Smorgasbord of Prayers, Protest Needs, and Calls to Action

As I am busily struggling to get my wife her visa–and my child, her USA passport–here in the Philippines, I do not have as much opportunity as I like for commenting and promoting an improved planet.  This is why I take time to start out August 2010 with this smorgasbord of prayer requests, protest needs, and calls to action from some of my contacts around the planet.–KAS

URGENT: Congress could make the back-to-school season tougher.

Back-to-School season is almost here but the big question is will Congress make it worse?

Already than 1 Million young kids are left alone after school.  Tell Congress they can’t cut afterschool programs any more.

Dear Kevin,

Dust off the backpacks and dig out the lunch sacks – back to school time is just weeks away.  And, working parents across this country are spending these last few weeks arranging, searching, and confirming afterschool care.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t succeed in finding afterschool care for their kids . More than 1 million children in grades K to 5 are on their own after school. [1] This huge and heartbreaking number isn’t because of parent neglect, rather it reflects a simple fact: Afterschool programs are unavailable or too expensive for millions of families across this country. [2]

And it could get much worse.  Congress is deciding right now if they’re going to divert funds and slash afterschool programs across this country. That’s right.  Congress is busy writing their education legislation, which includes afterschool programs, and they’re likely to finish before they go home in August.

Tell Congress not to make the back-to-school season any worse for working families!

Why do afterschool programs matter?

Afterschool programs keep our kids safe. The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are when children are most at risk for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. [3]

Afterschool programs also have a big impact on our economy. Parents who are concerned about their children being unattended after school miss an average of eight days of work per year. Decreased worker productivity related to parental concerns about after school care costs businesses up to $300 billion per year. [4]

As Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), it’s imperative that they don’t divert funds from 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs.  The initiative supports afterschool programs for 1,798,986 children and youth across this country.  And every one of them counts.

We have less than a week to speak up for afterschool programs.  Contact your legislators before they go home for their summer break:

And please forward this email along to friends and family. This issue is too important not to share.

Together we are a powerful voice for children and families,

–Sarah, Kristin, Donna and the whole team

P.S. Thanks to the Afterschool Alliance for all of their great work on this issue.
[1] Afterschool Alliance, “Afterschool Issue Overview,” August 2009

[2] “America After 3pm” National in-depth study funded by the JCPenney Afterschool Fund,

[3] Fight Crime Invest In Kids “America’s After-School Choice: Juvenile Crime or Safe Learning Time,” Research brief 2003

[4] Afterschool Alliance, “Afterschool Issue Overview,” August 2009

Refugees International

Kyrgyzstan: Ensuring Security and Human Rights Required to Put Country Back on Course
“They broke open my gate and shots were fired. They began looting my house of furniture, dishes, carpets…I became frightened.”  These were the words of a displaced Uzbek grandfather Refugees International met, and he is among some 75,000 people who remain displaced following the mid-June wave of violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. Inter-ethnic tensions, fears and human rights abuses continue to haunt this region, particularly its Uzbek citizens.  Kyrgyzstan’s interim government must act to ensure physical and legal security for all citizens and bring to justice those responsible for attacks, arbitrary arrests, detention, kidnappings, extortion and intimidation.

Sudan: Preventing Violence and Statelessness as Referendum Approaches
As Sudan’s referendum on southern independence in January 2011 moves closer, a challenging list of unresolved issues remains. Most indications point to an overwhelming vote in favor of separation.  Although an explosion of full scale north-south war is not inevitable, the risk of new outbreaks of conflict in hotspot areas is all too real. If the south separates, southerners in the north and northerners in the south will be especially vulnerable to violence and loss of citizenship resulting in statelessness. The parties to the CPA, international donor governments and the United Nations must place urgent priority on preventing and responding to possible abuses.

DR Congo: Emergency Response to Sexual Violence Still Essential
“The fact that many of the women we interviewed during our visit to the Congo told us that armed men, often Congolese soldiers, were the ones that had attacked them, looted their homes, and raped them, is still one of the most alarming aspects of the ongoing conflict in the east,” said advocate Camilla Olson upon return from her assessment in the DRC in May.  Even with the launch of a new comprehensive strategy on sexual violence as part of the Congolese government’s stabilization plan for eastern DRC, there has been an unintentional loss of attention and funding to respond to sexual violence in conflict-affected areas. Further, poor coordination and lack of engagement with local groups are hindering the overall response.

i-vawa progress!
Thank you to everyone who participated in our social media outreach to build support for the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act. All of your work has made a difference!

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on August 4th, bringing us even closer to our goal!

Take a look at a article on your efforts, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on further progress!
renewing the pledge in sudan

Refugees International joined a coalition of 26 organizations calling on the Guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan to redouble their efforts in order to prevent further conflict.

Dear Kevin,

Will Sarah Palin and her “drill, baby, drill” rhetoric destroy the Arctic Refuge?

Don’t let it happen!

Become a member today: Help us raise $130,000 by Monday, August 2 to win lasting reforms to the way Big Oil does business.

Former Alaska governor and “drill, baby, drill” proponent Sarah Palin is using the Gulf oil spill as an argument for more oil drilling – in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Yes, you read that right. Palin recently suggested that drilling in the Arctic Refuge in Alaska would be safer than deepwater drilling. Will Big Oil and its allies stop at nothing?

Help us stop the oil industry’s excesses. Click here to become a member with a gift of $35 or more, and help us raise $130,000 by Monday, August 2.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is cherished by nature lovers the world over. And little wonder, for the Refuge has some of America’s most spectacular wildlife. Caribou, moose, wolves, foxes, grizzly bears and migratory birds are just a few of the more than 200 amazing wildlife species found here. Each year, scores of female polar bears give birth here.

Oil development in this untouched wilderness would mean pipelines, roads, airstrips, toxic waste, air pollution and – yes – oil spills.

Don’t let it happen. Become a member with a gift of $35 or more today.

Americans should not have to fight to keep the Arctic Refuge and other beloved places free of development. We should not have to fear that our drinking water is polluted with secret chemicals or our air quality spoiled by nearby oil and gas development.

That’s why we’re pulling out all the stops to move legislation in Congress that demands more responsibility and accountability from the oil and gas industry, and puts in place environmental safeguards. The reforms we are supporting would have a lasting improvement on the way Big Oil does business and would put America – not Big Oil – in the position of determining where and how to drill.

Time is short. Please, become a member with a gift of $35 or more now so that we can advance this legislation before Congress goes on August recess. We need to hear from you by Monday, August 2.

Make no mistake, Big Oil is a formidable – and wealthy – opponent. Last year alone, the top five oil companies earned profits of $100 billion. But the Gulf Spill has spurred a new environment for reform.

We must rise to this historic opportunity to change the oil industry for good, and protect special, cherished places that Big Oil has in its sights: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Utah’s Red Rocks Wilderness, the Wyoming Range, and more.

Please give what you can to reform Big Oil and to stop a Gulf-like disaster in Alaska.


Kathy Kilmer
The Wilderness Society

Dear Kevin,

Right now, we only have 20 Representatives signed on to the letter to President Obama from Congresswoman Waters and her colleagues.  With the House of Representatives’ recess starting August 9 time is running out to get more signers.  We need you to send a message to your Representative today! With Congress busy as ever wrapping up before they go out of session, it’s even more important for them to hear your voice – demand that they support achieving the Millennium Development Goals through debt relief by signing on to Congresswoman Waters’ letter to President Obama.

It is critical we get Congress to tell President Obama that economic justice for the world’s poorest can’t wait. It’s needed right now!

Please take a quick moment to urge your Representative to take a stand.

This letter urges President Obama to incorporate expanded debt cancellation and responsible finance for poor countries into his plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which he has promised to present to the United Nations in September.  Time for Congress to speak up about global poverty is running out with the August recess fast approaching.

Please call and email your Representative today and ask him or her to sign on to this important letter before Congress goes out of session.  President Obama must include responsible finance and debt cancellation without harmful economic conditions as a part of his strategy to fight poverty and underdevelopment.

With only five years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, join fellow Jubilee activists around the country in demanding an end to poverty and social justice for all.


Julia, Policy and Advocacy Fellow

PS. Mark your calendars for Stand Up, Take Action weekend on September 17-19. Jubilee supporters across the country are planning events in their communities on the eve of the UN Meetings to discuss the Millennium Development Goals. Stay tuned for updates.

PPS. For more information on the IMF’s latest news on Haiti’s debt, read our recent press release.

Dear Kevin,

While the BP oil spill may have been stopped, the climate bill that would help move us away from our addiction to oil has also stopped.

We need to change. We need a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that creates jobs, increases our energy independence, and protects the planet. We don’t need more drilling.

Tell Congress to Stop the Drill and start moving towards a clean energy future:

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

Dear Activist,

The Gulf Coast economy is suffering, and endangered sea turtles, dolphins and other marine mammals are turning up dead on beaches.

In response to the disaster, the President announced that he is suspending Arctic offshore drilling, canceling lease sales in the western Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, and extending the moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months. This is an important step in preventing the next offshore oil disaster, but it’s not enough.

Tell Congress to Stop the Drill and start moving towards a clean energy future:

The only way to prevent this from happening again is by ending all offshore drilling. A clean energy future is possible.

The Deepwater Horizon accident should serve as a wakeup call – offshore drilling is a dangerous and dirty way to get energy. This disaster is an unfortunate but perfect example of the hazards of offshore drilling.

We need to make sure the future of our oceans is not threatened by the pursuit of dirty energy. Please support a climate bill that advances a clean energy future.

Tell Congress to Stop the Drill and start moving towards a clean energy future:


If one central issue drove our campaign, it was subordinating corporate power to people power.

The Supreme Court underscored the urgency of this project in January, when it ruled that corporations have the free speech rights that belong exclusively to living, breathing humans. The First Amendment guarantees corporations the right to spend whatever they choose to influence election outcomes, the Court ruled.

But corporations are not humans, to state a truism apparently not evident to the Court’s five-justice majority. We have to take action to rescue our democracy from corpocracy.

Please read the note below from Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, an organization I founded almost 40 years ago to confront and curtail excessive corporate power.

Ralph Nader

Add your name to the tens of thousands demanding a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that will allow corporations to take over our democracy.


Pick up a copy of the U.S. Constitution. Can you find the word corporation in it? You cannot.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees you and me – living, breathing human beings, citizens of the United States – the right to free speech.

In one of the greatest affronts to our democracy ever, however, five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court decided in January, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations have free speech rights just like you and me.

And, decreed the Court, that includes the right to spend whatever corporations like to support or oppose candidates for elected office.

We can’t afford to let this decision stand!

Sign Public Citizen’s petition calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn this corporate coup.

And then forward this message to five friends. We’re going to win this fight, but it’s going to take a mass mobilization.

If you care at all about the value of your vote and the future of American democracy, or about reforming health care, reining in Big Oil, halting climate change, reregulating Wall Street, stopping consumer ripoffs, or promoting a just trade policy, I urge you to act now and sign the petition.
Sign the petition!

Our petition calls upon Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people. It specifies that corporations do not have First Amendment speech rights.

Yes, corporations already pour money into politics. But things can get worse.

And, after the Supreme Court’s decision, they will.

Consider this: In the most recent election cycle (2007-2008), a little over $5.2 billion was spent on all 468 congressional races and the presidential contest combined.

In the same time frame, ExxonMobil registered profits of $85 billion.

$85 billion.

Seventeen times the total amount spent on federal election contests.

So, in just one election cycle, a tiny fraction of Exxon’s profits could be used to buy our politicians. Lock, stock and barrel.
Sign the petition!

There are measures available to mitigate the harm from the decision. We must have public financing of elections. We need better donor disclosure rules. The federal government should refuse to buy goods and services from any company with a federal contract (and states and locales should act similarly). Shareholders should be required to approve any corporate political expenditure by an affirmative vote. Public Citizen is working on all of these.

But while these measures can offset the damage from Citizens United, the only way to get corporate money out of our elections is to overturn the decision itself. That requires a constitutional amendment. Corporations are not people, and they are not entitled to the First Amendment’s protections of the expressive and democratic participative rights of real, live human beings.

The only way to get that job done is with a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and establishing the principle that the First Amendment and our democracy belong to We, the People, not Exxon, GE or Walmart.

So, please sign the petition, and then forward this message to five friends.


Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen


Last week The New York Times profiled the story of Elizabeth Budde, a Washington State doctor who’d been approved for a home loan but then had her home loan revoked after a loan officer learned she was on maternity leave with her newborn baby. [1]

“The reason we were buying the house was because we were having a baby,” said Dr. Budde. “And now we got punished for having a baby.”

Disturbingly, it appears that such loan discrimination against new mothers may be all too common.  The New York Times article quoted the president of a mortgage company who remarked:  “Maternity leave or any other leave of absence often prevents a person from obtaining a mortgage.”

We’re outraged!  Thankfully, folks at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (which oversees the Fair Housing Act) seem to feel similarly.  On the same day that the article came out, HUD issued a press release stating that they would investigate the lending practices of certain mortgage lenders “to determine if they illegally denied families mortgages because the mother is pregnant or a family member is experiencing a short-term disability.” [2]


Let HUD know we support them in investigating housing discrimination against mothers–and urge HUD to keep up this important work to protect American families!

All too often pregnant women and mothers are discriminated against in jobs, housing and loans, just when they need financial security the most.

According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, “Lenders have every right to ascertain the incomes of families to determine whether they are eligible for a mortgage loan but they have no right to use a pregnancy or a short-term disability as a cause to deny that family a mortgage they would otherwise qualify for. Having a child should be a time for a family to celebrate and must not be a cause for unfair lending practices.”

Women of color may face double illegal obstacles according to John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  In an email to MomsRising he wrote that “On top of the racial disparities that exist to obtain a home loan, we now see potential loan denials based on being on maternity leave.  HUD will work vigorously to enforce fair housing laws on behalf of families with children as well as people of all races and ethnicities.”

HUD’s commitment to investigate housing loan discrimination is a welcome beginning to what hopefully will be a more comprehensive effort on the part of our government to combat pregnancy and family responsibility discrimination in all settings, for all women.

Sign the letter to HUD now to send a strong message that we support their investigation into discriminatory home lending practices.

And please also take a moment to forward this email to your friends and co-workers.  We need all of our voices together to make sure mothers, fathers, and anyone who cares for our country’s children are treated fairly.

With appreciation for all you are doing to help build a family-friendly America,

–Mary, Kristin, Donna, Julia, Anita, Joan, Ruth, Julissa, Sarah and the whole MomsRising team

PS:  If you feel you’ve been discriminated against in any form of housing (as a renter, owner, or in trying to get a loan, etc.) due to being pregnant or having children, please share your story with us now.  Momsrising will compile these stories and send them to HUD and the media.  Send us your story

[1] Bernard, Tara Siegel “Need a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant,”  The New York Times, July, 20 2010

[2] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “Hud To Investigate Mortgage Lenders Who Discriminate Against Expectant Mothers And New Parents” July 21, 2010

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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