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US Catholics allowed corned beef on Paddy’s Friday, meat industry cheers

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In recent weeks, the U.S. meat industry has found itself wrestling with a culinary conundrum: Would American Roman Catholics be able to eat corned beef this St. Patrick’s Day?

Traditionally in the United States, the Feast of St. Patrick – a celebration of Irish culture, and renowned for all things green – calls for a family meal featuring corned beef and cabbage.

But this year, the holiday will fall on a Friday during Lent, the season when many Christians observe a period of fasting and repentance. Catholics are required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

So meat packers and restaurants breathed easier after dozens of church leaders around the country recently granted dispensations to the corned-beef faithful.

At least 80 of the nearly 200 U.S. Catholic dioceses have issued some form of exemption on avoiding meat on St. Patrick’s Day, including those in Chicago, Boston and Atlanta, according to the Catholic News Agency.

In Omaha, Nebraska, Archbishop George Lucas said Catholics in his archdiocese could eat beef on March 17 as long as they abstained from it on March 18.

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Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, in the top U.S. cattle producing state of Texas, said Catholics could eat corned beef provided they substituted a comparable penance.

The seasonal demand for the stringy, salted hunks of meat is usually a time of economic cheer for country’s beef sector, when sales boom.

St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July are the top two holidays for U.S. beef consumption at home, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association trade group.

Corned beef sales account for less than 1 percent of total retail beef sales during the rest of the year – but jump to 9 percent in March, NCBA said.

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The largest U.S corned beef producer, Colorado Premium, accounts for 30 to 40 percent of about 70 million pounds of corned beef consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, and sources its meat from JBS SA , Tyson Foods Inc and others, company spokesman Zack Henderson said.

Such volume is expected to help offset the tight margins that have challenged beef processors in recent months, analysts said.

Overall, U.S. beef retail prices are hovering at three-year lows amid heavy supplies, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. For the week ending March 8, choice brisket price averaged $1.50 per pound, down 18 cents from last year and the lowest since the $1.41 average for the same period in 2013.

(Editing by P.J. Huffstutter and Matthew Lewis)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Iran and US trade barbs after drone incident and ahead of new sanctions

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The United States on Monday was due to tighten sanctions on Iran as the two countries traded barbs in a tense standoff sparked by Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal.

Both nations say they want to avoid going to war, but tensions have spiralled as a series of incidents, including attacks on tankers and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran in the Gulf, raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict.

On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a US-made MQ9 Reaper "spy drone" -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had encroached his country's airspace on May 26.

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John Oliver warns Trump didn’t have an ‘Ebenezer Scrooge moment’ deciding to be ‘good’ — he’s still Trump

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John Oliver Trump hair

The best thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he "maybe hasn't eaten a dolphin before," John Oliver joked on his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight."

Oliver warned people that while Trump had a "change of heart" about Iran it was only about Iran. "He didn't have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, threw open a window and yelled, 'I'm going to be good from now on!'" the host explained. "No, he just didn't bomb some people."

As Fox News explained, the drown that Iran shot down was not simply one from Amazon. Oliver said it wasn't like Trump said, "Alexa, send a drone to surveil Iran." According to Fox's genius analysis, those drones cost actual money.

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Donald Trump’s biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions as his attorney general

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In an interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told "Meet the Press" that his biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.

"If you could have one do-over as president, what would it be?" NBC host Chuck Todd asked Trump during their interview.

This article first appeared at Salon.com.After the president replied that his do over would involve "personnel," he elaborated that "I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general." When Todd asked Trump to clarify if he thought appointing Sessions was his "worst mistake," the president reiterated "yeah, that was the biggest mistake." He added that Sessions is "very talented" but was cut off by a new line of questioning from Todd before he could elaborate.

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