1 in 4 San Franciscans struggle with hunger

Posted on 10. Jun, 2017 by .


According to the SF-Marin Food Bank, 23 percent of San Francisco residents struggle with hunger.

The number is a striking amount, and much higher than the city’s homeless population, which the city said was 6,686 in 2015 (though others estimate it to be much higher), making it less than 1 percent of the population.

Food insecurity is an often-misunderstood topic that has been thrust into the national conversation, given the White House’s federal budget proposal that aims to cut the food stamp program by $193 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25 percent. In the Bay Area, staffers at San Francisco’s Human Services Agency recently said that immigrants’ fear of deportation is keeping eligible San Franciscans from signing up for food stamps.

Yet the hunger statistic is supported by data from several sources. Clear definitions do exist, generated by numbers surrounding the poverty line and a city’s cost of living.

“Hunger is the general term related to not having enough food,” said Teri Olle, director of policy and advocacy for SF-Marin Food Bank, a 30-year-old nonprofit that provides free produce and other groceries to 225,000 people in San Francisco annually.

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Franciscans in California step up for refugees in need

Posted on 10. Jun, 2017 by .


Taken from blog.americancatholic.org –

The story of Franciscans housing refugees intertwines the three Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—in stunning harmony. It echoes St. Francis’ experience of Islam. And it offers small steps toward answering the larger question of refugees confronting the United States and the world.

A Refuge of a Different Kind

San Damiano’s red tile roof and white walls surround a courtyard filled with fountains and flowers native to California. It’s easy to see how the place has become an oasis for retreatants seeking prayerful beauty and calm.

But if, as some believe, the retreat business is dying, what’s the future for this and centers like it? Or, as Franciscan Brother Mike Minton, the center’s director from 2015 to 2016, asks, “How do we become something the world needs?”

His community considered several possibilities suited to its mission of being “a Franciscan presence in northern California.” Since 1961, the friars of the St. Barbara Province have made the 55-acre site “a peaceful environment of natural beauty where spiritual renewal and growth may be sought by people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

The friars have sought to build on that foundation.

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Ohio Eliminates Benefits for Undocumented Immigrant Workers

Posted on 02. Jun, 2017 by .


Taken from cleveland.com –

A typically routine workers’ compensation budget bill has generated outrage from Democrats over amendments eliminating benefits for undocumented immigrants and paring back a new law recognizing cancer as an on-the-job illness for firefighters.

The House voted 65-29, along party lines, Wednesday to approve the two-year $566.5 million workers’ compensation budget bill. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Democrats, who were not initially opposed to the bill, said several recent amendments made the legislation too political and dangerous for workers.

Among them:

Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the prohibition on benefits to undocumented workers disincentivizes employers to knowingly hire such workers, which is illegal under federal law. Seitz noted that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for food stamps or unemployment benefits either.

Seitz said it sends the message “we do not want illegal aliens in our workforce sucking on our worker’s comp system.”

Rep. Dan Ramos, a Lorain Democrat, said the move would make workplaces less safe.

“We cannot allow unscrupulous employers to hire people knowing they can cut corners by not paying worker protection premiums for undocumented workers, effectively refusing to take responsibility should those workers suffer an injury on the job,” Ramos said.

The bill also addresses benefits paid to firefighters under the “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act,” named for a fire captain from Beachwood and Willowick, which took effect in April.

Republicans scrapped a proposal to require firefighters to prove they had used their protective equipment properly and added working wage loss the list of benefits available to firefighters disabled due to cancer. But the bill allows a rebuttal of those claims based on scientific evidence and would reduce the time under which the presumption applies from 20 years since active duty to 15 years.

And the bill would shorten the timeframe during which all workers comp claims must be filed from two years to one year.

“This legislation is a massive disservice to hardworking Ohioans because it will leave more workers facing medical hardships and financial ruin should they suffer a workplace injury,” Rep. Emilia Sykes, an Akron Democrat, said in a statement.

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Fact Sheet: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Posted on 24. May, 2017 by .


Taken from armscontrolcenter.org –

The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union that limited the number of ground-based anti-ballistic missile systems and sites that each side could have. Both parties also agreed not to develop sea-based, air-based, or space-based ABM systems. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the treaty was expanded to include Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

The ABM Treaty was signed in May 1972 and entered into force in October of that year. Under the Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union could establish two ABM sites: one to protect the national capitol and one to protect an ICBM launch site. The sites, each of which could have a maximum of 100 interceptors and 100 launchers, were required to be at least 807 miles (1,300 kilometers) apart to prevent the creation of a regional defense zone. The treaty did not limit the number of early warning radars that each country could deploy, but stipulated that future radars be located on the countries’ borders facing outwards.

In 1974, a Protocol to the Treaty was added to limit each side to only one ABM site.

Under the treaty, each member could verify other parties’ compliance using national technical means of verification, such as satellite reconnaissance.

The treaty also created a Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), a forum where each country was represented by a Commissioner, Executive Officer and delegation. The SCC could not impose sanctions or any other repercussions on parties that violated the treaty; instead it served as a forum in which members could raise concerns about other’s compliance. The SCC served as a vital body within which the United States and the Soviet Union remained in communication even when other diplomatic initiatives broke down.

In December 2001, the George W. Bush Administration announced that the United States planned to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. Six months later, the United States officially withdrew from the treaty in order to develop and deploy the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. This was the only time that the United States has withdrawn from a major international arms control treaty. At the time, Russia said that it did not feel threatened by U.S. withdrawal, but called the move “a mistake”.


The ABM Treaty was part of the U.S.-Soviet effort to control the arms race in the 1970s. It was negotiated as part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) that established limits for strategic offensive weapons.

The ABM Treaty codified the U.S.-Russian understanding that offensive weapons and defensive systems are linked. If a country develops an ABM system, an adversary could be incentivized to build more offensive weapons to overwhelm the defensive system. That would lead to an arms race.

Until the United States withdrew from the ABM treaty, it contributed to strategic stability and helped create the dynamic under which further reductions of U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals were possible.

Click here for a printable PDF version.  of this page

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Federation of American Scientists, Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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Federal judges: Is travel ban biased against Muslims?

Posted on 24. May, 2017 by .


800Taken from Associated Press –

Federal judges on Monday peppered a lawyer for President Donald Trump with questions about whether the administration’s travel ban discriminates against Muslims and zeroed in on the president’s campaign statements, the second time in a week the rhetoric has faced judicial scrutiny.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, defending the travel ban, told the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the executive order should be reinstated because it falls well within the president’s authority.

“No one has ever attempted to set aside a law that is neutral on its face and neutral in its operation on the basis of largely campaign trail comments made by a private citizen running for office,” he said.

Further, Wall said the president had backed off the comments he made during the campaign, clarifying that “what he was talking about was Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor or shelter them.”

Neal Katyal, who represented Hawaii, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed disbelief at that argument and said Trump had repeatedly spoken of a Muslim ban during the presidential campaign and after.

“This is a repeated pattern of the president,” Katyal said.

The 9th Circuit panel was hearing arguments over Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation’s refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge’s decision in March that blocked the ban.

Last week, judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to affirm a Maryland judge’s decision putting the ban on ice. They also questioned whether they could consider Trump’s campaign statements, with one judge asking if there was anything other than “willful blindness” that would prevent them from doing so.

Dozens of advocates for refugees and immigrants rallied outside the federal courthouse in Seattle, some carrying “No Ban, No Wall” signs.

Wall’s insistence that the travel ban should be upheld because it is “neutral,” without reference to Islam, drew pointed questions from Judge Richard Paez. An executive order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt that led to the internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II similarly was couched as a necessity for national security and made no reference to residents of Japanese heritage, Paez noted.


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that executive order in a challenge brought by California resident Fred Korematsu. The ruling is now widely considered regrettable.

“Would the Korematsu executive order pass muster under your test today?” Paez grilled Wall.

“No, Judge Paez,” he answered

“Why not? ‘Facially legitimate’ — that’s all you say!” Paez said. “You emphasize ‘facially legitimate.’”

“I want to be very clear about this,” Wall said solemnly. “This case is not Korematsu, and if it were I wouldn’t be standing here and the United States would not be defending it.”

Wall went on to argue that unlike the Korematsu case, Trump’s executive order probably wouldn’t be questioned but for the statements he made as a candidate.

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