Choosing Between Being a Good American and a Good Father

Posted on 25. Apr, 2017 by .


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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Physical Activity: Health Benefits & the Role of the Built Environment and Air Pollution

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .


pag_02New community design strategies and smart growth principles have the potential to increase exercise and active transportation, but if individuals are walking and bicycling on high-traffic roads, their exposure to air pollution may also be increased. This white paper summarizes the published literature on the health benefits of physical activity, with a specific focus on walking and bicycling for transportation. The paper also examines studies analyzing the combined health effects of increased physical activity and air pollution exposure, finding that in most environments the health benefits outweigh the harms.

(Download the white paper and factsheet)

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Global Reshuffle of Wildlife will have huge Impacts on Humanity

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .


Taken from theguardian.com –

Mass migration of species to cooler climes has profound implications for society, pushing disease-carrying insects, crop pests and crucial pollinators into new areas, says international team of scientists

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 10.55.04 PMGlobal warming is reshuffling the ranges of animals and plants around the world with profound consequences for humanity, according to a major new analysis.

Rising temperatures on land and sea are increasingly forcing species to migrate to cooler climes, pushing disease-carrying insects into new areas, moving the pests that attack crops and shifting the pollinators that fertilise many of them, an international team of scientists has said.

They warn that some movements will damage important industries, such as forestry and tourism, and that tensions are emerging between nations over shifting natural resources, such as fish stocks. The mass migration of species now underway around the planet can also amplify climate change as, for example, darker vegetation grows to replace sun-reflecting snow fields Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 10.55.15 PMin the Arctic.

“Human survival, for urban and rural communities, depends on other life on Earth,” the experts write in their analysis published in the journal Science. “Climate change is impelling a universal redistribution of life on Earth.”

This mass movement of species is the biggest for about 25,000 years, the peak of the last ice age, say the scientists, who represent more than 40 institutions around the world. “The shifts will leave ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in their wake, radically reshaping the pattern of human wellbeing … and potentially leading to substantial conflict,” the team warn. “Human society has yet to appreciate the implications of unprecedented species redistribution for life on Earth, including for human lives.”

Climate change driven by human greenhouse gas emissions is not just increasing temperatures, but also raising sea levels, the acidity of the oceans and making extreme weather such as droughts and floods more frequent. All of these are forcing many species to migrate to survive.

Read more here

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

Posted on 15. Apr, 2017 by .


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.”

Read more here

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Catholic Conference on LGBT Issues for Church Leaders

Posted on 09. Apr, 2017 by .

New Ways Ministry would like you to know about our upcoming Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss:  LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago Illinois.
More information can be found by clicking: here and here 
The weekend-long meeting gathers church leaders, ministers, educators, heads of religious communities of men and women, LGBT persons and their family friends and advocates for a weekend of education and dialogue.   Over 500 diocesan, parish, campus, and religious community personnel are expected to attend.
We hope you will share the information about this event with people in your parish and social networks who are interested in LGBT issues.  It would be great if someone from your community, organization, parish, or school could attend.
Our plenary speakers are
     Lisa Fullam, Associate Professor of Moral Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley;
     Leslie C. Griffin, the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas;
     Rev. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, New York;
      Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda,

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