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It's a real credit to you

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There is much talk about helping people out of poverty through one program or another. One hurdle everyone faces, especially the poor, is the credit score system. A good score helps in lowering borrowing costs for large items like furniture, a car, major appliances and a mortgage. A bad credit score means (a) that sometimes businesses won't lend at all, or (b) a borrower cannot get favorable terms on their loans - that is, everything costs more for those with bad credit.

So a key question is this: What goes into the credit scoring system that banks and businesses use to judge one's creditworthiness?

This story explains the five components that make up the FICO credit scoring system and should become familiar to everyone from the poor, to college students, to the middle class.

Believe it or not, bad credit scores can prevent you from getting a job.

Noted Haiti supporter pleads guilty to sex abuse

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And here's another story to add to the sex abuse list.

The News-Times, a daily newspaper in Danbury, Conn., is reporting today that Douglas Perlitz -- a young man known for his creation of a program in Haiti to help homeless boys -- will plead guilty today of sexually abusing a boy.

From the report:

The government said the plea agreement reached with Perlitz would present evidence that he had sex with eight minors, all boys, and that there were an additional five cases of abuse prosecutors were prepared to document.

The government intends to recommend a sentence of 188 to 235 months inprisonment for Perlitz, while defense attorneys were seeking a sentence of between 97 and 122 months.

Perlitz, 40, formerly of Bridgeport and Fairfield, received funding from the Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic charity and collected donations from wealthy Fairfield and Westchester County Catholics to create Project Pierre Toussaint, a three-stage program in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, the country's second-largest city, to prepare abandoned boys for adult life.

Rapid City Bishop has emotional goodbye

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The Rapid City Journal reported yesterday that Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D. had an emotional goodbye to his diocese on Sunday as he celebrated his last Mass before moving to the Diocese of Spokane.

From the piece:

"I doubt there's a person in this room who didn't know this day was coming," Deacon John Osnes said during an emotional reception in the fellowship hall attended by hundreds of people.

Osnes said it has always been obvious to him that Cupich had "greater talents than the needs of this South Dakota diocese."

That those "Nebraska-born, Dakota-grown" gifts would be shared with the people of Spokane didn't make saying goodbye to Cupich any easier for Julie Mousel, who attended her second Mass of the weekend just to bid her shepherd farewell.

"I'm sad. I'm so sad," Mousel said.

News travels some strange paths

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Last April, when I attended a Tridentine Mass in Washington and wrote a critical commentary on it for NCR, I knew it would provoke some interesting reader reaction.

But I was a bit surprised to find a reference to it four months later in a petition by gay and lesbian alumni of the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College seeking official recognition of their alumni club.

Why is locally grown and organic food so expensive?

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When shopping for organic food, consumers often report sticker shock and turn away, dismayed at the notion of paying $4 a pound for tomatoes. They're used to the lower prices at the local megasupermarket down the road.

The popular notion of someone who eats a local, organic diet is a food nut with an income sufficient to afford organic and who can afford to deliberate about food choices because the more expensive option will not break them.

Yet unless a significant number of people of all income levels have access to locally grown and organic ingredients, sustainable agriculture will never take hold and have a decisive impact on our health and on the environment to make a difference.

Why is the cost of local and organic foods often higher than prices at the big supermarket? Because it is based on the true price of producing food, unaided by government subsidies of commodity crops, cheap oil, and underpaid (and under-benefited) workers. We pay more for our food than we realize because at tax time we pay for those subsidies. Small family and organic farms rarely get the subsidies, and they often pay their workers a living wage.

Haiti's schools

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A New York Times editorial today states: "A plan to build a new education system in Haiti is one of the most encouraging things to emerge from the rubble of the Jan. 12 earthquake. ... Nearly all primary schools in Haiti today are private; parents, eager to give their children a better life, pay dearly. Judging from Haiti’s high illiteracy and dropout rates and dire lack of qualified teachers, the system needs a complete overhaul."

Oh that makes it clearer

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Organizers are not interested in "mocking religion" for its own sake. Oh well, now I understand.

Atheists campaign for 'right' to blaspheme religion

By Alfredo Garcia, Religion News Service

The Amherst, N.Y.-based Center for Inquiry (CFI) has changed the name of its International Blasphemy Day to International Blasphemy Rights Day in a bid to show that organizers are not interested in “mocking religion” for its own sake.

CFI representatives said the name change better describes the purpose of the event amidst criticism received after last year's inaugural events.

“There was a lot of controversy last year that we were doing what we were doing simply in the interest of mocking religion,” said CFI Spokesman Nathan Bupp. “That, indeed, is not the case.”

CFI bills itself as “an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.” International Blasphemy Rights Day is part of a larger, national campaign by CFI for freedom of expression.

Morning Briefing

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The dirty (with pesticides) dozen

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Choosing between eating local and organic is often confusing. For those committed to both supporting the local food production network and making it possible for small family farms to survive and eating food that is grown without chemicals, first choice is always local and organic.

But often the that choice is not available, due to the seasons or unavailability. For example, there are no local strawberries at a market but there are organic ones. What to do? Buy organic because strawberries are on a short list of foods that have a lot of pesticide residue when they are not organically grown. Since I can't get local, I get the organic variety for health reasons rather than for carbon footprint reasons.

If I'd been choosing a food that wasn't on the dirty dozen list below, I would choose local rather than organic because there wouldn't have been the personal health concern. In that case I would go for the lower carbon footprint.

Here is a list of foods that are worth buying organic over local, if you have to choose, because they carry more pesticides than other produce.

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines

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October 24-November 6, 2014

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