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1 Soldier or 20 Schools?

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New York Times op-ed writer Nicholas Kristoff's essay today places in stark relief the financial costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars versus the priority of educating people. It's sobering reading.

"The war in Afghanistan will consume more money this year alone than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War — combined."

Ocean plankton in decline, study says

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Despite their size, the ocean's plant plankton are crucial to much of life on Earth. Plankton are the foundation of the marine food web, produce half the world's oxygen and suck up harmful carbon dioxide.
According to a study published Jul. 28 in the journal Nature, plankton levels in the oceans worldwide are down 40 percent since the 1950s, and the probable cause, the study says, is global warming, which makes it hard for the plant plankton to get vital nutrients.

The numbers are both staggering and disturbing, say the Canadian scientists who did the study and a top U.S. government scientist.

"It's concerning because phytoplankton is the basic currency for everything going on in the ocean," said Dalhousie University biology professor Boris Worm, a study co-author. "It's almost like a recession ... that has been going on for decades."

US-Indonesia military ties spark outrage

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From UCA News: US-Indonesia military ties spark outrage

Jakarta human rights groups have criticized the lifting of a US ban on military cooperation with Indonesian special forces troops.

A statement by several human rights groups including the Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI) and Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) slammed the resumption of cooperation with the Kopassus (Special Force Command) while human rights violations in Timor Leste, Aceh and Papua remain unresolved.

“As part of civil society and the human rights community in Indonesia, we are very disappointed,” Catholic human rights activist Maria Katharina Sumarsih told a July 23 press conference in Central Jakarta.

Canon 515 and its serious implications

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Canon 515, which gives a bishop unfettered power in determining which parishes to erect and which to suppress, was cited recently by the Vatican’s Supreme Court in its ruling that Cardinal Sean O’Malley followed church law in closing Boston parishes. The ruling was delivered in appeals by 10 parishes in Boston that had been closed.

In explaining the ruling and some of its implications, CNS’s Dennis Sadowski writes elsewhere on this page:

In Boston, Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes, told CNS that after consulting with a canonist in Rome, he believes the recent decrees essentially mean that “no parish is safe."

"The decision means ... now the center of gravity (in the church) becomes the diocese, not the parish," he said. "The parishes become expendable.

"This is a powerful message for some of these parishes if they think (in their appeals) they can dodge bullets," he said.

Judge blocks portion of Arizona law

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A federal judge today blocked the most controversial parts of an Arizona anti-immigration law.

According to a report in The New York Times, Judge Susan Bolton "took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times.

"Judge Bolton put those sections on hold while she continues to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law."

New report outlines steps necessary to restore coastal Louisiana

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A new report released Jul. 28 on the 100th day of the BP oil disaster details short and long-term strategies for the Obama administration to make coastal Louisiana less vulnerable to future oil spills and hurricanes, including negotiating with BP for a $5 billion down payment on expected payments for natural resource damages.

The report by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, "Common Ground: A Shared Vision for Restoring the Mississippi River Delta," outlines the necessary steps to restore and rebuild an ecosystem that has lost more than 2,300 square miles of wetlands—an area larger than the state of Delaware—since the 1930s.

'Countdown to Zero' and angel tickets

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Lucy Walker’s documentary "Countdown to Zero" about the current global nuclear threat opened in Washington and New York and has begun a national roll out. If you want to see it but can't afford a ticket, read on. "Angels" have stepped forward and are making free passes available for select showings in various communities.

Click here for cities, theaters and links for tickets: Countdown to Zero Angel Tickets

Participant Media produced "Countdown to Zero" and previously produced the Academy Award winning films "An Inconvenient Truth" and "The Cove." Participant Media's goal is to provide "entertainment that inspires and compels social change." Last year, Participant Media's Academy Award nominated film "Food, Inc." sure convinced me to be a more mindful food consumer based on justice issues, and I am becoming a vegetarian. (See my review: Food, Inc.)

I reviewed “Countdown to Zero” earlier this month for NCR "Nuclear Reality and Lost Opportunity."

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October 10-23, 2014

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