Medium 0 comments on Pocket Pair Might Face Legal Issues Over Palworld

Pocket Pair Might Face Legal Issues Over Palworld

A screenshot of Palworld's opening scene. It includes creature that look like Pokemon knock-offs.

I had never heard of Palworld until several Twitch streamers started playing it. The game launched on Steam (possibly as a beta) and there seemed to be a lot of excitement over it. I was watching a streamer go through the character choices. The game offered male and female characters, with a variety of skin tones and hair colors.

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Medium 0 comments on Pope Joan May Have Been The Only Female Pope

Pope Joan May Have Been The Only Female Pope

A rosary made of red plastic beads and a red plastic cross by Karolina Grabwska on Pexels.

A plastic rosary with red beads and cross on a pink background by Karolina Grabowska

I was raised Catholic (which didn’t stick) and was taught that only men could become the Pope. Years later, a good friend of mine told me about Pope Joan. It was the first time I heard of her. Why didn’t the Catholic Church teach about this particular Pope?

Wikipedia noted Jean de Mailly’s chronicle, written around 1250, contained the first mention of an unnamed female pope and inspired several accounts over the next several years.

The most popular and influential versions is that of Martin of Opava’s Chronicle Pontificum et Emperatorum in the 13th century. Martin introduced details that the female pope’s birth name was Jon Anglicus of Mainz, that she reigned in the 9th century and that she entered the church to follow her lover.

The legend was generally accepted as true until the 16th century, when a widespread debate among Catholic and Protestant writers called the story into question: various writers noted the implausibly long gap between Joan’s supposed lifetime and her first appearance in texts.

According to Wikipedia, Pope Joan – who was born Ioannes Anglicus – became Pope between 885-857, during the Middle Ages. Her story first appeared in chronicles in the 13th century and spread throughout Europe. The story of Pope Joan was widely believed for centuries.

Most versions of Pope Joan’s story call her a talented and learned woman who disguised herself as a man, often at the behest of a lover. In the most common accounts, owing to her abilities, she rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected pope.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops posted information about how a new pope is chosen. They wrote: When a Pope dies or resigns, the governance of the Catholic Church passes to the College of Cardinals. Cardinals are bishops and Vatican officials from all over the world, personally chosen by the pope, recognizable by their distinctive red vestments. Their primary responsibility is to elect a new pope.

Following a vacancy in the papacy, the cardinals hold a series of meetings at the Vatican called general congregations. They discuss the needs and the challenges facing the Catholic Church globally. They will also prepare for the upcoming election, called a conclave. Decisions that only the pope can make, such as appointing a bishop or covering the Synod of Bishops, must wait until after the election. In the past, they made arrangements for the funeral and burial of the deceased pope.

In the past, 15 to 20 days after a papal vacancy, the cardinals gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for a Mass involving the guidance of the Holy Spirit in electing a new pope. Only cardinals under the age of 80 are eligible to vote in a conclave. They are known as the cardinal electors, and their number is limited to 120.

The cardinals vote by a secret ballot, processing one by one up to Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgement, saying a prayer and dropping the twice-folded ballot in a large chalice. Four rounds of balloting are taken every day until a candidate receives two-thirds of the vote. The result of each ballot are counted aloud and recorded by three cardinals designated as recorders.

If no one receives the necessary two-thirds of the vote, the ballots are burned in a stove near the chapel with a mixture of chemicals to produce black smoke. The ballots of the final round are burned with chemicals producing white smoke to signal to the world the election of a new pope.

It sounds to me like perhaps Pope Joan could have been selected through this tedious and time consuming process. Assuming, of course that the election for a new pope existed at the time.

Wikipedia posted that her sex was revealed when she gave birth during a procession and she died shortly after, either through murder or of natural causes. The accounts state that the later church processions avoided this spot and that the Vatican removed the female pope from its official lists and crafted a ritual to ensure the future popes were male. In the 16th century, Siena Cathedral featured a bust of Joan Lamont and other pontiffs; this was removed after protests in 1600.

A website called Pope History provided more information. One of the stories about Pope Joan gave her a different fate. Instead of dying during childbirth, she survived. Of course, she was confined and deposed. The forsaken female pope had to endure years of penance for her trickery. However, the child she gave birth to during that fateful procession grew up to be Bishop of Ostia. After Joan’s death, the Bishop ordered the body interred in his cathedral.

According to Pope History, from the 13th to 15th century, the story of Pope Joan was regarded as fact. Joanna was used as a moral anecdote in Dominican preaching. At the behest of Pope Sixtus IV, Bartolomeo Platina put the story in the Vatican library.

The story was also considered true by the Council of Constance in 1415. A carving of her bust was included along with an installation of past pontiffs at Siena Cathedral, too.

At the start of the 17th century, Pope Clement VII outright declared the story of Pope Joan was untrue. With that declaration, belief in Pope Joan started to wane. The art depicting Joan carved for the series of papal busts at Siena Cathedral was destroyed.

Was Pope Joan a real person? Or was she only a myth? In my opinion, as a lapsed Catholic, I think Pope Joan could have been a real person, who disguised her gender right up until she gave birth.

Unfortunately, this led to the Vatican removing anything related to the female pope and creating a ritual to prevent women from ever becoming pope. I’m not sure why they were so afraid of having a woman pope.

This explains why I’d never heard of Pope Joan. Assuming she existed, it is clear that the Catholic Church was desperately trying to hide that knowledge. I am dismayed that the dismissal – and the silencing and erasing her – was condoned by the Catholic Church.

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California Pizza Hut Franchises Laid-Off Drivers

Photo of a Pizza Hut restaurant by Saumya Rastogi on Unsplash

Photo of a Pizza Hut Restaurant by Saumya Rastogi on Unsplash

Starting a brand new year by eliminating jobs from your nation-wide franchise is a terrible thing to do to workers. That said, it appears that Pizza Hut franchises in California decided to do exactly that. More specifically, the franchises (which are owned by Yum! Brands) decided to dump all their delivery drivers without notice.

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California Is First State To Offer Health Insurance To All Eligible Undocumented Adults

doctor wearing a white coat and holding a stethoscope Online Marketing on Unsplash

doctor wearing a white coat and holding a stethoscope by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Beginning Jan 1, for the first time, undocumented immigrants of all ages will qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for extremely low-income people. It makes California the only state to fund comprehensive health care for undocumented immigrants… (CalMatters)

…”This is the culmination of literally decades of work, and it’s huge,” said Sarah Darr, policy director for the California Immigrant Policy Center. “It’s huge because of all the work and effort and advocacy that went into making this possible, and it’s also because of the impact that it’s going to have.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s Democratic-led Legislature have committed more than $4 billion to the Medi-Cal expansion annually. Newsom’s 2022 budget made the expansion possible, and through the state is now headed into a $68 billion deficit, advocates say the positive impact Medi-Cal will have an individual health is priceless…

…The California Immigrant Policy Center along with consumer advocacy group Health Access California have been the leading force in the campaign to eliminate citizenship requirements for Medi-Cal. The work was not easy even in left-leaning California. Many moderate Democrats voted against the legislation or refrained from weighing in on the debate in the early days, but slowly, public opinion and political will shifted.

California will welcome the new year by becoming the first state to offer health insurance for all undocumented immigrants. (ABC News)

Starting January 1, all undocumented immigrants, regardless of age, will qualify for Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for people with low incomes.

Previously, undocumented immigrants were not qualified to receive comprehensive health insurance but were allowed to receive emergency and pregnancy-related services under Medi-Cal as long as they met eligibility requirements, including income limits and California residency in 2014.

The 2015, undocumented children were able to join Medi-Cal under a bill signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law an expansion of full-scope Medi-Cal access for young adults ages 19 through 25, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Access was then further expanded to allow older adults aged 50 and older to receive benefits, also regardless of immigration status.

The final expansion going into effect Jan. 1 will make approximately 700,000 undocumented residents between 26 and 49 eligible for full coverage, according to California State Sen. MarĂ­a Elena Durazo.

As a Californian, I think this program to enable undocumented immigrants access to Medi-Cal is an excellent idea. Everyone needs access to health care, no matter who they are or where they come from. One of the best things about California is the government really makes an effort to provide care to the people who live here.

Medium

Trump Is About To Find Out

A close up of a blue suit and a red tie by Marcus Spiske on Unsplash

a closeup of a blue suit and a red tie by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Colorado Supreme Court posted information about an appeal from a district court proceeding under the Colorado Election Code. The entirety of the information is approximately 200 pages long, and can be found and read on SCRIBD.com.

Here are some key parts of the information decided upon by the Colorado Supreme Court:

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Biden Lowers Cost of Prescription Drugs

An open bottle of pills, that are orange and white, spilling on a table by Christina Victoria on Unsplash

President Biden announced, in a statement on the White House website, about new actions to lower health care and prescription drug costs. The statement was posted on December 7, 2023. Here are some key parts of it:

President Biden believes that health care should be a right, not a privilege. For too long, corporate special interest and trickle-down economics have allowed Big Pharma to make record profits, while millions of Americans struggle to afford health care and prescription drugs to treat common and chronic conditions.

As part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is cracking down on price gouging and taking on special interests to lower costs for consumers and ensure every American has access to high-quality, affordable, health care.

Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration will release a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of “march-in-rights” on taxpayer-funded drugs and other inventions, which specifies that price can be a factor in considering whether a drug is accessible to the public.

What does “march-in-rights” mean? According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “march-in-rights” is a tool to help agencies evaluate when it might be appropriate to require licensing of a patent developed with federal funding. The draft guidance will help agencies work through a range of policy considerations relevant to a potential march-in-decision, including price.

This comes after previous actions by the Administration that lowered the cost of insulin at $35 per product per month for seniors, finally allowing Medicare negotiate to lower prescription drug prices, requiring drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices faster than inflation, and locking in $800 per year in health insurance savings for 15 million Americans under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Here is the short version of what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing:

  • Promoting equitable access to lower-priced taxpayer-funded drugs.

…The Biden-Harris Administration believes taxpayer-funded drugs and other taxpayer-funded inventions should be available and affordable to the public. When an invention is made using taxpayer funds, under certain circumstances march-in authority under Bayh-Dole Act enables the federal government to license the invention to another party…

  • Launching a cross-government public inquiry into corporate greed in health care.

The Biden-Harris Administration believes that the health care system should serve patients, not corporate profiteers. The Administration is concerned that our health care system is increasingly being financialized, with corporate owners like private-equity firms and others maximizing their profits at the expense of patients’ health and safety, while increasing costs for patients and taxpayers alike.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and HHS will issue a joint Request for Information to seek input about how private equity and other corporations’ increasing power and control of our health care is affecting Americans…

  • Increasing ownership transparency.

HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has taken unprecedented action to shed light on ownership trends in health care. The Biden-Harris Administration is the first to make ownership data on hospitals, nursing homes, hospice providers, and home health agencies publicly available, and today, CMS is releasing, for the first time, ownership data on Federal Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics on data.cms.gov…

  • Increasing Medicare Advantage transparency.

Currently, about 50% of Medicare enrollment is in Medicare Advantage and the government is expected to spend over $7 trillion on Medicare Advantage over the next decade. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring Medicare Advantage insurance plans best meet the need of people with Medicare, there is timely access to care, and the market has healthy competition…

  • Negotiating and lowering drug prices.

Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Administration has announced 10 prescription drugs for which Medicare will negotiate prices directly with participating manufacturers. These drugs cost people with Medicare $3.4 billion out of pocket in 2022. This builds on other progress to lower prescription drug costs.

Individuals with Medicare can now receive certain vaccines for free under the President’s lower cost prescription drug law, which previously would have a cost of an average of $70 in out-of-pocket costs…

  • Stopping Big Pharma tactics that raise prices for working families.

In September, the FTC issued an enforcement policy statement explaining that Big Pharma companies may face legal action if they delay entry of generic competitors with improper patent listings in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” commonly known as the “Orange Book.”

When a brand pharmaceutical company improperly lists a patent in the Orange Book, it may lead to a 30-month statutory stay that blocks the approval of competing drug products, including lower-cost generic alternatives. Some improper listings may delay competition and raise prices for live-saving products like asthma inhalers…

In addition, the Biden-Harris Administration is cracking down on anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices in Medicare Advantage, making hearing aides available over the counter, and cracking down on nursing homes that endanger resident safety.

President Biden also recently signed a bipartisan law, the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act, to break up the monopoly that has controlled the organ transplant system for its entire nearly four decade history.

Medium

McDonald’s Introduces CosMc’s

A drawing of a sign that says CosMc's. It has one of the McDonald's arches over the sign. The sign is pinned somewhere in the United States. White stars surround the planet. Most of this art is yellow.

CosMc’s logo from its website

Are you tired of deciding whether you want a drink from Starbucks or Jamba Juice? Soon, you might have the opportunity to get both from CosMc’s. It is a new creation that is part of McDonald’s.

The name CosMc comes from McDonald’s little-known alien mascot of the same name, pronounced “cosmic”,Forbes reported. It is part of a “small-format, beverage-led concept that McDonalds said is inspired by nostalgia and “truly out of this world.”

There is also a pared-down food menu that will include McDonald’s staples like McFlurry ice creams and egg McMuffin sandwiches, as well as hash brown bits, cookies, new sandwiches, donuts and pretzel bites.

According to Forbes, McDonald’s plans to open another nine CosMc’s restaurants by the end of next year, all of which will be based in locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas.

There’s also a CosMc’s in Illinois (possibly in Bollingbrook), BBC reported. The location is drive-through only, and on the second day of a rather well-publicized “soft” launch, customers waited in their cars for an hour or more in an orderly queue that snaked through a shopping center along a busy road in suburban Chicago.

The CosMc’s menu shows photos of brightly colored drinks which include lemonade, various kinds of tea, slushies, frappes, cappuchino, tumeric spiced latte, chai tea latte, and a regular latte. You can also order a mocha, brewed coffee, black tea, green tea, peppermint tea, hot chocolate, iced turmeric spiced latte, S’mores cold brew, regular cold brew, and a variety of iced lattes.

There are also some food options, including breakfast items like Egg McMuffin, Sausage McMuffin with Egg, or Bacon McMuffin with Egg. McFlurry drinks include Oreo or M&M. Or, you can get a milk shake. CosMc’s also has little hash browns, pretzel bites, cookie butter McPops and a snack box.

Put all of that together, and it feels like CosMc’s is creating its own version of what can currently be offered at Starbucks or Jamba Juice. My best guess is that this is McDonald’s attempt to attract people who would typically go to Starbucks, Jamba Juice, or their favorite local coffee shop.

People who, like me, have food allergies should be extremely careful when ordering drinks or food from CosMc’s. Fortunately, CosMc’s has posted its Nutrition Information on its items. In addition, there is a list of questions that CosMc’s answered.

Do you have vegetarian options?

Most items on our menu are vegetarian with the exception of our sandwiches and snack box.

Do you have any gluten free options?

Yes, all beverages are gluten free, and snack options such as savory hash brown bites, hot fudge or caramel sundaes, M&M’s McFlurry, and vanilla or chocolate soft serve without the cone.

Do you have any non-dairy options?

The following items on the menu are dairy-free. Most non-blended coffee and espresso beverages can be prepared with almond milk at customer request. (A list of beverages and food items follows.)

As someone who is allergic to way too many foods, I think it’s good that CosMc’s is offering some advice for people who cannot have milk or gluten. Some of the foods include eggs, which some people are allergic to. Some of the drinks include berries, that can also be an allergen for some people. That’s not clearly spelled out in CosMc’s “Frequently Asked Questions”.

If you have absolutely zero food allergies, you probably will be fine ordering drinks and food from CosMc’s. Those with food allergies need to keep in mind that there is plenty of room for cross-contamination to happen, not only inside CosMc’s, but also in pretty much every fast-food place.