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UPDATED: Following the Money

More than 180 days late, Congress finally passed a spending bill for the current fiscal year – FY2017 – on May 5. Indian programs fared relatively well in this continuing resolution – better than many other domestic programs, but not as well as military programs.

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24 Religious Organizations Urge Trump to Remain in Paris Climate Agreement

Today, a coalition of 24 religious groups sent a letter to the White House and key Administration and Congressional leaders, urging that the United States remain a signatory to the Paris Agreement.

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Opportunities to Cut Pentagon Spending this Year

President Trump wants to increase Pentagon spending, but Congress will make the ultimate decision. While Congress is often only too eager to fund military programs — whether or not the Pentagon requests them — members are open to influence from their constituents.

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Quaker Vision & Collective Action to Rein in Pentagon Spending

Advocacy Teams form a powerful network of advocates across the country. This year, we're working to rein in Pentagon spending.

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“We Can’t Kill Our Way to Victory”

The Trump administration may believe that violence and its threat is enough to advance U.S. interests, but few policy experts or military leaders agree. Instead, they argue that an “America first” approach will be more expensive, feed cycles of crisis that allow extremism to thrive, and put U.S. troops in needless danger.

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More Bombs Won't Bring More Peace

President Donald Trump is proposing massive increases in Pentagon spending. Lamenting that “we never win wars anymore,” the president sought a $30 billion increase in the Pentagon’s budget this year, to be followed by $54 billion more next year. In Congress, leaders on the Armed Services committees have proposed a $100 billion increase for next year.

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23 Religious Organizations Urge Trump to Remain in Paris Climate Agreement

Today, a coalition of 23 religious groups sent a letter to the White House and key Administration and Congressional leaders, urging that the United States remain a signatory to the Paris Agreement.

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Sweet Ol’ Camp Tunes

Friends Journal - Mon, 2017-05-08 09:00

Every time “Wagon Wheel” is played, my mind wanders back to memories of camp: the green grass, the wildlife, and especially the people. One day a couple of my camp friends and I were just hanging out and chatting around the kitchen table at a camp reunion. It was the fall right after a very fun and eventful summer at camp. The light above the table gave a warm, comforting yellow glow. My friends faces were hazily illuminated, creating an almost dream-like atmosphere. A familiar smell filled the air. Pizza was being baked with a variety of spices, meats, and cheeses. We had been talking for some time and reminiscing fond memories, so I got up and began to roam around the house. I wandered into a dark room filled with dusty guitars and a large variety of acoustic instruments. In the corner sat an old piano covered in some cobwebs. It reminded me of one of those old-time western pianos, just sitting in a bar waiting to be played. The wooden floors creaked under my weight as I approached and picked up a guitar and blew the dust off of it. I plucked each string, surprisingly in tune. I began to play a few chords, when I felt the urge to play a song. I started playing the four magical chords of “Wagon Wheel.”

As I was playing the intro, each of my friends came and joined me in singing the song:

Heading down south to the land of the pines,
I’m thumbing my way into North Carolina.
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights.

One of my friends, Alex, picks up a stand-up bass and lays down a nice mellow beat. His brown hair bounces up-and-down with the bass line: bum, bum, bum, bum. Everyone begins mumbling the rest of the phrase but then crescendos into the chorus: “So rock me momma like a wagon wheel. / Rock me momma any way you feel. / Heyyyyyyyy momma rock me.” The words of the chorus attract the rest of my friends who soon join the ensemble. Their eyes look at me like, why didn’t you tell us sooner? I just shake my head with a grin and continue on with the song. Sean, Joshua, and Elliott are swinging their heads to the beat, drunk on the good memories of camp. The singing was drowning out the sound of the guitar and bass, so everyone picked up an instrument and contributed to the rich sound. My friend Daniel sat down at a piano and played in harmony with the guitar. The piano completed the old-timey antique, rustic sound with the plunking of the old keys.

Running from the cold up in New England.
I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time stringband.
My baby plays the guitar; I pick a banjo now.

The whole house is now rocking, shaking, and humming to our collective, robust music. Everyone’s favorite part is coming up, and the emotions are erupting! Everyone suddenly stops playing the instruments. I look around at all of my friends who are smiling with big grins on their faces. Our voices stand alone: “Walkin’ to the south out of Roanoke.” Everybody crescendos and then shouts, “I caught a trucker out of Philly; HAD A NICE LONG TOKE!” The instruments kick back in and carry our voices to the end of the song like an ocean wave. “So rock me momma like a wagon wheel. / Rock me momma any way you feel. / Heyyyyyyy momma rock me!”

With a final strum of the guitar, everything comes to a halt. Silence fills the air. The only sounds that are present are the walls, which are still vibrating from the rhythmic tunes. The silence is bland without the strumming of guitars or the beating of the bass, but it is the most prominent aspect in the moment. The room suddenly erupts with emotion as we all began laughing and hugging each other, with tears in our eyes, in a state of ecstasy. Never had I felt more happy and secure with a group of people in my entire life. The only thing we could manage to say was “One more song!” And like that we were off again: singing and reminiscing about the sandy shores and the olive green ocean bay of Echo Hill.


The post Sweet Ol’ Camp Tunes appeared first on Friends Journal.

Quaker Peacebuilding Efforts Before Kenya's Elections

According to David Bucura, coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative, "Kenya is in tension and is hot in some places now. There is big tension before the elections.” AGLI is a project of the Friends Peace Teams which supports peace activities in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

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White People aren't stupid: Note to my white self

Ending discrimination

White people are not stupid.

I know you’ve been frustrated lately. You’ve encountered white people who can’t seem to understand the difference between racial prejudice and racism. You’ve had several white people call you racist for challenging their racism, as if that were possible. You spent a whole day going back and forth with a white woman who insisted she had been the victim of racism from people of color. Don’t be confused. These people are not stupid.

Stupidity is a lack of intelligence. Systemic racism is not the product of stupid people. The white businessmen who created slavery in America were cunning, smart. The white politicians who justified slavery did so intentionally. Voter suppression, redlining, segregation, the war on drugs and anti-immigrant policies are all creations of intelligent white people. Most white people are not stupid. They are ignorant.

Ignorance is the decision to ignore certain facts and realities. Slave traders and slave owners had to ignore the humanity of people of color in order to justify slavery. White politicians had to ignore injustices and inequities in order to justify inhumane laws. Those who argue with you about systemic racism will not be swayed by your facts, statistics and studies. It is not that they are too stupid to understand them. They have intentionally chosen to ignore them.

For someone who explains systemic racism to others, you still don’t seem to fully appreciate its origins. Systemic racism is a cleverly constructed system to perpetuate and justify the mistreatment and abuse of people of color. It took hundreds of years to create. The arguments and rationalizations you’re encountering are not the utterances of stupid people. They are the carefully crafted, time tested and well-honed defenses of racism.

This is so important for you to understand. You have been under the false impression that you can quickly and easily persuade ignorant white people of the reality of systemic racism and white privilege. They aren’t stupid. They know what you’re trying to do. They aren’t impressed by your arguments. They couldn't care less about your facts. It is these arguments and facts they have chosen to ignore.

I know you don’t want to accept this, but education alone will not end systemic racism. If the defenders of systemic racism were stupid, it would have collapsed long ago. Thinking of and labeling racist white people as unintelligent is a big mistake. In so doing, you seriously underestimate their capability to sustain the system. When they confuse the meaning of racism, they aren’t being stupid. 

So you need to stop arguing with them. You know within a few minutes whether someone is stupid, ignorant or uninformed. If they are stupid, they can’t understand the complexities of systemic racism. If they are ignorant, they have decided to ignore them. The only conversations worth having are with those who express a lack of understanding and a real curiosity about racism. Since you were once such a person, be patient with those people.

The stupid and the ignorant require a different approach. As with any societal behavior, systemic racism will only end when the costs outweigh the benefits. One of those costs must be shame. The decrease in smoking in America involved changing laws and educating people about its dangers, but its decline was primarily driven by a shift in public opinion. When smoking began to be seen as a nasty habit, people began to abandon it.

This is equally true in confronting systemic racism. The facts about systemic racism are no more disputable than those around the ills of smoking. The problem is not with the facts, but with the unwillingness of many white people to abandon this nasty habit. Until white people become ashamed of systemic racism, societal change will not come.

So stop debating the reality of racism with the ignorant.

Instead, challenge the cruelty behind their rhetoric. When white people justify police brutality, ask how they can be so heartless when fathers and sons are murdered. When they support anti-immigrant or refugee laws, ask how they can be so cruel when families are torn apart or left in squalor. When they defend laws and policies that discriminate, ask how they can be so unfair. When they express racist sentiments, ask how they can be so ugly.

When systemic racism is seen as heartless, cruel, unfair and ugly by our society, most white people will abandon its defense.

After all, they aren’t stupid.

This piece was oriignally published at James' blog, Note to my White Self.

Urgent Health Care Update

On May 4, 2017, the House of Representatives voted to repeal key patient protections, end Medicaid as we know it, and eliminate coverage for 24 million people.

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A Witness Against War

John Huyler, a member of Boulder Friends Meeting, shares his journey to Friends and FCNL.

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FCNL Opposes Efforts to Undermine the Johnson Amendment

FCNL opposes efforts by the president and members of Congress to roll back restrictions put in place in the 1950s that ban partisan political activity in houses of worship.

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FCNL Opposes Efforts to Undermine the Johnson Amendment

FCNL opposes efforts by the president and members of Congress to roll back restrictions put in place in the 1950s that ban partisan political activity in houses of worship. The Johnson Amendment, which maintains a barrier between electoral politics and tax-exempt religious and charitable activities, prevents religious institutions from becoming platforms for individual political candidates or parties. By preventing politicians from trying to dip into churches’ and charities’ bank accounts, they keep these institutions free of unfair, money-driven politics.

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FCNL Welcomes Bipartisan Climate Solutions Commission Act

Members from the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus just introduced their first piece of legislation in the 115th Congress, the Climate Solutions Commission Act of 2017.

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FCNL's Yasmine Taeb Honored by EMILY's List

EMILY's List, an organization dedicated to promoting women's political engagement and women's rights, honors FCNL Lobbyist for Human Rights and Civil Liberties Yasmine Taeb for her dedicated work to promote social justice.

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Immigration Funding in the Omnibus

FCNL’s network was advocating for Congress to refuse to fund the $3 billion supplemental request from President Trump that included money for the border wall, additional agents, and expanded detention. Where did we end up?

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Mass Incarceration and the Cycle of Poverty

A fact sheet on why lifting the collateral bans on TANF, SNAP, Pell Grants, and access to affordable housing for federal drug convictions can start the process of ending mass incarceration, poverty, and give opportunity and second chances to a condemned population.

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Justice for Native Youth

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is being reauthorized in Congress this spring. How will it work for Native youth?

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Connecting - with Spirit and Cyberspace

Legislation and new regulations may open access to the Internet for remote Native American and other rural communities. Are developers listening to tribes?

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