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Exercise Increases Brain Health & Performance | Fluid Intelligence | Stunned American Nuns Regroup To Respond

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Brain science is a favorite topic at AOC, leaving us hunkered down in the latest New York Times MagazineAll in Our Minds”.

A feature article “Can You Make Yourself Smarter?” reviews the state of scientific debate as the ability of brain-building exercises that ultimately increase IQ by improving fluid intelligence at almost age.

Not up for debate is the impact of exercise on our brains. The newest research, outlined in “How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain” confirms that exercise appears to build a brain that not only resists physical shrinkage but one with enhanced cognitive flexibility.

Just as exercise slows or reverses physical decline in our muscles, it appears to slow the brain’s decay by producing new neurons. In tests on mice and rats, those that ran had about twice the rate of new neurons as the couch potatoes.

Even this test result is not the whole story. To be relevant to the brain’s functioning, the cells improve intellect only then they join the existing neural network. This is not a given, leaving many neurons rattling around untethered.

New research confirms the benefits of exercise in generating increased transferable, multi-tasking skills in our brains.

Just how exercise remakes minds on a molecular level is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that exercise prompts increases in something called brain-derived neurotropic factor, or B.D.N.F., a substance that strengthens cells and axons, fortifies the connections among neurons and sparks neurogenesis. Scientists can’t directly study similar effects in human brains, but they have found that after workouts, most people display higher B.D.N.F. levels in their bloodstreams.

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Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST - Sister Mary Alice Chineworth, 94, and other nuns at the Oblate Sisters of Providence motherhouse all have their favorite spots to sit during evening prayers in the chapel Aug.24, 2011, in Catonsville, Md.Pundits are weighing in on the aftermath of this week’s major report that cracks down on American nuns through their primary organization the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for what it called “serious doctrinal problems.”

PBS’ Bob Abernethy interviewed David Gibson, national reporter for Religion News Service, who said abut the Leadership Conference on Women Religious:

They’re (the nuns) thinking of simply disbanding and reorganizing on their own, out from under the church’s purview. But the church will have, they have—the archbishop of Seattle has a five-year mandate to oversee this overhaul, and they (the bishops) can rewrite their (the nuns) statutes and vet their (the nuns,) speakers for their (the nuns) conferences and pretty much do as they (the bishops) like.

Sisters of mercy, devotion — and dismay LA Times

In Philadelphia last week, a child sex-abuse trial involving Catholic clergy led to a bombshell — a bishop from West Virginia was accused of abuse.

In Kansas City, a Catholic bishop goes on trial in September, accused of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Last year church officials paid $144 million to settle abuse allegations and cover legal bills, and although many of the cases went back decades, church auditors have warned of “growing complacency” about protecting children today.

So who’s in trouble with the Vatican?


American nuns stunned by Vatican accusation of ‘radical feminism,’ crackdown The Washington Post


Vatican Charges American Nuns | Peoria Bishop Compares Obama to Hitler | Founding Fathers Insurance Mandate

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Sister Simone Campbell, Exec Dir of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobbying group which works closely with the LCWR.The Vatican gavel came down hard on US nuns Wednesday, with the appointment of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead the process of reforming the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, with assistance from Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki and also Bishop Leonard Blair, who was in charge of the investigation of the group.

The New York Times explains that the LCWR had challenged church teachings on homosexuality and men-only priests, while promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The sisters were reprimanded for making public policy statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” The disagreements have been acute over President Obama’s healthcare legislation and most recently the contraception mandate compromise.

The LCWR is an umbrella organization representing 1,500 members and 80 percent of the Catholic nuns in America. It came into existence at the Vatican’s request in 1956.

NPR reached out to Sister Simone Campbell for her reaction to the Vatican report. Sister Campbell heads NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobbying group that works closely with the LCWR and is named as another problem organization in the report.Sister Campbell responds:

Quite frankly, it’s very visceral. It’s like a sock in the stomach. I wish I knew what was in their brains. I don’t know. But it looks like from the outside that they are not used to strong women who took the urging of Pope Pius XII very seriously. Pope Pius XII urged women religious, way before I was in the community, to be educated in theology, to get educated in advanced degrees.

So, we took it seriously and we did it. The leadership doesn’t know how to deal with strong women. And so, they’re way is try to shape us into whatever they think it should be, not realizing that we’ve been faithful to the call this whole time.

Last year, American bishops demanded that a well-reviewed, scholarly book by Fordham University theologian Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson be removed from all Catholic schools and universities.

AOC has previously reported on another inquiry of American nuns, known as a “visitation”. It was concluded last December with the majority of nuns refusing to fill out the forms.

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Bishop Compares Obama to Hitler

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky accused President Obama of following previous repressive governments that “tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, iled a formal complaint asking the IRS to investigate the diocese, arguing that Jenky may well have crossed a line that could put the church’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy.

Speaking at a Sunday homily at Peoria’s St. Mary’s Cathedral, Huff Po reports the event:

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care,” the (Peoria) Journal Star and Chicago Tribune quoted Jenky as saying during the homily. “In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda – now seems intent on following a similar path.”

Jenky continued telling the congregation: “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries – only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down.”

The Anti-Defamation League also called on Jenky to apologize for his comments. Regional Director Lonnie Nasatir said Thursday that the bishop needs a history lesson on “religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society” by Hitler and Stalin.

The Founding Fathers

Insurance Mandate It turns out that President Obama isn’t the first president to pass a mandated health insurance bill. Forbes reported in Jan 2011 that in July of 1798, Congress passed — and President John Adams signed — “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.”

There was no debate at the time about what the Founding Father’s intentions were, because they wrote the Constitution. The law did a number of fascinating things.

First, it created the Marine Hospital Service, a series of hospitals built and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. This government provided healthcare service was to be paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors (a little more than 1% of a sailor’s wages), the same to be withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.

Anne of Carversville

Michelle Hunziker | Giovanni Gastel | Vanity Fair Italy March 2012

AOC Private Studio

Aline Weber | Liz Collins | Numero #132 | ‘The Flower Girl’

Anne-Sofie List | Katrine Rohrberg | Jesper Høvring Spring 2012 | ‘True Romance’

Isabeli Fontana, Carolyn Murphy and Shalom Harlow | Daniele +Iango | I-D Spring 2012 | Comme Des Garcons

Felicity Jones | Marcus Ohlsson | Marie Claire US May 2012 | ‘La Dolce Vita’

Martha Streck | Taka Mayumi | French Revue de Modes S/S 2012 | ‘A Beautiful Lie’

Irina Nikolaeva | Natalia Alaverdian | Harper’s Bazaar Russia May 2012

Rihanna | Tom Munro | Elle US May 2012 | ‘Forever Strong’

Crystal Renn & Adrien Sahores | Giampaolo Sgura | Vogue Paris May 2012 | ‘Premiers rôles’

Chrishell Stubbs | Bon Duke | The Block Magazine S/S 2012 | ‘Decadent Basic’

Kate Upton | Terry Richardson | Harper’s Bazaar US May 2012 | ‘The Shape of Things’

Joan Smalls | Steven Meisel | Vogue US ay 2012 ‘Short Order’

Guinevere Van Seenus | Camilla Akrans | Vogue China April 2012 | ‘Journey To Fantasyland’

Alana Zimmer | Sofia Sanchez & Mauro Mongiello | Garage S/S 2012 | ‘In An Octopus’s Garden’

Angela Lindvall & Rob Evans | Daniel Riera | V Spain #12 Spring 2012

Sensuality News

SN Living

Nargis Fakhri | FHM India April 2012

Olga Kurylenko | David Slijper | InStyle US May 2012 | Bright Forecast

Romee Strijd | Daniel Jackson | Teen Vogue May 2012 | The Life Aquatic

Eniko Mihalik | Regan Cameron | Allure May 2012 | Great Whites

Hailey Clauson | Rankin | Harper’s Bazaar US May 2012 | The World of James Cameron

Liliana Matthaus | Peter Jirmann | FHM Germany April 2012 | ‘Liliana’


Republicans Move To Shut Down Planned Parenthood in Ohio | Romney Gender Gap Shrinks

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Secret Service and military personnel allegedly brought prostitutes to this hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, while on a mission.Now we all agree that women can shoot straight. Doesn’t Kiri Blakeley raise a valid point when she asks why a a group of women secret service agents weren’t sent ahead of US President Barack Obama, knowing that they would keep their pants on in Cartagena.

“Seriously, can you imagine a bunch of Secret Service gals going on a trip to Colombia, where they are scheduled to secure the environment for their boss, who happens to be, oh, the most powerful man in the world, and then hiring a bunch of call guys?” she asks.

CNN continued their look at women’s roles in Secret Service scandal raises question of macho culture, women agents.

New Presidential Polling

A new CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight shows a shrinking gender gap among women. With Santorum out of the race, Romney now leads Obama 49 to 42 percent among MARRIED women. The reverse is true among SINGLE women where Obama maintains a huge lead, 62 to 34 percent.

On the subject of Romney’s vice presidential pick, CNN reports a new poll in which Stanford professor and former George Bush ex-Secretary of State Condi Rice came in first in a poll that included Independent voters and Republicans. The San Francisco Chronicle pokes a hole in the result with three words: Iraq … Afghanistan … Bush. The fact that Rice is prochoice is another major roadblock for social conservatives.

Senate Democrats

Three female Democratic senators held a news conference today, denouncing Republican opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a measure to counter domestic violence. The New York Times reports that the bill has more than enough official sponsors — including Republicans — to be reauthorized.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney, said in an e-mail, “Gov. Romney supports the Violence Against Women Act and hopes it can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football.”

Senate Democrats are planning to bring a bill to the floor — a reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which got not a single Republican vote in 2010.

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State University two Planned Parenthood Ohio Advocates, Ashley and MadelinePlanned Parenthood Slashed in Ohio

Ohio Republicans moved aggressively today in the mid-biennium review to significantly cut or eliminate federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

By implementing a new priority system for how federal family planning dollars are spent, with a strategy similar to the one enacted in Texas, “abortion rights opponents say the proposal may not completely end money for Planned Parenthood in Ohio, but would at least largely defund the group,” reports The Columbus Dispatch.

Joan Walsh writes in Salon that she will be speaking at Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ annual gala tomorrow evening. Reflecting on the Tea Party - Komen “double-barrel assault” on Planned Parenthood, Walsh echoes a view that many women watching this unrelenting attack on reproductive health embrace.

In the ’70s, the right grabbed the language of morality, love and family as its own. We’re taking it back. The assault on Planned Parenthood, and the spontaneous public backlash, reminded a lot of feminists that we’re the mainstream — the Tea Party radicals are not.

TIME magazine weighs in with some of the first statistics we’ve seen on participation in Komen’s annual Race for the Cure walks, sharing a sampling from USA Today.

-In Indianapolis, 26,000 people are expected to register for the annual Race for the Cure walk on April 21st. Sounds great until you contrast it to last year’s numbers at 37,500. That’s a 30 percent drop in participation and Indiana’s Komen Center executive director said that fundraising was also down by 30 percent.

-In Southern Arizona, 7,200 marched in this year’s walk, down from last year’s 10,000. Fundraising had also dipped 30 percent.

-In southwest Florida, donations and registrations were down 15 percent.