Archive for April 25th, 2017

Tell the NRC: NO Deadly Nuclear Waste Transport Across the US!!!

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .

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Waste Control Specialists (WCS), in Andrews County, Texas, is seeking to expand its existing hazardous waste site to include high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants across the country. If approved, 40,000 tons of irradiated fuel rods from nuclear reactors around the country could be transported through major cities and farmlands to be stored  for 40 years or longer on a concrete pad, creating a de facto permanent disposal facility at a site that has not been designed or evaluated for permanent isolation.

We need your comments in opposition to the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) Consolidated “Interim” Storage waste dump site in West Texas now!

The NRC must conduct safety and environmental reviews before it decides whether to approve the dump application. Hundreds of Texas and New Mexico residents turned out last week to tell the NRC they don’t want a radioactive dump and nuclear waste shipments in their communities—now we all need to make our voices heard.

Public comments wll be accepted through April 28th. Now is the time to make our voices heard loud and clear: No Consolidated “Interim” Storage Waste Dumps!

click here to take action!

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We Must Invest in Housing

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .

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Taken from chn.org –

It really was great news that Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond’s urgent wake-up call about the gross injustice of evictions, won the Pulitzer Prize. The painful reality of housing insecurity was brought home to me on April 1, when the National Coalition for the Homeless held a National Day of Action for Housing. There were events in Washington and in a number of other locations around the country. At the D.C. event, we heard from Deborah, who became homeless in Delaware after losing her job; she felt that her identity was damaged without housing. And from Steve (pictured), who had been homeless for 17 years, but now is in permanent housing. He fought addiction for decades, but said “politicians make bad decisions too.” It was clear from all those who spoke that being able to live in stable housing was a necessary foundation for people’s lives: making it easier to connect to services they need and to hold down a job.

Congratulations to Matt Desmond for showing how the legal system fails to protect low-income people from evictions, and how those evicted are all too likely to risk homelessness or miserably inadequate housing.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak at the National Day of Action. Here’s what I said:

“The Coalition on Human Needs stands with you in this National Day of Action for Housing. We are organizations of faith, service providers, labor, civil rights, policy experts, and other advocates fighting to get the federal government to do more to meet the needs of low-income people.

“We stand with you for the obvious reason that housing is a central human need. Having a place to live is literally a foundation on which we build our lives – it’s essential for health, and safety, and work. We know that when people have a place to live, they are more able to get the services and health care they need, and that means they are more able to find and keep a job.

“But you know how many barriers there are that make people homeless:

    • If you’ve been evicted, it’s very hard to find another apartment, even if you’ve been evicted because your landlord was foreclosed on.
    • If you’ve lost your job.
    • If your family threw you out because you’re gay.
    • If you’ve just aged out of foster care – it is shameful that our government takes responsibility for youth who cannot live with their families and gives them so little support that they land in the streets. Of hundreds of homeless youth interviewed by researchers, nearly 40 percent had been in foster care, and 44 percent had been in detention or jail.
    • And once you’re on the streets it can be hard to avoid run-ins with the law – if you’re a runaway youth, or just trying to sleep in a park after dark.

“The hundreds of thousands who find themselves homeless on any given night deserve better.

“And in communities around this country, some progress has been made. When we invest in housing, increase rental vouchers, and connect people to services they need, we have reduced homelessness.

“But now we have a fight on our hands. The Trump Administration wants to shift money from rental vouchers, and public housing, and home heating and cooling assistance, and job training, and much more, and give it to the Pentagon. They want to cut health care, and make it harder for people to get Medicaid and food stamps by throwing up bogus work requirements. Instead of investing in our health and nutrition, they want to hand hundreds of billions of dollars to the rich and to corporations.

“We can win this fight – we can beat back their budget full of the wrongest, sorriest choices ever. We can win the way we beat their attack on health insurance – by standing together and hollering until Congress hears us. Together, we can show the nation the difference between the righteous – that’s you – and the self-righteous – like the members of Congress who spout scripture to justify harsh limits on food aid, medical care, and housing. It is righteous to demand of Congress and Trump that the budget must invest in housing, and provide the funds needed for a real and vital commitment to end homelessness in America. Together, we can help the millions of people who have marched and called on Congress to see how righteous it is to demand that everyone have a place they can call home. Your commitment today and in the days to come will help build a movement to invest in that most basic human need – housing. Thank you – and know that millions of Americans will stand with you.”

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Choosing Between Being a Good American and a Good Father

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .

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He won’t go to the Humane Society because seeing all the dogs without homes makes him too sad. He will watch nerdy YouTube videos on history or space or giant ships for hours. Our youngest, at nineteen, isn’t exactly “special,” but he lives at some distance from the world the rest of us live in. For years I would have to say, “This universe, sweetheart,” when he drifted away.

It’s Jonathan I think of when I see a headline in a Foreign Policy mailing asking when Trump will start his first war, or when I read about one of his advisors ranting about Iran, or see the president’s latest belligerent tweet. America has a history of starting unjustified wars with more stable men in the Oval Office. What the country will do when led by a man of impulse and appetite no one knows, but it will be worse.

I know the chances of this are very small, but I still wonder what I would do if Trump started a war and reinstituted the draft, and Jonathan was drafted. Military training would destroy him, even if the Army failed to turn a gentle, distracted soul into a soldier. The war would almost certainly be one I could not support. Having grown up at the end of the Vietnam War, I had the formative experience of seeing my country wage a war incompetently and with insouciant disregard for the loss of American and Vietnamese lives. New wars must meet a high standard of necessity and justice.

We would tell him not to serve. Would we help him go to Canada? Mexico, maybe? Europe? I wonder what sort of life he would have, supported by his parents, unable to take all the steps to living an adult life because as an alien he couldn’t get a normal job. And would he be able to come back some day, or would a vindictive state keep him out? I probably won’t have to think about this, but I might. It’s at least a helpful thought experiment.

To refuse to cooperate with ICE in such a case would be to side with the powerless

To turn to a more likely possibility, what if we have an immigrant family visiting, and ICE agents come to the door and demand the father, or perhaps both parents, or even one of the children? Would I admit they were inside, and would I let the agents in? In theory, I accept that a nation must control its borders. But were the ICE agents at the door demanding one of our guests, I’m sure I would refuse to say whether he was inside. Not because I deny the agents’ legal authority. I would refuse because I’d remember the cruel and unnecessary way that agency has treated immigrants, the way it ignores their rights when it can get away with it, the cold way it breaks up families and targets people it could just as well leave alone.

To refuse to cooperate with ICE in such a case would be to side with the powerless subjected to the effects of a demagogic campaign appeal and a publicity stunt. It would be to demand justice for the weakest in a cynical arrangement by which America benefits from these immigrants while keeping them in fear. They do the jobs no one else wants and provide the flexible labor pool U.S. companies want, and when they’re not needed they can be sent away. America is only selectively worried about illegal immigrants. The policy is unjust and ICE enforces the injustice.

One assumes that the injustices of one’s own country are the kind inevitable in a fallen world

I don’t think I’m unusual in being a father who had expected to live a life in conformity with the law and broad comfort with the society in which he was raising a family. Even the Marxist professors in the college town where I grew up expected this. One might have severe criticisms of various agents of the state and even of the society itself, but none of that meant a settled position of resistance or serious thoughts about disregarding the law. One assumes that the injustices of one’s own country are the kind inevitable in a fallen world—to be lamented, certainly, but never requiring open defiance.

Suddenly, I can imagine having to live in open defiance. One part of the problem is that our new president doesn’t seem to care about the truth. He does what he does, says what he says, and never lets an inconvenient fact get in the way. The other part is that the president and his party in Congress seem to have no concern for the common good, no sense of solidarity with the poor—life’s “losers,” as Trump might call them. He believes in a preferential option for the successful.

I think about Jonathan often as I read the news. He comes to adulthood in a world his father didn’t expect. It may force a choice between being a good American and being a good father, and I’m a father first.

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Can we overcome public ignorance about immigration?

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .

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taken from thewashingtonpost.com –

 

Widespread political ignorance is a serious problem, and affects public opinion on many issues. Immigration figures prominently on the list of those issues. During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump effectively exploited public ignorance about the number of immigrants and their effect on the crime rate. Similar ignorance likely had an impact on the Brexit referendum in Britain. One of the most pernicious aspects of political ignorance is that many people, both right and left, tend to reject new information that conflicts with their preexisting views. Such “motivated reasoning” is particularly likely on emotionally charged issues, such as immigration. That reality makes it difficult to break through misinformation when it does arise. Even otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people tend to process new political information in a highly biased way.

But new research by economists Alexis Grigorieff, Christopher Roth, and Diego Ubfal suggests that combating public ignorance about immigration may not be as hopeless a task as it might seem. Sam Bowman of Britain’s Adam Smith Institute summarizes the new findings:

Here’s a cool new paper. It tests whether people are willing to substantially shift their opinions about immigration policy when they’re given more information about it. The results suggest that people may be doing less ‘motivated reasoning’ about immigration policy than many think, and that there’s real value in trying to highlight the facts to the public….

First, it looks at the Transatlantic Trends Survey, which polled 19,000 people in 13 different countries and, among other things, asked whether they thought there were too many immigrants in their country. People almost always overestimate the proportion of their country’s population that are immigrants, in the UK by a factor of two. But, here, half of the respondents were told the true proportion….

In most countries surveyed, especially in the UK, the ‘treatment’ group that was given the correct figure gave substantially less anti-immigrant responses than the ‘control’ group that was not given any figure. In the UK there was an 18 percentage point gap, which was the difference between a majority saying there were too many immigrants among the group that wasn’t given the correct numbers and a minority in the group that was….

The second part of the study was based on a poll of Americans who were given information not just about the proportion of the country that are immigrants, but their characteristics – their propensity to commit crimes or be imprisoned compared to natives, their English-speaking rate, their unemployment rates and how many of them were illegal versus legal. Again, this had a pretty big effect (0.25 of a standard deviation) in changing people’s attitudes and beliefs about immigrants for the better, though they were much less likely to shift policy positions.

Maybe this was just a temporary effect? Four weeks later, there was very little change in either group’s responses. The new information actually stuck!

As Bowman notes, the biggest changes were seen in the attitudes of right of center survey respondents, who tend to be the ones most opposed to immigration in the first place.

The study does not show – and I certainly don’t claim – that reducing public ignorance about immigration will cause everyone to become as pro-immigration as I am. Far from it. Even if everyone were well-informed, there would still be plenty of room for disagreement.

But increased knowledge would likely make much of the population more favorable to immigration than they themselves otherwise would be. Many anti-immigration attitudes are driven by misinformation about the numbers of immigrants, their supposed propensity to go on welfare, their political views, their impact on the crime rate, and other factors.

While some people are so dug in to their views that no new facts are likely to change their minds, the research discussed by Bowman suggests that many are not. Some people on all sides of the political spectrum are hopelessly biased partisans or bigots. But others just haven’t taken the time to explore the relevant evidence or consider opposing points of view.

I am not quite as optimistic as Bowman is. While, new information can potentially change many people’s minds, it is often difficult to get voters to take the time to learn it, given that political ignorance is actually rational behavior for most of them. If your only reason to learn about immigration (or any political issue) is to be a better voter, that’s not much of an incentive at all, given that the chance of your better-informed vote will influence electoral outcomes is infinitesmally small. When people participate in a survey, the researchers can get them to focus on whatever information they want to present (at least for a time). It’s much harder to achieve that in real life, where there are many competing demands on people’s time and energy.

Still, the new evidence shows that many people are more open-minded about immigration than most experts might have thought. That’s an encouraging sign, even if does not lead us to any quick and easy solution to the problem of public ignorance on this issue.

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Pope Francis is leading the Catholic Church Against Anti-migrant Populism

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .

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Taken from washingtonpost.com –

As politicians around the world including President Trump take an increasingly hard line on immigration, a powerful force is rallying to the side of migrants: the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.

Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests are emerging as some of the most influential opponents of immigration crackdowns backed by right-wing populists in the United States and Europe. The moves come as Francis, who has put migrants at the top of his agenda, appears to be leading by example, emphasizing his support for their rights in sermons, speeches and deeds.

The pro-migrant drive risks dividing Catholics — many of whom in the United States voted for Trump. Some observers say it is also inserting the church into politics in a manner recalling the heady days of Pope John Paul II, who stared down communism and declared his opposition to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Vatican is standing in open opposition to politicians like Trump not just on immigration but also on other issues, including climate-change policy.

But the focal point is clearly migrant rights.

Eritrean migrants sit on a Proactiva Open Arms rescue boat in the Mediterranean Sea, about 56 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, on April 6, 2017. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

In the United States, individual bishops, especially those appointed by Francis, have sharply criticized Trump’s migrant policies since his election. They include Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who last month co-led a rally in support of a Mexican man fighting deportation. Tobin has decried Trump’s executive orders on immigration, calling them the “opposite of what it means to be an American.”

In Los Angeles, Archbishop José H. Gomez, the first Mexican American vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which leads the U.S. church, described migrant rights as the bishops’ most important issue. He has delivered blistering critiques of Trump’s policies, and instructed his clerics to distribute cards in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese informing migrants of their rights in 300 parishes.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, one of Francis’s closest allies in the U.S. church, has issued orders that if federal immigration authorities should attempt to enter churches without a warrant in search of migrants, priests should turn them away and call the archdiocese’s lawyers. Catholic school principals were given the same instructions by the archdiocese, which Cupich said was an attempt to respond in a way that was firm “but not extreme.”

He said Francis has helped bishops shape their response.

read more here

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