Seeks To Slash 789 Dealerships

In a bankruptcy court filing yesterday, Chrysler stated that it wants to eliminate 789 of its approximately 3,200 U.S. dealerships by early June.

Closing the dealerships is designed to help Chrysler in its bankruptcy restructuring process.

The impact on state and local economies could be significant. For example, in Utah, car sales generate a large amount of tax revenue. KSL reports that the tax revenue from car sales typically ranks among the top three revenue sources for the state. At the local level, the loss of dealerships means the loss of jobs, and the loss of those salaries being spent in the local economy.

10 dealerships are targetted to be closed in Utah. They are in Spanish Fork, 2 in Ogden, Treemonton, Layton, 3 in Cedar City, Nephi, and St. George.

As this post was being written, GM announced that it plans to end contracts with 1,100 dealerships. Details will be posted when available.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The face of Utah is changing fast

A Deseret News article today comments on the newly released Census estimates which show that since 2000, the minority population in Utah has grown three times as fast as the white non-Hispanic population. They note that in Salt Lake County, one in four residents is now a minority.

Online, the first screen of the story seems to emphasize the growth of the Hispanic population. In fact, the article begins by noting the increased number of taco carts around the corner of State Street and 800 South in Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately, as would be expected, comments posted to the story tend to emphasize the growth of the Mexican population, and illegal immigration. One individual wrote:
If Utah is getting more like Mexico, that's because it's getting worse. I've been to Mexico; for the most part it's a dump. Certain parts of Salt Lake City are starting to look like it too.
Another commented:
Ah, isn't that nice. The Third World coming to Utah making things look and operate more like Mexico Lindo every day.
And as on previous occasions, there are those comments that snipe at the LDS Church:
What is that thing called ?? Article of Faith? We believe in obeying the laws of the land, etc. Smirk. We do?? If it is convenient maybe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Declining Immigration Slows Asian, Hispanic Growth

An AP story run by Fox News observes that the growth of Hispanic and Asian populations in the U.S. has "slowed unexpectedly" due to immigration laws and a slow economy.

Analysts at TwoMinuteBriefing anticipated the likelihood of a slowdown, and have encouraged those in policy positions to note the possible impact of anti-immigrant feelings and the current economic situation particularly on the Hispanic population.

How long this slowdown will continue, how deep the slowdown will, and what areas will be most affected is yet to be determined.,2933,520138,00.html

High school dropout rate climbs to 34.9% in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the high school dropout rate for the Los Angeles Unified School District was 34.9% last year, up 3 percentage points from the year before.

For the state overall, the dropout rate went down 1 percentage point from the previous year to 20.1%.

Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is quoted as saying that the rates are "unacceptably high" and that they are "alarmingly high" among Hispanic and African American students.

With many now saying that even a high school education is insufficient to obtain an adequate paying job, the implications of over a third of the high school students in Los Angeles Unified not even graduating from high school are very concerning indeed.,0,4472466.story

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just 49% Now Say Home Worth More Than Mortgage

The number of homeowners who believe their homes are worth more than they owe on their mortgages is now less than 50%, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey.

As compared to 61% who held that opinion early last December, and 54% who felt that way in April of this year, now only 49% said their houses were worth more than they owed.

65% Say Daily Papers Will Be Gone In Ten Years

In a posting dated May 12th, Rasmussen Reports notes that 65% of their survey respondents believe that the daily newspaper will be gone in ten years.

They also noted that 56% of Americans buy a newspaper once a week or less. This includes 37% who rarely or never buy a copy of their local newspaper.

Curiously, 69% of Rasmussen's respondents prefer reading a printed copy of a newspaper as compared to reading it online.

Read the complete article by Rasmussen here:

Monday, May 11, 2009

The New Face of Homelessness

This video report from CNN discusses the "new face of homelessness" in America as a result of the current economic downturn.

Highlighted is a working mom and her son, who are now homeless.

Victims face Deportation

Leticia Avila, apparently a member of the LDS Church, reported used her Church connections to scam undocumented residents out of $4,000 each, promising them they would receiving work visas.

Victims of the scam say that immigration officials offered them work visas in exchange for testimony against Avila. Avila has not been charged, but the victims who testified have been arrested and told they will be deported.

A comment posted to the story reads, "An illegal immigrant by any other name is still an illegal immigrant...and needs to leave. I don't care if they are the suspect or the victim. That makes no difference to me. These people came uninvited."

Another read, "They got exactly what they deserved. And they should take their kids with them!"

Also of note is a large number of negative comments aimed at the LDS Church.

Christian High School Student Threatened with Suspension for Attending a non-Christian Prom

An ABC news report which relates the story of four teens who were denied permission to attend proms, tells of a young man attending a Christian High School who was informed that if attended prom at the non-Christian high school of his girlfriend, he would be suspended and not allowed to graduate with his class.

According to the article, his school does not permit "dancing, listening to rock music and holding hands and kissing".

A comment to the article read, "I am so glad I dropped the entire Christian religion thing. Intolerance and threats may not be the foundation to that religion, but it is certainly what is practiced in its organized sense."

Although the intent of the article appears to be to relate how school officials are at times heavy handed in denying students access to proms, in the current atmosphere of the battle over gay rights, the story of the young man attend the Christian high school may also be seen as demonstrating another case of Christians intolerance.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage Momentum?

CNN has a video discussion posted on its site regarding same-sex marriage.

The points made in the discussion, both for and against same-sex marriage, are worth noting.

This is discussion is somewhat typical of the type of discussions that are taking place outside of Church circles.

Maire Osmond's KOST interview regarding her lesbian daughter

Last week reports surfaced that Marie Osmond's daughter was lesbian, and that Marie was "heartbroken" about the situation.

In an interview with KOST radio in California, Marie addresses the issue, declaring support for her daughter, and expressing what many are interpreting as support for gay marriage.

See the article at:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

3.5M Kids Under 5 On Verge Of Going Hungry

Feeding America, a not-for-profit advocacy group, is reporting that 3.5 million children under the age of 5 in the U.S. are at "risk of hunger".

CBS News coverage of this story goes on to say that 11% of household have insufficient food for "an active, healthy life."

Feeding America's uses 2005-2007 data from the the Census Bureau and the Agriculture Department.

More cell phone users dropping landlines

A CDC survey released May 6th, reports that 20% of the homes in the U.S. have cellphones only, and no landline phones.

Seventeen percent of homes in the U.S. have landlines only, and no cell phones.

Approximately 2% have no phone service at all.

Illegal immigrants score Supreme Court victory

A United States Supreme Court decision handed down on Monday, May 4th, states that prosecutors cannot charge an undocumented worker with aggravated ID theft, unless they can prove the worker intended to commit fraud.

The decision came with a 9-0 vote.

The details of the decision likely turn on some very specific aspects of the law.

More important than the decision, however, is the reaction from those with anti-immigrant leanings. A reading of the comments posted to the story show
  1. strong anti-immigrant rhetoric, and
  2. strong anti-government rhetoric.
The anti-government postings are concerning, especially given the recent Department of Homeland Security report on the danger of domestic terrorism sponsored by the right-wing radical fringe.

Department of Homeland Security Report

Bristol Palin calls teen motherhood 'hard work'

Bristol Palin appeared on the NBC's Today show on Wednesday, May 6th. During her interview, she stated that whereas she previously was advocating safe sex, she is not advocating abstinence.

Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol's baby appeared on CBS's The Early Show also on Wednesday and said that abstinence-only for teens was not realistic. He is quoted as saying, " ... It's a great idea and a great message she's trying to send out to the world and all the young kids. It's not easy raising a baby. But I do think there's more things to it than just not having sex."

ABC news headlined a story "NYC Teens Chide Palin's Abstinence Call - Students Say Bristol Palin is a 'hypocrite,' a 'Celebrity' and 'Hasn't Been in Our Shoes'.

Bristol had appeared before approximately 150 teens in a town meeting forum at The Times Center.

Recycling the Suburbs

Time Magazine, in its series entitled "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now", proposes that American suburbs as we know them are dying.

The article suggests that due to the decline in the percentage of homes with kids, and an increasing preference for urban "amenities", the "dream of a big house with the big lawn is vanishing."

See the article here,28804,1884779_1884782_1884756,00.html