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  • Mayors emboldened by an appeal from Pope Francis committed themselves Wednesday to a new set of U.N. goals to end poverty and promote sustainable development over the next 15 years. At the end of a two-day Vatican summit, several dozen mayors from around the world unanimously adopted a declaration pledging to endorse the goals and work to implement them in their home cities.
  • Vatican City—Six years ago, when Pope Benedict XVI approved an “apostolic visitation” of American nuns, the aim was to curb “a certain feminist spirit” and “secularist mentality” that the Catholic fathers feared had infiltrated the women religious. On Tuesday, when the Vatican delivered its final report on the nuns, those concerns were nowhere to be found. The report was the fruit of an investigation into 341 American congregations guided by Mother Superior Marie Clare Millea, a matronly sister who became tearful at times, in front of a packed pressroom, while describing how she went about collecting her data.
  • When Emily Herx first took time off work for in vitro fertilization treatment, her boss offered what sounded like words of support: "You are in my prayers." Soon those words took on a more sinister meaning. The Indiana grade school where Herx was teaching English was Catholic. And after church officials were alerted that Herx was undergoing IVF—making her, in the words of one monsignor, "a grave, immoral sinner"—it took them less than two weeks to fire her.
  • While today is designated as the Columbus Day holiday on the federal calendar, it’s no longer being observed as such in a growing number of communities and schools. Some states and local municipalities, along with their school districts, have dropped observance of Columbus Day. A handful of cities have gone so far as to replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day. Berkeley, California, is credited with launching the holiday in 1992 (the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage). Minneapolis, Portland, Ore. and Seattle are the latest to take such action. The Portland School Board quickly followed suit with its own resolution. From the Oregonian:
  • It's somewhat old hat at this point to point out that Christopher Columbus — in whose name children are off school and mail isn't delivered today — was a homicidal tyrant who initiated the two greatest crimes in the history of the Western Hemisphere, the Atlantic slave trade and the American Indian genocide. Rehashing all of his crimes would require a much longer article, not least because evaluating the claims of contemporary primary sources is a somewhat tricky historiographical enterprise. Philadelphia Magazine's Michael Coard has a good survey here; Howard Zinn's work on this is controversial but you can find a good excerpt at Jacobin, and an illustrated version at the Oatmeal.
  • The conventional narrative of U.S. history routinely segregates the “Indian wars” as a subspecialization within the dubious category “the West.” Then there are the westerns, those cheap novels, movies, and television shows that nearly every American imbibed with mother’s milk and that by the mid-twentieth century were popular in every corner of the world. The architecture of US world dominance was designed and tested by this period of continental U.S. militarism, which built on the previous hundred years and generated its own innovations in total war. The opening of the twenty-first century saw a new, even more brazen form of U.S. militarism and imperialism explode on the world scene when the election of George W. Bush turned over control of U.S.
  • Columbus Day is the most useless holiday on the federal calendar — and its time to stop using it as an excuse for a day off of school. Set aside, for a moment, the controversy over whether Christopher Columbus' journey to the Americas should be celebrated at all. The holiday is, as it stands, a logistical headache. Fewer than half of states celebrate it, and almost no other offices do. Just 15 percent of private business close, the smallest proportion for any federal holiday. So if you're a parent in a Columbus Day-celebrating state — the ones in blue below — you're probably scrambling to find something for kids to do on Monday.
  • Next Monday, federal employees and some lucky others will celebrate Columbus Day with a three-day weekend. But in Seattle and Minneapolis, Monday's holiday will be honoring the people on the other side of the New World discovery story. As the Associated Press reports, the reinvented holiday—dubbed Indigenous People's Day—"celebrates the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community" as well as "the rich history of people who have inhabited the area." Seattle unanimously voted in favor of the change yesterday, but Minneapolis led the charge back in April. (Reuters adds, however, that Hawaii, Oregon and Alaska don't even recognize Columbus Day.

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