July 15th, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Archbishop Wilton GregoryArchbishop Wilton Gregory

The Catholic Church announced new rules Thursday aimed at stopping abuse of children by priests and streamlining Catholic Church procedures for dealing with it.  The Vatican will add the possession of child pornography to the list of most serious crimes, declare the abuse of any mentally retarded person to be as bad as the abuse of children and double the statute of limitations on the Vatican's prosecution of suspected abuse.

Nearly 10 years ago, Gregory, the archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, oversaw the Roman Catholic Church’s implementation of a zero-tolerance policy in the United States - one that serves as the basis of guidelines introduced by the Vatican in response to the current European sex-abuse crisis. The “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” is considered a vanguard response to the American crisis, says CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen.

Gregory worked directly on creating those policies in 2002 when he was the first African-American president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition, the Vatican also plans to make it a major crime against the church to ordain a woman as a priest, said a source close to the Vatican.

CNN: Vatican set to publish new rules on abuse

Archdiocese of Atlanta

Theresa Dardar

The member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe in southern Louisiana says that the BP oil disaster is threatening the tribe's future. The independent Truthout website reports that shrimping, which supports many in the tribe of 680, is now restricted to a tiny area of the Bayou Pointe-au-Chien and many members have contracted their boats to BP to lay out boom. According to the tribe’s website, members are working to protect fishing areas and sacred sites.

“We are concerned about the upcoming hurricane season,” says a statement on the site. “Because we are not federally recognized, our efforts are impeded, but the government can fix this by bestowing federal recognition on the tribe, which would allow for more direct assistance to the tribe in clean-up and assessment measures.”

Dardar says the tribe members are looking after themselves. “We fend for ourselves,” Dardar said. “We can’t wait for the parish, or the state, to help us. The only time we see a politician is during election time, or when they come after we have a disaster, and we’ve pretty much cleaned everything up ourselves.”


Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe

William S. Robinson

The executive director of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network wants menthol-flavored cigarettes taken off the market. The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a two-day meeting beginning Thursday to consider banning or limiting the availability of menthol cigarettes.

Robinson, an advocate for black men’s health issues, helped to create the network in 2000. He will testify Friday before the FDA committee.

“The major problem is that we all understand the natural properties of menthol. No matter what we put it in - candy, gum, toothpaste, shampoo, you name it - menthol has a cooling and soothing effect,” Robinson told CNN on Wednesday. “When added to tobacco, we now understand it takes away the harshness of the smoking experience. Given that, we know that young people use it as a starter product. There is also evidence, because of the cooling effect, that people drag deeper, and there is growing evidence that it is more difficult to quit mentholated products.”

According to Robinson, four out of five African-American smokers now favor mentholated products. He said he has one big question for the FDA. When the FDA was given the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009, the agency banned cigarettes with flavors such as chocolate and fruit, because candylike cigarettes are more attractive to kids. But menthol escaped the cut. “Who made the deal about menthol?” Robinson asks.

National African American Tobacco Prevention Network

CNN: Should menthol cigarettes be banned?

Helen Burgess

The 59-year-old cancer patient is one of many Americans who are in danger of losing their homes - not to banks - but to their homeowners' association. A Marietta, Georgia, resident living in the Magnolia Land Condominiums, Burgess has been unable to pay her association fees due to her doctor bills, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In June 2009, the association cut off her water services, the newspaper said.

The Journal-Constitution reports that Burgess has been filling water jugs at her daughter's house some 10 miles away. Burgess has been able to resolve bills owed to her mortgage and auto lenders as well as the Internal Revenue Service, according to the paper.

"This is the craziest mess I have ever had to deal with," says Burgess, who asked her pastor to mediate to no avail.

Laws in Georgia as well as Texas allow homeowners' associations to foreclose on homes with overdue fees.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Some HOAs sue or foreclose to collect dues

Vince and Larry

The crash-test dummies have earned a place in U.S. history. The hard way. The Washington Post reports that on Wednesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History accepted some of the body parts and costumes from the accident-prone pair who appeared in countless public service commercials in the 1980s and ‘90s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration donated the parts.

The newspaper reports that the actors who portrayed the dummies, Tony Reitano and Whitney Rydbeck, attended the presentation of the famous auto-safety artifacts. 

Reitano, 58, told the newspaper that the dummy mask made hearing, seeing and talking difficult. ”We couldn’t get out of it if we had to,” he said.

Rydbeck, 65, who once worked as a mime, added, “God forbid you had to go to the bathroom.” The actors did not reveal what relationship Vince and Larry may have had beyond driving together.

The Washington Post: Crash dummies' body parts and costumes land at American History museum

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Henry Miller

    That's right, Mr Robinson–it's way to much to expect people be responsible enough to make their own decisions regarding tobacco, with or without menthol. People are just way too stupid to be allowed to run their own lives and that leaves it up to good, wise, mature citizens like you, with the help of government, to tell those poor people what they may and may not do, what they may and may not buy.

    Will no one rid us of these meddlesome busybodies?

    July 15, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    Good one Catholic Church... Ordaining women as priests on the list with abuse of children? Insanity. "...streamlining Catholic Church procedures for dealing with [abuse of children]"? Interesting. There are already procedures for bringing these people to justice. And it's called the law. If you call yourself Catholic, you are complicit in child abuse.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |