NCR Today

Low crime, false prosperity in El Paso


Last week I spent several days in El Paso, Texas, my hometown, giving some talks on my new book Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice (University of North Carolina Press). I'll write about this book in another blog, but what I want to relate in this one is my observations of conditions along this section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

For one, I was reminded of what a huge trans-border metropolitan region the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez area constitutes. El Paso now has a population of more than 700,000 while Juárez has one of close to 2 million.

Since my last visit two years ago, I felt this huge population. El Paso seemed more crowded and with much more traffic especially on the freeway where there is now bumper-to-bumper congestion.

The Tire Iron and the Tamale


Justin Horner writes a piece in the Lives section of the New York Times magazine that recounts three instances of getting stranded in his car during the past year. Many people passed him by. Each time, it was only a Mexican immigrant who stopped to help.

Horner realizes a truth that I, and so many who have worked with the poor and marginalized, know well. Very often the most disenfranchised and persecuted members of our society are also the most generous and compassionate.

Horner’s story of a particular encounter with a Mexican family would be a wonderful companion piece to the gospel of Luke. Not only is it a living illustration of the Beatitudes, it could also be understood as a modern twist on the Good Samaritan parable.

Catholic Schools: Time for a new model?


As a product of Catholic schools, I have a bit of emotional attachment to what they represent and the enormous contribution they've made to the culture.
But two stories on NCR's Daily Briefing blog, here and here raise anew questions about whether Catholic schools as we have known them are sustainable.
Declining enrollment, a drop in the number of schools and the inability of parishes and parents to finance them properly keep calling into question whether Catholic education will survive.
I don't know the state of the national conversation, or whether one is even being conducted, but I venture to ask, for two reasons, if it isn't time to rethink the system.

Replacing St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in NYC


Out of the ashes of bankruptcy and closure of the last Catholic acute care hospital in New York City, comes luxury condos and an emergency-medicine center to be run by the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today:

The Rudin family, one of New York's richest landlords, has agreed to buy most of the sprawling three-acre site along Seventh Avenue in Greenwich village. It plans 300 apartments and five townhouses there.

And North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is putting up $100 million to renovate the O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue and turn it into a medical complex, with a 24-hour emergency medical department.

The Rudin family also will pay $10 million to North Shore-LIJ toward the building's renovation and between $5 million and $10 million to pay for a public park at the St. Vincent's triangle.

The deal must be approved by the bankruptcy court next month. But the hospital's board of directors and its creditors have signed off on it, St. Vincent's chief restructuring officer, Mark Toney, said.

Is Gadhafi the Next Amin?


Moammar Gadhafi should face “personal responsibility for his brutal atrocities,” Thomas and Margaret Melady write in today’s Washington Times.

“The Obama administration and European leaders are considering various options of geopolitical and military action to end the Gadhafi nightmare,” say the husband and wife co-authors of "Idi Amin: Hitler in Africa" (1977). “These are all appropriate state actions, but they do not address the fact that another state leader may escape personal responsibility for his brutal atrocities.”

Thomas Melady, an occasional NCR contributor, served as US ambassador to Uganda in the early 1970s and as George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican.

Let there be Light! (Incandescent or Florescent?)


I’ve been using compact florescent bulbs in my house for at least ten years. They save energy and money. They work very well, and last a long time. Some I haven’t changed in 10 years.

But you’d never know their advantages if you watch the “Battle of the Bulbs” in Washington these days. Three House Republicans, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, together with Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, have introduced legislation to repeal a 2007 U.S. law which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternatives which save energy, like compact fluorescents and LED’s.

This is another assault against environmentalists and their allies in Congress. And although the Congresspersons who are urging this repeal probably don’t see it this way, it is also an assault on every religious denomination, including Catholicism, that teaches energy conservation as a moral issue in our common quest to save the planet.

Church Pedophilia Crisis Raised at Hearing on 'Muslim Radicalization'


At today’s Homeland Security Committee hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response,” Rep. Jackie Speir (D-CA) questioned the credentials of Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

Speir noted that she was a church-going Catholic who served as a lector at her San Francisco-area parish, but was nonetheless “no more prepared to testify about pedophilia in … the Roman Catholic Church” than others with less involvement in the church.

Jasser is president of AIFD, which describes itself as “the most prominent American Muslim organization directly confronting the ideologies of political Islam and openly countering the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).”

The hearing concluded at approximately 1:45 p.m., after four-and-a-half-hours of testimony and questions.

Becoming a lent girl


In the same way some young girls during the heyday of the Beatles identified themselves as “Paul girls” or “John girls,” I tend to identify myself as an Advent girl rather than a (sigh) Lent girl.

Nonetheless, Lent is upon us and I made it through Ash Wednesday on almost a complete fast -- three strawberries and a half-handful of almonds at 7 a.m. and a very small apple at 3 p.m. (Hardly seems like fasting when compared to our siblings of other faiths who fast from sunrise to sunset, but it was slightly better than the cutting-corners-allowed rules of Catholic fasts.)

That accomplishment under my belt, I realized late Ash Wednesday that for the first time in my life, I’m not dreading the next six weeks. I don’t think I’m a full-on Lent girl, but I’m definitely seeing this season as holding the potential for growth instead of just a long slog through misery.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017