NCR Today

Scenes from Nagasaki's prayer for atomic victims

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NAGASAKI -- With a prayer gathering bringing members of various traditions together, the city here today marked tomorrow's solemn anniversary of its Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing with a decided balance of serenity and fun.

After a symbolic offering of water to the victims of the blast, many of whom cried out for one last drink before passing away, a member of each religion gathered -- Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Shinto -- offered a prayer for peace: Catholic Archbishop Joseph Takami blessed the crowd. A Muslim Imam performed an incredible dance, spinning in circles over and over as a representation of the force of global peace efforts.

And, the final message? A prayer from second-grade schoolchildren, who asked the world to simply smile.

From their prayer: "First of all, let's smile together. The power of smiling is a strength. Smiling spreads happiness widely. Let's, all of us, both adults and children, smile and work together to protect human life."

Below are more photos of some scenes from the event, along with short captions.

Sen. Mark Hatfield: How politics once was

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Mark Hatfield, former U.S. Senator and once governor of Oregon, died Sunday at age 89. Hatfield, a Republican, was an exemplar of the kind of political courage and thoughtful statesmanship that is so sorely lacking today.

He was, in his own description, a "rebel Republican" who would vote across party lines. He served in the Senate from 1967-1997. Of particular interest today would be his vote against a balanced budget amendment, which failed by a single vote in the Senate.

Striking, too, in this anniversary month of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, are his thoughts on preparations for war. From a piece posted on Huffington Post:

One of the first American servicemen to enter Hiroshima following the atomic bombing, he once said one of his major accomplishments was helping usher through Congress a ban on U.S. nuclear weapons testing in 1987.

"Every president other than Eisenhower has been seduced by the military concept that that is our sole measurement of our national security and the more bombs we build, the more secure we are," Hatfield said a decade later.

Morning Briefing

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NBC movie night

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Family Night on NBC is a project sponsored by Wal-Mart and Proctor and Gamble (P&G) that started in 2010 as a response to a study that revealed that parents wanted more family-oriented shows.

In general, I have not been impressed by the message-based stories. The last Family Movie Night on June 6, "Field of Vision" was about bullying in schools, and it was well-intentioned but also long and dry.

However, "Who is Simon Miller?", that airs tomorrow on Saturday, Aug. 6, is a very watchable story about a dad (Loren Dean) who is a geologist but also a spy. When he gets into trouble, his wife and teenage kids get involved.

This may sound like a plot for "Spy Kids" but it’s low tech and the family is a very ordinary family -- Caucasian American family.

NBC has upped the writing and "Who is Simon Miller?", while predictable and sparkling white, kept my attention. But I think it works because it rests on a formula that deserves some questioning about what makes a good "family" movie -- and exactly which families NBC thinks is worth making "good" movies for.

Contraception, the bishops and the HHS

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Recently, as part of the implementation of the new health care reform legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines that require insurance companies to offer women a whole range of services without co-payments. (You can hear the voices of women cheering these developments across the country!)

These services include several diverse items like well woman visits, breast feeding support, domestic violence counseling and FDA-approved contraceptive methods and counseling.

The Catholic bishops immediately zeroed in on "contraceptive methods and counseling." They are apparently concerned about including contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies for church employees. Although the policy includes exemptions for religious institutions that have problems with contraception, the bishops apparently don't believe they are adequate.

It's your church, author tells laity ñ take it!

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When Joe Marren heard that Australian Catholics were uniting in prayer for William Morris, the bishop who was forced to resign because of his suggestion that the church might want to reconsider its ban on women priests, he reacted with characteristic decisiveness: “Don’t hold prayer rallies; hold elections!”

Joseph Marren does not appear to be a firebrand. With his white hair and neatly trimmed mustache, he looks like the 76-year-old, retired communications specialist and church-going Catholic his neighbors take him to be. He and his wife Mary have nine children, 12 grandchildren (so far), and a peaceful existence in their home on Chicago’s far north side. But deep inside there’s a fire of indignation burning at what he sees as a Catholic hierarchy that has lost its credibility and has to go.

The shame of Hiroshima

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Tomorrow, Aug. 6, will be the 66th anniversary of the day the United States dropped an Atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a shameful day.

The cost? The killing of an estimated 80,000 people with another 100,000 or more dying from radiation exposure in the years that followed.

Some justify the bombing, which separates our nation from all others, by arguing “the show of force” saved American lives by causing the Japanese to surrender.

I ask why that “show of force” could not have been off the coast of Japan, in public sight, but away from civilian population?

And why the inexplicable Nagasaki bombing three days later?

This second atomic bomb explosion speaks clearly to U.S. hubris and arrogance. Some 40,000 died in Nagasaki, in a flash and tens of thousands more perished in the years that followed.

As I write NCR Correspondent Joshua McElwee is in Hiroshima. He is there as a reporter but he cannot help but also be a witness to a still unfolding history, one that has forever wedding the Japanese and American peoples. You will read his reports on this Web site in coming days.

Lesbian couple saves 40 teens from Norway massacre

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"If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?"

So asks one blogger who notes that no one in the U.S. mainstream press has picked up this story.

Campers Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen were eating supper across the lake from the ill-fated Norwegian campground. Suddenly they heard gunshots and screams. Without thinking twice, they headed into their boat and steered directly towards the gunfire.

Arriving at the shore, they began to pull youngsters into their boat. The boat could only fit 10 people at a time. So they make four round trips. Forty teenagers who otherwise might have been shot or drowned were saved because of their heroic efforts.

Why haven't we heard more about them? Roz Kaveney, a columnist for the Guardian, suspects the obvious:

On this day: An alternative Hiroshima reflection

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On this day in 1945, at Tinian, in the Mariana Islands, Colonel Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay learned that "conditions were go, and the next day would be the day. At the last minute, it was decided to complete the final assembly of the bomb in flight, thus eliminating the risk of it exploding if Enola Gay crashed on take-off. Navy Captain Deak Parsons, who had earlier opposed this idea, now suggested it, and persuaded the team that he could perform the difficult assembly in the cramped bomb bay of the B-29.

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December 2-15, 2016

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