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Best country to be a mom? Not U.S.

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As Mother's Day approaches (don't forget to buy or make a card, buy or pick some flowers, and cook or book reservations for brunch), Save the Children has released its annual "Mothers Report" listing of the best--and worst--countries to be a mom.

Bad news for U.S. moms: The world's only remaining superpower is now 28th out of 160 countries, not even making the first half of the "More Developed Countries" tier. The rankings are based on maternal mortality, infant mortality, maternity leave policies, preschool attendance and other factors.

Some startling stats from a Yahoo news report (which has garnered over 2,000 comments):

* The U.S. maternal mortality rate of 1 in 4,800 is one of the highest in the developed world--nearly 10 times that of Ireland's.

* A child in the U.S. is more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his or her 5th birthday.

McCain v. Constitution

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I had always admired Sen. John McCain. He seemed like a straight shooter, someone who could not be counted on to parrot the party line simply because it was the party line. But, facing a challenge from his right in the upcoming Arizona primary, he seems to have lost not only his reputation for independence but his decency.

First, he announced his support for the racist anti-immigrant law that passed the Arizona legislature. This from the man who once championed comprehensive immigration reform. He now is unconcerned that U.S. citizens of Latino descent might become the objects of racial profiling, asked if they “have their papers,” in the manner of communist regimes of old, about which McCain should know better.

The Times that Tries Some Catholic Souls

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The bitter opponents of the New York Times have been again raging at the barricades of their own making recently, denouncing the newspaper for its alleged anti-Catholicism.

It's surprising that one of the latest volleys has been fired in the pages of Commonweal. Funny because the Times long ago adopted Commonweal's definition of itself as the rational, intellectual Catholics who were, shall we say, acceptable. A string of Commonweal editors have either written for the Times or worked for it. The Times has been the sort of Commonweal Catholic secular newspaper.

The Times's admirable coverage of the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church has energized the accusers. The Times picks on the Catholic church while ignoring the other violators, they say. They try to pin undeserved blame on the pope. They always had it in for the Catholic church. And so on.

'Affinity fraud' and the parish priest

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Tougher charges against priest accused of stealing $300,000

The potential penalty a Catholic priest faces if found guilty of theft has increased as a result of DuPage County prosecutors being allowed to alter the wording of criminal charges against him. The Rev. John Regan, 46, who served at St. Walter's Parish in Roselle from 2006 to 2008, is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from parishioners.

Regan now faces a maximum 30-year prison term if convicted of the 21 financial charges against him. Judge John Kinsella ruled that prosecutors were within their rights to change the wording of the charges to read that the alleged crimes took place "in a place of worship" instead of "from a place of worship." The word change increases the potential penalty from a Class One crime, which allows a sentence of probation or a four- to 15-year prison sentence, to a Class X crime with a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years

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\"Mary, the Hibakusha\" brought to Saint Patrick's in New York

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Mary the Hibakusha, a statue found around 500 meters from ground zero after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki, was placed on the altar during a mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York on May 2, 2010, a day before the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The statue was brought to New York by Mitsuaki Takami, archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nagasaki.

Mary the Hibakusha has become a messenger of peace and non-violence telling the world the horror and absurdity of nuclear weapons.

Speaking at the Non-proliferation conference, remembering the terrible toll of the nuclear attacks during World War II on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a senior United Nations official Monday appealed for an end to the use of the weapons, which remain an “apocalyptic” threat.

The two cities were destroyed in August 1945, and more than 200,000 people died of nuclear radiation, shock waves from the blasts and thermal radiation.

More than 400,000 more people have died – and are continuing to die – since the end of World War II from the impacts of the bombs.

Do we really care about democracy in the Philippines?

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With a week to go before the May 10 general election in the Philippines, presidential front runner Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is ahead of his nearest rival, according to public-opinion surveys.

In a Pulse Asia poll, Aquino, the son of popular former President Corazon Aquino, held a 19-point lead over his nearest rival, Manuel "Manny" Villar, a real estate tycoon from an underprivileged background.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll showed Aquino was 12 points ahead of Villar.

The two were almost neck and neck in a January SWS poll.

Loida Lewis, whose home is in New York and is head of the Philippine-American Association, has said that a 20 point or more lead will likely be necessary for Aquino, whom she backs firmly, to win, given what she expects will be widespread corruption in the election results. The incumbent government favors the Aquino rival.

Sadly, she notes, there is a good possibility that votes will not be counted properly. She has asked U.S. State Department officials to monitor the elections.

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