National Catholic Reporter

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John Kerry

First diplomat for LGBT rights speaks out

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Becoming a father was a prime motivator for Randy Berry to accept what's sure to be a controversial new role at the State Department.

Berry, 50, is the U.S. special envoy for the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the first such post created by a nation, according to the State Department.

In that trailblazing role, he said, he has an opportunity to help his two children grow up in a world more accepting than the one he was born into.

Strangers in the night

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"A man's home is his castle" is a cry that echoes in American ears. While technology may be eating away at our liberties online, Americans still believe they are secure in their own homes. In some states in the South and West, dominion over one's own home is reinforced by "stand your ground" laws, which permit homeowners to use deadly force against intruders, though not without controversy.

It looks like a Republican sweep on Election Day

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I was preparing my latest blog post, which was to be titled, "The Democrats still have a good shot at retaining the Senate." Let me share some of the reasons I felt this was so, even though pollsters and pundits were already giving Republicans more than a 60 percent chance of taking the Senate.

Republicans need to gain six seats to retake the Senate. It really all hinges on a number of very close races across the country.

State Department report: Religious persecution makes migrants out of millions

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And then there were nine. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that Turkmenistan has joined the State Department's list of worst religious freedom offenders.

The State Department's "Countries of Particular Concern" list had remained static since 2006, when eight countries -- Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan -- were designated as CPCs.

Preview: Global summit helps break the silence on war and women

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It may be the most salient commentary on the status of women globally that it has taken the world until the 21st century to undertake serious efforts to end sexual violence in conflict.

Rape as a weapon and a spoil of war, which disproportionately affects women, has long been the hidden and undiscussed atrocity. The long silence, however, is being broken, most recently at a Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, held in London and organized by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and American actress and activist Angelina Jolie.

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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015

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