News and Action Summary for August 15, 2014

Download a pdf version of the August 15, 2014 News and Action Summary!

News Summary 8-15-14

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News Posts, August 15, 2014

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

What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America

Study Finds Greater Rural Reliance on Food Stamps

Our Health Care Dead Matter Less Than War Dead?

The Vermont “No Child Left Behind” Letter that Tells the Truth

Swarthmore Profs Say Philly Schools Lack Needed Money: PA Funding Process Flawed

On Public Land, a Gas Company Takes Private Control

New Report Series on How Medicaid Expansion Would Help States

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Advocacy Positions Available—August 15, 2014

Here is the most recent posting of jobs available in research and advocacy:

Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Outreach and Advocacy Manager

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Newly Posted Resources—August 15, 2014

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

Immigration Pastoral and Advocacy Toolkits for August Recess

Resources Available for Labor Day Weekend for Worker Justice

Seniors Poverty and Opportunity Profile—Taking Care of Seniors in the Future

New Report Series on How Medicaid Expansion Would Help States

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What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America

Posted at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/what-white-people-can-do-_b_5675759.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post
Posted: 08/13/2014 4:18 pm EDT Updated: 4 hours ago

Ferguson

‘Can we switch for just one day?’ my friend Sean jokingly asked me as we were working out at the gym. ‘No, way’ I said firmly. You see, Sean is black and I am white and Sean was suggesting that we swap races. In his plea, Sean was none-too-subtly commenting that living life as a white man might be easier than living as a black man. In my unwillingness to switch, I acknowledged the privilege — and safety — that comes with being a white person in 21st century America.

There are a lot of events vying to occupy the American mind these days such as Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, the immigration crisis, hate crimes against Sikhs, Ebola, and Robin Williams’ death. But in one way, the ability to switch among these traumas is a white person’s ‘luxury.’ For Sean, and for many black Americans, the recent spate of black male deaths at the hands of police in America is forced to occupy the primary place.

There is an epidemic in this country and its victims are black men. Eric Garner died after being put in a stranglehold in Staten Island in New York City, Michael Brown, was an 18-year-old teenager killed in Ferguson, MO, and Ezell Ford was killed while reportedly lying down in the street in Los Angeles.

Black Americans are rightfully outraged, but it will require all Americans to be mobilized before the racism that undergirds these killings will end and the deaths along with it. White Americans like me have to stop channel surfing all the outrageously bad news from around the world and focus on the death that is happening in our own cities to our fellow Americans.

I spoke to Rev. Tony Lee who is an African-American pastor at Community of Hope AME Church in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Rev. Tony and I went to seminary together and he has been a colleague I trust to speak the truth to me about race in America. He called the recent deaths ‘disturbing but not surprising.’

“The reason people are responding so strongly is that these are examples of daily antagonisms felt by black people on the street. This is part of a wider school-to-prison pipeline and the ghettoization and de-humanization of black bodies. Social media gets the word out much quicker and people are responding to dead black men on the streets in LA, Ferguson and NYC by saying ‘wait, that is going on in our streets too.’”

But social media is part of the problem according to Rev. Lee. “The challenge is for this to become a movement not just a moment. People are expressing outrage with hashtags but they are not organizing. Movements need organizing.”

Given that we are both pastors, I asked Rev. Lee what the church should do and he offered some very practical steps, including becoming advocates for police training, holding police departments legally accountable for deaths, and connecting with the efforts at a community level. Rev. Lee also pointed out positive organizations that are doing great ‘movement’ work like Black Youth Project that churches should be supporting and partnering with.

Rev. Lee was quick to mention that his church has positive relations with the local policing because they have been proactive in creating encounters where police can meet the community and the community can meet police — not only in crucial moments when tensions are high — but also during normal times when the two can see the best of each other.

According to Lee, the church also needs to reclaim and proclaim the narrative about the worth of black lives in the face of the criminalized depiction of black people on TV, movies and in music. The wider church should be involved in the celebration of the breadth and richness of the black experience.

I asked Rev. John Vaughn, Vice-President of Auburn Seminary, what kind of response he would like to see from white Americans. Rev. Vaughn responded via email that he hoped his white friends would be vocal and articulate why these killings are not ‘yet another isolated incident’ and ‘explore the premise that racism is not a thing of the past.’ Perhaps most importantly: “Listen to your friends and colleagues of color about their experiences and analysis of racism in America.”

I also pressed Rev. Lee on what he would like to tell white Americans on how to show solidarity. I was humbled by his response:

We need to lock arms amidst all of this. If the police feel they are above the law with any one group, they will feel they are above the law with others. We need to learn from the civil rights movement. It wasn’t just black folks, it was everybody, because it wasn’t a black problem it was a moral issue. We are remembering 40 years after the Freedom Summer. That wasn’t just black people risking their lives, it was a community that went down to Mississippi because they knew that when any group within the nation is marginalized then we can’t be the nation we want to be.

The way I translate Rev. Lee’s generous invitation is ‘show up.’ White people need to get off the computer and get involved with our voices, feet, votes and resources to help make sure that this epidemic of black deaths in America ends. This is not a ‘black problem it is an American problem and it will take all of us working together to solve it.

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Support EPA’s Proposal to Restore Clean Water Act Protections for our Vital Water Resources

From PennFuture (http://www.pennfuture.org):

For almost 30 years, the Clean Water Act provided broad protections for waters across the country, but two misguided Supreme Court decisions have created confusion about which waters are protected, leaving small streams and wetlands vulnerable to pollution. These waters contribute to the drinking water supply of 117 million Americans and 8 million Pennsylvanians.

Now, the EPA has proposed a rule, based on the best available science, that will restore Clean Water Act protections to these important waters. Go to https://secure2.convio.net/penn/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=989#TopOfPage  to contact your Congress member and EPA.

What the rule does:

  • Clarifies which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act.
  • Protects streams and wetlands that reduce flooding, filter pollution, provide wildlife habitat, and contribute to groundwater recharge.
  • Saves businesses time and money by minimizing delays in the permitting process.
  • Preserves all historical agricultural exemptions and exclusions.

What the rule doesn’t do:

  • Does not protect any new types of water that haven’t historically been covered by the Clean Water Act.
  • Does not regulate land or land use.

Background
The big agricultural lobbyists say we don’t need more protections for our waters but they’re just wrong. In a four-year period, over 1,500 major pollution investigations by EPA have been discontinued because it was too time consuming and costly to prove jurisdiction.

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Resources Available for Labor Day Weekend for Worker Justice

From Interfaith Worker Justice (http://www.iwj.org):

It’s not too late to plan a Labor Day for Worker Justice event with your faith community.

Every year, congregations, parishes and faith communities across the country invite workers, labor leaders and economic justice advocates to share stories about the important work lifting up justice in the workplace. I am so blessed to be invited to take part in a Labor Day for Worker Justice service this year, and I wanted to make sure you had the same chance.

We’ve got all the information and tools you’ll need to prepare for event online (and for free!). Go to http://www.iwj.org/resources/labor-day-weekend-resources to visit IWJ’s online resource center!

Labor Day weekend is a special time to honor the sacred work of everyone in the pews and support low-wage workers as they work for justice.

There are other ways you can support Labor Day Weekend for Worker Justice! You could host a coffee-hour for your faith community before or after service. Ask your pastor to talk about minimum wage, wage theft or immigration and how faith informs how we think about those issues? (IWJ has created some great resources about them). You can distribute materials about ongoing campaigns and encourage everyone in your congregation to join in the struggle. There are so many ways to get involved!

So are you in? Click here to start planning your event.

Help us honor the sacredness of work this Labor Day weekend.

P.S. Be sure to register your event so other worker advocates can get connected!

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Act Now: No Special Rights for Corporations in the US-EU Trade Agreement

From the Citizens Trade Campaign (http://www.citizenstrade.org):

Once again, transnational corporations are hoping that a free trade agreement will become a back-door means for them to force environmental deregulation — this time through a massive new pact with the European Union.EU trade agreement

The federal government is currently conducting an environmental review of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and part of that review includes accepting public comments.  Please take this opportunity to tell the U.S. Trade Representative that you oppose giving corporations new tools for attacking important environmental protections at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1034/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16246#.

The public review period currently underway specifically asks for comments on what the “scope” of the TTIP’s environmental review should be.  We need your help demanding that this review not only investigate TTIP’s environmental chapter, but also explore the implications of:

A so-called “investment” chapter that would enable transnational corporations to challenge both existing and future climate, clean water, clean air, food safety, habitat protection and other environmental policies as “expropriations” and to demand taxpayer compensation through private tribunals that circumvent our judicial system: and

A so-called “regulatory cooperation” chapter that would enable corporations and foreign governments to inject years of delay into what is an already abysmally-slow process for developing new public interest regulations in the United States.

Corporations already have enough power over U.S. policy-making without trade agreements giving them special rights.  TAKE ACTION NOW: Take a stand for the quality of the air we breath, the water we drink and the planet we leave behind for our children and grandchildren by submitting comments today.

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Family Support Alliance Offers Front Porch Project Family Training—September 25 and December 2, Harrisburg

Have you ever seen a child in a store or restaurant having a meltdown and a parent having a meltdown of their own? Are children playing unsupervised in your neighborhood? Do you ever wonder what to do when you are concerned about a child and aren’t sure if it’s “your business”?

If so, the Front Porch Project can help. This research-supported training provides you with real-life answers to questions like these. We talk about the issues facing today’s families, brainstorm ideas and practice strategies for helping children and supporting families. The training is a fun mix of interactive discussions, video clips and activities with people who really care about our community and the kids who live here in central Pennsylvania.

PA Family Support Alliance is offering Front Porch Project sessions in Harrisburg on September 25 and again on December 2, from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (registration begins at 8:30 AM), at our office (2000 Linglestown Rd., Suite 300, Harrisburg). There is no charge to attend. For anyone interested in PQAS credits, this training is eligible for professional development. It is open to anyone – not just professionals –but space is limited and pre-registration is necessary. See the attached flyer for more details and contact PFSA to register (info@pa-fsa.org or 717-238-0937).

Please help us spread the word about this important training by forwarding this email to your contacts who might be interested. If you would like information on sponsoring a session for your group, contact me and we can discuss what’s involved.

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Top Five Myths About Coal—Sign Petition to EPA to Reduce Carbon

From Interfaith Power and Light (http://interfaithpowerandlight.org):

Have you seen conflicting reports and articles about coal?

With all the rumors out there it can be hard to sort fact from fiction. That’s why we’ve compiled the “Top 5 Myths About Coal” (http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/2014/08/top-5-myths-about-coal/).

Thousands of people die every year from pollution caused by coal-fired power plants. These are often our most vulnerable sisters and brothers: children, the elderly, and people with asthma and heart conditions. We also know that power plants are the nation’s largest source of global warming pollution. Yet Big Coal continues to fight clean air safeguards by attempting to scare people into believing that we can’t afford cleaner power. It’s just not true, and it’s time we stand up for what’s right.

We’ve debunked some of the most common myths surrounding coal and set the record straight.

Read the “Top 5 Myths About Coal”.

The good news is that people of faith across the country are speaking out in support of the EPA’s carbon pollution standards, the EPA’s first-ever proposed limits on carbon pollution. You can add your voice to the chorus by signing the petition to the EPA at http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50836/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10125.

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