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Toward the Beloved Community: Updates from the Interim Co-Presidents

The Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Interim Co-Presidents, the Revs. Sofía Betancourt and William Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer, shared this message following their recent time together in Boston:
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May 4, 2017

Posted Friday, June 23

Stand Witness Against White Supremacy

More than ever, it is important to take a stand against white supremacy in all its forms. join us for our weekly Vigil in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, every Thursday at 6 pm. We will speak out against white supremacy, especially as it played out in this election.
NEWEST INFORMATION...

UUPLAN June 2017 Newsletter: June

UUPLAN Legislative Tracking

We are well into the 2017-2018 legislative session in Pennsylvania and many bills and resolutions have been introduced by a variety of legislators. UUPLAN is monitoring over 30 bills based on the research and recommendations of our seven Justice Teams and the positions taken by our many partner groups.

We have created a chart listing the legislative topic, bill number, primary sponsors and where the bill is currently located in the legislative process. You can link to the full text of each bill by clicking on the bill number from this chart.

If you would like to follow specific legislation you can sign up for notifications at LegiScan.com and PA Legal Notifications. In addition, you may want to learn who is funding your legislator - keep track of this information at Open Secrets and Follow the Money.
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PIHN'S Summer Wish List

1. "Camperships"
We are busy matching many children with meaningful summer experiences. PIHN seeks to help each child build a resume of experiences from kindergarten on up. As in the past, PIHN aims to have at least 75 children attend camps and have first work experiences. We still have several children in need of camp scholarships as well as youth looking work opportunities! A $250 donation will send a child to camp and/or pay for transportation to a summer program.

If you would like to help, please send a donation to PIHN, 7047 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19119 and note that your donation be applied to "PIHN's SUMMER CAMP FUND".
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IN PAST ISSUES

Say NO the Healthcare Repeal

The Senate Republicans are trying to pass a health care repeal bill before the week of July 4, which would cut coverage for 23 million people. In the next 15 days, we must flood the offices of Sen. Casey, Sen. Toomey, and your U.S. Congressman with visits, phone calls and post cards.

Try to visit local offices in groups of 3-5 people. Have at least one story to tell of someone who needs some form of Medicaid. Two attachments provide talking points for letter writing and a leave behind.

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R) - 202-224-4254
Sen. Robert Casey (D) - 202-224-6324
Your U.S. Congressman is:
Rep. Dwight Evans - (202) 225-4001
Click to read entire article.

Millennials don't Vote? 18-34s See Highest Growth
in 2017 Philly Primary

Philadelphia finally has some good news when it comes to millennials and voting.

The generation that now comprises the entirety of the traditionally voting-averse 18-to-34 demographic turned out to vote at a much higher rate last month than it did in the 2013 city election and at nearly the same rate as during the 2015 election, which was a much more popular mayoral race. On top of that, the 18-to-34 age group increased its turnout more than any other age group between 2013 and 2017. Turnout in general for this year's DA/City Controller election was higher than it had been in 15 years.

The numbers were just released by Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt this afternoon. His office found that 33,686 votes were cast by people aged 18-to-34 as mostly Democrats but also a few thousand Republicans and Democrats. The number represents a 279 percent increase in votes by the same age group from 2013, the last District Attorney/City Controller race.

Huge 279% increase in millennial turnout from the 2013 Primary to 2017 Primary in Philadelphia.
- Al Schmidt (@Commish_Schmidt) 3:14 PM - 6 Jun 2017

Significant 90% increase in millennial vote share from the 2013 Primary to the 2017 Primary in Philadelphia.
- Al Schmidt (@Commish_Schmidt) 3:37 PM - 6 Jun 2017

Now, it's important we not get carried away with the good news. There's still plenty of bad. The fact that 33K 18-to-34 year olds voted is good for just 10 percent turnout, given nearly 350,000 people in this age group are registered. That's much higher than the 3 percent turnout - seriously, 3 percent?! - of 2013 and about the same as the 12 percent in the 2015 mayoral race... but still painfully low.

What was it that made millennials turn out more than last time? At least some of it likely had to do with the candidates. Larry Krasner, Democratic nominee for District Attorney, was considered a Bernie Sanders-esque candidate and drew substantial support in millennial-heavy neighborhoods. Rebecca Rhynhart, Democratic nominee for City Controller, was also an outsider candidate.

https://billypenn.com/2017/06/06/millennials-dont-vote-18-34s-see-highest-growth-in-2017-philly-primary/

367 People Have Been Shot by Police This Year.
Why Don't We Care Anymore?

So far this year, 367 people have been fatally shot by police in America. This time last year, it was 366. It is also just as true this year that black people remain disproportionately affected by police violence and that a disturbing number-one in 5-of police killings involve mental illness.

But ask anyone involved with the movement to end police violence and they will confirm: While cops in America remain deadly as ever, the momentum behind the movement has slowed. Instead, mass protests in 2017 are largely aimed at the Trump presidency, and for many of the protest-goers, it's their first time out on the streets.

The national silence on police violence was briefly interrupted recently when Jordan Edwards, a 15 year-old Texan, was gunned down while unarmed in a Dallas suburb. Edwards, a high-achieving high school freshman with a winning smile, was leaving a house party that elicited a noise complaint from neighbors when police showed up. He was driving away in a car with his brother and some friends when Officer Roy Oliver of the Balch Springs police department shot into the vehicle with a rifle, lethally wounding Edwards with a bullet to the head.

After the fact, the Balch Springs police chief would admit that he "misspoke" when initially claiming that the vehicle was "aggressively" approaching the officers who, per the usual language, feared for their lives. But when bodycam footage clearly showed the car driving away from officers and not towards them, the chief changed his position and Oliver was fired. Oliver is now facing a civil suit brought by Edwards's family.     Click to read entire article.

Texas' Governor is Carving Out Special Time to
Roll Back the Rights of Trans People and Women

If there's one thing that Texas Governor Gregg Abbott can't keep his hands off of, it's trans rights. In fact, he's so desperate to attack trans people and women that he's demanding that the Texas legislature will hold a special session July 18th that will allow the state government to run through a proverbial "wish list of conservative issues," according to the Austin American-Statesman. High on the list? Cracking down on gender-neutral bathrooms, reversing protections for LGBTQ Texans, and barring local governments from funding Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars.

Abbott has been relentless in his focus on anti-trans issues. A bill that would require trans students in Texas schools to use their own single-stall bathrooms, rather than the multi-stall rooms the rest of their peers use, is already underway. Abbott also indicated that he wanted a state bill that would pre-empt and overturn any local legislation that protects LGBTQ residents, including housing and employment protection.

These laws would pave the way for open discrimination against Texas' LGBTQ community. If this sounds familiar, it's because North Carolina did something similar in 2016. And like North Carolina, Texas could pay dearly for its commitment to anti-trans discrimination.

According to Newsweek, Texas Competes, a group of local business leaders who support LGBTQ rights, estimates that bad publicity from the bathroom bill has already cost the state $200 million-even before the bill was passed.

Abbott also recently signed a draconian anti-abortion bill banning the second-most common second-trimester abortion procedure from being carried out in the state. And all of this is before you get to his successful attack on sanctuary cities.

Read more about the special session at the American-Statesman.

http://fusion.kinja.com/texas-governor-is-carving-out-special-time-to-roll-back-1795866177?utm_source=fusion_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017-06-06

Why so many White Evangelicals in Trump's Base are
Deeply Skeptical of Climate Change

Trump has decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Here's what you need to know.

President Trump has decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Here's what you need to know. (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

President Trump announced Thursday that he is withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, alarming religious leaders here and around the globe who decried the decision as a departure from the nation's leadership role.

Mainline Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, denounced the president's actions. Major Jewish, Muslim and Hindu organizations also condemned the president's withdrawal from the agreement.

Several Catholic leaders also denounced the move, which came just a week after Pope Francis at the Vatican personally handed the president his encyclical urging care for the planet. In the 2015 document,

Francis called for an "ecological conversion," saying Christians have misinterpreted Scripture and "must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures."

But many evangelicals do not hold this view.

Christians are called to be both dominions over the earth and be stewards of it, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler said on his podcast on Friday. Mohler said the secular-dominated environmental movement sees human beings as the problems to climate change. This worldview, he said, denies the purpose of creation, which was for humans to take dominion over it.     Click to read entire article.

If You're in a Wheelchair, Segregation Lives

ROCHESTER - Last year, the former chief of the Santa Fe, N.M., police department, Donald Grady II, said something that stuck with me. "There's a thing that we call freedom of movement," he said in an interview with The Atlantic, "which is really revered in this country - that we should have the right to move freely without impingement from the police simply because." He was speaking as both a black man and a police officer about the ways racial discrimination can limit a basic right. But I related to this on more than one level.

As a black woman with incomplete quadriplegia and chronic pain, and as a full-time manual wheelchair user, my own ability to move freely is frequently restricted. Too often, both the lack of accessibility in public spaces and the ingrained ableism of many nondisabled people bars my way.

Let's say I want to go out to dinner downtown. Even if I can enter an establishment - which I often can't - very rarely is the accessible seating in a visible place, if it is there at all. Once inside, I am often relegated to a corner, the aisle, a back room. In brew pubs with high tables and high chairs, trying to have conversations at eye-level with other people's crotches while nursing my beer leads me to feel less like an adult and more like Oliver Twist. No one wants to try the new hot spot in town and then be seated at the kids' table.

If I arrive somewhere by myself, I am often greeted with shock when I make clear that I have no caregiver with me. If I am with a companion - a nondisabled friend or a date - it is assumed that this person is my caregiver. Sometimes it seems that people believe accessibility is having your own chaperone who goes and asks for the accessible entrance.

These are just a few variations on the sort of ableism that people with physical conditions like mine face every day. Ableism is at work when disability is not an inclusive part of the design process, where the space flows and is welcoming to all bodies. Instead, accommodations are tacked on haphazardly, leading to hostile and hard-to-navigate spaces. With the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990 - which sets standards of compliance for buildings in public spaces - progress has been made, but inclusive thinking and design are still the exception, not the norm.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/opinion/if-youre-in-a-wheelchair-segregation-lives.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170517&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=9&nlid=77054477&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Major Increase in Philly Voter Turnout
Propels Larry Krasner to Victory

In the first Philadelphia election post-Trump, interest was higher in the usually low-key District Attorney's race than it has been in years.

Larry Krasner rode the progressive wave to a victory and in doing so he helped bring out nearly 50 percent more voters than usual. With about 98 percent of districts reporting late last night, more than 152,000 votes had been cast in yesterday's District Attorney primary. That's still a paltry 18 percent turnout for Democrats but far more than what had been seen in recent District Attorney races (13 percent in the 2009 DA primary) and comparable to the 2014 gubernatorial primary where turnout was about 20 percent.

In some areas of the city, such as West Philadelphia, turnout surpassed 50 percent. Those numbers are usually what you'd see in a much bigger races.

Ward 46 Div 17 (unofficial)
~51% turnout among Democrats
Krasner: 335
Khan: 56
Everyone else: small numbers#WestPhilly #PhillyPrimary
- Ryan Godfrey (@rgodfrey) 9:37 PM - 16 May 2017 - Philadelphia, PA

Here's how Krasner's victory compared to the District Attorney primaries in 2009 and 2005, the last two competitive races:

2005
• Lynne Abraham: 61,067
• Seth Williams: 48,389
• Total Votes: 109,456

2009
• Seth Williams: 43,672
• Dan McCaffery: 31,590
• Daniel McElhatton: 15,327
• Michael L. Turner: 9,234
• Brian Grady: 4,766
• Total votes: 104,589

2017*
• Larry Krasner: 58,165
• Joe Khan: 30,994
• Rich Negrin: 21,708
• Tariq El-Shabazz: 17,701
• Michael Untermeyer: 12,435
• Jack O'Neill: 9,070
• Teresa Carr Deni: 2,229
• Total votes: 152,316
• *98.34 percent reporting

In 2014, about 165,000 votes were cast in Philadelphia for the Democratic primary for governor. This District Attorney's race was in striking distance of that total. In 2015, about 230,000 were cast in the Mayor's race.

There's been much talk of a Trump resistance fueling progressive candidates to victory with higher turnout numbers. Philly's District Attorney race didn't set any records for votes, and it could be argued turnout still wasn't even adequate. But for a municipal race the vote totals were a major improvement.

https://billypenn.com/2017/05/17/major-increase-in-philly-voter-turnout-propels-larry-krasner-to-victory/

Immigration Agents Tried to Enter a New York City School
to Talk to a Fourth Grader

Federal immigration agents attempted to enter a New York City elementary school to make contact with a fourth grader last week, but found themselves rejected.

According to the New York Daily News, officers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-a wing of the Department of Homeland Security-attempted to enter PS 58 in Queens to talk to an unnamed 4th grade student. However, the agents did not have a warrant for their search, and were turned away at the school's door. The rejection is in line with a policy Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration put in place several months ago, which instructs public school employees to bar federal immigration officials from school grounds unless they have a warrant.

"This is our building. We control the building," de Blasio explained when unveiling the new guidelines in March. "[ICE] can't just blow by security. They have to follow our rules."

Speaking with the Daily News, New York's schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña reiterated that pledge.

"All students, regardless of immigration status, are welcome in NYC public schools, and parents should rest assured that we will do everything on our power to protect students, staff and families," Fariña said.

"As a mother, I am deeply troubled and horrified at this attempt on the part of federal immigration agents to reach any child in our schools," Queens Borough President Melinda Katz told WPIX. "PS 58 officials did the right thing by following proper protocols of the city administration, stopping the agents at the door and protecting their students."

According to mayor de Blasio's press office, the mayor has been briefed on the situation, and has sent his immigration and education staff to the school to help calm the community.

It's unclear why the agents were looking for the student, or why they did not have a warrant to enter the building. I have reached out to USCIS for details, and will update this post with their response.

http://fusion.kinja.com/immigration-agents-tried-to-enter-a-new-york-city-schoo-1795218549?utm_source=fusion_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017-05-16

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