Archive for April 15th, 2017

As Trump Bows Out, States Set to Fill Void on Climate Change

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .

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As President Donald Trump scales down federal efforts to combat climate change, states are ramping up.

California’s Air Resources Board broke with Trump and voted to uphold auto fuel efficiency rules, while Illinois offered a bail out to carbon-free nuclear producers. Iowa and Michigan have moved to increase incentives for renewable energy, and Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan is poised to sign a statewide ban on fracking.

“Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial,” California Governor Jerry Brown and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a joint statement.

In statehouses across the country, both Republican and Democratic leaders are using their own regulatory powers and budgets to fill a void being left by Trump, whose order Tuesday rolled back many of President Barack Obama’s expansive initiatives to combat global warming.

“There will be continued and expanded efforts by states and localities throughout the country,” Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said in an interview. “Those actions will vary widely in scope and magnitude. Some who are sitting on the fence may stand down. Others will pick up their efforts.”

Trump, with coal miners arrayed behind him, signed the sweeping executive order to begin the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan that would have required states to slash emissions from power plants. That rule was central to the U.S. plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and meet its global climate pledge.

“Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry,” Trump said of the regulation. “My administration is putting an end to the War on Coal.”

While 26 states sued to block that rule, bigger states like New York and California had intervened to support it. Now, with it on the way out, states are grappling on their own with issues like how to hook new solar or wind farms onto the grid, what to do with aging nuclear unable to compete with low-cost natural gas and whether or how to try to reduce carbon emissions without a federal prod.

In many Republican-led states — ranging from Texas to Illinois — solar, wind and energy efficiency have thrived as a way to cut electricity costs and boost jobs, not as a way to protect the planet. In other Republican states, lawmakers are pressing to roll back existing incentives for renewable energy, saying they want to protect coal and natural gas.

The result is likely “this weird Balkanization of the country where the states that are more coal friendly are going to do nothing,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a non-profit watchdog organization. But “states that are more likely to deal with air pollution issues are going to continue on their way.”

Cities too are getting in on the act. Thirty cities including New York and Chicago jointly asked automakers for the cost and feasibility of providing 114,000 electric vehicles, including police cruisers, street sweepers and trash haulers, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is coordinating the effort. That would be comparable to about 72 percent of total U.S. plug-in sales last year.

“Cities and city leaders recognize how important it is to protect our environment, but we also recognize that this is not simply an environmental issue,” said Matt Zone, a council member from Cleveland who serves as the president of the National League of Cities. “We stand ready to continue this work.”

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Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .

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Taken from chn.org written by James Abro –

Last week the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice sent out a newsletter informing people that today, April 4, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.  The Kairos Center is calling for a new Poor People’s Campaign in order to revitalize the movement started by Dr. King in 1968 in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States.

If you never heard the speech, or it’s been a while since you’ve listened to it, please take this opportunity to hear it or read the text.

This speech was highly controversial at the time because King declared the war in Vietnam “immoral.” I was a teenager at the time and can recall how polarized the nation was about the war. Opposing it was tantamount to being “anti-American” or a “traitor.”

It might have been cool for a teenager to declare themselves a traitor and oppose the war; not so much for an adult.

King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967. He was shot to death a year to the day later — April 4, 1968 — in Memphis.

Because the speech is mostly remembered for King publicly declaring his opposition to the war — and the controversy it caused — what has largely been forgotten is what King was referring to when he used the word “Beyond” in the title of his speech.

King was not declaring the war in Vietnam immoral only on Christian theological grounds, but because it stole resources from people who could have used them to lift themselves out of poverty. From the speech:

“There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

I addressed this in an article for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.  The successful, community-based anti-poverty efforts that were initiated in the 1960’s were afterward underfunded and neglected as the war sucked up financial resources and diverted political will.

I volunteer to work among the poor and homeless in my community; so what meaning does this speech have for me and the work I do?

In a word, a profound one.

One of the most frustrating aspects of advocating for the poor is how unaware the general public is of this situation, even when it’s happening in their community. As King points out in his speech, we are constantly being fed distractions to take our attention away from what is going on around us. War seems to be the most reliable vehicle for doing so. Throughout my lifetime, the United States has been at war somewhere — Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. The War on Poverty has been but a neglected stepchild compared to the time, energy and resources we devote to these foreign incursions.

Dr. King:

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

“The more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.”

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Take action on EPA’s refusal to ban Neurotoxin

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a stunning reversal on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The EPA’s own scientific studies have determined that this pesticide is not safe and even very low levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause irreparable harm and damage children’s developing brains. Pruitt’s refusal to ban this dangerous chemical puts millions at risk. Farm worker children are particularly at risk, since they’re exposed to this pesticide when it drifts from nearby fields. It is long past time for EPA to stop caving-in to corporate interests and permanently ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.

We will continue to hold the EPA accountable. Help us keep up the pressure. Ask your Congressional representatives to take action to get chlorpyrifos off the market, once and for all.

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Pro Immigrant Policies Are Making Communities Safer

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .

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Offering Driver’s Licenses To Immigrants Here Illegally Makes Roads Safer

Taken from npr.org –

Researchers at Stanford University this week published a study that may bolster the argument that policies aimed at encouraging immigrants to come out of the shadows actually improve public safety. They found that a 2013 California law granting driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally reduced hit-and-run accidents by 7 to 10 percent in 2015, meaning roughly 4,000 fewer hit-and-runs. In that same year, 600,000 people got driver’s licenses under the law.

gettyimages-84674999-007e1087ce70c919126a6e6ca8980b00ddfe9be0-s700-c85It was the first time researchers had studied the effectiveness of such driver’s license laws, which have generated significant controversy nationally. Opponents have argued that granting licenses to immigrants in the U.S. illegally is dangerous.

It’s a rhetorical cudgel often wielded by those opposed to offering protection or other forms of help to immigrants in the U.S. illegally, and it frequently relies on a notion that immigrants without legal status are more prone to violence and other forms of delinquency. President Trump has often argued that those who oppose a federal government crackdown on illegal immigration do so at the expense of public safety.

This idea was central to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement last month that the federal government intended to withhold federal funds from cities that adopt so-called sanctuary policies aimed at shielding immigrants in the U.S. illegally. “These policies,” he said, “endanger the lives of every American.”

In fact, research has generally shown that cities that adopt sanctuary policies tend to be safer than those that don’t, because immigrants not fearful that a routine interaction with their local police could end in their deportation are more likely to report crimes in their communities.

Nonetheless, claims that such policies endanger public safety are common, as they have been surrounding the debate about driver’s licenses.

“In many of the countries from which illegal aliens come, it is not uncommon for motorists involved in accidents to flee the scene,” the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for immigration restrictions, says on its website, making it “probable that if more illegal aliens were encouraged to drive by issuing them driver’s licenses, it would lead to more accidents caused by uninsured motorists and more would be hit and run.”

Yet the Stanford researchers said their findings show no evidence for those claims.

“Rather, our results suggest that, if anything, providing unauthorized immigrants access to driver’s licenses reduced their incentives to flee the scene of an accident,” authors Hans Lueders, Jens Hainmueller and Duncan Lawrence wrote, adding that their findings may help inform the debate over whether other states should grant driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Twelve states and the District of Columbia already do.

In California, the licenses are available to immigrants who cannot prove they are legal residents of the U.S. Though markings on the ID card indicate to police that it is one of these special licenses, the 2013 law that approved them also prohibits police from reporting license holders to immigration agents.

The researchers suggest that “consequently, unauthorized immigrants with a valid form of in-state driving authorization have weaker incentives to flee the scene after an accident, because they are less likely to fear deportation.” Their study also found that the license law did not increase the number of traffic accidents overall, as opponents had claimed it would. It did not decrease the number either. But the decline in hit-and-run accidents was a positive sign, the researchers wrote.

“Overall, the findings suggest that providing driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants led to improved traffic safety,” they said.

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Walking in the Footsteps of Migrants

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .

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Taken from ncronline.org by Tony Magliano –

Recently I was given a unique opportunity to taste some of the bitter hardships endured by fellow human beings fleeing drug-gang violence, oppressive poverty and economic injustice south of the U.S. border.CNS-Nogales wall c_0

The day after a talk I gave at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish in Tucson, Arizona, I entered into a migrant immersion experience starting with a team of Tucson Samaritans.

These Samaritans are a faith-based group who regularly patrol very remote areas of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. They leave jugs of life-saving water along hot rugged terrain traveled by very poor migrant children, women and men seeking a safe, decent place to live in the U.S.

Because there are relatively few legal visas issued annually by the U.S. government for much needed low-skilled laborers, undocumented migrant workers are forced to dangerously trek through the desert hoping to reach a U.S. workplace.

My journey with the Samaritans took me close to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Donning backpacks loaded with first-aid supplies, water and nutritional food bars, we hiked four hours up into the Las Guijas Mountains looking for unchartered migrant trails.

On top of a 4,000-foot steep desert mountaintop, we paused to try to determine where our overgrown trail continued.

As I looked out in all directions, I could easily imagine many of the dangers facing me if I were a migrant — running out of water, having heat stroke or hypothermia, being bitten by a rattlesnake, taking a debilitating fall, being disoriented and getting lost.

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