News and Action Summary for Tuesday, June 9

Check out the Actions, Events, News Posts, and Resources below. There is a lot of information here—please know that you aren’t expected to act on everything! Choose the issues that are most important to you and take action! Also—please support this ministry; learn how by clicking here and checking out the boxes on the left of the page under the buttons.


PLEASE NOTE: Important Health Care Events THIS WEEK


Rally for Single-Payer Healthcare for All–Help Fill the Capital Steps on June 11th


HealthCare for All PA, joined by a coalition of like-minded organizations that includes the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, and others invites you to join together in Harrisburg on Thursday, June 11th from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a RALLY FOR SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE FOR ALL on the Capital steps. Entertainment kicks off at 11 a.m. followed by speakers you won’t want to miss beginning at 11:30 a.m. Speakers will include Donna Smith (star of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO,” also featured recently on Bill Moyers), Bill George (President of the PA AFL-CIO), Dr. Walter Tsou (nationally recognized expert and consultant on public healthcare reform and former Philadelphia Health Commissioner), Chuck Pennacchio (Executive Director of HealthCare For All PA and 2006 Primary candidate for the PA Democratic Senate race), and several more (including Rev. Sandra Strauss from the Council and some to be announced).


Help spread the word far and wide. Let’s fill the Capital steps and send a real message to the Legislature and the media that we are a mass movement that wants real healthcare for all NOW!!




Click here for rally flyer, and click here for Harrisburg driving and parking directions.


E-mail with questions, if you need a ride, or have room for passengers. (Event also posted at


Health Care: Human Right and Moral Imperative


In cooperation with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Western PA Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare will host a conference at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on Sunday, June 14, 1:00-5:00 p.m. (complimentary light lunch at 1:00, program begins at 2:00). The program is one of ten regional conferences being conducted by the PC(USA) following its General Assembly action to educate and advocate for national, universal, single—payer healthcare reform.


Featured keynote speaker will be U.S. Representative Eric Massa (NY-Corning), co-chair of the HR 676 caucus who are supporters of “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.” Other invited presenters include Walter Tsou, MD, former Health Commissioner of Philadelphia; U.S. Representative Mike Doyle; and PA Senator Jim Ferlo. The event is open to the public. To register, go to or call Hal Sanders at (412) 241-2792. (Posted at


Actions in this summary:

Other Opportunities for Action—Ongoing





News Posts:

Lost Opportunities: Racial Inequities in Education

America’s Poor are its Most Generous Givers

Rethinking the Rules of Engagement



Student Achievement More Than Academic–Health and Well-Being Affect Performance




We have posted many opportunities to advocate on a variety of issues on our Take Action page (, and on our Weblog Take Action page at Please visit these pages to learn more, or click on links in items below.


Support a Commission of Inquiry to Put an End to Torture—WE NEED YOUR HELP!


H.R. 104, a bill by Representative John Conyers, would establish a Commission of Inquiry that will help us to gain the understanding of the chain of events that led to the use of torture in order to ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again. Please contact your representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 104. You can send a letter to your representative at Please consider editing the letter to personalize it and make it more powerful.


Support is also needed in the Senate. Please sign on to a letter to Senator Specter to support a Commission of Inquiry at


For more information on torture or on the Commission of Inquiry, please go to


Legislation Passes Supporting Study for Children with Parents Under Criminal Justice Supervision—Thank Your Representative


Ann Schwartzman, Director of Policy for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, reported that HR 203 (, calling for a study of children of incarcerated parents passed the full PA House by a 192-0 vote on June 3.


Both HR 203 and SR 52 (the Senate version, at passed their committees by UNANIMOUS votes on June 2.


Many thanks to all who contacted their legislators in support of these bills. Please thank your representative for his or her support. (Posted at on 6/3/09.)


Ongoing: Protect Workers and Public Health: Tell Congress to Support Paid Sick Time: Did you know that half of all workers in the U.S. cannot take a day off if they are sick or to care for a sick child, spouse or parent? Please write to Senators Casey and Specter and your representative at to ask for their support of the Healthy Families Act!


Ongoing: Continue to Support Public Education Funding—Oppose PASenate Effort to Reduce Education Funding: Senate Bill 850 ( would decimate the increased support for public education proposed by Governor Rendell for the next school year. Send a message to your legislators to tell them you oppose what they are doing at


Ongoing: Stop Video Poker Machine Legislation: Go to to send a message to your legislators and Governor Rendell.


Ongoing: Urge Senator Specter to Support Comprehensive and Compassionate Immigration Reform:


Ongoing: Clergy and Religious Leader Sign-On for Employee Free Choice Act: Sign on for individuals at; organizational sign-on at, or you can e-mail Jonathan Currie at or call him at (773) 728-8400, ext. 14. Please provide your full name, title, denominational or congregational affiliation, and the city or town in which you live. (This action also posted at


Ongoing: Urge Governor Rendell to Call for a Moratorium and Study on the Death Penalty: Please call on Governor Rendell to commission a moratorium and a thorough study of the death penalty in Pennsylvania. For more information, go to


And Lots of Opportunities for Health Care Actions…


Contact Pennsylvania Legislators to Support SB 400, HB 1660—Publicly Funded, Privately Delivered Health Care for Pennsylvania: Sign a petition at, or download a petition at and ask your friends to join in support. More important, however, is for you to contact your legislators to let them know you support these bills and ask for their support. You can do this at This is the easy way to show your support, but your personal calls, letters and e-mails have even more impact—so please consider a personal approach if you have time!


Ensure Health Care Reform Includes Health Coverage for All Children: Join with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and thousands of other child advocates to help ensure coverage for all children by sending an e-mail to your Members of Congress today at


Sign On in Support of a Faith Inspired Vision of Health Care: The Council is joining with people of faith around the country to support a new, Faith Inspired Vision of Health Care. Directions for signing on in support of this statement are included at the following links:


Sign on as a congregation or faith organization (


Sign on as an individual (


Printer friendly version of sign-on statement ( ) (NOTE: If used, please fax to (717) 545-4761, send to Pennsylvania Council of Churches, 900 S. Arlington Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17109, or e-mail to


Other Opportunities for Action


Learn about other ways you can take action at


Ongoing: Support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act: The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. is using a postcard campaign to support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S416 at /HR 981 at For more information, go to


Ongoing: Fax (Free) Your Health Care Stories to the Senate, President: There is a new fax tool to send free faxes from to Congress and the President, available at Now you can write your own story about how health insurance problems have harmed you and your family.  Go to to learn more.


Ongoing: Support HB 1072 to Restore Voting Rights to Newly Released Inmates: Information available at


Ongoing: Support Legislation to Reduce Global Poverty: Learn more about this legislation and how you can take action at


Ongoing: Contact Congress to Oppose Panama Free Trade Agreement: The Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) is asking for help to oppose the Panama Trade Agreement.

For information about how to take action, go to


Ongoing: Petition the DOJ to Conduct an Independent, Comprehensive Investigation in Shenandoah Murder Case: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is asking for our help. To read more, go to


Ongoing: Support HEMAP Funding to Prevent Mortgage Foreclosures in PA: See posting at


Ongoing: Support the Paycheck Fairness Act: See the alert and take action at


Ongoing: Take Action to Stop Predatory Lending: See the alert and take action at




For a full listing of events, go to the Events Calendar at


Taking Off the Hood


Pittsburgh Against Torture will host a coffee house discussion entitled “Taking Off the Hood” on Tuesday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh. This event is being held at part of Torture Awareness Month, to provide greater visibility to the issue of torture and provide an opportunity for coordinated actions across the country. The event is open to the public. For additional information contact Claudia Detwiler at (Posted at


Don’t Forget the Following Important Events!


Public Witness on Torture—June 11, Washington, DC: To learn more, go to


Interfaith Week of Prayer for Health Care for All—June 19-24: The largest faith-inspired mobilization to ever happen around health care reform will begin Friday, June 19.  It will feature an Interfaith Service of Witness and Prayer at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC on June 24, 2009, 4:00-8:00 p.m. Learn more at and watch here for potential Pennsylvania events. (Also posted at




Please visit our weblog ( for the latest news and information. For previous News Summaries, click on the “News Summaries” link on the right side of the page.


Subscribe to our weblog via RSS (What is RSS?) or e-mail.


PA Senate Plays “Shell Game” with Federal Stimulus Funds


Read a message sent to all Pennsylvania legislators on June 2, 2009 from the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign (of which the Council is a member), which describes the Pennsylvania Senate’s budget as it pertains to public education and use of federal stimulus dollars as a “shell game” at (posted 6/2/09).


Why is Single-Payer Health Care Off the Table?


The Allentown Morning Call published an op-ed by the Rev. Sandra Strauss, Director of Public Advocacy, on May 22, 2009, asking why Senator Max Baucus of the Senate Finance Committee is refusing to invite participation by representatives favoring a publicly financed, privately delivered system of health care (commonly called single-payer), and why this particular type of reform is “off the table.” She notes that Sen. Baucus is the third largest beneficiary of health care and pharmaceutical dollars in the Senate (and first among Democrats), which suggests there may be a conflict of interest, and that there is deep concern over “promises” made by the health insurance industry given its track record during previous reform efforts. To read the entire op-ed, go to (posted 6/3/09).


Wage Theft—the Crime No One Talks About


Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) is leading a growing movement in the United States to stop unscrupulous employers from stealing workers’ wages. According to IWJ, wage theft has reached epidemic proportions, and with the current economic crisis, unscrupulous corporations and businesses are cutting corners to reduce costs–often by forcing workers to work “off the clock,” not paying overtime, withholding final paychecks or in many cases not paying workers at all. To learn more, go to (posted 6/4/09).


PA Methodist Bishops Oppose Rendell’s Video Poker Proposal: Urge Church Members to Contact House Members, Gov. Rendell


On May 27, 2009, A United Methodist Witness in Pennsylvania released a statement that Pennsylvania’s United Methodist bishops are urging more than 450,000 church members to send legislators and Gov. Edward Rendell messages opposing video poker in restaurants, taverns and private clubs. They sent a pastoral letter to the denomination’s nearly 2,400 congregations in Pennsylvania urging them to contact their legislators to voice their opposition. To learn more and to read the pastoral letter, go to (posted 6/4/09).


What Would Jesus Say about Torturing Captives?


On Saturday, May 23, 2009, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an editorial entitled “Do unto others: What would Jesus say about torturing captives?” It begins with a provocative statement:


Contrary to what some Christians believe, Jesus did not say “Blessed are the torturers.”


It notes the surprising findings of a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life concerning the views of various Christian groups with regard to torture, and cites the day of public witness on June 11 at the White House.


To read more and to find the link to the original editorial, go to (posted 6/4/09).




For recently posted resources via these news summaries, go to For a more complete listing of resources and links, visit and click on the “Resources” link or “Related Links” (left side of page). This list is updated continually. Please report broken links to


Student Achievement More Than Academic–Health and Well-Being Affect Performance


A Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) publication states that health and well-being affect a child’s academic achievement. To learn more or to download the brief, go to (posted 5/20/09).


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