Good morning, gentlemen. Here’s what’s good feeding on this fine Thursday morn.
Pope Benedict kicked off his controversial four-day tour of the UK with a state visit with Queen Elizabeth this morning… and it’s a pretty big deal. This is the first pontifical visit to Britain in nearly 500 years, and it comes in the midst of loud protests about how the Church is handling sex abuse allegations.
Pope Benedict offered his strongest public criticism of the issue yet, saying that the church’s “first interest is the victims” and that he felt “sadness also that the church authority was not sufficiently vigilant and not sufficiently quick and decisive to take the necessary measures.”
The Pope was greeted with celebration and protest alike, but in a country where only twelve percent ascribe to any religion at all, the Pope faces quite a challenge. (That said, it likely didn’t help that just before the visit a senior papal aide likened England to a “third world country.”)
The aerospace giant Boeing Co. and a private spaceflight marketing firm (named Space Adventures) have announced an agreement that may allow deep-pocketed tourists to buy seats on Boeing’s seven-person spaceship, which is currently in development. The ship would potentially be used to bring folks to the space station.
This isn’t the first venture into space tourism—multimillionaire Dennis A. Tito shelled out $20 million to become the first space tourist in history—but it’s an effort supported by the Obama administration and may help reduce costs for NASA.
“This opportunity to provide transportation services to NASA creates another opportunity to jump-start the human migration to space,” said Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Space Exploration division. “One of our stated goals in our division is to become the Boeing commercial aircraft of human space commerce.”
With the party-shaking defeat in Delaware in which Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell beat out favored Republican incumbent Rep. Michael N. Castle, many are asking what this means for the future of the Republican party. While many Democrats are confident that the extremist candidates will help their cause come election day, Republicans have some major internal battles to fight.
“It’s official: There is now a civil war within the Republican Party,” said Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of both Bush and McCain. “The good news for Republicans is the Tea Party is capturing the anti-establishment energy in America. The bad news is that includes the Republican establishment.”
A government report revealed that the nation’s rate of illegal drug use is at its highest in nearly a decade. Fueled by a sharp increase in the use of marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine, the last year alone saw a 9 percent increase in usage. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, points to the country’s “eroding attitudes” that have harmed the perception of illegal drugs.
“I think all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people,” Kerlikowske said.
Roughly 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population aged 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs at least once in 2009.