National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Military strategists call for reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons

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An influential panel of U.S. military strategists on Wednesday called for an 80 percent reduction in the number of the nation's nuclear weapons, saying current policy "unnecessarily incurs risks of unintentionally initiating a nuclear conflict," a conclusion many in the Catholic community, including activists and bishops, have supported for decades.

Afghanistan's massacred innocents have names

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COMMENTARY

With opinion polls showing high disapproval of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and in the wake of the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, President Barack Obama's trip last week to Afghanistan was intended to demonstrate to the American people and its allies that the war in Afghanistan will soon end. Instead, Obama's visit, in the dark of night, signaled a continuation of U.S. military involvement into the future and more tragedy for the Afghan people.

The nightmare of unspeakable suffering for the Afghan people caused by the war only seems to worsen with each passing day. On Friday, a mother and her five children were killed by U.S./NATO strikes in the Helmand province. And on Monday, it was reported that eight more civilians died from another U.S./NATO airstrike in the Badghis province.

This Friday marks two months since the massacre in Kandahar province of 17 civilians, including nine children. It was reported that three women and nine children were killed in their sleep, and some of the victims' bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Connecticut repeal thrills longtime death-penalty opponent

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Writer, journalist and well-known death penalty opponent Antoinette Bosco, 83, has been against the death penalty her whole life. When she moved to Connecticut in 1981, she continued her campaign to abolish the death penalty in the state with the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. What makes her commitment even more compelling is that her son and daughter-in-law were murdered in 1993 in Montana. She and her other children wrote to the judge and said they did not want the killer executed.

On April 25, the campaign in Connecticut came to a close -- Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a law to repeal the death penalty. NCR talked to Bosco about the decision. The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

NCR: What have you learned from working to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut?

Infiltrators expose the cruelty of meat

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COLUMN

Iowa companies that breed, feed, cage and kill animals for people who savor the taste of the creatures’ flesh are having anxiety attacks. In March, they persuaded the state legislature to pass a law meant to punish anyone who deceptively infiltrates slaughterhouses or factory farms to film or report the grisly goings-on. Utah has a similar law and other states are ready to go.

Protesters, critics greet Rep. Ryan at Georgetown

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WASHINGTON -- Days after receiving a letter signed by 90-plus faculty and administrators rebuking his interpretation of Catholic social teaching, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stepped onto the Georgetown University campus Thursday amid critics of the federal budget he proposed, the House of Representatives has approved and presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed.

The letter from the Jesuit-run university’s scholars followed a series of letters from the U.S. bishops to four committees in the House, where the Ryan budget passed March 29. In their four letters, the bishops voiced their disapproval of the 2013 GOP budget, calling for a “circle of protection” around programs for the poor and vulnerable.

“Our problem with Representative Ryan is that he claims his budget is based on Catholic social teaching,” said Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, one of the Georgetown letter’s organizers. “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

Study says no evidence that death penalty deters crime

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WASHINGTON -- In the more than three decades since the national moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, there is no reliable research to determine whether capital punishment has served as a deterrent, according to a review by the National Research Council.

The review, partially funded by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice, found that one of the major shortcomings in all previous studies has included "incomplete or implausible" measures of how potential murderers perceive the risk of execution as a possible consequence of their actions.

Another flaw, according to the review, is that previous research never considered the impact of lesser punishments, such as life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"Fundamental flaws in the research we reviewed make it of no use in answering the question of whether the death penalty affects homicide rates," said Carnegie Mellon University professor Daniel Nagin, who chaired the council's study committee.

Nagin said Wednesday that the panel reviewed the work of "dozens" of researchers since a 1976 Supreme Court decision ended a four-year national moratorium on executions.

Seven arrested at weekend of demonstrations in Kansas City area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Highlighting a unique demonstration of national security interests, peace activists gathered in the Kansas City area April 13-15 to call attention to nuclear weapons, unmanned drone attacks and the detention of accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

The three-day convergence, called a "Trifecta Resista" by organizers, saw people from across the Midwest gather for three lively demonstrations in the area. Seven people were arrested over the weekend for such acts.

On April 13, the activists gathered outside an entry point for Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where Manning has been held at the Army's Joint Regional Correctional Facility.

The treatment of Manning, an Army private accused of leaking thousands of confidential diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, previously spurred protests from supporters and human rights groups. Before being transferred to Leavenworth last April, Manning was held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where he was placed into solitary confinement and wore only a suicide-proof smock each night.

Apple avoids 'Nike moment' despite Asian sweatshops

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Viewpoint

Every decade, it seems that a new social issue captures the attention of Catholic progressives, inspiring efforts to work for a more just society. In the late 1950s and early 1960s it was civil rights. In the ’80s it was nuclear arms.

In the 1990s, that issue was sweatshops. As new technologies increased international communication, people began hearing firsthand accounts of labor rights abuses that never made it into the mainstream news space. Many companies were shown to use sweatshops. But one company rose to the forefront of the debate: Nike. As a brand, it evoked the best in American culture: commitment, achievement, competitiveness, cool and a sense of fair play. But as tales of its rights abuses spread, Nike became a cultural symbol of everything that was wrong with capitalism and globalization.

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September 12-25, 2014

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