Archive for January, 2018

U.S. Freezes More Than Half of Aid Funds to UN Palestinian Refugee Agency

Posted on 29. Jan, 2018 by .

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The United States will withhold $65 million from a payment it was scheduled to transfer this month to the UN agency responsible for assisting Palestinian refugees and their descendents in the Middle East, a U.S. official said Tuesday. The U.S. will provide $60 million in aid, amounting to roughly half the planned sum of $125 million.

This payment is the first in a number of sums the U.S. is expected to give United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 2018. The PLO

A U.S. official told Haaretz that, “Without the funds we are providing today, UNRWA operations were at risk of running out of funds and closing down. The funds provided by the United States will prevent that from happening for the immediate future.”

The $65 million held by the United States awaits “future consideration” by the administration, the official added. “There is a need to undertake a fundamental reexamination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded,” he explained.

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Robert Reich’s New Book: The Common Good

Posted on 29. Jan, 2018 by .

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From Robert Reich –

I was at the impressionable age of fourteen when I heard John F. Kennedy urge us to ask not what America can do for us, but what we can do for America.

That was a half century ago. I wish I could say America is a better place now than it was then.

Certainly as individuals, we are as kind and generous as ever. We volunteer in our communities, donate, and help one another. We are a more inclusive society, in that African-Americans, women, and the LGBTQ community have legal rights they didn’t have a half-century ago.

Yet there is a wide and pervasive sense that the system as a whole is no longer working as it should.

In many ways, Donald Trump epitomizes what has gone wrong. But as I hope to make clear, Trump is not the cause. He is a consequence — the logical outcome of what has unfolded over many years.

If we want to fix America, we need an honest discussion about our core values. That’s the conversation that has inspired my new book — “The Common Good” — and it’s a conversation that I hope inspires you as well.

I’m happy to share some good news. You can reserve a copy of “The Common Good” — and support Democracy for America’s critical work to hold Donald Trump accountable and win control of Congress — at the same time. To get your copy, please contribute to DFA today. DEADLINE: January 22

Is there a common good that still binds us together as Americans?

That it’s even necessary to ask shows how far we’ve strayed as a country.

Today, some think we’re connected by the whiteness of our skin, or our adherence to Christianity, or the fact that we were born in the United States. I believe we’re bound together by the ideals and principles we share, and the mutual obligations those principles entail.

My hope is that “The Common Good” provokes a discussion of the good we have had in common, what has happened to it, and what we might do to restore it.

It is a book about what we owe one another as members of the same society — or at least what we did owe one another more than a half century ago when I heard John F. Kennedy’s challenge. It is about the good we once had in common — and, if we are to get back to being a functioning society, must have again.

That’s why Democracy for America is committed to recruiting and supporting the kinds of progressive leaders we need to see more of in Washington — people who are there to serve the people, not just to take a spin through the revolving door and then personally profit from it.

This work is only possible because of DFA members like you who have always been on the front lines of fighting for this common good.

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Baby Jesus was a Dreamer in Egypt

Posted on 21. Jan, 2018 by .

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From religionnews.com –

I feel guilty that I have not written a column on “Dreamers,” those children who were brought illegally into the United States by their parents. The reason I find it difficult to write such a column is that for me the whole idea of deporting Dreamers is so mean and unjust that I find it incomprehensible that anyone would want to do it.

No matter what you think of people coming into the country illegally, one can hardly blame children brought by their parents. And once these children have spent their formative years here, the idea of sending them back to a country they do not remember, with a language they may not know, is spiteful.

It is especially appalling as we conclude the Christmas season to hear Christians denounce amnesty for Dreamers. Did they listen to the Gospels at all during Christmas? Do they not understand that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees fleeing for their lives to take sanctuary in Egypt? Do they not realize that Baby Jesus was a Dreamer in Egypt?

The Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel was simply repeating the experience of the Jewish people who also took refuge in Egypt. The Egyptians, like many Americans today, exploited these immigrants, treating them like slaves and cheating them of their wages.

The Bible is filled with admonitions about treating strangers and aliens justly.

  • “You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:20).  
  • “So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).
  • “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).

Where are the biblical fundamentalists who say that American law should be based on the Bible? Christians, especially those who believe that Scripture should be the foundation of American law, should be leading the charge in support of Dreamers, refugees and other immigrants.

Instead, what we see is too many Christians siding with a president who holds Dreamers hostage for ransom — $18 billion to pay for his wall along the border with Mexico. Legislation to protect Dreamers is urgently needed; a wall is not. Yet, Donald Trump insists that he will not sign a bill protecting Dreamers unless it includes his wall.

Every white person in this country has ancestors who came here as refugees or immigrants. Many were fleeing political or religious persecution, but millions more came because America provided economic opportunities for themselves and their families. Today’s refugees and immigrants are coming for exactly the same reasons. But now the drawbridge is being pulled up by those whose immigrant ancestors arrived earlier.

Shame!

A sign welcomes immigrants and refugees to the Church of the Epiphany Episcopal Anglican Church in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18, 2017. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Some Christian churches have declared themselves sanctuary churches, following an ancient tradition when secular authorities could not invade a church to get an accused person. While churches cannot guarantee sanctuary today, these churches have symbolically placed themselves with the undocumented and not only accompany them when arrested but also financially support their legal defense.

It is time to stop playing politics and start acting like God-fearing people. Otherwise we will hear this on Judgment Day: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was … a stranger and you gave me no welcome” (Matthew 25).

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Take urgent action against nuclear war!

Posted on 21. Jan, 2018 by .

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From the war of words between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to Trump’s decision this Friday whether to renege on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and the looming release in just over a week of the Trump administration’s Nuclear [Weapons] Posture Review, the specter of nuclear weapons and nuclear war casts a fearful shadow across the world. (See a photo, right, of the infamous United States hydrogen bomb “test” blast, code-named “Castle Bravo,” in early March 1954. At 15 Megatons, it was the U.S.’s largest. It devastated the Marshall Islands, and a Japanese fishing fleet downwind, with deadly radioactive fallout.) Please take action! Fill out and submit Win Without War’s web form to your Members of Congress, urging their support for and co-sponsorship of the Markey/Lieu bill (H.R. 669/S. 200), the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.” Learn more at Beyond Nuclear’s Nuclear WeaponsNuclear Proliferation, and Nuclear Winterwebsite sections.

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Is Trump widening a rift between the evangelicals and Mideast Christians?

Posted on 21. Jan, 2018 by .

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When President Donald Trump announced in December he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and call for the U.S. embassy to be moved there, some of his loudest cheerleaders were American evangelicals.

Members of Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisory board were consulted on the decision, evangelical-led groups such as Christians United for Israel advocated for the change, and conservative Christian leaders such as Jack Graham were quick to applaud the move on Twitter.

But the faith-fueled praise overshadowed a possible consequence: Namely, an escalation of simmering tensions between Middle Eastern Christians — especially those living in the occupied Palestinian territories — and American evangelicals seeking to balance hard-line support for Israel with concern for their fellow faithful.

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