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17 Rules for a Sustainable Economy

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Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry formulated these principles for a sustainable economy, one which focuses on community and the common good. A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a "killing." It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.

Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as "the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities:

1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.

2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.

3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.

4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).

Washington Catholic Charities limits employee health benefits

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The law permitting same sex marriage goes into effect in the District of Columbia Wednesday, March 3. It prohibits any kind of discrimination against couples in a same sex union.

So, in advance of that, Catholic Charities of Washington, in order to avoid paying health care benefits to employees who may be in same sex unions, announced that it would no longer cover any spouse of an employee unless he or she is already enrolled in the health care plan. Employees got the news by e-mail March 1, and the policy is effective March 2.

The archdiocese could have done what the Archdiocese of San Francisco did years ago, namely, decided to cover “domestic partners” while expanding the definition of “domestic partner” to include a parent, sibling or someone else in a household. Instead, it eliminated benefits for all spouses.

Catholic social justice teaching has long advocated worker benefits such as health care. It is sad that this teaching was trumped in order to discriminate against a whole class of citizens. It is a decision the Archdiocese will someday come to regret.

Short photo essay from Haiti

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As Michael Sean Winters reported last week, the U.S. bishops' conference sub-committee on the church in Latin America established a special advisory committee to assess the on-going relief work in Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake.

As part of the effort, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio is leading a group representing the conference to Haiti Monday through Wednesday. Here are some photos from that trip.

The Oscars 2010: Movies that Connect Us -- Part 1

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Forty-two feature films have been nominated in a variety of categories for the 82nd Academy Awards, which will take place at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on March 7. In a throw back to the 1930s and 1940s, when anywhere between eight and 12 films were nominated for Best Picture, the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) decided in 2009 to expand the category to 10 feature films so that additional deserving films might be considered. For a film journalist this provides a banquet of stories to explore but makes it nearly impossible to predict a winner.

Human connection, and therefore human dignity and justice, is a theme that runs through many of the films nominated. Using this as a lens, here are my views on some of the 29 films that I have seen of those nominated as worthy of an Oscar.

U.S. could step up dismantle rate of older nuclear warheads

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In a new initiative, the United States is likely to step up the rate at which it dismantles older nuclear warheads no longer deployed in the arsenal, officials and experts report.

The nation now maintains roughly one backup warhead for every warhead actively deployed, according to Hans Kristensen, who heads the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. The Defense Department has approximately 2,100 strategic warheads and 500 tactical warheads on active deployment, and almost an equal number in reserve, he said.

British Catholic bishops issue an election guide

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The general election in Britain is turning -- unexpectedly -- into a tight race, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal. David Cameron's Conservative Party has had a substantial lead over the U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ruling Labour Party, but the latest polls show that lead dwindling.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the British press was reporting that the Catholic bishops would be releasing an election guide that The Times of London said would "take a line that is economically to the left of centre but conservative on social issues such as marriage, education and care for the elderly."

The Telegraph called the 10-page document titled, "Choosing the Common Good," an endorsement of the Tories (i.e., the Conservative Party).

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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