TODAY: Rally at the Broadway Bridge for Add the Words

Come to the Broadway Bridge (Key Bank end) at noon today for a rally to support the Add the Words Capital protestors. At 12:04 pm, we will line the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge, facing west, and covering our mouths with our hands in silence.

News from the fight to ban torture

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) — of which the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a part — has some new action items up.

You can sign a petition to close Guantanamo Bay, and you can watch a video series on why torture is always wrong. Please share and pass these links on if they speak to you.

Pride Parade Today was Amazing!

The Pride Parade today was amazing! There were so many, many people there (between 700 and 850) and so much good energy! I am so excited that such a thing could happen here in Idaho Falls!

I walked in the parade carrying a Standing on the Side of Love banner (wearing a matching shirt). Were you in the parade? What did your sign say, if you carried one? Share in the comments. If you have photos of the parade to share, please contact me and I will arrange to get them from you by email so I can post them here.

Take a Social Justice Vacation!

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) have begun a UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) which offers social justice learning and service trips.

Upcoming trips include India, where women are organizing street vendors; Haiti, where houses are still being rebuilt following the 2010 earthquake; Chicago, where restaurant workers are organizing for fair wages; and Chiapas, Mexico, where small communities are building alternatives to agribusiness.

Check out the UUCSJ calendar for details and registration deadlines. (Registration for the trip to India closes next Monday, September 16.)

For Profit Prisons in Idaho: A Letter to the Idaho Legislature Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee

Idaho’s for-profit prison, the Idaho Correctional Institute, is a legal and moral disgrace. Earlier this year, the Idaho Board of Correction voted not to renew the contract of the Correctional Corporation of America. However, they also refused to ask the Idaho Department of Correction to submit a bid to run the prison, as did the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC).

The Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Idaho Falls is writing to the members of JFAC who voted against that motion. We believe that the Idaho Department of Correction is the best entity to run Idaho prisons, and should be allowed to submit a bid to run this prison.

A sample letter to JFAC members is below:

I am concerned that, in a March Joint Finance/Appropriations Committee (JFAC) vote, you voted not to ask the Idaho Department of Correction to develop and submit a bid to run the Idaho Correctional Institute.

I understand that there may have been concerns regarding the appropriateness of JFAC as a venue for this vote, but I believe that it is vital that the Department of Correction be given a chance to run this prison. Having it as a for-profit prison run by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) has been disastrous, and I don’t believe any other private company would be any better.

The Department of Correction should be given a chance to submit a bid for running the Idaho Correctional Institute, and I ask that you give them that chance as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

If you use this letter, please personalize it for yourself and for each legislator you send it to.

Addresses for JFAC members

When you contact these legislators, please do not send the letter to Sen. Nuxoll, Sen. Lacey, Rep. Ringo, or Rep. King. These four legislators voted to allow the Department of Corrections to submit a bid.

 

Idaho Legislature Considering Abolishing Business Personal Property Tax

Tax

The Idaho Legislature is discussing whether or not they should abolish the business personal property tax. This would severely cut the budgets of Idaho counties and cities, and other government entities that rely on the state to transfer this money to them. The Legislature says they will now permit local options sales taxes, and this will make up for the cuts. Many rural counties in Idaho do not have the businesses to provide people places to pay sales taxes, and will be unable to replenish these monies.

How you feel about this is up to you. If you would like to write to your Idaho state legislators about this, you can find their contact info here. Just so you know, the email capabilities of that site seem to be down today, January 22, 2013. I will be sending my local legislators a letter in the mail.

If you agree that the Legislature should not do this, here is a sample letter for you below:

Please do not abolish the personal property tax for Idaho businesses. This is a very bad idea, and breaks the trust between the state of Idaho and the other, smaller governments contained within it, that rely on the state to transfer the money they need to operate.

Historically, the Idaho Legislature has been unsuccessful in replacing lost taxes for the entities who received them. Property taxes were cut in 2007, and the remaining monies placed in the general fund. Schools were told that sales taxes would make up for the lost money, but the recession came, and sales taxes dropped. Now we are told that the personal property tax money can be made up to the cities and counties of Idaho, through local options sales taxes.

For counties without many businesses, such as Clark County whose largest businesses are a gas station and a cafe, this is a farce. Even for larger counties, such as Bonneville County, I do not believe that a sales tax would make up for the millions of dollars lost. Even if it did, it forces the county budget to be reliant on the economy. This is not a safe bet, as we have seen with the schools.

Besides, what the legislature has in mind is not really an abolishing of a tax, but a tax shift. This doesn’t make the taxes go away – counties still need to pay for essential services – but forces a different group of people to pay the taxes.

Until the legislature can come up with a fail-safe plan for replacing the lost tax money, one that does not include relying on a fickle economy and voters being willing and able to tax themselves more, the personal property tax should stay.

Black Friday

This is a selfmade image from the english wiki...

This is a selfmade image from the english wikipedia. The photographer has uploaded it as GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Friday is traditionally and mythicly (in the U.S.) the biggest shopping day of the year. If you’re not into consumerism, what are your options today?

  1. Support the WalMart strikes today. WalMart workers are striking today for better pay and benefits. Many people in communities with WalMarts are supporting them.
    Find an event in your area via Interfaith Workers Justice

    Reasons to support the WalMart workers:
    Robert Reich
    Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (Washington Post)

  2. Celebrate Buy Nothing Day
    Read about Buy Nothing Day (Wikipedia)

What are you doing for Black Friday? Share your plans in the comments.

 

World Food Day

Food

Food (Photo credit: NickNguyen)

Guest Blogger Anne Timpany on World Food Day:

World Food Day is a day to raise awareness of the topic of food security for all. In our culture, we often lose sight of the extent to which we are interconnected with the larger whole of humanity, and this degree of unconsciousness is prevalent in our daily eating habits.   We enjoy a luxurious standard of living in the western world, and have gotten accustomed to a way of eating that may not, in fact, support the greatest good for all.  How is it possible that, on this bountiful and abundant planet, that there are nearly one billion people that are hungry?   That is nearly one in six people.  Look around you; every sixth person you see represents someone in the world who is hungry or malnourished.  Our world agricultural systems produce enough food for every human on the planet to consume adequate calories, yet a wide disparity exists between those who have so much to eat that we have become an obese culture, and those cultures that have so little to eat that a child dies every three seconds somewhere in the world.

There are many factors involved in the complex subject of food security, but one arena in which every single one of us can make a difference, is by becoming conscious of the food that we put into our mouths and perhaps becoming more selective.  For example, our culture is heavily skewed toward eating meat at nearly every meal.  Yet when we look at the global picture, we can see that this is not the most effective use of our precious resources.

According to the USDA and the United Nations, one acre of land used for raising beef cattle yields twenty pounds of usable protein.  If soybeans were grown instead, the yield would be 356 pounds of usable protein.  Twenty vegetarians can live off the land required for a single meat-eater.  In 2009, the U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person for domestic consumption alone, almost 60 percent more than Europe.   If Americans reduced our meat consumption by only ten percent, it would free up twelve million tons of grain, allowing those resources to be consumed by people rather than animals—enough to feed sixty million people (the population of Great Britain.)

You need not immediately convert to veganism in a quest to save the world, but rather, start by taking small steps in the knowing that every little action does make a difference.  “Meatless Mondays” are a popular and easy way to begin reducing one’s meat intake and thus live in greater harmony with the whole.  Another approach is simply to focus upon eating more vegetables, fruits, and grains rather than focusing upon what you’ll eat less of, which is meat and dairy.   Even choosing smaller portions is a big step in the reduction of our culture of excess and overconsumption.

Making mealtime an expression of your intention to live consciously can be a powerful practice.  With every morsel you put into your body, you are making a statement about the kind of world you want to live in.  “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Gandhi.  What kind of world do you want to create?   Pay attention to your food intake and see what happens when you bring conscious intention to the act of eating.  What changes for you?

Learn more about World Food Day.

Back from Summer Hiatus

Good news! The UUCIF Social Justice blog is back from its unplanned summer hiatus. I’m sorry I wasn’t posting regularly, I got overwhelmed with some other stuff going on this summer (including an overflowing inbox in the email account that sends me my justice news).

Anyway, onto the social justice news:

Breaking News:

Correction: There will be a delay of a week while motions are filed with the appeals court. If the court does not take it up, gay marriage will resume. The judge in the Proposition 8 case in California has decided not to approve a stay of his motion while appeals are heard, so gay marriage is legal again in California!

Immigration:

UUA President Peter Morales was arrested, along with 28 other UUs, on July 29th in Phoenix for civil disobedience in conjunction with the Day of Non-Compliance with Arizona’s new immigration laws. Learn more at uua.org.

College students brought to this country illegally as children often face deportation. The DREAM Act would change that, but first it has to pass Congress. Learn more and sign the petition at Citizen Orange. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram had an excellent editorial on the subject.

Mountain-Top Removal:

Appalachia Rising, September 25-27, 2010, in Washington, DC: People from Appalachia and from across America will join together in Washington, DC, in an effort to ban mountain-top removal mining. Learn more at the Appalachia Rising website.

Red Cross Access to all Detainees

From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:

We have just learned that later this week the House of Representatives is very likely to vote on an amendment to the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would require government agencies to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with access to all detainees.

If you are interested in contacting your Representative and Senators, NRCAT has created a model email for you to use and personalize if you like.

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