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Ecuador bishop criticizes Chevron

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From an Oct. 20 press release:

LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador – In another blow to oil giant Chevron’s image, a prominent bishop who lives in the area of Ecuador where Chevron is embroiled in a multi-billion environmental lawsuit, has strongly criticized the oil giant for harming local residents with toxic contamination, it was learned today.

Gonzalo Lopez Marañon, Bishop of Seleuciana, made the criticism in a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent on “behalf of dozens of indigenous and farmer communities” in Ecuador who live in the area of rainforest where Chevron operated a large oil concession from 1964 to 1990. The full text of the letter can be found here.

Chevron is accused in the lawsuit, brought by 30,000 rainforest residents, of deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into rivers and streams in the area where the Bishop ministers to farmers and the surviving members of indigenous groups.

Oldest and most distant object in the universe discovered

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Astronomers have discovered the oldest and most distant object in the universe - a galaxy so far away that its light has taken 13.1 billion years to reach the Earth.

The galaxy, which was spotted by Europe's Very Large Telescope in Chile, is the most remote cluster of stars, gas and dust ever measured.
It is so distant, scientists are observing it when the universe was in its infancy - aged just 600 million years old, or four per cent of its present age.

Dr Nicole Nesvadba of the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Paris said: 'Measuring the most distant galaxy so far is very exciting in itself, but the astrophysical implications of this detection are even more important.

'This is the first time we know for sure that we are looking at one of the galaxies that cleared out the fog which had filled the very early universe.'
Each time astronomers gaze at distant stars, they are looking back in time.

Light from nearby stars takes just a few years to reach the Earth. But light from remote galaxies takes billions of years to travel across the universe.

The College of Cardinals: An anachronism

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I read with some interest -- and amusement -- the news that Pope Benedict had named 24 new Cardinals, including two Americans. (I was not amused, however, by the selection of Raymond Burke, formerly Archbishop of St. Louis, who insulted Catholic women during his tenure and interfered in our political system by denying communion to pro-choice Catholic candidates for office.)

Morning Briefing

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Priest cleared of porn charges sues for defamation

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Fr. Mark Gruber, who is a Benedictine monk and anthropology professor, was suspended from teaching at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa., last year by Archabbott Douglas Nowicki. Bishop Lawrence Brandt suspended Gruber's priestly functions after Nowicki and other St. Vincent officials told the bishop that Gruber had downloaded child pornography on a college computer, according to a lawsuit.

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