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'My home is being destroyed, and I don't mean my house'

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While here in Louisiana reporting on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, my wife and I made a side trip to Vermilion Bay near Franklin, La. The state highway wound its way through the marshes bordered by beautiful moss-draped live oak trees. With the car windows down, we heard red-winged blackbirds and many other bird sounds we couldn’t identify. At the water’s edge we walked along the narrow beach picking up shells and examining beautifully water carved pieces of driftwood.

The day before we interviewed Providence Sr. Helen Vinton, co-director of the Southern Mutual Help Association in New Iberia. Sr. Helen had just returned from a visit to the Venice area near the Gulf where the oil now directly threatens the fragile marshes.

Green burials

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In the news this morning from our Australian brothers and sisters, Six Feet Down Under: Natural Burials Boom.

The Archdiocese of Sydney Natural is opening a cemetery to promote environmentally friendly burials, seeing loved ones buried without grave stones in bio-degradable clothing and untreated coffins.

About two years ago, we did a story, Lay your loved ones to rest the natural way, about Mt. Carmel Cemetery, in Wyandotte, Mich., near Detroit, becoming the first U.S. Catholic cemetery to offer a green burial option.

Pope should read SNAP letter

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The wrap-up of the Year of the Priest celebration is colliding with the ongoing fallout from the spreading priest sex-abuse scandal, setting up an unlikely gathering of forces in Rome.

One of the groups on hand is the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, the group formed by survivors and that has been advocating for survivors and for church transparency since very early in the scandal. As might be expected, the group has been vilified by some in the U.S. hierarchy. Its members have been prohibited from conducting programs on church property and it has been generally marginalized in official church circles.

That's unfortunate. Because no matter how deeply one might disagree with a tactic employed here or there, the fact remains that no group has been more conversant with the scandal, its effects and its causes than those actually abused by priests.

Who Wants California?

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Harold Meyerson is spot-on in his analysis of the difficulties facing newly nominated GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Both women spent gobs of money to win their primary elections in California, and they have gobs to spend. But, money is not enough to win a GOP primary in the Golden State. You also have to move so far to the right, it is nearly impossible to get back to the center by November.

The Tea Party Wins in Nevada

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Be careful what you wish for is an admonition that suddenly applies to both parties. In Nevada, the Tea Party candidate for the GOP Senate nomination, Sharron Angle, scored a significant victory over two more mainstream opponents. She will now take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid’s campaign was thrilled at the prospect. Angle’s views on a number of subjects are far outside the mainstream: She wishes to abolish the Energy and Education Departments and to privatize Social Security. This last will not go down well with older voters who have moved to Nevada for its climate and lower cost-of-living, secure in the fact that their Social Security checks would provide them at least a decent retirement. Many of those same older voters saw their 401ks and other forms of private retirement accounts get wiped out in the past few years, so it is doubtful that privatizing Social Security will sit well with them.

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October 10-23, 2014

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