Helping Poor And Migrants Is ‘Equally Sacred’ As Fighting Abortion

Pope Francis: Helping Poor And Migrants Is ‘Equally Sacred’ As Fighting Abortion

Pope Francis issued a scathing rebuke of Catholics who prioritize some church laws and doctrines ― including those condemning abortion ― over fighting for the poor and the oppressed.

In an apostolic exhortation released Monday, Francis lamented that some Catholics think of protecting many marginalized groups as a secondary or superficial issue. The pontiff said that while efforts to restrict abortion are crucial, it’s just as important for members of his flock to fight for the rights of the “already born.”

Francis wrote in his exhortation, “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”

Read the entire article here.

At the Crossroads of Church and Race

At the Crossroads of Church and Race
The Gateway Church in the Dallas-Forth Worth area is one of the largest churches in the country.
The Gateway Church in the Dallas-Forth Worth area is one of the largest churches in the country. Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times
Campbell Robertson

Campbell Robertson

I grew up in a little Baptist church in small-town Alabama. The Baptist part is inherited, like baldness or dimples: Both of my grandfathers and three of my uncles were Baptist preachers, and my parents met as graduate students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Genes aside, the church — plastic chairs, pilling carpet and grape juice for communion — was the organizing institution of my childhood, where I met my closest friends and most of the significant adults in my life.
Church attendance has been in generational decline. I began calling around, exploring whether people in small towns were looking for community elsewhere and, with the white nationalist rallies so often in the news, whether young white people were looking for meaning in the grim sanctuaries of the alt-right.
But I kept hearing about something different. Pastors, theologians and sociologists were talking of how black worshipers were leaving white-majority churches. They were leaving quietly and not en masse, a family here, a single person there. But it was happening everywhere, a movement large enough for some to see the unraveling of decades of efforts at racial reconciliation. Read the rest of the article HERE.

 

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A Return to Debtors’ Prisons

Image result for debtors prison in america

A return to debtors’ prisons: Jeff Sessions’ war on the poor

One day after President Donald Trump invited Republican lawmakers to the White House to celebrate the historic tax cuts they passed for corporations and wealthy business leaders, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, quietly reinstated a draconian policy that effectively serves as a regressive tax on America’s poorest people.  The Supreme Court has affirmed the unconstitutionality of jailing those too poor to pay debts on three different occasions in the last century, finding that the 14th Amendment prohibits incarceration for non-payment of exorbitant court-imposed fines or fees without an assessment of a person’s ability to pay and alternatives for those who cannot. “Punishing a person for his poverty” is illegal, the Court said. Yet in recent years the modern-day equivalent of debtors’ prisons have returned, as cities have grown to rely on a punishing regime of fines and fees imposed on their own residents as a major stream of revenue.  Read more here and here and here.

28 Days, 28 Films

28 Days, 28 Films for Black History Month

IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A YEAR since Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight” won the Oscar for best picture. This awards season, Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and Dee Rees’s “Mudbound” have received multiple nominations and accolades, optimistic signs that black filmmakers are receiving more opportunities in the movie industry. Soon these titles will be joined by two of the most anticipated releases of the year: Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” the first Marvel superhero movie from a black director, and Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” the first movie with a $100 million budget directed by a black woman.

The critical and box-office success of “Get Out” and the very existence of big-studio productions like “Black Panther” are good reasons to revisit the remarkable, complex story of black filmmaking in America. For Black History Month, we have selected 28 essential films from the 20th century pertaining to African-American experiences. These aren’t the 28 essential black-themed films, but a calendar of suggested viewing. We imposed a chronological cutoff in an effort to look back at where we were and how we got to here.

BTW: Passing Marvel stablemate Guardians Of The Galaxy on Thursday globally, Black Panther has lifted its worldwide cumulative audience to $780.3M. The breakdown through March 1 is $435.4M domestic and $344.9M at the international box office.

Opioids, Heroin, and Death

Opioids, Heroin, and Death

Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1  Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. IN 2016, approximately 54,000 people died from opioid overdoses. That’s more than all the Americans who died in the Vietnam War, more than people killed because of gun violence, car crashes or from HIV/AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic.  In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident/ A majority of these deaths are linked to overdose of prescription opioid painkillers. According to 2013 CDC report, the Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug induced mortality is 16.4 per 100,000 population compared to the nation rate of 14.6.

  • Listen to a very interesting interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross here.
  • Read about increases in drug and opioid-involved overdose deaths in the USA between 2010 – 2015   here.
  • Read about what we’re doing in CT  here.

Women and Mass Incarceration

Women’s mass incarceration gets Whole Pie analysis

by Aleks Kajstura

With 219,000 women locked up in facilities operated by thousands of agencies, getting the big picture is anything but easy. In our new report, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017, we use our “whole pie” approach to give the public and policymakers the foundation to end mass incarceration without leaving women behind.

pie chart showing the number of women locked up on a given day in the United States by facility type and the underlying offense using the newest data available in 2017

Our new report details, for the first time, the number of women who are locked up by various correctional systems and why. Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017, released jointly by the Prison Policy Initiative and the ACLUs Campaign for Smart Justice, is a first look at where women fall within our decentralized and overlapping systems of mass incarceration.

 

Environmental Racism Is the New Jim Crow

 7 videos   Video by The Atlantic

African Americans face disproportionate rates of lead poisoning, asthma, and environmental harm. Staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II argues that discrimination in public planning is to blame. “Pollution and the risk of disaster are assigned to black and brown communities through generations of discrimination and political neglect,” says Newkirk II. The environment is a system controlled and designed by people—“and people can be racist.”

Watch the videos here.

Another “she persisted” moment?

Another “she persisted” moment?

GOP panel chairman scolds Kamala Harris about ‘courtesy’ after she grills deputy AG on Russia probe

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was scolded by a Republican committee chairman Wednesday as she grilled law enforcement and intelligence officials on the Russia probe.

The California Democrat sought assurances from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that he would allow special counsel Robert Mueller to fully and independently investigate possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

“You indicated in your statement that you chose a person who exercises a ‘degree’ of independence — not full independence — from the normal chain of command,” Harris said.

Then Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) broke in and asked the committee chairman to direct Harris to let Rosenstein speak.

“Are you willing or are you not willing to give him the authority to be fully independent of your ability, statutorily and legally, to fire him?” Harris said. “Yes or no, sir?”

Rosenstein said regulations gave Mueller full independence, and Harris again asked if he could give his assurance in writing, as his predecessors had — and the committee chairman interrupted her.

“Would the senator suspend?” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The chair is going to exercise its right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and the committee is on notice to provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all of the way across, the courtesy for questions to get answered.”

Harris pointed out that Rosenstein had joked about his ability to filibuster, and the deputy attorney general interjected to say he had not been joking.

Rosenstein then gave a lengthy answer, as Harris’s time for questions ran out, without offering explicit testimony that he would offer written assurance of Mueller’s independence.

“So is that a no?” Harris said, as the chairman called on the next senator for questioning.

Photo: Sen. Kamala Harris (MSNBC)