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Two movies with outdated stereotypes: 'Machete' and 'The Town'

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Robert Rodriguez’ strangely watchable Mexploitation grindhouse film “Machete” takes place in an unnamed Texican city. A former undercover cop with the Mexican federal government, Machete (Danny Trejo) -- whose weapon of choice is a machete -- is in Texas on the run from drug lord Torres (Steven Segal with a Spanish accent) who is in league with well-placed U.S. officials.

Machete connects with “the network” of Latinos and those of other ethnicities that care for the undocumented in need. They join Machete against a militia headed by Lt. Stillman (Don Johnson), with the collusion of Senator McLaughlin (Robert di Niro), that wants to get undocumented immigrants out of the U.S.

It’s complicated. But Machete’s brother (Cheech Marin) is a priest. Among other unpriestly behaviors, the padre breaks the seal of confession. He’s crucified by Torres’ men.

The senator’s aide, Booth (Jeff Fahey), tries to manipulate all sides and his wife and daughter, April (Lindsay Lohan), are kidnapped. In the end April dresses like a nun and blows away the opposition with a high-powered weapon.

As Mideast leaders talk peace, a story of action

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I confess to being skeptical about what good can emerge from this month’s talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Trips to Israel/Palestine have led me to conclude that for all the talk of “ancient antipathies,” the fight there is fundamentally a territorial one -- a grinding, tedious land grab made possible by denial of Palestinian rights.

'Waiting for Superman'

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The Los Angeles Times' observant and opinionated journalist Steve Lopez is often irritating but always honest about life in the city of angels. In Sunday's paper Lopez recounts his visit last Friday to A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. Duffy reacted negatively, as would be expected, to the L.A. Times recent investigation and values-added formula analysis of teachers. Los Angeles Times published on its website a database of names and grades of teachers in the L.A. Unified School District , the largest in the nation in terms of students. Duffy organized a march by union members at the Los Angeles Times building and even canceled his subscription to the Times in protest.

Fr. Felix's selfless service

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From the Honolulu Star Advertiser:

While most of the Catholic world had its eyes on the Pope's trip to the U.K., in Hawaii, "A crowd of people poured out of the yellow Yamaguchi school bus and surged into the church like the tide. They rented the bus to take them from Waialua all the way to Kaimuki on a Thursday evening to attend the funeral of their beloved priest. Some people flew in for the funeral from Kauai, because he was their beloved priest for 24 years. For the last several years, he was Kalaupapa's humble, sturdy priest, too.

A Catholic response to anti-Islamic prejudice

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The recent controversy over the construction of an Islamic community center in the area around Ground Zero in New York City has elicited a good deal of anti-Islamic expressions and unfortunate prejudice toward both Islam as a religion and to Muslims as a people. I suspect that some Catholics have given in to such unfounded fears.

As Catholics, we should be accepting and respectful of other faiths especially since we know or should know of the virulent anti-Catholic movements in the history of the United States such as in the 1850s by groups such as the Know-Nothings against Irish Catholics. Despite the gains and integration that many especially Euro-Catholics have made in the country, I suspect that there is still in some circles a residue of anti-Catholicism.

Pope calls church to be 'humble' model on abuse

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
London

tIn his final act before departing the U.K. for Rome, Pope Benedict XVI has challenged the Catholic church to “humbly” present itself as a model for all society in the protection of children and young people from abuse.

tIt marked the fourth time the pontiff has addressed the sexual abuse crisis during his Sept. 16-19 trip to Scotland and England. The crisis has not taken on the same dimensions here as in the United States, Ireland, Germany, and other countries, but it nevertheless formed an important subtext to the trip.

tThis was the first time the pope has explicitly suggested that the experience accumulated by the Catholic church over the last decade could be a model for the wider world.

“Your growing awareness of the extent of child abuse in society, its devastating effects, and the need to provide proper victim support should serve as an incentive to share the lessons you have learned with the wider community,” Benedict said.

“Indeed, what better way could there be of making reparation for these sins than by reaching out, in a humble spirit of compassion, towards children who continue to suffer abuse elsewhere?”

Hijacking or setting him free, Benedict loves Newman

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
London

tIn the final act of his four-day trip to the United Kingdom, Benedict XVI travelled today to Birmingham to formally beatify the great English theologian and apologist Cardinal John Henry Newman, praising him as an apostle of “the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society.”

tWhile Benedict's enthuasiam for Newman was obvious, with whom the pope shares a passion for the life of the mind, critics charged that the pontiff has tamed Newman, obscuring his critique of papal authority and his openness to change.

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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