Archive for June 3rd, 2017

Laudato Si – 2nd Anniversary

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .

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Pray on your own & with your community

Pope Francis ends his encyclical on creation with two beautiful prayers. Please find the text of those prayers below, as well as a call-and-response version of each you can pray with your community.

A Prayer for Our Earth

A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation

“10 Ways You Can Make a Difference”

“10 Ways Your Parish Can Make a Difference”

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Urban trees as solution to address air pollution and extreme heat

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .

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Trees are one of the single best infrastructure investments cities can make – in fact, a major report by the Nature Conservancy concludes trees are the only cost-effective solution addressing both air quality and rising urban temperatures. Some of the world’s largest cities could dramatically improve public health by investing just $4 per capita in their canopies.

Tree plantings can reduce downwind particulate matter concentrations by 7 to 24 percent, and temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Trees can also cool urban temperatures by 1.5C. “Cities often think about tree-planting budgets totally separate from their health budgets, said lead author Rob McDonald. “We want cities to see the link between the two.”

These report offers guidelines and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of urban trees: NatureCity Lab

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The Compassion Course Online 2017

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .

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The Compassion Course Online 2017
Changing Lives for 6 Years, in over 100 Countries, with
more than 14,000 Participants and now in 4 Languages

Course Starts June 21st

With Thom Bond, Founder and Director of Education, NYCNVC

The Compassion Course Community Speaks

New Video
“Compassion Course Participants 

Speak Out”

Click Here to Register for the Compassion Course Online

Haga Clic aquí para Registrarse para el Curso de Compasión en Línea

Klicken Sie hier für Mitgefühl als Weg

اضغط هنا للتسجيل للحصول على التحديثات المتعلقة بمسار

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THE $110 BILLION MYTH: SAUDI ARABIA’S DEFENSE NEEDS

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .

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18664225_944418089028417_3703277648550216677_nAmidst a range of domestic controversies and the pushback against his agenda and actions, President Trump went back to one of his default personas, that of a self-proclaimed dealmaker “strongly protecting American interests.” During his trip to Saudi Arabia, President Trump signed an almost $ 110 billion arms deal supposedly in support of Saudi Arabia’s defense.

A May 20, 2017 press release “Supporting Saudi Arabia’s Defense Needs” from the U.S. State Department outlines the framework. How $110 billion worth of killing machinery such as tanks, artillery, helicopters, combatant ships, and other weapons systems reflect the State Department’s slogan “Diplomacy in Action” is a mythological stretch of imagination. More importantly though, this deal is the continuation of global arms trade practices that are sustained by several myths which are driven by a militarist consensus and acceptance of war profiteering regardless of who is President. With the help of historian Paul Holden and colleagues’ 2016 book “Indefensible: Seven myths that sustain the global arms trade,” it is now possible to shed new light on what we are led to believe such deals achieve.

The myth of increased security: According to the State Department, this deal supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia in the face of malign Iranian influence and threats. That’s unlikely, given that Holden and colleagues demonstrated that increased weapons spending leads to arms races, increases security threats due to ill-conceived usage, and under-sources important non-military action. Looking at the bloodshed in the region, we now can say with certainty that the continued influx of weapons makes civilians caught in violent conflict less secure.

The myth of a sound national security analysis: More weapons provided by the United States into a volatile region will not only add fuel to the many regional fires, it will also undermine successful diplomatic initiatives such as the Iran Nuclear Deal. It is more likely that such deals are driven by economic considerations – that is, corporate profits or flat out corruption. In fact, the State Department does not hide the fact that this deal presumably expands opportunities for American companies in the region.

The myth of controlling how the weapons are used: Backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia is fighting a war in Yemen, which, according to the United Nations humanitarian affairs office is “experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.” In other words, this arms deal will lead to continued killing of Yemeni people by U.S. weapons of war. Women. Children. Civilians.

Administration officials are well aware of how these weapons are used, even though Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for UN brokered negotiations of the conflict. This was just a month before the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which is being sold to the public in a sterile narrative of bolstering the security of our allies with U.S. weapons. Of course, we must not dismiss the fact that authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia have been known to use weaponry against their own citizens to crush any form of dissent.

The myth of arms deals as job creators: The State Department does not even try to hide that one of the objectives of the Saudi arms deal is to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States. There are two flaws with this argument. First, Holden and colleagues demonstrate that military spending is strongly correlated with poorer economic growth and that it can actually hurt the economy. A study found that defense spending creates far fewer jobs than spending on health care, education, green economy or tax cuts. Second, aren’t we morally bankrupt when we even begin to accept the possibility that exporting weapons of war is necessary to drive our economy?

The myth that corruption only exists in developing countries: The current administration’s officials and advisors demonstrate unprecedented levels of ethically questionable connections between their roles as public servants and the many business and consulting entities they belong or belonged to. Some of the more reserved voices talk about kleptocracy, others go straight to the “Banana Republic” analogy. This, together with an already existing arms trade context where blanket secrecy is accepted under the national security disguise, is extremely worrisome.

Some might ask: But what about the seven-decade long security relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia? What about our steadfast ally in the region? Despite its “imperfections,” don’t we need Saudi Arabia to keep the evil Iranians at bay and rid the world of evil Islamic terrorists? These questions place hope in an authoritarian regime acting only in its self-interest and preservation, it also labels an entire nation as evil, and completely misunderstands threats stemming from terrorism. Regardless of those flaws, the answer to all these questions should include justification for why we are not supporting the proven effective nonviolent measures to the many challenges we are facing.

The Alliance for Peacebuilding, for example, is a network of over 100 professional organizations working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries. These organizations are doing great work, but are underfunded. According to the Peace and Security Funding Index, less than 1 percent ($357 million) of total foundation giving goes toward global peace and security. Organizations and foundations in this sector work toward the prevention and mitigation of conflict, resolving conflict and building peace, and supporting stable and resilient societies. Can we only take a moment to imagine what would happen if we switched the numbers: the U.S. signs a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia over $357 million dollars, and foundations are able to contribute $110 billion to peace and security through nonviolent measures.

[Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, served on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association (2012-2016), member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.]

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Immigration Laws Getting Tougher

Posted on 03. Jun, 2017 by .

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Taken from CNN.com – 

Democrats and Republicans on Thursday faced off over immigration policy as a House committee began considering a set of immigration bills that Democrats say would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.
But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.
“Proponents of this bill say that it’s necessary to keep us safe, but what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly,” said immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “This bill gives Trump and (adviser Steve) Bannon the legislation to establish their mass deportation force. … This bill should really be called the ‘Mass Deportation Act,’ because that’s what it is.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”
“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.
The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.
But by mid-afternoon, the committee recessed until next week after only making its way through two amendments. Both were brought by Democrats to strike portions of the bill, and after lengthy debate, both were rejected by the Republican majority committee. Democrats were expected to continue bringing a number of similar amendments when the markup continues on the nearly 200 page bill.
The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, and closely resembles similar legislation that the House judiciary committee has advanced in the past and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in his time in the Senate.
The Davis-Oliver Act would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.
The two parties went back and forth on the bill, with Democrats decrying it as demonization of all immigrants, as an increase in mass incarceration and as a promotion of racial profiling and as unconstitutional federal overreach. They noted that local law enforcement in sanctuary cities say their policies are important for victims and witnesses of crimes to feel comfortable coming forward.
But Labrador said the notion that the bill harms public safety is “the most preposterous and outrageous argument I’ve ever heard.”
“For too long we have allowed individuals to enter our country illegally and in many cases do us harm,” he said. “While other reforms are needed, this bill is vital to a long-term fix.”

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