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Apple computer admits to toxic chemicals at Chinese factory

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Apple, the computer company behind the iPod and iPad, offically admitted today that 137 workers "suffered adverse health effects" from exposure to a toxic chemical in cleaning agents used at one of its factories in China, according to a report on the technology Web site cnet.

The chemical, n-hexane, was found at a plant in the city of Suzhou in eastern China which is operated by the Wintek corporation. The admission comes in Apple's Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report.

From the cnet report:

"Apple considers this series of incidents to be a core violation for worker endangerment," the report, available online, reads. "We required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines. In addition, Apple required them to fix their ventilation system. Since these changes, no new workers have suffered difficulties from chemical exposure."

Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahasse to resign

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Bishop John Ricard of the Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla. diocese, has submitted a request for early retirement to the Vatican for health reasons, according to a statement posted to the diocese's Web site.

NCR contributor Judy Gross, a resident of the Florida diocese, says in note this morning, that Ricard, 70, experienced a series of strokes beginning in December 2009, leaving him with impaired speech.

Ricard has led the diocese, spanning 18 North Florida counties for the past 14 years. He has also served as president of Catholic Relief Services, traveling to many war-torn countries and as chairman of the Office of International Justice and Peace (2002 to 2005) for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Vatican has yet to respond to Ricard's request.

Here's biography of Ricard.

On this day: St. Elias and Companions

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On this day we celebrate the feast of Sts. Elias, Jeremias, Isaias, Samuel, and Daniel, Egyptian converts who were tortured and martyred in Caesarea in 310.

They had gone to visit and comfort the enslaved workers in the copper mines of Cilicia. On their way back, they were arrested at Caesaria and taken to Firmilianus, the governor. When asked their names, they gave the names they had received at baptism. When asked their country, they said Jerusalem, meaning their heavenly destination.

Nuns using social media for social good

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The online version of Advertising Age has an article by Bernhard Warner, an expert on social media influence: What Nuns, Yes Nuns, Can Teach You About Social Media.

He talks about values, ethics, and the power of listening in the world of tweeting and goes on to praise charities, NGOs and especially women's religious communities for "the genuineness of their approach and their creativity ... To lay out tough messages -- sacrifice, vocation, mercy and charity" through a medium filled with endless distractions.

Warner only mentions a couple of religious communities of sisters, but asks that if you know more who are using social media, to let him know.

Spend money on nation-building, not military training

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For more than a dozen years protesters, led by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, have called for the closing of the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation).

The call to close the school is symbolic. Since 1946 -- when it was sited in Panama -- the SOA has taught both methods of torture and methods of wiping out political resistance to soldiers from dictatorships throughout Latin America.

The school was moved back to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1984 and renamed in 2001. The campaign to close the SOA gradually discovered the names of graduates linked to torture, murder and massacre, and actual pamphlets printed and distributed by the school illustrating torturous tools and body positions.

So, Congress changed the school’s name and installed a board of supervisors.

The Army’s big arguments for keeping the school open are that:


  1. It links the Pentagon to national militaries in Latin America;

  2. It teaches officers -- especially captains who are on the road to generalship -- not only military strategy, but also leadership and democratic values.

Update on German theologians' letter

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The (ever-increasingly important) PrayTellBlog.com has an update on the letter from German theologians. (See our story: 144 theologians confront hierarchy: Blunt letter says reforms necessary in light of scandals, priest shortage).

PrayTell says: More theologians have signed on, it is now 227 from the three German speaking countries, and 249 including theologians from other countries. This link also has an English translation of the letter.

Canadian cathedral installs solar panels -- inside stained glass

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From The Montreal Gazette:

A different kind of trinity is emerging at Saskatoon's newest cathedral, where the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is combining art, technology and faith in a stunning and environmentally-friendly project.

The Holy Family Catholic Church, a $28.5-million cathedral under construction in Saskatoon's northeast, has solar cells embedded in the large stained glass windows that will be installed this spring.

The cathedral could be the first church in North America to use photovoltaic cells in a stained glass installation, said cathedral building committee chair Jim Nakoneshny. The University of British Columbia used the combination in a library.

Back in 2009 I wrote an NCR story for my Mission Management column about the use of solar power by the Diocese of San Jose, Calif.

German bishops express a desire for dialogue with their theologians

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Some 144 German Catholic theologians, along with a handful of colleagues from Austria and Switzerland, recently issued a public declaration calling for reforms on matters such as celibacy, women priests and homosexuality. The list of signatories represents roughly one-third of Germany’s professors of Catholic theology.

The letter also touches upon lay participation, styles of leadership, the liturgy, and the legal culture of the church. In some ways, it lays out an agenda for public debate when Benedict XVI visits his homeland in September.

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