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Helping College-Bound Native Americans Beat the Odds

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .

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The following is from National Public Radio

Trinidad Quiroz, seated Alaza Loring, black foreground Korin Jones, red Michael Martin, blue ----------------------------- Lloyd Lewis Tania Raphael, glasses Maleena Deer Dan O'Neill-CTI faculty

Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation’s high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they’re the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little or no college counseling at all. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they’ll face on campus. Its director, Carmen Lopez, sat down with NPR to talk about the obstacles that bright, talented Native students face.

You say there’s an implicit bias among college admissions officials who seldom, if ever, deal with Native American students. Is that why you’ve partnered with 50 top-tier institutions, to “educate them” by inviting them to the student retreats?

Something happens when you’re sitting face to face with a teenage Native student and you’re hearing their story.

We give counselors an appreciation for what Native students experience, the inequities they face. Admissions counselors realize, “My gosh, you have only two AP classes you’ve been offered! Your school has never offered any test preparation,” or, “You’re not getting any advising!”

After spending time at one of your retreats, I noticed that you repeatedly told students: “You are desirable. Colleges want you. You’re not a number.” But don’t admissions officers rely heavily on GPA, class ranking and standardized test scores?

I want you to want my students because they’re going to contribute to your institution.

A test score, the GPA, the ranking, are things that an admissions officer doesn’t remember. l’m not just looking for a diamond in the rough or the hard-knock life. They’re not always in crisis. They’re doing beautiful, amazing things. And I want colleges to recognize that.

NativeAmericanCollegeScholarshipsWisconsinCollege Horizons doesn’t just invite low-income students to its retreats. You also pick middle- and upper-income Native kids who attend private schools, and whose parents went to college. Why not just focus on the neediest students?

I don’t think about the socioeconomic mix. I think about it in terms of where they are in their identity development: from first-language speakers living on homelands [reservations] to those who are more assimilated, who don’t have the strongest ties to their community and are still trying to navigate what it means to be native.

So identity development is a crucial part of the College Horizons experience?

ln our families and schools, [Native kids] don’t have these conversations about identity. We don’t talk about it at our dinner table. But in college, that’s what you get questioned on. College Horizons creates a way for them to explore their identity development.

I hear that some Native students are reluctant to check the “Native American” box on college applications. Is that common?

I don’t know. At College Horizons we tell them to check the box. [laughs]

They’re representing nations, representing ethnicities, linguistic groups. They’re a multiracial, multi-tribal nation. They’re beige, brown, black. It’s fair to ask: How can that single box [capture] all of that diversity?

During these retreats, you also ask students to answer three questions: What are your fears about going to college? How will you overcome those fears? And what will you bring to your college campus as a Native student. Why these questions?

l’m prepping them for the blows they’re going to take when they arrive on their college campuses.

native-american-college-student-275So when those cowboy-and-Indian parties in fraternities and sororities happen, when professors call out students to speak on behalf of all Native nations, I hope its no more than a sting, rather than a punch in the gut. I want them to know that other [Native] students have gone through this and that we’ve survived and thrived. That they’re not alone.

As far as partnering with some of the nation’s most selective colleges, aren’t you giving them more credibility than they deserve, especially if their recruitment and enrollment of Native students falls short?

You can’t come to College Horizons as a one-stop shop for your recruitment. There has to be more dedication.

When students ask them, “How many [Native] students do you have on your campus?” the answer is always going to be 0.5 percent. They’re lucky if it’s 1 percent. Its not going to change [overnight]. It’s not.

[But] I think colleges are honest in their diversity initiatives. There’s so much we have to do to get the best and the brightest in Indian country. We’re talking about a population that is so underrepresented and so underserved

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TPP: Fight for the Future

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .

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The following is from Fight for the Future

Leaders_of_TPP_member_statesThe TPP is a secretive pact between the US and 11 other countries that would give multinational corporations new powers to override national sovereignty and violate people’s rights. Congress and President Obama are trying to pass it during the post-election “lame duck” session.

Its supporters call it a “free trade” proposal, but only 5 of the TPP’s 29 chapters actually deal with trade issues. The rest of the 5,544-page text is packed with special-interest handouts and new ways for multinationals to challenge democratically-passed policies.

At the heart of the TPP is the creation of a new tribunal system that multinational corporations could use to win taxpayer-funded compensation from TPP countries that pass laws or regulations that they believe would limit their potential for profits. These tribunals would be decided by private lawyers who would be allowed to rotate between serving as arbitration judges and working as advisors to the corporations bringing the cases to the tribunal.

And then there are the thousands of pages of provisions straight from the wish lists of special interests that weren’t able to get their policies passed through the regular legislative process. These provisions threaten good-paying jobs, Internet freedom,access to medicine, environmental protections, and much more.

For example, copyright notice-and-takedown procedures similar to SOPA, the web censorship bill that was defeated by the historic Internet blackout protest, has been resurrected in the TPP. Other “zombie” proposals in the TPP include limits on competition for pharmaceutical companies, increased fracking through automatic approval of gas exports, and lower food safety standards in the US by allowing big food companies to import meat and seafood from countries with lenient inspection practices.


The TPP was written in secret by hundreds of corporate lobbyists and government officials. No public-interest groups, academics, or policy experts without industry ties were allowed to view the working text or participate in the negotiating process.

The skids have already been greased for it to pass Congress quickly. Last June the Senate and House apporved “fast track” legislation that restricts their ability to fully debate and offer amendments to the TPP text. Not surprisingly, the representatives who voted to approve this “fast track” procedure received, on average, $234,000 more in campaign contributions from interests that support the TPP than the representatives who voted against “fast track.”

The people working on the TPP say they needed to keep the details secret (from everyone except the lobbyists and political donors that were let in) to keep from undercutting the negotiations. We get that. But if striking a deal requires undermining national sovereignty in 12 countries and giving special interests all of the pet policies they couldn’t pass through the regular lawmaking process, we don’t want it.

Further links:

[1] http://www.msfaccess.org/spotlight-on/trans-pacific-partnership-agreement

[2] http://www.sierraclub.org/trade/trans-pacific-partnership

[3] http://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/02/03/tpp-problematic-partnership/

[4] http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2015/11/07/how-the-tpp-harms-jobs-the-environment/

[5] https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National Office/2016/06/Foreign_Investor_Protections_TPP.pdf

[6] http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/obama-congress-trade-warning-226952

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Feast of St. Francis Program Guide

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .

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Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12.45.42 PMThe Feast of St. Francis (FOSF) honors the patron saint of those who promote ecology. St. Francis of Assisi saw God in the poor and sick, praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God, became a peacemaker and a bridge builder at the time of the Crusades, and is the saint from whom Pope Francis took his name.

In the spirit of St. Francis, this year’s FOSF programs focuses on the theme “Dial Down the Heat: Cultivate the Common Good for our Common Home.”

The Catholic Climate Covenant provided us with a guide to host a program for the Feast of St. Francis. The program guide includes:

  • Facilitator’s guide and power-point presentation
  • Prayers
  • Short video with discussion questions
  • Suggested activities
  • Advocacy activities
  • Resources
  • And much more.

Click here to access the program guide!

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A Unified West Coast

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .

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The following is from YES! Magazine:

gupta-01REX PARRIS, THE THREE-TERM REPUBLICAN MAYOR of Lancaster, California, is no squishy liberal. “I believe when you walk out the door of your home, you should be safe. I think capitalism is the best economic system we have available, and the United States should have the strongest military in the world.”

But when it comes to climate change, Parris calls it “the greatest threat facing the human race since the beginning of time.” He’s a rarity in a party in which nearly all presidential candidates in the 2016 race denied the existence of man-made climate change or the need to halt fossil-fuel production.

Parris has broken ranks with the denialists by signing a “no new fossil fuels infrastructure” pledge. Prior to the Paris climate summit in December, a dozen mayors from Santa Barbara, California, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and more than 20 other elected officials endorsed a prohibition on exporting oil, coal, and natural gas through the region. The pledge is inspired by a resolution passed by the city of Portland, Oregon, in November that relies on local powers over public safety, health, and land zoning to obstruct the siting of fossil fuel export terminals.

A coalition of environmental, labor, faith-based, and indigenous communities backed that resolution and a second one aimed at preventing oil trains from passing through Portland. Daphne Wysham, a coordinator with the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, says that after the resolutions passed, she initiated the pledge to help spread the anti-fossil-fuel movement along the West Coast.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales championed the resolutions alongside City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. The measures are designed not to encroach on federal powers to regulate interstate commerce, which prevents states and cities from banning the transport of fossil fuels outright. Hales says once they are translated into land use code, “if a company wants to open a new terminal for exporting oil or compressed natural gas or propane or, even worse, coal, the answer is going to be, ‘No, that’s not a permitted use in industrial and commercial zones in Portland.’”

It’s one sign of how the West Coast is leading the fight against global warming even as many countries lag behind. The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington and the premier of British Columbia launched the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) toward that end in 2008. Recently the PCC released an Action Plan on Climate and Energy to green the region’s economy by prioritizing solar and wind power, low-carbon transportation, and energy efficiency. With 54 million people and $3 trillion in gross domestic product, effectively the fifth-largest economy in the world, the Pacific Coast has the might to reshape the U.S. economy.

First Nations and environmental activists in the Pacific Northwest have spun a web of resistance by delaying oil refining equipment headed to Alberta tar sands, occupying lands slated for pipelines, locking down rail lines carrying coal trains, and skirmishing on the water with drill rigs headed for the Arctic.

The anti-fossil-fuel movement comes at a crucial time. Despite the historic Paris accord on climate change signed by 196 nations, some nations are still on a hydrocarbon binge. Canada is allowing for a 43 percent rise in tar sands production, India said it would double coal production, and the U.S. Congress lifted a 40-year-old ban on the export of domestic fossil fuels, which is expected to boost mining and fracking over time.

Oil and gas companies have been eyeing the West Coast as the gateway to Asia, with plans to lace the region with more than two dozen natural-gas pipelines, oil terminals, and coal depots. Cities reliant on heavy industry or desperate for jobs, like Washington’s Tacoma and Kalama, are green-lighting projects like methanol plants, and Coos Bay, Oregon, is banking on employment from a natural-gas pipeline snaking 230 miles through the Cascade Mountains.

Joseph Lowndes, an associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon, who studies U.S. politics and social movements, says, “The fossil fuel industry has enormous resources. They have staying power.” He says energy companies promise struggling cities that “[they’ll] make money quickly. People are willing to buy it because they feel vulnerable.”

If all else fails, many predict, the oil industry will try to bulldoze opponents. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), funded by oil giants like ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, is notorious for rejecting climate change science while pushing pro-oil policies at the state level. Now that Asian markets are open to U.S. energy production, Hales says he is “very concerned about ALEC throwing money around to influence cities” as well. In California, a tidal wave of oil lobbying and money — $10.7 million in three months alone — sank Governor Jerry Brown’s bill to halve oil consumption in vehicles by 2030. Around the same time, Washington state’s plan for a carbon tax was likewise shredded by a buzzsaw of oil-funded opposition.

But First Nations and environmental activists in the Pacific Northwest have spun a web of resistance by delaying oil refining equipment headed to Alberta tar sands, occupying lands slated for pipelines, locking down rail lines carrying coal trains, and skirmishing on the water with drill rigs headed for the Arctic.

Climate change: the greatest threat facing the human race since the beginning of time.
—Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, California

mckibben-02Patient organizing can thwart the energy industry at the local level. Richmond, California, is home to a Chevron refinery that exploded in 2012, sending more than 15,000 people to hospitals for respiratory ailments. The current mayor, Tom Butt, and three allies swept to victory in 2014 despite being outspent 20-to-1 by Chevron. Mayor Butt, who signed the “no new fossil fuels infrastructure” pledge along with predecessor Gayle McLaughlin, says Chevron has “a long history of controlling the city council.”

Because the energy industry can successfully pit jobs against climate justice, Hales says, the West Coast must go beyond the “thou shalt not” pledge.

Cities and states are taking action, sometimes reluctantly. Under threat of lawsuits from environmentalists, San Diego passed a plan for 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Parris claims Lancaster will be the first “net-zero city in the world.” Butt says Richmond is shifting consumers to electricity that is 56 percent renewable, and less than 20 percent of residences are opting out. Hales says cities could combine purchasing power to convince manufacturers to develop electric trucks for municipal services, transforming the overall car market.

PCC partners envision turning Interstate 5, which connects Baja California to British Columbia, into a “West Coast Green Highway” through alternative fuels and 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California’s roadways by 2025. Utilities serving PCC states and Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho are studying how to integrate their power grids so sun-powered electrons from California or wind-powered ones from Wyoming can zip to states dependent on coal-fired electricity. The PCC is also pushing for a high-speed rail network, with work underway on the $68 billion section between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Although important, these plans are first steps. Physics does not care about our promises and pledges. Many scientists say the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to avoid disaster, but elected officials say they have little power to directly affect the private sector. Plans rely on market mechanisms involving taxation or zoning to encourage low-carbon solutions. Proposals include cap and trade for carbon pollution, backed by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and a fee on carbon in Oregon that would be returned to households and businesses. California’s cap-and-trade program went into effect in 2012, but critics slam it for rewarding polluters by providing free emission allowances to utilities that they can sell. Distributing carbon taxes is a mixed bag as well because it deprives local governments of funding for new jobs, aid to hard-hit communities, and adaptation of industry needed in a post-carbon future.

Wysham advocates measures such as requiring energy companies to purchase “climate-risk bonds,” which would factor in all the social costs of greenhouse gases. Making polluters pay upfront for the damage they create would render fossil fuels uneconomical.

It’s the type of bold move the West Coast needs on the road to a low-carbon future. Governors, legislators, and mayors will have to wrest the steering wheel from energy companies to prevent heading into the worst-case climate change scenarios.

Lowndes says the crucial missing element is “a broad campaign and direct action that can draw reformists and radicals into a coalition that can win the public to its side.” One model, he says, is the anti-nuclear-power campaign of the 1970s, which “stopped 150 plants that were set to go online.” If people power can be combined with elected power, then it could finally be lights out for the fossil-fuel era.

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Syrian Crisis Charity Navigator

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .

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The following is from Charity Navigator:

syria-3-580As the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that it now represents the largest displacement crisis in the world, with over half the population forced out of their homes. Of the 13.5 million people requiring humanitarian aid, 4.3 million live as refugees in nearby countries — including Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — while another 6.5 million remain inside Syria. Nearly half the people affected by the conflict — 5.6 million — are children. The Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war depend upon humanitarian aid for food, clothing and shelter. The highly-rated charities listed here are providing these services and more (such as medical assistance and schooling for children).

Be sure to consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish and to find a charity offering that specific type of aid. To do that, simply click on the charity’s name and view its rating page (where you can learn about its Financial Health, Accountability & Transparency). Once you are satisfied with its rating, then you can go to the charity’s website (we link to each charity’s site from its ratings page) to learn more specifically about the type of assistance the charity is providing in relation to the Syrian crisis.

Snapshot of the Crisis

13.5 million   People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
5.6 million   Children Affected by the Crisis in Syria
6.5 million   Internally Displaced Persons in Syria
4.3 million   Syrians Displaced to Neighboring Countries

Data Source: UN OCHA

The requirements for this featured list of charities are as follows:

1. The charity has been rated by Charity Navigator, currently has a 3-star or 4-star rating, and is not on Charity Navigator’s Watchlist.
2. The charity’s website includes a description of the planned response and type of relief it is or will be providing (direct services, funding other organizations, etc.).
3. The charity’s website provides clear instructions for how donors can designate their gift to this specific crisis.
4. The charity’s website does not state that a portion of designated donations will be used elsewhere (for future crises, for a different program, etc.).

Charities
American Refugee Committee  
Catholic Relief Services  
Global Hope Network International  
Helping Hand for Relief and Development  
International Rescue Committee  
Islamic Relief USA  
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development  
Oxfam America  
Palestine Children’s Relief Fund  
United States Fund for UNICEF

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