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Peace & Justice

Afghanistan defies military solution


Tragic, pathetic and blood-soaked is the president’s escalation of his war in Afghanistan. Congress, war-enabling but far from war-weary as long as body counts remain relatively low, is supplying the money. In June, the latest supplemental spending bill doles out $100 billon-plus, enough to make it through the end of September. Then it will be more stay-the-course money.

In the fall, the number of soldiers posted in Afghanistan will have risen from the current 28,000 up to a projected 68,000.

Encyclical signals church not pulling out of politics


In Caritas in Veritate, Benedict honors Paul VI's Populorum Progressio as the "Rerum Novarum of the present age" and takes up his own responsibility to bring Catholic social thought to bear in a much changed economic and political landscape.

The title expresses Benedict's distinctive concerns. He proposes caritas as a virtue with the moral, intellectual, and political force desperately needed in our globalizing world. Caritas -- grounded in God's Trinitarian life -- impels us to seek the good of the other. Just as God refuses to leave humanity suffering in its sinful state, so charity prevents us from accepting the myriad ways that our economies dehumanize and despoil. Just as God saves humankind within history, so charity impels us to realize the positive potential of economic life for human communion and mutual flourishing.

Blood, sweat and tears


The sugar industry: Film Review

Vanity Fair’s February 2001 article by Marie Brenner, “In the Kingdom of Big Sugar,” was an exposé on the business and labor practices of the Fanjul Family’s Florida sugar industries (that includes Domino Sugar). Brenner’s article generated several documentaries revealing the disturbing hidden reality of human rights violations that include trafficking in persons, the slave trade, child labor, deprivation of citizenship and other illegal work practices. The sugar triangle, where these practices continue with little reform since slavery was introduced to the Americas, includes Florida, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Two documentaries in particular, “The Sugar Babies” and “The Price of Sugar,” both released in 2007, make it clear that it is the blood, sweat and tears of cane workers that put the sugar on our tables, and into almost every processed food product in the United States.

The priest at the center


The sugar industry

“All roads lead to Fr. Hartley,” said attorney Benjamin Chew. “He is the source of these reports.” Though he is not named as a defendant in the defamation lawsuit Chew’s firm has brought against the makers of “The Price of Sugar,” Fr. Christopher Hartley is central to the case made in that documentary.

Eyes on G-8 meeting: Will poor be abandoned?


As the participants in the Group of Eight summit gathered in L'Aquila, Italy, July 8-10, the economic crisis gripping the world was getting lots of attention.

The worldwide recession not only has taken a toll on developed nations, but has been even more devastating to countries with high levels of poverty, according to leading development agencies.

Developing nations will be watching the G-8 meeting for signs that the world's leading economic powers will continue working to alleviate poverty, reduce hunger and maintain their commitments under the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, aimed at significantly reducing poverty by 2015.

The summit follows a late June U.N. conference that looked at the crisis and its impact on poor nations. The conference released a statement from the 192 participating delegations acknowledging that all nations must work together to address the challenges of an economy gone awry so that developing countries are not forced to bear the brunt of the crisis.

From Moscow, disappointing results on disarmament


President Obama raised expectations for achieving a world without nuclear weapons when he said in Prague on April 5, 2009, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” But he only succeeded in moving the world a very small fraction of the way toward this goal when he met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on July 6, 2009 to announce the outcome thus far of US-Russian negotiations on nuclear disarmament. A Joint Understanding signed in Moscow by the two presidents gave little cause for celebration for those who share President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Ohio experiment offers lessons for task force


As the bishop-union-health care task force discussed ways to do a better job of dealing with union-organizing drives and representation elections in Catholic hospitals, one of the things the group studied was a recent experiment in an Ohio Catholic hospital.

In December 2007 Community Health Partners Regional Medical Center in Lorain, Ohio, which is part of the Cincinnati-based Catholic Healthcare Partners system, held union representation elections under an employer-union agreement that followed many of the principles and mechanisms now recommended in the task force’s final statement.

Catholic hospitals and labor: A velvet revolution?


WASHINGTON -- In what could mark the start of a velvet revolution in labor relations at Catholic hospitals, a national task force of bishops, labor leaders and Catholic health care leaders has proposed a new framework for employees to determine whether they wish to unionize or not.

Titled “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers,” the 16-page proposal asks Catholic health care employers and the unions seeking to represent their workers to enter a mutually binding agreement for fair and expeditious representation elections.

Torture survivors testify at human rights hearing


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Torture survivors and advocates implored Congress June 25 to investigate allegations of military torture of war prisoners, saying that the U.S. must be an example for other countries in respect for human rights.

The hearing, sponsored by Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., chair of the Congressional Human Rights Commission, was one of several programs held June 25-27 in observance of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition's annual Torture Awareness Month.

The panel members declared that Congress and President Barack Obama's administration must take concrete action in investigating and prosecuting torture in order to uphold accountability in the world.

"These are issues, not abstractions. ... We know that there is considerable value in precise information," said Felice Gaer, head of the American Jewish Committee's human rights institute.

But, Gaer added, simply gathering facts about abuse is not enough.

"Countries need to recognize these obligations and live up to these obligations," she said.



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October 10-23, 2014


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