NCR Today

Spielberg at war again with 'War Horse'

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Among the many themes that emerge or converge in the films of director/ producer/writer Steven Spielberg are lonely children and war, specifically World War II.

These themes can be found in the kids in "E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) as well as the Oscar-winning "Schindler's List" (1993), in which viewers may remember the little Jewish girl in a red coat, waiting for transport to the Nazi death camps. They can be found in "The Color Purple" (1985) (for which Spielberg deserved an Oscar) and one of my personal favorites, this year's "Super 8," where Spielberg captures children who are lonely or estranged from or in tension with their fathers.

A gathering consensus for radical change

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One of the most interesting news stories of 2011 is the increasing number of countries in which Catholic priests have issued statements urging radical church reform.

In most cases, the declaration included a call for the ordination of married men and the ordination of women. In Germany, Austria, Ireland and Belgium, these remarkable documents quickly attracted growing endorsements from other clergy and laity. However, in every case, they also aroused questions, doubts and strong disagreement from other quarters. These movements must be stopped, declared some critics, calling the declarations blasphemy, heresy, an affront to legitimate authority and cause for the excommunication of their leaders and proponents.

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.

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April 21-May 4, 2017

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