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May 7, 2014
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On Tuesday, the Vatican released its first public tally of priests it has laicized (defrocked) or otherwise sanctioned for sexually abusing children. Over the last 10 years, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said, the Holy See has defrocked 848 priests and otherwise punished another 2,572. These are just the cases handled by the Vatican, not individual diocesan tribunals, so the actual global number of sanctioned priests is higher.

The occasion for this exercise in transparency? Tomasi, the Vatican ambassador to the U.N., was appearing before the U.N. committee overseeing how signatories of the U.N. anti-torture treaty — including the Vatican — are implementing that treaty. The committee is considering trying to classify the rape of minors as torture, a decision that, among other things, could provide another potential avenue for litigation by victims of clergy sex abuse.

The lesser penalties the Vatican hands down to accused priests can include a lifetime of penance and prayer in an isolated facility with no contact with children — a sanction, The Associated Press says, that is typically reserved for elderly or infirm priests. Abuse victims' groups welcomed the new numbers, but said they also want names and locations.

"Given where the church came from — with the pendulum swung squarely to the side of the accused priest whose explanations were almost always believed — this is a move away from that and more toward giving credibility to victims, which is progress," Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer who led the U.S. Catholic bishops' abuse-monitoring board, tells the AP. "Maybe not perfect progress, but progress." Peter Weber

8:32 a.m. ET
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A Copycat Art Scratcher (approximately $190) is expensive as scratching posts go, but buying one a month is "a lot cheaper than your cat destroying an actual priceless piece of artwork," says Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo. Dutch designer Erik Stehmann had lost only an embroidered painting to his pets' claws when he decided he might be able to rechannel their artistic interests and did so by reproducing famous paintings on embroidered twine. A replica of the Mona Lisa will be the first scratchboard offered when the product begins shipping in May. Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring will soon follow. The Week Staff

8:07 a.m. ET
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Syria called local truces Friday, but put no end to the violence in Aleppo deemed "monstrous" by the United Nations, Reuters reports.

The death toll from a Wednesday airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital has risen to at least 50 people. On Friday, rebel forces reportedly fired mortar rounds into a mosque, killing at least 15 people. More than 200 people have been killed in Aleppo in the last week by pro-government and rebel forces, The Washington Post reports.

Peace talks aimed at establishing a cease-fire recently collapsed. Julie Kliegman

7:37 a.m. ET
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A friend of alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal officials and withholding information about the attack. Joey Meek faces up to eight years in prison and $500,000 in fines, The New York Times reports.

He agreed to testify against Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine black people in a Bible study at a Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June. Roof had claimed to have been planning the attack more than six months in advance, Meek said.

The race-related shooting renewed debate that led South Carolina to remove its Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. Julie Kliegman

April 29, 2016
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Actor Will Ferrell has reportedly nixed plans to play Ronald Reagan in a comedy about the late president's dementia, just days after it was announced he had signed on to star. Ferrell's spokesperson now says he was never officially attached to the project. "While it is by no means an 'Alzheimers comedy,' as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project," his spokesperson said.

Shortly after news of the film broke, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis penned an open letter expressing her disappointment. "Perhaps if you knew more," Davis wrote, "you would not find the subject humorous." Becca Stanek

April 29, 2016

A lot can change in eight years — as Carly Fiorina knows. While the former Hewlett-Packcard CEO is now Ted Cruz's vice presidential candidate, Fiorina actually sung Hillary Clinton's praises back in 2008. While on the campaign trail for Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Fiorina described Clinton as "incredibly intelligent, focused, tough, determined."

"As a woman, I take great pride in the fact that Hillary Clinton ran for president," Fiorina said.

Fiorina added that "bold women, women in power are characterized, scrutinized differently than their male counterparts are." Fiorina has since joined the chorus of conservative voices who have accused Clinton of "playing the woman card," saying that "Hillary Clinton, first of all, calls everybody a sexist and that's not a fair game."

A representative for Fiorina clarified to CNN that the vice presidential candidate "thinks Hillary Clinton is smart and hardworking, but she also believes she is profoundly misguided on the important issues facing this country."

Watch the surprisingly different tone Fiorina had less than a decade ago, below. Jeva Lange


Carly Fiorina in 2008- 'I Have Such Great... by DailyPolitics

April 29, 2016

The White House decided to mix things up at its daily press briefing Friday by having a fictional character step into Press Secretary Josh Earnest's role. Yes, seriously.

Allison Janney, who played the whip-smart press secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing, took over the podium while Earnest was supposedly out of commission for a root canal.

"But let's be honest," Janney said, "I'm better at this anyway."

Watch Janney's briefing, which — spoiler alert — Earnest eventually crashes, below. Becca Stanek

April 29, 2016
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Your friend is getting married. Hooray! Now pay up.

On average, millennials spend nearly $900 for every wedding they attend as a guest, according to numbers crunched by American Express this week. In comparison, the average American wedding guest spends 27 percent less, around $703 per wedding. That number accounts for an average of $205 spent on airfare, $166 on attire, and $69 on child or pet care.

Millennials, though, break the bank by spending on average $893 per wedding or, if they're a part of the wedding party, $928. Wedding gifts don't come cheap, either. When purchasing gifts for family members, Americans spend an average of $127, or $99 on friends.

Better start saving up — wedding season hits its peak in June. Jeva Lange

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