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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

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Trump’s ‘forgotten man’ turns out to be Goldman Sachs by Michael Sean Winters: “President Trump and Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are busy letting Wall Street off the hook. We know where this led before.”

The ‘best fortnight in a decade’ for conservatives? Uh-oh. by Michael Gerson: “President Trump has managed to taunt and alienate some of our closest allies — Mexico and Australia (!) — while continuing an NC-17-rated love fest with Russia. He has engaged in moral equivalence that places America on the level of Vladimir Putin’s bloody dictatorship. “Well, you think our country’s so innocent?” he said — a statement of such obscenity that it would haunt any liberal to the grave. He has issued an immigration executive order of unparalleled incompetence and cruelty, further victimizing refugees who are already fate’s punching bag. He has lied about things large (election fraud) and small (inaugural crowd size), refused to allow facts to modify his claims, and attempted to create his own reality through the repetition of deception. He has abused his standing as president to attack individuals, from a respected judge to the movie star who took over his God-awful reality-TV show. He has demonstrated a limitless appetite for organizational chaos and selected a staff that leaks like a salad spinner. He has become a massively polarizing figure within the United States and a risible figure on the global stage.”

Refugees are part of America’s fabric and its promise by Washington Post: “By conflating a dangerous fiction about immigrants with blatant disrespect for an equal branch of government, President Trump fans the xenophobic flames he did so much to ignite during the presidential campaign.”

I’m Pro-Life, and Pro-Refugee by Scott Arbeiter: “I must be “pro” everything needed for that child not just to be born, but to flourish. This means that I need to be pro education and pro job growth, and pro many other things I never considered as connected to my pro-life convictions. And I need to be ready to stand against every form of economic injustice, racism and individual or corporate greed that destroys the life of a family and a community.”

Five myths about anti-Semitism by Yair Rosenberg: “From top Iranian officials who blame the Talmud for the international drug trade to British political activists who claim that the Mossad is stealing their shoes, anti-Jewish bigotry can be bewildering and bizarre. But given the prejudice’s longevity, virulence and recent resurgence in Europe and America — witness the waves of bomb threats against dozens of Jewish centers nationwide in the past month and the controversy over the Trump administration’s repeated refusal to include Jews in its Holocaust memorial statement — it’s well worth debunking common misconceptions that impede our ability to fight it.”

We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path by Michael McFaul: “Understanding Putin’s methods for consolidating autocracy in Russia might help us stop autocratic tendencies in the Trump era now, before it’s too late.”

Republicans to predatory companies: Grab as much as you can by Catherine Rampell: “The White House may be in chaos. But at least Congress is addressing the issue Americans care about most: making it easier for the finance industry to rip them off.”

A record number of poor kids are eating breakfast — thanks to a program many conservatives hate by Caitlin Dewey: “A record number of low-income children have begun to eat breakfast at school. But the policy most credited with boosting their numbers may be on the chopping block under President Trump.”

Why the rise of authoritarianism is a global catastrophe by Garry Kasparov and Thor Halvorssen: “If injustice and oppression aren’t bad enough, authoritarian governments bear an enormous social cost. Dictator-led countries have higher rates of mental illness, lower levels of health and life expectancy, and, as Amartya Sen famously argued, higher susceptibility to famine.”

What We’re Fighting For by Phil Klay: “From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.”

What American liberals can learn from the anti-Nazi resistance by Noah Strote: “Liberals might have to alter, or at least sideline, some of their most prized platforms on abortion or secularism in the public sphere. Conservatives might need to consider welfare policy proposals they have long condemned, such as single-payer health care. Compromise on that profound level seems almost impossible at the moment. But Trump’s threat to the republic grows in proportion to the widening ideological fissure between left and right. As the German example shows, bridging the worldviews of former enemies may be the only way to avoid the abyss.”

The True Purpose of Trumpism by Jonathan Chait: “Trumpism combines an instinctive belief in zero-sum relations between countries with a narrow and retrograde definition of American identity.”

Republicans, Protect the Nation by Evan McMullin: “President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security.”

Severely disabled kids’ lives at risk, parents say, as Texas enacts Medicaid cost-savings plan by J. David McSwane: “Championed in 2013 by Republican Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, the changes allowed the state to cut costs and streamline health care by handing off administration of Medicaid services for medically vulnerable children to private health groups called managed care organizations, or MCOs. Instead of the state wrangling bills from thousands of doctors, it cuts a few big checks to the MCOs, which decide how much they will pay doctors and which services they will cover. One way for MCOs to turn a profit is to eliminate services they view as unnecessary. But parents say they’re cutting services they desperately need.”

My grandfather helped create Captain America for times like these by Megan Margulies: “More than five years after his death, my grandfather and his creation seemed newly meaningful. In life, my grandfather stood up for justice and taught me about compassion and understanding. Captain America contains all of that for me on a personal level, but now, in this time of turmoil for America, it’s clear that Cap represents something much larger, something we need as a nation.”

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Pursuing Integral Peace: How to Resist Trump’s Politics of Despair by Anna Rowlands: “Taking dignity seriously as a path to peace requires an active resistance to the standing temptation we face towards the “herding” of people according to mass categories and group identities, these are forms of naming that produce a social anonymity which divides. It is an important aspect of the Catholic social tradition that the impersonal turns out to be divisive and the truly person-focused is unitive.”

Under Trump, Christians may have it easier. They’ll also be in grave spiritual danger. by Michael Gerson: “In politics, Christians should not be known primarily for defending their institutional liberty, as important as that is. They should be known for a Christian anthropology that puts the dignity of life — of every life — at the center of the political enterprise. And they should be known for courage in applying this commitment, without prejudice, to every party and ideology.”

Trump’s half-baked travel ban is a picture of American shame by Michael Gerson: “When Donald Trump speaks on foreign policy, tyrants rest easier and dissidents and refugees lose hope.”

Repealing Obamacare Entails a Radical Repudiation of Solidarity by Anthony Annett: “It goes without saying that Catholic social teaching regards access to healthcare as a fundamental human right—so much so that Pope John Paul II argued that it should be cheap or even free of change for workers. And of course, Catholic social teaching insists that we have a duty to meet human needs that cannot be met through the market—and healthcare is surely exhibit A here. But this entails solidarity. There’s simply no getting around that.”

Will the March become a movement? by  Michael Sean Winters: “Both because of Trump’s politics and his personality, a more communitarian politics must emerge from within the resistance to him.” Read More

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Grace Enough by Brendan Busse: “At their core, the Spiritual Exercises are about the personification of love, not the possibility of it. The possibility of love, or its impossibility, paralyzes us. But the personification of love, the vulnerable, wounded, beaten love that I saw in the heart of Andrew Garfield, the personification of love that he experienced as a midwife to Mary, the love he guards in his “hidden life,” the love that lives in his longing to be seen deeply and appreciated fully, the falling in love that he continues to struggle with in his own relationships to God and others—that personification of love is what redeems us all in the end. If the impossibility of love leaves us longing, it is in the personification of love that we will find our satisfaction. It is in the personification of love where we will discover our enoughness.”

John Lewis, Donald Trump, and the Meaning of Legitimacy by David Remnick: “One can agree or not with Lewis when he calls Trump’s legitimacy into doubt. What cannot be doubted is Lewis’s exemplary life, his moral gravity and authority. He is the rare figure who reminds a people of the fragility of their freedoms and puts his body on the line to protect and demand them.”

Faith & Obama’s Farewell by John Gehring: “Individualism has long been a quintessentially American creed, of course, but an extreme go-it-alone libertarianism that puts blind faith in markets, demonizes government safety nets for the poor, and enshrines all matters of personal identity and choice as sacrosanct increasingly leaves us ill-equipped to appreciate how, as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described it, we are all entwined in “a single garment of destiny.” The infatuation with individual rights and personal autonomy finds a distinctive challenge and powerful corrective in the Catholic emphasis on community and solidarity. Rights have a place in Catholic thought, but never are severed from responsibilities. The president’s insistence that democracy requires a “basic sense of solidarity” and that its health depends on whether we participate as active citizens are two of the bedrock themes of Catholic social teaching.”

You Can Be Happy and Lonely at the Same Time by Brad Stulberg: “We’ve just got to make a point of it to be together together, at least more often. This starts with reminding ourselves that as great as technology and online social networks are, these things augment, but do not replace, actual in-the-flesh social connection.”

What If You Were Scheduled to Work on Your Wedding Day? by Amber and David Lapp: “According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 10 percent of workers report that they do not have a “usual” workweek. Irregular schedules are more common in certain industries, like retail or food service, and the lowest income workers are more likely to face the most irregular schedules. As sociologists Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer write, “What low-wage employers now seem to demand are workers whose lives have infinite give and 24-7 dedication, for little in return.””

The Conservative Case for Fair Scheduling by Amber and David Lapp: “Conservatives concerned about the strength of families and of civil society should recognize the ways in which unpredictable work schedules can contribute to the decline of both—and then get serious about seeking solutions fair to employers and employees alike.”

Smoking costs $1 trillion, soon to kill 8 million a year by Reuters: “Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, and will kill one third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a study by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday. That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014.”

A Lawless Man by Mike Stafford: “Trump isn’t normal. His regime will not be business as usual. His rise represents a rupture with our political tradition. His lawless and ignorant nature, including his apparent propensity to credit conspiracy theories and his proclivity towards “authoritarian tendencies,” put the very future of our nation in jeopardy.”

Syria: The greatest indictment of humanity this century by Amanda Catanzano: “The laws of war and primacy of civilian protection, drawn from the worst of human experience, are being disregarded at tremendous cost. The world’s leaders must fight for them in order to contain and resolve the conflicts at the heart of regional and global instability.”

Africa’s silent refugee crisis: 12.4 million on the run in their own countries by Sophie Morlin-Yron: “Nearly one third of displaced people are on the African continent where 12.4 million people in 21 countries were living in ongoing displacement as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015.”

Panel to Trump: To ‘make America great again’ remember the poor by Mark Zimmermann: “During a panel at Georgetown University, John Carr, Sister Simone Campbell and Rep. Francis Rooney reflected on “the faithful priorities” in a time of president-elect Donald Trump.”

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A year to protect democracy by EJ Dionne: “The most important political task of 2017 transcends the normal run of issues and controversies. Our greatest obligation will be to defend democracy itself, along with republican norms for governing and the openness that free societies require.”

Democrats Have a Religion Problem by Emma Green: “I spoke with Wear about how the Democratic Party is and isn’t reaching people of faith—and what that will mean for its future.”

Can ‘I’ Live Apart From ‘We’? by Charles Redfern: “Are we on the verge of labeling compassion wrong and indifference good? Are we really ready to worship the Rugged Individual and rip up our nation’s safety net? Have we forgotten that the Rugged Individual has always been an illusion? We depend on others even at the peak of our strength.”

Mercy shaped the life of the church in 2016 by Michael Sean Winters: “In the life of the church, 2016 mostly coincided with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which officially began in late 2015 and concluded on the feast of Christ the King last month. When I first heard that the Holy Father intended to call a Jubilee Year of Mercy, I confess I did not realize what a big event this would be. Yet, it shaped every aspect of the life of the Catholic church in 2016.” Read More