Category Archives: USA

Calling Promotion Betrayal of Planet, Groups Denounce Schumer for Giving ‘Fossil Fuel Servant’ Joe Manchin Top Spot on Energy Committee.

“Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action.”

Energy photo“This is the wrong choice at the wrong time for the Democrats,” said David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change USA. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer

At a time when people throughout the U.S. and around the world are rallying behind bold solutions to the climate crisis and urgently warning that there is no time to waste, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided late Tuesday to betray his constituents and the planet, groups warned, by promoting “fossil fuel servant” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to the top Democratic spot on the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Schumer is out of touch with the progressive voters who will continue to push for a Green New Deal in the next Congress.”
—Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth

“Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action,” May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. “Manchin has taken every opportunity to put Big Oil before the health and safety of communities and our climate.”

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, argued that the appointment of the pro-coal West Virginia senator to a top Energy Committee slot is a “stark failure of Chuck Schumer’s leadership” in the midst of dire scientific warnings that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2040 to avert planetary catastrophe.

“Schumer is out of touch with the progressive voters who will continue to push for a Green New Deal in the next Congress,” Pica declared, alluding to the demonstrators who have flooded the halls of Congress and faced mass arrests in recent weeks to pressure lawmakers to support ambitious climate solutions.
The West Virginia senator’s promotion—which was ratified Tuesday evening by members of the Senate Democratic caucus—came amid a wave of opposition from environmental groups, who adopted an “anyone but Manchin” stance in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s announcement.

“Not even this foolish decision can stop the groundswell of momentum that’s building for a Green New Deal.”
—May Boeve, 350.org

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who is pushing for the formation of a Green New Deal Select Committee in the House—joined progressive advocacy groups in warning against the appointment of Manchin, who has raked in over $156,000 in campaign cash from the fossil fuel industry in 2018, and is reportedly still profiting from a coal brokerage company he helped run before entering politics.

“I have concerns over the senator’s chairmanship just because I do not believe that we should be financed by the industries that we are supposed to be legislating and regulating and touching with our legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a press conference on the Green New Deal last month.

While corporate media outlets worked hard to blame Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—currently the ranking member on the powerful Senate Budget Committee—for not abandoning his post to block Manchin, commentators were quick to note that Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) all have seniority over Manchin and could have taken the seat, but chose not to.

Ultimately, progressives placed the blame squarely on Schumer for refusing to heed grassroots demands to appoint a climate leader over a fossil fuel puppet.

“This is the wrong choice at the wrong time for the Democrats,” said David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change USA. “Senator Schumer has failed in finding a ranking member for this committee that truly understands that the climate crisis requires us to take on the fossil fuel industry, not cater to its demands.”

While dismayed by Manchin’s promotion, Boeve of 350.org expressed confidence that “not even this foolish decision can stop the groundswell of momentum that’s building for a Green New Deal.”

“With the leadership of communities and support from truly progressive members of Congress,” she concluded, “we’ll fight tooth and nail for climate policy that transitions us off fossil fuels to a 100 percent renewable energy economy.”

 

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/12/calling-promotion-betrayal-planet-groups-denounce-schumer-giving-fossil-fuel-servant

 

Suicide, drug overdose rates bring US life expectancy down

Lethal_injection

Credit: Oleksandr Lysenko/Shutterstock.

Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News).- The suicide rate in the United States is at its highest in at least 50 years, and is contributing to a decrease in the nation’s life expectancy, the federal government said Thursday.
Life expectancy for the U.S. population declined to 78.6 in 2017, down from 78.7 the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report.

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” said CDC director Robert Redfield in a Nov. 29 statement.

The United States saw more than 47,000 suicides in 2017, an increase of more than 2,000 from the previous year.

In addition, there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths last year, a 10 percent rise from 2016. Deaths from heroin and prescription opioids remained steady from the previous year, while fentanyl deaths drastically increased.

Other findings in the CDC report included an increase in gun deaths, totaling almost 40,000. Deaths from heart disease – the top killer in the U.S. – are no longer declining, while deaths from flu and pneumonia increased by 6 percent.

While U.S. life expectancy had been rising for decades, the country is now seeing its longest period of generally declining life expectancy since World War I, according to the Associated Press.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/suicide-drug-overdose-rates-bring-us-life-expectancy-down-52239

 

 

Hurricane in Panama City

St_John_Parish_FloridaPrayer garden damaged by Hurricane Michael at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Panama City, Fla. Courtesy photo.

How a Panama City parish is helping after Hurricane Michael

By Perry West
Panama City, Fla., Oct 19, 2018 (CNA).- This is the story of a hurricane. Or, at least, the story of one Catholic parish trying to help, in the wake of one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in decades.

Hurricane Michael made landfall in northwest Florida Oct. 10. The hurricane has claimed 50 lives in the U.S. and Central America, caused an estimated $8 billion in damage, and displaced thousands of people.

After Hurricane Michael overwhelmed local hospitals, St. John the Evangelist parish in Panama City has become a hub for medical services and emergency supplies.

Father Kevin McQuone, pastor of St. John Evangelist Catholic Church, told CNA that many of his parishioners’ homes are damaged and that some areas are still without power.

“Many people have lost part or all of their home. Many people [who] are displaced are looking for other places to live,” McQuone said. “A handful, I have been informed have moved on, they have lost their jobs because their business were destroyed so they have already found other jobs and moved permanently.”

St. John’s parish school has been heavily damaged, he said. The roof for the middle school building was ripped off and other school buildings have severe water damage. The priest said the school has set up a satellite campus at another parish.

He said two local hospitals in the Panama City have nearly shut down completely aside from their emergency rooms. The hurricane, he said, also destroyed a medical warehouse, which held all of the hospital’s sterile supplies.

The parish has stepped up to offer basic medical supplies and help, relying on Catholic Charities and volunteer medical professionals.

“Bringing in any sort of triage or medical clinic is welcome just to help the whole community to get the care that they need,” he said.

“We also have a mobile medical clinic that was here for part of the day yesterday and was here today as well,” he said. “Next week, we will have a group of 8-12 doctors from around the country who volunteer, and they will be here for a whole week.”

He said people have come in for basic medical help, like tetanus shots. While patients are there, they can also receive supplies – water, toiletries, and food.

The priest said a majority of the aid has been provided and organized by Catholic Charities. Noting that the Catholic population in Florida’s panhandle is only about five percent, he said the parish is helping an entire community, many of whom might have otherwise not visited a Catholic Church.

“Catholic Charities has been really great,” he said. “Immediately, we have been in connection with them. They have been sending people our way and helping us to be of service not just to our parishioners, but really to the whole community. By and large, the far majority of people that we have been serving here I’ve never met before.”

Father McQuone said that more volunteers are still needed in the area.

“Jesus told us to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” he said.

For people in distress, we are “doing all we can to serve the needs of their body and the need of their soul – by prayer and by sacrificial giving.”

Hiroshima survivor in Lowell to honor POWs killed in blast (VIDEO)

by Alana Melanson
May 28, 2018
Lowell Sun

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPdmy6QEoUg?rel=0&w=560&h=315 ]

LOWELL — Shigeaki Mori was only 8 years old when the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the final weeks of World War II.

At the time of the blast, he was only 2 1/2 kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion, he said at a Memorial Day ceremony in Centralville Monday morning.

“Luckily, I was on the bridge on the way to the school, and I was blown into the river,” Mori, 81, said in Japanese, translated to English by “Paper Lanterns” documentary producer Nobuko Saito Cleary.

Mori wasn’t hurt. His wife, Kayoko Mori, was about 4 kilometers from the blast, and suffered a permanent hip injury, he said.

Shigeaki Mori could have hated the U.S. for dropping the bomb and the lasting effects it had on the Japanese people.

Shigeaki Mori and Nobuko Saito Cleary _Special-Visit1-by Scot Landon SUN
Mr. Shigeaki Mori with Mrs. Nobuko Saito Cleary (Translator) SUN/Scott Landon

Instead, Mori “transcended the enmity of war” between the countries and reached “across the battle lines to honor the memory of the Americans, the so-called enemies, who were killed in Hiroshima,” said Japan Society of Boston President Peter Grilli.

“It’s a story that we should all keep in our hearts, because it’s a story of a kind of love and humanity that unites us all,” Grilli said.

“Paper Lanterns,” directed by Billerica native Barry Frechette and Max Esposito, follows the stories of the 12 American prisoners of war who died at Hiroshima — with a focus on Lowell native Normand Brissette and Kentucky native Ralph Neal — and the decades of efforts Mori undertook to honor them.

Frechette said Mori was the thread that brought it all together, bringing a voice to those who no longer had one.

12 Hiroshima POWs - Monument for Normand Brissette of Lowell, MA
Photo: Barbara Poole, May 24, 2018 (google images)

Mori — who is traveling around the U.S. with the film team for a series of events, flanked by several major Japanese media outlets — came to Lowell to participate in the unveiling of a new monument in memory of the 12 U.S. Army Air Force and U.S. Navy airmen at the Centralville Veterans Park on Ennell Street. The men either died in the blast or in the following days due to radiation.

“They were truly patriots who fought and sacrificed their lives for their country. I am here now because I want the people of the United States to know about the men,” Mori said to a standing ovation.

Mori researched the aftermath of the bombing, double-checked official histories with contemporary newspaper reports and conducted his own interviews with fellow survivors, said Mayor William Samaras.

“He spent 40 years researching the American POWs, searching through thousands of boxes of records and placing hundreds of long-distance phone calls in hopes of contacting next of kin in America,” Samaras said. “Mr. Mori sought to not only share their stories but also have them recognized as victims by the Hiroshima Peace Museum.”

Through his dedicated work to honor and preserve the memories of the American soldiers, in 1999 Mori finally got his wish for a memorial plaque at the site of the military detention center where they’d been held.

“From their families, we thank you for something you never had to do, but you did it out of your heart,” said City Councilor Rita Mercier. “We’re very, very grateful and we love you.”

Rokuichiro Michii, consul general of Japan in New England, said Mori’s tireless effort has helped to tell “a very important and human story” of so many affected by the bombing.

“Thanks to Mr. Mori and his work, a newfound sense of compassion has been born,” Michii said. “This has helped to bring people together, for the past in order to look toward the future.”

Brissette’s niece, Susan Brissette-Archinski, of Dracut, visited Japan three years ago during the making of the documentary and said it was an experience every American should have once in their life. She called Mori “a wonderful man” and said she was happy he could come to the U.S. and be honored for the work he spent half of his life undertaking.

Neal’s nephew — also named Ralph Neal — traveled from Memphis, Tenn., to participate in Monday’s ceremony.

“He’s made the story known,” the younger Neal said of Mori. “Our mission now as a family is to keep it going, to tell the story, that we don’t do it again.”

He and Christopher Golden presented Mori with the gift of an American flag.

The event, emceed by Joe Dussault, park director of operations, also served to honor all veterans who gave their lives in service.

“They fought for their country, they died honorably, and they will never, ever be forgotten, for they gave us their tomorrows for today,” said Bernie Lemoine, president of the memorial committee.

Lemoine asked attendees to keep in their prayers Brissette’s sister, Connie Brissette-Provencher, who died Saturday.

Mori was presented with citations from Samaras, state Rep. Tom Golden and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, who also provided citations for the Brissette and Neal families. Samaras also presented Mori with the key to the city.

Mori was visibly moved as Samaras thanked him for helping the families of the 12 Americans to understand the loss of their loved ones and bring them closure.

“You have the keys that open the doors to the city of Lowell, but you also have the keys to our heart because of your great work,” Samaras said. “We so appreciate it, and we are honored to have been able to meet you.”

After the ceremony, Mori said he was “extremely touched” by the warm welcome he received from the citizens of Lowell and many others in the U.S.

Feeling that he has now finished telling the stories of the American POWs, Mori said he has already started another project: Researching the POWs from Australia.


Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

Read and watch more from the Lowell Sun  [ http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_31908495/hiroshima-survivor-lowell-honor-pows-killed-blast#ixzz5GtJKgOYf ]

More information: Paper Lantern Film, 2016. (Director, Barry Frechette; Co-Director, Max Exposito; Composer, Chad Cannon; Lyrics and Vocals, Mai Fujiswa; and Shakuhachi, Kojiro Umezaki.)
http://www.paperlanternfilm.com/

U.S. anti-trafficking measure a welcome step, activists say

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 19:30 GMT
https://news.trust.org/item/20180228193104-vhzt3/

I+am+Jane+Doe-US trafficking first step

 “It’s a great first step”

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Anti-trafficking activists on Wednesday welcomed a move in the U.S. Congress to fight the trade, saying the online world was rife with “how-to” videos for sex traffickers.

The bill – which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday – would make it easier for states and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep exploitative material off their platforms.

“It’s a great first step,” Jerome Elam, head of the Trafficking in America Task Force, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have been fighting for so long.”

The legislation is a result of years of law-enforcement lobbying for a crackdown on Backpage.com, a huge website which is used for sex advertising.

A spokeswoman for Backpage declined to comment on the videos or the legislation, which will head next to the Senate, where similar legislation has gained substantial support.

Backpage has said it is hosting content, not creating it, and is protected from liability by a federal law protecting free speech. The company has been hit by lawsuits saying it promotes trafficking in its ads.

Each year, some 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“I hope this bill gets us closer to survivor justice and ensuring traffickers and their business associates (looking at you, Backpage) are held accountable,” said Andrea Powell, head of FAIR Girls anti-trafficking group, in a statement.

“I know it will.”

Activists said videos were freely available online that help sex traffickers use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to pay anonymously for online advertisements on Backpage.

Earlier this week The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain said that videos on the YouTube website showed how to buy Backpage.com ads with bitcoin and other credits.

YouTube was not immediately available for comment. The Times said the most-viewed of the videos had been taken down.

“These YouTube videos showing how to use bitcoin for Backpage are ‘how-tos’ for human traffickers,” Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

“Backpage makes it easier for traffickers and pimps to use their site by accepting payments through bitcoin and other means of payment, such as retail gift cards.”

Visa Inc , MasterCard Inc and American Express Co have banned their credit cards from being used to pay for ads on Backpage.

Absent credit cards, Backpage relies heavily on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

“Without cryptocurrencies, the site would be relegated to using unreliable processors as a last resort,” Vance testified last month before a Congressional subcommittee.

Some campaigners say while the videos are disturbing, they make little difference to criminals.

“That horse got out of the barn a long time ago,” Nita Belles, founder of the anti-trafficking group In Our Backyard, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I think the people that are doing trafficking … they probably already know.”

Last December, more than 7,000 prostitution advertisements were posted on Backpage for Manhattan alone, Vance said.


(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Robert Carmichael and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

 

JPIC Statement in response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida

In response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the US grieve for those who lost their lives in this tragedy and stand with the surviving students and people from all corners of the United States who are demanding legislative action on gun control.

Doing nothing is not an option. We need our legislators to come together and engage in a process that results in passing and implementing laws that will address safety in our schools, workplaces and public spaces.

As educators of students from preschool through university and adult education in the United States we support the people of Parkland, Florida. We also empathize with students, parents, and administrators all across this country who on a daily basis face the potential for gun violence in their schools.

We agree with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, when in support of a ban on assault weapons they said. “We must respond. Violence in our schools, and streets, our nation and the world – is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of our sisters and brothers.”

As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we strive to be people of justice and peace in a world that is too often violent. We invite others to join us on this journey towards peace. Let us stand together to keep all who are suffering from the violence in Parkland in our hearts and prayer and let us take action now.

Please contact your legislators right now. Respectfully let them know that you expect them to immediately work with their colleagues to pass a bill that will address violence associated with guns in this country.

 

 

 

Join March 16th Airport Protests Against Rewritten Refugee and Muslim

cwsWe are fast approaching the March 16 date on which President Trump’ re-written Executive Order will take effect. As you well know, the order will discriminate against individuals from certain countries and grind the refugee resettlement program to a halt. It also significantly reduces the number of refugees we welcome in the United States, turning our backs on more than 60,000 individuals who we have pledged to protect. After the first refugee and Muslim ban was stopped by litigation and thousands mobilizing at airports it is time to once again show up and resist these unjust and discriminatory policies.

Take Action! We are calling for community mobilizations at airports on Thursday, March 16th to publicly oppose Trump’s refugee ban. Continue reading Join March 16th Airport Protests Against Rewritten Refugee and Muslim