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Pelosi: the person beyond the attack ads

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the favorite political piñata of this weird election season, the figure everyone loves to hate, the attack ads' one-dimensional recipient of voter anger and frustration.

So it was refreshing to come across the delightfully against-the-grain and beautifully written profile of the speaker just this side of what many are predicting will be the end of her leadership days. The piece is by Melinda Henneberger, editor in chief of Politics Daily.

There's a reason this pinata won't break: she was born to the political fight, and she relishes every moment of it.

Here’s a taste:

Both the anger in Milwaukee and the apathy in San Francisco are Pelosi's enemies, but what I wonder is how she sees the public's disappointment in her party. Given that she's turned so much of what President Obama promised voters he would do if elected into the law of the land, why, in her view, are Americans who got exactly what they voted for so unhappy about it?

In Great Recession, everything must go

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My neighbor Ed is doing okay -- he runs his own business and he's hanging on through tough times. But, he tells me, things would be better were he only going out of business.

Doesn't sound right, I know, but my neighbor had a story to tell about the way life has changed for small businesses during a big recession.

I was over at his house about a week ago, and mentioned things look grim on Ventura Boulevard, the main shopping stretch in our part of Los Angeles. Every day, a new store tacked up a huge banner that read "going out of business" or "store liquidation."

Ed smiled and said the situation wasn't quite that bad.

Those sad signs? Just a new trick to bring in business. These days, people hold on to every dollar they've got -- and will only spend when they think the bargains are too bold to pass up. That's why stores like the Gap hand out coupons awarding you forty percent off, or hold 2-for-1 sales. Only deep discounts draw those wallets out into the light of day.

The new retirement for America's seniors: Bankruptcy

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The perfect financial storm has come crashing down on a vulnerable group: Retired seniors.

Privatizing Social Security would have been a boon to this group (not). Massive unfunded tax breaks for the wealthy do not apply to this group either. This is extraordinarily bad news for seniors and for all of us, as we continue to fund some $800 billion in two wars with no end in sight.

As Reuters reports:

For more and more seniors, retirement doesn’t mean a debt-free life of leisure. An increasing number of Americans aged 65 and older are declaring bankruptcy, according to a recent study by John Pottow, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Those aged 65 and older represented seven percent of bankruptcy filers in 2007, a mind-boggling jump from 1991. They are the “fastest-growing age demographic,” according to Pottow’s study.

Cardinal George named to Vatican finance council

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Pope names US cardinal to council studying Vatican's economic problems

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago to the international Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

The Vatican announced the appointment Oct. 23.

Acrimony with Israel clouds close of Middle East Synod

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tIn some ways, the surprise of the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East may not be that it ended amid acrimony involving Israel, the Vatican, and the mostly Arab bishops of the region. Instead, the surprise may be that it took so long to happen.

tAs the synod wrapped up on Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon complained that it had turned into “a forum for political attacks on Israel, in the best history of Arab propaganda.”

tAyalon specifically objected to a comment made at the synod’s closing press conference on Saturday by Greek Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, who’s actually based in Newton, Massachusetts.

Read NCR's full coverage of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East: Index of stories from the Synod.

Morning Briefing

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NPR's unfortunate decision

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I’ve just returned from a few days on the road and have had a chance to consider the firing of National Public Radio’s Juan Williams, and am deeply saddened by the deep divisions and skewed sense of journalistic ethics that it illustrates.

I was fascinated that the memory that surfaced when I first read of the firing and the circumstances that led to it was of a moment in a newsroom about 14 years ago. Our youngest child, a son, had just turned 10 at the time and a story, graphic in detail, came to my desk describing repeated rape by a priest of a 10-year-old boy. I experienced a deep, visceral involuntary reaction and imagined, in that moment, that if someone had done such a thing to one of our children, to one of our three sons or our daughter, I’d have the capacity to kill the perpetrator.

It was a wildly incongruous thought for me. I tend, however imperfectly, toward nonviolence. I am glad there are laws that would restrain me, teaching and training in my background that I trust would grab hold of me. But I can’t deny the explosive anger that I felt in that moment.

Radical disciple, radical author

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NCR's own Bob McClory has a new book, and it's getting lots of press attention in the Chicago area. The subject is Father Michael Pfleger, the firebrand white pastor of a nearly all-black church on the city's South Side. Pfleger is used to being in the spotlight--usually for his social justice activism but during the 2008 presidential campaign for mocking Hillary Clinton.

Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice (Lawrence Hill, $24.95) is the seventh book by McClory, a longtime NCR writer and retired journalism professor.

That troublesome nun

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"Sandra Schneiders is one of the most prominent and accomplished nuns in the American Catholic Church," writes Peter Kirkwood in Eureka Street, the Australian Jesuit journal of news and opinion. The article is titled Troublesome nun's faith and feminism.

"Schneiders' message and concerns resonate strongly with those of Mary MacKillop, so it's fitting that we hear from her this week when Australians celebrate the canonisation of the new saint."

"Mary MacKillop founded the Josephite Sisters to address the pressing needs of the real world around her. In a similar vein, Schneiders warns of the dangers for the Church in seeing itself above and separate from the world. She argues that scripture and the documents of Vatican II position the Church firmly in the world, with something vital to contribute to the struggles and development of the world.

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April 22-May 5, 2016

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