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Loving on a prayer
May 20, 2014
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Pope Francis recently received an unusual letter signed by 26 women, La Stampa's Vatican Insider reports. "Dear Pope Francis," the letter begins, "we are a group of women from all over Italy (and beyond) who are writing you to break the wall of silence and indifference we encounter every day." Why? "Each one of us is living, has lived, or wants to live in a loving relationship with a priest she is in love with."

As Pope Francis noted in a dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, published in 2010 as the book On Heaven and Earth, priestly celibacy was optional until 1100, and is still optional in the Eastern Orthodox churches. The women, who say they are just "a small sample" of women in love or in relationships with Catholic clerics, are asking for the pope to allow them to openly live with their priest-lovers (or prospective lovers), and even "bless these our loves, giving us the biggest joy that a father could want for his children: to see them happy."

But, perhaps more realistically, they are also trying to put a human face on the priest celibacy debate, expressing the "devastating suffering" of women like themselves who "experience with a priest the powerful experience of falling in love." The signatories put their first name, last initial or town where they live (which could be uncomfortable for that town's priests), and phone numbers. You never know — Pope Francis may call. (The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau has a more extensive English-language recap of the letter.) Peter Weber

nukes
8:40 a.m. ET
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Iran has reached a tentative agreement with the U.S. and five other world powers, anonymous diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday. The deal, which hasn't yet been officially signed, is expected to relieve some international economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing their nuclear program over the next decade

Negotiators face a July 7 deadline, extended from June 30 after more than a year of talks. Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a YouTube video Friday negotiations had "never been closer to a lasting outcome." Julie Kliegman

terrorism
7:52 a.m. ET
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Governors and law enforcement officials are increasing security Saturday in light of State Department warnings of a heightened risk for a July Fourth terrorist attack, CNN reports. Authorities didn't have one specific threat to highlight, but are especially mindful of any attacks from suspected ISIS supporters in the country.

In particular, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday he is upping security statewide for various holiday-related events.

"We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists," he said. Julie Kliegman

Only in America
July 3, 2015
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A Little Rock, Arkansas, man lodged a complaint with the local NBC affiliate over its peacock logo, charging it included "colors of gays" to show support for the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. Don Stair said the logo was "a disgrace" and vowed to switch to ABC. The station responded that its multicolored NBC peacock — which dates from 1956 — is the "same logo as always." The Week Staff

This is sad
July 3, 2015

As America continues its slow, miserable climb out of the 2008 recession, wage stagnation is becoming a bigger concern. On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report showed that wage growth effectively remains flat. It's a trend that has actually defined most of the 21st century — and, at least in comparison to one particularly well-off group, the depressingly slow growth of worker compensation goes back further still:

(Economic Policy Institute)

Since 1978, CEO compensation has risen 90 times faster than the average worker's, the liberal Economic Policy Institute shows in the above graph. That's not CEO pay vs. worker pay; that's just rates of growth.

The average CEO made $1.5 million, after adjusting for inflation, in 1978, EPI says. He or she now makes $16.3 million. The salary of the average worker, however, has risen from $48,000 to just $53,200. CEOs at top firms now make over 300 times more than the average worker. Nico Lauricella

Science!
July 3, 2015
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The Solar Impulse made history on Friday when it landed without incident in Hawaii. Flying about 5,000 miles from Japan and spending 118 hours in the air, the Impulse set records in distance and time for manned, solar-powered flights. The pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who switch off flying legs, are on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Next stop: New York. Read more at BBC News. Nico Lauricella

Greek crisis
July 3, 2015
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In a short televised address Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Greece to vote "no" on Sunday's bailout referendum. "I ask you to say no ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering," he said. "No to divisions, no to those who want to spread panic." Polls show both sides neck-and-neck, and many Greeks are reportedly confused by the technical language of the referendum, which is over a bailout deal that is reportedly off the table. Tsipras tried to clear up the confusion, saying the vote is over a bad deal, "not Greece's participation in the euro." Read more at The New York Times. Nico Lauricella

Only in America
July 3, 2015
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A Jewish political action committee hired several Mexican day laborers to dress as Orthodox Jews and protest at the Gay Pride parade in New York City. After a reporter noticed that the men in Orthodox garb were clearly Hispanic, the Jewish Political Action Committee admitted it hired substitutes for its members "because of what they would see at the parade." The Week Staff

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