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Flawed democracy, so let's put even more money into politics

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I'm still huffing about last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively taking the lid off corporate campaign spending. Some people who follow these matters more closely than do I think the ruling won't make matters much worse than they already are. Okay, maybe they are right; I suspect they are not. But who knows?

But I do want to share with you a few paragraphs from the great, and apparently, soon to retire, Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote for the dissenters:

Benedict and the Jews

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Pope Benedict's visit Jan. 17 to the Great Synagogue of Rome caused quite a stir in some quarters. NCR senior correspondent John L Allen Jr. wrote about visit, , and later tried to eplain it, Making Sense of Benedict’s Jewish Policy, and later to put it into context, A theologian-pope sidelines theology.

Over on Belief.net, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, comments on Allen's analysis, Making Sense of Benedict XVI. Read the full column, but here's the money quote:

With click of a mouse, Haiti aid grows

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Online, text giving fuels record fundraising -- more than $380 million

"Two weeks after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince, U.S. relief organizations in Baltimore and beyond have collected more than $380 million for Haiti, an outpouring of support unprecedented for a foreign disaster.

With the images from Haiti still dominating news coverage and advances in technology allowing more ways to give, fundraising for Haiti has more than doubled the record pace set in the days following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Friday. Given economic conditions at home, relief officials say, the response has been remarkable.

"It's clear that people are rising to sacrifice," said Mark Melia, deputy vice president for charitable giving at Catholic Relief Services, which is headquartered in Baltimore. "People are making large gifts that are not easy to make."

Relief organizations raising $5 million or more


  • American Red Cross $153 million

  • AmeriCares $6 million

  • CARE USA $9.2 million

Let the Haitians In!

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Some calls in politics are tough. Should the President pursue a stripped down version of health care reform or move on to something else? Should we continue the fight in Afghanistan with more troops or scale back our commitment in the face of frustratingly small results?

Some calls are not tough and one of those is whether or not America should loosen its immigration procedures to allow more Haitians to come here. Yes, we should. In the short term, fewer mouths to feed and fewer souls to provide shelter for will make it easier to take care of those who remain. Haitians who have relatives in America would have a home to welcome them and a family to help them so we are not transferring a refugee crisis from their shores to ours.

In the long term, Haitians will need to be repatriated, of course. The prognosis for rebuilding Haiti will not be improved by inviting some of its residents, especially those with skills and talents, to stay in America forever. Their skills and talents will be needed in Haiti. But, it will be a long time before teachers are more needed than construction workers on that island.

Profiles in love: Ronnie, the ever giving dayworker

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From time to time over the next few months I’ll be posting here the stories of some of the guests who visit us at the Holy Family Catholic Worker House in Kansas City, Mo. Many of these friends have little in the way of possessions or worldly success, but each has a unique story to share. And each of these stories shows an endurance of spirit which is simply incredible - and certainly worth considering at length.

The names of each guest will be changed to protect privacy. Certain personal details will also be edited slightly.

Ronnie walks through the door slowly. As he crosses the threshold a smile lights up his overly-freckled face. He ambles toward the middle room of the house, looking for the person selling bus tickets at half price. Finding her, he reaches into the torn pockets of his slightly soiled khakis and fingers two quarters and six pennies.

“Let somebody else who can’t afford bus passes today use these,” he says as he hands the coins over.

Jim Wallis on \"The Daily Show\"

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If you haven't already seen it, check out Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine and author of the new book, Rediscovering Values, as interviewed last week by Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" here.

Wallis suggests to Stewart that bank executives send their massive bonuses to Haiti. In the book, he argues that the solution to the economic crisis is for Americans to regain their moral compass, especially around issues of consumption and consumerism.

He's a strong moral voice worth listening to--and reading.

One of the world's great contemplatives

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Mark Twain wrote that his masterpiece Huckleberry Finn was a hymn set down in prose to give it a more worldly air. Besides being a wonderfully entertaining tale of a boy's odyssey down the Mississippi River in the pre-Civil War era in America, the book is also an illumination, a wise vision with a depth and mysteriousness that adds greatly to its appeal.

A few pages into the story and we realize we're in the middle of masterfully interwoven texture of character and event. Taken as a whole the book is like a hymn -- a celebration of life's comedy and tragedy and of the natural world. It easily infects us with reserves of enthusiasm.

No one fails so pitifully to live up to the expectations of respectable society as Huck Finn. Yet there beats within him a heart filled with compassion. Huck sends help back to two would-be murderers who are stranded on a wrecked steamboat. He feels pity for two swindlers who have been caught and punished by an outraged town. His love for his companion on the river, Jim, knows no bounds.

Good news from Burma

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The Burmese junta is hinting that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest in November and Tin Oo, the vice chairman of Suu Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy, could be released in February.

Tin Oo is 82 and has been in prison or under house arrest for more than a decade. Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years.

The junta has an election scheduled for this year, though no date is set. It needs participation from the National League of Democracy to lend the election a semblance of legitimacy.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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