Weekly roundup: Bankruptcy, the new Voting Rights Act, and Trappist beer in America

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It’s been another week, so here is another roundup.

Let’s start in Washington, shall we? The search has begun for a new ambassador for religious freedom, after Suzan Johnson Cook stepped down (or up?) to the private sector.

Republicans filibustered legislation in the Senate that would extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed for another three months. The Democrats seem determined to continue the effort, but there doesn’t seem to be much hope.

Especially because part of the latest farm bill going through Congress includes another $9 billion in cuts to the food stamps program.

In slightly better news, it looks like there may be a bipartisan deal in Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act, which was neutered in June. The bad news? The deal seems to carve out space for Voter ID laws, even though those laws are being struck down in a variety of places for being discriminatory.

In completely terrible news, a chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia left more than 300,000 people without access to clean drinking water. Though the water has returned mostly to safe levels, local health officials are still advising pregnant women not to drink it. So... not safe?

In Chicago, the archdiocese has released about 6,000 pages of documentation relating to child sexual abuse. The archdiocese attorney John O’Malley warns, ''The information is painful; it's difficult to read, even without the benefit of hindsight."

Meanwhile, the Vatican is being taken to task about the global sex abuse scandal at the U.N. "In a stuffy U.N. conference room before an obscure human rights committee, the Holy See was interrogated for eight hours about the scale of abuse and what it was doing to prevent it." 

The diocese of Stockton, California will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, becoming the tenth diocese in the United States to do so.

In Boston, Cardinal O'Malley received an "annointing" from a (woman) Methodist minister as a reminder of baptism during an ecumenical service. 

In Notre Dame, three students will intervene on the side of the federal government in the lawsuit filed by the university challenging parts of the Affordable Care Act, specifically the contraception mandate. The women want a say in the lawsuit because they have a perspective different from lawyers representing the federal government.

European Trappists are going to have a little competition on their hands, as the first United States Trappist brewery is opening its doors in Spencer, Massachusetts.

And now for the Papal rapid fire roundup:

 

And that’s it for this week. But if you run out of material to read, spend some time reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham jail in honor of his birthday, which was this week.