Category Archives: Community News

America’s Religious Affiliates Are On a Steady Decline

By: Jean Hopfensperger of Star Tribune

The men and women relaxing on yoga mats recently at a Minneapolis meditation center didn’t know it, but most belonged to the fastest-growing religion in America — none at all.

They included a former Lutheran who left the church because the Bible clashed with science, a former Catholic who became leery of its teachings, a former Baptist uninspired by Sunday services, a young man raised with no religion.

They reveal a major force behind the empty pews in churches across Minnesota and the nation. Nearly one in four Americans now declare themselves unaffiliated with any organized religion. An estimated 56 million strong, and growing, there are more of them than all mainline Protestants combined.

The church experience that was central to many of their parents’ lives has lost relevance and credibility.

“I can’t imagine that only one religion has access to the pearly gates,” said Lisa Pool, explaining her church breakup after class ended. “I realized there are all kinds of different paths to being a good person.”

The surge has Minnesota religious leaders wrestling with implications for the future of their churches, the future of Christianity. More than half of U.S. churches now see fewer than 100 worshipers on weekends, and they’re getting older, reports the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Particularly alarming is the plunge in church membership by people in their 20s and 30s. One in three are now churchless, according to the Pew Research Center. Faith leaders are racking their brains over how to reach these adults who may never step under a steeple.

“We are [all] worried,” said the Rev. John Bauer, pastor at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis. “We all know it’s an issue, but don’t know what to do about it. It’s clear we can’t rely on the old ways of doing things for this next generation.”

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REPUBLICAN SENATOR JEFF FLAKE DELAYS KAVANAUGH VOTE FOR JUSTICE

Amidst the controversial and political divides in Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Justice appointment, Republican Senator Jeff Flake took a brave and honorable stand to delay the Senate Judiciary Committee vote and allow the FBI to investigate the sexual assault claims made by Dr. Christine Ford.  This opportunity for due diligence is viewed by many as a civil way to appease both sides and reveal the truth about Dr. Ford’s claims that Judge Kavanaugh assaulted her in High School.

Senator Flake’s decision to take a stand for justice was motivated by two young women who confronted him in an elevator about Kavanaugh’s credibility and the crowds’ request for an FBI investigation.   Voting for Kavanaugh without the FBI’s due diligence implied that achieving political agendas are more important than Dr. Ford’s assault and women’s rights, in general.

The FBI investigation should help to clear Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford’s name as the facts are investigated.  Although, many of Dr. Ford’s alleged witnesses are already saying that they do not remember the incident.

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KAVANAUGH HEARINGS MARK AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN US HISTORY

Millions of Americans watched the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearing as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about being sexually assaulted by him during High School.

Although the incident happened a long time ago, it challenges Judge Kavanaugh’s character and questions if he is the appropriate person to be appointed to the highest court in our country for life.  Dr. Ford tried to make her allegations known when it was publicized that Judge Kavanaugh was on President Trump’s short list of candidates.  She stated in her testimony that she felt it was her civic duty to let her truth about his character be known as she tried to remain anonymous.  By the time she made it through the necessary channels to be heard, President Trump had already announced that Judge Kavanaugh was the Supreme Court nominee.

Supreme Court decisions are upheld by laws that impact future generations.  That is why composed, fair, honorable, and unbiased people are sought after for this lifetime position.  We have to wonder why Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment was being rushed through to confirmation with these outstanding accusations that were not fully investigated.  One of the greatest privileges of a US President is to appoint a Supreme Court Justice for life.  President Obama was blocked from doing this for over a year and never got the opportunity before he left office.  Yet, President Trump, amidst personal controversy over his own election, leadership, and sexual misconduct, has appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch and now pushes the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh amidst more controversy.

Beyond the sexual assault charges by Dr. Ford that Judge Kavanaugh vehemently denies, his composure under pressure was clearly broken, his position was partisan and accusatory in an appointment that must uphold the law for all people regardless of political party, and his portrayal as a spoiled white privileged brat that is entitled to such an honor regardless of his behavior, leaves many questions about him being an appropriate Supreme Court Justice for the United States of America.

Moreover, the lives of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are forever changed.  Dr. Ford is a highly educated and credible witness who gave a believable testimony that won the hearts and sympathy of viewers around the world.  She is being called a hero for her courage to come forward with her truth about someone whose position of power would affect the lives of Americans for generations to come.   However, she has received death threats and had to move her family twice since coming forward.  Judge Kavanaugh maintains that he was never at the parties, never drank in excess, was a model student, and his good name has been ruined with these accusations.  Regardless of the outcome in his Supreme Court appointment, and regardless if the accusations are true, Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation, integrity, and truth is now questionable.

This is a moment in our American history that we will not forget.  Are political agendas ruining a perfectly innocent man’s career and life?  Or are political agendas overlooking a woman’s sexual assault and deeming such violations as insignificant?  Either outcome has a historical impact on the current women’s movement that has vindicated many women who have experienced sexual misconduct by men in power positions.

A successful nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court amidst these accusations without proper investigation will tell every woman in America that crimes against her do not matter.  Politics are more important than any women’s rights and male white privilege rules in America regardless of justice.   The only way to show that this is not so is to postpone the vote and have a proper investigation for this type of allegation.  Meanwhile, even if he is found innocent of the accusations by Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh’s arrogant, biased, and angry disposition during his testimony is concerning and definitely a questionable disposition for an Honorable Supreme Court Justice.

More women are coming forward with their truth about being sexually violated.   The  #MeToo movement and accusations of sexual misconduct have brought down the careers of many seemingly untouchable and powerful men, bringing them into accountability.   While some accusations are true,  some men have been accused and lives destroyed in the court of public opinion before proper investigation.   Therefore, is it possible that some men are being brought down unjustly?  The proper investigation goes both ways; to confirm the victim’s truth or to vindicate the accused for a crime they did not commit.

The future outcomes and historical accounts will reside in the conversations we have today with our children.  What will we tell our daughters in America, the land of the free, about their country, their worth, their potential, our leaders, our values, our morals, and trust in the American judicial system?  What will we tell our sons about appropriate behavior, respect, and justice?

This historic appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, or not, will mark who we are as a country at this date in time because of the statement it will make to all women and the men who respect women.  It is a historic stand that we will take for our daughters and their liberation from having to endure inappropriate sexual behavior without recourse.  It is a historic moment for us to seek justice and truth over achieving political agendas.  This truth must not be ignored if we are to ever take our country’s judicial system seriously.

 

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TRUMP REMARKS AT 2018 UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DRAWS LAUGHTER FROM WORLD LEADERS

President Trump addressed the 2018 United Nations General Assembly, and once again, boasted about all of his accomplishments that, according to Trump, have far exceeded other Presidents in US history:

Fortunately, according to President Trump, the leaders were laughing with him, and not at him:

For the record – according to President Trump, this was meant to be funny.2018 Un General Assembly

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Are The Chinese Using Loans and Debt To Conquer and Colonize Africa?

Chinese investments in Africa may appear to be beneficial, however, countries are falling into China’s debt trap.   Political leaders making these deals with China may be set for life, but is it at the expense of the people they serve?  The following perspectives Chinese investments present the consequences of China’s investments in Africa.

2014-05-13_china-africa

china-africa-infographic-1070

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Roman Catholic Clergy Distance Themselves From Pedophile Priests And Church

photo courtesy of yournewswire.com

NOT IN OUR NAME
A Legal and Moral Declaration and Pledge of Non-Cooperation issued by Concerned Roman Catholic Clergy
Issued on Sunday, September 23, 2018
We are a group of clergy within the Roman Catholic Church who in good conscience are unable to associate any longer with the criminal, anti-Christian actions of the Vatican and the Papacy. We refer to the massive cover up of violent crimes against children now being perpetrated as a matter of policy by the church hierarchy: crimes in which every Catholic is expected to collude.
The growing exposure in the world media of a massive network in our church of child trafficking, rape, torture and murder, and the direct implication of the Pope and senior Cardinals and Bishops in this network, compels every one of us to make a choice. For by our daily association with the Church of Rome we are accomplices in its crimes, under both the laws of God and Man.
No Papal statute or command can justify or absolve such a criminal and sinful association. Whether Pope or Priest, we must all face and answer to God for our actions, or our inaction. And we must also answer to the Law.
Under the law, anyone – including ordained clergymen – can be tried and convicted for harming a child or enabling or concealing those who do. As Catholics, we are all therefore guilty and subject to prosecution according to our own church policy known as Crimen Sollicitationas (1929), which requires that we suppress evidence of child abuse in the church, not tell the police of such abuse, and silence the victims.
This policy refers to the rape of children as “a pontifical secret” which, if disclosed, will result in the excommunication of any honest Catholic who reports the crime! Such a bizarre and inhuman statute constitutes a massive criminal conspiracy for which we are all liable for arrest and prosecution. (1)
For this reason, as moral beings and followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot any longer adhere to the collusion and silence imposed on us by a criminal church regime that places its own money and power ahead of the lives and safety of children. For did not our Lord tell us, “Whatever you do to the least of these my people, you do to me?”; and “Whoever would cause one of these little ones to fall, it would be better that a millstone be tied around his neck and he be cast into the sea”?
Christ’s judgement on those who harm children is the same as ours.
Accordingly, as of this day, we publicly disassociate ourselves from any allegiance to the leaders of the Church of Rome and from our vows of obedience to our Bishops and to the Pope. We will not be subject any longer to Crimen Sollicitationas and its requirement of collusion with the rape and murder of children. Under the law of God and Man, we are obligated to always protect children and prosecute their tormentors, not simply when it is expedient.
As a consequence, we pledge ourselves to the following faithful course of action:
1. We will actively uncover and report to our congregations, the police and the media any violence or other crimes done against children within our parishes, dioceses and communities, regardless of Church policy.
2. We will also uncover and report to our congregations, the police and the media the names of anyone within the Church who harms a child or who aids and abets such harm, and who conceals it, regardless of their rank or position within the Church.
3. As ordained clergymen, we will refuse to give Holy Communion or any other sacrament of the Church to anyone associated with such crimes. We will also refuse to accept financial donations or tithings of such persons.
4. If ordered by our nominal superiors to collude with such crimes, or if we face discipline or punishments for acting according to our consciences and the Law, we will separate ourselves from those officials and continue to conduct our pastoral and sacramental offices apart from the church hierarchy, within separate congregations under the authority of Christ Alone.
5. We will actively reach out to all our brethren clergy and to all Roman Catholics in our communities, and urge them to join us and take this same pledge of Non-Cooperation and Witness against the anti-Christ regime that governs our Church.
Our faith is in God and not in Man. As God wills it, so it is done.
Signed and Published on this 23rd Day of September in the year 2018 by Ordained Clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Canada, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Please share this Declaration. It has been released to the global media. We invite all clergy and adherents of our church to reflect on and endorse this statement.
You can contact us at congregationalcovenant@gmail.com

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Hog Farm Waste and Coal Ash Form New Hazards In The Wake of Hurricane Florence

NC Hog Lagoons

Hog waste mixed with coal ash during Hurricane Florence has created a hazard and threat that looms over the recovering Carolina’s.  The Carolina’s are large hog producing states with hundreds of hog waste lagoons.  These lagoons, now submerged in water, can mix with the coal ash in the ground and create a very toxic environment.  The is a real concern for public safety, water security and food safety for everyone in and around the Carolina’s.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow  reported on this potential disaster:


LINK:  MSNBC’s “Flooded Animal Farms Add Toxic Soup To Post Florence Concerns .”

Updates to this post will follow as the situation develops.

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11 Disadvantaged L.A. Communities See Heaviest Oil-drilling Pollution

Courtesy of John Fleming, (310) 405-1532, jfleming@biologicaldiversity.org

LOS ANGELES— Eleven disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities endure the heaviest use of toxic oil-drilling chemicals in Los Angeles County, according to South Coast Air Quality Management District data analyzed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The 15 zip codes in which oil companies used the most chemicals known to cause serious health problems (“air toxics”) include several areas of Long Beach, South L.A. County and the Westside. In one Long Beach zip code, the oil industry has used almost 50 million pounds of air toxics since 2013.

Eleven of the 15 zip codes with the heaviest air toxics use contain neighborhoods like Wilmington that are considered “disadvantaged” by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s CalEnviroScreen index weighs the percentage of residents who are people of color, poverty levels, asthma rates and other measures of pollution burden and vulnerability.

“Oil companies are using massive amounts of chemicals that make people sick in communities already suffering high rates of asthma and other health problems,” said John Fleming, a Center staff scientist who conducted the analysis. “State regulators give out drilling permits like they’re candy, and here in Los Angeles we see how it hurts people of color and vulnerable residents the most.”

oil-pump-jack-1407715_1280

An earlier analysis of air district data revealed that oil companies have used more than 98 million pounds of chemicals known to cause serious health problems in L.A. County since 2013. These air toxics were often used dangerously close to homes, hospitals and schools.

Over 80 percent of air toxics usage involved just 12 chemicals, including carcinogens like crystalline silica and formaldehyde. Hydrochloric acid, one of the most frequently used air toxics, is a corrosive gas that can cause suffocation or irreversible lung damage at high concentrations.

Today’s analysis underscores the disproportionate harms of California’s oil extraction on vulnerable communities. Gov. Jerry Brown faces growing pressure to confront California’s oil and gas production prior to hosting the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this week.

On April 11 a diverse array of environmental, public-health, faith, labor and community groups launched the Brown’s Last Chance campaign to demand that he halt new oil and gas extraction and devise a just transition plan to phase it out entirely. To date more than 800 organizations have signed on.

“Fossil fuel dependence is a disease, and environmental injustice is one of its nastiest symptoms,” Fleming said. “That’s why Governor Brown should tackle the root of this problem by planning an end to California’s incredibly dirty oil extraction.”

Los Angeles County zip codes where air toxic usage was highest between June 4, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2017

Rank

Zip Code

Community(ies)

Total amount of air toxics used by mass (lbs.)

CalEnviroScreen Score Percentile*

1

90802

Long Beach

48,271,904

80.2

2

90056

Ladera Heights

12,242,946

58.9

3

90744

Wilmington

5,513,548

94.3

4

90813

Long Beach

3,552,481

96.1

5

90670

Santa Fe Springs

3,501,947

93

6

90755

Signal Hill

3,440.721

78.6

7

90640

Montebello

1,225,214

86.5

8

90048

West Hollywood

1,210,425

54.8

9

90018

Jefferson Park, Leimert Park

377,147

91.1

10

90710

Harbor City

303,994

75.8

11

90019

Mid-City, Arlington Heights

183,180

84.3

12

90804

East Long Beach

162,277

84.5

13

90815

Long Beach

143,194

34

14

90064

Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park

137,151

38

15

90745

Carson

125,245

87.4

*Communities with CalEnviroScreen scores in the top 25th percentile are designated “disadvantaged communities” by the California Environmental Protection Agency.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Nike Continues Full Steam After Kaepernick PushBack

By : Darren Rovell of ESPN

Nike is doubling down on its investment in Colin Kaepernick.

The world’s largest shoe and apparel brand, which got the attention of the world by utilizing the quarterback-turned-activist in advertisements published on social channels on Monday, is scheduled to debut a “Just Do It” commercial during the NFL’s regular-season opener featuring the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles on NBC on Thursday night.

The ad is voiced by Kaepernick and features him, along with NBA star LeBron James, tennis champion Serena Williams, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and skateboarder Lacey Baker, and inspirational athletes such as NFL linebacker Shaquem Griffin, wheelchair basketball player Megan Blunk, boxer Zeina Nassar and legless wrestler Isaiah Bird.

Kaepernick tweeted the commercial Wednesday.

Kaepernick’s protests of racial injustice — which began in August 2016 with sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem — launched a movement across the NFL. No team signed him as a free agent in 2017 or 2018.

The Kaepernick ad revealed on Monday predictably polarized people, with some vowing to boycott Nike products.

Even on the Labor Day holiday, Nike dominated social media. There were 3.4 million mentions of Nike on Twitter in the first 21 hours after Kaepernick tweeted the initial ad, social media management tool Sprinklr said. The #JustDoIt hashtag had more than 400,000 mentions; #BoycottNike and #Nikeboycott combined to have garnered more than 120,000 mentions. Kaepernick had 1.5 million mentions over that time period, Sprinklr data revealed.

Kaepernick signed with Nike in 2011. Sources told ESPN that Nike kept the fact that Kaepernick would be involved in a future campaign from many key players internally and outside Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The company did not share the news ahead of time with the NFL, even though Kaepernick has a collusion lawsuit against the league’s owners. Nike recently signed a new multibillion dollar, 10-year deal to remain the official apparel supplier of the league.

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Accurate Results For Death Toll Released From Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

By : Frances Roble

The government of Puerto Rico has quietly acknowledged in a report posted online that in all likelihood more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — a figure that is more than 20 times the official death toll.

Hurricane Maria cut through the island on Sept. 20, knocking out power and initially killing about a dozen people. The government’s official count eventually swelled to 64, as more people died from suicide, lack of access to health care and other factors. The number has not changed despite several academic assessments that official death certificates did not come close to tallying the storm’s fatal toll.

But in a draft of a report to Congress requesting $139 billion in recovery funds, scheduled for official release on Thursday, the Puerto Rican government admits that 1,427 more people died in the last four months of 2017 compared with the same time frame in the previous year. The figures came from death registry statistics that were released in June, but which were never publicly acknowledged by officials on the island.

“Although the official death count from the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety was initially 64, the toll appears to be much higher,” said the report, titled “Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation.”

In another section, it said: “According to initial reports, 64 lives were lost. That

estimate was later revised to 1,427.”

The government was widely criticized for undercounting the number of people who died on the island as the power outage stretched for months, causing deaths from diabetes and sepsis to soar. Many people died from lack of access to hospitals, or because there was no power to run the machines they used to breathe.

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