FERGUSON: Ten illegal police actions to watch for in Ferguson

Bill Quigleyby Bill Quigley
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

When the Michael Brown verdict is announced, people can expect the police to take at least ten different illegal actions to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights.  The Ferguson police have been on TV more than others so people can see how awful they have been acting.  But their illegal police tactics are unfortunately quite commonly used by other law enforcement in big protests across the US.

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The First Amendment to the US Constitution promises the government will not abridge freedom of speech or to prevent the right of the people to peaceably assemble or to petition to the government for the redress of grievances.

Here is what they are going to do, watch for each of these illegal actions when the crowds start to grow.

One.  Try to stop people from protesting.  The police all say they know they have to let people protest. So they usually will allow protests for a while.  Then the police will get tired and impatient and try to stop people from continuing to protest.  The government will say people can only protest until a certain time, or on a certain street, or only if they keep moving, or not there, not here, not now, no longer.  Such police action is not authorized by the US Constitution. People have a right to protest, the government should leave them alone.

Two.  Provocateurs.  Police have likely already planted dozens of officers, black and white, male and female, inside the various protests groups.  These officers will illegally spy on peaceful protesters and often take illegal actions themselves and encourage other people to take illegal action.  They will even be arrested with others but magically not end up in jail.   Others inside the groups will be paid to inform on the group to the government.  Comically, when undercover police are uncovered they often claim they have a constitutional right to be there and try to use the constitution they are violating as a shield!…

Click here to read the whole story.

TAKE ACTION: Stop the “Fast Track” sneak attack on democracy

Congress is pushing legislation right now that would “Fast Track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a secretive agreement negotiated behind closed doors by government bureaucrats and more than 600 corporate lobbyists. It threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet.

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this effort.

Click here to add your voice.

REFLECTION: Everyone deserves a home

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

Just imagine for a moment that you have no home.

What will you do for meals today? Where will you shower? Where will you sleep? If you have children, how will you provide for them?

And how will you cope with being homeless tomorrow, next week, next month?

Such imaginations are distressing. Aren’t they?

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Last winter I took imagining what it would be like to be homeless one step further. I lived one day in Baltimore as a homeless man trying to stay warm and fed. From street, to soup kitchen, to shelter I ventured.

I learned a lot that day about how rough it is to have no place to call your own. But later that night my experience as a homeless person ended. I got in my vehicle and headed for home.

But for 100 million people throughout the world, not having a home to go to each night is a hard, sad reality (61st session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights).

And in the U.S., according to the National Coalition for the Homeless (www.nationalhomeless.org), 3.5 million people – 39 percent of which are children – have no place to call home.

Recently I spoke with Ken Leslie, a former homeless alcoholic and drug addict, who is now a leading advocate for people who have no home. Based in Toledo, Ohio, Leslie founded 1Matters (www.1matters.org), an organization inviting each of us to “Be 1 that matters to 1 that matters.”

As their motto indicates, 1-on-1 relationships help break down homeless stereotypes and build community.

One major stereotype is the word “homeless” itself. Because the word “homeless” often conjures up negative images of people – which in most cases are completely untrue – Leslie prefers using the word “unhoused.”

A model project of 1Matters is “Tent City.” Every year on the last weekend of October, Tent City brings together doctors, nurses, medical students, social workers and over 500 other caring souls to serve the unhoused.

Recently – Oct. 24-26, 2014 –Tent City celebrated its 25th anniversary. On Toledo’s Civic Center Mall, under several tents, approximately 1,000 unhoused and marginally housed fellow human beings received medical treatment, prescriptions, job and housing assistance, I.D. acquisition, haircuts, food, clothing, commitment to follow-up care and lots of love.

To watch an inspiring video on Tent City go to www.1matters.org/tentcity. And then kindly consider how a Tent City could be started in your town or city. You can contact Ken Leslie for assistance at ken@1matters.org.

Another outstanding program of 1Matters is “Veterans Matter.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs there are over 49,000 homeless veterans on the streets of America. And while many of them qualify for government rental assistance, they lack the upfront deposit needed to get an apartment.

Veterans Matter has provided deposits for approximately 500 veterans to date in several states. You can help an unhoused veteran get off the street and into decent housing by making a donation at www.veteransmatter.org.

Everyone deserves a home. And National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week – Nov. 15-23 – is an ideal time to get started in helping to make a difference in the lives of unhoused people.

The social doctrine of the Catholic Church clearly teaches that safe, decent housing is a basic human right. And that individuals, governments and society in general have a moral obligation to help end homelessness.

In the spirit of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who help the unhoused, for they shall find a home in heaven.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

REFLECTION: We must exercise our prophetic role, which can mean challenging our leaders

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

And now, my brothers and sisters, this is just the beginning of Chapter 23, and as you can tell, it’s a very harsh judgment on the part of Jesus against the religious leaders — the scribes, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians — all of them. And as you go through the chapter, it becomes even more critical and harsh.

Just for example, just a little bit further on, Jesus says, “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You shut the door to the reign of God in people’s faces. You, yourselves, do not enter, nor do you allow others to do. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You devour women and widows’ houses, even while for a pretense, you make all in prayers.”

What Jesus is doing is making very critical, harsh judgments about the religious leaders of his day. Now, this Gospel and especially this Chapter 23, what you heard earlier in the first lesson from the Book of Malachi, and other prophets, we discover that Jesus, as the other prophets do, is making some very harsh judgments about the leadership of the religious community of his time….

To read this entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: Training midwives in Afghanistan

by Anne Richter
Pax Christi Florida

Training midwives in Kabul

Training midwives in Kabul

Yes, I’m on my way home from a great trip to Afghanistan to conduct a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop to Afghan midwives. This visit I was so happy to be accompanied by an old friend, Mariam. We met in Kabul in 1976 when she was Director of Nurses for the country and I was working on a project to train young woman from rural areas in midwifery. After the Russian invasion she and her family had to leave the country. They eventually settled in North Carolina where they raised their children to be doctors and engineers. We have kept up over the years, and I thought that Mariam would be the perfect person to help facilitate our training workshop and she was. So, we have had a great time catching up these past couple of weeks.

Kabul has grown immensely these past few years. New apartment houses, hotels, and shops have grown up throughout the city. People are sweeping the streets and trying to do the best with the drainage system. Though I rarely saw an accident, the crowded streets provide a daily driving adventure. We have been under tight security and not allowed to travel, except to our work sites. Our pocket buddies have a GPS, so they know where we are at all times. We did meet some people at our hotel who did travel around outside Kabul without any problems. Most nights there were a few small explosions without injuries that were attributed to the Taliban. There is lots of activities on the streets of Kabul, mostly men are walking around, children going to school, but only rarely do you see a western foreigner on the street.

The workshops went well, the first week we worked on training the facilitators and the second week they taught three groups of midwives from rural areas. Some of the midwives really blossomed in the second week. One midwife who was so shy that she could not stand and introduce herself in the beginning, said, “You have given me confidence,” she was amazing to see and hear from them on.

On the last day, I attended the 10th congress on the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA). As I helped found this association in 2004, I was thrilled to see the progress they had made. Many of the hopes and dreams of those days have become a reality. They now have a basic midwifery program at the university and a bridge program for experienced to study for a B.S. The 300 members in 2004 have grown from 300 to over 3,000 with chapters in every province. The maternal mortality has decreased and the number of women being attended by a skilled health provider has greatly increased. The strong leadership of the association has really been the driving force of these achievements.

Home: Yes, I have arrived home. You know how life is, sad to leave, but happy to be home.

Do keep the women and midwives of Afghanistan in your prayers, they have been through hard times. These coming years of transition are precarious.

REFLECTION: Living the Eucharist, resisting the destruction of Jeju Island

laffinby Art Laffin

I had the opportunity to travel to Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea in the East China Sea from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. I  previously spent four days in Manila, Philippines, where I was invited to speak at the first Asia Pacific Dialogue on Human Rights and Respect for the Dignity of Life with the theme: “No Justice Without Life.” I left an amazing community in Manila standing for life and justice and saying “No” to state-sponsored killing. In coming to Jeju Island, I met another extraordinary gathering of people who are saying “Yes” to creation and “No” to the construction of new naval base that is a crime and a sin.

For several years, I have been closely following this inspiring nonviolent campaign led by local islanders along with priests and sisters to stop the construction of this U.S.-backed Korean naval base on Jeju Island (named the “Island of Peace” by the Korean government).

Police surround Art Laffin and other activists as they protest at the main entrance of a U.S.-backed Korean naval base on Jeju Island.

Police surround Art Laffin and other activists as they protest at the main entrance of a U.S.-backed Korean naval base on Jeju Island.

UNESCO considers Jeju Island and nearby Beom Island, Moon Island, Seop Island, and Hallasan National Park biosphere reserves. The construction of this base, which is a joint Korean, U.S. and Japanese venture with Samsung as the main contractor, is destroying the beautiful ecosystem of the island as well as the majestic soft coral reefs and surrounding ocean life.

The ancient Gureombi rock formation no longer exists, having been blasted away two years ago. In the March 2014 issue of the Gangjeong Village Story monthly newsletter, the lead article lamented the second anniversary of the destruction of this sacred formation: “For thousands of years, Gureombi has been a playground, a garden, and a mother’s arms, embracing and embraced by the people of Gangjeong. Thus it was perhaps the most painful and sorrowful moment of this 8 year struggle to experience the partial destruction of Gureombi Rock. Still, though we cannot see Gureombi anymore, it lives on in our memories.”…

Click here to read the entire article.

PETITION: End Philippine debt following Typhoon Haiyan

from Jubilee USA

NOTE: Pax Christi USA has signed onto this petition.

Haiyan_Nov_7_2013_1345ZSince Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the world has responded with astounding generosity, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to aid in the recovery effort and pledging hundreds of millions more.

Unfortunately, since the typhoon struck on November 8, the Philippines has spent between $6 billion and $8 billion repaying debt, $22 million every single day by one estimate. Some of those debts originate from the corrupt and abusive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Filipinos, and the torture of 35,000.

The Philippines needs resources to rebuild communities and protect vulnerable populations still dealing with homelessness, disease and malnutrition. Just a fraction of the money the country spends on debt could make a profound impact on the lives of Haiyan’s victims.

Join Jubilee USA in calling upon the World Bank and other lenders to grant an immediate moratorium on debt repayments during the rebuilding process, with a view toward debt cancellation.

Click here to sign the petition.