NCR Today

The creeping loss of our liberties

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Over a week ago, the CIA, under orders by President Obama assassinated Anwar Awlaki, a leader of the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen. While this would have been newsworthy on its own, the fact is that we have been killing other terrorists in northwestern Pakistan, for example, with the same drone attacks that killed Awlaki. However, what made Awlaki's assassination even bigger news was that he was a U.S. citizen who, for part of his life, was raised in this country.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am currently teaching a freshman seminar at my campus, UC Santa Barbara, on Contemporary Political Issues in Historical Perspective. I raised the question to my students as to whether they felt that the killing of a U.S. citizen despite the fact that he was accused of being a terrorist was justified legally or whether Awlaki's rights as a U.S. citizen were violated and that he was denied due process of law.

After 140 years, African-American priest leads Josephites

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From The Republic:

It took 140 years for a religious community devoted to serving African-American Catholics to name a black priest as its leader.

He is the Rev. William Norvel, 76, a native of Mississippi, who was contemplating retirement before being chosen the 13th superior general of the Josephite Priests and Brothers. "It is about time," Deacon Al Turner, director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Washington Archdiocese, told Hamil R. Harris of The Washington Post.

On this day: Miracle of the Sun

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On this day, in 1917, the visionaries at Fatima, Lucia Santos, age 10, Blessed Francisco Marto, age 9, and Blessed Jacinta Marto, age 7, said they saw Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They had seen an angel in 1916, and on May 13th, 1917, they saw a Lady. She appeared to them again in June, July, August, and September. She told the children she would identify herself in October, and that a miracle would occur. The children reported the prediction, and thousands of people were on hand on October 13th.

Morning Briefing

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'Hope&Joy' in South Africa: How things change

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What is different in Johannesburg from my last visit? The airport renovations are complete, since they were initiated for the soccer World Cup held last year. It was so much faster getting through immigration and customs! You can still see signs and banners about the World Cup as you leave the airport, and a statue as well.

Workers still have to travel an hour or more to and from work, and many walk long distances. Four years ago, many women walked along the side roads carrying things on their heads. So far, I have only seen one woman do this. Maybe I have to get out more.

Catholic Workers protest nukes and drones in Nevada

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Last weekend, a national gathering of Catholic Workers in Las Vegas, Nevada concluded with a demonstration protesting nuclear weapons and drones.

About 100 people held an interfaith liturgy at the entrance to Nevada’s nuclear testing grounds on Sunday. After the prayers, the group walked towards the Nevada National Security Site, formerly known as the Nevada Test site. Thirty-seven men and 22 women crossed the white line delineating one of the test site’s boundaries and were promptly arrested by Nye County sheriffs.

Upon release, many of the activists went to nearby Creech Air Force base where 18 were arrested by Clark County police. Those arrested at the Nevada site received citations and were released, but at the Creech site the activists were charged with jaywalking, unlawful assembly. Most of those were given court dates of Dec. 5

Andrew Greeley: The Lion in Winter

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On Oct 7 the PBS program Religion and Ethics featured a segment on Fr. Andrew Greeley. It marked the first time he has made a public appearance, I believe, since he suffered a traumatic brain injury in November 2008.

The film includes remarks by his niece, Eileen Durkin, and his longtime friend, Fr. John Cusick, some clips of Greeley commenting on church problems in the old days, and poignant shots of Greeley, assisted by Cusick and surrounded by his relatives, saying Mass at the home of Eileen.

See the video below:

Dysfunctional groups

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I picked up a free book at a community center, Spycatcher, and read it on the bus from Chicago to St. Louis. It was written by Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5, back in 1987, and I was expecting a good thriller.

What I got was a close description of group dysfunction dating back to the '30s and stretching across the "free" world, England, France, the U.S., Australia, Canada -- everybody, it seems but the KGB in the Soviet Union who had planted spies and spy equipment everywhere. And of course we don't have an insider to tell us about KGB failures and dysfunction.

It's not Peter Wright's point that MI5 needed better group dynamics. He's got a spy story to tell. But I found it a tough slog. It's a story of little accountability, little follow-through, little investigation -- an old boys' club where some of the boys were working for the other side.

NCR is now available on the Sony Reader

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Image of NCR on the Sony ReaderAs of this morning, you can subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter on the Sony Reader.

Cost is $1.99 for a one-month subscription, which includes content from the print newspaper.

To purchase NCR for your Reader, visit Sony's Reader Store. For more information about the Reader-version of NCR, visit our FAQ page.

This is the second e-reader device that carries NCR. The Kindle version launched June 2011.

On this day: Christopher Columbus

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On this day, in 1492, after 70 days at sea, Christopher Columbus stepped out of his boat and onto an island in the Bahamas.


On the previous evening, "when, according to invariable custom on board of the admiral's ship, the mariners had sung the Salve Regina, or vesper hymn to the Virgin, he made an impressive address to his crew. He pointed out the goodness of God in thus conducting them by soft and favouring breezes across a tranquil ocean, cheering their hope continually with fresh signs, increasing as their fears augmented, and thus leading and guiding them to a promised land."

--The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, by Washington Irving, 1828. Search term: Salve Regina. Page 107, ff.

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April 21-May 4, 2017

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