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Reproductive rights emerge as key issue in Philippine presidential election


Population management and reproductive health are emerging as key issues in the upcoming elections in the Philippines.

Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino, son of the late Philippine Presisent Corazón "Cory" Aquino, has come out in support of the Reproductive Health Bill, now before the Philippine Congress. The Catholic Philippine hierarchy opposes the bill, which promotes information and access "to both natural and modern family planning methods that are medically safe and legally permissible."

Abortion is illegal in the Philippines.

Lay woman named to key Vatican job


When talk turns to “women in the church,” the normal association in the public mind is with debates over the ordination of women to the priesthood. Because there’s been no movement on that front, the tendency is often to assume the “women’s question” is frozen in place.

In reality, however, the last few decades have seen a broad trend towards appointing women to positions of ecclesiastical leadership that don’t require sacramental ordination.

Criticism of 'Avatar' spiritualism off base


I was dismayed to hear of Vatican criticism of the movie "Avatar," based upon the movie's central theme of humans versus nature. L'Osservatore Romano said the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature."

The Vatican Radio said that the film "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium."

"Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship," the radio said.

Obama's Choice


Whether the Massachusetts vote amounted to a voter veto of health care reform is immaterial. It is being perceived as such. Even Congressman Barney Frank, whom I suspect could have held the Senate seat for the Democrats, has said that the results require Democrats to recalibrate their strategy, despite the fact that the President’s approval ratings remain high among those who voted yesterday.

So, the White House and the Congressional leaders have a choice. Either the get the House to pass the Senate bill “as is” and try to adjust its difficulties through the reconciliation process in the spring, or they start from scratch. Neither option is great.

Army spouses battle with their mental health


This is an important story with broad implications. More needs to be done to shore up our military families' mental health. The sooner, the better.

Scientists have studied troops coming back from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and found high levels of mental health problems. Now, researchers are starting to look more at the families of those fighters.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that Army wives report a lot of stress when their husbands are sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. And the longer the deployment, the more likely the wife is to experience depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping and other mental health problems.

The environmental roots of the Haiti tragedy


The following is from Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope's blog Taking the Initiative:

Washington, DC -- The world is still reeling from the magnitude of the disaster in Haiti. Many Sierra Club members and staffers, particularly from our Florida and Puerto Rico Chapters, are close to members of the Haitian expatriate community. All of us want to help the people experiencing this almost unimaginable human catastrophe however we can.

Seeing the terrible images of suffering from Port-au-Prince, our grief forces us to ask ourselves "Was such a disaster truly inevitable?" Of course we cannot control -- or even truly predict -- earthquakes. But in some places earthquakes kill tens of thousands, while in others there are only a handful of casualties. Why? I see two closely related factors that make a difference: forests and poverty.


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In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


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