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What Obama Needs To Do Tonight

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News leaks tell us that President Obama will announce he is sending another 34,000 troops to Afghanistan. Also, that NATO will be sending another 5,000 – remember, this is the only time NATO has ever declared a war under Article V of its foundational treaty, which provided for mutual shared defense. The President will also explain what the additional troops will be doing.

I do not know if the President’s military prescriptions are the correct ones, although we must all hope that they are. But, what he needs to do tonight is to persuade the American people why we should continue the war, why it still matters, why the options for action are all bad yet still better than the option of doing nothing.

In a word, he needs to do carefully and precisely what his predecessor did with such reckless abandon that many Americans have lost sight of the central reason for our military presence in Afghanistan. President Obama needs to remind us about just how evil Osama bin Laden is, how intractable is his hatred of the West, and how dangerous it is to the actual, physical security of the United States if we do not contain bin Laden and his Taliban confreres.

Bridgeport diocese sex abuse files now public

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"Claims are claims. Allegations are allegations."

Those six words uttered by retired Cardinal Edward M. Egan during two depositions neatly sum up his approach to handling the burgeoning priest sexual abuse scandal that he inherited when he took over the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut in the late 1980s.

Those begins The Hartford Courant's story that begins to examine the 12,600 pages of documents -- including transcripts of depositions and personnel files of pedophile priests -- that were made available to the public today after a seven-year court battle by the Bridgeport Diocese to keep them secret.

Here's the Courant's story: Cardinal Edward Egan Protected Abusive Priests At Victims' Expense

Creditors in Delaware diocese bankruptcy meet

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Today officials of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington are answering questions from an attorney representing the U.S. trustee's office regarding the diocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The diocese's unsecured creditors, mostly alleged victims of priest sexual abuse, were to have their own chance to question diocese representatives later Tuesday.

Msgr. Thomas Cini, vicar general for the Wilmington diocese, explained how the diocese operates and said the bankruptcy filing was the best course for the diocese in the face of more than 130 lawsuits alleging childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

It's worth remembering the valiant effort by San Diego Judge Judge Louise DeCarl Adler who oversaw the San Diego diocese's bankruptcy.

"After four years of failed settlement talks, Bishop Robert Brom said seeking bankruptcy protection was 'the best way available for us to compensate all the victims as fairly and equitably as our resources will allow.'”

With Christmas gifts, less can be more

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This Green living essay from Sheryl Eisenberg of the Natural Resources Defense Council offers good tips on green gift giving this Christmas season.

"I can still remember virtually every gift I received in childhood, not because the gifts were so special, but because they were so few. Though I was a comfortable child of the post-war boom, the times were thrifty compared to today. I never had more than a few dolls, stuffed animals, board games, crayons, records, books, a bike and a sled. And that was enough, more than enough, yet not so much more that I didn't appreciate each and every item -- and enjoy it to the end of its useful life, or my childhood, whichever came first.

What middle class American child can say the same today? Our kids are so inundated with playthings, they need bins and chests and extra closets to store them all. And we adults are equally awash in our grown-up toys.

Nevertheless, this holiday season, we will rush to the stores, actual and virtual, to buy more for our kids and each other. What gives?

Spinners weave wisdom ways

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The more things change the more they stay the same. Early in the last millennium there took place in Europe what historian of spirituality Richard Woods called “a mystical revolution.” In many ways this spiritual renewal in the 12th and 13th centuries was a distant mirror of what’s happening today.

Prior centuries had seen the rise of convents and monasteries, those great Benedictine, Augustinian and Carthusian institutions that preserved learning after the Roman Empire’s collapse. They offered new ways of living together, providing written “rules” that organized and shaped the nun or monk’s life. By the High Middle Ages, however, monastic institutions and convents became largely unavailable to non-aristocrats.

Dec. 1, Victims of the Fire at Our Lady of the Angels School

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On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire at Our Lady of the Angels parochial school in Chicago killed 92 children and three nuns.

Our Lady of the Angels was at 909 North Avers Avenue, at the intersection with West Iowa Street. Over 1600 children, mostly Italian-American, attended the school.

For detailed accounts of the fire, stories of the victims, stories of the survivors, maps and models, news reports from December, 1958, and many pictures, including "the defining image of the Our Lady of the Angels fire, seen around the world, and made into a moving fire prevention poster", please click here.


The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary who died in the fire were Sister Mary Clare Therese Champagne, Sister Mary Seraphica Kelley, and Sister Mary St. Canice Lyng. (Sister Mary Seraphica's charred body was identified in the morgue by her number in community, 2764, found on her cincture.)

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August 15-28, 2014

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