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Simple steps to save energy

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This simple stuff will save energy -- and money -- right now.

Unplug

Unplug seldom-used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill.

Unplug your chargers when you're not charging. Every house is full of little plastic power supplies to charge cell phones, PDA's, digital cameras, cordless tools and other personal gadgets. Keep them unplugged until you need them.

Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you're not using them. Even when you think these products are off, together, their "standby" consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

Set Computers to Sleep and Hibernate

Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

What to do with E-waste

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Our increased reliance on personal technology -- laptops, cell phones, computer monitors, printers -- has resulted in vast quantities of garbage in landfills that could have been reused or recycled. Two million tons of tech trash ended up in landfills in 2005, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and only about 380,000 tons were recycled. If Americans recycled the more than 100 million cell phones that are no longer used, the amount of energy saved would be enough to power approximately 18,500 U.S. households for one year.

Some of the materials in personal electronics, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, are hazardous and can release dangerous toxins into our air and water when burned or deposited in landfills improperly. And throwing away metal components, like the copper, gold, silver and palladium in cell phones and other electronics, leads to needless mining for new metals.

Consumers, manufacturers and retailers can all help ensure that older electronics find new homes or new uses. The resources below will help you recycle, donate or resell your unwanted gadgets and keep them out of the waste stream.

RECYCLE

From 2004-2008, At Least 85,000 Iraqis Killed

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The Associated Press is reporting today that the Iraqi government has released an official tally of the number of people killed from 2004-2008.

According to the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry 85,694 were killed and 147,195 were wounded during that period.

Other sources have placed the numbers of killed and wounded since the invasion in 2003 much higher.

Iraq Body Count, an online project to record the number of casualties, places the number of documented civilian deaths since then between 93,540 and 102,071. A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released in 2006 placed the number of killed as high as 654,965.

Ending mountaintop coal removal

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The Sierra Club this week released a groundbreaking new report that reaffirms the economic benefits of ending mountaintop removal coal mining and transitioning to clean energy sources in Appalachia.

The report shows that America can have affordable electricity without mountaintop removal because many factors contribute to the cost of electricity, with coal prices playing just one small part.

According to the report:

Ending mountaintop removal would have a negligible effect on electricity prices in the eastern United States, where mountaintop removal coal is currently burned.
We have an abundance of cost-effective alternatives to mountaintop removal coal.
Other types of mining in Appalachia employ more workers.
Mountaintop removal coal mining costs state budgets more than it generates.
Mountaintop removal destroys clean energy sources.

Hearing the cry of women at the African Synod

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tAs the Synod of Bishops for Africa reaches its midway point, its key themes seem to include empowering women (both in the broader society and the church), a perceived Western assault on the African family, globalization and it discontents (especially chronic poverty), and dialogue with Islam.

tThe fate of women, in particular, seems a major preoccupation.

t“The synod fathers have heard the cry of women,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana yesterday, noting that cry “has been echoed” by some of the women taking part in the African Synod itself.

t“Women need to be recognized in society as well as in the church as active members,” he said.

tTurkson, who is serving as the general secretary of the synod, yesterday delivered a speech technically known as the relation post disceptationem, or the “report after the discussion.”

When Samples Don't Tell the Story

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A few days ago I expressed the wish that a Sister Survey similar to those conducted by the distinguish sister-sociologist, Marie Augusta Neal, in the years following Vatican II, could be done now to find attitudes of sisters independently in the midst of the investigation crisis.

Meanwhile, word comes that the estimable periodical, U.S. Catholic, is surveying sisters about the investigation and separately inviting readers to post their views of the probe. The general reader survey is described as a "poll." The first wave of responses showed 55 percent sharply critical of the Vatican's initiative, but after a priest filed a entry on his blog highly in favor of the process, together with a link to the magazine's site, the results tilted heavily in the other direction, 80 percent approving the probe.

A conversation with Archbishop Wilton Gregory

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Lone U.S. bishop at the Synod for Africa talks about the African experience in America, Barack Obama, health care reform, and the sex abuse crisis

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia, is the lone U.S. bishop taking part in the Oct. 4-25 Synod for Africa in Rome. Gregory, 61, was the first African-American to be elected president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and he led the American church through the peak period of the sexual abuse crisis from 2001 to 2004. A Chicago native, he also knows a thing or two about politics, and therefore how to handicap the dynamics in a setting such as a synod of bishops.

Bishops offer Obama advice on Afghanistan

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The think piece on Afghanistan posted to the front page of our web site this moring, Alternatives to war in Afghanistan by David Cortright of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, says:

Demilitarizing U.S. strategy would not mean abandoning the people of Afghanistan. The reduction of military operations should be linked to a greatly increased commitment to development assistance and democracy-building programs for local groups willing to uphold human rights principles.

Deal Hudson's Deceitful Bogeyman

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I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. It is fast becoming obvious that health care reform, in some form, is going to pass Congress and become law. So conservative Republicans, including conservative Catholic Republicans, are mounting last ditch efforts to scuttle the legislation. The most recent was posted by Deal Hudson over at InsideCatholic.com.

Hudson argues that the public option will end up extending federal funding for abortion. He says that the courts will step in even if Congress doesn’t mandate abortion coverage in any such plan. Mind you, the courts have not stepped in to over-rule the Hyde Amendment lo these many years. The federal health insurance coverage that members of Congress enjoy does not include abortion coverage. Federal Medicaid funds do not support abortion. So, why would the federal option, which would be modeled after the insurance that members of Congress get, necessarily end up mandating abortion coverage? Hudson does not say.

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