NCR Today

Best Catholic news junky blog post of the day

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Max Lindenman, who blogs at Diary of a Wimpy Catholic, wins the Best Catholic news junky blog post of the day for The Catholic Pundits Drinking Game. Lindenman, who wrote for NCR a couple years ago (See Eucharistic adoration: peaceful, despite the squabble, which shows you his range as writer) has different games for readers of NCR and America and for readers of First Things.

Benefits of fair trade coffee outweigh negatives

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I'm having a harder time these days finding fair trade coffee on store shelves. It's being pushed out by other coffee labels. In my neighborhood, the big groceries only sell the name brands. So I shop for coffee at two coffee shops and an organic grocery.

Two of the proprietors were surprised at my complaint and came over to look for themselves at the limited choice. They pointed out the certifications: Smithsonian bird friendly, Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic and UTZ Certified. But only a couple of packages were labeled fair trade.

These are all expensive coffees, but only fair trade guarantees that the growers are paid a negotiated price and commit to fair labor conditions; that the coffee farm co-ops are democratic and transparent organizations; and that part of the profit is invested in community development.

On this day: Ven. Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P.

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On this day in 1806, Samuel Mazzuchelli was born in Milan, the fifteenth child of Luigi Mazzuchelli and Rachele Merlini. Samuel grew up in his parents' house behind the Cathedral. At 17, he entered the Order of Preachers. At 18, he made his final vows. At 21, "mandated 'Missionary for North America'", the young Dominican sailed for New York.

"Samuel was ordained in Cincinnati in 1830 by Bishop Fenwick and given his first assignment: a large area of the Great Lakes region in the northern United States to the border with Canada, with particular location on the island of Mackinac.

Morning Briefing

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Illinois -- Gov. Quinn defends himself against Catholic criticism

Congress Considers Catholic and other Christian Demands in Health Care

'Vendetta' mask becomes symbol of Occupy protests, "V for Vendetta," the comic-based movie whose violent, anarchist antihero fashions himself a modern Guy Fawkes and rebels against a fascist government has become a touchstone for young protesters in mostly western countries.

Catholic Volunteer Network gets back 75 percent of AmeriCorps funding

What the 10 percent have

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Now here's an astonishing chart that I offer for your meditation. It's from the New York Times: "Where the 1 Percent Fits in the Hierarchy of Income."

The top 1 percent is made up of 3.5 million families. They have incomes starting at about $400,000. Average income is about $700,000, and they have about 11 percent of total income. The top 10 percent of families have about 25 percent of total income.

What do the rest of us have? The 90 percent have 53 percent of total income.

It is hard to get our heads around this inequality.

And while we are digesting it, an old Heritage Foundation study is being brought forward again. It concludes that the poor have it pretty good when you add up rent subsidies, food stamps and medical care. The medical costs, of course, distort the picture. If your child has leukemia and runs up a $400,000 bill, that's not money in your pocket, whether you have insurance or are eligible for Medicaid.

Soggy letters inspire

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The Buffalo News has a story about letters to God, written by schoolchildren more than 100 years ago, found in a cross:


Onto paper the students poured thoughts and prayers they hoped would ascend, like so many curling wisps of smoke, into the skies above turn-of-the-century Buffalo.

Their writings would remain hidden from view for more than a century.

Now -- long after the schoolchildren who wrote them grew old and went to their graves -- the letters written by students at Corpus Christi School on Clark Street have been rediscovered.

Find out how they were discovered and what parishioners did here.

Activists on boats to challenge Israeli blockade

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Two civilian boats carrying 27 people are currently in international waters making their way to the beleaguered Gaza Strip in an attempt to challenge Israel's ongoing blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Passengers aboard the Canadian Tahrir (Liberation), and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom) say the message they carry is one of unity, defiance and hope in spite of Israel's policies that have separated Palestinians from each other.

Organizers of the initiative, known as "Freedom Waves to Gaza," say they chose not to publicize the boats' departures in advance because of Israeli efforts to block and sabotage a flotilla that attempted to depart for Gaza from Athens, Greece, last July.

The two boats, which set sail from Fethiye, Turkey, on Wednesday, are expected to arrive in Gaza on Friday afternoon, sailing from international waters straight into Gaza's territorial waters. The vessels are carrying a symbolic amount of humanitarian aid -- $30,000 in medicines -- along with a diverse group of passengers, all committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.

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March 10-23, 2017

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