Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar

Liturgical Press is sharing an "Advent Calendar for Adults," with excerpts from 2011: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, copyright 2010 by Margaret Silf. Click here to be directed to these short, challenging excerpts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thirty Years Later: We Remember

Thirty years ago, four women were murdered by military death squads in El Salvador. Their names were Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, Maura Clarke, and Dorothy Kazel. Why were they such a threat? Because they worked with the poor. They were beaten, raped, and murdered for this "crime." How far have we come during the 30 years since these murders? Those of us who can remember the time after the murders occurred will recall the attempts to paint these women in a different light, indicating that in some way they were responsible for their murders. We will remember the Carter administration's attempts to halt aid to El Salvador and the pressures President Carter endured because of that. We will remember the Reagan administration's favorable treatment of the Salvadoran military regime. We may remember how those who were critical of President Reagan's favor toward the Salvadoran government were treated. More recently, we remember how the protestors of the SOA at Fort Benning were treated just last month -- arrests of those who took photos, those who were walking to their cars, and those who were well within the designated protest zone (as well as those who partipated in civil disobedience). How far have we come during the 30 years since these murders? We remember how far we still have to go!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What are you doing for Advent?

Thanks to Sister DeSales for sharing the following thought-provoking video from adventconspiracy.org.



E-mail subscribers, click here to watch. Go to adventconspiracy.org for more information.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

News from the SOA Rally

From the SOA Watch: On Saturday, thousands converged at the gates of Ft. Benning, in the annual vigil and rally to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. Over the years since 9/11, under the pretext of "terrorism", it has become increasingly more difficult for activists to engage in non-violent civil disobedience, which has been a cornerstone of our movement. Through fences, increased police presence, FBI pre-rally consulation with local police forces, security cameras, searches and in the past, metal detectors at vigil entrances, those who wish to cross the line into the base have been prevented in doing so.This year, some within our movement decided to accompany federal line crossers to their place of crossing at a different entrance. When activists tried to leave the "free speech zone", they were blocked by police and only allowed to leave via the sidewalk. Many were simply leaving to return to their hotels or homes. When the Puppetistas followed the sidewalk towards the intersection of Victory Drive and Ft. Benning Road, the Columbus police moved in to arrest the Puppetistas, and began to arrest anyone, while also targeting various journalists who were filming the repression. One local man was arrested while taking pictures of the unfolding events.Bail was initially set at up to $5,500 per person, with many people being charged with several misdemeanors. This is still hindering a quick release from jail, and was intended to intimidate activists.Today, Sunday, we remembered the martyrs from across Latin America with our traditional solemn funeral procession, chanting "Presente!" after the names of SOA victims, including recent killings and disappearances in Honduras and Mexico.Two more young people joined the growing list of Prisoners of Conscience, risking extended federal prison time and fines. David Omandi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and Christopher Spicer of the White Rose Catholic Worker of Chicago took their witness to the School of the Americas, after jumping over the first set of barbed-wire fencing at the entrance to the base, and were immediately detained by military police amidst cheers from supporters.Yesterday, Father Louis Vitale (California) and Nancy Smith (New York) delivered their message of solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Latin America after entering the base from the highway ramp. This is the first time crossing the line for Nancy, Christopher and David, and the fourth time for Fr. Louis. They continue to keep the light of truth alive for the history books, so we can look back and see the flowers that grow from the seeds of resistance we plant today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Memoria y Resistencia

From SOAW:

Before we come together for a weekend of celebration and solidarity with workshops, speakers, musicians and more, it is important that we remember why we strategically gather at the gates of Fort Benning.

We gather to resist the growing U.S. militarization of the Americas and to affirm the promotion of a culture of peace. We come to insist that the doors of this School of Assassins close and that doors of peace in the Americas open. As we perceive that the SOA has "jumped the gates" and is multiplying in U.S. military bases, troops, ships and fleets in the Americas, we come to say: NO MAS. We come to build bridges with our compatriots of this UNA SOLA AMERICA.

Take a moment to watch this video:

E-mail subscribers, click here to watch the video if you cannot see it in your e-mail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prayers for SOA/WHINSEC Protesters

Please remember in your prayers all those who will witness at Fort Benning this weekend.

From http://www.soaw.org/:
The United States government has been training terrorists at a camp in Georgia for years - and is still at it. The Fort Benning based School of the Americas (SOA), renamed in 2001 the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” (WHINSEC), has been pumping out assassins, dictators and death squad leaders for the dirty work in Latin America since 1946.

For several years, the Sisters of Christian Charity have participated in the Vigil and Non-Violent Protest to close the SOA. This year will be no exception, as Sisters Janice Boyer, Juliana Miska, Maria Teresa Nguyen and Maria Lan Nguyen will represent us at the gates of Fort Benning. Please pray for them and for all who will attend this event.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Reminder from NRCAT

From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT):

When Scott Brown was elected to be a Senator from Massachusetts after publicly declaring his support for torture, we all thought it was an aberration. On Tuesday, November 2nd, however, we face the possibility of electing not just one, but many new supporters of torture to the U.S. Congress. This would be a catastrophe. YOU CAN help prevent it by going to the polls on Tuesday and casting your ballot for an anti-torture Congress. Your vote alone, however, will not be enough. Please encourage your friends, family, neighbors, and members of your congregation to go the polls as well. Share with them the NRCAT Action Fund Congressional Vote Scorecard which rates all current Members of Congress with respect to their record on torture. Make sure that you check out our Voter Guides to see if we’ve produced one for your state or district. You can make a difference – together we can still elect an anti-torture Congress.Thank you for your help – get out and vote to end torture!

Friday, October 15, 2010

November 1 Communication Shutdown

Social communication is one of the biggest problems for people with autism. On November 1, the world is challenged to see what that is like. "Communication Shutdown" is organizing a global fundraiser for autism, asking folks to do without their social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, for one day -- November 1, 2010. This initiative will raise funds for autism groups in over 40 countries. By shutting down social communications for one day, the group hopes to raise understanding of those who find social communication a problem. Click here for more information.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hate Mail

Increasingly over the past several months, I have received what I can only refer to as hate e-mails directed at Muslims in the United States. In general, these e-mails have either no grain of truth or the grain of truth contained within is microscopic and blown out of proportion to increase the sensationalism of the e-mail.

I have received e-mails announcing a "new" Muslim stamp (which is actually 9 years old), blaming the production of said stamp on President Obama (who was not the U.S. President 9 years ago), and listing all the horrific things that Muslims have done which should scare us into hateful opposition of the stamp.

I have received multiple e-mails asking if a "good" Muslim can be a "good" American. Said e-mail lists the theological, religious political, and other reasons why the answer to that query should be "no." Most of the reasons given are faulty at best, hateful at worst.

In general, when I receive such e-mails my routine is to hit "delete" before I even stoop to opening them. I thought that if I simply ignored the e-mail and refused to forward it, I would be doing the loving thing. However, I realize that in deleting them and not responding to the sender, I am allowing hate to win the day.

So, here's my challenge to all of us:
  1. Refuse to forward such e-mails
  2. Reply to the sender, indicating your feelings about receiving such e-mails
  3. Check out the facts of the e-mail at snopes.com or another reputable site; inform the sender of the facts and include the snopes.com link in your reply
  4. If you are one who forwards such e-mails, stop and think before hitting send: "Do I know this to be true?" "Is this inflammatory?" "Is this loving?"
  5. Make a commitment -- if you MUST forward e-mails -- that you will only forward those that lift others up to a higher place, not those that crush others into the ground
  6. Spend some time each month learning about Islam. Becoming educated might allow some of the fear to dissipate and might allow loving responses to emerge more readily.

Non-violence begins with the little things we do each day. Let's commit to doing the loving things with regard to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Help Make Torture an Issue for Candidates

From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT):

Please help us ensure that your friends, neighbors, and others in your state do not step into the polling booth without first considering their candidates' stance on torture. Here's what you can do:

  • Attend campaign events and question candidates on torture.
  • Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote based on candidates' positions on torture.
  • Arrange for a delegation from your faith group or community to meet with candidates.
  • Speak to reporters about torture.

To help you with these efforts, the NRCAT Action Fund has created a bird-dogging packet that provides advice on how to raise torture as an important topic during this campaign season.


Please, in October, as the crucial November elections approach, use the information and materials in this packet to help ensure that we elect a Congress that opposes torture.


We need your to help elect an anti-torture Congress! Please look through this packet and then take steps to put your candidates on record. Thank you!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blessings for the SOA/WHINSEC Trip




For several years, the Sisters of Christian Charity of both North American provinces have been participating in the vigil and non-violent protest to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, located at Fort Benning, GA. This year, the Eastern Province will be represented by Sister Maria Lan Nguyen and Sister Maria Teresa Nguyen. This past weekend, we commissioned and blessed them, promising our prayerful support as they represent us at Fort Benning in November. These pictures were taken at the commissioning. In the top photo, many of the Sisters who represented us over the years gathered around the banner that is carried at the SOA. The middle photo shows Sister Josita leading the blessing and the lower photo shows Sister Joseph presenting the SCC banner to Sisters Maria Teresa and Maria Lan. Click here for more information.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

What does peace mean?

You'll recall that at the prayer service for the International Day of Peace on September 21, the international Sister-students at Assumption College for Sisters (ACS), Mendham, NJ, were asked to share what peace means to the people of their respective countries. More answers follow:

Kenya
For the people of Kenya, peace means to accept and appreciate one another, despite our differences in culture, tribe and religion. It also means to preserve creation and to use and share the natural resources responsibly.
Indonesia
For the people of Indonesia, peace means to have a decent and good moral life and the freedom to practice their beliefs.
Haiti
To the people of Haiti, peace means finding jobs so that one may provide for their family in order to prevent violence that occurs because of hunger.
Costa Rica
Fro the people of Costa Rica peace means respecting the dignity of the human being and creation by continuing to uphold its heritage of education, family, democracy, stability and peace which began when it abolished the death penalty in 1997 and its armed forces in 1948.
United States
The people of the United States cry for healing not only for country, but for healing in our families and neighborhoods.

What did you do for the International Day of Peace? Feel free to share with us!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Sharings from Peace Day




These photos are from the International Day of Peace prayer service held on September 21 at Assumption College for Sisters (ACS), Mendham, NJ (If subscribers cannot see the photos, click here). Thanks to Sister Joseph and Sister Gerardine for responding to the blog request to share some Peace Day events with us. At ACS, international Sister-students were asked to reflect on "Peace: What does it mean to the people of your country?" Here are some of the answers:
South Africa
Peace for the people of South Africa means living in harmony, accepting one another, black and white, appreciating each other’s culture, traditions, and beliefs.
Tanzania
For the people of Tanzania peace cannot be limited to a mere absence of war; it is the result of an ever-precarious balance of forces. No, peace is something that is built up day after day, in the pursuit of the order intended by God which implies a more perfect form of justice among people. May God grant peace during presidential and parliamentary elections which will be held in Tanzania on October 31, 2010.
Vietnam
For the Vietnamese people, peace is no war, no oppression in religion and in speech and respect for human dignity.
Stay tuned to future blog posts for more answers to "What does peace mean?"

Six Months of Health Care Reform: Get the Word Out!!

Do you know the significance of September 23 this year? It's the day that the first portions of the Affordable Care Act (signed into law six months ago) go into effect. How does this affect you? Do you know? Here are several websites that will help you to answer these questions. Click on healthcare.gov for a very understandable explanation of the changes that go into effect today. Additionally, piconetwork.org is dedicated to community organizing, especially as it pertains to getting the word out about the effect of the changes on lower income populations. Please spread the word. The piconetwork.org site contains posters, door hangers, and fact sheets to help you get the word out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Peace Day!

What are you doing to observe the International Day of Peace today? Reply and let us know. In the meantime, LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sisters of Humility of Mary and "Education for the Earth"

Click here to read an inspiring article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the Sisters of Humility of Mary and "Education for the Earth."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Catholic Week of Action for the DREAM Act

From Justice for Immigrants (USCCB):

Catholic Week of Action for the DREAM Act

Take Action!

Send your Senators and Representatives a message asking them to support the DREAM Act

Background:
If enacted, the DREAM Act would create a pathway through which undocumented immigrant students could obtain conditional permanent residency and, ultimately, American citizenship. Under the legislation, certain students would be eligible for conditional permanent residency if they meet certain criteria, including: entering the United States before age 16; living in the U.S. for at least five continuous years immediately before the bill becomes effective; graduating from high school or gaining admission into an institute of higher education; having "good moral character" and not committed certain crimes; and being younger than 35 when the bill becomes effective. Students must also demonstrate that they have not been under a final order for deportation. After a six year period of conditional permanent residency, these individuals could apply for citizenship if they had continued to demonstrate "good moral character," continued to live in the U.S. , and completed at least two years of higher education or served at least two years in the military.

The DREAM Act has always had strong bipartisan support, and the U.S. Catholic bishops have been long standing supporters of the legislation.

The DREAM Act would make a difference in the lives of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents and now, because of their lack of legal status, face obstacles to their future. By removing such barriers, the DREAM Act permits immigrant students to pursue a promising future through college education or military service. Those benefitting from the DREAM Act are talented, intelligent and dedicated young people who know only the U.S. as their home.

More information about the DREAM Act may be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org/learn-issues.html

While the Justice for Immigrants campaign continues to work for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, JFI is also engaging in the effort to grow more support in Congress for the DREAM Act. Passage of the DREAM Act could provide the momentum needed to advance immigration reform legislation, but we need lawmakers in Washington , DC to act swiftly on the measure. Indeed, a limited number of weeks remain in the current session – which goes through the first week in October and includes a mid-November for a “lame duck” session – as our windows of opportunity to move the DREAM Act, and federal lawmakers will act only if they hear from you.

To promote Congressional action on the DREAM Act, the U.S. Catholic bishops will be sending letters to Capitol Hill expressing their support of the legislation. We urge you to act in accordance with the Bishops by participating in a Catholic Week of Action for the DREAM Act and send the alert below to your Senators and Representative and asking them to co-sponsor or publicly support the DREAM Act.

Click on the “Take Action” button above or go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org to take part in the Catholic Action for the DREAM Act.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Religious Faith, Torture, and our National Soul


Continuing to focus attention on torture, we consider the book by ethicist David Gushee, Religious Faith, Torture, and our National Soul. According to NRCAT, this collection of essays contains insider accounts from people who served in the military during the years of the Bush Administration, as well as those who have been to Guantanamo and represented clients there. It offers probing religious and ethical analysis from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim perspectives. NRCAT suggests using a chapter or two for an adult education class or book group this fall.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

International Presentation Sisters in Pakistan

From the Partnership for Global Justice:

The effect of the flooding will be felt long after the waters abate as the loss of crops will inevitably lead to food shortages in the long term.

Sr. Shamim, based in the community in Risalpur, writes:

"There are about 1,500 flood victims in the school. Office staff members and our workers are doing a great job in looking after them in some ways. It is very hard to see them without their homes. The water went over their houses and there was no other option but to get out of the houses. The military is trying to feed them but it is not possible to give them everything. The water came so quickly that it was impossible for people to take things from their home. Some people came from Nowshera. It was pathetic to see those families who had lost their children as well. The majority of these people had mud houses... It is still raining. We are hoping and praying for the sun to shine."

August 17, From Sr. Josepha Charles, IPBVM in Pakistan: I am sitting in a shop. We are sending some appeals for help for the people in our area. All systems are out of order, no phone, no email etc. The situation is bad. We are in the worst hit area, trying to visit all we can. 210 families have occupied the school.

We have a fund for flood relief and will be sending help directly to our Sisters in Pakistan. If you wish to make a donation to the fund please contact the Presentation Sisters, Main Street, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, Tel +353 45 525335. We are waiting until the flood waters subside in order to see how best to respond. The army is doing a fine job in providing food to some of the flood victims as are the aid agencies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Remembering 9/11: A Song and a Prayer

As we remember 9/11/01, let's also remember that peace begins with each person. Here's a video of the Choirboys singing "Let There be Peace on Earth." (Email subscribers click here for the video.) Please take time to look at the faces of the children. Let this be our prayer:


Here's a prayer from Education for Justice (feel free to share with others):

Prayer for 9/11
The flames and ashes proclaimed our brokenness,
But healing was our challenge and our call,
Our vocation in the Spirit.
We must continue as a human community
To move toward wholeness,
To repair the ravages of hate,
To bring together
Rather than to tear apart.
The open gesture of trust must replace
The clenched fist, the refusal of the other's hand.
Only in building inclusive community
Do we construct a healing truth:
We are all fragile children of God
Needing each other for wholeness.
‐by Jane Deren 8/30/10

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crisis in Pakistan

From the Partnership for Global Justice:

The Medical Mission Sisters
Sister Sylvia Strahler, Medical Mission Sister District Coordinator in Pakistan, reports on the tragic flooding that has impacted missions of people. “Rescue teams have difficulty in getting to the victims because of the heavy rains and gushing waters...there is a great shortage of food, drinking water and medicines,” she writes. Please join with us in prayer for all those affected.

If you wish to help financially, please send your donation specified for: Pakistan Flood Relief to Medical Mission Sisters Development Center, 8400 Pine Road, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Caritas Internationalis in Pakistan

From Caritas Internationalis via Partnership for Global Justice:

The challenges presented by the floods are enormous. Some areas are still inaccessible. The number of people who need help is massive. Prices of food and petrol have shot up as supply has been strangled. Caritas has been providing food, water, shelter, hygiene and cooking items, as well as medical support in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. Caritas is also working with communities to identify infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and irrigation channels, that needs to be rebuilt. By doing this it will reconnect people to markets and other services. As Pakistani’s struggle with the loss of their homes, possessions and livelihoods, their one hope is that the floods will subside bef ore the planting season in September. If farmers are unable to plant because fields are water-logged, this increases the possibility of a hunger crisis brought on by poor crops at harvesting time. To donate online go to: www.CARITAS.org

Saturday, September 4, 2010

CRS in Pakistan

From the Partnership for Global Justice
(Note: This is a vivid portrayal of daily life in Pakistan for families right now. Please take the time to read and pray -- and, perhaps, donate.)

Michelle Neukirchen of Catholic Relief Services tells us:
I just returned from the CRS office in Besham. We've worked in this area of Pakistan continuously since the 2005 earthquake. The purpose of my visit was to support our team as they plan further flood response efforts, especially in the areas of water, infrastructure and hygiene.

The difficulty of moving from one location to another: In one area we visited, the entire length of road connecting villages to the local market was washed away. We hiked from the market to the village, and although it was only three kilometers (less than two miles) away, it took us over two hours to reach the community. We had to climb over boulders and scramble over loose rocks.
It's important that roads are rebuilt in the north as quickly and safely as possible. People had to travel long distances for food and medical care before the floods—now those journeys are more difficult, and may be impossible for someone who is very ill. We also have to remember that some people depend on getting to markets to make a living, so the limited access has become an income issue as well.

Some families are taking shelter in local schools. People do have extended families, so many are staying with relatives. A few families even had leftover materials from the 2005 earthquake, such as tents and tarps, and they were able to grab them before the floodwaters rose.
We saw some women carrying children out walking with their husbands toward the market. Women don't leave the household very often, for cultural reasons, so if you do see a woman walking, it's likely for a serious reason. The biggest impact on women is collecting water. Tap stands are no longer working so they have to collect water further from home, which compromises their privacy. Now families have to work together to access water and other services.

The floods in northern Pakistan were sudden and violent. People had very little time to move to higher ground, and the water cut 100-foot-wide and 40-foot-high gashes out of mountainsides. Water delivery systems, roads, bridges—everything was destroyed by the sudden force of the water. People's land has just vanished. It's not a matter of waiting for waters to recede; their land is gone for good. And we have to think about shelter solutions in the north right away. Winter comes earlier in the north, so aid agencies will need to coordinate with the government to ensure needs for winterized shelters are met before the cold sets in. To donate online go to: CRS.org/Pakistan.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crisis in Pakistan

More information on Pakistan from the Partnership for Global Justice:

From the Dominicans in Pakistan
The present situation of Pakistan caused by floods is the worst one in our history. It is estimated that these floods have caused more damage than all together of the earthquake in Haiti, in Pakistan in 2005 and that of the tsunami.

Our Dominican family is affected. Parts of our houses, church buildings and church compounds have been damaged. In particular the lay Dominicans have also been severely affected by these rains. Their homes have collapsed, crops destroyed and most of their animals killed. I know 30 houses of Dominican laity have collapsed in a village near Faisalabad. There are many more which I am not aware of. They are in grave need of not only to rebuild their homes but also are in need of food, shelter, and medicine.

There is a forecast of more heavy rains and floods. That will certainly bring more misery and suffering to our people. Please pray for us so that we may be able to face these crucial times and all those families which are affected may get some comfort and relief. I will be happy to offer any assistance if any one of you would like to consider helping us in kind or cash for the flood victims have in Pakistan. To contribute to Dominicans efforts in Pakistan, contact fr. James Channan o.p. at jchannan@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crisis in Pakistan

From the Partnership for Global Justice:

Now that the waters are beginning to recede, we are becoming even more aware of the terrible situation that the Pakistan people are faced with from by the heavy monsoon rains and floods. These monsoon rains have caused devastating floods all around the country. According to the UN report 1,600 people have died, 6 million are homeless and about 17 million people are directly affected by these worst floods of our history of the country.

UN officials are raising the alarm for Pakistan’s children and the dangers posed by diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition. Officials warn that 72,000 malnourished children in the flood hit area are at particular high risk.

We are enclosing what have heard from our colleagues, Good Shepherd Sisters, The Dominican Family, Presentation Sisters, Medical Mission Sisters, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas International who are on the ground in Pakistan. All of them are asking our prayers and our assistance. Let us hold all the people of Pakistan in your prayers.

The Good Shepherd Sisters

The Good Shepherd Sisters in Multan are involved in relief work together with the Justice and Peace commission and the Parish; they are trying their best to reach out to the people with the resources they have. Sr. Stella who is part of the ‘caritas’ is presently attending the ‘Lay Partnership’ program. When she returns she hopes to visit the people in the North. Any donations for relief work will be much appreciated. Please continue to pray that the rains will stop and the cry of the people for relief and wellbeing will be heeded to. We count on your prayers and support.

If anyone would like to make donation to the ongoing needs of the people of Pakistan and would like to channel them through Good Shepherd Sisters in Pakistan, please send checks, with note “for Pakistan” to: Sisters of Good Shepherd Notation – “for Pakistan, “ Ms Leela Fernandez, Good Shepherd Provinc ial Center, 25-30 21st Ave, Astoria, NY 11105

(We will post the responses of the Dominican Sisters, Medical Mission Sisters, Presentation Sisters, CRS, and Caritas Internationalis as time goes on. Each will be accompanied by an address for contributions. Stay tuned!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

In today's fast-paced technological age, 20 minutes is a very long time. However, there is a 20-minute video produced by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture that is very well worth the time it will take you to view it. Click here to see the video and to find other information related to the campaign against torture.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NCADP urges messages to Ohio governor

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) has been working to spare the life of Kevin Keith, scheduled to be executed by the state of Ohio on September 15 for the murders of Marichell Chatman, Marchae Chatman and Linda Chatman, but who may be innocent. Click here to send a message to Governor Strickland. Responses from Ohio are particularly encouraged.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aid for Pakistan

Caritas Internationalis (CI) not only gives us an opportunity to support its efforts in Pakistan, but also to view photos and read the blog and related articles. Click here to go to the CI website.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conference Call on Federal Funding for Anti-Trafficking Programs

A message from Humanity United and ATEST:

Please join Humanity United and the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) for a conference call TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010 FROM 3-4:30PM EASTERN for an update on critical anti-trafficking appropriations for fiscal year 2011. The call will provide an update on the current status of anti-trafficking funds in the FY11 Commerce, Justice, Science; State, Foreign Operations; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security appropriations bills.

This call will do four things: 1) provide an update on the current status of the funding bills; 2) tell us what to expect next; 3) tell us what we can do to help ensure we achieve maximum funding to fight human trafficking; and 4) provide plenty of time for Q&A.

The phone number is 866-200-6965 and the passcode is 468853#.

We hope you will join us. Please RSVP to Aryan Rodriguez at arodriguez@humanityunited.org or Cory Smith at csmithhu@gmail.com.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Trafficking and Hotel Chains

You may recall our efforts to encourage hotel chains to take action against human trafficking during the recent soccer World Cup in South Africa. Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) took a real leadership role in these efforts. Here is a follow up from CBIS with some important information about hotel chains that may still require further education and encouragement:


In April, 2010, 300 clients of Christian Brothers Investment Services, faith-based organizations, and socially responsible investors, including members of theInterfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), sent a letter to eight major hotels with chains in South Africa to learn about actions being taken to combat human trafficking and child sexual exploitation in advance of The World Cup. While not responsible for these crimes, hotels can help to stop the use of their facilities for these purposes. We asked the hotels if they were training staff to be observant to signs of human trafficking, working with local authorities to protect victims, encouraging employees to report incidents to hotel management, and publicly reporting to stakeholders on progress.


Thanks to your support, we now have information from all the hotels we contacted. To read CBIS’ full report, go to http://www.cbisonline.com/page.asp?id=1047for a review of hotel responses, policies and programs to address child sexual exploitation. The report’s major findings include:


- Only three of the hotels surveyed have a human rights policy that specifically addresses child protections – Starwood (brands include Westin and Sheraton), Accor (brands include Mercure, Motel6, Formule1, Novotel), and Carlson (brands include Radisson, Country Inns & Suites).


- We were pleased that Hyatt, Accor, Carlson and NH Hoteles took action to address human trafficking and combat child sexual exploitation in South Africa.


- Accor (http://www.accor.com) and Carlson ((http://www.carlson.com) have the most robust and substantive programs and policies to address child sexual exploitation. When evaluating your travel or conference needs, you may want to consider these hotel chains and let them know that you considered their policies on this issue when deciding on a hotel.


- We applaud NH Hoteles, Accor, and Carlson for endorsing the tourism code of conduct against child sex tourism known as The Code (www.thecode.org), to protect children’s rights.


- Best Western, Hyatt, and Hilton do not appear to have programs or policies to combat child sexual exploitation.


A chart summarizing the results and additional analysis is available in our full report online.


Remember, when you stay at a hotel, be sure to give a letter to the front desk to share your concerns about human trafficking. To download the letter, visithttp://www.cbisonline.com/page.asp?id=1017. Please let us know if you have used the letter and if you have taken other steps to encourage hotels to combat human trafficking.


CBIS and members of ICCR will continue to engage hotels about their policies and practices to stop sexual exploitation of children around the globe. We view the commitment of hotel chains to train, report, partner with local authorities, and craft policies as important elements to combat human trafficking and demonstrate corporate responsibility.


Be sure to check CBIS’ SRI Action Center at www.cbisonline.com in the coming months for more ways to become involved and share your concerns. Thank you for your interest in and assistance with improving the social and environmental performance of corporations.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Debt Cancellation

The August 2010 message from Partnership for Global Justice:

It has been 6 months since Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. With your activism, Haiti was able to win full debt cancellation as a first step toward its long road to recovery. On July 21, 2010, the IMF answered our call and fulfilled its pledge to cancel Haiti's remaining debt to the institution. We have heard that debt cancellation was great news, but unfortunately it came years too late. For decades, debt payments took precious money away from investments in the most basic human needs, making the country much more vulnerable to disaster.



Because the issue of debt cancellation will emerge during the September Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, we need to urge the leaders of our countries to incorporate expanded debt cancellation and responsible finance for poor countries into the plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will be presented to the United Nations in September.



As we remember Haiti, we must continue to push our leaders to address the deeper issues that cause so much suffering in Haiti and around the world.

Action:

Write to the leader of your country and encourage him/her to expand debt cancellation in their program for the upcoming MillenniumDevelopment Summit held at the United Nations in September.

President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20500. Email: www.whitehouse.gov go to contact us. Phone: 202-456-1111, FAX: 202-456-2461.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, KIAOA2, CANADA. Email: http://pm.gc.ca go to contact us. FAX: 613-941-6900.

SAMPLE LETTER:


Dear ______________,

I am deeply committed to ending global poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I urge you to take leadership as you plan for the upcoming MDG Review Summit at the United Nations in September to include expanded debt cancellation for impoverished countries and responsible sovereign finance in your plan to achieve the MDGs.

I urge you to support the following policies:

1. Expand debt cancellation for impoverished countries – There are 20 countries, like Kenya and Lesotho, that are struggling to meet the MDGs and could greatly benefit from debt cancellation but have been left out of previous debt cancellation deals.

2. Actively engage in the creation of frameworks for responsible lending and borrowing such as fair and transparent sovereign debt arbitration and curbing predatory vulture fund behavior.

3. Ensure continued World Bank and IMF reform to increase institutional transparency and accountability, and end harmful conditions attached to loans and debt relief.

With the economic crisis and the Millennium Development Goals only five years away, it is a critical moment for our country to play a leading role in the fight against poverty.

Sincerely,


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Immigration

Thanks to Sister DeSales for sending this link to the Sojourners blog, "The Immigration Fight Isn't Over."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Child Nutrition Bill

A message from Catholic Charities USA:

Congress is poised to make significant progress against child hunger and childhood obesity by increasing children's access to important programs. But Congress is running out of legislative calendar days to bring the Child Nutrition Bill to the floor and complete the reauthorization before it expires September 30.

If a Child Nutrition Bill is not passed this summer, millions of children will miss out on improved access to the nutritious food they need to grow and learn. Your voice is needed to demonstrate national support for completing a strong Child Nutrition Bill this year. Please contact your member of Congress today. Click here to take action.

Monday, July 26, 2010

TIP Report

The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for 2010 is available and well worth the time to peruse. For the first time, the US is included in the "tier" placements, which means that the US State Department is holding its own "feet to the fire" for the first time. Click here to view the site that allows you to see interactive maps and videos and to view the TIP Report in pdf format, should you choose to do that.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remember Free Rice?

Remember when we heard about freerice.com and we went to the site a few times a day to work toward donating rice through the UN Food Program? This site is still alive and well! Let's try to remember to click on it at least once a day. It could improve vocabulary or knowledge of geography, or a whole host of things!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blue Planet Project

The "Blue Planet Project" is a global initiative working with partners around the world to achieve the goal of water justice, which is based on the right to water and the principles that water is a public trust and an important part of the common good. Click here to learn more and to send a message to the UN.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ask President Obama to Follow Through on His Pledge

As you may know, the year 2015 is the deadline for the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. So, how are we doing? Probably not as well as we could be. Click here to add your signature to the thousands of others asking President Obama to "make good" on his promise to lead the global effort to attain the MDGs by 2015.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cardin-Lugar Transparency Amendment

Click here to read the press release indicating the passage of the Cardin-Lugar Transparency Amendment. Why is this important? Click here to read the One.org blog explaining this. Essentially, the amendment makes it mandatory for all companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange to disclose what they pay foreign governments for extracting oil and gas or mining gold and diamonds. This helps to shed light on the finances of some of the corrupt governments that receive such payments but do not use the payments to help their people.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Talitha Kum

Those of you who read the blog from Rome already know this . . . Here's an exciting new website -- Talitha Kum, International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons. This brand new website is already rich with information, documents, and a few pieced of multimedia. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, explore Talitha Kum

Monday, June 14, 2010

Human Rights Advocate Sentenced to Six Months in Federal Prison

From the SOA Watch:

Washington, DC resident Michael Walli was one of four human rights advocates who were arrested during the annual November Vigil to close the School of the Americas / Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/ WHINSEC). Michael Walli was sentenced on Monday, June 14, 2010 to six months in federal prison.

During his November arraignment, Michael told judge Malon Faircloth that he would not pay any bail and that he would not voluntarily return for the trial. Michael Walli made good on his promise and Faircloth issued a warrant for Michael's arrest. Federal marshals arrested Michael in March 2010 at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, DC.

Ken Hayes, Father Louis Vitale and Nancy Gwin, the three human rights advocates who were arrested together with Michael Walli, were each sentenced in January 2010 to six months in prison as well - the maximum allowed for the charge of tresspass. The extremely harsh sentences are intended to deter others from following the example of the 'SOAW 4.'

"Those who speak out for justice are facing prison time while SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity," said SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois.

The SOA/WHINSEC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights atrocities and coups, including the El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador and last year's military coup in Honduras. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.

SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHINSEC. In November 2010, thousands will return to the gates of Fort Benning to call for justice and accountability.

Click here to send a message of solidarity to the prisoners.

Click here to visit the School of the Americas Watch website.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reminder: June 26 - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

LCWR Justice and Peace Alert:

June is Torture Awareness Month

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has been calling for a Commission of Inquiry into US sponsored torture post-9/11. A report issued June 7 by Physicians for Human Rights, confirms the need for a Commission of Inquiry. NRCAT also requests sending postcards to Congress asking for a guarantee that ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) has access to detainees held by the United States. Although President Obama issued an executive order to this effect, the guarantee needs to be codified. Further information about both of these actions, as well as a short video, can be found on NRCAT's website: www.nrcat.org <http://www.nrcat.org/> . (On June 26, 1987, the UN Convention AgainstTorture and other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, came into effect. Information about this year's UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture can be found by going to http://www.un.org/events/torture. )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nujood Ali

Thanks to Sister Florita for the suggestion of I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. This is the story of Nujood Ali, the first bride in Yemen to win a divorce. Hailed by Hillary Clinton as "one of the greatest women I have ever seen," Nujood was named a Glamour Woman of the Year in 2008.

In Nujood's words: "I'm a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no."

From the back cover of the book: " Nujood Ali's childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband's hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom -- an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married under the legal age. Nujood's courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family have inspired other young girls in the Middle East to challenge their marriages. Hers is an unforgettable story of tragedy, triumph, and courage."