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Catholic health care organizations among selected for initiative

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A few Catholic health care organizations -- among them Genesys Physician Hospital Organization in Michigan, Franciscan Alliance in Indiana and Seton Health Alliance in Texas -- have been selected to participate in an initiative, the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model, which is designed to provide better care while reducing Medicare costs.

The Health and Human Services program, which begins Sunday, includes 32 health care organizations nationwide selected for their experience with patient-centered care. They will be evaluated over the next few years, according to this press release from HHS.

The ACOs "are designed to save $1 billion over five years by promoting coordination between doctors and hospitals and ensuring that people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure get the care they need to stay out of the hospital," according to this Kaiser Health News story.

Kathy Kelly: 'Making hope' in Afghanistan

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(Kathy Kelly writes from Kabul, Afghanistan. See her Christmas reflection here.)

December 27, 2011

Kabul--Arab Spring, European Summer, American Autumn, and now the challenge of
winter. Here in Kabul, Afghanistan, the travelers of our small Voices for
Creative Nonviolence delegation share an apartment with several of the
creative and determined "Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers" who’ve risked so
much for peace here and befriended us so warmly over the past two years.

Our apartment doesn’t have indoor heating or hot tap water. We bundle up,
overnight, in blankets, quilts and sleeping bags, and the Westerners,
unaccustomed to the indoor cold, wear at least five layers of clothing
during the daytime. Tap water is contaminated, electricity shortages are
frequent, and internet access is spotty, but compared to those who live in
Kabul’s refugee camps, we’re ensconced in plenty of creature comforts.

What’s more, we are warmed by a sense of shared purpose, our spirits high,
building and exploring relationships which are a model and a hope to us, in

Kathy Kelly: Christmas reflection from Kabul

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I first became aware of Kathy Kelly during a phone call some months before the first part of the war against Iraq. Back then it was called the Persian Gulf War, and it began in August of 1990 and ended the following February.

During the phone call, she told me that a group of pacifists was going to camp on one of the borders of Iraq, intent on witnessing to what she believed was the futility of war and generally to get in the way of warmaking in some small way by being where she wasn't supposed to be.

I listened, wondering about the sanity of the person on the other end of the
line. But over the years I've grown to think that, for the most part, she's one of the sanest and bravest people I know. She's usually where governments would rather she not be, getting to know people who are otherwise considered either enemies or mere ciphers in the calculation of war's collateral damage, witnessing always to deep truths of the gospel that normally get shoved to the background in the shouted "religious" discourse of one or another of the culture wars.

The war in Iraq was an abject failure

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President Barack Obama and administration officials are hailing the so-called end to the war in Iraqi as some kind of success. Some are saying that the loss of about 4,500 American lives with more than 100,000 injured as well as the thousands more Iraqis killed and wounded was worth the price of the war commenced by President George W. Bush in 2003.

But, in my opinion, this senseless war was not worth a single American or Iraqi life.

It was a war based on lies and deceptions, a war with the intent by the Bush Administration (supported by some opportunistic Democrats) to assert U.S. military power to underscore the maintenance of the American empire, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.

This empire consists of ensuring American access to markets and to natural resources such as oil in different parts of the world. U.S. military power in the form of hundreds of worldwide military bases is also part of this empire.

Can anything good come out of Montana?

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Well, according to the Great Falls Tribune, a "local boy done good" is coming home to celebrate Christmas Masses in his hometown of tiny Hobson, Mont.:

"This Christmas season, the parishioners of Hobson's Sacred Heart Catholic Church will enjoy a special gift -- one rarely available to people living in small rural communities. A visiting priest will assist with the Christmas Masses, one whose resume includes art studies in Florence, Italy, an internship in the U.S. Senate; who has studied Elizabethan culture at Oxford University; and who who is currently working to complete his doctorate in Theology at Cambridge University in England.

The Christmas story out of the mouths of babes

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Last year, artists and children from St. Paul's Anglican Church in Aukland, New Zealand, got together and produced a charming and exuberant video of the Christmas story.

I know videos of cute kids lisping through the Gospel tale abound on YouTube, but this one is professionally rendered and well worth viewing. It is the project of St. Paul's Arts and Media (SPAM), a collective of individuals interested in exploring art and media in the context of contemporary spirituality, and St. Paul's Arts and Kids (SPANK).

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