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Billions of birds -- some from your backyard -- face risks this fall

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Fall bird migration is beginning, and experts worry about what conditions in the Gulf region after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill will mean for the billions of birds from all over the Eastern and Central United States that travel through that area and depend on it for sustenance as they make their yearly journey to winter grounds there, or onward into Central and South America.

"It’s hard to think of a species of migrating bird east of the Rockies that doesn’t fly though the Gulf," says Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind, a powerful compendium of bird migrations. "And these birds, already stressed, are going to be flying into uncertainty."

Migration is always a gambit, a time when everything has to go right, including the building up of body fat from high-quality food sources that birds find at certain stopover points. For a discussion on the danger to autumn's migrating birds, see Invisible Disaster on the Natural Resources Defense Council's On Earth Web page.

Sullivan: U.S. no longer a nation under the rule of law

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Over at his blog yesterday Andrew Sullivan posted an incredibly eye-opening indictment of how the rule of law is declining in the U.S.

Number one in his sights? The continued lack of prosecution for people who committed torture in the name of our government.

The piece is almost a must-read. Here's the scathing end of it:

The Bush executive is...now a part of the American system of government, a system that increasingly bears no resemblance to the constitutional limits allegedly placed upon it, and with a judiciary...co-opted by the executive. ... Obama, more than anyone, now bears responsibility for that. We had a chance to draw a line. We had a chance to do the right thing. But Obama has vigorously denied us the chance even for minimal accountability for war crimes that smell to heaven. ...

Obama on Religion

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From today's press conference: "But I’m also respectful that people of different faiths can practice their religions even if they don’t subscribe to the exact same notions that I do and that they are good people and they are neighbors and friends and they are fighting alongside us in our battles. I want to make sure this country retains that sense of purpose." More here.

Remembering 9/11

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Nine years later, Father Gerard Critch’s white medical jacket smells of smoke from the fires at Ground Zero.

On Saturday, Critch will deliver his message of healing to the public during a memorial Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Naples, Florida, in honor of the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Father Critch says that Saturday’s Mass offers a way to ritualize the healing. He says that he suffered nightmares and sleepless nights for years after his time at Ground Zero, but says that sharing his experiences have set him on a trajectory to recovery. Critch warns that being consumed by anger will only lead to more pain.

“We need to become instruments of peace,” Critch says. “Peace in the world has to start with peace in the individual. It has to start with peace in your own heart.”

Try This -- Pastor Terry Jones as Scapegoat

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Figuratively speaking, Terry Jones was tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

He was an easy target. He was quickly portrayed as some sort of rube, a lunatic Christian who wanders in the briar patch between name-brand churches and mushroom worshipers. He's not, they'll have us believe, one of us. He deserves our derision and our jokes because he has been sufficiently dehumanized.

Maybe he is all that, but I'm skeptical. He doesn't seem any more of a religious nut than all those wild-eyed fanatics who have roamed America in the grips of fevered pietty from the beginning, many of them wrapped in respectability. He certainly doesn't appear any more riled up by Muslims than the legions who have sworn their own kinds of vengeance on Islam since 9/11, their passions continually inflamed by media prodding.

I don't share that hatred, so far as I can tell, and have no sympathy with burning Qurans or Upanishads or Torahs or the Book of Morman, though, like flag burning, I think we agreed to allow such distasteful things when we adopted the Constitution.

Tweet, tweet to fight HIV

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So far, I've managed to avoid Twitter, despite my general enthusiasm for social networking and the web. But this project is enough to get me to sign up:

ONE, the grassroots group co-founded by Bono to fight poverty and disease in Africa and around the world, is organizing thousands of supporters to "tweet" (send a message via Twitter) President Obama, asking him to increase support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the next three years.

Obama has proposed cuts to the Global Fund, and ONE is hoping thousands of tweets will change his mind. As of 1:30 p.m. Central Time, nearly 6,000 messages had been sent. With increased funding, supporters argue, virtually no child will be born with HIV by 2015.

If you're already on Twitter, you can add your message by clicking here.

Me? I'm off to start a Twitter account.

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May 22-June 4, 2015

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