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Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election by Reuters: “A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.”

What does it mean to be a Christian rapper? A conversation with Sho Baraka by Olga Segura: “Many find it difficult to balance an affinity for rap, with its provocative themes and often profane language, and a life of faith. Baraka says, “I became so religious, I even stopped listening to secular music.”Eventually, he learned to reconcile these two parts of his identity. Hip-hop became a way to express his faith.”

How a Warming Planet Drives Human Migration by Jessica Benko: “Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban centers; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impacts of war, which leads to even more displacement.”

How Child Care Enriches Mothers, and Especially the Sons They Raise by Claire Cain Miller: “A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives.” Read More


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I told Paul Ryan what it’s like to be poor. I wonder if he remembers me now. by Tianna Gaines-Turner: “The structural changes Ryan envisions — sometimes referred to as “per capita caps” or “block grants” — are actually budget cuts that will devastate the safety net and harm families like mine.”

Fox serves up a fetid reminder that when you’re a star, you can still do anything by Michael Gerson: “A certain kind of Fox viewer will never find this persuasive. They think that boys will be boys, and men should be manly, and opponents are snowflakes, and women should just learn to lump it or leave. But it is hard for me to imagine how Christian conservatives — a major Fox demographic — could avoid choking on such rotted values. The way that women are treated in the workplace — or at home, or anywhere else — should reflect a belief in human equality and a commitment to human dignity. And the proper reaction when reading about the cases of O’Reilly and Ailes is revulsion.”

Is it time for a dramatic flourish from U.S. bishops on immigration? by John Allen: “Suppose it wasn’t just one cardinal who led brother bishops in celebrating a Mass at the border. Suppose it was all six residential cardinals in the United States – Timothy Dolan of New York, O’Malley of Boston, Donald Wuerl of Washington, Joseph Tobin of Newark, Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, and Blase Cupich of Chicago? Suppose, too, the cardinals were joined by a good chunk of the archbishops who lead the other 30 dioceses in the United States – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, for instance, and William Lori of Baltimore, not to mention the indispensable voice in American Catholicism on this issue, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles?”

End the death penalty for mentally ill criminals by Bob Taft and Joseph E. Kernan: “Legislators in six states — Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — have proposed legislation to prohibit the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness. As former governors of states that are grappling with this issue, we strongly support this effort to end an inhumane practice that fails to respect common standards of decency and comport with recommendations of mental-health experts.” Read More


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Gorsuch’s big fat lie by EJ Dionne: “Conservatives, including Trump, want the court to sweep aside decades of jurisprudence that gave Congress broad authority to legislate civil rights and social reform, along with environmental, worker and consumer protections. Gorsuch good-naturedly evaded nearly every substantive question he was asked because he could not acknowledge that this is why he was there. “

The American presidency is shrinking before the world’s eyes by Michael Gerson: “Foreigners see a Darwinian, nationalist framework for American foreign policy; a diminished commitment to global engagement; a brewing scandal that could distract and cripple the administration; and a president who often conducts his affairs with peevish ignorance.Some will look at this spectacle and live in fear; others may see a golden opportunity.”

This program has fed 40 million kids in the world’s poorest places. Trump wants to get rid of it by Caitlin Dewey: “Former senator Bob Dole, a pillar of the Republican Party and a staunch supporter of President Trump during his campaign, has accused the president of threatening “one of the proudest achievements of my lifetime” — by cutting a program that has provided school meals to more than 40 million children in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

How can the church help the victims of climate displacement? by Tessa Pulaski: “In Malawi, there is no question that climate change is real. It is already affecting vulnerable populations across the world, in places that are the least able to adapt.”

US infant mortality rates down 15%  by Robert Jimison: “From 2005 to 2014, the infant mortality rate in the US dropped 15%, from 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births to 5.82. Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, declined by 29%, and there were drops in infant mortality rates across most racial groups.” Read More


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Lonely City: How I learned to be with myself in New York by Nick Genovese: “In solitude, I do not aim to possess the other in order to bring me pleasure. Instead, I take pleasure in others by simply getting to know them. I appreciate the beauty of a friend or sibling for his or her sake alone. Even in New York City, I discover that strangers who are not always warm and welcoming desire the same thing as I do—to belong and to feel connected beyond themselves.”

Catholicism and the common good by Steven Millies: “Catholics can — and should — be leaders in the recovery of confidence in Western democracy. To do so, however, requires that we must first recover our own confidence in what our faith teaches us about the value of each human person, the toleration of different points of view and the goodness of governments that draw their authority from the consent of people, seeking the common good of every member of the political community.”

Paul Ryan Begs Conservatives Not to Thwart His Boyhood Dream of Immiserating the Poor by Jonathan Chait: “Paul Ryan has been obsessed for his entire adult life by the single-minded goal of reducing distribution from the rich to the poor. But Ryan, who worked as a political aide before running for Congress himself, is savvy enough to recognize that social Darwinism is not a promising basis for a national platform….But, in an uncharacteristic fit of candor, he burst out today to National Review editor Rich Lowry, in support of his plan to cut spending on Medicaid, that “We’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg.” Medicaid is a lifeline that gives ultra-cheap health insurance to the desperately poor and sick. Ryan’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would combine a huge tax cut for the rich with $370 billion in cuts to Medicaid.”

Here’s what I saw when I attended a conservative Catholic gathering in DC’s Trump Tower by John Gehring: “Conservative Catholics who feel emboldened in the Trump era will continue to strategize and look for political openings. But along the way they risk being relegated to cheerleaders for the administration if they downplay or ignore how poverty, the environment and the command to welcome migrants are central to traditional church teachings. Perhaps looking to Pope Francis, rather than Donald Trump, would be a good place to start.” Read More


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Trump’s plan to slash foreign aid comes as famine threat is surging by Kevin Sieff: “President Trump has proposed large cuts to foreign aid at a time of acute need across Africa and the Middle East, with four countries approaching famine and 20 million people nearing starvation, according to the United Nations.”

Cardinal Nichols: Pope Francis’ ‘toughness’ will see the Catholic Church through reforms by Michael O’Loughlin: “As the United States engages in fierce debates over refugee resettlement, its role on the global stage and the implications of electing an anti-establishment president, similar scenes are unfolding across Europe, where populist political leaders are gaining traction and borders are tightening up. The head of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, says one way to combat “a corruption of the democratic system” that he believes can accompany this strain of politics is for politicians to model their rhetoric on that of another European leader, Pope Francis.”

Republicans are becoming Russia’s accomplices by Robert Kagan: “It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party’s leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country’s political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing.”

Trump’s gift to Americans: Making it easier to cheat on their taxes by Catherine Rampell: “President Trump is finally doing something practical to help his fellow Americans: He’s making it easier for them to cheat on their taxes.Especially those who — like Trump — happen to be super rich.”

Witness to Climate Change by Carolyn Monastra: “Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call to many in the Northeast United States. A Staten Island resident whose home was severely damaged admitted to me, “You know, Al Gore may be onto something with this climate change issue.” Sandy damaged more than 600,000 homes in New Jersey and New York alone, while inflicting $65 billion in damages overall—making it the costliest global disaster of 2012, according to insurance firm Aon Benfield.”

The horror of Ukraine’s forgotten famine still casts a shadow today by Adelaide Mena: “Ukraine is used to being forgotten. While reflecting on the devastating famine, the Holodomor, that gripped the country between 1932 and 1933, leaving between 2.5 and 7 million people dead in its wake, Ukrainians search for answers to their current predicament and their relationship with Russia.”

Polluted environments kill 1.7 million children each year, WHO says by Meera Senthilingam: “Each year, environmental pollutants cost an estimated 1.7 million lives among children under 5, according to World Health Organization reports released Monday.” Read More


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A Larger Solidarity ‘Populorum Progressio’ at Fifty by Barry Hudock: “Attentiveness to “human” elements of development—including culture, community, family, the environment, and human rights—yields an integral human development. This line of argument reflected the influence of some of the brightest lights of the Catholic intellectual world of the day, including the philosopher Jacques Maritain and the Dominican priest and social scientist Louis-Joseph Lebret.”

Is the Pope the Anti-Trump? by Austen Ivereigh: “In Francis’s post-neoliberal future, the poor of the world act with the church and civil-society organizations to create an economy that serves human flourishing, while calling on states to receive migrants in solidarity. In Mr. Trump’s post-neoliberal future, former chief executives, billionaire hedge-fund managers and real estate moguls dismantle the state to make capitalism yet more liquid, but use the state to stiffen borders.”

Bannon’s dangerous ‘deconstruction’ by EJ Dionne: “In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged.” Read More


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Trump Is Damaging Press Freedom in the U.S. and Abroad by Joel Simon: “In President Trump’s carpet bombing of the news media, it is not just the United States’ global reputation that is collateral damage. Rather, it is the brave journalists on the front line who risk their lives and liberty to bring the world the news. It is to our great shame that they can no longer count on the support of the United States.”

Pro-life Democrats’ modest proposal by Don Clemmer: “Lipinski also sees the strident pro-abortion rhetoric of his party making it almost impossible for a pro-life candidate to run convincingly under the Democratic banner. It’s a question of authenticity and consistency, at a time when millennial-age voters especially demand it. And the pro-life movement itself is becoming increasingly young, diverse, holistic in its approach to issues and willing to look beyond the old polemics.”

‘Segregation Had to Be Invented’ by Alana Semuels: “White elites, cast out of power and facing policies that threatened their economic hold on the state, launched a campaign that they knew would drive black and whites apart. They called it a campaign of “white supremacy,” and sought to unite whites of all economic backgrounds in hatred of black people. It was this campaign that tried to re-enforce the idea of black people as different, as lesser, and as a race that had to be separate from whites. Segregation was created in the South during this time period, and many of the ideas that drove it still exist more than a century later in the South of today.”

Popular Movements strikes a needed chord by Michael Sean Winters: “Unlike the nihilism we see on the alt-right, we Catholics disrupt to protect the vulnerable and we always seek to rebuild social ties on the basis of solidarity.”

Disrupting the Donald by John Gehring: “For Catholics in the pews and those who hold powerful positions in Washington—Speaker of the House Paul Ryan comes to mind—the bishop put quick work to anti-government and libertarian ideologies that have been embraced by many Christians on the right.” Read More