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U.S. poverty numbers rising

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The Associated Press reports that the numbers of poor and uninsured Americans are probably rising, with more than 38.8 million thought now to be in poverty.

Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department's undersecretary of economic affairs, spoke in advance of next month's release of census data. Blank said the 2008 data will probably show a "statistically significant" increase in the poverty rate, to at least 12.7 percent. That would represent a jump of more than 1.5 million poor people last year.

The number of people who lack health insurance is also expected to increase from the current estimate of 46 million.

Almost 150 countries have signed up to back nuclear treaty

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The total number of countries that have ratified the United Nations-backed Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has inched closer to 150 after Liberia ratified the agreement this week.

In September, US President Barack Obama is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Security Council focusing on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues.

Justice Scalia, the Church, and the Death Penalty

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Thought-provoking article posted Wednesday in the online magazine "The Daily Beast." Written by famed lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz, "Scalia's Catholic Betrayal" takes the Supereme Court Justice to task for remarks made earlier in the week regarding a death penalty case.

Here is an excerpt from Dershowitz,who challenges Scalia not only on Constitutional grounds, but on Catholic moral grounds.

From Dershowitz:

"I never thought I would live to see the day when a justice of the Supreme Court would publish the following words:

'This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.'

Tom Fox on PBS

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I sit 15 feet from him but didn't know this until I got a press release.

In its next broadcast, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, the weekly PBS newsmagazine show, substitute anchor Deborah Potter will be quizzing NCR editor Tom Fox about the Vatican's investigation of U.S. women's religious orders and whether the religious women are "straying" from church doctrine.

The show is to be taped and released on Friday (Aug. 21). Check your local PBS station for broadcast times in your area, or watch the episode online at http://www.pbs.org/religionandethics/

Cristo Rey vs. alumni

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What happens when your old Catholic alma mater is no longer the same place it used to be? That's become an issue for many successful alumni of Verbum Dei high school in the Watts section of south Los Angeles.

In the year 2000, Verbum Dei was like a lot of inner city Catholic schools -- struggling to make ends meet while serving an increasingly impoverished student body. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday, that was when Cardinal Roger Mahony approached the Jesuits to take over the school.

They did and converted it into the "Cristo Rey" model -- schools for the poor where students help meet tuition requirements by taking work/study jobs with major corporations and other sponsors. It has been remarkably successful throughout the country, and it saved Verbum Dei.

But, Verbum Dei was the first school that did not start out as a Cristo Rey institution -- so it has legions of alumni from the "old days." They are now successful and solidly middle-class, thanks to their alma mater -- and want to send their children there to keep the tradition alive.

Jim McGinnis remembered

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A memorial Mass was celebrated Aug. 18 at St. Alphonsus Liguori (Rock) Church in North St. Louis for Jim McGinnis, who for nearly 40 years was an advocate and educator for peace and justice. McGinnis, 66, died from a heart attack Aug. 13 near his home in St. Louis.

McGinnis founded the Institute for Peace and Justice in St. Louis to demonstrate and teach in nonviolence programs across the country.

One of the programs supported by the Institute was Parenting for Peace and Justice and it became rich leaven for many families, with young children, that wanted to live by Christian values. Jim and his wife, Kathy, have been heroic advocates for Catholic values and Jim will be missed by many, including this parent.

Why We Love Barney Frank

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Why do we love Congressman Barney Frank? Not only because he is the funniest male member of Congress, although that counts for a lot. (Congresswoman Linda Sanchez wins the prize for funniest female member of Congress.) Cong. Frank has attained that stage in life where he says what most politicians are afraid to say.

Last night at a town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts a woman said that the health care reform effort was akin to what the Nazis did, deciding who should live or die. To illustrate her point, literally, she has a picture of President Obama that had been altered to make him look like Adolph Hitler. She repeatedly called reform effort a “Nazi policy.” Congressman Frank asked the woman what planet she spends most of her time living on and that he would just as soon argue with a dining room table as engage her argument, such as it was. You can see the video clip here, and it only takes two minutes.

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April 11-24, 2014

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