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Michigan oil spill increases concerns about tar sand pipelines

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Echoing the BP gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, up to a million gallons of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline into the waterways of southwestern Michigan last week in what the federal government is calling the most destructive oil spill in Midwestern history.

Environmental experts say the impact of this spill is only a preview of greater potential problems to come if proposed new pipelines are built, especially in Canada where extraction of tar sands in Alberta will require extensive pipelines.

Read about the spill in OnEarth, the news Web page from the Natural Resources Defense Council Web page.

Tom Fox blogs, tweets from LCWR meeting in Dallas

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NCR editor Tom Fox is in Dallas this week for the annual national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Check back here for blog posts and updates about the happenings over there the next couple of days.

Until then check out Fox's Twitter account where's he's posting short updates about the goings-on. His username there is @NCRTomFox and his page can be found at twitter.com/ncrtomfox

Here's a sample of what Fox has 'tweeted' so far:

At 11:30 PM CDT: Arrived in Dallas for the annual LCWR gathering. Lots on the table for these women religious.

At 11:30 PM: Look out of my Dallas hotel room window and can see the building - and window - from which Kennedy was shot. Unbelievable.

At 12:30 PM: Joan Chittister addresses LCWR in a column Wednesday on NCR website at www.ncronline.org.

At 2:30 PM: First impression at LCWR meeting: tight security most unbecoming. Women walking around talking into lapels.

How the towns and farms are faring

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Interested in the welfare of U.S. rural areas and small towns? Feel as if rural America is a kind of second class citizen in U.S. public policy? Visit the Center for Rural Affairs Web site for continuous updates on the rural United States and rural community development.

"The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit by rural Nebraskans and has since grown to a nationally recognized policy analysis and advocacy organization focused on the upper Midwest and Great Plains. In recent years our national grassroots base has grown to nearly 30,000 individuals including people in all 50 states. Our mission is to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities."

Their site also includes a Blog for Rural America. The latest entry is an interesting one about virtual Farmers' Markets.

Victims of abuse by nuns speak out

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Victims of sexual abuse by nuns and their supporters will protest outside the national convention of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in Dallas today.

The group, affiliated with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), has asked to speak at LCWR's annual convention for seven years. LCWR has denied the request, saying that is not the proper venue.

The protesters also are asking for an independent investigation to learn how widespread abuse by nuns is and for Catholic parents to ask their children if they were ever violated by nuns.

Just last week, two dozen former residents of a Native American orphanage run by the church sued the Sioux Falls, N.D. Diocese, alleging sexual and physical abuse by priests and nuns, the Associated Press reported.

Fund established to support women 'wronged by the church'

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Here's a press release from Voice of the Faithful:

FORMER NUN DONATES $75,000 TO VOTF TO ESTABLISH FUND TO AID WOMEN WRONGED BY THE CHURCH

August 9, 2010

Erie, PA -- Tomorrow Voice of the Faithful will formally accept a $75,000 donation from Lynette Petruska, a former nun who once served as chaplain at Gannon University in Erie. Ms. Petruksa is donating the money to establish the Emily and Rosemary Fund, which will support women working in the Catholic Church who face financial hardship as a result of discrimination and injustice in the Church.

Is the Catholic Church no longer governable?

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There's an interesting, and possibly earth-shattering, question posted over at the U.S. Catholic blog 'The Examined Life' this afternoon: In today's world, is it even possible to 'govern' the Roman Catholic Church?

Here's the money quote:

The real problem is that the Roman Catholic Church has grown so large (1.2 billion and counting) and geographically and culturally diverse that it is virtually impossible to govern from Rome, much less through a creaky medieval bureaucracy that lacks both the staff and the budget to fulfill the tasks assigned to it.

The blog comes in response to a Christian Science Monitor article that claims Pope Benedict has, for the past thirty years, been on a crusade to remake conservative Catholicism.

What do you think? Is the Catholic Church no longer governable?

A dark time in America

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Across America, streetlights are going out, roads are going unpaved, teachers are being laid off, school years shortened, Paul Krugman writes in a sobering column for The New York Times today.

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases. …

In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation’s foundations to crumble — literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education — they’re choosing the latter.

It’s a disastrous choice in both the short run and the long run.

God, Creation and Climate Change

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A new book published by Orbis frames a Catholic response to the environmental crisis. In God, Creation and Climate Change, leading Catholic theologians and ethicists reflect on global climate change, offering insights from theology, history and ethics to aid in the transformation required to meet its challenges.

This book contains original essays by a distinguished group of Catholic scholars that assess the gravity of the situation and offer resources from biblical and theological traditions for the necessary mobilization of will and the conversion of our imagination. Contributors include Diane Bergant, David O'Brien, Jame Schaefer, and others.

Withdraw from Iraq, don't abandon Iraqis

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The much anticipated Sept. 1 withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq "is good news for our American servicemen, their families and the nation, but this departure should not be accompanied by a withdrawal of our support for the Iraqi people, particularly for the millions of displaced Iraqis," says Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington.

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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