Owners present pets to Philippines priest for blessing

A pet dog dressed as a crowned Miss Universe is photographed at a pet fashion show celebrating World Animals Day in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 6, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

MANILA (Reuters) – Elaborately dressed cats and dogs and even a palm-sized sugar glider were among the animals blessed outside a Philippine mall on Sunday in celebration of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and World Animal day.

Pet owners raised their furry friends as a priest sprinkled holy water on the menagerie.

“They are like humans to us, so we need to have them blessed and make sure they do not get sick, and continue being with me,” said Filipino dog owner Ram de Castro, while carrying his pet dressed in Miss Universe-inspired red evening gown.

More than 100 pets were brought in for this year’s religious and blessing ceremony.

Anna Padrilao, a cat owner, said it was only right that her pet gets blessed because he is also a creation of God.

“Animals should be treasured the same way as humans”, she said.

World Animal Day, a day of action recognized worldwide for animal rights and welfare, is celebrated on Oct. 4, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Reporting by Peter Blaza; Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Alison Williams

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Is Medical Pot a Blessing for Seniors?

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Legalized medical pot may be a boon to older Americans, boosting their health and ability to work, a new study finds.

“Research [on medical marijuana] has largely ignored older adults even though they experience the highest rates of medical issues that could be treated with medical marijuana,” said co-author Lauren Hersch Nicholas. She’s an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Her team analyzed responses of more than 100,000 adults, 51 and older, who took part in the 1992-2012 Health and Retirement Study. The survey looked at health and job market situations among older Americans.

In states that legalized medical marijuana, there was a 4.8 percent decrease in reported pain for conditions that qualified for pot treatment (cancer, arthritis, glaucoma and pain), compared to states without medical marijuana. Similarly, 6.6 percent more seniors reported very good or excellent health in states with medical pot.

At the time of the analysis, 20 states had medical marijuana laws in place. By the end of 2018, 33 states and Washington, D.C. allowed medical use of marijuana.

The study also linked medical marijuana legalization to increases in full-time jobs among older Americans.

Among those who qualified for medical marijuana, full-time work increased 7.3 percent, compared with a 5 percent increase among the entire study sample.

This suggests that any decline in productivity resulting from medical marijuana use is outweighed by an increased ability to work, according to the authors. However, the study only showed an association and not a cause-and-effect link between pain, work rates and medical marijuana.

“Our study is important because of the limited availability of clinical trial data on the effects of medical marijuana,” Nicholas said in a Hopkins news release.

“These findings underscore the close relationship between health policy and labor supply within older adults,” Nicholas said. “When we’re doing policy evaluations, we have to think not only about whether the policy is changing health outcomes, but also whether it does it in a way that supports labor force participation.”

The study found no evidence that medical marijuana legalization was associated with changes in daily activities such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom or walking.

The U.S. National Institute on Aging funded the study. The findings are in the spring issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, March 19, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Pets, owners flock to Madrid church for blessing of animals

MADRID (Reuters) – Dogs, cats and birds were blessed at a church in Madrid on Thursday on the feast day of St. Anthony, the patron saint of animals, with many of the owners making an annual pilgrimage for their pets.

St Anthony the Abbot’s church priest Angel Garcia expected up to 15,000 pets to be brought in for this year’s ceremony.

“St. Anthony cared a great deal about dogs and abandoned animals, healing and feeding them. That’s where the tradition comes from,” said the priest, who blesses each animal.

“We come here every year since I have her and we come together, right Rita?” Madrid resident Maria Diaz said to her dog as she was hugging it. “St. Anthony is going to bless you. Do not tremble!”

Diana Castillo, another dog owner, said she was keeping up a family tradition, started by her grandparents who would bring their pets to the ceremony, first celebrated 35 years ago.

“We are from Madrid for several generations and St. Anthony has always been a very important church for our family … I come here since we adopted her seven years ago and we come every year.”

Reporting by Sabela Ojea Guix, editing by Andrei Khalip

Reuters: Oddly Enough

NORML Gives California Legalization Initiative its Blessing

In a strange turn of events, the national board of NORML recently voted to endorse California’s surviving major legalization initiative while the state chapter remains on the sidelines.

NORML announced that it’s giving the recreational cannabis measure backed by Lt. Gavin Newsom and tech billionaire Sean Parker its full blessing.

The initiative, which is its signature-gathering stage, would allow adults 21 and older to have up to an ounce of marijuana. Sales would essentially be regulated under California’s current medical marijuana regime.

It’s called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

When the board of ReformCA voted to put its own initiative on ice, it left AUMA as the sole remaining major legalization measure aiming for the November ballot.

NORML says AUMA is the only game in the Golden State.

“The board took this action aware there are other proposed initiatives in California that include provisions that are even more consumer-friendly, but those alternatives have little chance of qualifying for the ballot or being approved by a majority of the state’s voters,” NORML said in a statement.

Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML, said, “On the matter of ending marijuana prohibition in America, as
California goes, so too goes the rest of the nation.”

AUMA’s backers say the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, California Medical Association and California, and the NAACP have also backed the initiative.

The 420 Times

Florida’s Initiative to Legalize Marijuana Receives State Blessing

After suffering a narrow defeat in their attempt to legalize medical marijuana in 2014, the verbiage for Florida’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana has been OK’d and has now qualified for the 2016 general election.

Sparking hope around the Sunshine State, the Regulate Florida initiative has been given the proverbial green-light from the States political heavyweights. Providing supporters of marijuana legalization the legal cover they need to begin collecting valid signatures from Florida’s constituents, and thereby qualifying for next year’s presidential election.

Learn more about Florida’s recent marijuana  news

If passed, the Florida Cannabis Act initiative would make it perfectly legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess, use, display, purchase, or transport up to one ounce of weed. Additionally, those agriculturally inclined Floridians would also be allowed to grow up to six mature marijuana plants. Furthermore, should the 2016 initiative pass, it would fire up a system of state-licensed dispensaries.

With nearly 20,000,000 people currently calling Florida home, the Florida Cannabis Act only needs to gather approximately 700,000 signatures from valid voters to make the November 2016 ballot.


Crysis Board Game Is Crowdfunding With Crytek’s Blessing

Crysis, the first person shooter known for its superhuman nanosuit and impressive graphics, doesn’t seem like the likeliest contender for a board game adaptation, but that’s just what one German game developer is trying to do.

Frame6, which previously developed PC and mobile games, this week launched a Kickstarter campaign for Crysis Analogue Edition, a board game based on the first person shooter.

“Aside from granting us the Crysis license for this game, the design team of the original Crysis series has assisted us with original visual assets and was part of our QA team for this game,” Frame6 said. “This collaboration should guarantee a true to the original experience while providing original content for a core board gamer audience.”

Frame 6 says describes it as a fast-paced strategy game for 2-8 players, with Team Instant Action or Capture the Relay modes. Two factions fight over a hex grid, using different nanosuit abilities, cover, and other items represented with cards and dice rolls. You can get a better idea for how the game works in the video above.

The Kickstarter campaign has a funding goal of €85,000 (almost $ 95,000) it has to reach by June 12. At the moment, it has raised a little over €23,000 from 234 backers. You can find out more about the game and back it yourself on its Kickstarter page.


Pope needs help sending out blessing in first tweet

1 of 3. A combination picture shows Pope Benedict XVI posting his first tweet using an iPad tablet after his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI’s Hall at the Vatican December 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito

VATICAN CITY | Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:40am EST

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – After weeks of anticipation bordering on media frenzy, Pope Benedict solemnly put his finger to a computer tablet device on Wednesday and tried to send his first tweet – but something went wrong.

Images on Vatican television appeared to show the first try didn’t work. The pope, who still writes his speeches by hand, seems to have pressed too hard and the tweet was not sent right away. So, he needed a little help from his friends.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli of the Vatican’s communications department showed the pontiff how to do it, but the pope hesitated. Celli touched the screen lightly himself and off went the papal tweet.

“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” he said in his introduction to the brave new world of Twitter.

The tweet was sent at the end of weekly general audience in the Vatican before thousands of people.

The pope actually has eight linked Twitter accounts. @Pontifex, the main account, is in English. The other seven have a suffix at the end for the different language versions. For example, the German version is @Pontifex_de, and the Arabic version is @Pontifex_ar.

The tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the future.

The pope already had just over a million followers in all of the languages combined minutes before he sent his first tweet and the number was growing.


Later on Wednesday after the audience was over and the television cameras turned off, the pontiff answered the first of three questions sent to him at #askpontifex.

The first question answered by the pope was: “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”

His answer: “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.”

The pope, who, as leader of the Roman Catholic Church already has 1.2 billion followers in the standard sense of the word, won’t be following anyone else, the Vatican has said.

After his first splash into the brave new world of Twitter on Wednesday, the contents of future tweets will come primarily from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays.

They are also expected to include reaction to major world events, such as natural disasters.

The Vatican says papal tweets will be little “pearls of wisdom”, which is understandable since his thoughts will have to be condensed to 140 characters, while papal documents often top 140 pages.

The Vatican said precautions had been taken to make sure the pope’s certified account is not hacked. Only one computer in the Vatican’s secretariat of state will be used for the tweets.

After Wednesday, Benedict won’t be pushing the button on his tweets himself. They will be sent by aides but he will sign off on them.

The pope’s Twitter page is designed in yellow and white – the colors of the Vatican, with a backdrop of the Vatican and his picture. It may change during different liturgical seasons of the year and when the pope is away from the Vatican on trips.

The pope has given a qualified welcome to social media.

In a document issued last year, he said the possibilities of new media and social networks offered “a great opportunity”, but warned of the risks of depersonalization, alienation, self-indulgence, and the dangers of having more virtual friends than real ones.

In 2009, a new Vatican website,, went live, offering an application called “The pope meets you on Facebook”, and another allowing the faithful to see the pontiff’s speeches and messages on their iPhones or iPods.

The Vatican famously got egg on its face in 2009 when it was forced to admit that, if it had surfed the web more, it might have known that a traditionalist bishop whose excommunication was lifted had for years been a Holocaust denier.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Paul Casciato)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Duke Nukem 3D Remake Fan Project Given Gearbox’s Blessing

From time to time we see fan projects spring up that take advantage of IPs that fans don’t actually have the legal right to use. Sometime they’re served cease and desist letters; other times, they’re given the support of the IP owners. The latest such project involved an attempt to remake Duke Nukem 3D using the Unreal Engine 3.

After circulating some screenshots of a test map around the Internet, project lead Frederik Schreiber got in touch with 3D Realms’ George Broussard and Scott Miller in order to “start a conversation about the project.” Schreiber wrote on the Gearbox forums (via Big Download), “The shots managed to convice Scott Miller to a certain degree — But the project was only doable if Take-Two would approve it.” That led him to get in touch with Gearbox, and the project has since been given a personal non-commercial license to allow development to move forward.

Currently codenamed Duke Nukem: Next-Gen, the final game will be released for free and include both a three episode single-player and a multiplayer mode. You won’t need any other games to play it, as is the case when games are built on the Source engine as opposed to Unreal. And although there’s currently no release date set for the project at the moment, fans will be able to play the game prior to the final release. Schreiber wrote, “But we won’t hold back the experience until the final game gets released. We want to ensure that the entire community will play a part in testing the product in different phases. That’s why everyone will be able to play the first official Milestone Test. The first test will include a few maps, and the weapons, items, etc. included in those maps. This will be a Multiplayer Duke-Match Test.”