UConnect Intro Zoom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wsvV2Fl2r8.
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Today the House issued articles of impeachment to the President, citing both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress; meaning they allege the President used his office for personal gain and then blocked Congressional investigation into the wrongdoing. For a more detailed explanation check out the Washington Post or Vox. Next up is a vote in the House, likely by the end of the week, to actually impeach. Once a President is impeached there is a trial conducted in the Senate, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Interested in impeachment process steps? Check out the NYT interactive timeline. While the rules say the Senate must immediately consider an impeachment trial from the House, it appears there is bipartisan agreement over a short postponement as to not be over the Christmas and New Years holiday.
As we keep saying, while the impeachment goes on, we continue to do the work of our mandate, seeking justice and working to uplift policies that love our neighbor and uphold the common good.
A confidential file of documents was obtained by The Washington Post, revealing information from interviews with people directly involved with the war in Afghanistan over the past 18 years. Those interviews with military leaders, diplomats, and others reveal just how deep the self-deception and public lies were, hiding clear evidence that the war had become unwinnable. In positive news, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will rejoin official talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department announced.
Staff: Beka, Mike, Deenabandhu
Last week the UCC had a strong presence at Fire Drill Fridays, lead by Jane Fonda and other activists, this one focused on faith leaders, immigration and climate. Both Noel Anderson and Kaji Douša spoke at the rally.
Staff: Madison, Brooks
The 25th Conference of Parties (COP25), a U.N. summit dedicated to addressing climate change, kicked off in Madrid on Dec. 2. There was a large Congressional delegation from the U.S. “Young people, including Greta Thunberg, played a leading role in protests at COP25 over the weekend, and on Monday appeared at the conference to put pressure on negotiators to come up with a plan for reducing greenhouse gases and tackling the impacts of climate breakdown.” So much attention has been placed on Ms. Thunberg and she urged the media to pay attention to other youth activists like Autumn Peltier; a 15 year old citizen of Wiikwemkoong First Nation and Helena Gualinga from Ecuadorian Amazon, who, “says she's been fighting for climate issues her whole life -- especially against big oil companies.” Learn about some more youth activists here.
Staff: Madison, Brooks
Environmental Protection Agency
The agency is poised to finalize a rule to limit the types of scientific studies that can be used to create new regulations. The Orwellian-named EPA proposal, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” undermines the agency’s work and effectiveness. Widespread opposition to the original proposal, drawing 600,000 comments and criticism from many of the world’s leading scientific journals and organizations, is being ignored, and the EPA is cavalierly moving to make the rule even more anti-science.
Staff: Madison, Brooks
In other news related to U.S. global conflict, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggests that the U.S. can expect a “Christmas Gift” from North Korea in the weeks ahead, an ominous threat that highlights how relations have broken down over the past year. In northeastern Syria, U.S. military forces have completed their withdrawal, leaving a total of around six hundred U.S. troops in other parts of the country.
A deal on the new NAFTA (The U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement) has been reached after coming to an agreement on labor protections. The faith community has been focused on the issue of access to medicines, specifically biologics (a class of drugs that is manufactured not via chemical processes but rather harvested from biology.) Due to a number of factors, they are very expensive, and the trade deal had a 10-year market exclusivity period for biologic drugs, but it has been stripped, which is a success.
Staff: Economic Justice Minister, Mike
National Defense Authorization Act
Congressional negotiations for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have ended (the document clocks in at a cool 3,000+ pages). The good news, they included 12 weeks of parental leave for all federal employees. But the rest of it is pretty bad. Several provisions that would advance a Just Peace look like they have been stripped out in the final version that will head to a vote. Those provisions include repeal of the 2002 AUMF (the legal basis of endless war) as well as support for the war in Yemen and a prohibition on funding low-yield nuclear weapons; as well as the creation of the new “Space Force.” The bill also failed to block money for the border wall, or overturn the ban on transgender troops. Also remember, this bill authorizes $738 billion in military spending in 2020, a $30 billion increase over 2019, just one week after the administration CUT access to SNAP. The call for a moral budget from faith groups is needed now more than ever.
Staff: Mike, Katie
On Dec. 4 the Administration issued a final rule tightening work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Currently, after three months in the program, able-bodied adults with no dependents are required to work 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits. In times of increased hardship, states have been able to waive this time limit to ensure access to food assistance. No longer—starting on April 1, 2020, such waivers will only be granted if the county in question has an employment rate of at least six percent. This single change will take away SNAP benefits from 688,000 people. For people struggling with poverty and unemployment, taking away access to SNAP will only make life more difficult. USDA officials have argued that this change will incentivize SNAP recipients to secure work. But studies have found that the opposite is true– mandatory work requirements fail to bring about increased employment or earnings. We’ve joined with other faith groups in a letter and comments about the burden this rule will have on vulnerable people. More people, including children, will go hungry because of this backwards and regressive rule change.
Voting Rights Protections
On Dec. 6, the House passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). This important legislation would restore one of the most powerful provisions of the original 1965 Voting Rights Act. The bill now moves to the Senate.
I am back after almost a full month of travel with only a couple scattered days in the offices.
I will be in this week and all of the next week after Thanksgiving.
My travel dates from here to Christmas are:
Dec. 10-14, Atlanta for the National Black Church Conference in Atlanta
Dec. 20-21, Funeral services for Cally Rogers-Witte
Feel free to drop in and say hello and tell me what you are doing that excites you.
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#GivingTuesday @ The United Church of Christ
This post is from Laurel Steinetz!
By now, I hope everyone has heard about the UCC’s Giving Tuesday Campaign, and how we are partnering with RIP Medical Debt to forgive millions of dollars for some of the poorest American families. If not, here’s a great write-up from UCC News.
Just like Rev. Justo Gonzalez, many of us live or have lived with medical debt in the past and are thrilled that the UCC is choosing to be a part of the solution!
We have a BIG GOAL of raising $50,000 on Giving Tuesday this year. If we raise this much, we can help forgive more than $5 MILLION in medical debt. According to RIP Medical Debt, every $1 given helps erase at least $100 in medical debt. Talk about a modern-day loaves and fishes phenomenon!
If this ministry is one that you identify with, and if you would like to help in the fundraising efforts, you can share the campaign with your social media friends and followers!
It’s easy to do this on both Facebook and Twitter. Just click those links, which will take you to the post or tweet, respectively. From Facebook you can “share on your timeline,” “share to a group,” or “share to a page you manage.” On Twitter you can “Retweet” or “Retweet with comment.” You can also comment and reply right on that post! Those engagements will help more people see this good work.
In studies of giving, it’s reported that our peers are more likely to give to a cause we support if we share part of our story. You’re welcome to share your story, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that or you don’t have one, you can borrow the statement below or craft your own.
If you want to help share this, I recommend that you set an Outlook reminder for #GivingTuesday on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern or your time zone!). You can copy and paste the below information into the event text so you have the links right on your notification.
The National Setting (and the recipients of the debt relief!) thank you for helping spread the word about this important cause!
This #GivingTuesday, the UCC is helping erase medical debt for thousands of families. Did you know 43 million Americans are burdened with medical debt? I care about justice, and I think giving to this fundraiser is a way to “do justice.” I encourage you to give what you can!
I gave the message at my church on Sunday for World Communion Sunday. Since I just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka and India, I shared about that experience. I also dressed in an outfit I bought on the trip and decorated our table/altar with goodies from my trip. Here are some pics! I'll try and post the message at another time.
I bought the piece of fabric in Delhi for the church. It's hand embroidered and has sequins! The blue and white vase is from Jaipur, a famous pottery place. The plate in the center is also from Jaipur. My outfit is from Delhi.
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