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Honduras: Repression continues

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The official Quixote Center delegation in Honduras continues to send firsthand reports of the events in that country, as tens of thousands of its citizens clamor for the return of their elected President, Manuel Zelaya.

The stories of the repression are documenting an escalating violence. This report refers to August 12th protests:

"On the forty-sixth day of peaceful and nonviolent resistance against the de facto government, the armed forces and the police repressed protesters with excessive force. Hundreds of police and military occupied the city of Tegucigalpa yesterday, throwing large quantities of tear gas, pepper gas, and live bullets. They also attacked the protestors and uninvolved bystanders with tubes, punches, and kicks.

"The five teams of international observers present in different parts of the city center verified that the reaction on the part of security forces was excessively violent. ..."

Reports of repression in San Pedro Sula are similar in violence and intensity.

For more detail, go to: http://www.quixote.org/node/949

Thanks to Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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My older brother has his problems -- I still get calls from my mother about something he's done to upset the people he lives with. But overall, he's happier than my parents thought he would be. And much of that is thanks to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

My brother is brain-damaged, plagued with a host of learning and physical disabilities. When he was born 53 years ago, he came into a world that had no real place for him. It was the parents' most consuming worry when he was little = what would happen to him as he got older, as they got older? And where could they even turn to for help?

Back then, there were no networks of families, no advocacy groups. The mentally disadvantaged lived off to the side; their lives and their stories made society too uneasy.

Bishops pitch for health care reform

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The media relations office for the U.S. bishops just tweeted this:

U.S. bishops have launched Web page promoting health care reform: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare

Do you think that was in response to my last blog entry (The Tablet: U.S. bishops risk losing the moment) which went up just minutes before? Here's the media release that goes with the Web page launch:

U.S. Bishops Launch Web Site on Health Care Reform, Their Position and Concerns

WASHINGTON -- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a Web page promoting its support of “truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity.” The page, www.usccb.org/healthcare, includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions, and links for contacting members of Congress.

Welcome back Michael Vick

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If there are four more powerful biblical words than "A man had two sons" I do not know them. I always cry when I read them. Coming after the other two parables about hope, the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin, and appearing only in the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the prodigal reveals to us in a way that we find difficult to understand, even unnerving, what the Master was about to accomplish for the entire human race on Calvary: The triumph of absolute merciful love over sin and even over justice. Justice is one of the most noble accomplishments of the human soul, and it is difficult to attain, but it is as nothing compared to the mercy of God.

I hope that Michael Vick has read that parable many times.

Abe Lincoln, again and again

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By now, we are all aware of President Obama's keen interest in Abe Lincoln. Today's Wall Street Journal has a piece on choreographer Bill T. Jones.

The 57-year-old Mr. Jones, a MacArthur "genius" grant recipient, is readying two new stage productions for the fall season: "Fondly Do We Hope ... Fervently Do We Pray," an evening-length piece celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth -- "fondly do we hope ... fervently do we pray" -- is from a line in Lincoln's second inaugural address.

One of God's most beautiful names

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Let’s begin down at the nearest pond. Fr. Ed Hays, founder of the Shantivanam prayer community in Kansas and spiritual writer, advises that we adopt the common frog as a mascot for our spirituality of simple living.

The image of a frog could be hung on our walls as a religious icon, he suggests. One reason for doing so is that the frogs in our local ponds have such great bulging eyes. We need those kind of eyes in order to live deeply and well.

“To the eyes of the soul,” Hays counsels, “everything is holy. Viewing life with the soul’s enormous staring eyes allows us to see that we are swimming in the sacred.” With those great bulging eyes and a cultivated spirituality of simple living, we can backstroke through the holy, splash and delight in the taste of reality, find it easy to both pray always and to participate in the healing of our world. As theologian Monika Hellwig rightly claims, the primary issue in spirituality is not the redemption of the individual soul but the redemption of our whole world.

Homeboy Industries facing huge budget deficit

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I recently blogged about how Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle did an about face with the Los Angeles police chief William Bratton: At first Boyle was not impressed, but later came to the conclusion that the police chief was outstanding.

Today's AP story describes the perilous financial condition of Boyle's anti-gang program, Homeboy Industries:

The Rev. Greg Boyle has walked through gunfire to quell gang violence, gotten sworn enemies to work peacefully together and redeemed hardcore criminals. But he never thought money would be the downfall of the nation's largest anti-gang program.

After Friday, however, all bets are off at Homeboy Industries. The Roman Catholic priest's 21-year-old effort to rehabilitate gang members by offering jobs, counseling and schooling, will run out of cash — the result of an economic recession that has ripped a $5 million hole in the nonprofit's budget this year.

It takes a village to make a loan

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I have to confess, I was a bit upset by the lead story under the fold of The Wall Street Journal today: A global surge in tiny loans spurs credit bubble in a slum.

Microlending fights poverty by helping poor people finance small businesses -- snack stalls, fruit trees, milk-producing buffaloes -- in slums and other places where it's tough to get a normal loan. But what began as a social experiment to aid the world's poorest has also shown it can turn a profit.

That has attracted private-equity funds and other foreign investors, who've poured billions of dollars over the past few years into microfinance world-wide.

Microloans range from a few dollars to a few hundred. Tiny. The capitalists got involved with this "social experiment," becase its offers dependable returns. The granddaddy of all microlenders, the 30-year-old Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, reports repayment rates of nearly 98 percent.

Leave it to the capitalists to screw it up. The Journal article continues:

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