News and Action Summary for October 8, 2015

Download a pdf version of the October 8, 2015 News and Action Summary!

News Summary 10-8-15

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News Posts, October 8, 2015

Here are news articles posted since the previous News and Action Summary:

Paid Leave is a Family Value and Faith Practice

Lifting All Students—How Would Your School District Fare Under Current Funding Proposals?

The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding

At Least 20,000 New Pennsylvania Voters Registered Online

The Road Not Taken—Investing in Our State

Work Pittsburgh Building Futures for Ex-Offenders

Positive Impact of Pope Francis on Views of the Church

Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence Statement on Oregon College Shooting

National Faith Coalition Praises Congress for Rejecting Torture

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Newly Posted Resources—October 8, 2015

Here are the most recently posted resources available for individuals and congregations:

TANF and the First Year of Life—New Report

Plan of Action to End Hunger in America–New Report

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National Faith Coalition Praises Congress for Rejecting Torture

From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (

With the Senate’s vote to advance the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), both houses of Congress have now passed legislation that would put a permanent end to CIA torture. Authored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the McCain-Feinstein provision (included as part of the larger NDAA and passed by the Senate earlier this year with a bi-partisan 78-21 vote) represents a clear and undeniable rejection of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in interrogations.

Rev. Ron Stief, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture released this statement:

“Congress deserves our thanks for passing legislation that would put a permanent end to CIA torture.  The McCain-Feinstein provision requires that the CIA use only ethical, legal interrogation techniques and ensures that the International Committee of the Red Cross has access to all detainees.  Leaders and believers of many different American faith groups have spent the past decade calling on our government to ban CIA torture – and Congress has responded to that call.  We can now begin to hope that our government will not torture again.

“However, it is unconscionable that the NDAA also includes provisions that would unreasonably restrict the Administration from transferring even cleared detainees out of Guantanamo.  Guantanamo is both a symbolic reminder of our country’s use of torture and a place where most detainees are still held without a trial.  Keeping Guantanamo open violates core American values.”

Matt Hawthorne, Policy Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture added:

“The President has made clear that he intends to veto the version of the NDAA passed today. The negotiations that follow his veto will be one additional test of our leaders’ willingness to do the right thing and reject torture.  It is morally obligatory that whatever ends up being signed into law includes the McCain-Feinstein provision banning CIA torture and ends the unreasonable restrictions on detainee transfers.”

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Climate Action Commitments Aren’t Enough—Sign the Paris Pledge

From Interfaith Power and Light ( pledges

October 1st was the U.N. deadline for countries to submit their pledges for cutting their domestic carbon emissions in advance of the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.

The good news is, for the first time, all major emitters — countries totaling nearly 80% of global emissions — have submitted pledges to the United Nations with specific targets.

The bad news is those pledges don’t add up to keeping planetary warming under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6?F), the upper limit of what climate scientists say the Earth can tolerate without catastrophic impacts.

This year the U.N. has asked the nations of the world to volunteer their commitments in advance of the global conference on climate change. The hope is that global peer pressure can get better results than weeks of all-night sessions, earnest appeals by delegates, and scientific presentations have been able to achieve in past climate summits.

So how’s that going? Climate Action Tracker shows that the combination of government climate action plans, if implemented, would bring global warming down to 2.7?C.1 That sounds close, but climate scientists project much more severe impacts if we allow warming to increase by 2-3 degrees. In the higher range of warming we increase the risk of ocean acidification, coral reef collapse, strong sea level rise, and mass starvation due to drought. We still need faster, deeper cuts in carbon pollution.

These governmental pledges do not take into account voluntary pledges brought by businesses and civil society. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last year called for nongovernmental entities to also bring “bold initiatives” to reduce carbon and protect the planet. And the Paris conference is not the end, but just the beginning of a framework to help the world chart a new, safer course.

That’s why Interfaith Power & Light launched our Paris Pledge campaign (, to show commitments from U.S. faith communities and people of faith to do our part by cutting emissions in half by 2030 and to be 100% renewable energy powered or carbon neutral by 2050.

Though there is a major ambition gap when it comes to government pledges, we can do our part to encourage stronger policy actions, leading by example to show that clean energy choices are viable, faith communities are stepping up, and climate action is a moral imperative for everyone.

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Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence Statement on Oregon College Shooting

From Heeding God’s Call (

We stand with the President:  America is “answerable” for yet another mass school shooting.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”  Action is demanded, especially from the American faith community.

As the President noted, when such events occur in other advanced countries, which are extremely rare, the citizenry demands change and gets it – resulting in far less gun injury and death.

As we are answerable for the carnage we face in America, whether it be the daily gun violence devastating neighborhoods in our cities and towns or the repetitive and horrific episodes of mass shootings like recently in Oregon, we all, and especially we people of faith, have a sacred duty to do all we can to stop the killing.

This is our plea and our determination at Heeding.  We believe America can and will find its way to safety from the scourge of gun violence when the American faith community finally steps up and devotes itself to saving the lives of all God’s children.  We hope and work each day to be a spark toward that end.

We urge all people and communities of faith to join with us to reach for that glorious day.

Katie Day, Chairperson

Bryan Miller, Executive Director

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At Least 20,000 New Pennsylvania Voters Registered Online

Posted at

October 8, 2015 – Andrea Sears, Public News Service (PA)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Online voter registration is proving to be popular in Pennsylvania.

The system went live Aug. 27, making the Keystone State the twenty-third state in the nation to allow online registrations. Since then more than 30,000 Pennsylvanians have used the system, including 20,000 new voters.

Susan Carty, president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, calls that a huge success.

“It’s a wonderful thing and it’s a great service that is now being made available to our voters,” she says. “It’s very exciting and I can see the numbers will just increase over time.”

Monday was the deadline for registering to vote in elections this November.

In the 2014 election, 20 percent of eligible Pennsylvanians weren’t registered to vote, contributing to low turnout. Carty says online registration can help turn that around, but more needs to be done.

“By only having one day to vote, we are very limited in time,” she says. “Having the day be a work day is also a limiting factor.”

Other states have instituted early voting, allowing residents greater opportunities to cast their ballots.

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The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding

The Atlantic

“In America, schools with a lot of minority students are chronically underfunded. Is that the case because these students are poor … Or, is it because of the color of these students’ skin? … Recent research from data scientist David Mosenkis finds that poverty alone does not explain the underfunding … No matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district’s funding level … The compounding issue of low-income neighborhoods and scarce (or biased) funding leaves such schools with little money or resources to educate their students, and thus little hope of breaking the poverty cycle. These disparities become especially disheartening when looking at the current state of school segregation.”


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The Road Not Taken—Investing in Our State

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Oct 06, 2015 03:48 pm | Mark Price

Over the past few years, many other states, similar to Pennsylvania in 2011 and again today, have faced critical choices about whether to raise state revenues, hold firm to “no new taxes” or even cut taxes further. Today we released the results of our examination of the experience of four states as well as Pennsylvania and the different roads they each took.

Two of the states – California and Minnesota – raised taxes to improve their fiscal health and to reinvest in education. The other two states – Kansas and Wisconsin – followed the same path as Pennsylvania under Gov. Corbett, cutting taxes in varying degrees and cutting education spending.

The results of this policy experiment are in:

  • The two states that raised revenues have enjoyed percent job growth since 2010-11 that is one-and-a-half to three times larger than the three states – including Pennsylvania – that cut taxes.
  • The states that increased taxes have seen revenue growth – both as a result of the tax changes and as a result of stronger recoveries – of 15 percent and 19 percent. Kansas has seen its revenues fall 5 percent and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have seen revenue growth of 5 percent and 7 percent, a meagre enough recovery from the Great Recession to make fiscal stability and reinvestment in vital programs difficult.
  • State school funding per pupil has increased 15-21 percent in Minnesota and California while plunging 9-14 percent in the three tax-cut states. That means the ratio of funding per pupil in Minnesota and California compared to any of the other three states has shifted 26-41 percent in just four years.

It seems likely that this 26-41 percent shift in relative funding per student means that students in fifth grade today in California and Minnesota have a substantially better chance in life today than students in fifth grade now in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Kansas.

As we look back five years to this coming Wednesday, what will be the story that we have to tell about the choice lawmakers in Harrisburg made on that fateful October 7, 2015? Will this coming Wednesday be remembered as the day that lawmakers began governing based on the lessons of Pennsylvania’s own – and other states’ – experience, the day that lawmakers’ of both parties made common cause to raise revenues essential to giving all kids a chance – and to fix the state’s finances? Or will this Wednesday be remembered as a day when Pennsylvania lawmakers’ again rejected common sense, dooming our children to more years of disinvestment from our schools?


Read the full analysis here

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