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Peace & Justice

Death row survivor tells the real story

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I recently said goodbye to Joseph “Shabaka” Brown, a longtime friend who relocated from Washington to North Carolina. When needing a reminder that overwhelming odds can be defied and despair defeated, or when my law school, college and high school students need reality and not theory-based information on American injustice, it’s been Brown I’ve brought to class.

He belongs to an exclusive club, one of 138 citizens since 1973 who were convicted of capital murder, but after years and years of caged torment on death row were freed on grounds of innocence or dropped charges.

Eating and the culture of death

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All our religious traditions agree that animals must be treated humanely and their suffering minimized. All our traditions agree as well that human workers must be treated fairly, justly and humanely.

One out of every six people in the world works to provide the food we eat -- in the fields and in food processing and transport, in restaurants, and in food stores. We affirm their right to decent incomes, working conditions, and to organize themselves.

Eating is thus a moral act.

U.S. nuclear weapons policies headed in opposite directions

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The Obama administration is moving ahead with the development of new nuclear weapons components at three key weapons facilities at the same time it is conducting a sweeping review of U.S. nuclear weapons policies that could lead to further slashing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

For the moment, U.S. nuclear weapons policies appear to be running in contrary directions, and while some critics of U.S. nuclear policy are cautiously optimistic, they are also worried President Obama’s nuclear disarmament vision is not yet being supported by concrete policy actions.

To Save a Life

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Independent Christian film aimed at teens opens Jan. 22

Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne; "Ghost Town") is a high school jock who is popular and on the fast track to college. He has a hot girl friend, Amy (Deja Kreutzberg; "Sorority Row") and life is cool. Jake’s life spins out of control when he witnesses the suicide of his childhood best friend and neighbor Roger (Robert Bailey, Jr.; "Coraline"). Roger once saved Jake’s life but they became estranged when the mostly white and cliquish high school kids pressure Jake to ignore the black kid. Jake is plagued by guilt and wonders if he could have saved his friend.

Meanwhile his girl friend pressures Jake for sex and she becomes pregnant. Drugs and alcohol are there for the taking. Jake’s family is well off and his father is distant. When Jake meets a youth minister by chance who invites him to come to a youth get-together. Jake is turned off at first but even starts going to church. For this his father mocks him. Life goes on but Jake seeks meaning and forgiveness in his life. Things come to a head when Amy chooses to have an abortion.

Pro-life challenges change

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration and a Congress narrowly controlled by Democrats present both new challenges and new opportunities for Catholic pro-life advocates on Capitol Hill.

Sr. Carol Keehan, president and CEO of Catholic Health Association and a Daughter of Charity, said in an interview that pro-life advocates have faced different strategic challenges and priorities in recent Republican and Democratic administrations.

Time to rethink antiabortion strategy

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It has been almost 40 years since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision took the issue of abortion out of state legislatures, where it was being debated in many states, and established a constitutional right to the procedure. The decision short-circuited the messy, cumbersome, noisy way we Americans make laws and cast the debate in absolute terms. Pro-choice advocates insisted that women had an absolute right to an abortion. Pro-life forces insisted the unborn child had an absolute right to life. The ambivalence most Americans felt about abortion -- and about the pre-Roe legal regime that left many women dead or maimed from illegal abortions -- got lost amid the claims of absolutists.

Continuing King's legacy

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Fifty-four years ago Martin Luther King Jr., reluctant leader of a great new movement in America’s segregated South, was at his Birmingham, Ala., home. Author Nick Kotz, in Judgment Days, tells this King story:

About midnight he picked up the ringing telephone to hear a menacing voice: “Nigger, we are tired of you and your mess now. If you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.”

Stammering about abortion

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Essay

In mid-November, the New York-based Human Rights Watch weighed in on the Stupak amendment to the U.S. health care reform bill. If signed into law, the amendment would prohibit using a federal subsidy to purchase an insurance plan that includes coverage of abortion except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. The bill’s restriction, Human Rights Watch argued, “would effectively eliminate abortion access for millions of women and threatens women’s human rights.”

Group fasts to close Guantanamo Bay prison

WASHINGTON -- Undertaking 11 days of fasting, prayer, meditation and public action, a group of Catholic and other activists has renewed its push for the immediate closing of the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Members of Witness Against Torture, established in 2005 with the goal of closing the prison housing suspected terrorists, began their fast Jan. 11 at the White House. The group marked the eighth anniversary of the prison's opening with a demonstration and a procession through downtown Washington.

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July 4-17, 2014

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